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

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Vol. 12   No. 23

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Parshas Pikudei

The Pillars, The Sockets,
The Hooks and the 'Curtains'
(Adapted from the Chochmas Chayim)

Here is a concise description of the pillars, the sockets and the hooks of the Kodesh Kodshim (on which the Holy Paroches was hung), the Heichal and the Azarah (alias the Chatzer), followed by a run down of the various differences between the three entrances.


The four pillars at the entrance of the Kodesh Kodshim (on which the Paroches was hung, and which were made of gold-covered acacia wood) stood in four silver sockets (completing the hundred Kikar of silver which was used to house the planks that made up the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim); whereas the hooks on which the Paroches was suspended were made of gold.

The five pillars at the entrance of the Heichal (which comprised a screen) were also made of gold-covered acacia wood, but they were housed in copper sockets, whereas the curtain, like the Paroches, was suspended on five golden hooks.

The four pillars at the entrance of the Azarah (which also comprised a screen), were made of copper, and so were the sockets, whilst the hooks were made of silver. And the same applied to all the pillars of the Azarah (on which the linen curtains were suspended). All of these were also capped with silver, and adorned with a strip of silver around the middle. And it was the hooks, caps and silver strips of the fifty-two (or fifty-six) pillars of the Azarah plus those of the entrance screen, which comprised the missing thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five Shekalim that could initially not be accounted for.


Here's a rundown on the materials that comprised the three entrances to the Kodesh Kodshim, the Kodesh and the Azarah respectively.

All three entrances consisted of threads of dark-blue wool, purple wool, crimson wool and linen. Only whereas that of the Kodesh Kodshim comprised the Paroches (a curtain), the entrances to the Heichal and to the Azarah comprised a screen, which stood independently, a slight distance away from the eastern wall. The screen of the Heichal was suspended on five poles, that of the Azarah, on four.

Another difference that distinguished the entrance to the Kodesh Kodshim from those of the Heichal and the Azarah, was in the way they were manufactured. The latter two were embroidered (with the same picture [of lions, oxen and eagles embroidered on both sides of the material]), whereas the Paroches was woven 'Ma'aseh Choshev' (a special process whereby one picture appeared on one side, and another, on the other side).


The Gold, the Silver and the Copper

And here's a run down on what the specific donations of gold, silver and copper were used for.

The Torah divides them clearly into three sections, and this is basically what we are defining.

The demarcation is clear-cut. The gold, which was confined to the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim, was used, virtually exclusively, for the manufacture of the holy vessels (the Aron, the Shulchan, the Menorah ... ).

The silver, on the other hand, was used predominantly to fashion the sockets of the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodshim, hardly appearing in the Chatzer at all. Whereas the Chatzer itself comprised copper almost exclusively, which was hardly to be seen anywhere else.

The smattering of gold, silver and copper that was used elsewhere (in the form of sockets, hooks, ornamental strips and caps or to overlay pillars) has been discussed above.

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Parshah Pearls

Holy Gold

"All the gold that was made ... for all the holy work ... " (38:24).

The description 'holy' is not used in connection with the silver or the copper, only in connection with the gold.

This is not surprising, seeing as the gold was used for the manufacture of the holy vessels, the Aron, the Shulchan, the Menorah ... , which contained not a trace of silver or copper. True, the Mizbei'ach was made of copper, but the Mizbei'ach was situated in the Chatzer, which (as I saw quoted from Shimshon Refael Hirsh), was not called 'holy'.


The Eternal Torah

"These are the countings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony ... " (38:21).

The numerical value of "ha'Mishkan" together with the five letters add up to 420 ( the number of years that the second Beis- Hamikdash stood, observes Rabeinu Bachye; that of "Mishkan", to 410, (the number of years that the first Beis- Hamikdash stood; whereas the letters of "ha'Eidus (which is written minus a 'Vav')" add up to 479, which is equivalent to the total number of years that comprised the era of the Mishkan.

Why is the basic Gematriyah of "ha'Mishkan" missing five, which must then be complemented by the 'Hey', asks the Chasam Sofer?

He answers with the Gemara in Yuma (20), which lists five things that were missing from the second Beis-Hamikdash - the Aron, the Eternal Fire, the Shechinah, Ru'ach ha'Kodesh and the Urim ve'Tumim. Accordingly, five years are subtracted from the main word, and then added in the form of a prefix, to make up the five years.


It Stands to Reason


Having in mind that the word "Mishkon" can be read as 'Mashkon' (a security), Chazal derive from the expression "ha'Mishkan Mishkan ... ", that the Mishkan was taken twice as a security (instead of Yisrael) for their sins - at the time of the Churban Bayis Rishon and the Churban Bayis Sheini.

