Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 24   No. 30

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Aharon ben Shlomo z"l and Elsie bas Henry z"l
by the Stromberg family
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas Bamidbor

Elozor ha'Kohen
(Adapted from the Ramban)

"And the charge of Elozor the son of Aharon ha'Kohen was the oil for the light, and the spices for the incense, the flour for the Tamid and the anointing oil, the charge of the entire Mishkon and all that it contained, in the Sanctuary and its vessels" (4:16).

Besides being the treasurer of K'hos (Iysomor was the treasurer of Gershon and Merori), Elozor, who later succeeded his father Aharon as Kohen Godol, was also the overseer of Gershon, K'hos and Merori - he was the superior of the three Princes (Elyosof ben Lo'eil of Gershon, Elitzofon ben Uziel of K'hos and Tzuriel ben Avichayil of Merori) as the Torah informed us above (3:32).

Practically, explains the Seforno, this meant that it was Elozor's responsibility to oversee the setting up and the taking down of the Mishkon, whenever it was performed.

The individual appointments of each and every Levi, it would appear from the closing Pesukim of the Parshah, were arranged jointly by the two brothers, in conjunction with their father Aharon.

*

We wrote above that the two kinds of oil, the spices and the flour were in the charge of Elozor, but it is not clear exactly what he was supposed to do with them.

The Seforno explains that he was responsible for appointing those who carried them; he himself was not expected to do so. The Ramban agrees with this explanation in principle. After all, he points out, the Torah does not use the word "carry" with regard to Elozor, as it does regarding the Holy vessels that were placed in the Levi'im's charge.

However, he then cites Rashi, who quoting a Yerushalmi, writes that Elozor actually carried these four items himself - the oil for the light in his right hand, the spices in his left, the flour suspended from his arm and the anointing oil in a bottle hanging from his belt. Remarkable, comments the Ramban, when we consider the vast quantities in question ...

Bear in mind that the spices for one year came to a total of three hundred and sixty five manah (1 manah = 100 dinrim) and the oil, for one lamp alone, totaled 183 lugim (1098 egg-volumes) and there were seven! The Minchas ha'Tamid that Elozor carried is of unknown quantity, but the annointing oil was one "hin" (12 lugim = 72 egg-volumes).

To carry such vast quantities must have required superhuman strength and stamina. But then, explains the Ramban, great tzadikim are endowed with whatever strength is required to fulfill the task on hand. Elozor therefore, can be compared to Ya'akov Ovinu, who rolled the huge stone from the well with ease, a feat which normally required the combined strength of all the local shepherds combined; to Moshe Rabeinu, who was able to smash the thick sapphire Luchos (measuring one cubic Amah) by throwing them with force to the ground (Nedorim 38a); and to Aharon, who picked up and waved 22,000 Levi'im one after the other, in all six directions - like a lulav (Ba'midbor 8:11 and 20 [see Rashi there]).

It is about such tzadikim that the Navi writes "And those who trust in G-d 'exchange' their strength" (Yesha'yoh 40:31). They may give up their natural strength in the service of G-d, but this is simply exchanged for a supernatural one, to suit their needs.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

To the House of their Fathers

"Count all the congregation of Yisroel to their families, to the house of their fathers." (Ba'midbor 1:2).

It is from these words that the Gemara in Bovo Basro (109b) derives its ruling that it is the father's family the Torah calls "family", and not the mother's.

Here are a number of halachic ramifications of this ruling.

1. One inherits from a paternal (half) brother or sister (and vice versa), but not from a maternal one.

2. The mitzvah of redeeming a close relative who has been sold as a servant to a non-Jew (see Parshas Behar 25:49), applies to one's paternal uncle or cousin etc., but not to the maternal equivalent.

3. "Yibum" and "chalitzah" may only be performed by the paternal brother of the deceased, not by his maternal brother.

4. Since one must give priority to a closer relative when giving tzedokoh, a paternal brother or cousin, etc. takes precedence over a maternal one.

