Parshat בהעלתך- Bamidbar 11:12 – The Nursing Father

Bamidbar – 11:12 – Did I conceive this entire people or did I give birth to it, that You say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a suckling to the Land that You swore to its forefathers”?

Gemora: Sanhedrin 8(a): We learn in a beraita – Rabbi Simlai says this posuk is a warning to judges that they must be patient with the Congregation. To what extent? R. Hanan [some say R. Shabatai,] says: As the nursing father carrieth the sucking child.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #9:
It is not immediately clear what is the comparison between a Congregation and a sucking child. It seems to me that this teaching comes to say that if a particular person is bothersome to the judge or causes the judge pain or speaks in an inappropriate way to the judge or acts in a brazen way. If he acts in this way or any similar fashion that troubles and pains the body and the soul, the judge should NOT say to himself “what do I need the troubles of this postion for? I’m going to quit.” Additionally, the judge should not carry anger in his heart against such a person. Rather, the judge should carry his burden and be patient with his load and accept the difficulties with love.

The comparison with the nursing parent is that just like the mother who nurses her child, even though the child bothers her sometimes and causes her pain, as children often do; nevertheless she doesn’t cast him away or distance herself from the child. Rather, the opposite is the case, she delights in the child, hugs him and then hugs him again with love and affection. In this manner should a judge act with the Congregation, even if they attack him.

On a separate note, look in posuk Bamidbar 11:15 where Moshe complains, “if You treat me like this please kill me if I find favor in your eyes and let me not see my evil”.

DBS Note: Amazingly, the word “You” that Moshe uses here to refer to G-d is written in the feminine   form.

 Rashi comments on this posuk saying that the reason Moshe referred to G-d in the feminine form is because Moshe’s strength got weak like a woman’s. Many commentators on Rashi are astounded by this comment since it attributes the weakening of strength to Moshe, while Moshe seems to be attributing the weakening of strength to G-d. It is therefore unclear how Rashi is explaining the use of the feminine “You”. Additionally, if the Torah wanted to describe weakening of strength, couldn’t it have thought of a better metaphor for weakness than “woman”?

Therefore, it appears that the description of the weakening of strength of Moshe is analogous to the weakening of strength that happens to a man during relations with his wife. With this explanation, it all makes sense. Truly the feminine attribute would apply to G-d, and the weakening of Moshe was truly great [in the collecting of his strength through his unification with G-d].

DBS Note: I do not know the source of this second drasha of the Torah Temimah’s.

2 thoughts on “Parshat בהעלתך- Bamidbar 11:12 – The Nursing Father

  1. Zayde

    A judge is constantly on call, trying what eventually becomes a numbing number of seemingly trivial cases that should have settled out of court. It requires patients to remain professional and give each case its proper due. Attack is not a likely consideration. TT must have attended rowdier venues.


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