Bamidbar (Numbers) Chapter 20

22They traveled from Kadesh, and the entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at Mount Hor.   כבוַיִּסְע֖וּ מִקָּדֵ֑שׁ וַיָּבֹ֧אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל כָּל־הָֽעֵדָ֖ה הֹ֥ר הָהָֽר:
the entire congregation: All were perfect, ready to enter the Land. There was not among them even one of those upon whom the decree had been pronounced, for all those destined to die in the desert had already perished, and these were of those about whom it is written, “you… are all alive this day” (Deut. 4:4). - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 14, Num. Rabbah 19:16]   כָּל־הָֽעֵדָה: כֻּלָּם שְׁלֵמִים וְעוֹמְדִים לִכָּנֵס לָאָרֶץ, שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בָּהֶן אֶחָד מֵאוֹתָם שֶׁנִּגְזְרָה גְזֵרָה עֲלֵיהֶם, שֶׁכְּבָר כָּלוּ מֵתֵי מִדְבָּר וְאֵלּוּ מֵאוֹתָן שֶׁכָּתוּב בָּהֶן (דברים ד') "חַיִּים כֻּלְּכֶם הַיּוֹם" (תנחומא):
Mount Hor: A mountain atop a mountain, [appearing like] a small apple atop of a big apple. Although the cloud went in front of them and leveled out mountains, three of them remained: Mount Sinai for [the giving of] the Torah, Mount Nebo for the burial of Moses, and Mount Hor, for the burial of Aaron. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 14, Num. Rabbah 19:16]   הֹר הָהָֽר: הַר עַל גַּבֵּי הַר, כְּתַפּוּחַ קָטָן עַל גַּבֵּי תַפּוּחַ גָּדוֹל, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶעָנָן הוֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם וּמַשְׁוֶה אֶת הֶהָרִים, שְׁלֹשָׁה נִשְׁאֲרוּ בָהֶן — הַר סִינַי לַתּוֹרָה וְהֹר הָהָר לִקְבוּרַת אַהֲרֹן וְהַר נְבוֹ לִקְבוּרַת מֹשֶׁה (תנחומא):
23The Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, saying,   כגוַיֹּ֧אמֶר יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה וְאֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֖ן בְּהֹ֣ר הָהָ֑ר עַל־גְּב֥וּל אֶֽרֶץ־אֱד֖וֹם לֵאמֹֽר:
on the border of the land of Edom: This teaches that because they associated themselves in a close relationship with the wicked Esau, a breach was made in their accomplishments, and they lost this righteous man. Similarly, the prophet said to Jehoshaphat, “When you joined up with Ahaziahu, God has breached your accomplishments” (II Chron. 20: 37). - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 14, Num. Rabbah 19:16]   עַל־גְּבוּל אֶֽרֶץ־אֱדוֹם: מַגִּיד שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּתְחַבְּרוּ כָאן לְהִתְקָרֵב לְעֵשָׂו הָרָשָׁע, נִפְרְצוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם וְחָסְרוּ הַצַּדִּיק הַזֶּה, וְכֵן הַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר לִיהוֹשָׁפָט (דברי הימים ב' כ') "בְּהִתְחַבֶּרְךָ עִם אֲחַזְיָהוּ פָּרַץ ה' אֶת מַעֲשֶׂיךָ" (תנחומא):
24"Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not come to the Land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you defied My word at the waters of dispute [Mei Meribah].   כדיֵֽאָסֵ֤ף אַֽהֲרֹן֙ אֶל־עַמָּ֔יו כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָבֹא֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל עַ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־מְרִיתֶ֥ם אֶת־פִּ֖י לְמֵ֥י מְרִיבָֽה:
25Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and ascend Mount Hor.   כהקַ֚ח אֶת־אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן וְאֶת־אֶלְעָזָ֖ר בְּנ֑וֹ וְהַ֥עַל אֹתָ֖ם הֹ֥ר הָהָֽר:
