By Rabbi Pinchas Frankel

Sadness or Immaturity



Parashas BaMidbar - 5776



Sefer BaMidbar has been called the Saddest Book of the Bible.


The Jewish People had received the Torah from HaShem a mere seven weeks after their Exodus from Egypt. They had been slaves in Mitzrayim for more than 200 years. The first delivery of the Torah had ended in tragedy; out of impatience, the Jewish People had worshipped a Golden Calf, instead of waiting another day for the return of Moshe. Moshe had smashed the great gift from HaShem. The Torah says that HaShem wanted initially to destroy the Jewish People, and start over from Moshe. But his faithful servant persuaded him not to, and to give His People another chance. On Yom Kippur, Moshe returned with a second copy of the Ten Commandments, which His People received with joy.


As atonement for the Golden Calf, the People built a “Mishkan,” where the Kohanim were charged with the bringing of sacrifices. The end of Sefer Shemos concerns itself with the building of the “Mishkan,” and Sefer VaYikra is called “Toras Kohanim,” which describes the Laws of the Priests, and the Sacrifices.


Sefer BaMidbar brings us back to the People of Israel, about to set forth for the land which was promised by HaShem to their forefathers. A description is given of the formation of the Twelve Tribes around the “Mishkan,” and a description follows of the Leviim who were stationed even more tightly around the “Mishkan,” which contained the Holy Ark, with the “luchos,’ as guards. When the Camps of Israel moved, the “Mishkan” was taken apart, and its component parts were loaded onto wagons.


A census is taken of the Tribes, every male from twenty years and up, everyone who is of military age, and the resulting number is some 600,000. The Tribe of Levi is not included in this census. Rather, a separate census is taken of this holiest Tribe, because they had not participated in the Sin of the Golden Calf, every male from the age of one month and up.


They were now ready to resume their journey towards the Land of Israel, which was only an 11-day distance from where they were. Did this generation of Jews ever make it to Eretz Yisroel? I’m afraid not. They didn’t make it there because they believed the report of the “Meraglim,” who reported honestly what they had seen in the Holy Land. And the people were gripped by a “slave mentality.”


“They returned from spying out the Land at the end of forty days…They reported to him and said, ‘We arrived at the Land to which you sent us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But – the people that dwells in the Land is powerful, the cities are very greatly fortified, and we also saw there the offspring of the giant…’ ” (Bamidbar 13:25, 27-28)


“Calev silenced the people toward Moshe and said, ‘We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!’  But the men who had ascended with him said, ‘We cannot ascend to that people for it is too strong for us! They brought forth to the Children of Israel an evil report on the Land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The Land through which we have passed, to spy it out, is a Land that devours its inhabitants!’ …The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night…So they said to one another, ‘Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt!’  Moshe and Aharon fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the assembly of the Children of Israel. And Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yephuneh ripped their clothes. They spoke to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, saying: ‘The Land that we passed thru, to spy it out – the Land is very, very good...But do not rebel against HaShem!’ ” (BaMidbar 13:30-32, 14:1,4,5-7,9)


The People were punished and they had to wander in the Wilderness for forty years, as many days as the Meraglim had spent in Israel, and their children, who had not been slaves, were able to enter the Holy Land.


Thousands of years later, the Jewish People has established the State of Israel, and re-conquered Yerushalayim, and looks forward to the Aliyah of our entire People, and the arrival of the Mashiach.


L’Illuy Nishmas beni, Aharon Baruch Mordechai ben Pinchas Menachem











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