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					Chumash Bamidbar Rabbi Chaim Poupko

Name: ________________________

Note-taking Guide #13

‫י:כט - לד‬

1. Who is ‫ ? חֹבב‬Rashi - _______________________________________________________________________________ Ibn Ezra - __________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. What was the conversation between ‫ משה‬and ‫______________________________________________________ ? חֹבב‬ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. What’s missing from this conversation and how do some commentators fill in the blank (Ramban, Seforno)? __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Why does the Torah leave out this part of the conversation? What lessons could the Torah be teaching? What keywords highlight one of these lessons? _________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________

‫יא: א - ג‬

5. What were the Jewish people complaining about? Does the Torah indicate this in any way? _______________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6. How were the Jewish people punished for their complaint and how was this punishment stopped ? __________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7. What can we learn from the lack of detail in this brief episode? ______________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________

‫יא: ד - ז‬

8. What were the Jewish people complaining about this time and what is so surprising about this complaint? ______________________________________________________________________________ ____________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 9. How does ‫ רש"י‬understand their complaint? How does he understand the word ‫____________________________ ?חנם‬ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1

Chumash Bamidbar Rabbi Chaim Poupko

Name: ________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10. How do other commentators struggle with the word ‫ חנם‬and try to restore its literal meaning? (ibn Ezra and Ramban) __________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11. How does ‫’0081( שמואל דוד לוצאטו‬s Italian Jewish scholar, a.k.a. ‫ ) שד"ל‬add historical data in support of the literal meaning of ‫____________________________________________________________________________________ ?חנם‬ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ ‫שמואל דוד לוצאטו‬

12.

What observation does Nechama Leibowitz make about these “literal meaning” approache s?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 13. How does Nechama Leibowitz explain the Midrash cited by Rashi? __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Nechama Lebowitz …all those who try to explain the text literally who wish to answer the question of the Sag es in terms of the tricks that memory deliberately plays with the person. They forgot the injustice they had suffered. Only pleasant memories remained of the generous helpings of food given them. The reason underlying this generosity was of no concern to them. But it seems to us that our Rabbis evinced a profounder understanding of the Israelites' character. Was it really and truly the fish and cucumbers that prompted this outcry on the part of the Israelites? Perhaps this was merely the outward form their inner dissatisfaction took! A community will accept suffering and want with enthusiasm and eagerness, provided the ultimate aim of it all is one which appeals to them or with which they can identify themselves. No sacrifice - of convenience, property, health and even those near and dear will be too great, provided the goal is valued and sacred in their eyes. On the other hand, when discontent lurks in the heart of the public or individual, grumblings and murmurings, criticism and defamation will flare up at the slightest pretext The most trivial difficulty will be magnified sevenfold and even the tiniest inconvenience demanded regarded as a major violation of their rights. The real motive for the inner discontent is 2

Chumash Bamidbar Rabbi Chaim Poupko

Name: ________________________

Nechama Lebowitz (con’t) not explicitly expressed, either because the person is unaware of its cause or because it springs from forbidden desires which have to be suppressed and concealed. Instead, the malcontents make much of trivial complaints and always have a grievance. The onlooker wm be puzzled: Are these trivialities worth such an outcry? His eye will not be able to distinguish between the pretext and the real cause lurking deep down. Our Sages detected this. When they said ‫ חנם‬they meant "free of mitzvot". Not food or drink, fish or cucumbers, whether given away' or cheap, fresh or stale really concerned them, but that freedom from the irksome demands of civilization and standards of self-discipline which they had enjoyed in Egypt. The Talmud observes that "a slave enjoys his license". The master does not interfere in the private lives of his slaves, does not bother about their moral and educational training. On the contrary the more the slave is ruled by his senses, the better for the master. Let him get drunk, fight, indulge in promiscuity and expend his superfluous energies on such outlets rather than "listen to words of falsehood" - of freedom, liberation from the toils of his bondage. Let him not think of his self-respect, of man created in the image of God daily trodden underfoot by his persecutors. It is not the master's business to teach him ethics and conduct. His slave is like his beast of burden and the slave is satisfied with that. But when the Israelites went forth from slavery to freedom, another bondage was imposed on them, more difficult and majestic in its awesomeness - the yoke of Torah and mitzvot imposed on them at Sinai - self-discipline in the life of the community and individual, in family life and relations with neighbors, on workdays and rest days, in matters of food and drink and clothing and, most important, in matters of sex. This yoke so dear to the one who accepts it willingly, to the one who has studied Torah and been enlightened to appreciate its luster and experience its taste – this yoke of freedom appeared to those accustomed to slavery, as burdensome and irksome. This, in the view of our Sages, was the cause of all the grumblings about water, bread and meat and the fish they ate for nothing in Egyptian bondage. Free? Of course. Yonder, we ate fish free - free from mitzvot free from the yoke of Torah and mitzvot.

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