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Vol. 22 No. 33
Family Saperstein n"y
li"n nishmas Yuta Mirtza bas Dovid z"l (11 Sivan)
Yehuda Zev ben Yisrael z"l (25 Sivan)
and Avraham ben Chaim z"l
The Mitzvah of the Menorah
(Adapted from the Ramban)
He Who Laughs Last
"Speak to Aharon and say to him 'When you kindle the lamps, they shall shine toward the face of the Menorah …" (8:2).
Commenting on the juxtaposition of the Parshah of the Menorah to that of the Inauguration of the Princes' ceremony, Rashi cites the Medrash Tanchuma which describes Aharon's frustration at not being able to join the other princes in that event, presumably because, as we mentioned in the previous issue, since Efrayim and Menasheh were counted as two tribes, Levi had to be omitted.
In any event, that is why G-d saw fit to console him by pointing out that the kindling of the Menorah was incumbent upon him, and his tribe, exclusively.
But why, asks the Ramban, did G-d choose the Menorah to boost his spirits? Why not the entire spectrum of Korbanos or the Ketores, all of which lay in the domain of the Kohanim exclusively? Why not cite the Avodah on Yom Kipur, where he, and he alone, was permitted to enter the Kodesh Kodshim?
And besides, the Korbanos that he and his sons brought during the eight days of the inauguration were even more numerous than those that the Nesi'im subsequently brought!
Notwithstanding the latter question, which he does not seem to answer clearly, the Ramban explains that it was Aharon's non-participation in the Princes' magnificent inauguration that troubled him. G-d consoled him by hinting at another major inauguration that would take place later in history, one that exceeded the current one in importance - inasmuch as it would be permanently celebrated, unlike the kindling of the Menorah, which was destined to cease with the destruction of the Beis-ha'Mikdash. He was referring of course, to the inauguration of the Menorah that took place at the hand of the Chashmona'im (Aharon's descendants), and that we call simply 'Chanukah'. Incidentally, he also cites Rav Nisim Ga'on, who interprets the Medrash in the same way.
In fact, the Medrash Rabah goes one step further - with reference to the fact that the Parshah preceding that of the Chanukas ha'Nesi'im is that of Birkas Kohanim, it adds, that, not only did G-d console Aharon with the Chanukah of the Menorah, but He also reassured him with the fact that the ability to bless His people lay exclusively in the hands of himself and his descendants (though that is not directly connected with the inaugural aspect of his complaint).
Who Kindled the Menorah?
From the above article, it would appear that kindling the Menorah is a Mitzvah that is incumbent upon Aharon and his sons. Moreover, as the Ramban points out in the very next Pasuk, Aharon, in his love of Mitzvos, undertook to perform it for as long as he lived, even though he was under no obligation to do so - in keeping with the Pasuk in Mishlei (10:8) "Chacham-leiv yikach Mitzvos".
Initially, this seems to clash with the Gemara in Yuma (24b), which states that Hadlakas ha'Neiros is not an Avodah, and that even a non-Kohen is permitted to perform it. And that is how the Rambam Paskens.
As we explained, however, in last year's edition of Midei Shabbos (See the first Parshah Pearl there), the Mitzvah of Hatavas Neiros, preparing the Menorah, was an Avodah, and presumably, that is why Rashi mentions it in the current Pasuk. Consequently, although the Ramban mentions 'Hadlakas Neiros', he is probably referring primarily to the Mitzvah of Hatavos Neiros (See also Chazal's footnote in the above Ramban).
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(Adapted from the Ramban)
The Three Parshiyos
"When you kindle the lamps, they shall shine toward the face of the Menorah …' (8:2).
In Parshas Emor (24:2), the Ramban disagrees with Rashi, who explains that the Parshah there is the main Parshah of the Menorah, and that the Parshah in Tetzaveh, which deals with the construction of the Mishkan, is merely coming to teach us the purpose of the Menorah.
According to the Ramban, the Torah repeats the Parshah of the Menorah there for two reasons: 1). Because the original donation of oil had run dry and needed to be replaced; and 2). Because the Parshah in Tetzaveh does not clearly stipulate that the pure olive oil must be lit in a Menorah, should the original Menorah break or get lost. Hence the Pasuk in Emor stresses that the Menorah is an integral part of the Mitzvah.
