<I>Beha'alot'cha</I>: Want to Do a Mitzvah?

Being exempt from a mitzvah means that one is not liable for failing to observe it; but it does not provide the spiritual boost that comes from doing what God has commanded.

Aloh Naaleh,

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aliyah-r.jpg
Arutz 7
In this week?s parasha, the Jews celebrate their first and only Pesach in the desert. Those who are tamei, ritually impure, and cannot bring the Pesach offering, come to Moshe with a complaint: lama nigara - why should we be worse off? Why shouldn?t we be able to do this mitzvah?

Asks Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim LaTorah: What are they complaining about? They are not doing anything wrong in not bringing the offering; they are exempt. And no one is faulting them for being impure. To the contrary, the Gemara says that the people who came to complain were Mishael and Eltzafan, who had been instructed to drag the bodies of Nadav and Avihu out of the Mishkan after they were killed for having brought the ?strange fire?. They had been involved in the important mitzvah of honoring the dead, and one who is engaged in one mitzvah is exempt from another.

Rabbi Sorotzkin answers that while they had a good reason for not bringing the Pesach offering, they were nevertheless upset because they were losing out on the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah as part of the Jewish people. Being exempt from a mitzvah means that one is not liable for failing to observe it; but it does not provide the spiritual boost that comes from doing what God has commanded.

Rabbi Sorotzkin laments that we no longer have this attitude. Rather, we see mitzvot as burdensome and are relieved to be exempt from them.

Nowhere is this truer than in regard to the mitzvah of settling the land of Israel. There are many legitimate reasons for not fulfilling this mitzvah. But why aren?t we asking lama nigara? Why aren?t we bothered by the fact that we are losing out on the experience of raising our families in Eretz Yisrael?

Only if we feel and express the pain of not being in Eretz Yisrael will we be motivated to seek ways to overcome the obstacles to Aliyah. And only if our children hear us sigh lama nigara will they understand that Eretz Yisrael is an important goal even if, temporarily, it appears to be unachievable.
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Joel Rebibo, currently of Beit El, was principal of the Phoenix Hebrew Academy in Phoenix, Arizona until his Aliyah in 1983. He spent 16 years at the Jerusalem Post, including five years as editor of its international edition, and is currently Israel news editor for Hamodia?s English-language weekly.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.



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