The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, June 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Shelach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

Of course, the most significant of events that takes place in this week's parsha is the sin of the spies. Ten of the spies delivered negative reports about Eretz Yisrael while only Yehoshua and Caleiv delivered positive reports.  My Zadie, R' Yaakov Bulka, z"l, points out, though, that if you look at the positive components of each of the reports, there doesn't seem to be much difference.  In pasuk 14:8 Caleiv describes Eretz Yisrael as "eretz zavas chalav udvash" But the ten spies also describe it as such in 13:27, "vegam eretz zavas chalav udvash hi." What is the difference? Also, why did the ten spies use the word "vegam?"

 

My Zadie answers that we observe in next week's parsha (16:13) that part of Dasan and Aviram's complaint to Moshe was "hame'at ki he'elisanu mei'eretz zavas chalav udvash," this referring to Egypt. We see clearly that they considered Egypt to also be an "eretz zavas chalav udvash". Therefore, the spies are rebuked for saying "vegam..." because what they meant was that Eretz Yisrael is also nice, like Egypt, but no better. Caleiv, however, worded it differently, saying "eretz zavas chalav udvash hi." It is an eretz zavas chalav udvash like no other.

 

To add to this thought, we see a similar concept in the gemara Sanhedrin 94a. The gemara describes how Sancheirev was rewarded for praising Eretz Yisrael and Bnei Yisrael were rebuked for speaking badly about it. The gemara goes on to explain the specifics, that when Bnei Yisrael were exiled and they came to their new lands they said, "This is just like we had in Eretz Yisrael." The lesson learned from this is quite significant. We know that the principal lesson in this week's parsha is the gravity of the sin of talking disparagingly about Eretz Yisrael. It is obvious that this includes direct criticism of the land, but now we observe that even putting other lands on the level of Eretz Yisrael is a grave sin which falls under the same category.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: What's Different About Efrayim? 


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Friday, June 17

The Weekly Shtikle - Beha'alosecha

This past Wednesday, 16 Sivan, was the 20th yahrtzeit of R' Ephraim Eisenberg, zt"l of Ner Yisroel. The shtikle is dedicated l'iluy nishmaso, Ephraim Zalman ben Chayim HaLevi.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

We are commanded to remember the episode with Miriam that appears at the end of this week's parsha. Part of this remembrance is being careful not to speak lashon hara, which was the cause of Miriam's punishment. However, if we look at the pasuk, when HaShem rebukes Miriam and Aharon He says (12:8) "Madua lo yaraisem ledaber b'avdi beMoshe," how could you not be fearful of talking badly about my servant Moshe?! R' Yaakov Weinberg, zt"l, points out that this pasuk insinuates that the main issue with Miriam and Aharon was that they had spoken about Moshe, but if it were about someone else it would not have been so serious. But we know this not to be true for it is forbidden to speak lashon hara about anyone.

 

R' Weinberg explains that this gives us an important insight into the essence of lashon hara. The principal mistake that one makes when he speaks lashon hara is a failure to realize the virtues of the person about whom he is speaking. Miriam and Aharon's error was to a graver degree. It was their failure to recognize Moshe's greatness that allowed them to rationalize speaking badly about him. Had they realized the full greatness of Moshe, they never would have done so. It is this specific aspect of their misjudgment that HaShem focused on in His rebuke. Likewise, every Jew has his own inherent greatness. Anyone who speaks lashon hara about his fellow Jew fails to realize the true greatness of that person, at whatever level it may be, and therefore speaks badly about them.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

 

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Piles of Quail 

Dikdukian: The Impure

Dikdukian: In My Humble Opinion

Dikdukian: To Make Travel 


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Friday, June 10

The Weekly Shtikle - Naso

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

This week's parsha is indeed the longest single parsha in the entire Torah. However, as any ba'al keriyah will attest, once you get past around the halfway point, it's relatively smooth sailing with a repetition of the pesukim related to the korbanos of the nesi'im 12 times. There are very few deviations to watch out for. The nasi of the second day, however, contains some noteworthy differences. As Rashi (7:18) points out, the word hikriv is used for the offering of Nesan'el ben Tzuar of the tribe of Yissachar – not once but twice – whereas for others, the verb is left out completely. Rashi explains that Reuven felt that after being pre-empted by Yehudah, he should surely be next. But Moshe insisted that the Divine decree was that Yissachar come next. Rashi also adds, to explain the second instance, that Nesan'el was in fact the mastermind behind the bringing of all these sacrifices.

