Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Naso
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Yaakov Ben Behora

Parashat Naso

When Second Place is First-Rate


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Naso 9 Sivan 5764
One of the questions that troubled Chazal in our parasha is how the head of the Tribe of Yisachar, Yaakov's ninth son and Leah's fifth, merited to bring the special korbanot (sacrifices) to inaugurate the Mishkan (Tabernacle) second among the tribal heads. Looking at the p'sukim and Chazal's comments on them, we find several answers.

While the korbanot of most of the tribal heads were introduced with the word "korbano (his sacrifice)," in Yisachar's case it says "hikriv et korbano (he brought his sacrifice)," with a letter yud missing from "hikriv"(Bamidbar 7:18). This brings us to our first explanation. With the missing letter, the word can be read as a command, "hakrev." When the Tribe of Reuven (the firstborn) complained about the snub of their not being among the first to sacrifice, Moshe responded that Hashem had commanded that Yisachar sacrifice second (Sifrei, Bamidbar 52). But what was the specific reason that Yisachar merited such recognition? That brings us to our next explanation.

It was Yisachar who came up with the idea that the tribes should provide wagons to transport the Mishkan from one place of encampment to the next. This fact is hinted in the change of name of one of the tribe's patriarchs, Yov, who is called Yashuv in Divrei Hayamim (I, 7:1). This hints to the fact that he came up with an idea. A further midrash (Sifrei, ibid.) says that it was this same initiative of Netanel, head of the tribe, that endowed the tribe as a whole with a special characteristic. They are praised as being "those who know wisdom for the times, to know what Yisrael should do" (Divrei Hayamim I, 12:33).

We also have a rule that he who runs away from honor will have honor run after him. The missing yud in "hikriv" may hint at Yisachar's humility. They did not seek a prestigious position, and, as a reward, they received one.

Chazal also take note of the name of the tribal head, Netanel, which is made up of two words: to give and the Name of Hashem. The Midrash Aggada (Bamidbar 1:8) learns the name as a reference to the fact that the tribe members gave their hearts to the study of Torah, which Hashem had given over to Bnei Yisrael. Yaakov also referred to Yisachar's willingness to muster all their energy to carry the load of Torah leadership (Bereishit 49:15), in merit of which they deserved the great honor bestowed upon them.

Finally, Chazal inferred from the name of Yashuv in the context of its mention later in our sefer (Bamidbar 26:24) that Yisachar was praised for establishing courts already during the years in Egypt (Sifrei, ad loc.). This important, trailblazing step, which they took to ensure justice before the rest of the tribes and before they were commanded, was recognized with the honor of bringing korbanot before the rest, as well.

To summarize, we see that showing initiative, a spirit of volunteerism, acceptance of Torah leadership, and establishment of batei din, along with humility, were ingredients of Yisachar's success. Let us all strive to be students of Yisachar.
P'ninat Mishpat- Helping a Man Get Out of Jail If He Gives a Get (based on Piskei Din Rabbaniim- vol. XI, pp. 300-308)

Case: A husband is in jail for four years after conviction for drug dealing. Beit din instructed him to give a get, but he refused. During the hearing in beit din, the husband acted wildly, spitting at and threatening the dayanim. Beit din has the ability to reduce his chances of early discharge for good behavior by informing the authorities of his behavior in court. They would prefer to make a deal with the man to withhold the complaint if he gives a get. Would that linkage make the get he would be pressured into a get m'useh (coerced)?

Opinion 1: Although placing different types of sanctions on one who withholds a get can cause a get to be m'useh and invalid (depending on the case and the various opinions), the matter is different when one gives a get in order to save himself from a sanction which exists independently of the question of the get. The Rivash ( Shut 127) discusses a case where beit din was taking harsh steps against a husband to force him to fulfill his marital obligations to his wife. He ruled that if, under the circumstances, the husband decides to divorce her, it is not considered a get m'useh. The Rivash compares this to a case where an incarcerated man is offered freedom if he gives a get to his wife, which he assumes simply does not harm that the get's validity. The idea is that we consider such a get a reward, rather than considering its withholding a penalty.

However, later authorities argued about the extent of the Rivash's leniency. The Tashbetz (I,1) says that the get given to extricate a man from unrelated sanctions is valid only if the sanctions were implemented halachically. On the other hand, the Ra'anach (Shut 43) says that as long as the sanctions were not imposed in order to force the get, it does not make a difference if they were imposed properly or not.

Our case may depend on which opinion one accepts. It is difficult for beit din to conclude that the husband's imprisonment was done according to halacha. Thus, if they help the husband get out of jail earlier (by not reporting his behavior in court, which in other cases has been punished by the courts) only if he gives a get, at least the Ra'anach would say that it is valid. The Mabit (II, 138) understands the Tashbetz strictly and also says that if the husband can avoid the sanctions only by giving the get, then it is a problem of get m'useh. However, in our case, the Mabit would likely agree that there is not a problem. The jail sentence is already in place, with the only question being if the prisoner deserves a special gift of early release, which is not an automatic right. To withhold a favor is not a problem of get m'useh even if it leaves the husband in an unenviable situation.

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