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

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Vol. 14   No. 21

This issue is sponsored
in memory of the 10th Yahrzeit of
Amram Hillel Feldman
Amram Hillel z.l. ben ha'Rav Menachem
by his loving family.

Parshas Ki Sisa

Remember What You Did
(Part 2)
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

Yisrael's sin in querying G-d's Hashgachah ("Is G-d in our midst or not?") the footnote explains, was in fact a replica of the sin of Adam and Chavah in Gan Eden. And he learns this from the words of Chavah in Bereishis (3:13), who answered G-d's question as to why she did what she did with the words "ha'nochosh hishi'ani vo'ocheil". Querying the meaning of the word "Hishi'ani" (which Unklus translates as 'tricked me'), he points out that the word is actually made up of the joint letters of 'Yesh' & 'Ayin', plus the 'Hey' that often turns a verb into a question. What Chavah was therefore saying was that the snake led her to query whether Hashem was there or not. That in fact, was the affect of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, causing them to begin working out on their own what would they would otherwise have accepted as tradition. By so doing, they transformed 'Shemi'ah' into 'Re'iyah' (as we explained last week).


Now Amalek is the personification of Da'as (knowledge) of the 'Sitra Achra' (the Satan). That explains why, as soon as Yisrael expressed doubts about their knowledge of Hashem, Amalek sprang to the attack.

With this introduction, we can better understand why G-d instructed Moshe to "write this as a remembrance in the book and place it in the ears of Yehoshua". 'In the ears', note, because he wanted to base their Emunah on the level of Shemi'ah, which, as we explained, is the essence of knowledge of Hashem that is complete and everlasting, thereby enhancing the power of the Da'as of Kedushah, at the same time blocking that of Amalek, the embodiment of the Sitra Achra, the source of all forms of false beliefs.

And that also explains why when King Shaul went to fight with Amalek, the Pasuk uses the expression "va'yeshama Shaul es ho'om" (rather than 'va'ye'esof', as we asked last week). It was in order to instill into the soldiers Da'as that would lead them to a Shemi'ah-based Emunah, with would enable them to counter the influence of Amalek, and to subsequently defeat him.

We also asked why Shaul chose lambs with which to count them? The answer to that lies in the Korban Pesach in Egypt, which consisted of a lamb, which Yisrael was ordered to Shecht and sacrifice on the eve of Makas Bechoros. That too, was a nullification of the Da'as of the Sitra Achra, as the lamb symbolized Mazel T'le (the constellation of Lamb [Aeries, the firstborn of the Mazalos]), which they had previously worshipped alongside the Egyptians.

And now, by taking it and publicly slaughtering it, they demonstrated their belief in the fact that all the Mazalos were under the direct control of G-d, and that they were incapable of doing anything without His consent, thereby transforming 'Ayin' into 'Yesh'.


Now let us return to the Medrash with which we began (concerning the orchard guarded by a dog), on which we posed three questions 1. What problem did Moshe have that prompted him to give a Mashal at all? 2. If Moshe wanted to remind us how we sinned, why did he find it necessary to mention Amalek? 3. If, as appears from the Medrash, Moshe deliberately declined to mention Yisrael's sin directly (only by way of hint), why, on many occasions in Seifer Devarim, did he chastise Yisrael directly, without the use of parables?


The Medrash itself, says the B'nei Yisaschar, had two problems with the Pasuk "Zochor eis asher osoh l'cho Amalek"; Why does it use the word "Zochor" (rather the more common "Z'chor, with a Sh'va); and what does the word "eis" come to teach us?

To solve the first problem, the Medrash cites the above parable, to teach us that it is not Amalek per se that we are obligated to remember, but the obligation to eliminate not only false Emunos, but even true Emunos that are based on probing and examining the knowledge of Hashem, which in turn, caused Amalek to attack in the first place.

This is symbolical of those who have rejected the inheritance of Avraham Avinu and who want to go their own independent way.