Take Aaron: with words of solace; say to him, “You are fortunate that you can see your crown given over to your son, something I do not merit.” - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 17, Num. Rabbah 19:19]   קַח אֶת־אַֽהֲרֹן: בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁל נִחוּמִים — אֱמֹר לוֹ, אַשְׁרֶיךָ שֶׁתִּרְאֶה כִתְרְךָ נָתוּן לְבִנְךָ, מַה שֶּׁאֵין אֲנִי זַכַּאי לְכָךְ (שם):
26Strip Aaron of his garments and dress Eleazar his son with them. Then Aaron shall be gathered in [to his people] and die there.   כווְהַפְשֵׁ֤ט אֶת־אַֽהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־בְּגָדָ֔יו וְהִלְבַּשְׁתָּ֖ם אֶת־אֶלְעָזָ֣ר בְּנ֑וֹ וְאַֽהֲרֹ֥ן יֵֽאָסֵ֖ף וּמֵ֥ת שָֽׁם:
his garments: He dressed him in the garments of kehunah gedolah and then stripped him of them, to give them to his son in his presence. He told him, “Enter the cave,” and he entered. He saw a ready made bed, and a lighted candle. He told him, “Get up onto the bed,” and he got up. “Stretch out your hands,” and he stretched them out. “Close your mouth,” and he closed it. “Shut your eyes,” and he shut them. At that moment Moses yearned for such a death. This is why it was said to him, “in the way Aaron your brother died” (Deut. 32:50)-a death that you desired. — [Tanchuma Buber p. 132, Sifrei Ha’azinu 49]   אֶת־בְּגָדָיו: אֶת בִּגְדֵי כְהֻנָּה גְדוֹלָה הִלְבִּישָׁהוּ וְהִפְשִׁיטָם מֵעָלָיו, לְתִתָּם עַל בְּנוֹ בְּפָנָיו; אָמַר לוֹ הִכָּנֵס לַמְּעָרָה וְנִכְנַס, רָאָה מִטָּה מֻצַּעַת וְנֵר דָּלוּק, אָמַר לוֹ עֲלֵה לַמִּטָּה וְעָלָה, פְּשֹׁט יָדֶיךָ וּפָשַׁט, קְמֹץ פִּיךָ וְקָמַץ, עֲצֹם עֵינֶיךָ וְעָצַם, מִיָּד חָמַד מֹשֶׁה לְאוֹתָהּ מִיתָה, וְזֶהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לוֹ (דברים ל"ב) "כַּאֲשֶׁר מֵת אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ" — מִיתָה שֶׁנִתְאַוִּיתָ לָהּ (ספרי שם):
27Moses did as the Lord commanded him. They ascended Mount Hor in the presence of the entire congregation.   כזוַיַּ֣עַשׂ משֶׁ֔ה כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֣ה יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיַּֽעֲלוּ֙ אֶל־הֹ֣ר הָהָ֔ר לְעֵינֵ֖י כָּל־הָֽעֵדָֽה:
Moses did: Although it was difficult for him, he did not hesitate. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath, Num. Rabbah 19:19]   וַיַּעַשׂ משֶׁה: אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדָּבָר קָשֶׁה לוֹ, לֹא עִכֵּב (תנחומא):
28Moses then stripped Aaron of his garments and dressed Eleazar his son in them, and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. [Then] Moses and Eleazar descended from the mountain.   כחוַיַּפְשֵׁט֩ משֶׁ֨ה אֶת־אַֽהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־בְּגָדָ֗יו וַיַּלְבֵּ֤שׁ אֹתָם֙ אֶת־אֶלְעָזָ֣ר בְּנ֔וֹ וַיָּ֧מָת אַֽהֲרֹ֛ן שָׁ֖ם בְּרֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֑ר וַיֵּ֧רֶד משֶׁ֛ה וְאֶלְעָזָ֖ר מִן־הָהָֽר:
29The whole congregation saw that Aaron had expired, and the entire house of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days.   כטוַיִּרְאוּ֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה כִּ֥י גָוַ֖ע אַֽהֲרֹ֑ן וַיִּבְכּ֤וּ אֶת־אַֽהֲרֹן֙ שְׁלשִׁ֣ים י֔וֹם כֹּ֖ל בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
