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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beha'alotcha

Parashat Beha’alotecha

Missing a Mitzvah

3039
Dedicated to the memory of
Hana Bat Haim
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The story of Pesach Sheni gives us a fascinating insight into the behavior of the Jewish people in the desert. Those who had failed to bring the Paschal lamb on time came to Moshe, saying, "We are defiled by a human corpse; why should we be diminished (lama nigara)?" What prompted these people to demand making up what they had missed? What is the meaning of the term "lama nigara," "why should we be diminished"?

This phrase is used once again by the daughters of Tzelaphchad: "Why should the name of our father be diminished (lama yigara) from among his family?" (Bamidbar 27:3). I once heard in the name of Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht z"l that the two stories are related. In Parashat Pinchas the Torah traces the ancestry of the daughters of Tzelaphchad to Yosef Hatzaddik their great, great grandfather. Yosef showed initiative as he remained a Tzaddik in a hard environment of Galut - never missing a chance to strengthen his connection to the Jewish people and mitzvot. This is the behavior that the daughters of Tzelaphchad modeled. Just because there are no boys in the family, they should not have to loose their father’s inheritance in Eretz Israel.

That same initiative is evident in our parasha. The Talmud (Succa 25 b) cites an opinion that the people who missed the original Pesach had become defiled as a result of carrying Yosef’s coffin - the same Yosef who had showed initiative to remain totally connected to his tradition in the environment of Egypt, the same Yosef who never gave up on being buried in Eretz Yisrael. This is the Yosef that they modeled when they asked Moshe for a second chance to bring the Paschal offering. They refused to give up on a chance to connect with God and the Jewish people.

We too must learn from this initiative and not be lax to let others do in our place what we can do by ourselves.

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