Love life like yourself ?!?!?

in fire, in water
May 28, 2011, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think one of the most chilling photographs at Yad

Vashem is of a well-to-do Dutch family being

escorted to a train to take them to their final

destination. It’s clear they have no idea where they are

going. They take with them everything they can,

including the family dog. Quiet desperation is written on

their faces.

I often wonder how I would have reacted in their

place. What if I had been born a decade earlier and

without the few miles of the English Channel?

How would I have stood up to that horrific sixteenhour

journey in a cattle train surrounded by the

screaming of small children and the stench of an

overflowing pail to accommodate the sanitary needs of

over fifty people? How would I have reacted to seeing

my family standing waiting for ‘a shower’? I wonder.

How was it that seemingly ordinary people were able

to show such extraordinary courage and bravery in the

face of events which make a nightmare pale?

The Midrash tells us that the Torah was given in Fire,

in Water and in the Desert.

What does this mean?

It was through Abraham that we received the Torah

in Fire. Abraham went through the fiery furnace of Ur

Kasdim rather than deny G-d. He is the father of the

Jewish People, our progenitor. We carry his spiritual


At the Reed Sea, the Jewish People as a nation passed

an ordeal by water. The Egyptians army was poised to

drive them into the sea. At G-d’s command the entire

nation jumped into the water, and the sea parted.

And if you’ll say that this was merely a moment of

bravado, then look at a third event that sealed the

capacity of the Jewish People for self-sacrifice. They

followed Moshe into the unsown vastness of the

wilderness, without food, without water, with nothing

more than the promise of miracle food from Above.

Their only companions were snakes and scorpions.

It was these three ordeals – in fire, in water and in the

desert – that anchored in the spiritual genes of the

Jewish People the capacity for self-sacrifice. To this day,

it is this legacy which has empowered ordinary people

to behave extra-ordinarily, to reach up and proclaim, in

the face of Hell, their faith in Heaven.

Source: Rabbi Meir Shapiro from Lublin

in Mayana shel Torah


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Why were the Jewish People counted so frequently?
1. Why were the Jewish People counted so frequently?

2. What documents did the people bring when they were


3. What determined the color of the tribal flags?

4. What is the difference between an “ot” and a “degel”?

5. How do we see that the Jews in the time of Moshe

observed “techum Shabbat” – the prohibition against

traveling more than 2,000 amot on Shabbat?

6. What was the signal for the camp to travel?

7. What was the sum total of the counting of the 12


8. Why are Aharon’s sons called “sons of Aharon and


9. Who was Nadav’s oldest son?

10. Which two people from the Book of Esther does

Rashi mention in this week’s Parsha?

11. Why did the levi’im receive ma’aser rishon?

12. Which groups of people were counted from the age

of one month?

13. Name the first descendant of Levi in history to be

counted as an infant.

14. Who assisted Moshe in counting the levi’im?

15. Why did so many people from the tribe of Reuven

support Korach in his campaign against Moshe?

16. Why did so many people from the tribes of Yehuda,

Yissachar and Zevulun become great Torah scholars?

17. In verse 3:39 the Torah states that the total number

of levi’im was 22,000. The actual number was 22,300.

Why does the Torah seem to ignore 300 levi’im?

18. The first-born males of the Jewish People were

redeemed for five shekalim. Why five shekalim?

19. During what age-span is a man considered at his full


20. As the camp was readying itself for travel, who was

in charge of covering the vessels of the Mishkan in

preparation for transport?

Comment by X Factor

1. 1:1 – They are very dear to G-d.

2. 1:18 – They brought birth records proving their tribal


3. 2:2 – Each tribe’s flag was the color of that tribe’s

stone in the breastplate of the kohen gadol.

4. 2:2 – An “ot” is a flag, i.e., a colored cloth that hangs

from a flagpole. A degel is a flagpole.

5. 2:2 – G-d commanded them to camp no more than

2,000 amot from the Ohel Mo’ed. Had they camped

farther, it would have been forbidden for them to go

to the Ohel Mo’ed on Shabbat.

6. 2:9 – The cloud over the Ohel Mo’ed departed and

the kohanim sounded the trumpets.

7. 2:32 – 603,550.

8. 3:1 – Since Moshe taught them Torah, it’s as if he

gave birth to them.

9. 3:4 – Nadav had no children.

10. 3:7 – Bigtan and Teresh.

11. 3:8 – Since the levi’im served in the Mishkan in place

of everyone else, they received tithes as “payment.”

12. 3:15, 40 – The levi’im, and the first-born of B’nei Yisrael.

13. 3:15 – Levi’s daughter Yocheved was born while the

Jewish People were entering Egypt. She is counted

as one of the 70 people who entered Egypt.

14. 3:16 – G-d.

15. 3:29 – The tribe of Reuven was encamped near

Korach, and were therefore influenced for the

worse. This teaches that one should avoid living

near the wicked.

16. 3:38 – The tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun

were encamped near Moshe, and were therefore

influenced for the good. This teaches that one

should seek to live near the righteous

17. 3:39 – Each levi served to redeem a first-born of the

Jewish People. Since 300 levi’im were themselves

first-born, they themselves needed to be redeemed,

and could therefore not redeem others.

18. 3:46 – To atone for the sale of Yosef, Rachel’s

firstborn, who was sold by his brothers for five

shekalim (20 pieces of silver.)

19. 4:2 – Between the ages of 30 and 50.

20. 4:5 – The kohanim.

Comment by X Factor

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