Weekly Reading Insights: 



From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


"...And you returned and wept before the Eternal." [1:45]

There (Num. 14:11) Scripture did not mention this weeping, for there was no need to mention it. But Moshe mentioned it now as praise that they regretted their sin, and to tell them that "this sin was too great to forgive" (see Den. 4:13) because the great oath [of G-d] had already been pronounced, and "a Heavenly decree accompanied by an oath cannot be torn." (Rosh Hashana 18a)


Rabbeinu Bachya

"... for the judgment is G-d's." [1:17]

A kabbalistic approach: the words 'for the judgment is G-d's' (ki hamishpat le elo-heem) emphasize the connection between shofet and din (judge and justice). The judge receives his input, inspiration from the attribute of gevurah, also known as the attribute of Justice, midat ha-din. This is the reason why the Judge of the universe is known as elo-heem, seeing He draws on that emanation gevurah situated on the left side of the diagram of the emanations. Seeing that G-d, i.e. the attribute elo-heem is described by Assaph (Psalms 82:1) as both G-d and judge, it is not surprising that the attribute elo-heem is applied by the Torah to judges who perform G-d's work.
Then the Torah (Exodus 22:8) speaks of "…the causes of both parties shall come before G-d", the meaning is not that the dispute has to be submitted to G-d, but that it be submitted to mortal judges. Seeing the judge performs G-d's function, he is accorded this title. If such title is accorded to man, on occasion, it is most certainly also accorded to angles who, by definition, always perform G-d's work as his agents. Both the angels and the mortal judges receive their input from the attribute of Justice, the emanation gevurah.

You should appreciate that seeing the emanation is situated on the left side of the diagram of the emanations, as is know from Ezekiel 1:1- "and the face of the ox was on the left" (of the chayot), the Great Sanhedrin was also known as sharrech (navel) (Song of Songs 7:3). Rashi explains that its seat was at the navel of the earth, in the center, at the Temple. The office where the deliberations were held was known as liskat hagazit, the office of "cutting", i.e. where definitive judgments were made, where after deliberations the judgment became (in colloquial terms) "cut and dried" (compare Midot 5:4).



"The L-rd heard the sound of your words...and swore..." [1:34]

After the dramatic manner in which Moses had described the sin of the people and the spies, the fact that none of the people died at an age younger than 60, could have made it appear that the sin could not have been all that serious. To prevent such a feeling, Moses lists G-d's kindness which was operative when the people died over a 40 year period. He had not acted from the attribute of justice. Secondly, He had reacted only to the sound, to the thoughts which had actually been voiced, not to the as yet unspoken thoughts. Previously, in Shelach Lecha, G-d had stated that the children would inherit the land which the older generation had despised, a thought which had not actually been voiced by the people, but proof that G-d was well aware of the people's feelings on the subject. The reason G-d had used an oath, was to prevent the attribute of justice at a later date intensifying the decree, making it worse.


Ohr HaChayim

"…which Moses spoke, etc." [1:1]

Inasmuch as Moses commences with hinting at Israel's insubordination already at the Sea of Reeds, the present generation might well have countered that there was no point in dragging up sins committed by people who had long since died. After all, the last of the 600,000 men whose death had been decreed as a result of the sin of the spies had died on the 15th of Av previously. The Torah therefore teaches that if Moses had spoken in G-d's name, such a complaint might have been justified. However, Moses personally was not bound by such considerations and he considered it important to remind those who had been younger than twenty at the time of the Exodus to look back on a string of insubordinations the people had been guilty of already at that stage of the Exodus. While it was quite true that the Celestial Court sentences only people above the age of 20, the same is not true of courts administered by judges on earth who consider males over 13 years as fully liable for their actions. When Moses "dragged" up these ancient sins, he had in mind all those who had been at least 13 years old at the time.



Ramban - credits
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel

Bachya - credits
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.

Alsheich - credits
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

Ohr HaChayim - credits
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco, on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary.

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