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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Behalotcha

Parshat Behalotcha

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Behalotcha                                                                          Print Version
19th of Sivan, 5779 | June 22, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Shay Tahan 
Do Wolfmen Exist?

Is there such a thing, according to the Torah and our Sages, as wolfmen? If we take a look at the fourth plague of Arov which was visited upon the Egyptians, Rashi notes that it refers to all sorts of wild animals entering Egypt. The Rashbam, however, offers a different interpretation, explaining that Arov refers to wolves. This is because the wolf’s main hunting time is at night, when it prowls around and looks to attack its prey.

Considering this, we must wonder why the Torah continues to say that after Hashem removed all the animals after this plague, “not even one remained” (Shemot 9:27). Why must the Torah emphasize that none of the wolves remained in Egypt?

To answer this question, let us first turn back to Sefer Bereishit. 
The Rabbeinu Efraim, a notable Rishon (early commentary) tells us a fascinating insight. In his words, “There are people who turn into wolves and only revert to human form through consuming human blood.” The Chida likewise quotes the words of the Rabbeinu Efraim.

The Sefer Shalshelet Hakabbalah states:

There are people who, during the summer months, becomes wolves, and during the winter months, turn back to humans. This is why the Torah refers to Binyamin, the son of Yaakov Avinu, as a “devouring wolf” (Bereishit 49:27). The Rabbeinu Efraim in reference to Binyamin adds:

“There is a specific type of wolf which is human, but sometimes changes into wolf form. At the time of this transformation, his legs emerge from his shoulders. Binyamin had this quality, as the Torah alludes, “Between his shoulders, it rests” (Devarim 33:12). How does a person avoid being harmed by this wolf? If you see it approaching a home, spread ashes around the house and you will be protected. This is notably what happened on the Mizbeah (Altar) in the Beit Hamikdash. Daily, ashes would be piled onto the Mizbeach, whose location in Jerusalem was partly in the tribal territory of Binyamin. This would avert any spiritual danger that Binyamin’s qualities would bring to the holy site of the Mizbeach.”

This is why Yaakov Avinu was extremely hesitant to allow Binyamin to travel down to Egypt along with his brothers during the time of famine. “Perhaps a disaster will happen to him,” (Bereishis 43:38). said Yaakov Avinu. The Rabbeinu Ephraim explains that this “disaster” refers to the fact that Binyamin would at times transform into a wolf and harm people and become harmed. Yaakov was concerned that Binyamin’s traveling to Egypt would be fraught with danger and damage, and thus he expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea. When Binyamin lived with his father, Yaakov Avinu, Binyamin had a doctor nearby who would monitor him and ensure that he would not metamorphosize into a wolf. However, “if he would leave his father, he will die” (ibid. 44:22), because he would turn into a wolf and he would be attacked and killed.

This is perhaps why the Torah states that at the end of the plague of Arov, all the wolves disappeared. Yaakov Avinu prophetically feared that if Binyamin were to descend to Egypt, after the eventual plague of Arov would occur, and Binyamin would have changed to a wolf, he would be forced out of Egypt and separated from the rest of the Jewish people.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser 
The Same Love

Our Parsha tells us that Aharon HaKohen lit the Menorah daily just as Hashem had commanded. He did not veer one bit from the instructions he received, explains Rashi, and this is to his great credit and praise.

The Bobover Rebbe asks the obvious question. Aharon HaKohen was a great individual and certainly someone who adhered to Hashem’s commands. What therefore is the special praise that he is due because he lit the Menorah as he was told?

Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, known as the Noam Elimelech, was recognized for his lifestyle of self-imposed exile. As other Torah scholars and leaders had done, Rav Elimelech would travel with not much more than himself and some clothing and in doing so, strive to obtain greater levels of spiritual greatness. He went from town to town, engaged in self-introspection and teshuva and inspired others in the ways of Hashem.

After returning from his exile to his hometown, he overheard two people talking about a certain boy named Elazar who was deathly ill. Upon hearing this, the Noam Elimelech realized that they were talking about his very own son, prompting him to start running in the direction of his home. As he was on his way, it came to light that it was not Elazar his son, but Elazar, the son of the launderer.

The Noam Elimelech calmed down slightly, though continued running. Later that day, however, he felt that something was off. What had happened that slowed him down while running? Sure, it may not have been his own son, but it was still another Jewish child? The Noam Elimelech took this message to heart, and decided that very same day to venture into another self-imposed exile and ponder how he could better improve himself.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos tells us of Aharon, “He loved people, and brought them close to Torah.” Aharon viewed all Jewish people and children as the same. It may have been Aharon’s own son, or someone else’s son, but he loved them all and worked with each of them. There was enough love in his heart to share himself with everyone.

This is what is alluded to in the above verse, explains the Bobover Rebbe. When Rashi states that Aharon did not “change” from the directives of Hashem, it is referring to Aharon’s own attitude. He viewed the Jewish people with the same eyes of love and care. Whether the Jew was from one tribe or another, looked the same or different, he did not change his approach and show them any less dedication. And that is truly an attribute worthy of praise.

Rav Shalom Schwadron was once walking down the streets of Jerusalem, whereupon he noticed a young boy ailing in pain. Grasping the boy’s hand, he began running with the boy in an effort to receive medical help.

