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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 13   No. 43

This issue is co-sponsored
by an anonymous
l'iluy Nishmas
Tziporah bas Ya'akov a.h.

Parshas Eikev

How Many Aronos Were There?

G-d commanded Moshe to manufacture an Aron in which to place the second Luchos (10:1). Rashi explains how Moshe, deviating slightly from G-d's command, made the Aron before carving out the Luchos from the mine in his tent and ascending Har Sinai for the second time, for Hashem to engrave the Aseres ha'Dibros on them. This was to ensure that there would be somewhere to place them when he brought them down with him from Har Sinai.

Rashi adds that this Aron was not identical to that of Betzalel, which he only constructed after Moshe had taught Yisrael about the Mishkan, following his descent from the mountain.

And this was the Aron, Rashi concludes, which used to go out to war with Yisrael. In fact, on the one and only occasion that Betzalel's Aron was taken out to war, it was captured by the P'lishtim.


The Yerushalmi in Shekalim (15b) deals with the number of Aronos that K'lal Yisrael had. It cites a dispute as to whether there were two Aronos (that of Betzalel, containing the second Luchos and that of Moshe, containing the broken first ones [R. Yehudah]), or just one (Aron containing both [the Chachamim]). According to the first opinion, it was Moshe's Aron that would accompany the army in wartime. According to the second, they would go to war without the Aron, and the only time that the one and only Aron ever went to war, was in the time of Sha'ul, when it was captured.

We need to understand, however, how the second opinion explains the Pasuk in Eikev, a clear indication that there did exist a second Aron - the one which Moshe made?

To be sure, Moshe's Aron existed, the Ramban explains, but that was only up to the time that Betzalel built his. About that there is no dispute. The two opinions cited in the Yerushalmi argue over whether they retained Moshe's Aron containing the broken Luchos (as we will explain shortly) beyond that point, or whether they immediately transferred the broken Luchos into Betzalel's Aron, and dispensed with Moshe's (presumably placing it in Genizah).

The Ramban claims that the final paragraph of the Rashi with which we began is the opinion of the Tanchuma, who maintains that there were two Aronos. But, he points out, this opinion is the minority opinion in Shekalim (R. Yehudah) as we cited it earlier. The majority (the Chachamim) maintain that there was only one Aron, and, as we just explained, there was no opportunity for Moshe's Aron to have gone to war during that short period of time. In any event, he argues, where would they have placed the second Aron? Certainly not in the Kodesh Kodshim!

And what's more, the Gemara in Bava Basra (14b) assumes that the broken Luchos were placed in Betzalel's Aron together with the second Luchos (and not in that of Moshe).

Whereas according to those who maintain that Moshe's Aron did go to war, the Ramban claims, it must have contained the broken Luchos. Otherwise what would have been the point of taking it to the battlefield?

Clearly, the Ramban concludes, the opinion that there were two Aronos, is not the accepted one.


The Da'as Zekenim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, citing a Sifri (in place of the Tanchuma cited earlier by the Ramban), conforms with Rashi's opinion, only they reconcile the Sifri with the Gemara in Bava Basra ('Luchos ve'Shivrei Luchos Munachin ba'Aron'), by confining it to before the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash, when there were indeed two Aronos. But once the Beis ha'Mikdash was built, the broken Luchos were transferred to Betzalel's Aron which remained in the Kodesh Kodshim, as the Gemara explains. And they conclude by citing the above-mentioned Yerushalmi which cites a dispute in the matter, as we explained.

It seems that according to the Da'as Zekeinim (with whom the Rosh concurs), the opinion in the Yerushalmi that refers to two Aronos conforms with the Bavli, whereas the opinion that speaks about only one Aron learns like the Ramban (that two Aronos did not exist concurrently). The Da'as Zekeinim however, follow the opinion that there were two Aronos which existed simultaneously, only that era came to an end with the building of the Beis-Hamikdash, when the broken Luchos were transferred to Betzalel's Aron in the Kodesh Kodshim, and Moshe's Aron was dispensed with.


I thought at first, that Rashi will conform with the opinion of the Da'as Zekeinim (who holds that were two Aronos, as we just explained). Rashi in Shmuel (1 14:18), however, comments that when Shaul asked Achiyah ha'Kohen to bring the Aron for consultation, he was referring to the Urim ve'Tumim, which is how the Yerushalmi explains the Pasuk according to those who hold that there was only one Aron! Moreover, he writes that 'the Aron that Betzalel made only went to war on the one occasion when it was captured', which the same Gemara also equates with that opinion.

So I suggest that Rashi learns like the Ramban, with the difference that, according to him, the era of two Aronos lasted for the entire duration of Yisrael's stay in the desert. And it was only after they entered Eretz Yisrael that the Shivrei Luchos were transferred to Betzalel's Aron. According to this assertion, Rashi holds that there was only one Aron. He argues with the Ramban however, in that, whereas the Ramban cuts down the period of two Aronos to a virtually non-existent time period, according to Rashi, it lasted for almost forty years, up to the time that Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael.


