Torah Fax
Friday, May 26, 2006 - 28 Iyar, 5766

Torah Reading: BeMidbar (Numbers 1:1 - 4:20 )
Candle Lighting Time: 7:58 PM
Shabbat Ends: 9:07 PM
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 6
Shabbat is 44 days of the Omer
Are You Sure?
This week's parsha carries the same name as the entire fourth book of the Torah that we commence reading this week: Bamidbar-in the desert. In this week's parsha the Torah delineates the manner in which the Jewish people traveled through the desert on their way from Egypt to Sinai and beyond.
Commentators explain that this process was a portent of the journey we have made through exile, the conditions of which have been likened to the desert.
The parsha begins by describing the way the people were counted. The Torah states: "And all the people gathered on the first day of the second month, revealing the relationship to their families, by their fathers' homes, according to the number of names, by head, from twenty years old and upward."
Rashi comments that, "They brought their documents of lineage, and witnesses to the assumption of patrimony, relating each individual to their particular tribe."
Commentators wonder why it was necessary for them to bring evidence to confirm who their fathers were.
Or HaCaim speculates that, "Perhaps it was necessary to provide an assumption of patrimony so that there is no suspicion of Mamzerus-illegitimacy."
The question begs itself: Why would we suspect that the men and women of that generation would be guilty of adultery? Furthermore, our Sages tell us that, in fact, the Jews in Egypt maintained their chastity, and only in one instance was there a breach of marital fidelity. Why then was it necessary for the people to bring proof of paternity? And, if we were suspicious of them committing adultery, how would a document allay our suspicions?
A similar thought is expressed by the Zohar as to why when we pray for someone's health we mention the mother's name: When we pray we want to make sure of the identity of the individual for whom we are praying. And since there is no absolute certainty as to the identity of the father, it is preferable that we mention the mother's name.
Here the question that can be asked is even more urgent. When we pray to G‑d for another, He obviously knows who that person is. Why then couldn't we use the father's name? And to strengthen the question, why do we call people up to the Torah using their father's name if there is a chance that it might not be accurate? Why only in health related matters is it crucial that we have the person's identity straight.
One approach to this matter is that ill health is a physical manifestation of a spiritual condition where there is a lack of connection between one's body and its spiritual source of life. When a person is ill, there is a disconnect between a particular organ of the body and the energy from the soul that was intended for that organ. That organ, without the infusion of energy from the soul, loses clarity as to what its function is and ceases to operate as a healthy organ. The soul does not need to be healed; it is the body that has to find its way back to the place where it is once again receptive to the soul's power.
When we pray to G‑d, He obviously knows what our needs are; it is we who need to have clarity as to who we are, what we need and why we need it. That is the function of prayer, which is called tefilah in Hebrew. The word is said to mean "judgment" because the process of prayer is one in which we examine and clarify our state of mind, heart and body, as to their degree of receptivity to the soul.
We can now understand why the prayer is said with the mother's name to ensure that there is not even a scintilla of doubt as to who this person really is. This obsession with clarity highlights the whole purpose of prayer in general and the prayer for the sick in particular. If we want to mend the body that has lost its identity, we must engage in a prayer that helps us clarify our situation, vis a vis G‑d and vis a vis ourselves.
In a similar vein, when the Jewish people set out in their journey from Sinai to the Promised Land their identities had to be clear. In order to stay on course they had to know who they were in the clearest terms humanly possible. There was no room for uncertainty and doubt.
Amalek, the evil nation that attacked the Jews soon after departing Egypt , is said to be the symbol of doubt. Indeed, the word Amalek numerically (gematriya) adds up to the Hebrew word for doubt-safek. Amalek's design is to instill enough self-doubt. Maybe we as Jews should decide not to continue on our inexorable journey towards Sinai, the Promised Land and the ultimate Messianic Age.
As we have stated in these weekly messages, all indications point to our generation's pivotal role as the transitional one between the age of exile and the age of Redemption. It is this age that the prophet Daniel referred to when he stated that "all matters shall be clarified." Now is the time when we have to see things clearly; opening our eyes to see the G‑dly reality of our existence. G‑d then reciprocates by removing the last veil that hides His countenance from our world. And that is the Messianic Age.
Moshiach Matters
In the Book of Exodus we read that G‑d told Moses, "I will also fulfill the promise I made with them, to give them the land of Israel." To whom did G‑d make a promise to give the Land of Israel? To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. How will G‑d fulfill His promise to our forefathers? In the days of Moshiach our forefathers, together with all other Jews will be resurrected, and will behold the realization of G‑d's promise to them. (Yalkut Shemoni)
Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit
© 2001- 2006 Chabad of the West Side