Suddenly, an elderly woman standing on a nearby balcony called out, “Rav Schwadron, Rav Schwadron! Calm down and take it easy!” As they passed by her balcony, however, allowing her a closer look, she noticed that the young boy was her very own grandson. “Meir!” she yelled out. “Meir!”

We often draw a distinction between people we interact with. But, like Aharon HaKohen, we would be wise to appreciate that any and every Jew deserves our full and equal love and attention.

Rabbi Yoel Gold 
A Special People

Some time ago, a man was found selling iPads on At the time, he posted the sales price to be $400 each. The next morning, upon waking up and reviewing his account, he noticed that dozens of iPads had been purchased. He had never seen so much success literally overnight, bringing him thousands of dollars. But as he began thinking about it, he figured that something must be off. How could such a profit happen so quickly?

After taking a closer look, he noticed that instead of posting the price to be $400, he had forgotten a zero and wrote $40. That would explain the windfall. Immediately, he knew that he had not only not profited, but he had incurred a significant loss. It was too late to cancel the orders and there was not much to do other than deal with the consequences.

But then he glanced at his email. Scanning through his inbox, he noticed one subject line which read, “Yehuda from Lakewood.” He opened his email and began reading the message from Yehuda, who explained that he was a seller of iPads on Amazon himself, and he often looked at competing prices so he could stay on mark with a good selling price. He noticed that a mistake must have been made for the selling price to be $40.

The man who had posted the iPads for $40 had an Amazon account name of “lyberditchev,” a short-hand reference to the great Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Yehuda, immediately realizing that it was another Jew who had mistakenly posted the iPad price at $40, decided to purchase the entire stock to avoid having this other Jew lose a considerable amount of money. 
I went on to publish this story in my weekly column and share this wonderful story with the larger audience. But it didn’t end there.

Someone went on to take a picture of this story and send it around on social media to share it with others. Shortly thereafter, I received a text from none other than Yehuda from Lakewood, who had seen the published story posted on a WhatsApp chat comprised of Amazon sellers. I went on to phone Yehuda and ask for his last name, which he identified as Bregman. I urged Yehuda to grant permission to go on camera and publicize this story of him helping his competitor.

Yehuda eventually acquiesced and added that the group chat of Amazon sellers, where he had seen his very own story, would like to sponsor the video. They all wanted to demonstrate that despite the competitive nature of business, we take care of each other as Jews.

A few hours later, I received an email from a woman asking for the last name of Yehuda. By this time, I was aware of Yehuda’s last name, Bregman. Curious as to why she was asking this question, she explained that she and her husband live in Lakewood, her husband’s name is Yehuda, and he had been receiving phone calls and texts all day commending his incredible act of chesed. He had no idea what was going on!

“Why would your husband be receiving all these messages?” I asked. “He must be that type of person who would do such a thing…” “You’re right,” she said. “A number of years ago, he did a similar chesed with another fellow regarding a product on Amazon.” I immediately asked if I could speak with Yehuda. The woman was hesitant, although I eventually got through to Yehuda. And indeed, everyone had thought that it was this other Yehuda who had done this wonderful, kind act. It is not a fluke when one Jew extends himself for another.

What a special people we are. Always remember that.

Rabbi Daniel Staum 
New Generation, New Trumpets

Amidst our Parsha, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to fashion two trumpets, which will be used to gather the nation together whenever necessary. Rashi explains that these trumpets which Moshe Rabbeinu made were only to be used during Moshe’s lifetime in the desert. However, once the Jews were to enter the Land of Israel under the leadership of Yehoshua, new trumpets were to be created. Each generation was to have its own instruments.

This seems quite odd. All the vessels used in the Mishkan were fashioned once by Betzalel and Ohaliav and remained in use throughout the entirety of the existence of the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash. Why was it necessary for the trumpets to be made anew in each generation?

The answer is that, as mentioned, the trumpets were to be used to gather the nation together. The message sent by fashioning new trumpets in this way was to teach that the way to draw people together, and inspire and educate them needs to be different in each generation. To speak and relate to people from one generation to the next oftentimes takes new approaches.

The other vessels (e.g. Ark, Menorah and Shulchan) in the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash would remain the same throughout every generation. The Torah and its commandments are immutable and not subject to any change, no matter what time period it may be. However, the way such Torah values and virtues are to be conveyed requires new strategies appropriate to our ever-changing world. We don’t ever change our Torah principles; we may just need to change our approach, like the Trumpets symbolize.

We find a parallel concept in Parshas Noach, where we learn that Noach profaned himself by becoming intoxicated immediately after exiting the Ark from the Flood. The question which begs is how Noach could have engaged in such behavior? There must have been something prompting Noach, but what was it?

The commentaries explain that Noach was well aware of his threshold for alcohol and knew he could become drunk. The problem was that he gauged himself by his standard from before the Flood and now applied it to after the Flood. After the Flood, the world was a different world. The wine was much stronger, and he became drunk quite easily. Noach did not expect himself to become intoxicated, as he was evaluating himself by how life had been before the Mabul. But life cannot transition from an old generation to a new generation with old principles if those principles will prove to fail.

Every generation must be dealt in their own, unique way. This is a line that many educators espouse day in and day out, but it is critical. We must never change our Torah philosophies and ideologies. That call remains the same and must never be tampered with. However, how we call people together – using new Trumpets – must be fashioned anew in each generation. We cannot be blind to the new challenges and difficulties that life in each year of our fast-moving world brings us. If we can recognize this and embrace the challenges instead of escaping them, we will be in position for success.

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