Assuming that my interpretation of Rashi is correct, it transpires that, notwithstanding the Gemara in Shekalim, there are three ways of understanding the Chazal that Betzalel's Aron housed the broken Luchos as well as the second ones:

1. From the moment it was constructed (Ramban).
2. Upon their arrival in Eretz Yisrael (Rashi).
3. Only after the completion of the Beis-Hamikdash (Tosfos and the Rosh).

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Satisfied with One's Lot

"A land where you will not eat bread in poverty" (8:9).

The Mishnah states in Pirkei Avos (6:4) 'Bread and salt you will eat, and water in small measure you will drink ... If you do that, you will be fortunate in this world and it will be good for you in the World to Come'.

The Dubner Maggid interprets the Mishnah to mean that if somebody eats and drinks frugally despite the fact that he has been blessed with good fortune in this world, he will have it good in the World to Come.

And that is what the current Pasuk means, too. It is a land, says the Torah, where one will not eat bread only due to a shortage of other food; on the contrary, "you will lack nothing in it". It is a land where one will eat only bread because it breeds people who are satisfied with their lot, who are happy to make do with little.


In similar vein, the commentaries ask how it is possible to say that Eretz Yisrael lacks nothing?

And they answer by citing a similar question from R. Zusha from Anipoli. R. Zusha asks how Rashi, commenting on the opening Pasuk in Parshas Chayei Sarah "sh'nei Chayei Sarah", can possibly state that all of Sarah's years were equal for the good? What Rashi means is that all her years were good, because in her righteousness, Sarah perceived only good in everything that G-d did to her. There was no such thing as something bad in her eyes, since 'everything that Hashem does is for the good'. As Chazal say in Pirkei Avos (4:1) 'Who is a rich man? One who is happy with his lot!' - because he truly lacks nothing.

Part of the blessing of Eretz Yisrael, the P'ninei Torah concludes, is that someone who loves Eretz Yisrael, is happy with his lot, and lacks nothing.


Like a Father Chastises his Son

"And you shall know in your heart that your G-d chastises you like a father chastises his son" (8:5).

The opening phrase is somewhat puzzling, seeing as knowledge stems from the brain, and not from the heart.

The Torah presumably adds it, because whereas it is easy to say that when G-d chastises a person, He does so like a father punishing his son, based exclusively on love, it is not so easy to genuinely believe it - especially when one is the recipient of this brand of love. And what's more, it is undoubtedly one of the most important principles of the Torah, since it has the capacity to dispel anger and frustration when things appear to be tough. Therefore the Torah says " and you shall know in your heart", summarizing the two phrases in the Pasuk in Va'eschanan (which we cite in 'Aleinu') "And you shall know today and take to heart ".


Double Standards

"And you will eat and be satisfied and bless G-d ..." (8:10).

'How can I not favour Yisrael, G-d told the angels, when I wrote in the Torah that they need to bless Me (Birchas ha'Mazon) if one has eaten to satisfaction, and they are stringent with themselves to bless Me already after eating just a k'Zayis or a k'Beitzah?

If they favour Me, G-d told the angels, then I will reciprocate by favouring them (B'rachos 20).


The Torah Temimah extrapolates from the words 'with themselves' that it is only with themselves that they undertake this stringency, but not with the poor. When giving Tzedakah, they make a point of not acting on it. They make sure that the poor have enough to eat to be satisfied, so as to fulfill the Torah's instructions to the letter.


Forgetting Hashem

"Beware lest you forget Hashem your G-d" (8:11).

The Chozeh from Lublin wondered how it is possible for a person never to forget Hashem, even for a moment?

The Yehudi from P'shischa solved the problem. The Din (regarding the Mitzvah of Shikchah) is that if the owner of a field forgets a sheaf that measures more than two Sa'ah, it is not considered Shikchah, because, due to its importance, he is bound to remember it in the immediate future.

Similarly, as far as a person who remembers Hashem constantly is concerned, there is no such thing as Shikchah, since, even when he momentarily does forget Him, he is bound to recall Him in a flash.

Perhaps one may add, by definition, 'forgetting Hashem' means going astray and forgetting Him completely. But as long as one remembers Him from time to time, that is not called forgetting.


R. Chanina ben Dosa & the Snake

" who led you in the vast and terrifying desert, where there were snakes, serpents and scorpions, and where there was no water; who produced for you water from the flint-rock" (8:16).

The Gemara in B'rachos (33a) tells the story of an Arod (a type of snake) which was terrorizing the area of the pious R. Chanina ben Dosa. However, when it bit R. Chanina ben Dosa, it was the snake that died!

According to the Yerushalmi, what normally happened was that it was after the snake bit its victim, whichever of the two got to water first, caused the other one to die.

