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

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Vol. 18   No. 52

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmas
whose Yohrzeit is "
with wishes that the whole of K'lal Yisrael
should be inscribed
for a good year

Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech
(Incorporating Elul & Rosh Hashanah)

Where Did They Place The Seifer-Torah?
(Adapted from the Rosh citing the Ramban)

"Take this Seifer-Torah (that Moshe had just finished writing) and place it at the side of the Aron of the covenant " (31:26).

Exactly what the Torah means is actually subject to a dispute between Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah in the first Perek of Bava Basra (which we will discuss shortly). Rebbi Yehudah maintains that since, according to him, there was no room in the Aron for the Seifer-Torah, as we shall see, they placed it on top of the box which the P'lishtim sent to the G-d of Yisrael as a gift beside the Aron (not inside it). Prior to the episode with the P'lishtim, it lay on a board which they attached to the side of the Aron. Whereas according to Rebbi Meir, they placed it inside the Aron, but beside the Luchos (rather than in between them).

Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah also agree that something other than the Luchos was placed inside the Aron. This, in turn, is because when the Pasuk in Melachim (1, 8:9) writes that there was nothing in the Aron besides the Luchos, it uses the dual expression "Ein ba'Aron rak Sh'nei Luchos ", and a double-exclusion always comes to include. Hence everyone agrees that there was something else in the Aron besides the Luchos. And it is over what that something was that they argue. That too, will now become clear.


The Torah gives the measurements of the Aron as two and a half by one and a half Amos, and the height as one and a half Amos, and the Machlokes between Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah is whether the Amos comprised six Tefachim (Rebbi Meir) or five (Rebbi Yehudah).

Both opinions agree that each of the Luchos measured six Tefachim by six Tefachim, and was three Tefachim thick. They also agree that Luchos were placed width-wise along the length of the Aron.


Given that, according to Rebbi Meir, the walls were half a Tefach (two finger-breadths) thick, this means that the Luchos took up twelve of the fourteen Tefachim space inside the Aron. The remaining two Tefachim housed the Seifer-Torah.

The length of the Luchos, took up six of the eight Tefachim space of the width of the Aron (nine Tefachim minus one Tefach which comprised the width of the two walls). The two extra Tefachim allowed the Seifer-Torah to fit comfortably into the space without forcing it in too tightly.


According to Rebbi Yehudah, the walls of the Aron were only half a Tefach thick (one fingerbreadth for each wall).

Consequently, the Luchos placed side by side fitted exactly into the twelve Tefachim according to him, but leaving one and a half Tefachim across the width - half a Tefach for the walls, and one Tefach space, in which they paced the silver 'Amudim' [mini-pillars], which were symbolical of K'lal Yisrael's eternal character (See Tosfos, Bava Basra 14 d.h. 'Amudav'), as hinted in Shir ha'Shirim. According to Rebbi Meir, the Amudim were placed outside the Araon.


Based on the Pasuk that we quoted earlier "Ein ba'Aron rak", Rebbi Yehudah learns that the broken Luchos were placed inside the Aron, too. Rebbi Meir learns that from the Pasuk in Eikev " which you broke and placed them inside the Aron", whilst Rebbi Yehudah maintains that this Pasuk comes to teach us that G-d thanked Moshe for breaking the Luchos ('ye'yesher kochacho she'shibarto').

* * *

Parshah Pearls
S'lichos Hinted in the Torah

"You are standing today (Atem nitzavim ha'yom), all of you " (29:9).

The Gematriyah of "Atem nitzavim ha'yom" is equivalent to that of "la'amod li's'leichos' (to get up early for S'lichos). Bearing in mind that we always Lein Nitzavim the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, and besides, the word "ha'yom" generally refers to Rosh Hashanah, this goes nicely with the Minhag to get up early on the Motza'ei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah (when it falls on Thursday or Shabbos) and recite S'lichos until Erev Rosh Hashanah (Yalkut Yitzchak).


Placing the Blame Where it Belongs

"And they will say on that day 'Is it not because G-d is not in our midst all these troubles have befallen us" (31:17). They are not blaming G-d for their troubles, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T explains. What they mean is that, due to the many sins that they had perpetrated, they had caused Him to leave their ranks.


Note that the Torah does not refer to G-d having forsaken them, but that He was no longer in their midst (see following Pearl).


