Parasha Bamidvar

Parasha Bamidvar

“The Creator spoke to Moshe in the Sinai desert, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after his departure from the land of Egypt , saying… ”( Bamidbar 1: 1 ).

The Midrash 1 clarifies why the Torah emphasizes that the Creator spoke with Moshe in the Sinai desert, if we already knew: he makes himself hefker, 'without an owner' like the desert, he cannot acquire wisdom or Torah; that is why it was said ‘… in the Sinai desert’ ”.

The Midrash commentators explain what the Torah refers to by hefker : “Be humble to learn from everyone and teach everyone, for the Torah is not found among the vain. ” 2

This Midrash is enigmatic: why is the Torah not found among the vain? Is it not possible for a person to be vain and know a lot of Torah? Have we not met people who do know a lot of Torah and yet are conceited and proud?

However, the explanation of Etz Yosef is clear: A vain person may have a lot of knowledge of what is written in books, but Torah does not has. What is the difference between a person who does have Torah and another who only knows a lot of Torah, but does not have Torah?

The difference lies, as Etz Yosef points out, in his willingness to learn it from everyone and teach it to everyone. A proud person will assume that others have nothing to teach him so he will not learn from them (unless, of course, it is someone who is publicly known to be a great sage). Similarly, he will not be willing to teach it to those who are - according to him - below his level. On the contrary, a person who is not vain and is willing to learn from everyone and teach everyone, is one who really does have Torah.

On the other hand, it is worth emphasizing that the word that the Midrash uses is that the Torah is hefker , which literally means it has no owner. Anyone who believes that he is the owner of the Torah is denying this characteristic of the Torah that has no owner: all that person or group that assumes that the Torah is his, that only he - or they - possess the Torah and that everyone else lacks it, is vain, and is unwilling to learn from them.

The moral is clear: one must be willing to learn Torah from any person or from any group, no matter how different from the group to which he belongs. 3 In this lies the humility necessary to truly acquire Torah.


1 B amidbar Rabba 1: 7.

2 This is how Etz Yosef .


3 Of course, not everyone knows the same: there are those who hardly know anything about Torah and there are those who are Gedolei Israel , but the latter appreciate the Torah from whom it comes, as long as it is consistent with the rest of the Torah and is not just an isolated phrase that contradicts other ideas or parts of the Torah.

(from Haish L.)

Dedicated for all the sick of Am Israel and the whole world, for the protection of all the soldiers and population of Israel and for peace in Israel.

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