Parshas Bamidbar/Shavuos 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 7:54 pm
May 18, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 14
Printer Friendly Version

For the SHAVUOS SPECIAL EDITION printer friendly version,and additional features of the Menucha Vesimcha/weekly update click here: Menucha V'Simcha

Dvar Torah

Key Numbers
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 
On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, Hashem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying... (1:1)

Rashi comments: "Because they were dear to him, He counts them every now and then. When they went forth from Egypt, He counted them. When many of them fell in consequence of their having worshipped the golden calf He counted them to ascertain the number of those left. When He was about to make His Shechina dwell amongst them (i.e. when He commanded them to make the Mishkan), He again took their census; for on the first day of Nisan the Mishkan was erected and shortly afterwards, on the first day of Iyar, He counted them."
Later in the Parsha the Ramban notes that Hashem did not want for Moshe to ask each head of household, "How many are in your family?" (Or) "How many sons do you have?" Rather, each one should pass in front of you with reverence and honor and you shall count them. The passuk says, "... by the number of the names, from the age of twenty years and up, according to their head count." Although tedious, Hashem commanded that the counting be conducted in this manner to convey to each member of Klal Yisroel their individual importance.
The Akeidas Yitzchak takes this concept further. He writes that Hashem was making clear two fundamental points to the Jewish people. First, their calculated and unique existence. One will notice that Hashem created the universe with tremendous precision. As the Navi Yeshayahu prophesized the following praise of Hashem - "Who measured the waters in His palm, gauged the Heavens with a span, measured in a huge vessel the dust of the earth, and weighed the mountains with a scale and the hills with a balance (The One Who created such a perfectly balanced natural order can surely fulfill His promise to His people to bring them back to Tzion) (Yeshayahu 40:12)." Each member of Klal Yisroel are part of the measured creating of the world and contribute to its continuing existence.
This concept is made clear when examining the mirrored role of numbers between heaven and earth. For example, the 3 avos = 3 Kedushos as recited by the angels... 12 Shevatim = 12 mazalos, constellations... these and all other connections demonstrate the equal key responsibility individuals within the Klal Yisroel have. Therefore the tallying of each member of the Jewish people creates awareness of their importance in the balance of creation.
The second point is that numbers/counting distinguishes them from among the people of the world, that they shall be a "shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Each member is a king and Kohen in his own right. As opposed to the nations of the world whose relevance is on a national level only. In fact the constellations corresponding to the Jewish people reflects this idea as well, as prophesized by the Navi Yeshayahu (40).
Reflecting on these concepts together makes one realizes an additional reality. That just like the mazalos, although different, are all equally important in the functioning of our world. The same is true regarding the individuality of each Jew within Klal Yisrael. Every member, although unique and different, is equally necessary to keep the world running. The repetitive specific language of the Torah makes this clear on all levels, as stated "of the descendants of..., the registration of the clans of their ancestral house, their enrollment as listed by name, head by head, all males aged twenty years and over, all who were able to bear arms..." again, again, and again. There is rhyme and order to the Jewish people. The focus on family too preserves and is part of the uniqueness of each person. Like it says in Bereishis 17:7 "To be a G-d to you and your children that follow" - in order to distinguish between one person's children and another.
From individuals, to family members, to tribe members... to an honored member of the Jewish people, the Torah is pointedly precise. In preparation for Shavuos, may the above put us in a better position to re-accept the Torah, with a drive to attempt to bring our part in Torah out and reveal it to the world!

Dvar Halacha
Reviewed by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

Written by: Ovadia Gowar
Based on the works of Rabbi Avraham Rosenthal, Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi, and Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Davening 1st night of Shavuos
On the first night of Shavuos we only daven maariv after tzais hakochavim (nightfall). This is unlike Shabbos, which many communities bring in early during the summer months. The reason for waiting until tzais is due to the counting of the Omer. The Torah says "sheva shabosos temimos" (7 complete weeks) must be counted during the Sefirah. Chazal interpreted this to mean that we must count 49 full days. If we were to bring in Shavuos early, the 49th day of the Sefirah would not be full and we would not fulfill this pasuk (verse).

Staying Up All Night
There is an age-old custom to learn late into the night, or even throughout the entire night of Shavuos. Since the giving of the Torah was on Shavuos, we want to show our love and appreciation of the Torah by staying up late to learn. Another reason is to make up for the fact that the Jews slept in on the morning that the Torah was given, to the extent that Moshe Rabbeinu had to go around the camp to wake everyone up.

Brochos in the Morning
Those who manage to stay awake the whole night need to wash their hands when the morning arrives, which is defined as the halachic time of Alos HaShachar. There is uncertainty whether they have an obligation to recite 4 of the usual morning brochos. These 4 brochos are (1) Al Netilas Yadayim, (2) Birkas HaTorah, (3) Elokai Neshamah and (4) HaMa'avir Sheinah. The other brochos can be said as usual. The best thing to do is to have the brochos recited out loud by someone who did sleep that night. The one reciting should have in mind to exempt them, and those listening should say Amen at the conclusion of each brocha. It is very important to hear each and every word of the person saying the brochos. One should preferably listen to the brochos in the presence of a minyan. After hearing Birkas HaTorah, even the ones listening should immediately say the usual pesukim found in the siddurim so that they will immediately fulfill the brocha by learning afterward.

