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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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NUMBERS — 1:1 called

(Continued from Genesis 3:9 where WAGSCHAL 118-120). The verse, "And He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him" [this verse] also illustrates this principle. Why did Hashem first call Moshe and afterwords speak to him? The Torah teaches derech eretz: one must not say something to another person unless he first calls to him (Midrash). This rule appears explicitly in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 246:12): A Rabbi should not be asked questions upon his entering the beis midrash; one may only approach him after he is settled down. The Talmud teachers, "One must first give praises to Hashem, and afterwards he may pray" (Berachos 32a). This idea can also be applied to interpersonal relationships--before making requests of another person, one should first praise him.

NUMBERS — 1:2 clans

In the desert the Jews also remained together by families. When the Jews were counted as a people, they were counted by families [this verse]. Even after the forty years in the desert, the distribution of the Holy Land, which would mark the permanent status of the people, was apportioned by family (Numbers 33:54). Thus, the concept of the centrality of the Jewish family was firmly established then and would continue to be throughout Jewish history. Even today, when Jewish tradition wishes to perpetuate the story of the redemption, it must be accomplished in the family setting. Just as that first "seder" in Egypt was held in the family setting, so, too, it is no mere custom today that the Passover seder is conducted by families. The family is an integral part of the ceremony, as the Talmud (Pesachim 108b) lists numerous devices to keep the children awake and participating in the seder experience. There are even sections of the Haggadah that were specifically set up just so that the children would ask questions, in order that they participate and be part of the experience [Pesachim 114b, which shows that the purpose of instituting the Karpas and its dipping, the third step in the seder process, was specifically designed to get children to be curious and encourage them to participate].

NUMBERS — 1:2 counted

[Continued from Exodus 12:4 AMJV 194 household]. Even after the Jews left Egypt, the family unit was still paramount in building the nation. When G-d counted the Jewish people in the desert, they had to be counted by Moses as families [this verse]. But why was it so crucial to building the Jewish nation and religion that the family unit had to be so together? Why is this togetherness an essential element of Judaism? It is clear that in order for the Jewish people to survive and thrive, every Jew had to think of every other Jew as a member of his or her family. Just as any family member would do almost anything to help any other family member, every Jew was tied to every other Jew in the same way [Shavuot 39a; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 87:20].

NUMBERS — 1:3 twenty

A minor does not have true understanding in the moral sphere (Yoma 43a). A minor has no true moral intention (Chullin 13a). The father traditionally recites a blessing at the time of bar mitzvah, Baruch Sheptarani Mei'onsho Shel Zeh, Blessed be G-d who has freed me from the punishment of this boy. Since, before the age of thirteen, a child cannot be held responsible for his or her moral choices, the parent must accept the responsibility. After the age of thirteen, the child is held responsible Jewishly for all moral choices. It should be noted that in other areas, Judaism recognizes that a thirteen-year-old boy and twelve-year-old girl are not truly adults, as reflected in the numerous Jewish laws where a Jewish boy and girl may not be considered an adult until much later. For example, although legal in the Jewish sense to marry and work for a living after bar mitzvah, the same mishnah that declares thirteen the age of mitzvot declares the ideal of marriage to be at eighteen and pursuit of a livelihood at twenty years of age (Avot 5:25). The Torah [this verse] declares the age of twenty to be the minimum age of a Jewish soldier. It is interesting to note that in the last few years in Western countries, while the ages of voting, joining the Army, and drinking remain between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, the age at which a person can be tried for crimes such as murder has been lowered in many places to ages twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. Therefore, even Western society has come to recognize that in the moral sphere, a child this age can recognize the difference between right and wrong.

NUMBERS — 2:20 generations

It was taught: R. Shmuel b. Nachmani said in the name of R. Yonathan: If one teaches his friend's son Torah, it is as if he had begotten him; for it is written; "And these are the generations of Aaron and Moses," followed by (3): "These are the names of the sons of Aaron"--To teach that Aaron begot them and Moses taught them, for which reason they are called by his [Moses'] name (Sanhedrin 19b)

NUMBERS — 3:2 sons

It is a very great mitzvah to teach people Torah. Rashi quotes the Talmud (Sanhedrin 19b) that although the verse states that "These are the generations of Aharon and Moshe," only Aharon's sons are listed. This teaches us that whoever teaches his neighbor's son Torah, as did Moshe (see Eruvin 54b), is considered as if he has given birth to him. The Chofetz Chayim cites this principle and writes that it is a very great mitzvah to teach Torah to people who would not learn it otherwise. He also cites the Tana D'vai Eliyahu (ch. 27): "If you see a person who has not studied Torah, bring him to your house, and teach him to recite Shma Yisroel and Shmoneh Esrai, teach him a verse or a law everyday, and encourage him to fulfill the Commandments, for there is no person as naked as he who does not possess Torah and the merit of fulfilling the Commandments." We our obligated to clothe the needy. All the more so are we obligated to supply spiritual clothing for those who lack it. (Ahavas Chesed 3:7). The school of Hillel taught: "A person should teach Torah to everybody. For there have been many sinners who were taught Torah, and their descendants were righteous and pious." That is, not only were they themselves transformed, but their children and children's children were also righteous. (Avos D'Reb Noson 2:9 and Binyan Yehoshua, ibid.)

NUMBERS — 5:7 confess

If a man transgresses any of the mitzvos in the Torah, whether positive ones or negative ones, whether intentionally or unwittingly--when he repents and turns away from his sin, he must confess before the Blessed G-d, as it is written [this and previous verse]. This refers to verbal confession. ... one who injures his friend or damages his property, even though he compensates him, receives no atonement until he confesses and abandons such conduct forever. How does one confess? He says: "I supplicate You, O Hashem: I have sinned, transgressed, and offended before You, and I have done this-and-this. And now I regret, and am ashamed of my deeds, and will never revert to them again." This is the essence of confession. All who confess frequently and at length are to be commended.

NUMBERS — 5:7 confess

It is a positive commandment that a sinner should turn back from his sin, and should confess his mistakes before the blessed G-d as Scripture says, When a man or a woman commit any sin… then they shall confess their sin [this and preceding verse]. This means an avowal in words before the blessed G-d. He is to say, from the depths of his heart, "I beseech You Hashem: I have sinned, done wrong, and acted criminally before You. This-and-this I did (and he has to describe the scene in detail); and here I have regretted my deed and become ashamed of it. Never will I go back and do this thing again." The main element [of repentance] is remorse in the heart, in truth, over the past; and one must take it upon himself not to do such a thing ever again. This [confession] is the essential part of repentance; but the more one confesses, the more praiseworthy he is. Even death and the confession on Yom Kippur, however, bring no atonement [and forgiveness] unless they are with repentance.

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