The Torah Portion of Masei
Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
"Then Aharon HaKohen went up to the Mountain of Hor by the mouth of Hashem and died there...in the fifth month on the first of the month." (Bamidbar 33:38)
Rosh Chodesh of Menachem Av is the day of Aharon's death (i.e. his Yahrzheit). This is the only Yarhzheit written explicitly in the Torah, and also the Torah Portion of Masei is always read in the week of his Yahrzheit. He passed away 3287 years ago. The calculation is thus: the number of years since the destruction of the Second Temple is 1948 years. [The counting of the non-Jewish calendar began 68 years before the destruction of the Second Temple. (Note that 68 is equal to the Gematria of the word "Chaim" , i.e., "Life" in English.) Subtract 68 years from their reckoning of the year, which according to their counting is currently 2016, and the result is that from the destruction of the Second Temple there are 1948 years.] Add another 420 years for the length of time when the Second Temple stood, and another 70 years for the length of time when there was exile (between the two Temples), and another 410 years for the length of time when the First Temple stood, and 440 years from the entry into the land until the First Temple was built. The basis for the 440 years from the entry into the land until the building of the First Temple is as follows: It was written in the book Melachim that it was 480 years after the children of Israel went out from Egypt that Shlomo built the First Temple, and subtract 40 from that during which Israel was in the desert, for Aharon passed away at the end of the 40 years. The result of the calculation is 3288 years.
The Sages say that the "city of refuge" from the Evil Inclination is to say "Kriat Sh'ma" .
Behold, the first verse of "Sh'ma" has 6 words in parallel to the 6 cities of refuge. And from the word "V'ahavta" (in English: "and you shall love") until "B'shaarecha" (in English: "in your gates") there are 42 words, like the additional 42 cities. When we read the "Kriat Sh'ma" with intention, we flee from the Evil Inclination. (from Mayan Shel Torah)
"By the rivers of Bavel, etc....also we cried". (Tehillim 137:1)
What is the significance of the word "also" ? It means that also the waters cried, because the "Nisuch Hamayim" (Mitzvah of pouring the waters in the Temple) was eliminated. (from the Sefat Emet) The Sages say: Everyone who mourns about Jerusalem, merits and sees her happiness. It has been asked, why did they say "merits" in the present tense? Shouldn't it have been written in the future tense "will merit"? The Sages explain, behold there is a decree on a dead person that he will be forgotten by the heart, meaning that after 12 months the dead person is forgotten by the heart of the mourner. But if the mourner doesn't forget it's a sign that the person didn't die. And that is the explanation for the word "merits" (in the present tense), if we are crying about the Temple after so much time this is a sign that the Temple is still alive and existing.
On the 29th of Tammuz falls the Yahrzheit of the holy Rashi, Rabbeinu Shlomo Yarchi ben Yitzchak.
His father was a holy and righteous person, and merited to have a son like Rashi, as a result of a famous story: he gave up on a diamond when he "accidentally" dropped it into the sea, because the non-Jews wanted to take it to use it for idolatry. Rashi didn't have any sons but had daughters. His grandchildren included the brothers Rabbeinu Tam, Rashba"m, Rib"m. And Rabbeinu Shlomo ben Rabbeinu Meir (mentioned one time in the Gemara in Tosefot Pesachim 105b). Before he publicized his writings on the Torah, he fasted 613 fasts. The letters of the name "Rashi" are the initial letters of the words "Rabban Shel Yisrael" (the Rabbi of Israel). He passed away in the year 4865. May his memory protect us, Amen.
The Torah Portion of Masei has 132 verses. 2 positive commandments, 4 negative commandments.Haftora: "Sh'mu Davar Hashem" (Yirmiyahu 2).Pirkei Avot, Chapter 3 (third cycle).
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Everyone who mourns about Jerusalem merits and sees her happiness.
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772