The whole congregation saw: When they saw Moses and Eleazar coming down, and Aaron did not come down, they said, “Where is Aaron?” He said to them, “He died.” They said, “Is it possible that the one who stood up against the angel and stopped the plague can be overpowered by the angel of death?” Whereupon Moses asked for mercy, and the ministering angels showed him to them, lying in the bed. They saw [him] and believed. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 17, Num. Rabbah 19:20]   וַיִּרְאוּ כָּל־הָעֵדָה: כְּשֶׁרָאוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר יוֹרְדִים וְאַהֲרֹן לֹא יָרַד, אָמְרוּ הֵיכָן הוּא אַהֲרֹן? אָמַר לָהֶם מֵת, אָמְרוּ אֶפְשָׁר מִי שֶׁעָמַד כְּנֶגֶד הַמַּלְאָךְ וְעָצַר אֶת הַמַּגֵּפָה יִשְׁלֹט בוֹ מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת? מִיָּד בִּקֵּשׁ מֹשֶׁה רַחֲמִים וְהֶרְאוּהוּ מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת לָהֶם מֻטָּל בַּמִּטָּה, רָאוּ וְהֶאֱמִינוּ (שם):
the entire house of Israel: [both] the men and the women, for Aaron had pursued peace; he promoted love between disputing parties and between man and wife. — [Avoth d’Rabbi Nathan 12:4, Mid. Aggadah]   כָּל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים, לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה אַהֲרֹן רוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם וּמַטִּיל אַהֲבָה בֵּין בַּעֲלֵי מְרִיבָה וּבֵין אִישׁ לְאִשְׁתּוֹ (אדר"נ י"ב):
that [Aaron] had expired: Heb. כִּי גָוַע אַהִרֹן. I say that the one who renders דְּהָא מִית, because [Aaron] had died, is in error, unless he also renders, וַיִּרְאוּ as וְאִתְחֲזִיאוּ, “they [the congregation] were seen” [in the sense of exposed], for our Rabbis’ statement that the word Heb. כִּי is used here in the sense of ‘because’ applies only according to the Midrash [which states] that the clouds of glory departed, and as R. Abahu said, “Do not read וַיִּרְאוּ, they saw, but וַיֵּרָאוּ, they were seen [exposed].” According to this explanation, ‘because’ is appropriate, since it gives the reason for what precedes it: Why were they exposed? Because Aaron had died [and the clouds had departed]. But, according to the Targum’s rendering, וַחֲזוֹ כָּל כְּנִשְׁתָּא, and the whole congregation saw, [the rendering of the word כִּי as] ‘because’ is inapplicable, only it has the meaning of אֲשֶׁר, ‘that’ which is a usage of the word אִי, for we find that אִם [its Hebrew equivalent] can mean ‘that,’ as in, “so that (וְאִם) why should I not be short of breath?” (Job 21:4). And there are many other instances [of the word אִם] in this sense, [as in] “that (אִם) his days are limited” (ibid. 14:5).   כִּי גָוַע: אוֹמֵר אֲנִי שֶׁהַמְתַּרְגֵּם דְּהָא מִית טוֹעֶה הוּא, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן מְתַרְגֵּם וַיִּרְאוּ וְאִתְחֲזִיאוּ, שֶׁלֹּא אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ כִּי זֶה מְשַׁמֵּשׁ בִּלְשׁוֹן דְּהָא אֶלָּא עַל מִדְרָשׁ שֶׁנִּסְתַּלְּקוּ עַנְנֵי הַכָּבוֹד, וְכִדְאָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּהוּ (ראש השנה ג'), אַל תִּקְרֵי וַיִּרְאוּ, אֶלָּא וַיֵּרָאוּ, וְעַל לָשׁוֹן זֶה נוֹפֵל לְשׁוֹן דְּהָא, לְפִי שֶׁהִיא נְתִינַת טַעַם לְמַה שֶּׁלְּמַעְלָה הֵימֶנּוּ — לָמָּה וַיֵּרָאוּ? לְפִי שֶׁהֲרֵי מֵת אַהֲרֹן; אֲבָל עַל תַּרְגּוּם "וְחָזוּ כָל כְּנִשְׁתָּא" אֵין לְשׁוֹן דְּהָא נוֹפֵל אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר, שֶׁהוּא מִגִּזְרַת שִׁמּוּשׁ אִי, שֶׁמָּצִינוּ אִם מְשַׁמֵּשׁ בִּלְשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר, כְּמוֹ "וְאִם מַדּוּעַ לֹא תִקְצַר רוּחִי" (איוב כ"א), וְהַרְבֵּה מְפֹרָשִׁים מִזֶּה הַלָּשׁוֹן — "אִם חֲרוּצִים יָמָיו" (שם י"ד):

Bamidbar (Numbers) Chapter 21