 

Another approach may be offered for the use of hikriv. One of the more well-known points of discussion surrounding the repeated sacrifices is the fact that although the identical offering was brought by each nasi, each had his own individual intentions and focus in mind when he brought them. This analysis is perhaps easier to engage in when looking in hindsight at all twelve offerings. However, perhaps the most challenging position to be in was the second slot. The first nasi obviously appears completely original. Once the pattern is established, from the third nasi and on, it appears normal. It's the second who looks like the copycat. It took extra courage for Nesan'el to come forth with the exact same offering as Nachshon. Perhaps that is why the verb hikriv is used.

 

Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka

WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Aleph's and Ayin's

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

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Friday, June 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Bemidbar / Shavuos

A special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my nephew Yisroel Meir Shonek and his wife Miriam on the birth of their daughter, Chaya Sara (named after my Oma.) Mazal tov to the extended Bulka and Shonek mishpachos.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

Although I am only covering Shavous in the shtikle, please explore the many intriguing blog posts on Bemidbar below:

On Shavuos, we celebrate the giving of the Torah to B'nei Yisrael after they came out of Mitzrayim. On this day we experienced a level of spirituality higher than ever before. Just as it is with other significant days in the calendar when we attempt to relive and re-experience the historical events of the day, we are meant to try reach this spiritual pinnacle, to a certain degree, every year when Shavuos comes around. In the Torah, there are (at least) two instances where we find Shavuos standing out as an exception, perhaps to convey this very idea.

The first is in parshas Vayikra. We are told (Vayikra 2:11) that leaven and honey may not be brought with any (communal) korban. The very next pasuk, as Rashi there explains, comes to tell us that there is one exception to this rule. The avodah of Shavuos involves the bringing of the shtei halechem, the two loaves which did consist of chameitz, and the bikurim, which contained the honey of dates. Why is Shavuos different? Kli Yekar explains that honey represents the desires that every human has in this world. Just as honey is very sweet but an overdose of it can be harmful, so too there are desires in this world that are very necessary, but an overdose of them is harmful as well. One must be careful to indulge in only those that are necessary, and make do without the rest. Se'or, leaven, represents the yeitzer hara, as demonstrated in Berachos 17a "Our desire is to fulfill Your desire, but the se'or sheba'isa is interfering." Both desire and the yeitzer hara are necessary components of our being. One must eat and drink to stay healthy. One must want to marry in order to start a family, or the world would not endure. Being that these aspects of our being are not necessary within themselves, but only to reach an ultimate goal, it is not fitting that they be brought for any korban during the duration of the year. However, on Shavuos, we are celebrating the giving of the Torah, the only antidote to keep the yeitzer hara and this-worldly desires at bay. With this in mind, we may bring leaven and honey for on this day, Torah is the principal focus. On all other days, it is forbidden.

The second example is in parshas Pinechas, where the korbanos for all the holidays are discussed. On every Yom Tov, a se'ir izim, a kid goat is brought as a korban. On all days it is referred to as a se'ir... chatas, a goat for a sin offering. However, when the Torah discusses Shavuos, we find a different wording, (Bemidbar 28:30) "se'ir izim echad," with no mention of the word chatas. The Yerushalmi (Rosh HaShanah 4:5) teaches us why the word chatas was left out here. R' Mesharshia said in the name of R' Ida, HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Yisrael, "since you accepted upon yourself the yoke of My Torah, I consider it as if you have never sinned in your days." R' Chaim Paltiel points out that in Emor (Vayikra 23:19) the korban is indeed referred to as se'ir izim echad l'chatas. However, there too there is a missing phrase. The words lechapeir aleichem, to atone for you, are left out, as if we do not require atonement. We see clearly from examples in the Torah that the spiritual high of matan toraseinu is meant to be experienced every year. May we all experience it at the greatest possible level.

