July 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The ‘Mini Torah’ Contained in Parshas Behaaloscha

I have a gorgeous art piece from Rabbi Yonah Weinrib in my house— basically a star with six teardrop points. In the center, there’s a circle which says, “Pirkei Avos.” In between each teardrop point, there are large Hebrew words. The six words read, “Hafoch bah hafoch bah d’kulah bah” —”Look inside the words of Torah carefully, since everything is contained in them.” And in between the six teardrops, in tiny Hebrew letters, are the entire words of one of the six chapters of Pirkei Avos.

Parshas Behaaloscha has an incredible illustration of how even a few words of the Torah contain so much. There are two pesukim in Parshas Behaaloscha that have backwards letter nun’s bracketing them: “Vayehi Binsoah ha’aron…,” and the next verse, “Uvenuchu yomar….” The Gemara explains that the brackets are meant to separate these two pesukim from the ones before and after them. The brackets around each of these two verses give them a status as a book / sefer unto themselves. Therefore, Sefer Bamidbar now includes three separate books— the two pesukim themselves and the portions before and after these pesukim!

The Baal Haturim notes that the first of these two pesukim contains twelve words and the second pasuk contains seven words. They correlate to the first and last pesukim in the Torah. But there is a problem: Our pesukim don’t align to the word count of the Torah’s first and last pesukim, which has seven words to start, and 12 words to finish. The Pri Tzadik notes the apparent inconsistency in this correlation. Since the first pasuk of our two verses matches the last pasuk in the Torah, and the second pasuk matches the first pasuk of the Torah, the correlation is seemingly out of order.

To deal with this apparent inconsistency, we note that the Torah starts with the letter beis and ends with the letter lamed, which spells lev—heart. The last letter of the Torah connects to the first letter because the Torah is considered one continuous circuit. When we complete learning the Torah, we’re supposed to go back to the beginning. When completing a Gemara, the custom is to recite a paragraph called “Hadran.” The word “Hadran” means to return—we pledge to return and review what we have learned. Further, the practice is to immediately start the next Gemara or segment of Torah we have studied. With this analysis, I believe we understand why the first verse of the two pesukim correlates to the last verse in the Torah— since the Torah is one large circuit where the end is connected to the beginning.

The Baal Haturim provides another analysis of how these two pesukim correlate to the entire Torah. He notes that the first letter of these two pesukim is the letter ‘vav’ and the last letter is ‘lamed.’ Together the letters ‘lamed’ and ‘vav’ are the gematria (numerical value) of 36. When Hashem created the world, there was a great light that shone from one end of the world to the other. Rashi says that Hashem intended that this light be reserved only for tzadikim; therefore, Hashem took the light and hid it in the words of the Torah, making it accessible only for tzadikim who learn the Torah. The Rokeach says that this light shone for the first 36 hours of creation before Hashem placed it in the words of the Torah. Since the gematria of the first and last letter of these pesukim equal 36, this suggests that these pesukim are a mini Sefer Torah which contains the hidden light that shone for 36 hours.

The two pesukim from Behaaloscha that we have been discussing are recited when the Sefer Torah is removed from the aron (“Vayehi Bnsoah haaron….”) and returned to the aron (“Uvnechu yomar….”) during davening. The reason these two specific verses are recited is that the first pasuk discusses when the aron, which contained the luchos and a sefer Torah that Moshe wrote, began to travel in the desert. This is similar to when a Sefer Torah is moved out of the aron during davening. Similarly, the second pasuk discusses when the aron returned to its place; therefore, it is recited when we are returning a Sefer Torah back to its place in the shul’s aron.

I believe there is another important lesson we should learn from these two pesukim: When we learn Torah, we should take its teachings with us wherever we go. When we leave our house, shul or yeshiva, we should embody the lessons and mitzvos that are taught in the Torah. Upon our return, we should reflect on whether we were successful in our mission.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles