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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Be'halot'cha

Parshat Be'halot'cha

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Be'halo'tcha                                                                        Print Version
19th of Sivan, 5778 | June 2, 2018

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yoel Gold 
I Remember You

For Chana Weinstock, a 23-year-old girl studying abroad in Israel, her stay over Shabbos in Tzefat was not the most pleasant. Having gotten sick and bogged down with a headache, she decided to return back to her normal living quarters in Har Nof and rest up. There she would hopefully recover from her cold and regain her strength.

But then the phone rang. It was one of Chana’s good friends from Chaifa, calling for a favor. “Chana, if you would be able to help me, I am working on a project for my company, and I need a picture of the Temple Mount from a certain angle while standing on Har HaZeitim. I know you have a knack for this, so I was wondering if you would be able to help me get this picture.” After hearing of her friend’s predicament, Chana replied that she would gladly do her best to help, despite being a bit under the weather.

Chana proceeded to get up and ready herself to take the bus. As she finally headed out the door, she spotted where the bus would pick her up and take her to Shar Shechem, where she would board another bus to take her to Har HaZeitim. Upon arriving in Shar Shechem, Chana got off the bus and began walking to where she needed to be next. But now Chana felt a bit lightheaded, with her head spinning and eyes blurred. Not feeling so well, she got on the first blue and white bus that pulled up and took a seat, knowing that her ride would be short until she arrived at Har HaZeitim where she needed. Yet, amid the fatigue Chana was in, it wasn’t long before she fell fast asleep.

Twenty-five minutes later Chana awoke. Looking out the window, she immediately realized that she had gone far beyond her destination. Getting off the bus, she crossed the road and began heading back in the direction she came from. But the streets were just about empty and there was no bus stop in sight. Chana kept on walking and walking until she came across a settlement with houses. And then she realized. She was in East Jerusalem.

Unaware that it was the first night of Ramadan and everyone was home breaking their fast, she was at a loss to explain why just about no one was out in the street. But now, how this ever happened became clearer to Chana. Amid her frenzied state, she had mistakenly gotten on an Arab blue-and-white bus, mistaking it for an Israeli bus due to its colors.

Now stuck in East Jerusalem at night by herself, Chana began to panic. Barely any lights were shining from the shuttered-up houses, all the street lamps were dark, and posters were plastered on the walls highlighting different Palestinian heroes. Nothing more was needed to make Chana conclude that she was in trouble.

Chana immediately took out her phone, hoping that someone could help her get out of there. But that option didn’t last long, as she looked down at her phone and, despondently, saw that it was out of battery. She couldn’t have hoped for a worse scenario to be in. Stranded in East Jerusalem alone with no way of contacting anyone. She didn’t know where to go or what to do. 
Chana started mumbling Tehillim, as Jews have done throughout the ages when caught in unfavorable conditions. She pleaded to Hashem that He help her at this time, when quite literally, no one else could help her.

But realizing that she ought to make some personal effort in getting herself out of the situation, she decided that she would look for the house that looked the least Arabic. She would look for a house that had lights on the outside and grass in front nicely taken care of. If she ever wished to give herself a chance of making it out safely, she needed to do something.

Spotting one particular house with no Palestinian pictures hanging or the like, she began heading in its direction. She told herself that she would pretend to be a Pro-Palestinian, UCLA student from California who believed in social justice and was in the process of writing a report on the Palestinian life and working for their cause. That would be her best shot at presenting herself in a neutral way and perhaps earning the pity and succor of someone.

Knocking on the door, Chana’s heart fluttered as she awaited a response. And then the door opened. Standing before her was a 19-year-old Palestinian girl wearing a hijab. “Chana?” the Palestinian girl called out. Caught off guard, Chana looked back at the girl in confusion, having expected to present herself as a stranger from a college campus. But before Chana could further process the situation, the girl grabbed hold of Chana and pulled her inside, giving her a gigantic hug. Chana just about froze in shock as to what was happening. The girl then pulled out a card off the shelf and said in Arabic-Hebrew, “Yesh li et ha’michtav – I have the card.”

