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Parshas Bamidbar and Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5764

Rabbi Avraham Brandwein of Yerushalayim (in translation)


It is written in the Torah in Parshas Yisro, “In the third month to the exodus of the Children of Israel from the Land of Egypt, on this day, they came to the Desert of Sinai… And you will be for Me a special (people) from all of the nations.

In (the Talmud) Tractate Shabbos page 88a it is written, “Blessed be the Merciful One who cave the triple Torah (Torah, Prophets, and Writings) to the triple Nation (Priests, Levites, and Israelites, through the triple (Moshe, who was the third child, being after Miriam and Aharon) on the triple day (the third day, which is explained as) the third month (which is the month of Sivan, which comes after Nissan and Iyar.)” This concludes the words of the Talmud.

We need to explain, what is unique about triples that Chazal praise this issue so much? The idea is that there is an extremely foundational matter here with regard to Judaism and the Torah of Israel. This is called the going on the middle path, which is a hard path, since the nature of a person is to lean right or left. For example, an extreme path to separate from the life of this world, meditation (in solitude) or fasting or separating from (living) a married life, this opposes the Jewish religion. Likewise with the opposite, a life of fooling around without boundaries, but only to fill one’s desires without (proper) consideration, this too opposes the Jewish religion. However, the Torah obligates (us to be on) the middle path, which is eating, drinking, having a family, and living a natural life in the refinement (Tikkun) of the world. But, in each thing, there are boundaries. For example, with eating, one must eat kosher food. With a marital life, one must have appropriate conditions. Likewise with the rules dealing with a civilized society like, do not steal, properly balanced scales (honesty in business), and more.

So too with every attribute and trait, one needs to use them only in the proper measure, no more or less. For example, with the attribute of Chessed, if it is not included with Gevurah, it can cause damage. For instance, if we would be unable to withstand the cries of a young child who wishes to play with a dangerous item and (allow them to play with it, by not) using the attribute of Gevurah (to keep the item from them), we would cause them damage. Likewise, Chazal say that it is forbidden to be compassionate to the cruel, since they would thereby be causing cruelty to the community, and (instead) one should use the attribute of Gevurah.

On the other hand, if one were to only use the attribute of Gevurah, which is a stern judgmentalism, one could also come to cause harm and even murder. But rather, we need to go on the middle path. So too with every particular detail in a person’s life, there are tendencies to lean to the right, i.e. Chessed, or to the left, to Gevurah. Therefore, this (middle) path is difficult, since it requires constant (self) examination. This is like a wagon on the down-slope of a highway, without a driver. It heads off to the right or left. But, to be driven in the middle path, it requires two condition, braking and acceleration. Therefore, character traits are called Middos (measures), just like spices, which are used by measured amounts, like salt, sugar and pepper.

This is what is unique about a triple (or triad) where one knows how to join together the two sides of the right and the left, and to interweave Chessed with Gevurah. This is the Middle Path.

This is what is written, “And you shall be for Me a Segulah (a special people).” Segulah is like the vowel point Segol (the Eh sound) that is placed under the letters. There is also a Segol of the musical (cantillation) notes of the Torah, which is placed above the letters. From here is the reason for the symbol of Judaism , which is the Magen David (the Star of David), which has six points, from the Segol above, below, and to the sides, which symbolizes the unity and the specialness of the Nation of Israel, by following the middle path, which incorporates from both sides. This is as it is written in the Book of Devarim, Chapter 27, verse 18, “And Hashem separated you today to be for Him a Special Nation, etc. for praise, for a name, and for Tiferes.

We also find with regard to the Ten Sefiros, that according to the words of the Holy Ari, they are set up in an ordered (refined) form of Chochmah to the right and Binah to the Left, with Da’as in the middle. Chessed is to the right, Gevurah to the left and Tiferes in the middle. Netzach to the right, Hod to the left, and Yesod in the middle. Beneath Yesod is the Sefirah of Malchus. Since the middle path must be made with a balanced mind, therefore the Sefiros, which correspond to the head, the thought and understanding are in the brain, which (correspond) to the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah, and the tongue corresponds to Da’as, which expresses the “tongue” (the indicator) of the scales. This is as written in the Tikunei Zohar in the teaching “Eliyahu opened”, and the Sephardim have the custom of reciting this prior to Mincha.

Chessed and Gevurah are the right and left sides of the body, and they correspond to action, since the head is thought, while Tiferes corresponds to the heart.

We need to explain the concept of Tiferes. The Malbim on Sefer Yeshaya Chapter 4 explains that (some of the) Hebrew terms used to connote beauty are Pe’air, Ziv, Hadar, Hod, and Tiferes, (representing various types of beauty, splendor, radiance, etc.) Tiferes (beauty) always refers to a beautiful form, which is not grasped in a natural manner. For example, the beauty of a handsome person is a natural beauty, which is called Ziv Panim (a radiant face), since Hashem graced the person with such. But, the beauty of wisdom or good behavior, which has been achieved by the effort of a person, this is designated by the term Tiferes. According to this, we can understand the designation of Tiferes as the heart, which signifies one’s will, as the saying, “The heart desires.” When a person unites the two opposites of Chessed and Gevurah with proper balance, which is acquired by balanced thought of the individual, it is the triple, which is the Tiferes Yisroel (the beauty of Israel).

The Topic Of The Two Loaves Of Bread Offering On Shavuos

In the Tractate on Rosh Hashanah page 16, it is written, “Rabbi Yehuda says in the name of Rabbi Akiva, ‘Why does the Torah say to bring two loaves of bread on Shavuos (Atzeres)? Since Shavuos is the time of the fruits of the tree, Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to bring before Me the two loaves of bread in order that the fruits of the trees should be blessed.’” Rashi explains that is says regarding the Holiday of Shavuos, “The first produce of the harvest of wheat.” And according to the view of Rabbi Yehuda, the tree that Adam Harishon ate from was wheat. The idea is that on the Holiday of Shavuos it is written that the Bnei Yisroel reached such a high level as Adam Harishon prior to the sin. It is known that the sin brought death to the world. On Shavuos it is written, “Chawrus (Engraved) on the tablets).” Chazal says that you can read the word Chayrus (Freedom) representing freedom from the Angel of Death. Therefore, even though, now, wheat are stalks and not a tree, but this occurred because of the sin, but prior to the sin, the wheat was the size of a tree, and the wheat was the fruit of the tree. Therefore, they bring the offering of wheat (on Shavuos), so the fruits of the tree will be blessed.

Why specifically with two loaves of bread? It is written about this that they correspond to Binah and Malchus. The bread is Chometz (leavened bread). Chometz represents the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination). It is written that if the attribute of judgment were not combined with the attribute of Mercy, the world would not have been able to survive. The Sefirah of Malchus corresponds to the attribute of judgment, which is the desire to receive for oneself. The Sefirah of Binah is the desire to emanate. Therefore, Hashem elevated the attribute of judgment and combined it with the attribute of Mercy. They are symbolized by the two Hays in the Name of Hashem (Havaya). Likewise in the blessing of HaMotzei Lechem Min HaAretz (the One who brings forth bread from the land) (said over bread), the Hay of HaMotzei corresponds to Binah and the Hay of HaAretz corresponds to Malchus. Since on the Holiday of Shavuos the Yetzer Hara was refined and converted to good, therefore, the two loaves of bread come from Chometz, to show that there is no difference between the Yetzer Hara and the Yetzer Tov.

This is also written in the Megilah of Rus (Ruth), that Naomi represents Binah, from the term Ni’eemus (pleasantness), who went with Rus, who represents Malchus, as it is written, that the two of them went together.


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