Esther in the Torah

"And as for Me (says Hashem), I will hide (Hastir Astir) My face from them on that day" (31:18).

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. the Gemara in Chulin (139b) that, based on the play on the word "astir" sees it as a hint for 'Esther' min ha'Torah. Indeed, it was in Esther's time that G-d hid His Face (Kevayachol) and allowed Haman to rise to power and threaten K'lal Yisrael with annihilation.

If he didn't quite succeed, that is because of what we say in Kidush Levanah 'Mashgi'ach min ha'Chalonos, meitzitz min ha'charakim' (that G-d watches over us from the windows, peeps through the cracks)'. When the Pasuk states that He "hides His Face", it means that He remains invisible to us - but not Chalilah, that He has forsaken us entirely. He continues to watch over us, sometimes from the window, sometimes through a crack in the wall. We may not 'see' Him, but He certainly sees us. He gives our enemies so much leeway, but at a given point, He says 'Enough!'

That is what Chazal mean when they say that even when we go into exile, G-d goes with us.

* * *


" G-d will separate him for evil (vehivdilo Hashem le'ro'oh) from all the tribes " (29:20).

The Gematriyah of "vehivdilo Hashem le'ro'oh", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is equivalent to that of 'hinei zeh Yerov'om' (this refers to Yerav'am).


" you will live and increase, and G-d will bless you in the land that you are coming to possess" (30:16).

The phrase "and G-d will bless you" also appears in Parshas Re'ei (15:18) "It should not be difficult in your eyes when you send him away and G-d will bless you".

This teaches us what Chazal say that the Din of Eved Ivri is confined to Eretz Yisrael - and does not apply in Chutz la'Aretz.



"Behold, whilst I live with you today you have been rebels, and so you will be after my death (ve'af ki acharei mosi)" (31:27).

The Ba'al ha'Turim observes that the Gematriyah of the word "Ki" is thirty. This hints at the thirty years that it took until Yisrael began to rebel after entering Eretz Yisrael, the twenty eight years that Yehoshua led Yisrael until his death, and the two years that the elders survived him.

* * *

Mashi'ach is Coming

(completion of last week's main article)

Following last week's main article, in which the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. discussed the connection between the years of the current Galus and the numbers one thousand, two hundred and ninety, and one thousand, three hundred and thirty-five, here are his concluding words on the subject, quoting the B'chor Shor:

The date of the coming of Mashi'ach, he explains, is hinted in the 'Alef-Beis' of 'Tashrak' (i.e. the 'Alef-Beis' backwards - 'Ta.SH.Ra.K', 'TZa.P'a.S', 'Ni.M.La.CH', 'Ya.T.CHa.Z', 'Ve.Ha.Da.G. B.A').

The Gematriyah of 'Ta.SH.Ra.K' (a thousand) plus that of 'TZa.P'a.S' (three hundred) equals one thousand three hundred. At that stage 'Ni.M.La.CH' Meluchah (Sovereignty) will be established in Yisrael (over the world - ten years after the coming of Mashi'ach). 'Ya.T.CHa.Z' = thirty-four (leading on to thirty-five), at which point the whole world will be firmly under the jurisdiction of King Mashi'ach (ben David). Then 'Ve.Ha.Da.G. B.A' the fish will come (i.e. the joyous festivities of the 'Se'udas Livyasan' will begin).

* * *


Some old thoughts &
Some new ones

(Adapted mainly from the Yalkut Yitzchak)


Although Ellul is not mentioned specifically, it is hinted in many places, most significantly perhaps, in the Medrash that describes how, following the episode with the Golden Calf, Moshe ascended Har Sinai for the third and last time on Rosh Chodesh Ellul. There, he spent the next forty days re-learning the entire Torah, and descended with the second Luchos on Yom Kipur, following G-d's joyful forgiveness of Yisrael's terrible sin.

Hence, as Rashi explains, these forty days are known as days of goodwill, where G-d displays His goodwill towards us, provided we display goodwill towards Him ("Anu le'Dodi ve'Dodi li").


Teshuvah Tefilah & Tzedakah

The Yalkut Yitzchak points out that the significance of Ellul is hinted in Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim: In Torah, when the Pasuk writes in Nitzavim (30:6) "And Hashem your G-d will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of (Es L'vovcho Ve'es L'vav) your children", where the first letters of "Es L'vovcho Ve'es L'vav@ spell Ellul.