1The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the south, heard that Israel had come by the route of the spies, and he waged war against Israel and took from them a captive.   אוַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע הַכְּנַֽעֲנִ֤י מֶֽלֶךְ־עֲרָד֙ ישֵׁ֣ב הַנֶּ֔גֶב כִּ֚י בָּ֣א יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל דֶּ֖רֶךְ הָֽאֲתָרִ֑ים וַיִּלָּ֨חֶם֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיִּ֥שְׁבְּ | מִמֶּ֖נּוּ שֶֽׁבִי:
The Canaanite… heard: He heard that Aaron had died and that the clouds of glory had departed… as is stated in [Tractate] Rosh Hashanah (3a). Amalek was always a chastising whip for Israel, ready at any time to mete out punishment. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 18, Num. Rabbah 19:20]   וַיִּשְׁמַע הַכְּנַֽעֲנִי: שָׁמַע שֶׁמֵּת אַהֲרֹן וְנִסְתַּלְּקוּ עַנְנֵי כָבוֹד כו', כִּדְאִיתָא בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה (דף ג'), וַעֲמָלֵק מֵעוֹלָם רְצוּעַת מַרְדּוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, מְזֻמָּן בְּכָל עֵת לְפֻרְעָנוּת:
who lived in the south: This refers to Amalek, as it says, “The Amalekites dwell in the south land” (13:29). They changed their language to speak in the language of Canaan so that the Israelites would pray to the Holy One, blessed is He, to deliver the Canaanites into their hands, and [since] they were not Canaanites [their prayers would have no effect]. But Israel saw that they were dressed like Amalekites though they spoke in a Canaanite tongue. So they said, “We will pray generally [for success],” as it says, “If You deliver this people into my hand….” - [Midrash Aggadah, Yalkut Shimoni from Midrash Yelammedenu. Note that in these sources, the Amalekites changed their dress as well, and that version is found also in the Reggio edition of Rashi. The Yemenite manuscript, however, conforms with our reading. See Chavel fn. 87, Yosef Hallel, Leket Bahir fn. ד. See also Num. Rabbah 19:20.]   ישֵׁב הַנֶּגֶב: זֶה עֲמָלֵק, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "עֲמָלֵק יוֹשֵׁב בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב" (במדבר י"ג), וְשִׁנָּה אֶת לְשׁוֹנוֹ לְדַבֵּר בִּלְשׁוֹן כְּנַעַן, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְפַּלְּלִים לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לָתֵת כְּנַעֲנִים בְּיָדָם, וְהֵם אֵינָן כְּנַעֲנִים, רָאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְבוּשֵׁיהֶם כִּלְבוּשֵׁי עֲמָלֵקִים וּלְשׁוֹנָם לְשׁוֹן כְּנַעַן, אָמְרוּ נִתְפַּלֵּל סְתָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "אִם נָתֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת הָעָם הַזֶּה בְּיָדִי" (עי' ילקוט שמעוני תשס"ד):
the route of the spies: Heb. דֶּרֶךְ הָאֲתָרִים, the southern route, taken by the spies (הַתָּרִים), as it says, “They went up in the south” (13:22). Another interpretation: The route of the great guide [the ark] (הַתַּיָּר) which went ahead of them, as it says, “traveled three days ahead of them to seek for them a place to settle” (10:33). - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 18, Num. Rabbah 19:20]   דֶּרֶךְ הָֽאֲתָרִים: דֶּרֶךְ הַנֶּגֶב, שֶׁהָלְכוּ בּוֹ מְרַגְּלִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב" (במדבר י"ג); דָּבָר אַחֵר: דֶּרֶךְ הָאֲתָרִים, דֶּרֶךְ הַתַּיָּר הַגָּדוֹל הַנּוֹסֵעַ לִפְנֵיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם י') "דֶּרֶךְ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים לָתוּר לָהֶם מְנוּחָה" (תנחומא):