5. It appears quite logical to the Torah Temimah, to connect the principal of "Amoni, ve'lo Amonis, Mo'ovi, ve'lo Mo'ovis", (the source for permitting female members of the Amoni and the Mo'ovi nations to marry into Klal Yisroel, on account of which Ruth was considered a kosher giyores and Dovid Ha'melech eligible to rule) to the above ruling.

*

Interestingly enough, we cannot interpret the above ruling to mean that a maternal relative is not considered a relative at all, and one would therefore be permitted to marry one's maternal sister. That is simply not the case, as the Torah specifically includes them in the laws of incest. Similarly, when we wrote above that the maternal brother may not perform Yibum with his deceased brother's wife, were he to do so he would be "chayov koreis", since he would have transgressed the laws of incest. (In other words, there are a number of exceptions to the rule, all of them specifically stated in the Torah.)

*

The Guards of the Mikdosh

The Kohanim kept guard in the Beis Ha'mikdosh in three places and the Levi'im in twenty-one. The three guards of the Kohanim are derived from this week's Parshah, since three derivatives of "shomer" (guard) are used in the pasuk (3:38). (The inclusion of the Levi'im as guards, only took place later, as we shall see.) The Kohanim would stand guard inside the gates of the "Kodesh", whereas the Levi'im, who were prohibited from entering, stood guard on the outside (Rambam, Beis Ha'bechirah 8:4). The Torah Temimah expresses surprise that the Rambam follows the opinion of the Sifri here, but ignores the Gemoro in Tomid (26b), where it states that the Kohanim guarded upstairs (their four guard-locations were in fact, in attics), whilst the Levi'im kept guard downstairs.

*

The Rambam (Beis Ha'bechirah 8:2) writes that the guards stood at their posts all night (but not by day), inferring that the purpose of the guards was to prevent the Holy Vessels from being stolen. The Torah Temimah disagrees with him. He maintains that they were appointed as "guards of honour", in honour of the Beis Ha'Mikdash, and that they therefore stood guard 24 hours a day.

Whatever the reason the Kohanim originally stood guard, the reason that the guard-duty was extended to the Levi'im, is stated clearly in Parshas Korach (17:27-18:4). It followed a complaint by Yisroel that it was extremely difficult to avoid being attracted to enter the Mishkon, where they were liable to the Heavenly death-penalty. G-d's response was to reinforce the guard-duty by adding the Levi'im to assist the Kohanim. In that case, it would appear more logical to stand guard during the day, when there would be people in the Azoroh (who might inadvertently enter the Holy places), than at night-time, when nobody was there.

*

There were those Levi'im who guarded the gates, and there were those who sang in the choir. It is clear from the pesukim in Divrei Ha'yomim (1:9) that these were divided into families (i.e. there were families consisting of guards and families consisting of choristers) rather than individuals who were chosen for their talent.

And the Gemara in Erchin (11b), commenting on the repetition of the phrase "and the stranger who comes close will die" (at the Hand of G-d) (3:38 [see also 3:10]), explains that a Levi who is from the family of guards and who goes up to sing, or vice versa, also earns himself the death penalty.

The Gemara there also quotes a Braysa, which tells how the Tana R. Yehoshua (ben Chananyo), who was a Levi, went to help R. Yochonon ben Gudgodo (also a Levi) to open the gates. "My son", the older man told him, "withdraw, since you are a chorister and not a gate-keeper!"

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This issue is sponsored in honour of the special birthday of
Rochel Leah n"y
by her siblings Mazal Tov wishes for bracha v'haztlacha ad meah v'esrim shana

Shavuos Supplement

The Two Loaves

The importance of the "Sh'tei Ha'lechem" lies perhaps in the fact that, apart from the mitzvos that all Yomim-tovim have in common, it is the only mitzvah that is unique to Shavu'os.