Have a good Shabbos and chag samei'ach!

 

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

 

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Clarification of a Sheva Na rule

Al Pi Cheshbon: No Population Increase

Al Pi Cheshbon: Tens and Ones by Ari Brodsky

Al Pi Cheshbon: Rounded Numbers

Al Pi Cheshbon: Discrepency in Levi's Population

Al Pi Cheshbon: Explaining the Uncounted Levi'im

Al Pi Cheshbon: Pidyon HaBen Probability

Dikdukian: Be or Ba?

Dikdukian: Discussions on Bemidbar by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Shavuos takes it on the chin… or under the shin

Dikdukian: Letzeis and On top of Old Smokey


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

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Thursday, May 26

The Weekly Shtikle - Bechukosai

A very special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to our dear daughter, Michal, who will be celebrating her Bas Mitzvah this Sunday.

 

This past Tuesday was the 12th yahrtzeit of my great aunt, Lady Amélie Jakobovits, a"h. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Mayla bas Eliyahu.

 

Today, the 25th of Iyar, was the 21th yahrtzeit of my mother, a"h. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Tzirel Nechamah bas Tovia Yehudah.

 

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

This week's parsha contains the strong rebuke for those who do not follow HaShem's laws, known as the tochachah. There is a word which features prominently as the pesukim detail worsening shirking of duties and corresponding calamities – keri. This word is used numerous times to describe both the negative way in which we relate to HaShem and the way HaShem responds in kind. Rashi (26:21) first provides what is probably the most  well-known translation of the word – chance and happenstance. Rashi then quotes Menachem (ben Saruk) as understanding the word to mean "refraining." It refers to an attitude of holding back from doing the right thing. Rashi then connects this approach with the word used by Targum Onkelos – kashyu. Rashi explains this to mean stubbornness, a hardening of the heart to refrain from coming closer to HaShem.

 

There is one significant issue with these explanations of keri, in particular the association with Onkelos's translation. This problem might be a bit more evident in a non-leap year when Behar and Bechukosai are read together. At the end of Behar, we are warned (25:43) not to overwork a Jewish servant. The familiar word that is used in the pasuk is perech. Onkelos translates this word as kashyu. If perech and keri are translated with the exact same Aramaic word, surely, they must be connected.

 

A link between these two words is provided by Bechor Shor's translation of keri. He appears (26:21) to translate the word as a heavy burden. In the tochachah, we are warned not to act in a way that conveys that mitzvos are a heavy burden to us. And with regards to servants, we are not to treat them with overly heavy, burdensome work. This would explain why the targum uses the same word for both.

 

On a related note, while the targum of keri is kashyu in almost every instance, the term "chamas keri" (26:28) is rendered tekof regaz. See Bei'urei Onkelos for a detailed explanation.

 

Chazak, Chazak, veNischazeik!!

 

Have a good Shabbos.


Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule
Al Pi Cheshbon: An Ironic Observation


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

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Friday, May 20

The Weekly Shtikle - Behar

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

I heard the following from the Rosh HaYeshiva, HaRav Kulefsky, zt"l: The beginning of this week's parsha (25:8) speaks of the obligation (for beis din) to count the 49 years leading up to the yoveil year. Chizkuni writes that since the counting obligation for yoveil is mentioned only once and for beis din, it does not require a berachah. For sefiras haomer, however, since the obligation is mentioned twice, once in Emor (23:15) and once in Re'eih (Devarim 17:9), once for beis din and once for every individual, it requires a berachah. The reasoning of Chizkuni is rather puzzling. Why would the obligation to count with a berachah depend on the number of times the mitzvah is mentioned?

