Parsha Beha'alotka -- The Journey and the Millstone.
By Moshe Burt
I want to open this Parsha HaShevua by wishing a Mazel Tov to Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik and his Rebbitzen on the birth, last Shabbos, of their 4th son.
I hope to be able to say over this vort at the Shalom Zachor this Shabbos night. And, IY'H, the new baby will have his Brit Milah immediately after Tefillah on Shabbos morning.
Rashi renders Perek 10, posuk 28 of our Parsha, "Eileh Ma'sei V''na Yisrael l'tzivotam...", "These are the journeys of B'nai Yisrael according to their divisions..." The loshen "Eileh" I'm told seems to have some significance in that the name of the Rav's Mom, OBM, is Ella. The Metzuda linear Chumash's footnote # 129 (Sefer BaMidbar, page 130) indicates that "These are the journeys of B'nai Yisrael..." indicating that this was not the list of the places that they visited", as was later indicated in Parsha Masei, Perek #33. There is no list here, but rather the loshen refers to the order in which the Sh'vatim travelled.
And in Perek 11, posuk 8, the word "vahrachayim" which means "millstone" is used regarding the grinding of the manna as it's prepared to be eaten. This posuk is in the midst of the description of the manna and how it is prepared.
In between the description of the order of Sh'vatim during travel and encampment and the description of how the B'nai Yisrael gathered the Manna and prepared it for eating came the rumblings of complaint and rebellion from the people against Hashem.
Rashi on Perek 11, posuk 1, "The people were like complainers..." indicates by the loshen "Ha'Am" that here it is only referring to the wicked. " Mit'on'nim", "like complainers", is a term which the Metsuda Chumash (page 131) renders Rashi as indicating that they sought "a pretext in order to turn away from [following] ...the Omnipresent." Posukim 2 and 3 indicate that Hashem's anger flared, that he brought a fire among them which consumed some of the rebels and upon Moshe's Tefillah, the fire subsided.
In Perek 11, posuk 4, Torah uses another loshen in describing the complainers, the rebellious. This loshen is "HaAsafsuf" which Rashi renders as "The collection [of nationalities]", "[members of] 'the great mixture'" who gathered with B'nai Yisrael, the "groupies" from the Mitzriyim if you will, who joined with B'nai Yisrael when they left Mitzrayim. These Asafsuf began to crave the meat, fish and vegetables that they remembered from Mitzrayim. Their sound of their complaints soon brought the B'nai Yisrael to join into the chorus of weeping and complaining as posukim 4 and 5 indicate.
Upon hearing the dispute of the Am, Hashem, as expressed in poskim 31 - 34, provided a great wind and multitudinous quantities of quail flying from the sea and spreading all over the encampment at a height of two amos -- the level of a man's heart.
Posukim #33 - 34 describe how, as the rebels began to eat, a plague fell upon them. "The meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, and the anger of Hashem was kindled against the people; Hashem smote the people with a very great blow. And he called the place Kivros HaTa'avah, "The Graves of Lust," for they buried the people who lusted." (Shem Mishmuel quoting posukim #33 - 34, page 322) This was the first of the many rebellions of HaAm which are recorded in Sefer BaMidbar.
But it is the juxtaposition of the words "Eileh" (Ella) and "vahrachayim" (Bar-Chaim) and what seems to be the lessons of these words and the positioning of their placement in our Parsha which I want to ponder here.
"These are the journeys...", "Eileh" seems to fortell of a short trip of another few days which became a wandering and sojourn of 40 years in duration due to the long list of complaints and rebellions culminating in the failures of emunah on the part of the leaders of 10 Sh'vatim and the masses of B'nai Yisrael -- failures which began with the mutterings of HaAm, HaAsafsuf, the riff-raff from Mitzrayim.
Rebbitzen Ella Soloveichik (OBM) represents the generation which traveled, suffered over a hard, long journey and who helped to usher in both the Modern-day Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael and the now blossoming Ba'al Teshuva movement and explosion of Torah learning. It is a journey upon which, even with the advent of Modern-day Medinat Yisrael, sadly we are still traveling as witnessed by aberrations such as Oslo, it's latest mutant, the misdirected "Roadmap" which is based on weakness, self-hatred and loathing, self-interest and aggrandisement and addiction to the bosom of the Superpower, of American Foreign aid in order to fuel Comrade Peretz's huge Histadrut Hamula and keep Jonathan Pollard languishing in American prison. This is the journey during which the new-born Bar-Chaim has arrived.
And the millstone, "vahrachayim" was used to ground the manna which changed in taste " to ground, crushed or cooked [foods]."
The message for today seems obvious -- the journey of which B'nai Yisrael are in the midst is the road to the Ge'ula Shlaima. It is a road in which Klal Yisrael are shaped, molded and ground into form by Jewish midos and values, as if by millstone, which will bring about the ultimate -- Manhigut Yehudi, Medinat Yehudi, L'Chatchila -- the way things oughta be.
My wish for Mishpocha Soloveichik and their new member, which for now, until the Brit Milah, we'll call Bar-Chaim is that this infant grows to be a great Talmud Chacham -- greater than his Dad, his brothers, his lineage and is truly zocha to have a large part in shaping and molding B'nai Yisrael to a form where our internal and private middot and darchim are perfected; where Modesty, Humility and our other Mitzvot, Chasadim, Tzedakah, Total Honesty and having Ahavat Chinom for our fellow Jews on all levels -- personal, business, learning, etc are achieved.
And may our neshamot and intellects reach fullest potential within the unity of B'nai Yisrael. If we will care enough about our brother to help him and treat him, at all levels -- b'derech, at business, at home, as we would want to be treated ourselves and if we finally recognize that the Emet of Unity and B'nai Yisrael's common national sense of responsibility in EretzYisrael overrides the various agendas of privilege and protexia, then Arafat, Mazen and the Arabs, Dubya, Cheney, Zinni, Powell and Clinton, before them, are as nothing. If we will ALL accept Yiddishkeit each day as if we were all Ger'im and as if Yiddishkeit was brand new, then we'll be zocha to have our Tefillah reach Shemayim, unimpeded, ungarbled. IY'H that we'll be zocha to demand, compel Hashem to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v'yameinu -- speedily, in our time", like Achshav -- IMMEDIATELY, Chik Chuk, Etmal!!!
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