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Good Company

By: Mrs. Bracha Krohn

In this week’s Parsha, at the opening of Sefer BaMidbar, we learn two comments by Rashi that seem to be like two sides of a coin. We find the first of these two comments on the verse that describes the placement of the family of Kehat, from the tribe of Levi, on the Southern side of the Mishkan (3:29). This was right next to the tribe of Reuven. Rashi quotes Chazal's idea that we learn the influence neighbors can have on each other from seeing that Korach from Kehat, lived right next to the tribe of Reuven. Later, in Parshat Korach, we learn that some of Korach’s followers, in his rebellion against Moshe, were from Reuven. No surprise! If you had a tent next to Korach and heard Korach night after night, you would also be convinced that Moshe was power-hungry.  

A few psukim later we learn the opposite effect neighbors can have on each other. Moshe and Aharon were placed on the Eastern side of the Mishkan…right next to Yehuda, Yisaschar and Zevulun – all tribes whom the Tanach praises (in various psukim) for their Torah knowledge. Again, no surprise! If you lived next to Moshe and Aharon, you would probably be inspired and motivated to learn.

In Sefer Bereishit we read about Lot separating from Avraham and then immediately afterwards G-d spoke to him: “Hashem said to Avraham after Lot had parted from him…” (13:14) Rashi quotes Chazal that from here we learn that as long as the rasha (Lot) was with him, Hashem separated from Avraham (and did not speak with him). Lot was apparently a bad influence on Avraham.  When he was with Lot, Avraham could not be on the level he needed to be in order to receive prophesy. This is an example of a bad neighbor. On the other hand, If Lot had stayed with Avraham, Avraham may have been a good influence on him.

Rav Avigdor Nevenzahl suggests that years later Rut (the descendant of Lot from Moav) corrected her ancestor’s poor judgment and actions. Whereas Lot chose to leave Avraham for better pasture land and the allure of money, Rut chose to stay with Naomi for spiritual advancement – even at the risk of being poor.

What we learn from these characters’ examples and the insights of our Rabbis is the importance of good company and the need for a positive environment. We have all had the experience of feeling pulled up or dragged down by those around us, and these insights into the psukim and placement of the tribes reminds us to be vigilant regarding our environment and friends.

May we be zocheh this Shavuot to re-accept Torah and deepen our commitment to its observance as well as to be strong enough to surround ourselves with people who are equally, if not more committed!


Shabbat Shalom.




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