Backup Plans
If one won't be able to hear Al Netilas Yadayim from someone else, one could go to the restroom immediately after Alos HaShachar, after which he would say Al Netilas Yadayim and then Asher Yotzar. In the case of Birkas HaTorah, one can also get out of the safek (doubt) by reciting the 2nd brochah before Krias Shema (Ahava Rabbah) with the intention of using it for Birkas HaTorah. If somehow one does not get to hear Birkas HaTorah at all during the morning, then they should recite it immediately upon awakening from their nap during the day.

Shalosh Seudos This Shabbos
This year Shabbos falls immediately before Yom Tov, which introduces a unique challenge. We all know that on Shabbos we are obligated to eat 3 meals, the last of which needs to be eaten preferably in the afternoon. However, there is a halacha specific to Yom Tov that forbids one to have a seudah in the hours leading up to the onset of Yom Tov, in order that one have an appetite for the evening Yom Tov meal. So we have two halachos that pull us in opposite directions to an extent. What should we do? One way to fulfill both conditions is to begin the Shabbos morning meal as usual, but then to stop in the middle (after the fish course for example) and bentsch. Then one should take a break for a short period (approx. 20 minutes), take a short walk around the block. Then one should come back, wash again and continue the meal. The second part will be regarded as the third meal of Shabbos.

When Yom Tov falls immediately after Shabbos, the obligation to do Havdalah coincides with the obligation to do Kiddush. There is a debate in the Gemara in Pesachim about how to blend these two together. The halacha is that we do the 5-part "YaKNeHaZ" procedure. "YaKNeHaZ" stands for Yayin (Wine), Kiddush, Ner (Candle), Havdalah (i.e. HaMavdil), Zman (i.e. the brochah Shehecheyanu). The Havdalah brochah is longer than the usual one.
Notice that the list does not include besamim (spices), which are used on a regular motzaei Shabbos. We get a neshama yeseira (an additional soul) on Shabbos. This neshama yeseira leaves when Shabbos ends so we smell the spices to revive our remaining neshamos of the pain of the neshama yeseira's departure. When Yom Tov falls immediately after Shabbos, we don't need the besamim, since the special Yom Tov meals do the reviving themselves.
Another difference from a regular Havdalah is that we don't spill the wine/grape juice over the edges of the cup. We do this after a regular Shabbos to represent the blessing we wish to receive from Hashem in our parnassah during the week. Since we are not allowed to engage in or talk about parnassah on Yom Tov, we simply pour the wine up to the top of the cup but not more.

Eating Dairy
It is a well-known custom that people eat milchig foods on Shavuos. There are many opinions about why we do this. One is that we received the Torah on Shavuos. The Torah provides sustenance to our lives the same way that milk provides sustenance to an infant. Another reason is to commemorate the Shtei HaLechem offering that was brought in the Beis HaMikdash. Two loaves of bread were brought in this offering. If we eat meat and milk in the same meal (starting with milk and then switching to meat), the basic halacha is that we need to change the bread on the table when switching. In this way we use two sets of bread at the meal, which parallels the two loaves brought in the Beis HaMikdash. A third reason is that when Klal Yisroel came back to their tents after receiving the Torah at Har Sinai, they were very hungry. However, while receiving the Torah, they became obligated in the laws of shechita, checking the animal for signs of being a treifah, removing the gid hanasheh (sciatic nerve), removing the blood etc. This made it impossible for them to eat meat on short notice. Milk was the only food readily available to satiate their hunger.
Although the custom to eat milk is wonderful, one has to bear in mind that on Yom Tov, there is also the obligation of ve'Samachta b'Chagecha (you should rejoice on your festival) which men fulfill by eating meat and drinking wine. Many poskim say that even nowadays this mitzvah applies on a Torah level. The custom to eat milk does not override this. The main mitzvah of eating meat applies during the day, so one can fulfill both elements by either having the milchig meal at night, and then the meat meal during the day, or by beginning the day meal with milchigs, then cleaning the mouth by eating and drinking something parev, and then continuing the meal with meat. In spite of all this, there are some opinions that one may have an exclusively milchig meal during Shavuos day as well. One's Rov will be able to give specific guidance.
If eating milk and meat at the same meal, one should only have "soft" milchigs that can easily be rinsed out of the mouth and not "hard" milchigs (such as hard cheeses). Many poskim require one to wait a few hours after "hard" milchigs before eating meat.
A wonderful Yom Tov to you all!

About Us

If you would like to receive Menucha Vesimcha by weekly email or to sponsor an issue of Menucha Vesimcha in someone's honor / memory, please contact the editor at:    


Philadelphia Community Kollel
364 Montgomery Avenue
Merion Station, Pennsylvania 19066
Philadelphia Community Kollel