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Friday, June 12

The Weekly Shtikle - Beha'alosecha

The Torah recounts that as B'nei Yisrael brought what would be their only Korban Pesach during their sojourn in the desert, there were individuals who were temei meis and thus unable to participate. There is a discussion in the gemara (Sukkah 25a) as to who in fact these individuals were. R' Yosei HaGelili suggests they were the ones in charge of transporting the body of Yoseif. Rabbi Akiva is of the opinion that it was Misha'eil and Eltzaphan who were instructed to remove Nadav and Avihu's bodies from the mishkan. Finally, Rabbi Yitzchak discounts the first two opinions and posits that these were individuals who had become tamei as a result of a meis mitzvah.


It is somewhat intriguing that the approach taken in the gemara is that there was something special and unique about this group. (See Ibn Ezra who states simply - to the contrary - that people were tamei because certainly people died regularly in the midbar.) Although, it is not unusual for a midrashic source to fill in the blanks in a pasuk, even if there is no compelling evidence that there is something missing. However, there is a question to be asked on the first two opinions. Why is it that R' Yosei and R' Akiva assume that these individuals were part of a single group, that they were all temei meis for the same reason? Could there not have been more than one cause for this group to be tamei?


The Torah's introduction to this story is as follows (9:6): "Vayehi anashim asher hayu temei'im lenefesh adam." One would have expected the pasuk to read "vayihyu anashim" in the plural. But instead, the singular vayehi is used in reference to a group of people. It should be noted that the singular reference to a group is not particularly anomalous in the Torah. Neverheless, perhaps R' Yosei and R' Akiva understand that the pasuk is specifically worded this way to convey that although there were a number of individuals were tamei, they were all tamei for the same reason.


This particular passage provides additional inspiration during these challenging times. These individuals, eager to perform every mitzvah, do not stand by idly as their unique circumstances prevented them from partaking of this nationwide ritual. They showed their yearning by pleading for some arrangement to allow them to do the mitzvah. Although every community has been affected slightly differently by this pandemic, all communities around the world are in the same boat together as a singular unit and we have all had our ability to take part in normal Jewish life to some extent. As the anashim in our parsha, we all yearn for end to these conditions and restrictions so that we may once again attend shuls and batei midrash together as a community.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Piles of Quail 

Dikdukian: The Impure

Dikdukian: In My Humble Opinion



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