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

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Vol. 10   No. 46

This issue is sponsored
in loving memory of
Tziporah bas Ya'akov a.h.

Parshas Re'ei

The Bomos, The Mishkan and The Mikdash
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

When (with reference to the era of the conquest of Eretz Yisrael), the Torah forbids doing all that we are doing ''today'' (in the Mishkan) it is drawing a distinction between the Korbanos that they had been bringing until then, and those that they would be bringing when they entered the Land (Rashi).

Interestingly, the Torah Temimah, based on the Gemara in Zevochim, interprets ''today'' as the post Mishkan period, and what the Pasuk is therefore saying is that once the Mishkan is built, Yisrael will no longer be permitted to sacrifice on private Bomos (altars) as they will have been doing up until that time.

In any event, the Pasuk that follows indicates that there is a clear distinction between the period prior to the eras of the Mishkan and of the Beis-Hamikdash, and those of the actual Mishkan and Beis-Hamikdash.


The Torah Temimah explains the Pesukim and the ensuing Halochos in the following manner.

Following on from the earlier Pesukim which describe the obligation to build a house for G-d and bring our Korbanos, Ma'asros (i.e. Ma'aser-Sheini) and Bikurim there, the Pasuk here adds that once that is achieved, it will no longer be possible to bring Korbanos wherever one sees fit - to teach us that a. Bomos would become permitted after they entered Eretz Yisrael, and b. they would be forbidden again once the Mishkan was built.

On the other hand, with reference to the period when Bomos were permitted, the Torah writes "every man whatever he sees fit", intimating that not all Korbanos may be brought on a Bomoh, but only what may be brought voluntarily (i.e. Nedorim and Nedovos) that are eligible - not sin-offerings and other obligations.

And this restriction in turn, is confined to private Korbanos. The Torah specifically writes "Ish", implying that although obligatory Korbenos Yochid may not be brought on a Bomoh, obligatory Korbenos Tzibur may (Zevochim 117b).


Historically speaking, before the Mishkan was constructed in the second year in the desert, the people were permitted to build their own Bomos, on their rooftops or in their backyards, and so they did once again after they arrived in Gilgol, shortly after crossing the River Yarden and for the first fourteen years, during the conquest and distribution of the Land. And this concession applied, in spite of Moshe's Mishkan, which was still standing at that time. This was because the Din of Mishkan is linked (in Parshas Acharei-Mos) to the camp of Yisrael (i.e. the formation of Machaneh Yisrael in the desert), and during the era of Gilgol, the concept of Machaneh Yisrael was already obsolete.


With the death of Yehoshua, they rested from the conquest of the land, and moved the Mizbei'ach and the Aron of Moshe to Shiloh. Indeed, that is why the Torah refers here to Mishkan Shiloh as 'Menuchah', and that is when Bomos became forbidden once again. The concession to sacrifice on them returned after the destruction of Mishkan Shiloh in the days of Eli ha'Kohen (three hundred and sixty-nine years later), and it remained in force as long as the Aron was situated first in Nov and then in Giv'on, until Shlomoh Hamelech built the Beis-Hamikdash, from which time Bomos became forbidden forever. This is clear from the fact that "el ha'Menuchah" hints to the concession of Bomos until the Mishkan is built, and "ve'el ha'Nachalah" (the Inheritance) to the concession of Bomos between the destruction of Shiloh and the Beis-Hamikdash, whereas there is no hint of any concession to build Bomos after that.


There were in fact, two kinds of Bomos, a Bomas Yochid (which we have been discussing until now), and a Bomas Tzibur, such as the ones that existed in Nov and Giv'on. These are also known as 'Bomoh Ketanah' and 'Bamah Gedolah' respectively.

Building a Bomoh Gedolah was forbidden whenever a Bomoh Ketanah was forbidden. There were however, a number of differences between them, based mainly on the fact that the Shechinah rested on the Bomoh Gedolah, which it did not on a Bomoh Ketanah. Consequently, wherever the Torah writes "lifnei Hashem" (before G-d), the issue mentioned there pertains to a Bomoh Gedolah, but not to a Bomoh Ketanah. These include - 'Semichah' (leaning one's hand on one's Korban), the Shechting of Kodshei Kodshim in the north, the performing of the Avodah by a Kohen wearing the Bigdei Kehunah, and using a 'K'li Shareis' (a sanctified vessel). All of these (among other things) did not apply to a Bomoh Ketanah.


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

No Middle Way

"See, I have placed before you today blessings and curses" (11:26).

A Jew must know that when it comes to serving G-d and performing Mitzvos, there is no middle road, says the Seforno.

Whatever he does is either right or wrong. If it is right, he will earn himself a blessing; if it is wrong, he will receive a curse.

This should not be confused with Midos, where the exact opposite is true. There, the middle path is known as the golden medium, because it is the ideal; but that is not the case in the realm of Torah and Mitzvos.


The World and I

Notice, says the Kotzker Rebbe, how the Pasuk begins in the singular ("Re'ei") but continues in the plural ("Nosen Lifneichem").

