Parshas Behaalosecha - Individuality

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l
Posted on 06/20/19

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.

Parshas Beha'aloscha tells the story of the nation beginning to complain a lot in the Midbar. Hashem responds by giving Moshe the Seventy Elders to help lead Klal Yisrael. 

Why was Klal Yisroel complaining, and what is the significance of the Seventy Elders to deal with their complaining?

Rav Yonah Sklare explains that they complained because they felt stifled and constrained in their covenant with Hashem. They felt the intensity of it was too much for them. Hence, Hashem gave them the Seventy Elders. Seventy is the number that symbolizes individuality. There are seventy diverse nations and languages. There are seventy approaches to Torah.

Hashem was telling them that the way out of feeling constrained is to find in Torah a specific path where you can express your individuality. He was telling them, ‘Choose a specific Rav from amongst the Seventy Elders that you would like to develop a close relationship with and emulate.'

The lesson is clear: we must keep the Halacha even if some of the Halachos are difficult, but the way out of feeling constrained is to express our individuality in our Torah life; be it through a special relationship with a specific Rav or mentor, a specific approach to Torah learning that speaks more to us, or a specific Mitzva that we would like to excel in.

[Editor's note: Perhaps an additional lesson that can be learned is the concept of accepting Jews from other backgrounds. We must realize that just as among the Goyim there are seventy nations, so too in regards to the Jewish People, there are 12 tribes. Each tribe has its own way of serving Hashem. Each person has their own role in life in how to serve Hashem. If we come to this recognition, then that will bring Moshiach much closer and we will merit to greet Moshiach in our days.]