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Parshas BaMidbar 5771

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Bamidbar

May 27, 2011

Parshas BaMidbar 5771 – As A Baby in the Womb

 Sefer BaMidbar encapsulates Klal Yisroel's journey through the barren desert. The Ramban comments that the posukim reveal no intrinsic mitzvos that apply for all generations. It is a period when Klal Yisroel existed on a higher level, removed from the world. It was a period of formation similar to a child in the mother’s womb.

     In perek gimel, posuk alef, it reads "And these are the children of Aharon and Moshe on the day that Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai." The next posuk then mentions Nadav, Avihu, Elazar, and Isamar, the four children of Aharon.

     Rashi, ponders why the posuk makes it apparent that Moshe shared the parenthood with his brother over the four children mentioned. Rashi relays that due to the fact the Moshe was the rebbe of Aharon's children he was like their father.

     Rashi asks further, why did the Torah find fit to mention in this context the words, “By Har Sinai Hashem spoke to Moshe?” Rashi writes that Har Sinai was the place that Moshe received the Torah directly from the "Mouth of the Mighty One." This is the Torah he taught the children of Aharon. This is why he is their father.

A series of questions can be asked on the words of Rashi:

1) Why aren’t Moshe’s biological children mentioned as well? 2) Moshe only taught Aharon's children; didn’t he teach his own children? 3) Why does the aspect of teaching Torah enable the Rebbe to become the student’s parent? 4) The posuk doesn't even say "like" his parent; Moshe was the actual father of Aharon's offspring? 5) Why does Rashi stress that at Matan Torah Moshe received the Torah from the "Mouth" of HaKadosh Baruch Hu?

     In the Gemara of Meseches Sanhedrin (91b), it states that a rebbe who withholds halacha from the "mouth" of his student will be cursed. Even the fetus of the womb will curse him.

What is meant by the gemara when it states that the fetus of the womb will curse one who holds back halacha from his talmid?

 Rav Moshe Shapiro explained the words of the gemara by expounding on the deep essence of the fetus.

 What is a fetus in the most simplistic terms? "Total Potential." There is nothing actual about a fetus. It is a product of the potential within the father joined together with the mother. It is totally dependant on its mother for its very existence. It cannot function in any manner on its own. It is part and parcel of its mother. It is hidden from all eyes, developing, awaiting the moment that it would burst out into the world and go from the potential to the actual.

The child then enters this beautiful world as a veritable extension of both entities that gave him life. A child is not a carbon copy of the parents. He is an extension of his parents. When parents pass from the world, the child carries on where they left off. Therefore, one who fulfills the mitzvah of having children never really dies, and those who chas veshalom don't reproduce are considered dead according to the Torah. But there is more than one way of having children.

Just as a father and a mother provide the actual essence and life force for the child, the life force of a dvar halacha within the rebbe is likened to a growing fetus in the womb. In its present state it is total potential. It waits for the moment when it will be shared with a talmid, a veritable extension of the rebbe.  The word for teaching, in lashon hakodesh, is hora’ah, which shares a common root with the word hayrayon (pregnancy).

    In Kriyas Shema, it mentions twice that one is obligated to teach the Torah to his children. Chazal explain that one time is referring to the parent teaching the child, and the other time is referring to a rebbe teaching his talmid. One should then ask, then why doesn't the Torah just say from a rebbe to talmid; why the metaphor of a father to son?

    Rabbi Noach Orlowek answered this question by stating an integral point. He said, that Torah cannot be transferred from one person to the next from the perspective of two separate individuals, but rather a connection between two who form a single unit must be attained. Only then can Torah be reliably transferred from one to the next. Only in this form will the process of teaching Torah be a life instilling one. Otherwise it is reduced to a mere transfer of information.  First a rebbe must make his talmid into his own child; only then can he teach him Torah.  When a rebbe connects his neshama to his talmid's, they become one. A child and his parents are not two separate entities, but rather are one extended unit.

When the spiritual connection is made between a rebbe and his talmid, the Torah flows from the rebbe and the talmid. It literally transforms the talmid into a new and improved form of himself. This new entity is a veritable child of the rebbe.

Why does punishment fall upon a rebbe who withholds halacha from the mouth of his talmid? Isn’t Torah absorbed by the ear?

The answer to this question lies in explaining that the mouth of the talmid does not mean the literal mouth. It refers to what the mouth represents.

For example; Yaakov Avenu upon laying eyes on his intended wife, Rachel, for the very first time, kissed her on the lips. This cannot be explained away in the mundane manner of a “cousinly kiss.“ Events that are recorded in the Torah have eternal value.

Rav Moshe Shapiro explained by saying that when a husband and wife bond, they connect on two levels; through the upper half of the body, and through the lower half of the body. Unlike animals, human beings are the only creatures that have this duel bonding process. This ties into the concept, that the one aspect that separates humans from animals is their koach hadibbur (power of speech). When humans mate, they are producing a thinking, speaking human being.

Yaakov Avenu was forced to wait seven years before he and Rachel were able to create the body that would become Klal Yisroel. The formation of the higher element of Klal Yisroel, the neshama of Klal Yisroel, was begun when he first encountered Rachel. The bond between them, in the place where the koach hadibbur emanates from, gave birth to the neshama. The mouth the place where the Tzelem Elokim (divine image) of man is evident.

 The curse mentioned in the gemara  even falls upon a rebbe who teaches his talmid divrei halacha. But he teaches it in the manner of an exchange of information from one separate entity to another. He doesn’t teach it in a manner of a kiss from mouth to mouth, where the two neshamos of the rebbe and the talmid become as one, where the neshama of the talmid becomes filled with new life and experiences a transformation.

 Hence, the life force within the rebbe remains inside, frustrated, never to emerge and bring transformative life to the talmid. He is suppressing life-granting potential. He is the polar extreme of the fetus within the womb. And so, they curse him.

 When Moshe Rabeinu arose upon Har Sinai, his physical essence was transformed. He body attained the properties of the heavenly ones. He had no need for physical sustenance. The actual words of the Torah nourished him. Hashem created a bond with him and interacted with him as if he were an actual extension of Himself, kiviyachol. The posuk says, “Peh el peh adaber bo” – I will speak with him mouth to mouth. He came down a changed person. His face was beaming with a spiritual light, the karnei hod – projections of glory.

 Moshe Rabeinu, in turn, forged the same type of bond with Aharon’s children. He was their actual father – in the spiritual sense. He gave over his essence to them, his actual life force, just as Hashem had given of Himself to him. He gave them the Torah that he received from the Mouth of the Mighty. The Torah that he imbibed through a nurturing connection with his Creator.

 Certainly, Moshe Rabeinu taught his own biological children Torah, but sadly, he did not have this type of connection with them. It wasn’t mouth to mouth.

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