Staying up to learn all night, and eating milky foods are no more than minhogim, so that, in stark contrast to Pesach and Succos, we do not have even one special mitzvah, neither min Ha'Torah, nor mi'de'Rabbonon, to observe on Shavu'os. Moreover, this special Mitzvah is not even an individual Mitzvah, but a communal one. The Kohanim brought the two loaves with the accompanying Korbonos, purchased out of public funds, on behalf of the whole of Klal Yisrael. This highlights the importance of serving Hashem together "like one man, with one heart" (see Rashi Sh'mos 19:2), a level of unity that they attained at Har Sinai, and which we should try to emulate -- especially on Shavu'os.

*

Another aspect of this mitzvah that stresses its importance and unique character is the Torah's introduction as the fiftieth day of the Sefiras Ho'omer. Shavu'os may only last for one day, but it must be of deep spiritual significance to require seven weeks' preparation - something that we do not find with Pesach or Succos, in spite of their longer duration and extended activity.

The actual Mitzvah of "Sh'tei Ha'lechem" is no longer with us - even that solitary Mitzvah has been taken away from us. However, since it belongs to the realm of Korbonos, we are still able to fulfill it indirectly, by learning about it.

Here then, is a brief summary of the Halochos of the Sh'tei Ha'lechem, taken from the Seifer Ha'chinuch (Mitzvah 307) and the Rambam.

*

It is a Mitzvah to bring chometz-bread from the new wheat crop on Shavu'os. The Torah calls it "a new Minchah", and it consists of two loaves. The Torah writes (Vayikro 23:17) "From your dwelling places you shall bring a wave-offering of bread, two loaves made out of two 'esronim' ". "Esronim" are tenths of an "eifoh" - one eifoh equals 432 egg volumes.

This is how it used to be done: the Kohanim would bring three so'oh of new Eretz-Yisrael wheat, which they would rub and beat in the same way as they did with all the flour-offerings. Afterwards, they would grind it and sift it twelve times, using twelve sieves, to obtain from it the required two "esronim". This sifted flour was then baked into 2 challos (each challoh was kneaded and baked individually), with the yeast being added to make it rise.

*

Each challoh was 7 tefochim long (6 tefochim are equivalent to 1 amoh), 4 tefochim wide and 4 finger-breadths high. They were square-shaped and had to be baked on erev Yom-tov, since their preparation did not override Yom-tov. Then, on Yom-tov itself, they were eaten by the Kohanim during the day through till the following midnight. This Minchah was the first to be brought from the new wheat-crop.

Together with the bread, they brought 7 perfect lambs, one bull and 2 rams for a burnt-offering, one she-goat for a sin-offering, and 2 sheep for a peace-offering. This set of offerings, taken from Parshas Emor, should not be confused with the Mussaf-offering mentioned in "Pinchos". The latter consisted of 2 bulls, one ram and 7 sheep for a burnt-offering, and a she-goat for a sin-offering (equivalent to the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf offering).

*

The waving of the challos with the two lambs of the peace-offering was done in the following manner: the Kohanim brought the two live lambs and waved them together in all directions (like a lulov). If the Kohen waved them separately he was still yotze. They then shechted and skinned them. They took the breast and the right calf from each lamb and put them beside the two loaves. Then, placing his hands beneath them, the Kohen waved them all together on the East side of the Court-yard, where all the waving took place. He waved them in all directions, each time away from the body and back, then up and down. Once again, if he waved them individually, he was yotze. Finally, he burnt the fat-pieces of the two lambs on the Mizbei'ach. The remainder of the meat was eaten by male Kohanim.

As for the two challos, the Kohen Godol took one, whilst the second challoh was distributed among all the twenty-four groups of Kohanim. Both of them had to be eaten on that day through to the following midnight, like the meat of all "Kodshei Kodshim", and the same applied to the meat of the peace-offering mentioned earlier. (Rambam Hilchos Temidim u'Mussofim 8:11).

May we be zocheh to witness this ceremony in our days.

* * *

The Early History of Malchus Beis-Dovi
(Adapted from the Seder ha'Doros)

One of the reasons for leining Megillas Rus on Shavu'os is to present the yichus of Dovid Ha'melech, whose birthday and yohrzeit occur on Shavu'os. Here are some interesting facts about the years of Malchus Beis Dovid before and up until the time that Dovid Ha'melech became King.