Now the Torah adds details about the shape and form of the Menorah. It must have seven branches and the lamps must face towards the central stem (in the current Pasuk) and (in Pasuk 4) it must be made of gold and it must contain ornamental knobs, goblets and flowers patterned into it, though these are not crucial; and the branches and the ornaments must be fashioned out of the same lump of gold - which is crucial.
Changing the Chronological Order
" …G-d spoke to Moshe on the first month in the second year after they left the Land of Egypt (9:1).
Commenting on the fact that Seifer Bamidbar opens a month later in the month of Iyar, Rashi cites the principle that 'The Torah does not necessarily follow the chronological order of events'. And he goes on to explain that the Torah postponed this Parshah, which deals with the Korban Pesach, because this was the only time throughout the forty years in the Desert that they brought it, and the Torah did not want to begin the Seifer on a negative note.
Although he agrees in principle with Rashi's latter statement, the Ramban presents an entirely different reason for the postponement. Although, beginning with the current Parshah, Seifer Bamidbar sets out to discuss the various Mitzvos that Yisrael were commanded to observe at that time, the Torah wanted to first complete the description of the Ohel Mo'ed, which was completed in Seifer Vayikra, how they encamped around it, and the arrangement of the Kohanim and the Levi'im who served in it. To this end, it discusses the inauguration of the Princes, including details of the wagons and the oxen that they donated, which were subsequently used to transport the Mishkan and its components whenever they travelled.
And it is only when it has finished discussing the Ohel Mo'ed that it switches to the Mitzvos, beginning with that of Pesach, and the events as they occurred, in chronological order.
The Korban Pesach - Again
"Yisrael shall make the Pesach in its time" (9:2).
The Torah sees fit to repeat the Mitzvah of the Korban Pesach again, the Ramban explains, because in Parshas Bo (See Pasuk 12:28), the Torah commanded all future Korb'nos Pesach to be brought in Eretz Yisrael. This was because Yisrael were meant to enter Eretz Yisrael immediately after leaving Egypt, and it was only due to Yisrael's sins that they found themselves still in the desert in this point in time.
Citing Chazal, the author concurs with Rashi, that this was the only Korban Pesach that Yisrael brought during their forty-year sojourn in the desert.
The Definition of 'Derech Rechokah'
" … Any man who is distant … shall bring the Pesach … on the fourteenth day of the second month" (9:10).
Rashi defines distant as outside the threshold of the Azarah for the entire duration of the Shechitah of the Korban Pesach - which is basically synonymous with the afternoon of Erev Pesach.
This is the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer in Pesachim (93b), who learns it from the dot in the 'Hey' of the word "rechokah". The Ramban however, expresses surprise that Rashi cites the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer and not that of Rebbi Akiva whose opinion is the Halachah. Rebbi Akiva defines it as the inability to reach the Azarah in time to Shecht the Korban Pesach, which the Gemara equates with not having reached the town 'Hamodi'in' by just after mid-day (the time that the Shechitah commences). In any event, the Ramban adds, 'distant' is not meant literally, which explains the dot in the 'Hey' even according to this opinion.
Unlike a Tamei person, who also brings the Korban Pesach a month late, on Pesach Sheini, the 'derech rechokah' has the option of sending his Korban Pesach via a shali'ach, who brings it on his behalf - provided he is able to reach Yerushalayim in time to eat it before midnight (or dawn-break).
The Converts & the Korban Pesach
"And when a convert dwells with you, then he shall make the Pesach for Hashem …" (9:14).
The Torah already taught us in Parshas Bo that a convert is obligated to bring the Korban Pesach, so why does it find it necessary to repeat it here, asks the Ramban.
And he answers that in Parshas Bo it was referring to the Eirev, the mixed multitude of converts who had joined the ranks of Yisrael when they left Egypt, and who were experiencing the miracles of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim together with the rest of K'lal Yisrael, so it made good sense to include them in the Mitzvah. Here, on the other hand, where it is talking about converts who joined Yisrael later, whose ancestors did not participate in that experience, one may have thought that they do not participate in the Mitzvah either. Therefore the Torah sees fit to teach us that converts are part of K'lal Yisrael and are obligated to celebrate Yetzi'as Mitzrayim as well.
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