and took from them a captive: It was only a single maidservant. — [Midrash Aggadah , Yalkut Shimoni from Midrash Yelammedenu]   וַיִּשְׁבְּ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶֽׁבִי: אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא שִׁפְחָה אַחַת (ילקוט שמעוני שם):
2Israel made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If You deliver this people into my hand, I shall consecrate their cities."   בוַיִּדַּ֨ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל נֶ֛דֶר לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אִם־נָתֹ֨ן תִּתֵּ֜ן אֶת־הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ בְּיָדִ֔י וְהַֽחֲרַמְתִּ֖י אֶת־עָֽרֵיהֶֽם:
I shall consecrate: I shall consecrate their spoils to Heaven.   וְהַֽחֲרַמְתִּי: אַקְדִּישׁ שְׁלָלָם לְגָבוֹהַּ:
3The Lord heard Israel's voice and delivered the Canaanite. He destroyed them and [consecrated] their cities, and he called the place Hormah.   גוַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע יְהֹוָ֜ה בְּק֣וֹל יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וַיִּתֵּן֙ אֶת־הַכְּנַֽעֲנִ֔י וַיַּֽחֲרֵ֥ם אֶתְהֶ֖ם וְאֶת־עָֽרֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֥א שֵׁם־הַמָּק֖וֹם חָרְמָֽה:
He destroyed them: By execution.   וַיַּֽחֲרֵם אֶתְהֶם: בַּהֲרִיגָה:
and their cities: He consecrated them to Heaven.   וְאֶת־עָֽרֵיהֶם: חֶרְמֵי גָבוֹהַּ:
4They journeyed from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to circle the land of Edom, and the people became disheartened because of the way.   דוַיִּסְע֞וּ מֵהֹ֤ר הָהָר֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יַם־ס֔וּף לִסְבֹ֖ב אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ אֱד֑וֹם וַתִּקְצַ֥ר נֶֽפֶשׁ־הָעָ֖ם בַּדָּֽרֶךְ:
by way of the Red Sea: Since Aaron had died, and this war had come upon them, they turned back to the Red Sea route, which is the route they returned to after the decree [because of the sin] of the spies had been issued against them, as it says, “and journey into the desert by way of the Red Sea” (Deut. 1:40). Here they went back seven stations, as it says, “The children of Israel journeyed from the wells of Benei Yaakan to Moserah; there Aaron died” (ibid. 10:6). Did he really die in Moserah? Did he not die at Mount Hor? However, there [in Moserah] they again mourned for him and eulogized him, as if he had died in their presence. Go and study the stations, and you will find that there were seven stations between Moserah and Mount Hor. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 18, Seder Olam ch. 9]   יַם־סוּף: כֵּיוָן שֶׁמֵּת אַהֲרֹן וּבָאת עֲלֵיהֶם מִלְחָמָה זוֹ, חָזְרוּ לַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶם דֶּרֶךְ יַם סוּף, הוּא הַדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁחָזְרוּ לָהֶם כְּשֶׁנִּגְזַר עֲלֵיהֶם גְּזֵרַת מְרַגְּלִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וּסְעוּ הַמִּדְבָּרָה דֶּרֶךְ יַם סוּף" (דברים א'), וְכָאן חָזְרוּ לַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶם שֶׁבַע מַסָּעוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל נָסְעוּ מִבְּאֵרֹת בְּנֵי יַעֲקָן מוֹסֵרָה שָׁם מֵת אַהֲרֹן", וְכִי בְמוֹסֵרָה מֵת? וַהֲלֹא בְהֹר הָהָר מֵת? אֶלָּא שָׁם חָזְרוּ וְהִתְאַבְּלוּ עָלָיו וְהִסְפִּידוּהוּ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא בִפְנֵיהֶם; וְצֵא וּבְדֹק בַּמַּסָּעוֹת וְתִמְצְאֵם שֶׁבַע מַסָּעוֹת מִן מוֹסֵרָה עַד הֹר הָהָר (תנחומא):