The Dubner Maggid explains that some people purchase valuable ornaments in order to use them, whilst others purchase them as a security, to be able to use as collateral, should they hit hard times and need to borrow money. What's more, he says, it is easy to gauge for which purpose the purchaser has bought them, by noting what he does with them after purchase - whether he immediately puts them to good use, or whether he merely makes a detailed inventory of what he purchased. In the latter case of course, it is clear that his main objective is to reserve them for use as collateral, should the need arise. Regarding the Mishkan too, says he Dubner Maggid, "These are the countings of the Mishkan". The fact that the Torah ordered an immediate inventory of all the Holy Vessels, indicates that right at the outset, G-d ordered the construction of the Mishkan, in anticipation of the time when the Mishkan would become a Mashkon (a security), not just once, but twice. True, the Mishkan was put to immediate good use, in which case the inventory goes to show that it was built for a dual purpose.


Just Like Moshe had in Mind

"Just as G-d had commanded Moshe, so did B'nei Yisrael do it" (39:42).

At its simplist level, this Pasuk is remarkable, to say the least. For so many untrained and unskilled labourers to construct such an elaborate Mishkan with all its Keilim (as the Ramban explains) - first time round, without a single error, is truly incredible.

The Agra de'Kala adds another dimension to the Pasuk however. Pointing out how the Torah uses this expression in connection with each Avodah, he explains that as they worked on every detail of the Mishkan, they would state verbally that they had in mind to manufacture each and every piece according to the Kavanah that G-d had taught Moshe. Every Keili, every plank and every hook, has profound meanings attached to it. So, afraid that they would detract from the sanctity of the pieces by failing to attain the desired Kavanah, they added the above declaration to each and every component that they constructed, in the hope that Moshe's Kavanah would supplement what they had lacked.

But the Pasuk concludes "Va'ya'asu ... kein asu" (a seemingly superfluous expression), to teach us that their fears were unfounded. Everything that they had manufactured, had been done with the right Kavanos, and the need to rely on the Kavanos of Moshe was unnecessary.


The Aron and the Bottle of Manna

"And you shall put the Aron of testimony there (in the Kodesh Kodshim)" (40:3).

Based on a Pasuk in Beshalach (16:33), a bottle of Manna was placed beside the Aron ha'Kodesh, and, as the Gemara informs us in Yuma (52b), when the Aron was hidden, the Manna was hidden together with it.

The connection between the two, is based on a Rashi in Beshalach (16:32), who cites Yirmiyahu's rebuke of K'lal Yisrae for not studying Torah. When they asked him in return what would happen to their Parnasah if they did, he produced the bottle of Manna from the Kodesh Kodshim, which he held up in front of them. 'See', he said to them, 'on what your ancestors subsisted when they studied Torah! For G-d has many agents at His disposal to prepare Parnasah for those who fear Him'.


R. Aharon Levin adds that the message can also be inverted. If it is on the merit of learning Torah that we are sustained, then when we fail to study Torah, our Divine source of sustenance suffers.

And this what Chazal mean when they say that when the Aron (the symbol of Torah) was hidden, the bottle of Manna (the symbolof sustenance) was hidden with it.


Who Carries Whom

"And he placed the poles on the Aron" (40:20).

Ostensibly, the purpose of the poles was for the Levi'im or the Kohanim to carry the Aron. In fact however, this was merely an illusion, for it was the Aron that carried the Levi'im, as Chazal have taught.

And this, explains R. Aharon Levine, underscores the difference between Yisrael and the nations of the world. The nations of the world carry their (man-made) 'Torah'. When it suits them, they move it to the right, and when they feel like a change, they move it to the left. After all, it is they who created it in the first place, and so they are able to maneuver it at will, to conform with all their whims and fancies. Not so K'lal Yisrael. They are carried by their Torah; it is the Torah that guides and molds them under every situation. No, it is not they who carry it; it is it that carries them! And what's more it is not they who change it, but it that changes them.


Correction from Pikudei
(of last year)
Parshah Pearls

'Fifteen Thousand Missing'

In 'Fifteen Thousand Missing' (Parshah Pearls of Vayakhel, Pikudei [64]), we cited the opinion of the Rosh and the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, who maintain that upon making an inventory of the donations and what they had been used for, Moshe was unable to account for fifteen thousand Shekalim of silver (Rosh) or fifteen hooks (Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos).

And we queried this because a) the Medrash speaks of only one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five Shekalim missing (not fifteen thousand, as the Rosh suggests), as we explained there; and b) we asked from the five pillars at the entrance to the Heichal, so where does the fifteen come into the picture?

