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The Eyes of Return

24/05/13 11:51:37


R Pesach Siegel


The Eyes of Return



Parshas BeHa’aloscha 5773


The Torah describes the process of taking leave from Har Sinai.  In the second year of the exodus from Mitzrayim, on the 20th day of the second month (Iyar), the cloud of the Shechinah arose from the Mishkan. This was a sign to depart.[1] They were a distance of 11 days journey from Eretz Yisroel.[2] Had events gone according to schedule, they would be poised to enter Eretz Yisroel on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, one year to the day of when they arrived at Har Sinai, thus bringing things full circle.

They encamped in a prescribed order, with the tribe of Yehudah in the forefront. The tribe of Dan brought up the rear. They were given the title of “Gatherers of all the Camps”.



The Da’as Zekaynim Ba’alei Tosafos explains that they earned this distinction because if anyone had a reason to tarry, and leave the designated area of his own tribe, he would find a place among the Bnei Dan.

Similarly, Rashi in Sefer Yeshayahu says that the weak ones and the ones who stumbled would find protection in the slow moving camp of Dan.



Yet, Rashi in this week’s parshah quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi. The tribe of Dan was a populous one. It travelled last. It was in a unique position to retrieve the lost objects of the Bnei Yisroel that may have been left behind in the desert.

Immediately following, we find Moshe Rabeinu beseeching his father-in-law, Yisro not to forsake them. Moshe tells him, “We need you. You will be our eyes. Come with us to the Promised Land. Hashem has expressed to grant “tov” (goodness) to the convert. The good that Hashem will bring upon us will envelop you as well.”






What is so important about the return of lost objects that an entire tribe has to placed in charge of assuring that no such loss ever occurs?

Even if such an institution is a necessary part of their travels, what is the need for the Torah to mention it?

Why is the moment of departure from Har Sinai the proper moment for this to be mentioned?




The Navi tells us about a man named Kish. Kish lost his donkeys. He sent his son, Shaul to search for them. Shaul, failing to find them on his own, turns to the Seer (prophet) Shmuel to assist him. Shmuel informs Shaul, your father’s donkeys have been found. Stay overnight. Shmuel informs Shaul of Hashem’s decision to anoint a king over Israel. Shaul is to be the first king. Shaul returns home. On his way back, he encounters a group of nevi’im and the spirit of prophecy rests upon him. Shaul undergoes a complete transformation. When his uncle asks him where he has been, he tells him that he had gone to find the lost donkeys. Shmuel assisted him. Shaul makes no mention of the wondrous destiny that has been placed upon him.



The one thing that stands out about this entire tale is the curious notion that when one finds he has lost property, he turns to the Navi of Klal Yisroel for assistance. This seemingly mundane need does not seem to be the type of thing that would require the services of divine prophecy.

Actually it would depend on how one views his possessions.

Possessions are not objects of personal gratification. They are creations. G-d created humans. He created each one with a unique purpose. He also created the tools that each and every one requires in order to accomplish his purpose. The possessions of a person are part and parcel of his persona. They share in the makeup of the essence of a person. Without them, one cannot ever be complete.

Shaul reasoned, if he has been blessed with donkeys, it must be for a reason. If he is separated from them, it is as if a part of himself is missing. There is a part of himself that will remain incomplete. It is G-d’s way of showing that he has an internal flaw. It is a flaw that prevents him from using the donkeys as they were intended[7]. He must identify and correct it. This is why he turned to the Navi.

The Navi showed him that he is to embark on a new destiny. He needs to find and develop within himself the middah of malchus (majesty). Shmuel leads Shaul along the path that enables to do so, and Shaul was transformed. He became Shaul Melech Yisroel and his donkeys were automatically returned to him.






This is the moment. It is the moment the world was created for. Klal Yisroel has risen to the ultimate level a physical being can attain in this world. They are a nation of ba’alei teshuva having repented for the sin of the golden calf. The perfect place for the perfect people awaits them. It is there that their destiny awaits.

When they go in, they must go in totally and completely. Nothing can be left behind. If it was given to them, it must be for a purpose. It is required for their pursuit of perfection upon entering Eretz Yisroel.

This is the unique role of Shevet Dan. They excel in bringing out the importance of the most insignificant of things. In G-d’s world, there is no such thing as insignificant.

A parallel to lost objects among human beings are the gentiles. At the same time that such attention is being given to the lost objects of the Bnei Yisroel, Moshe Rabeinu turns to his father-in-law. He says to him, “Please, do not leave us. Hashem created you as well. If you leave, I fear you shall be lost. Join with us. The tov that is destined for the Jewish nation is meant to be shared with everything in creation. You have a unique role that cannot be duplicated. You see the world from outside the Jewish nation, from the vantage point of the lost. You possess this special insight. You will be our eyes.


[1] Parshas BeHa’aloscha, perek 10, posuk 1

[2] Parshas Devarim, perek 1, posuk 2

[3] Parshas BeHa’aloscha, perek 10, posuk 25

[4] Yeshayahu, perek 52, posuk 12

[5] Parshas BeHa’aloscha, perek 10, posuk 29

[6] Shmuel I, perek 9 - 10

[7] There is a clear link between a donkey and the middah of malchus. Melech HaMashiach will arrive riding on the back of a donkey.

[8] Rav Moshe Shapiro

Sun, September 20 2020 2 Tishrei 5781