That is why the Torah writes "Zochor ... ", implying that remembering Amalek will lead to remembering something else. And that is why the Torah writes "eis", which in this case has connotations of 'im' (with). What the Pasuk therefore means is 'Remember with Amalek, what it is that brought on Amalek'. And this will remind us to strengthen our Emunah, by connecting it to the traditional Emunah that we inherited from Avraham, and to stop the process of faith by probing. Indeed, using this latter method of Emunah suggests that one has disconnected oneself from the Yichus of Avraham Avinu. And that is why Moshe Rabeinu preferred not to teach us this lesson directly, but by means of the parable, by way of hint.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Ma'yanah shel Torah)

Punishable at Twenty

"This they shall give, all those who pass through the census, from the age of twenty and upwards ... " (30:13).

One can also translate " ... kol ho'over al ha'pekudim" as " ... all those who transgress the commands (of Hashem, only) from the age of twenty and upwards ... ". This is a fine hint at what Chazal have said 'The Divine Court does not punish a person until he reaches the age of twenty'.


The Kiyor (Basin) is Dispensable

" ... and they shall place it (the basin) between the Ohel Mo'ed and the Mizbei'ach and they shall put water there" (30:18).

Strictly speaking, the Pasuk ought to have written 'and they shall put water into it' (rather than 'there') asks the Meshech Chochmah?

The answer, he says, lies in the Halachah that in actual fact, the Kohanim were permitted to wash their hands and feet from any K'li Shareis, and not specifically from the Kiyor. That being the case, the Torah chose its wording well - "and they shall put water in the location of the Kiyor", irrespective of whether the Kiyor is there or not.


Removal the Rust

"But (ach) My Shabbosos you shall keep ... " (31:23).

The Torah uses the same word in Matos (31:22, in connection with Kashering vessels), the S'fas Emes points out, and the Chachamim learn from it that prior to Kashering a vessel, one must first remove the rust.

Perhaps, he suggests, one can explain "Ach" here in the same way. Prior to the advent of the holy Shabbos, one should first remove all (spiritual) rust, so as to observe the sanctity of Shabbos properly.


Maybe, one may add, it is only if someone removes the rust before Shabbos arrives, that the Shabbos will complete the process of purifying his Soul completely.


Precluding Shabbos, Did You Say?


'To preclude Shabbos', Rashi explains, 'from the work of the Mishkan'.

If "Ach" comes to preclude Shabbos from the work of the Mishkan, asks the Ramban, then the latter ought to be permitted even on Shabbos. And since the truth of the matter is that Shabbos overrides the Mishkan (and not the reverse), we are actually including Shabbos, and not precluding it?

In many cases, the Shem mi'Sh'muel explains, the word "Ach" comes as a condition to what was said beforehand. For example, the Torah writes in Balak (22:20 in connection with Bilam's request to accompany Balak's messengers) "Get up and go with them ... but (ach) whatever I say to you, that is what you should do". Similarly, in Mas'ei (36:6, in connection with the daughters of Tz'lafchad) "to whoever is good in their eyes they shall become betrothed ... but (ach) to the family of the tribe of their father they shall be betrothed".

In that case, he suggests, seeing as the previous paragraphs are talking about the Mishkan, we can interpret the word "Ach" in the same way, and say that keeping Shabbos is a condition to the Kedushah of the Mishkan. 'Build the Mishkan' the Torah is saying but (ach) it will only serve its purpose if you keep the Shabbos.


The Extra Neshamah

"u'va'yom ha'Shevi'i, shovas va'yinofash" (31:17).

Chazal comment on "shovas va'yinofash" that once a person has kept Shabbos 'Vay ovdoh Nefesh' (woe to the Soul that is lost), with reference to the Neshamah Yeseirah that disappears on Motza'ei Shabbos.

Tosfos is not sure as to whether a person also has a Neshamah Yeseirah on Yom-Tov. The fact that when Yom-Tov falls on Motza'ei Shabbos, we do not smell Besamim, indicates that we do, they point out. In that case, why do we not smell Besamim on Motza'ei Yom-Tov, when the Neshamah Yeseirah takes its leave?

