Sunday-Daily Chitas [Chumash, Tanya] & Rambam Summaries [23rd Iyar 5783]

Sunday, 23rd Iyar 5783/May 14, 2023


Parshas Bamidbar


  1. Hashem commands Moshe to take a census of the Jewish people:
  • When: Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert in the Ohel Moed on the first day of the second month [i.e. 1st of Iyar] in the second year of leaving Egypt.
  • Who is counted: He commanded him to count the Jewish people according to their families, counting every male who is twenty years of age and above.
  • Choosing tribal leaders: One leader and representative of each tribe shall count with you. The following are the names of these leaders:
  1. Reuvein: Elitzur Ben Shedeur
  2. Shimon: Shelumiel Ben Tzurishadai
  3. Yehuda: Nachshon Ben Amminadav
  4. Yissachar: Nisanel Ben Tzuar
  5. Zevulun: Eliav Ben Cheilon
  6. Ephraim: Elishama Ben Ammihud
  7. Minasheh: Gamliel Ben Pedahtzur
  8. Binyamin: Avidan Ben Gideoni.
  9. Dan: Achiezer Ben Amishaddai
  10. Asher: Pagiel Ben Ochran
  11. Gad: Eliasaf Ben Deuel
  12. Naftali: Achira Ben Einan
  • Moshe took all the above-mentioned individuals and he gathered the entire congregation on the first of the second month and the genealogy of each family was established. All men above 20 years of age were counted as Hashem commanded Moshe.

Tanya Beginning of Chapter 51

1. Understanding the residing of the Shechina:

  • If G-d is everywhere what is the meaning of the Shechina residing in a specific area? For a greater understanding of the wording of the Yenuka [brought in Tanya chapter 35, that the Shechina resides on one’s head and requires refueling] we must introduce the following query. What is the concept of the Shechina residing in the Kodesh Hakedoshim, or any area for that matter? We know, as states the verse, that Hashem resides everywhere “Malei Kol Ha’aretz Kevodo” and there is no place void of Him. If so, what is the meaning of the Shechina residing in a limited area, if in truth G-d is found everywhere.
  • This will be explained through introducing a parable of the relationship between the body and soul and how they corelate, as the verse states “From my flesh I see G-d.”

2. The way the soul enlivens the body and its limbs:

  • We will now analyze the relationship between the body and soul, and then later compare this relationship to the relationship between G-dliness and creation to better understand the meaning of the Shechina’s residence in a specific area versus the fact that G-d is already everywhere.
  • The soul powers of man that derive from its center within the brain: As we know, the soul of man permeates all the 248 limbs of a person from his head to his toe. Nonetheless, there contains one main center of the soul’s activities and residence which is in the brain, and from the brain it expands to the remaining limbs.
  • Every limb receives a different soul power in accordance to its function and nature. For example, the eye receives the power of sight, the ear the power of hearing, the mouth the power to speak, the legs the power to walk, and so on and so forth. This is all received from the soul’s center in the brain, as is readily witnessed from the fact the brain feels all that occurs with the 248 limbs.

3. The essence of the soul does not contain parts:

  • The different soul powers that the 248 limbs receive, each according to their need and function, does not intrinsically derive from the souls’ s essence. The essence is not made up of 248 soul powers which is then sent to each limb to receive its due power.
  • Not similar to a body: If this were the case, then the essence of the soul would contain a similarity to a body with parts and the form of a body Heaven Forefend [as the soul is G-dliness, and G-dliness does not contain parts].
  • A single entity without physical connotation: Rather, the essence of the soul is one single spiritual unity and entity, a single general power that does not contain or incorporate detailed powers of abilities. It contains no physical connotations of space and measurement and hence cannot be said to be located more in the brain than the feet, as it is not bound by space.
  • How the soul powers emanate from the single entity: Rather, this single unit and entity contains the power to release and reveal 613 particular soul powers for the sake of enlivening the particular limbs and parts of the body, which are the 248 limbs and 365 sinews. It accomplishes this by shining these soul powers into the corresponding 248 and 365 powers found in the animal soul.

Rambam, Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, Chapter 10

Chapter 10: The miracles a prophet must perform to prove his validity

Halacha 1: The qualification of doing miracles-Predicting the future

  • Nature breaking miracles: A prophet which claims to have been sent by G-d, does Not need to perform a nature breaking miracle on the level of Moshe or Eliyahu or Elisha.
  • Rather, it suffices for him to predict the future.
  • The order of testing a potential prophet: Accordingly, when an individual arrives who is fit to be a prophet of G-d and he does not come to add or subtract from the mitzvah’s but rather simply to serve G-d through fulfilling the mitzvah’s written in the Torah, then he is not to be asked to perform a nature breaking miracle, such as to split the sea or revive the debt as a prerequisite to believe him. Rather, he is to be told that if he is indeed a prophet then he should predict things of the future, and if they will come true, then he will be believed. Accordingly, we do not verify and authenticate his prophecy until we see that his predictions come true.
  • If the prediction is not completely accurate: In order to believe the claims of the prophet his predictions must be 100% accurate. If even a small part of his predictions do not come to fruition, then he is known to be a false prophet.

Halacha 2: Verifying many predictions

  • The acclaimed prophet must be checked many times to make sure that his many predictions come true. If they all come true then he is to be accepted as a true prophet.

Halacha 3: The uniqueness of prophets versus sorcerers

  • Inaccurate predictions: Although there are people who use sorcery to tell the future, there is a difference between them and a prophet: Those who use sorcery for predicting the future will never have a completely accurate prediction, and rather only part of the prediction will come to fruition. This is at best, at worst nothing will come true of their prediction. The predictions of the sorcerers is similar to straw mixed with grain and contains waste product. However, the word of G-d is pure grain without any waste product.
  • G-d instructed the Jewish people to only consult with the his prophets and forbade them from consulting with sorcerers and the advantage of doing so is that the prophets will give him a true prediction.
  • The purpose of the prophets: The function of the prophets is to inform the Jewish people of true predictions of future events, such as years of plenty and years of hunger, Years of war and years of peace. Likewise, they are there to inform the individual of his needs, such as regarding the whereabouts of a lost object. Their purpose is not to create another religion or add or detract from the mitzvah’s.

Halacha 4: Predicting future calamities versus future blessings

  • Inaccuracies in predictions of calamities: If a prophet predicts a certain tragedy or calamity to occur, such as regarding the death of an individual or a year of war and famine, and it does not happen, then this does not necessarily mean that his prophecy is inaccurate, as it is possible that G-d who is merciful has forgiven the sins and retracted from his prophetic doomsday prediction. We saw this regarding the city of Ninvei, in which the prophecy of doom was later retracted due to their repentance.
  • Inaccuracies in predictions of good and blessing: If a prophet predicts a certain good and blessing to occur and it does not happen, then he is certainly a false prophet, as G-d does not retract from His good promises.
  • Testing the prophet with positive predictions of blessing: Accordingly, when coming to test the eligibility of an acclaimed prophet, he must be tested by stating predictions of positivity and blessing that will occur in the future, and only if they come true can he be verified as a true prophet.

Halacha 5: A prophet who testifies regarding another prophet

  • If an already authenticated prophet testified regarding another individual that he is a prophet, then he is considered to be a prophet and is not required to have any future predictions verified prior to his validation.
  • This was done with Moshe and his student Yehoshua, who Moshe testified to be a prophet and thereby he was not asked to perform any miracles.
  • Not to test a prophet too much: An authenticated prophet must be believed and cannot be tested too many times out of doubt of his authenticity.

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