Suddenly, Chana remembered…

Six months earlier, she had been running a program in Israel for Aish HaTorah in the King Solomon hotel. With a large number of staff on-site, Chana would certainly meet difficulty reaching everyone and attending to their needs and requests. Chana therefore decided that she would go the extra mile in extending herself to connect with the many staff members, from the highest to lowest. And so, she bought herself a notepad and slowly made her way around the hotel, writing down each of the staff member’s names, shift hours and position and interests. It was Chana’s best way of connecting to everyone she would have otherwise overlooked.

After tallying up the names of everyone there, Chana’s list reached fifty staff members. Everyone’s name was noted, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, with a short description about them which would assist Chana in relating personally to them. 
It was the last day of the program that Chana noticed a Pakistani girl positioned in front of the coffee station. It was clear to Chana that she was manning the coffee and tea area and even clearer to her that she had missed introducing herself to this girl.

Approaching her, Chana softly began, “I haven’t seen you around; I’m so sorry I missed you. What is your name?” The Pakistani girl looked back at Chana, touched that a stranger was taking interest in her. She introduced herself and began explaining her plans for the future. “I’m on my way to medical school and wish to become a doctor, but at the moment I am in need of a job and money. And so, I found this position here at the King Solomon hotel for the meantime.”

For the rest of the day, as the many guests and staff began turning out to leave, Chana was busy writing thank you cards to the many staff who had joined her in coordinating such a beautiful program. With little extra money to give tips to the hard working and dedicated staff, she decided that it would be nice to personally thank each of them with a card.

Of all the thank you cards Chana prepared, the one for the Pakistani girl was the last, given that Chana had only met her some hours ago for just a brief period. But, notwithstanding the short introduction and conversation, Chana wrote her a beautiful thank you note extending her deep appreciation for her help. 
Chana now stared at the same Pakistani girl she had crossed paths with months before. Except only now, it was in her home in East Jerusalem. Those words, “Yesh li et ha’michtav – I have the card,” rang in Chana’s ears.

“Chana!” the girl exclaimed again. “What a surprise! I’m so happy to see you!” Extending her hand to the nearby shelf, she grabbed a hold of a card. “I still have what you gave me the last time I saw you!” Chana could not have been more shocked by the turn of events and what she was witnessing. It was the very last thing she could have ever expected.

“Chana, come here,” the girl excitedly motioned. Chana was led to the girl’s dining room, where her entire family was sitting down at the table, breaking their fast of Ramadan. Surprisingly or not, they all recognized Chana and Chana recognized them. They had as well met Chana before, and now assumed that she had come to visit them all. “It’s so nice to see you, Chana,” they all chimed in. Playing along with the scenario that she had intended to “visit them”, Chana graciously smiled and extended warm greetings to all those around the table.

But Chana had no intention to stay around much longer. After a few moments of catching up, she asked if there was a bus available which would take her back home. But, unanimously, she was told that there wasn’t. “But I’ll drive you to the bus stop at Shimon HaTzaddik, if you’d like,” offered the girl’s uncle. 
Getting into the car, they made their way over to the security checkpoint. The Israeli officer looked into the car, noting the peculiar sight of a clearly Jewish girl along with an Arab man and woman. “Ha’kol b’seder (is everything alright)?” he asked. “Yes,” Chana replied. “These are my friends.” And with that, they kindly dropped Chana off and sent her on her way.

Aside from the wondrous Divine intervention and protection which went into assuring Chana’s safety and survival, what likewise stands out in this series of events is Chana’s kindhearted character and considerate attitude. She was someone who stayed present and wrote down everyone’s name, job and interests and tried to connect with them all in a genuine and real way. It was that extra mile she went which made an ever-lasting impression on other people and touched them in a way that when help was needed, it was ready right behind the door and in the envelope.

Rabbi Daniel Glatstein 
The Greatest Praise

In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, the Torah (Bamidbar 8:3) relates that “Aharon did so” as Hashem commanded regarding lighting the menorah. Rashi, citing the Sifri, explains that these words teach the praise of Aharon, namely that he did not deviate from all that Hashem had instructed.

