The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eschanan / Tu B'Av
Mazal Tov to my niece Rochel Leah (née Shonek) on her marriage to Shua Grunwald this past Monday. Mazal Tov to the extended Shonek, Bulka and Jakobovits families.
Today, the 15th of Av, is the yahrtzeit of my Opa, Mr. George Jakobovits.
This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, z"l.
The gemara (Bava Basra 121a) tells us that there have not been celebrative days in Yisrael like Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur. On the 15th of Av, the gemara explains, the punishment for the sin of the meragelim ended. Every Tish'ah B'Av, another phase of the men who were aged 20-60 at the time of the meragelim died out. On the last year, it was known by the 15th of Av that all the dying had stopped. The simple question is, what is the big celebration? If all the males from 20-60 were supposed to die, once they all died it was obvious that the dying was over. What did they find out on the 15th of Av that they did not know before? Who was it that expected to die and was now overjoyed that they remained alive?
The commentaries deal at length with this problem. The Brisker Rav, R' Yitzchok Ze'ev haLevi Soloveichik, offers the following answer. In parshas Shelach, when HaShem declares the decree that all males from 20-60 die within the next 40 years, we find an interesting phrase. HaShem declares that none of them will merit to see the land and then adds (Bemidbar 14:23) "and all who angered Me will not see it." What is the meaning of this phrase? The Brisker Rav quotes a passage from Midrash Rabbah stating that although it was only the 20-60-year-olds who were categorically doomed to die in the midbar, regardless of their level of participation in the sin, the 13-20-year-olds who were involved in the sin were also doomed to die. This is the meaning of the pasuk. In addition to all of the 20-60-year-olds who will not see the land, those who angered HaShem from age 13-20 will also not see it.
The midrash comments on the pasuk in Tehillim 95:11, referring to those who perished in the desert, "Therefore I swore in my anger that they shall not come into my resting place." HaShem swore in His anger, but when His anger subsides, the decree will be lifted and they will be allowed to enter. The Raava"d asks the obvious question. Everyone who was supposed to die in the desert did, in fact, die. No one entered Eretz Yisrael from that generation! Rather, it is referring to those in the 13-20 category. They are referred to in the pasuk in Shelach as "mena'atzai," those who angered Me. So long as they remain in this category of "angerers, " they will not enter the land. If they do teshuvah, HaShem will no longer be angry at them and they will be allowed to enter.
This, says the Brisker Rav, is the group that rejoiced on Tu B'Av. They were not certain whether they would survive and enter the land or whether they would die that year. Their status was indeed uncertain. Once Tu B'Av came along and they were still alive, they knew that they had fallen out of the category of "mena'atzai" and would be allowed to enter the land.
Have a good Shabbos.
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