*

Chetzron, Yehuda's grandson, was already born when Ya'akov and his sons went down to Egypt, and Nachshon, his great-grandson, the famous Prince, was already an old man at that time.

The story of Megillas Rus took place in the days of Ivtzon (alias Bo'az), the 11th "Shofet". Now Ivtzon already had 30 sons and 30 daughters, all of whom had died before this story took place. When the famine struck Eretz Yisrael, Elimelech - Sal'mon's brother (refer to chart) - left Eretz Yisrael for better pastures, and went to live in Mo'ov. Bo'az, as Ivtzon later become known, must have been a very old man at that time, considering that his grandfather, Nachshon, was already old when they left Egypt, 340 years earlier.

*

Gideon was a "Judge" many generations before Bo'az - from 2676 to 2716 - yet there are indications that Bo'az had been influential, to the point of instituting the Rabbinical ruling that one may greet a fellow-Jew using G-d's Holy Name, in Gideon's time, if not earlier.

Rus was 40 when Bo'az married her, in which case she cannot possibly have been the actual daughter of Eglon, King of Mo'ov, who lived more than 200 years earlier.

*

Rus was zocheh to live very long, long enough to sit on the throne that her great-great grandson, the teenage Shlomoh Ha'melech specially had made for her, right next to his own magnificent throne - almost 150 years later.

Bo'az died the same night that he "married" Rus. He was over 300 years old. Oved, the son of Rus and Bo'az, lived for 400 years, and so did his son Yishai, Dovid Ha'melech's father.

*

Although the setting of Megillas Rus, as well as the time of year in which it took place, are abundantly clear, the exact time-period in which it occurred remains vague. Nothing is specifically mentioned which would indicate as to which period in history it occurred. The first Rashi in the Megillah quotes the Chazal that Bo'az was alias Ivtzon, and that is the opinion that we adopted above. It places the Megillah in the year 2793, the year Ivtzon died.

*

But there are also other opinions, and they too, are quoted by the Seider ha'Doros. One such opinion maintains that the famine in Elimelech's time occurred immediately following the death of the Shofet Ehud (who killed Eglon) in the year 2635. In that case, the latter half of the Megillah will have taken place some ten years later in 2645, during the years that Barak and Devorah were the "Shoftim:". And in that case, Bo'az can hardly have been alias Ivtzon, whom the story preceded by almost 160 years.

It would then also mean that Bo'az was not quite the three or even four hundred years old that the first opinion makes him out to be. (Yet other Medroshim claim that he was 80.) On the other hand, Rus would then have been Eglon's daughter, not the grand or great grand-daughter, as Tosfos claims. And it would also mean that she would have been close to 300 years old when she sat on her throne beside Shlomoh.

In addition, it would mean that Bo'az was not a "Shofet" - a leader, yes, but not the "Shofet" of the generation. In any case, no such Shofet is listed in Seifer Shoftim.

*

A "Shofet" in the above sense, was someone who led the people to victory over their oppressors - "an avenger" rather than a judge. To be sure, some of the Shoftim were spiritual giants, capable of leading the people in the battles of Torah, as well as on the battlefield - Yehoshua, Devorah and Sh'muel ha'Navi, to mention a few. There were however, others who were not so well-learned, and whose prowess was therefore confined to the battlefield.

Bo'az undoubtedly belonged to the former category. He was a great tzadik, compared to Yosef in the area of controlling his Yeitzer ho'Ra, as we learn from his behaviour on the night before he "married" Rus. Presumably, that is why he was called "Bo'az" - meaning "in him there is strength". And he was, at the same time, an outstanding ba'al middos, evident from the way in which he dealt with Rus when she came to collect corn in his field. He was a talmid-chochom who studied Torah at every opportunity and who was great enough to make "takonos" in Yisroel. It was he who introduced the takonoh of greeting with G-d's Name, and it was he who established that Rus's conversion was perfectly kosher, despite her descent from the disqualified nation of Mo'ov. There are few like him among the Shoftim.

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