The S'fas Emes resolves Tosfos' problem. To be sure, he says, we have a Neshamah Yeseirah on Yom-Tov. However, unlike Shabbos, which is ordained from above, and which is removed by the same Divine source as brought it initially, Yom-Tov is fixed by Yisrael, as is well-known, in which case the Neshamah Yeseirah which comes when Yom-Tov enters, cannot be taken away against their will. Consequently, Yom-Tov's Neshamah Yeseirah remains.


Tosfos, incidentally, in one answer, maintains that Yom-Tov does not have a Neshamah Yeseirah, and the reason that when Yom-Tov falls on Motza'ei Shabbos, we do not smell Besamim is because of Simchas Yom-Tov which dispels the gloom that follows the departure of the Neshamah Yeseirah without them.


If Only They Hadn't Danced

"And it was when he (Moshe) came close to the camp and he saw the Calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw down the Luchos from his hands" (32:19).

But had Moshe not heard directly from the Mouth of G-d Himself that Yisrael were worshipping the Golden Calf? What did he discover now that he did not already know, asks the Seforno?

Initially, he explains, Moshe thought that he would have no problem in getting Yisrael to realize the extent of their sin, in which case, they would easily do Teshuvah and the matter would be closed. But when he saw that the people were not just worshipping the Eigel, but dancing before it, that they were actually happy about sinning, he knew that there was nothing he could do to rectify it, and he threw down the Luchos.


In similar vein, the commentaries explain the Pasuk in Ki Savo (28:47) " ... because you declined to serve Hashem with joy (i.e. you were happy not to serve Him)". The main punishment that Yisrael received was not so much for the actual sin itself (which was perhaps rectifiable), but for revelling in it.


Acknowledging the Sin

"I implore You, this nation has committed a grievous sin ... " (32:31).

How strange, asks the Nechmad mi'Zahav, Moshe is coming to obtain a pardon on behalf of Yisrael, yet he stresses the magnitude of the sin?

Quite so, he answers, the most important prerequisite to Teshuvah is the realization, not only that one sinned but the extent of the sin. Playing down one's actions and seeking excuses may work in front of human judges, but in front of Hashem, who knows everything, it is self-defeating, and only hinders the Teshuvah process, which depends largely on the depth of one's remorse.

When Adam Ha'Rishon tried to downplay his sin, placing the blame on the wife that Hashem gave him (intimating that Hashem Himself was the guilty party), his Teshuvah was ineffective.

When Moshe pleading with Hashem to forgive Yisrael for their terrible sin, wanted their Teshuvah to be accepted, he presented the sin for what it was - 'a grievous sin'. Yisrael were well aware of what they had done, he was telling Hashem, they were broken-hearted and truly sorry for that grievous sin. That is why they deserved a gracious pardon.

* * *


'And Cassia weighing five hundred Sela (i.e. Shekel) of the holy Shekel-weight, and a jar-full of olive- oil measuring twelve Lugin (a Hin), one Lug for each of the Twelve Tribes' (30:24).


' ... you shall sanctify them (the Holy Vessels) and they shall become holy of holies, whoever approaches them from the Kohanim will become holy, and from the other tribes, he will be burned by a consuming fire before Hashem' (30:29).


'And Yisrael shall keep the Shabbos, to prepare special Shabbos food ... ' (31:16).


'And He gave to Moshe ... two tablets of sapphire-stone (carved) from the (Heavenly) Throne of Glory, weighing forty Sa'ah, written with the Finger of Hashem' (31:18).


' ... the people saw that Moshe was late in descending the Mountain, so the people gathered before Aharon. And when they saw that the appointed time which he had fixed for them had passed, and that the Satan deceived them (see Rashi), they became conceited, and they said to him (Aharon) "Arise and make for us a god that will go before us, because this Moshe, the man who took us out of the land of Egypt has been burnt on the Mountain, by the consuming fire from before Hashem. We do not know what happened to him in the end' (32:1).