As would be expected, many of the commentaries are bothered by the seeming obvious statement of the Torah and conclusion drawn by Rashi. What is the great praise of Aharon? Who would have thought that anyone would deviate from a direct command received from G-d, let alone Aharon Hakohen?

The Maharal Diskin and Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz offer a brilliant insight into the nature of what really occurred during the lighting and cleaning of the menorah.

As Chazal make clear, the menorah was eighteen tefachim(handbreadths) tall. Rashi, in our Parsha, writes that there were actually three steps before the menorah upon which the Kohen would stand when he carried out the service of the menorah. This is similarly echoed in the Mishnah (Tamid 3:9), which articulates the same, and implies that the steps were there to enable the Kohen to reach the top of the Menorah (see Bartenura ibid.).

It is in relation to these steps, explains the Maharal Diskin, that the Torah emphasizes, “Aharon did so” as he was commanded. Despite the fact that Aharon was capable of lighting the menorah without needing the steps to lend him height, he nevertheless followed the dictate of Hashem and used the steps in the process of doing so. This is the great praise of Aharon.

But that still does not encompass the entire picture.

The Maharil Diskin goes further to cite the Yalkut Shimoni (Tehillim, 570) which states that the Shemen HaMishacha (anointing oil) embodied a special transformative quality, namely that it enabled the person upon whom it was poured to grow taller. One point in example is that of Dovid Hamelech, who in fact fit into the garments of King Shaul, despite that fact that the Navi attests about Shaul that he was a shoulder taller than everyone else. Dovid Hamelech was able to fit into his clothes by virtue of the fact that the anointing oil spurted his growth, thereby making him bigger and thus capable of wearing them.

In the case of Aharon HaKohen then, upon being anointed with the Shemen HaMishcha, he grew even taller than he previously was. With the average height of a person being three amos, or eighteen tefachim (Eruvin 48a), Aharon would have already met the height of the menorah. With the additional growth caused by the Shemen HaMishcha, he must have grown even more and towered over the menorah. Yet, even with his current height being above the menorah, Aharon still used the steps and lit, despite them adding even more height.

But Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz goes even further to add one fascinating detail. Although his original source is left unknown, he writes that when Aharon was anointed with the Shemen Hamishcha, he grew to equal the height of his brother, Moshe Rabbeinu, who was ten amos tall. If that was the case, then Aharon would have needed to significantly bend down to simply avoid bumping his head on the ceiling of the Mishkan, which was likewise ten amos tall. Notwithstanding, Aharon even so used the steps to light the menorah. Despite the major difficulty at contorting himself to light the menorah considering his height, he still stood upon the steps in order to fulfill the command of Hashem. Such dedication and devotion to the word of Hashem truly shows “the great praise of Aharon” that he did not deviate even so ever slightly.

In our own service of Hashem, we would be wise to remember that every effort expended to carry out Hashem’s mitzvos with their proper degree of exactitude and detail is the greatest praise we could gain. It shows our care and regard for Hashem’s word and brings us so ever closer to His true will.

A Short Message From 
Rabbi Aryeh Royde

In this week’s Parsha, we read about how the Jews complained that they were being fed manna from the Heavens and could no longer enjoy the delicacies they once partook of in Egypt. Yet, as the Torah itself attests, the manna was of a pleasing taste, and Chazal (Yoma 75a) further explain that it would take on the taste of anything the individual eating it thought about. Now, it seems strange. If the Torah itself testifies to the delicious tasting quality of the manna, why were the Jews complaining about it?

The truth is that the manna only contained a special quality of taste if the person thought about a specific taste. If there was no thought whatsoever, the manna would be tasteless. The Jews who were complaining were those who did not wish to think about any specific flavor or taste. But the obvious question then becomes why that was so. Why not envision that you were eating the most delectable food?

The answer is that it is much more difficult to put oneself in a positive state of mind and mood than simply complain. It is easier to throw our hands up and pity ourselves than make the concerted effort to make a positive change and push ourselves beyond our comfort level. But the choice is ours. It is all up to us. So, the next time you start complaining, just take a look at how beautiful the day is, and you’ll soon see, it’s truly beautiful. Because, when all is said and done, it’s all in your mind…

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