Torah Tidbits

23 August 2014 / 27 Av 5774
Issue 1048
Shabbat Parshat Chukat
June 13, 2013

Portion of the Portion

Three Leaders in the Desert

Three Leaders in the Desert

Throughout the 40 years in the desert the people had the protection of the Cloud, they had water from a Well, and received food every day from the Manna. R’ Yossi the son of R’ Yehuda teaches (Taanit 9a) that these three gifts were in the merit of the three leaders that G-d had sent along with them. “I brought you up from the land of Egypt… and sent before you Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam” (Micha 6:4). The Manna was in Moshe’s merit, the Well in Miriam’s and the Cloud in Aharon’s. In this week’s portion, two of these leaders die. On the verse VAYIR-U KOL HA’EIDA KI GAVA AHARON…” All the people saw that that Aharon had died (20:29). Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch gives us more insight into the special characteristics of these three leaders and how each one was important in the nation’s education.
Each one of these leaders excelled at a certain character trait, MISH- PAT, CHESED and TZ’NIUT. He explains:
“MISHPAT, the norm of right, of living one’s whole life justly in accordance with the Laws of God’s Will formed the characteristic aim of the mission of Moshe.
CHESED and AHAVAT CHESED, loving loving, inclining the whole formation of one’s character to loving doing kindness, to relinquishment of one’s rights, to unselfishness, to happy self-sacrificing acts of love characterized the activities of Aharon…
TZ’NIUT, the unpretentious, morally pure, modesty, the fundamental character of Jewish womanhood, surely found its most successful fostering under Miriam’s influence.”
Rav Hirsch continues to explain that the three gifts that the Jews received in the desert each was similar to the characteristic of the person whose merit provided it. These three leaders gave spiritual gifts (of their character traits that should be emulated) as well as physical gifts. TZ’NIUT, that of Miriam is the hidden Well “out of whose depth all holiness of life springs”. CHESED is the granting, cooling and protecting “Cloud”. MISHPAT is the justice of the Manna, the bread from heaven which is necessary to keep alive the existence and endurance, health and strength of all human and national life.
These three traits are what the prophet Micha (6:8)  tells us is all God really wants from us
“He has told you, o’ man, what is good; and what Hashem requires of you, but to do justly, and to love chesed, and to walk humbly with God.” May we merit leaders who can help us on this path.
Since two people die in this week’s portion, I decided to include a recipe with chick peas - one of the foods traditionally given to a mourner.

3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
3 medium tomatoes, cut in large chunks
1 large cucumber, cut in large chunks
1.5 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp sliced Kalamata olives
2 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil or water, drained

To get 1 cups of cooked chickpeas use either 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed or 2/3 of a cup of dried chickpeas that are cooked and then rinsed. Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives. Toss. Top with sardines.

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