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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beha'alotcha

Parashat Beha'alotcha

Missing an Opportunity

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In this week’s parasha, the Jews celebrate their first and only Pesach in the desert. Those who are tamei, ritually impure, and cannot bring the Pesach offering, come to Moshe with a complaint: lama nigara - why should we be worse off? Why shouldn’t we be able to do this mitzva?

Asks Rav Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim LaTorah: What are they complaining about? They are not doing anything wrong in not bringing the offering; they are exempt. And no one is faulting them for being impure. To the contrary, the Gemara says that the people who came to complain were Mishael and Eltzafan, who had been instructed to drag the bodies of Nadav and Avihu out of the Mishkan after they were killed for having brought the "strange fire." They had been involved in the important mitzva of honoring the dead, and one who is engaged in one mitzva is exempt from another.

Rav Sorotzkin answers that while they had a good reason for not bringing the Pesach offering, they were nevertheless upset because they were losing out on the opportunity to fulfill the mitzva as part of the Jewish people. Being exempt from a mitzva means that one is not liable for failing to observe it; but it does not provide the spiritual boost that comes from doing what God has commanded.

Rav Sorotzkin laments that we no longer have this attitude. Rather, we see mitzvot as burdensome and are relieved to be exempt from them. Nowhere is this truer than in regard to the mitzva of settling the land of Israel. There are many legitimate reasons for not fulfilling this mitzva. But why aren’t we asking lama nigara? Why aren’t we bothered by the fact that we are losing out on the experience of raising our families in Eretz Yisrael?

Only if we feel and express the pain of not being in Eretz Yisrael will we be motivated to seek ways to overcome the obstacles to Aliya. And only if our children hear us sigh, lama nigara, will they understand that Eretz Yisrael is an important goal even if, temporarily, it appears to be unachievable.

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This is a weekly column contributed by Aloh Naaleh an organization devoted to motivating Jews to make Aliya.
Aloh Na'aleh POB 4337, Jerusalem 91042
Tel: 972-2-566-1181 ext. 320 ~ Fax: 972-2-566-1186
Email: aloh-naaleh@israelcenter.co.il

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