The latter question is incorrectly put, since the silver hooks (the caps and the strips) were not placed on the five pillars at the entrance of the Heichal, but on the five pillars at the entrance of the Azarah (see main article) And besides, silver hooks ... were affixed, not just to the pillars of the Azarah, but to all the pillars of the Azarah. Consequently, the question is still justified, but with regard to the pillars of the Azarah, comprising fifty two (or possibly fifty-six) pillars (besides the additional five of the entrance to the Azarah). So what is the significance of the fifteen hooks referred to by the Da'as Zekeinim?

* * *

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Three of the four Parshiyos (Shekalim, Parah and ha'Chodesh) serve as a reminder of the time when the Beis-Hamikdash stood. Parshas Shekalim - On Rosh Chodesh Adar they would announce the imminent Mitzvah of giving one's half-Shekel. This is based on the Pasuk in Pinchas "This is the Olah of the month in its month for the months of the year", which (based on the repetition of the word 'Chodesh' [which can also be read as 'Chadesh', bring new]) Chazal interpret to mean that the Korbanos from Rosh Chodesh Nisan and onwards must be purchased with money taken from the new Shekalim (that had just been donated for the public sacrifices of the forthcoming year).

As a result, the Chachamim instituted the public announcement to give one's half-Shekel a full month in advance, starting from Rosh Chodesh Adar. This would enable everybody to prepare his half-Shekel and to donate it in good time, before Rosh Chodesh Nisan arrived.

Consequently, should Rosh Chodesh Adar fall in the course of the week, they would make the announcement on the Shabbos before (so as not to detract from the full month's preparation); whereas if it fell on Shabbos, they would announce it on the day itself, leaving the one month intact.


Parshas Parah -Served as a reminder to whoever was Tamei Meis, to purify himself with the ashes of the Parah Adumah (the Red Heifer), a process which would last one week. This was in anticipation of Rosh Chodesh Nisan, when those who lived far would begin their journey to Yerushalayim to arrive in good time for Pesach. And that is why Parshas Parah always occurs the week before Parshas ha'Chodesh - which in turn, takes place the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (or on Rosh Chodesh) Nisan. In this way, when Parshas Parah arrived, all those who were Tamei Meis would know that Rosh Chodesh Nisan was just around the corner and that they must begin with their purification immediately.


Parshas Zachor (the one Parshah unconnected with the Beis-Hamikdash) - takes place the Shabbos before Purim, because Haman (the villain of Megilas Esther), was a descendant of Amalek, whom the Torah commands us to remember (in the Parshah of Ki Seitzei that we Lein on Shabbos Zachor).


The Avudraham cites a Yerushalmi, which comments that in reality, Parshas ha'Chodesh ought to precede Parshas Parah, since the Mishkan was erected on the first of Nisan, whilst it was only a day later, on the second of Nisan, that the Parah Adumah was burnt. Why then, did Chazal reverse the order and give Parshas Parah precedence? Because the purity of Yisrael is involved - from Tum'as Meis, to avoid having to bring Pesach Sheini, explains the Avudraham.

What the Yerushalmi seems to mean is, that in the desert, where nobody needed to travel, there was no problem with preparing the Parah Adumah after setting up the Mishkan, since they still had the best part of two weeks to effect their purity.

But once they reached Eretz Yisrael it was a different matter. There people began leaving their homes two weeks before Pesach, as we explained. Consequently, had they only begun with the purification after Rosh Chodesh Nisan, they would have arrived in Yerushalayim too late to bring the Pesach Rishon, and they would have had to bring the Pesach Sheini in Iyar. The only way to avoid that was to begin with the purification a week earlier, which meant placing Parshas Parah before Parshas ha'Chodesh.


Parshas Shekalim

Women and the Half-Shekel

The Torah Temimah cites the Bartenura in Shekalim (1:3), who extrapolates from the Pasuk in Ki Sisa (30:12) "And each man shall give", that women are exempt from donating a half-shekel.

The Torah Temimah himself queries the need for such a D'rashah, considering that the Pasuk is referring to the donations for the Mishkan, in which women did not participate.

To answer his question, it would seem that yes, women were indeed exempt from donating, and it is from this Pasuk that we learn it.

The Torah Temimah himself however, suggests that the Pasuk comes to preclude even voluntary donations offered by women, so as not to interfere with the total donation, which was used to determine the numbers of men between twenty and sixty, which comprised K'lal Yisrael at that time.

Alternatively, he explains, we need the D'rashah according to another Yerushalmi in Shekalim, which learns from the Pasuk (14) "Kol ha'over al ha'pekudim", that whoever crossed the Yam-Suf, is obligated to donate a half-Shekel. And seeing that the women crossed the Yam-Suf too, a Pasuk is needed to preclude them from the Mitzvah.

The Ramban too, based on a Mishnah in Shekalim, exempts women and children of under thirteen from the Mitzvah of Machtzis ha'Shekel (though this is not necessarily the last word in Halachah). See Ramban and Chaval's footnotes at the end of Pasuk 12.

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