What happened this time was that after the snake bit R. Chanina ben Dosa, a miracle occurred and a fountain opened up underneath his foot, causing the snake to die immediately.

This same concept, says the G'ro, is hinted in the Pasuk here - "Who led you in the vast and terrifying desert, where there were snakes, serpents and scorpions (whose bite was poisonous), and where there was no water (and where you were destined to die, when the snake got to water first, but), who produced for you water from the flint-rock" (with the result that the snake died first).


The Tribe of Levi

"At that time, G-d separated the tribe of Levi to carry the Aron ... to stand before Hashem and to bless by His Name until this day. That is why Levi did not receive a portion or an inheritance (in the land) ..." (10:8/9).

The Pasuk virtually speaks for itself. The Rosh supplies the missing pieces:

After the episode with the Eigel, he explains, G-d set the tribe of Levi aside as His portion, he explains, because they did not participate in the terrible sin.

They received no portion or inheritance in the land, he explains further, so that they should not get involved in any work other than the service of Hashem.

In that case, you may ask, on what were they expected to live?

"Hashem is their inheritance", the Pasuk therefore adds, and it is in that capacity that He commanded Yisrael to plough, and to sow on their behalf, to give them Ma'aser Rishon (one tenth) of their corn, their wine and their oil, and to supply them with cities in which to reside.

* * *

(Translated from the Rosh on the Chumash)

Here is a detailed timetable of the events that took place starting with Matan Torah, ending with Moshe's return with the second Luchos on Yom Kipur. The account, which disagrees with that of Rashi in a number of details, is that of both the Rosh and the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, commenting on the Pasuk (10:10) "And I stood on the mountain, like the first days, forty days and forty nights ... ", with a number of interesting facts added.


" ... I stood on the mountain" ... to receive the second Luchos, and to increase his supplications to attain a complete pardon for the sin.

"And G-d listened to me also this time" ... and He pardoned the sin completely. On Yom Kipur He announced 'I have forgiven like your words!' That is why this day was fixed as a day of pardon and forgiveness. For a hundred and twenty days elapsed between Matan Torah and Yom Kipur. How is that?

The Torah was given on the sixth Sivan, and on the seventh, Moshe ascended the mountain to receive the first Luchos. He was meant to remain on the mountain for forty days (not counting the day he went up), and to descend on the 18th Tamuz. But he came down a day early, on the 17th, and on the same day he broke the Luchos. On the following day (the 18th) he ascended for the second time, and spent another forty days Davening on behalf of the people, as the Torah recorded earlier in the Parshah (9:18). This period terminated on the 28th Av (12 days in Tamuz and 28 in Av). That was when he descended, and on the following day (the 29th), G-d instructed him to carve out the second Luchos. On the same day he ascended the mountain for the third time, after instructing Yisrael to blow the Shofar for forty days, beginning from the following day, the 30th Av (the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul), to avoid repeating the same mistake that they made the first time. To commemorate this, we blow the Shofar starting from the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which always falls on the 30th Av (since Av is always a full month). Once again, Moshe remained on the mountain for forty days (as the Torah writes here), which terminated on Yom Kipur. How is that? 1 day in Av, 29 in Ellul, and 10 in Tishri. That is when G-d declared "Salachti ki'd'vorecho", and on the following day (the 11th Tishri), he descended for the last time.


The 17th Tamuz of that year fell on Thursday, the day of the week that they left Egypt (as the Gemara concludes in Shabbos 87b), and as is well known, the 17th Tamuz always falls on the same day of the week as the (previous) first day of Pesach (as is hinted in the Pasuk "al matzos u'merorim yochluhu").

Based on the Siman 'A'T B'aSH, G'aR D'aK ... ', Rosh Hashanah therefore falls on Shabbos (coinciding with the third day of Pesach ['G'aR']) and Yom Kipur on Monday. It therefore transpires that the second Luchos were given on Monday and the first ones, on Thursday. Hence the Minhag to Lein in the Torah every Monday and Thursday, as is hinted in the Pasuk in Yeshayah (55:6) "Dirshu Hashem Be'Himotz'o" - which can also be read 'Beis' 'Hey' motz'o, in which case the words mean 'Seek Hashem on Monday and Thursday (when you Lein) and you will find Him'. And because the villagers are in town on those days, to hear K'ri'as ha'Torah, Ezra instituted that the Batei-Din should sit then, to make life easier for the villagers.

The Rav B'chor Shor supports this with another hint, based on the Pasuk "be'Tzedek tishpot amisecho" (Vayikra 19:15), and the Mazal 'Tdedek' is the first to rise on the Sunday night (Monday) and on Thursday morning, as the Gemara explains in Shabbos (129b).

Incidently, this is another good reason to refer to the Beis-Din as 'Beis-Din Tzedek'.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel