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

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Vol. 23   No. 32

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Gavriel ben Yitzchak z"l
by his children

Parshas Emor

Seven Weeks - Fifty Days
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

"And you shall count they shall be seven complete weeks. Until the day after the seventh week you shall count fifty days, then you shall bring a new Minchah (offering) to Hashem" (23:15&16).


Based on these Pesukim and the Pasuk in Re'ei, the Gemara in Chagigah (Daf 17b) comments 'It is a Mitzvah to count the days and a Mitzvah to count the weeks'. Although the Gemara considers them two Mitzvos, we recite only one B'rachah. The reason for this, the Torah Temimah explains, is because, unlike the Tefilin shel Yad and the Tefilin shel Rosh, which require two separate actions, we count them in one breath, as it were. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how we would recite two B'rachos over the counting.


Explaining the need for the two Mitzvos, the Toras Kohanim writes as follows: Based on the "fifty days", one would have thought that one counts fifty days, and sanctifies the fifty-first; therefore the Torah writes "They shall be seven complete weeks".

On the other hand, based on the "seven weeks", one would have thought that one counts forty-eight days and sanctifies the forty-ninth; therefore the Torah writes "You shall count fifty days".


Tosfos in Menachos (Daf 65b, and many other Rishonim) discusses why we count forty-nine days and not fifty, as the Torah seems to specifically say one should.

In one of Tosfos' answers (one that is echoed by a number of Rishonim), they interpret the Pasuk in the following way "Until the day after seventh week ("until" is exclusive) you shall count. Fifty days (on the fiftieth day) you shall bring a new Minchah to Hashem".


An interesting answer to Tosfos' question is offered by the Rosh in Pesachim, who explains that it is the way of the Torah to speak in terms of round figures; so that, seeing as forty-nine is only one short of fifty, the Torah calls it 'fifty'. And he cites two other cases where the Torah uses this strategy: 1. In Ki Seitzei, in connection with the Din of Malkos (the thirty-nine lashes that a sinner receives), where the Torah writes "forty". 2. In Vayigash, when it states that 'seventy souls went down to Egypt', even though it lists only sixty-nine.


The Torah Temimah queries the Rosh, however, from no less than four places in Shas where the Gemara discusses similar discrepancies, searching for a way to resolve them, clearly not relying on the round-figure theory. Above all, he points to the Gemara in Bava Basra (123b) which resolves the inconsistency of the numbers that went down to Egypt, and concludes that the "seventy souls" cited in the Chumash is indeed correct. The Rosh's proof from 'Malkos' too, is questionable, considering that

1) the Medrash (See Ramban, Devarim, 25:1-3) explains why, for a number of reasons, the sinner deserves forty lashes.

2) The Gemara in Makos (22a), which explains that the Pasuk specifically hints at reducing one lash from the juxtaposition of "be'mispar" to "arba'im" in the Pesukim there (2&3).


The author wonders why Tosfos (and the Rosh) do not cite the Toras Kohanim that we discussed earlier, which clearly answers the question from a Halachic perspective.

* * *

Fifty Days

"You shall count fifty days" (23:16).


See previous article, as to why we only count forty-nine.

On a more esoteric note, the Oznayim la'Torah explains that the number fifty denotes the fifty levels of understanding (Chamishim sha'arei binah) that Yisrael needed to traverse from the time that they left Egypt (as ignorant ex-slaves) to the time they received the Torah at Har Sinai.

But nobody is able to attain the fiftieth level in this world - not even Moshe Rabeinu, about whom the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (8) "And You made him slightly less than the angels".

Yes, we count till forty-nine, as we aspire to reach the highest level of knowledge that man can achieve, but knowing that there is a level that he cannot. It is important, even as we strive be like Moshe Rabeinu, that we are finite and that our abilities are limited.

After all, bearing in mind that humility was Moshe's strongest Midah, a lesson in humility plays an intrinsic part in our aspirations.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Shabbos & Mo'ed

Rashi asks what Shabbos is doing in the Parshah of Yom-Tov. It is not a Yom-Tov, since whereas the latter are fixed by the Sanhedrin, the former is permanently fixed - every seventh day since the Creation of the world.


As a matter of fact, the Torah hints at the difference when it writes "The festivals of Hashem which you shall fix as holy occasions (those mentioned later); (but) these are My festivals Six days work shall be done, and on the seventh day is Shabbos" (22:2/3).


The G'ro explains the Pasuk in a way that circumvents the above question altogether.

In total, the Torah prescribes seven days of Yom-Tov - two days of Pesach and of Succos, one day of Shavu'os, one of Rosh Hashanah and one of Yom Kipur. As we know, on the first six days work that is for the preparation of food is permitted, but not on Yom Kipur, which is like Shabbos in this respect, and which is therefore called 'Shabbas Shabboson'.

Accordingly, what the above Pesukim are saying is - "these are (all) My festivals. On six (of these) days work (for food) may be done, but on the seventh (Yom Kipur), it is Shabbas Shabboson no work shall be done, (because) it is Shabbos to Hashem".


Hallel on Chanukah

The Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of the oil for the Menorah (24:1&2) to that of Succos, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. This is a hint that one recites the whole Hallel on Chanukah just as one does on Succos. Even though Chanukah is only mi'de'Rabanan, there is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah.


The Menorah & the Shulchan

The Torah follows the Parshah of the Menorah with that of the lechem ha'Panim (24:4&5). The juxtaposition of these two Parshiyos follows the pattern that we find throughout the Parshiyos of the Mishkan. In T'rumah, Vayakhel and Pikudei, the Menorah follows the Shulchan wherever the two are mentioned. In two of these locations, they even occur in the same Pasuk, giving rise to the Machlokes Tana'im in Chagigah (26b), as to whether the Menorah must burn perpetually, like the Lechem ha'Panim on the Shulchan, or whether the Hekesh (comparison) comes merely to fix the Menorah's location.

Be that as it may, the Torah makes a point of connecting the two Parshiyos, presumably because whereas the one symbolizes the material success (Parnasah), the other symbolizes success in the realm of the spiritual (Torah).


And so the Torah follows the same pattern by placing the Parshah of the Lechem ha'Panim next to that of the Menorah. The question arises however, why it inverts the order? In all the aforementioned locations, it places the Shulchan before the Menorah, whilst here, it puts the Menorah first?

The answer lies in the previous Pearl; it gives the olive oil/Menorah precedence in order to juxtapose it to the Parshah of Succos, as we explained there.

* * *

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