Parshas Behaalosecha

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

אל נא תעזב אתנו…והיית לנו לעינים (פרק י פסוק לא)

The Torah describes how Yisro, Moshe’s father-in-law, wanted to leave the Jews in the desert and return to his homeland, and Moshe tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to stay. Moshe asked him, “please do not leave us… as you have been as eyes for us.” Rashi, in one explanation, says that being “eyes” is to see ideas and solutions that others do not. The Chasam Sofer, based on this understanding, expounds on the discussion between Moshe and Yisro as follows. Yisro felt that in his homeland he would be better than everyone else, whereas with the Jews his level of observance wasn’t as impressive. Hashem would judge him based on his environment, and when in the desert perhaps he would look worse in the eyes of Hashem than if he were to return home. Moshe argued that Yisro had helped the entire Jewish nation by advising them on a practical judicial system. We have a rule that anyone who is מזכה הרבים, benefits the public, will not lose out or be harmed because of them, because it would not be befitting for the beneficiary to be accorded greater reward than the benefactor. Therefore, Yisro needn’t worry that he would be viewed in a worse light because of his remaining with the Jewish nation. When someone works on behalf of the Jewish nation, they can be assured that their role in the nation will be of benefit to them.

שובה ה’ רבבות אלפי ישראל (פרק י פסוק לו)

There are two verses in the Parsha which are separated by inverted nuns(נ). One opinion in the Gemara explains that these symbols indicate that this is a separate book, resulting in seven books of the Torah. According to this opinion, there must be a fundamental lesson to be derived from these two verses, otherwise why would they deserve their own book? R’ Elya Svei explains that from one of the verses we learn that there is a certain intensity of Hashem’s presence specifically when there are 22,000 Jews together. Although Hashem is always with us, having 22,000 of us together intensifies His presence. R’ Elya says that this teaches us an incredible lesson in the value of every individual. After all, if there were but 21,999 Jews together, one Jew would make an awesome difference in the Divine Presence! Perhaps this is the incredible lesson that we can learn from this book, how every Jew has infinite value and amazing potential.

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