Today we learn about five important things that happened to the Yidden in the Midbar: Aharon passes away, Amalek attacks the Yidden, the Yidden complain about the mohn and Hashem sends poisonous snakes, and Hashem tells Moshe to put up a snake on a pole to help the Yidden to do teshuvah and be saved. Then we learn about a special neis, and the shira the Yidden sing to thank Hashem!
Aharon passes away: The Yidden continued going through the Midbar. They came to a mountain called Hor HaHar (that means “The Mountain of the Mountain” — because it looked like a small mountain on top of a big mountain).
Now Aharon will pass away.
Hashem told Moshe that he should speak to Aharon to make him feel better, reminding him that he will see his son Elazar take over as Kohen Gadol before he passes away. This is something that even Moshe Rabbeinu himself did not have with his son.
Hashem told Moshe to bring Aharon and Elazar into a cave in the mountain. There will be a bed with a candle inside. Moshe should help Aharon take off the special clothes of the Kohen Gadol and dress Elazar in them. Then Aharon will lay down on the bed, and close his eyes, and Hashem will take back his neshama with a “kiss.” (Misas Neshikin — only certain tzadikim pass away like this.)
Even though it was hard for him, Moshe did what Hashem said, and Aharon passed away. Then Moshe and Elazar came down from the mountain. The Yidden were very sad, and cried for a whole month. They missed Aharon, who used to make shalom between people, especially bringing Shalom Bayis.
Amalek decides to attack: The clouds that were around the Yidden were in Aharon’s zechus, and Hashem took some of them, the Ananei HaKavod, away when Aharon passed away. The clouds that Hashem took away weren’t the ones that protected the Yidden, but they were there for kavod for the Yidden.
When Amalek saw that the clouds went away, they thought that Hashem would let them fight against the Yidden. They decided to pretend they were from Canaan, so the Yidden wouldn’t be able to daven to Hashem against them — they would be davening for the wrong thing.
Amalek attacked the Yidden, and captured one person (who was really only an Amaleki the Yidden had captured last time).
The Yidden davened to Hashem to save them. They didn’t ask Hashem to save them from the Canaanim, so Amalek’s trick didn’t work! Hashem helped, and the Yidden won. They gave all of the money they got to Hashem.
The Yidden complain about the Mohn: The Yidden were so scared from the war with Amalek, and that Aharon passed away, that they tried to run back to Mitzrayim.
The Leviim chased them and fought with them until they agreed to go back to Eretz Yisroel. But they complained about Hashem and about Moshe. They said that they didn’t like the mohn.
The copper snake of teshuvah: Hashem punished the Yidden for their Lashon Hara about the mohn by sending poisonous snakes. (The reason why Hashem sent snakes was because the snake by the Cheit Eitz HaDaas said Lashon Hara.) The Yidden realized they needed to do teshuvah, and asked Moshe to ask Hashem to stop the snakes.
Hashem told Moshe to make a fake snake and put it on a pole. When the Yidden look at it, they won’t die from the snakebites. When they look up they will think about Hashem, and also they will remember why Hashem was punishing them.
Moshe made this snake out of copper, because the word copper (nechoshes) is like the word snake (nachash)! And just like Hashem promised, if a Yid was bitten by a snake, he looked at the copper snake and Hashem forgave him and didn’t let him die.
A special neis: The Yidden continued traveling and came closer to where the Emori people lived.
To go there, they had to go in a valley with high cliffs on both sides. The Arnon River goes through this valley, and the Emorim knew that the Yidden were coming that way. They had a mean idea, to hide in the caves in the cliffs and then throw arrows and rocks down on the Yidden when they came through!
But Hashem saved the Yidden! He moved the cliffs together, and both cliffs fit together like puzzle pieces — wherever there was a cave on one side, there was a rock sticking out on the other. All of the Emorim that wanted to hurt the Yidden were killed.
The Yidden were able to see the blood in the Arnon River, and they realized that Hashem had saved them! Some of the blood went into the Yidden’s well of water to make sure all of the Yidden got to see that Hashem did a great neis for them. The Yidden sang a song to Hashem, called “Ali Be’er,” “come up well,” which showed them the neis Hashem made!