'But the women refused to donate their ornaments to their husbands, so all the people (men) immediately removed their (own) ear-rings and brought them to Aharon' (32:3).


'And Aharon saw Chur (his nephew) slaughtered in front of him and he was afraid. So he built a Mizbei'ach before him. And Aharon called out in a sad voice "Tomorrow will be a festival in honour of G-d, following the slaughter of those enemies who deny their Master and who exchanged the honour of the Shechinah for that of this Calf" ' (32:5).


'And when Moshe approached the camp, and saw the Calf and the instruments that the Resha'im were holding in their hands and playing, and that they were prostrating themselves before it, and the Satan was in their midst, dancing and skipping in front of the people, his anger burned inside him, and he threw down the Luchos and smashed them at the foot of the mountain. However, the holy script flew from them into the air and announced "Shame on the people who heard at Har Sinai from the mouth of the Holy One 'Do not make yourself a form, a picture or any image; and only forty days later, they have made themselves a worthless metal Calf' (32:19).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 99:
Wearing the Bigdei Kehunah

The Kohanim are obligated to wear the clothes designated for them for greatness and reverence whenever they serve in the Beis-Hamikdash, as the Torah writes in Tetzaveh (28:4) "And they shall make the holy vestments for Aharon and his sons ... ".


A reason for the Mitzvah ... is the principle that we have adopted, that a person is affected by his actions, his thoughts and his intentions. G-d's emissary whose job is to atone must apply his concentration solely to the Avodah. That is why he needs to wear special garments for that purpose. In that way, whenever he glances at any part of his body, he will immediately recall before Whom he is serving. In fact, it can be compared to Tefilin, which we are all commanded to wear on a small part of our bodies, to serve as a reminder to think correctly. True, the Kohen wears Tefilin too; nevertheless, due to the importance of the Avodah, he requires the Bigdei Kehunah too. And it is for this reason that the shirt must cover the Kohen's entire body right down to just above the heel, and the sleeve up to the palm of the hand; the turban (of the Kohen Gadol) is sixteen Amos long, winding round and round his head, until he actually sees it every time he raises his eyes. And it is for the same reason that the belt is thirty-two Amos long. Like the turban, it is wound round his waist many times, layer upon layer, until it is so thick that he constantly rubs against it with his arms ... Besides, the mere fact that the Kohen wears a special uniform when performing the Avodah enhances the Kavod of the Beis-Hamikdash, and as the author has already written, increasing the Kavod of the Beis-Hamikdash and its awe causes people's hearts to soften and brings them to Teshuvah.


Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... Such as the definition of the garments concerned, of which there are three categories: The first category consists of the garments of the Kohen Hedyot, comprising the shirt, the pants, the hat and the belt. The shirt resembles the wide shirts worn by the Arabs; the pants follow the regular shape of pants, reaching from the Kohen's loins to his thighs (i.e. his knees); The hat is a garment that is placed on the head like a regular hat; whereas the belt resembles a regular belt, only it is wound round the Kohen's waist many times, as we explained earlier.

These four garments are made of white linen, each thread comprising six threads. Only the belt is embroidered with wool. A Kohen may wear them during the day even whilst not performing the Avodah, with the exception of the belt, which is forbidden because it consists of Sha'atnez (a mixture of wool and linen), which he is only permitted to wear during the Avodah ... The Kohen Gadol wears eight garments, the four of the Kohen Hedyot, though instead of a hat he wears a turban, resembling a long garment which women wrap round their heads. His belt too, is different in that it is made of linen exclusively. These four garments of the Kohen Gadol are made out of linen, much in the same way as those of the Kohen Hedyot; and they are embroidered, though not in the same way as the belt of a Kohen Hedyot.

In addition, the Kohen Gadol wears another four garments: the Choshen (the breastplate), the Eifod (the Apron worn at the back), the Me'il (the Cloak) and the Tzitz (the golden plate that stretched across his forehead).

(to be cont.)


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