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

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Vol. 21   No. 21

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmas
Binyomin Moshe ben Eliezer z"l
and l'iluy Nishmas
Chana bas Yitzchak z"l

Parshas Ki Sissa

All About Shabbos
Time & Space

"And you, speak to the B'nei Yisrael saying, only (ach), you shall keep My Shabbasos. For it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am Hashem who sanctifies you" (31:13).

Rashi explains that the "ach" comes to preclude the building of the Mishkan on Shabbos.

The reason for this, explains the Oznayim la'Torah, is because whereas the Mishkan represents the sanctity of location, Shabbos represents the sanctity of time, and the sanctity of time is greater than the sanctity of location. Proof of this, he says, is the fact that whereas the Mishkan i.e. the Beis-Hamikdash, which took over the sanctity of the Mishkan, was ultimately destroyed, Shabbos (which is abstract - and therefore more conducive to sanctity) is everlasting. Moreover, and for the same reason, the sanctity of Shabbos, was introduced at the time of the creation, long before the Mishkan was constructed.


The Mark of a Jew


The Oznayim la'Torah cites the Chofetz Chayim, who explains the significance of the Torah's definition of Shabbos as a sign. He compares it to the old custom of shopkeepers to place a sign outside their shops - a shoe, for example, outside a cobbler, to inform the public that this was a cobbler. As long as the sign appeared outside the shop, people knew that this is where they could bring their shoes to be repaired.

If the shoe sign was no longer there, then they knew that the cobbler was no longer working. And so it is with Shabbos. As long as a Jew keeps Shabbos, everybody knows that he is Jew, irrespective of whatever else he might do. The moment the sign is taken down, the moment he no longer keeps Shabbos, one knows that the Jew has moved away to graze in other pastures.


Keeping many Shabbasos


Chazal explain that the word "ach" comes to preclude piku'ach nefesh (a life-danger situation) from the Dinim of Shabbos.

The Gemara in Yuma, in the well-known story of Hillel on the roof, describes how they brought his frozen body into the Beis-Hamedrash and made a fire to warm him up and revive him. This was permitted, they argued, because - 'It is worth breaking one Shabbos for Hillel, so that he should be able to observe many Shabbasos'.

With that Gemara in mind, says the author, we can understand why the current Pasuk uses the word "Shabbasos" (plural) - 'Break one Shabbos, the Pasuk is hinting, to enable the Jew whose life you are saving to be able to keep many Shabbasos.


Shabbos, a Communal Mitzvah

"And they shall/will keep (ve'shomru) the Shabbos, to do/make the Shabbos throughout their generations, an everlasting covenant. " (31:16).

The Torah speaks in the plural, comments the Oznayim la'Torah, to teach us that it is not just the individual who must keep it, but the community at large. This is because, as Chazal said, Shabbos is the bas Zug (marriage partner) of K'lal Yisrael. When Yisrael keep Shabbos, Shabbos keeps Yisrael. This presumably, is why Yisrael said that if Yisrael were to keep Shabbos, Mashi'ach would come. They did not say this about any other Mitzvah.

And that, the author explains, is why it is incumbent upon every individual to prevail upon others to keep Shabbos, particularly those over whom one has influence. That is why the Torah wrote in Yisro "you, your sons, your daughters your slaves and your maidservants, your animals (which may not work for you) and your Geir (toshav)". Here too, the Torah does not say this in reference to any other Mitzvah.


Yisrael will Always Keep Shabbos


If we translate "she'shomru" as 'And they will keep Shabbos (rather than they shall keep the Shabbos), we have a guarantee that Yisrael will always keep Shabbos, says the Oznayim la'Torah.

It may sometimes be necessary to "make the Shabbos" - to enforce its observance by closing shops. But ultimately, Yisrael will always keep Shabbos.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

The Kiyor and the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav

"And you shall make a copper basin " (30:18).

All the holy vessels of the Mishkan, says the Oznayim la'Torah, are mentioned in Parshas Terumah, with the exception of the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav and the Kiyor - the former appears in Parshas Tetzaveh, the latter, here.

And he explains that this is because both Keilim are different than the rest, both in the same way.

We find that although the Ketores was generally brought on the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, if, for any reason, there was no Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, it could be brought on the floor in the same location in a pan (in the same way as it was brought on Yom Kipur, though that Ketores was placed on the floor in front of the Aron).

And the same applies to the Kiyor. The Kohanim did, of course, wash their hands and feet from the Kiyor, but it was not crucial to do so, and they were permitted to wash from any K'li Shareis.


The question remains, says the author, as to why the Torah did not then juxtapose the Kiyor next to the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav in Tezaveh?

And he explains that this is because whereas the Ketores was an intrinsic Avodah, washing the hands was only a preparation for the Avodah. Hence its correct location is here in Ki Sissa, next to the Parshah of manufacturing the Ketores and the anointing oil - which are also preparations for the performance of their respective Avodos.


The Grass-Eating Calf

"And he made it into a molten calf" (32:4).

Why specifically a calf, asks the Oznayim la'Torah?

And he answers with the Pasuk in Tehilim (106), which describes the Golden Calf as "the image of a grass-eating calf".

Chazal tell us that, when G-d appeared on Har Sinai, Yisrael saw His Throne, supported by the four faces of the Merkavah - the face of man, the face of an ox, a lion and an eagle. And when they wanted to appoint a new leader to replace Moshe, they chose the ox.

The author now explains, bearing in mind that it was the Eirev Rav (from Egypt) who initiated the sin of the Golden Calf, they preferred the ox, he explains, because the other three eat meat, something that was an abomination in the eyes of the Egyptians. So they picked the calf, because it eats grass and not meat.

See also Ramban, who gives a different reason to explain why they chose the ox.


Moshe neither Ate nor Drank

"And he was there with Hashem for forty days he did not eat bread and did not drink water" (34:28).

Of course he didn't, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, since in Heaven nobody eats and drinks?

And he quotes the Pasuk in Melachim, which describes how Eliyahu ha'Navi ate and drank before embarking on a journey that would last forty-days and forty nights, during which time he would not eat or drink. Perhaps, one might think, Moshe too, ate and drank before ascending Har Sinai, and that that meal (miraculously) lasted for the forty days and nights that he would spend on Har Sinai.

And it is to dispel such a notion that the Torah writes that, unlike Eliyahu ha'Navi, Moshe did not eat or drink before ascending Har Sinai, In fact, the author adds, he spent the six days prior to that ascent on the mountain cleansing out his stomach from physical food, so as to receive the Torah devoid of any physicality.


Triple Greatness

" When Moshe came before Hashem to speak with Him the B'nei Yisrael saw the face of Moshe that the skin of Moshe's face shone " (34:34/35).

Why, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, does the Torah see fit to mention Moshe's name three times, when once, and at most twice, would have sufficed?

And he attributes this to the fact that Moshe's greatness as Yisrael's leader manifested itself in three ways, all of which are hinted here: 1. He was their redeemer, who took them out of slavery; 2. He was the one to receive the Torah from G-d and deliver it the people; and 3. He was the one to restore Yisrael's faith in G-d following the sin of the golden Calf, and save them from destruction (which this Pasuk is actually referring to).

Hence the Torah writes here "And the B'nei Yisrael saw the face of Moshe" - who redeemed them from Egypt. "because Moshe's face shone" - because he received the Torah on their behalf. "And Moshe returned " - the hearts of Yisrael to their Father in Heaven.

These three areas of achievement, more than anything, are what caused Moshe's face to shine.

* * *

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