to circle the land of Edom: since they did not allow them to pass through their land.   לִסְבֹב אֶת־אֶרֶץ אֱדוֹם: שֶׁלֹּא נְתָנָם לַעֲבֹר בְּאַרְצוֹ:
and the people became disheartened because of the way: Because of the hardship of traveling, which was hard for them. They said, “Now we were so close to entering the Land, and we are turning back. So did our fathers turn back and remain for thirty-eight years, until today.” Therefore, they became disheartened by the hardship of traveling. In old French, encrote lor, or encrut lor, it discouraged them. It is, however, incorrect to say that the people became disheartened בַּדָּרֶךְ, meaning “while on the way,” without explaining what caused them to become disheartened, for whenever קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ [literally, shortness of spirit] is mentioned in Scripture, the cause of the discouragement is specified, as in, “I could not tolerate them (וַתִּקְצַר נַפְשִׁי בָּהֶם)” (Zech. 11:8), and as in, “He felt distressed because of the misery of Israel (וַתִּקְצַר נַפְשׁוֹ בַּעֲמַל יִשְׂרָאֵל)” (Jud. 10:16). Anything difficult for a person to bear is called קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ, like a person who is beset with trouble, and his mind is not composed enough to accept it. There is no place in his heart for the distress to settle. The thing causing the distress is described as ‘large’ since it is too large for him and weighs heavily on him, as in, “and their souls also loathed Me (בָּחֲלָה בִי)” (Zech. 11:8); they were too much for Me. [And also,] “And it is so great (וְיִגְאֶה) that you hunt me like a lion” (Job 10:16). In summary, the expression shortness of spirit (קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ) for a thing, means that it is intolerable, and the mind cannot bear it.   וַתִּקְצַר נֶֽפֶשׁ־הָעָם בַּדָּֽרֶךְ: בְּטֹרַח הַדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁהֻקְשָׁה לָהֶם, אָמְרוּ עַכְשָׁו הָיִינוּ קְרוֹבִים לִכָּנֵס לָאָרֶץ וְאָנוּ חוֹזְרִים לַאֲחוֹרֵינוּ, כָּךְ חָזְרוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְנִשְׁתָּהוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים וּשְׁמוֹנֶה שָׁנָה עַד הַיּוֹם, לְפִיכָךְ קָצְרָה נַפְשָׁם בְּעִנּוּי הַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְלַעַ"ז אנקרוט"לור; וְלֹא יִתָּכֵן לוֹמַר וַתִּקְצַר נֶפֶשׁ הָעָם בַּדָּרֶךְ — בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וְלֹא פֵּרֵשׁ בּוֹ בַּמֶּה קָצְרָה, שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁתִּמְצָא קִצּוּר נֶפֶש בַּמִּקְרָא מְפֹרָשׁ שָׁם בַּמֶּה קָצְרָה, כְּגוֹן "וַתִּקְצַר נַפְשִׁי בָּהֶם" (זכריה י"א), וּכְגוֹן "וַתִּקְצַר נַפְשׁוֹ בַּעֲמַל יִשְׂרָאֵל" (שופטים י'), וְכָל דָּבָר קָשֶׁה עַל אָדָם נוֹפֵל בּוֹ לְשׁוֹן קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ, כְּאָדָם שֶׁהַטֹּרַח בָּא עָלָיו וְאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ רְחָבָה לְקַבֵּל אוֹתוֹ הַדָּבָר וְאֵין לוֹ מָקוֹם בְּתוֹךְ לִבּוֹ לָגוּר שָׁם הַצַּעַר, וּבְדָבָר הַמַּטְרִיחַ נוֹפֵל לְשׁוֹן גֹּדֶל, שֶׁגָּדוֹל הוּא וְכָבֵד עַל הָאָדָם, כְּגוֹן "וְגַם נַפְשָׁם בָּחֲלָה בִי" (זכריה י"א) — גָּדְלָה עָלַי, "וְיִגְאֶה כַּשַּׁחַל תְּצוּדֵנִי" (איוב י'); כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל פֵּרוּשׁ, כָּל לְשׁוֹן קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ בְּדָבָר לָשׁוֹן שֶׁאֵין יָכוֹל לְסָבְלוֹ הוּא — שֶׁאֵין הַדַּעַת סוֹבַלְתּוֹ:
