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

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Vol. 20   No. 21

This issue is co-sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
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Parshas Ki Sissa

(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

"And you shall give/use it (the half-Shekel donation) for the service of the Ohel Mo'ed (i.e. to manufacture the silver sockets that housed the boards)" (30:16).

Rashi points out that these coins were also used to count Yisrael. He also comments that although the counting that took place here, immediately after the episode with the Golden Calf (to determine how many remained following the ensuing plague), the counting that the Torah mentions in the opening chapter of Bamidbar took place in Iyar, after the Mishkan was constructed.

Rashi wonders how it is possible that, although the two censuses took place in two different years, the total number (603, 550) was the same on both occasions.

To clarify Rashi's problem, we need to look a). at the first Rashi in this Parshah (where he refers to the first census), and to the opening Rashi in Bamidbar (where he elaborates) and b). at the Pasuk in Pikudei (38:26), where the Torah does not specifically talk about a census that took place in Tishri.

To resolve the problem, Rashi explains that although, as far as the events that took place in the desert are concerned, the Torah reckons Nisan as the new year, people's ages are determined by the year which begins in Tishri. Consequently, the two censuses took place in the same year.


The Da'as Zekeinim queries Rashi on two scores. First of all, has asks, Rashi may concur with the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer, in whose opinion the world was created in Tishri; but according to Rebbi Yehoshua, who maintains that it was created in Nisan, birthdays too, will fall in Nisan. In this case Rashi's initial question remains unanswered.

Secondly, he cites a Gemara in Erchin that whenever the Torah uses the expression "va'ma'alah", as it does here [in Pasuk 14], it is referring to the actual birthdays of the people involved (and not to Rosh Hashanah that is based on the creation, irrespective of whether it is Tishri or Nisan).


The author therefore explains that Yisrael were counted only once - in Iyar of the second year, as the Torah specifically writes in Bamidbar.

In the current Parshah, he contends, no counting actually took place. What happened was that all the people who were destined to turn twenty by Rosh Chodesh Iyar, the date on which G-d intended to initiate the census, were ordered to give a half a Shekel. And that explains why the two totals tallied.

This means that nobody would come of age between Tishri of the first year and Iyar of the second; and if nobody came of age, it means in turn that, for the number to remain the same, none of those counted died throughout that seven-month period either - a great miracle in itself.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

The King's Scepter

"Any man who will mix a replica of its ingredients of the anointing oil in order to smell it shall be cut off from his people" (30:33).

The same, says the Da'as Zekeinim, is written about the Ketores (in Pasuk 38), because it is not correct to use the king's scepter for one's own private purposes.

And by the same token, the Gemara says in Rosh Hashanah (Daf 24a) that one may not make a replica of the Heichal (the Holy section of the Beis-Hamikdash) or a Menorah of seven branches.


Manufacturing the Incense

"Take for yourself spices they shall be of equal weight (bad be'vad yih'yeh)" (30:34).

This is how Rashi translates these words, with reference to the five spices listed in the Pasuk.

The Da'as Zekeinim, however, citing the Gemara in K'risus (5a) explains that the spices must be weighed by an independent weight, and not one against the other, as it is disrespectful to use a holy spice as a weight.


The Bigdei ha'Serad

"And the administering garments to serve in sanctity" (31:10).

Rashi explains that this does not refer to the Bigdei Kehunah, but rather to the dark-blue and purple coverings mentioned later in Parshas Bamidbar (4:8) with which they covered the Holy Vessels when they travelled.

See also Chizkuni.

But this is not correct, argues the Da'as Zekeinim, seeing as throughout Shas, the Chachamim equates them with the Bigdei Kehunah.


Shabbos and the Mishkan

"only, My Shabbosos you shall keep!" (31:13).

The word "ach" always come to exclude something. Here, says Rashi, it teaches us that even though you are busy with the construction of the Mishkan, Shabbos must remain in place.

From here we learn, says the Da'as Zekeinim, that all the Melachos that were performed in connection with constructing the Mishkan, are forbidden on Shabbos.

* * *


"And the B'nei Yisrael shall keep the Shabbos (es ha'Shabbos)" 31:14.

The term "es ha'Shabbos" occurs four times in T'nach; three times here and once in Nechemyah (13:18) "lechalel es ha'Shabbos", in connection with Ezra.

The Ba'al ha'Turim cites the Gemara in the second Perek of Sanhedrin, which states that Ezra was worthy of being the medium via whom the Torah would be transmitted, only Moshe 'happened' to have preceded him.

And this is hinted here.


" on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed (vayinofash)" 31:17.

The Gematriyah is equivalent to that of 'eilu she'beginom' (the people who reside in Gehinom), says the Ba'al ha'Turim, since they too enjoy respite from the fires on Shabbos, as is well-known.


"ki zeh Moshe ha'Ish asher he'elonu me'Eretz Mitzrayim lo yoda'nu meh hayah lo (because this man Moshe who took us up from Egypt, we do not know what happened to him!)" 32:1.

The Gematriyah of this entire phrase, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'she'her'oh lohem ha'Satan mitoso shel Moshe Rabeinu' (because the Satan showed them Moshe Rabeinu's stretcher).

(See Rashi). He could have simply told them that he had died, but as the old saying goes 'One picture is worth a thousand words!'


"Vaya'alu Olos (And they sacrificed burned-offerings)" (32;6).

The Gematriyah of these two words is equivalent to that of 'Nechoros' (the firstborn).

They were the ones to bring Olos at Har Sinai prior to Matan Torah, as Rashi explains in Mishpatim (24:5). By bringing sacrifices to the Golden Calf here, they undid the good that they did there.

* * *

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