 

Ramba"n writes (23:15) that the plural form of the commandment for sefiras haomer, "usfartem lachem," indicates that there should be a counting for each individual. This is unlike the singular form of the commandment to count the years of yoveil, "vesafarta lecha," or the commandment for the zavah to count seven days of cleanliness (15:28), "vesafrah lah." He explains that the singular form implies that the counting is only a means to an end. A zavah need not count each day as the days go by but rather the counting is necessary for her to know when she may become tehorah. This would also seem to be the reasoning behind the yoveil count, that beis din need only keep count of the years in order to know which year to make a shemitah or yoveil year but in both these cases the counts serve no purpose on their own.

 

Perhaps, suggests HaRav Kulefsky, this is what Chizkuni meant. Since for yoveil there is only one commandment and it is for beis din, the implication is that there is no purpose for the count other than to keep track of the years so that we may make yoveil in the proper year. But since for sefiras haomer in addition to the commandment of "shiv'ah shavuos tispor lach" in Re'eih, we have the commandment of "usfartem lachem" in Emor teaching us that every individual must count for himself, it is clear that the counting itself is an end unto itself and therefore it requires a berachah.

 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
DIkdukian: Hearing Los

Dikdukian: How Lo Can You Go?

Dikdukian: Even Lo-er

Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule
Dikdukian: A name that took ME by surprise


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

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Friday, May 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Emor

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

 

At the beginning of this week's parsha, (21:2) we are told that a kohein, although he is not permitted to become temei meis, is allowed to do so for his mother or father and other immediate family. The midrash on this pasuk states that after the pasuk has told me that he may become tamei for his mother, I might have thought only for his mother may he become tamei for she is definitely his mother. But his father is technically uncertain, for we can never be 100% sure that this is in fact his father, but we consider him his father only by a chazakah, an assumption of sorts. Therefore, we might have thought it does not apply to his father. So, the pasuk states "ul'aviv," indicating that this exception applies to his father as well.

 

In T'shuvos haRashb"a (27), R"Y asks the Rashb"a what kind of assumption would that have been? Either way he can become tamei for his father. If this man is in fact his father, then he may become tamei because he is his father. But if this man is not his father, then who says he is a kohein?! Surely, he may become tamei for him.

 

Rashb"a answered him that surely, as far as permission to become tamei for one's father, we would not have had any doubt that this kohein may become tamei for his father. However, from the words at the end of the next pasuk, "lah yitama," we learn that not only is the kohein permitted to become tamei for these relatives but he is required to. The intention of the midrash is that with regards to the requirement to become tamei, since there is a doubt as to whether this man is this kohein's father, one might have thought that it does not apply to him.

 

Rashb"a offers another answer. The sanctity of the kohein which prohibits him from becoming tamei is, as the pasuk states, "ki es lechem elokecha hu makriv," a direct consequence of the fact that he serves God's bread (in the form of korbanos.) Chasam Sofer in his t'shuvos (Yoreh Dei'ah 338) explains that since we allow this kohein to bring korbanos, whether it is rightfully done or not, he is elevated to the kedushah of a kohein and may not become tamei. Therefore, a suspicion as to the paternity of his father, while it may create doubt as to his permission to become tamei for him, will not affect his general prohibition to become tamei. Klei Chemdah disagress with Chasam Sofer on one point. He argues that the deciding factor is not whether he brings korbanos but rather whether he may eat them. For if it were dependent on bringing korbanos, then it would not apply to ba'al mum, a kohein with a blemish that prevents him from being able to perfםrm the service. But we know that even a ba'al mum may not become tamei. So, either way, the end result is that a kohein involved in korbanos is subject to the prohibitions of tum'ah, no matter what our doubts are regarding his father.

 

Have a good Shabbos and a wonderful Pesach Sheini!

 

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Ner Tamid

 

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

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