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

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Vol. 21   No. 36

This issue is sponsored
by Shabsi and Leah Rubin
in honor of the marriage of their daughter
Nechama to Levi
son of Dovid and Chani Felsenthal.
May they be zoche to build a bayis ne'eman b'yisroel

Parshas Beha'aloscha

Yehoshua Kohen Gadol
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

"And he showed me Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol standing before the angel of G-d, and the Satan was standing on his right-hand side to prosecute him . And G-d said to the Satan 'Hashem will scold you, Satan , is this not a firebrand that was saved from the fire? Yehoshua, who was wearing dirty clothes, was standing before the angel and he (the angel) said 'Remove the dirty clothes from on him ' " (Zecharyah 3:1).


Before discussing the episode to which the above Pesukim refers, let us explain the reference to the 'the firebrand that was saved from the fire' to which Yehoshua Kohen Gadol is being compared.

When Tzidkiyah and Ach'av (two Resha'im who tried to seduce Nevuchadnetzar's wife), claimed to be Tzadikim, Nevuchadnetzar set out to test them by throwing them into a furnace, as he had the three Tzadikim, Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah - who had survived. And when they objected on the grounds that.whereas Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah had the combined merit of three people, and they were only two, the king gave them the option of choosing a third person. They chose Yehoshua Kohen Gadol as the third partner, assuming that they would be saved on his merit. In fact, they perished and he was saved. That is why in Pasuk eight, the Navi refers to 'Yehoshua and his colleagues', whom he describes as 'men of miracles'.


The Gemara in Sanhedrin (93) explains that the sons of Yehoshua Kohen Gadol (who was the brother of Ezra ha'Sofer and ancestor of Shimon ha'Tzadik, and who was in all likelihood the first Kohen Gadol in the second Beis-Hamikdash) were married to non-Jewish wives, unfortunately not uncommon in those days, and that Yehoshua, who was himself a great Tzadik, did not rebuke them. Hence the parable of the dirty clothes.

According to the Medrash and the commentaries, they wanted to appoint Yehoshua Kohen Gadol, but the Satan was objecting on account of his sons' actions and his inaction. The Navi now intervened, in an attempt to convince the sons to divorce their Pasul wives and Davened on his behalf. His efforts it seems, were crowned with success, as is hinted in the removal of the dirty clothes.


The Zohar however, explains that the current Pesukim took place after Yehoshua's death, when the angeel - the chief judge of the Heavenly Court - sentenced him to Gehinom, and the dirty clothes mentioned in the Pasuk were the clothes that were worn by those who went down to Gehinom. However, G-d himself intervened and scolded the Satan (See Pasuk 2), referring to Yehoshua as a firebrand that was saved from the fire, as we explained earlier, and preventing the sentence from being carried out.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Kindling the Lights

"When you kindle the lights " (8:2).

The Torah actually uses an expression of 'making the lights go up', from which Rashi extrapolates that there were steps in front of the Menorah, on which the Kohen stood when preparing the lamps for lighting.

Why, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, does Rashi refer to 'preparing' the lamps, rather than to 'kindling' them?


Citing the Gemara in Yuma (24), he answers that whereas preparing the lamp was an Avodah, kindling them was not, Hence if a Zar (a non-Kohen) kindled the Menorah, it is Kasher and it is not necessary to extinguish it and for a Kohen to relight it.

This is not as simple as it sounds however, since a Zar is not permitted to enter the Heichal (where the Menorah stood), in which case, says the author, after preparing the lamp, the Kohen would have to take the lamp-holders (which were semi-detachable) into the Azarah for the Zar to light them.


The Front of the Menorah

" towards the front of (p'nei) the Menorah shall the seven lights burn" (ibid.).

Rashi interprets "the front of the Menorah" with reference to the middle stem, and what the Pasuk means is that the three wicks in the lamps on either side should point towards the centre.

The problem the commentaries have with Rashi however, says the Oznayim la'Torah, is why the Torah writes "the seven lamps", seeing as it was only six lamps that faced the middle one (See Seforno).

He therefore cites the explanations of the Rashbam and of the Ha'amek Davar, according to whom the question does not arise, as we shall now see.

The Rashbam interprets "the face (or the front) of the Menorah" to mean that the lamps faced the Shulchan, which was placed opposite the Menorah and upon which it shed light. This explanation goes nicely with the opinion that the Menorah was placed from east to west, because then all seven lights would have lit up the Shulchan. One wonders whether, according to the Rashbam, the Torah uses the word "p'nei" as a hint to the Lechem ha'Panim, on which the light of the Menorah would then have shone.


The Ha'amek Davar (which the author quotes with more clarity in Parshas T'rumah 25:37), translates "the front of the Menorah" literally with reference to the side on which the Kohen stood when he kindled the Menorah. In other words, the lights shone towards the location of the Kohen, indicating that the Menorah was meant for the benefit of the Kohanim, and not to light up the Kodesh Kodshim for the benefit of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu (Kevayachol) as Rashi explains in accordance with his explanation.


The author also quotes the Gemara in Menachos 27, which states that, whenever the Torah uses the word "p'nei", it refers to the east. In that case, he explains, what the Torah is saying is that the lamps or the wicks pointed towards the east, again an indication that they were meant for the benefit of the Kohanim who entered the Heichal from the east side.

Interestingly, assuming the Menorah faced from north to south, this last explanation virtually matches that of the Ha'amek Davar, whereas if it stood from east to west, it will bear it no resemblance - other than the fact that according to both, the direction that the lamps faced indicated that they were not lit for the benefit of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu.


Miriam's Tzara'as

" the Cloud departed from on the tent, and Miriam was stricken with Tzara'as like snow" (12:10).

According to the Rambam, Tzara'as first came upon a person's house, then on his clothes, and if he still persisted in sinning, his body was afflicted. The question therefore arises as to why Miriam was stricken immediately, not on her house and not on her clothes, but on her body?

In one of his answers, the Oznayim la'Torah explains that neither Tzara'as on the house nor Tzara'as on the clothes were applicable in the desert. The former because they lived in tents, and Tzara'as Batim is confined to houses of wood and stones. In fact, that is why the Torah begins the Parshah of Tzara'as Batim with the words "When you come to the land of Cana'an", because it was only then that it came into effect. And the latter, because, as the Medrash teaches us, their clothes, which were washed by the Cloud, grew with them, indicating that they wore the same clothes throughout their wanderings in the desert, and that they did not possess other clothes to change into. It would therefore have been impossible for Tzara'as Batim to take effect during the years that they travelled in the desert.

Consequently, the only area of Tzara'as that applied in the desert was Tzara'as on the body, which inevitably applied immediately.

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