19 May NASSO- THE SANCTITY OF JEWISH MARRIAGE
The Gemorah (Kiddushin 2b) tells us that the phrase “harei at m’kudeshet li” that we use under the chuppah is not a biblical expression at all, rather it is a rabbinical formulation. However, the commentaries on the Gemorah (Gilyonei ha’Shas by Rav Yosef Engel, Kiddushin 41a) point out that the concept behind the expression is in fact biblical. Specifically, we assume that when a Jewish couple gets married, an element of keddusha is introduced into their lives. The Gemorah (Sotah 17a) points out that in the Hebrew language the word “ish” has a letter “yud” and the word “isha” has a letter “hay”, and combined these two letters spell out the name of Hashem (yud – hay.) The Gemorah also tells us that when a couple has shalom bayis, “shechinah sh’ruyah bei’neiyem” – there will be an element of keddusha in their lives.
When the Torah tells us the laws of the sotah in Parshas Nosho, the verb that is chosen and repeated three times in the posuk is “v’nitme’ah.” Why should that verb have been chosen to connote ruining a marriage? The Avnei Nezer explains the choice of this verb by quoting a section from the Kuzari in which the king of the Kuzarim asked the rabbi, “if you Orthodox Jews follow everything that it says in the Torah, why don’t you go to mikva every time you come in contact with tumah as prescribed in the Torah?” The rabbi responded that the laws of tumah are only relevant when you are dealing with keddusha. For example, the Beis Hamikdash has keddusha and one who is tomei may not enter; korbonos, maaser sheini, and terumah have keddusha and one who is tomei may not eat them. But we live so far away from the Beis Hamikdash – we have no terumah and no korbonos, and nothing of keddusha to speak of, and therefore we don’t have to go to mikvah. Tumah is only an issue when it is in contradiction to keddusha; if one is nowhere near aspects of keddusha, then the tumah is irrelevant.
Based on that comment of the Kuzari, the Avnei Nezer (Even Hoezer, 240,5) explains that the Torah seems to be assuming that every Jewish marriage contains an element of keddusha. When dealing with a sotah, i.e. a marriage that was ruined, the Chumash can use the word “v’nit’meah” exactly for the reason of the Kuzari, i.e. that tumah is a contradiction to keddusha. This interpretation of the posuk is not merely agadata – it is a halachic realty that the Avnei Nezer uses to explain some halachos in that Gemorah.
Be’Halosecha- Zecharia, Miriam, and the Master Novi
Every Shabbos we read a haftorah dealing with inyono d’yoma. Once in a while the inyono d’yoma happens to be that there is a chosson in shul or that today is erev Rosh Chodesh. But usually we consider the parshas ha’shavua as inyonei d’yoma, and there is always an obvious connection between the haftorah and the parsha. In parshas B’ha’aloshcho, both the chumash and the novi deal with the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh. Very often, in addition to the obvious connection, there is a deeper connection which is not that obvious. The Rambam lists the thirteen principles of faith of the Jewish religion. Two of these i’korei ha’emunah are 1) that we believe in prophecy and 2) that we believe that Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest prophet of all times.
Regarding the uniqueness of Moshe Rabbeinu’s nevuah the Rambam (in Moreh Ne’vuchim) points to the haftorah of parshas B’ha’aloshcha wherein the novi Zecharia is shown a vision/prophecy which he could not understand. Zecharia then asked the malach who showed him the vision to explain what the olive trees in the vision are supposed to represent. The malach responded, “but you certainly know what they are all about”, whereupon Zecharia again requests of the angel to please explain because he didn’t understand! Finally the malach explains the vision to the novi Zecharia.
The Rambam quotes the gemorah saying that Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of prophecy was much greater than that of all the other nevi’im in several different ways. One of the differences is that the prophecies of Moshe Rabbeinu were much clearer than that of the other nevi’im. The Rambam quotes the passage from the novi Zecharia to demonstrate the point that unlike Moshe, it took Zecharia a while, with quite a bit of give, to understand the prophecy.
Moshe Rabbeinu being the greatest novi is one of the major themes of Ba’ha’aloscha. Moshe Rabbeinu’s own sister, Miriam, made negative comments about her brother, not realizing that his level of prophecy was way beyond hers or that of her other brother Aharon. Hashem punished Miriam for the negative comments that she made and formulated this ikar in emunah, i.e. that all should realize that Moshe Rabbeinu was the adon ha’nevi’im. This is the additional connection between Ba’ha’aloscha and its haftorah – they both bring out this ikar in emunah.