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Sharfman’s Weekly Dvar Torah

Welcome to the Sharfman’s Weekly Dvar Torah! Bnot Torah/Sharfman’s, is legendary for offering you inspirational classes as well as shiurim that feature intellectual stimulation for your mind and soul. Ever week, we will update this page with a Weekly Dvar Torah from Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein, our amazing Parsha teacher who captivates his audience, while making the words of the Parsha come to life before your eyes.  If you are looking for more  Torah from Bnot Torah, click here to enjoy Rabbi Sharfman’s  Podcast. Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!

Parshas BaMidbar

By: Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein

Parshas BaMidbar tells us about a census that was taken in the Midbar. Before the actual counting, the Pasuk informs us that everyone gathered together with their lineage in hand. Rashi explains that each person had to bring their lineage in order to prove which family and which Shevet they belonged to. The question is, why was it important for each person to trace their lineage? Wasn’t it enough just to know how many people were in Klal Yisrael?

We know that many, if not most, people have an innate desire to know their lineage. Individuals spend days, weeks, months, and even years trying to uncover who they are and where they come from. Rav Alexander Mandelbaum, in his sefer MiMa’amakim, puts forth that a person wants to find his source in order to help him understand what his purpose in this world is. Quite often someone will find out he comes from a certain city and he will investigate the customs of that city and incorporate them into his life. Or, if he finds that he descends from a big Tzaddik, it can change his life because he now feels that he must keep up the family tradition. The Rama from Panawa notes that the Gematria of the word “Ratzon”, desire or will, (346) is the same as the word “Makor”, source. A person has a desire to find his source in order to find meaning in life.

The purpose of the census in Klal Yisrael wasn’t just to find out how many people there were. The purpose was also, and more importantly, to bring an Achdus within the Jewish nation in order that they could help each other fulfill their individual purposes in life as well as bring the entire nation closer to HaShem. Perhaps we can explain a difficult Midrash which bothers all the Meforshim. The Midrash states that a person is obligated to ask himself when are his actions are going to be like those of the Avos. This is very hard to understand. How can we possibly be expected to be on the level of the Avos? Isn’t that asking too much? A possible explanation is that the Midrash is telling us that we need to view ourselves as direct descendants of the Avos and by doing so that will encourage us to try our best to emulate them in our Avodas HaShem.

Rav Mandelbaum also wants to explain another Midrash which at first glance seems strange. The Midrash says that when Klal Yisrael accepted the Torah, the Goyim were jealous and asked why the Jews were brought closer to HaShem than they were. HaShem silenced them by telling them to present their lineage. It’s a strange Midrash. What does showing their lineage have to do with anything?

The Goyim aren’t interested in connecting back to the past. In their eyes they are far more advanced than their ancestors. Their forefathers lived primitively compared to the enlightened children. What could they possibly learn by going back in time? They have reached the pinnacle of what Creation is all about. What was, was. Now let’s look towards the future.

Klal Yisrael today view themselves as children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov and students of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen. We have a heritage to keep up with and leaders from the past to try and emulate. Our Kabbalas HaTorah is based on linking ourselves back to Sinai and realizing that we have a lot to live up to. We are directly related to those who stood at the mountain and heard the words of HaShem. Understanding this will give us the incentive to reach our potential. In this manner we can truly raise ourselves to the actions of our Avos.

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