It’s No Laughing Matter

by Rabbi Nussbaum

July 10, 2020
Tamuz 18, 5780
Candlelighting Time 8:12 PM

There’s an old Yiddish adage that states a person plans and Hashem laughs. It’s meant to imply that we should realize that whatever we intend to accomplish in our lives is subject to the ‘approval’ of the Heavenly Court. And only then can we hope to succeed in our endeavors. Chofetz Chaim brings this very point to life in the parsha. The tribe of Binyomin was comprised of ten children while the tribe of Dan only had one son. Yet in the census that took place, the tribe of Dan far surpassed that of Binyomin. One can only wonder at the reason for this development, but it is sufficient to note that although we may have scoffed at the idea that the tribe of Dan would flourish so incredibly, that was certainly the plan laid out by Hashem.

Chofetz Chaim doesn’t want us to minimize the enormity of this point and advances that this applies to everything in our lives from success in business to health to enjoying life in general. However, we should not overstate this and think that Hashem will necessarily provide a lavish lifestyle for those who deserve it. However, we are also aware of the adage from our Sages in Pirkei Avos that who is truly the wealthy man, one who is satisfied with what Hashem has granted him. Perhaps we want too much sometimes and if we don’t receive it on a golden platter, we begin to wonder, ‘Where is Hashem?’  The appropriate question may have been, where are we? Our expectations are in sync with our fantasies that Hashem is ‘prepared’ to dole out to us all that we want and we anticipate and even demand more! That lack of reality and trust in Hashem that we receive that which we deserve,  can truly ruin an individual.

Rabbeinu Bachya explains this even further. He suggests that although the amount of people in the census was tremendous, it didn’t include the entire populace. And this all took place from our humble beginnings of only 70 when we arrived initially in Egypt. This is not coincidental, rather it is the framework that defines the very essence of our nation For example, the increase in our population between our receiving the Torah and the present census was amazing. For we are blessed since the times of Avrohom that our numbers will be like the stars in the sky and the dirt upon the earth. And this blessing is not only a physical and rather superficial blessing, rather it is our destiny upon earth as prescribed by Hashem. The infinite ‘nature’ of Hashem creates a situation where the physical ceases to be our true reality and our connection with Hashem rather defines our actual existence.

He cites the prophet Yeshayahu who said that in the future we will far outnumber the nations of the world! That amount is truly amazing and based upon our present population size it is almost unfathomable to be true, yet the prophet said that it will happen. Perhaps we need to understand further why is it so important that our numbers be so tremendously large? After all, Rashi later in the parsha explains that we are the smallest of the nations of the world. However, the point is rather significant because it denotes the actual objective of our nation. We are not a people that is subject to the limitations of this world. Although we are presently a very small segment of the populace, however, the dimensions of this existence which are physical confine us to its limitations. However, when the physical limitations of this world will be eliminated due to the revelation of Hashem’s presence in this world, then we will also flourish in a grandiose fashion beyond our wildest imagination. And that is the intent of the prophecy of Yeshayahu. Therefore, in our drive in life to accomplish goals of importance and of great significance, we should never look askance at those plans and feel that we can’t achieve, because when we merit the blessing of Hashem there are no limitations.


Although the act of Pinchas when he killed the prince of the tribe of Shimon who was illicitly involved with the Moabite princess was an individual action it represented a characteristic which defines our nation, to act with courage and suppress those who seek to destroy the purity of our people.           S’FAS EMES