In Nevi'im, when the Navi writes in Yeshayah (59:20) "And the redeemer will come to Tziyon and to those who repent (go'Eil U'Le'shovei) on their sins" - The last two letters of "go'Eil" and the first two letters of U'Le'shovei| spell Ellul, to teach us that the month of Ellul is the time to do Teshuvah on our sins.

And in Kesuvim, 1. in "le'David Hashem Ori ve'yish'i" (which we recite daily at this time of year), where David ha'Melech writes "Lulei he'emanti lir'os be'tuv Hashem" (to counter the attempts of his enemies who attempted to bring him down - "Had I not trusted that I would see the Goodness of Hashem ) "Lulei backwards spells 'Ellul'. From Ellul and onwards David strengthened his faith in G-d to defeat the spiritual foes that constantly beleaguered him. And 2. in the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim (6:3) "Ani le'Dodi, ve'Dodi li" - which teaches us that when we turn to G-d then He turns to us, as we explained earlier.

The commentaries point out that the Pasuk "Es L'vovcho Ve'es L'vav zar'echa" is written with reference to Tehuvah; whereas that of "Ani le'Dodi, ve'Dodi li" refer to Tefilah. To complete the picture, they add the Pasuk in Megilas Esther "Ish Le're'eihu U'matonos Lo'evyonim", whose first letters spell 'Ellul'. And this Pasuk of course, represents Tzedakah. Now the picture is complete, since we see how Ellul, is the time when we start preparing ourselves for the three things which, as we announce heartily on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, will 'tear up the evil decree - Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah!'. And these three things in turn, are none other than the three pillars on which the world stands - Torah, Avodah and Gemilus chasadim!


When the Lion Roars

"Another hint that Ellul is conducive to Teshuvah lies in the Pasuk in Amos (3:8) "When a lion roars (Aryeh sho'og), who is not afraid?" The word "Aryeh" make up the first letters of "Ellul , Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur and Hoshanah Rabah, the four stages of Teshuvah.

1. Ellul - the time that we prepare ourselves for the forthcoming Days of Awe,
2. Rosh Hashanah - when we crown G-d King and realize just how much we have sinned against Him.,
3. Yom Kipur - when we complete the process of Teshuvah mi'Yir'ah.
4. Hosha'na Rabah - when we complete the process of Teshuvah me'Ahavah.

* * *

(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 232:
Not to Mislead an Innocent Person on the Way (cont.)

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah The Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (14a) rules that, although we are warned against causing someone to sin ('Lifnei Iver'), we are not warned against causing him to sin indirectly (lifnei de'lifnei). Hence the Gemara there rules that when the Mishnah, with reference to doing business with an idolatrous gentile, forbids giving him something which he may then use as a sacrifice to his god - irrespective of whether the prohibition is based on the fact that he may then go and give thanks to his god, or whether because of 'Lifnei Iver' (since he may go ahead and sacrifice it to him).

Lending him vessels or money, and paying back a debt on the other hand, is only forbidden if the reason for the prohibition is that he will go and thank his god, but not if it is on account of 'Lifnei Iver', since in all three cases the fear of his sacrificing to his god is not applicable - since on the one hand, a borrowed article must be returned intact, and lending money or returning a loan, on the other, both entail giving him money, which is not generally for sacrifices. And as for the possibility that the gentile uses the money to purchase sacrifices - the Gemara concludes that this is a case of 'Lifnei de'Lifnei', which the Torah does not prohibit. The Gemara there (15b) also forbids selling to a gentile weapons and any other implements which are prone to cause public damage, unless one does so on the express understanding that they will use them to protect us. Nor may one sell such implements to a robber, even if he is a Jew. All of these are forbidden because of 'Lifnei Iver' and all other details, are discussed in various locations throughout Shas, and in the Rambam (Hilchos Rotzei'ach Perek 11).

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times to both men and women. Anyone who contravenes it and who deliberately offers his fellow-Jew advice which is not beneficial to him, or who helps him to sin - for example, if he hands a Nazir a cup of wine and such-like - has transgressed it. And although he has transgressed the command of the King, he is not subject to Malkos, since he has not performed an act.

* * *

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