5The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this desert, for there is no bread and no water, and we are disgusted with this rotten bread."   הוַיְדַבֵּ֣ר הָעָ֗ם בֵּֽאלֹהִים֘ וּבְמשֶׁה֒ לָמָ֤ה הֶֽעֱלִיתֻ֨נוּ֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם לָמ֖וּת בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר כִּ֣י אֵ֥ין לֶ֨חֶם֙ וְאֵ֣ין מַ֔יִם וְנַפְשֵׁ֣נוּ קָ֔צָה בַּלֶּ֖חֶם הַקְּלֹקֵֽל:
against God and against Moses: They equated the servant with his Master. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 19, Num. Rabbah 19:21]   בֵּֽאלֹהִים וּבְמשֶׁה: הִשְׁווּ עֶבֶד לְקוֹנוֹ (תנחומא):
Why have you brought us up: Both of them [were considered] equal.   לָמָה הֶֽעֱלִיתֻנוּ: שְׁנֵיהֶם שָׁוִים:
and we are disgusted: Heb. וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ קָצָה. This too denotes intolerance and loathing.   וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ קָצָה: אַף זֶה לְשׁוֹן קִצּוּר נֶפֶשׁ וּמִאוּס:
with this rotten bread: Since the manna was absorbed into their limbs [and not excreted from their bowels], they called it rotten (Mizrachi, or cursed, according to Gur Aryeh.) They said, “This manna will eventually swell up in our stomachs.” Is there any mortal who ingests but does not excrete?- [Yoma 75b, see Rashi there]   בַּלֶּחֶם הַקְּלֹקֵֽל: לְפִי שֶׁהַמָּן נִבְלָע בָּאֵבָרִים קְרָאוּהוּ קְלֹקֵל, אָמְרוּ, עָתִיד הַמָּן הַזֶּה שֶׁיִּתְפַּח בְּמֵעֵינוּ, כְּלוּם יֵשׁ יְלוּד אִשָּׁה שֶׁמַּכְנִיס וְאֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא? (יומא ע"ה):
6The Lord sent against the people the venomous snakes, and they bit the people, and many people of Israel died.   ווַיְשַׁלַּ֨ח יְהֹוָ֜ה בָּעָ֗ם אֵ֚ת הַנְּחָשִׁ֣ים הַשְּׂרָפִ֔ים וַיְנַשְּׁכ֖וּ אֶת־הָעָ֑ם וַיָּ֥מָת עַם־רָ֖ב מִיִּשְׂרָאֵֽל:
the venomous snakes: Heb. הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים, lit. the burning snakes, [so named] because they ‘burn’ a person with the venom of their fangs. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 19, Num. Rabbah 19:22]   אֵת הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים: שֶׁשּׂוֹרְפִים אֶת הָאָדָם בְּאֶרֶס שִׁנֵּיהֶם:
and they bit the people: Let the snake, which was smitten for speaking evil [to Eve] come and punish those who spread slander [about the manna]. Let the snake, for which all types of food taste the same, come and punish those ingrates, for whom one thing [the manna] changes into various tastes. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 19, Num. Rabbah 19:22]   וַיְנַשְּׁכוּ אֵת הָעָם: יָבֹא נָחָשׁ שֶׁלָּקָה עַל הוֹצָאַת דִּבָּה וְיִפָּרַע מִמּוֹצִיאֵי דִּבָּה, יָבֹא נָחָשׁ שֶׁכָּל הַמִּינִין נִטְעָמִין לוֹ טַעַם אֶחָד וְיִפָּרַע מִכְּפוּיֵי טוֹבָה שֶׁדָּבָר אֶחָד מִשְׁתַּנֶּה לָהֶם לְכַמָּה מַטְעַמִּים (תנחומא):
7The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord that He remove the snakes from us." So Moses prayed on behalf of the people.   זוַיָּבֹא֩ הָעָ֨ם אֶל־משֶׁ֜ה וַיֹּֽאמְר֣וּ חָטָ֗אנוּ כִּֽי־דִבַּ֤רְנוּ בַֽיהֹוָה֙ וָבָ֔ךְ הִתְפַּלֵּל֙ אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה וְיָסֵ֥ר מֵֽעָלֵ֖ינוּ אֶת־הַנָּחָ֑שׁ וַיִּתְפַּלֵּ֥ל משֶׁ֖ה בְּעַ֥ד הָעָֽם:
So Moses prayed: From here [we learn] that someone who is asked to forgive, should not be so cruel so as not to forgive. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 19, Num. Rabbah 19:23]   וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל משֶׁה: מִכָּאן לְמִי שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא אַכְזָרִי מִלִּמְחֹל (עי' תנחומא):
8The Lord said to Moses, "Make yourself a serpent and put it on a pole, and let whoever is bitten look at it and live."   חוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ שָׂרָ֔ף וְשִׂ֥ים אֹת֖וֹ עַל־נֵ֑ס וְהָיָה֙ כָּל־הַנָּשׁ֔וּךְ וְרָאָ֥ה אֹת֖וֹ וָחָֽי:
on a pole: Heb. עַל נֵס, on a post, perche in French. Similarly, “and like a flagpole (וְכַנֵּס) on a hill” (Isa. 30:17); “will I raise My standard (נִסִּי)” (ibid. 49:22); “raise a banner” (נֵס) (ibid. 13:2). Since it stands high, and serves as a signal and is to be seen, it is called נֵס (a sign).   עַל־נֵס: עַל כְּלוֹנָס, שֶׁקּוֹרִין פירק"א בְּלַעַז, וְכֵן "וְכַנֵּס עַל הַגִּבְעָה" (ישעיהו ל'), "אָרִים נִסִּי" (שם מ"ט), "שְׂאוּ נֵס" (שם י"ג); וּלְפִי שֶׁהוּא גָּבוֹהַּ לְאוֹת וְלִרְאָיָה, קוֹרְאוֹ נֵס:
whoever is bitten: Even if a dog or a donkey bit him, he would suffer injury and steadily deteriorate, but a snake bite would kill quickly. That is why it says here [regarding other bites], “will look at it”-a mere glance. But regarding the snake bite it says “he would gaze”-“and whenever a snake bit [a man], he would gaze” (verse 9), for the snake bite would not heal unless one gazed at it [the copper snake] intently (Yer. R.H. 3:9). Our Rabbis said, Does a snake cause death or life? However, when Israel looked heavenward and subjected their hearts to their Father in heaven, they would be healed, but if not, they would waste away. — [R.H. 29a]   כָּל־הַנָּשׁוּךְ: אֲפִלּוּ כֶלֶב אוֹ חֲמוֹר נוֹשְׁכוֹ הָיָה נִזּוֹק וּמִתְנַוְּנֶה וְהוֹלֵךְ, אֶלָּא שֶׁנְּשִׁיכַת הַנָּחָשׁ מְמַהֶרֶת לְהָמִית, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר כָּאן וְרָאָה אֹתוֹ — רְאִיָּה בְעָלְמָא — וּבִנְשִׁיכַת הַנָּחָשׁ נֶאֱמַר "וְהִבִּיט" — וְהָיָה אִם נָשַׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ אֶת אִישׁ וְהִבִּיט וְגוֹ' — שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה מְמַהֵר נֶשֶׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ לְהִתְרַפְּאוֹת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן מַבִּיט בּוֹ בְּכַוָּנָה; וְאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ וְכִי נָחָשׁ מֵמִית אוֹ מְחַיֶּה? אֶלָּא, בִּזְמַן שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִסְתַּכְּלִין כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה וּמְשַׁעְבְּדִין אֶת לִבָּם לַאֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם הָיוּ מִתְרַפְּאִים, וְאִם לָאו הָיוּ נִמּוֹקִים (ראש השנה כ"ט):
9Moses made a copper snake and put it on a pole, and whenever a snake bit a man, he would gaze upon the copper snake and live.   טוַיַּ֤עַשׂ משֶׁה֙ נְחַ֣שׁ נְח֔שֶׁת וַיְשִׂמֵ֖הוּ עַל־הַנֵּ֑ס וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־נָשַׁ֤ךְ הַנָּחָשׁ֙ אֶת־אִ֔ישׁ וְהִבִּ֛יט אֶל־נְחַ֥שׁ הַנְּח֖שֶׁת וָחָֽי:
a copper snake: He was not told to make it of copper, but Moses said, "The Holy One, blessed is He, called it a snake (נָחָשׁ), so I will make it of copper, (נְחשֶׁת), one term similar to the other term." — [Mid. Gen. Rabbah 19:31:8]   נְחַשׁ נְחשֶׁת: לֹא נֶאֱמַר לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ שֶׁל נְחֹשֶׁת, אֶלָּא אָמַר מֹשֶׁה, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא קוֹרְאוֹ נָחָשׁ וַאֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂנּוּ שֶׁל נְחֹשֶׁת, לָשׁוֹן נוֹפֵל עַל לָשׁוֹן (בראשית רבה ל"א):