This is because even though G-d offers everyone the same opportunities for B'rachah, each individual sees the offer through different eyes.


The Toras Moshe explains the switch with the Gemara in Kudushin (40b), that every person should consider the world to be half-innocent, half-guilty, and that one good deed on his part will tip the scales in the world's favour. That explains why the Torah enjoins each person to realize that the entire world hangs in the balance, and that he has the power to bring blessing or curse upon the world, depending on his choice at any given moment.

See also Rabeinu Bachye.


Fringe Benefits

"Today a B'rachah", says the Pasuk. Whatever worldly reward Hashem has in store for us, is only the 'fruits' of what is due. The main reward is put away for Olam ha'Bo. That is why the next word in the Torah is 've'ha'K'loloh', which is equivalent to the first letters of 'Ve'ha'Keren Kayemes Lo Lo'Olam Ha'Ba (but the principle is put away for the World to Come [Nifla'os Chadashos])'.


On Condition

"The blessing, if you will listen" (11:27).

On condition that you listen, comments Rashi.

What does Rashi want with this seemingly superfluous statement? What is the difference between 'if' on the one hand, and 'on condition' on the other, that warrants such a statement?

The Din is that for a condition to be valid, it must precede the promise. For example, if Reuven wants to give Shimon a hundred dollars on condition that Shimon delivers Levi a message on his behalf, then what he must say to Shimon is that if he conveys the message to Levi, he will give him a hundred dollars. Should he reverse the order and promise him a hundred dollars provided he conveys the message to Levi, he remains obligated to give Shimon the hundred dollars, whereas the condition is not binding on Shimon.

Likewise here, G-d promised us His blessing, provided we obey His commands. However, seeing as the promise preceded the condition, G-d ought to be obligated to grant us His blessings, whether we fulfill that condition or not.

That is why Rashi hastens to explain that "asher" has connotations of 'al-m'nas' ('on condition', not 'if'). And Chazal have taught that 'al-m'nas' is considered as if one had specifically stated 'retroactively', placing the condition before the promise, even though it followed it chronologically.


Cursing Out Loud

And you shall announce the blessings on Har Gerizim and the curses on Har Eival" (11:29).

This comes to compare the curses to the blessings, says the Medrash Tanchuma. Just as the blessings are said in a loud voice, so too, should the curses.

It is the way of the world that when one comes to praise someone for his good deeds, one does it publicly, in front of the entire community. But when one comes to rebuke him, one does so discreetly, so as not to evoke his anger.

The Torah is teaching us here, says the Divrei Sha'arei Chayim, that in fact, there is no difference between the two. Even rebuking a person should be done in public, without covering up the sinner's shortcomings, so that the community will not learn from the sinner's ways.

The Divrei Sha'arei Chayim's explanation is strange to say the least, and certainly not Halachah. Under certain circumstances it is permitted to rebuke someone in public. Generally speaking however, that is forbidden, not because it is considered flattery, but in order to avoid putting the sinner to shame.

It seems to me however, that there are two clear distinctions between the Din of rebuking and the current case to which the Tanchuma is referring. First of all, rebuking is for sins of the past, whereas the curses referred to by the Pasuk come as a deterrent for sins that have not yet been committed. Consequently, announcing them publicly will not cause any embarrassment.

And second of all, there is a strong case to permit even rebuking a community in public, even though doing so to a private individual is prohibited.



"When there arises among you a prophet" ... "When your maternal brother, son or daughter ...leads you astray" ... "Good for nothings emerged in the city ...and they talked the townspeople into serving idols" (13:2, 7, 14)

These three Parshiyos speak about missionaries. They correspond, says the Avnei Azel, to the three different kinds of missionaries that exist, each one employing different tactics to draw his victims away from serving G-d.

The first kind of missionary is the trickster, who uses his personality, his charm or his persuasive ability, to lead people astray. He is comparable to a conjurer, who makes people believe that they see things that did not happen, by sleight of hand. And he corresponds to the false prophet, about whom the Torah writes, "Do not listen to the words of that prophet".

The second kind of missionary is one's own close relatives, brothers or sisters ... . They have a relatively easier job, in that, to some degree, they already enjoy the confidence and the trust of their victim before they even start to convince him. He corresponds to the Parshah "When your maternal brother, son or daughter ...leads you astray". About such a person the Torah warns, "Do not agree with him, do not listen to him".

The third kind of missionary is one's friends and associates, who lure him away from the true path. They correspond to the Parshah "Good for nothings emerged in the city ...and they talked the townspeople into serving idols". That is the most dangerous of all, because evil people create an evil environment. As the Seifer ha'Chinuch writes often, people are most easily affected by their environment. And that is why the Torah orders the destruction of the entire town.


Ma'aser Once, Ma'aser Twice

"Aser te'aser" (14:22).

The Gemara in Shabos (119) learns from here the principle 'Aser bi'sh'vil she'tisasher' Give Ma'aser in order to become rich. We have learned in a Mishnah that the reward of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah. The commentaries explain that, performing a Mitzvah creates an angel, who works on the person who performed it to repeat it. Consequently, someone who gives one's tithes, will be blessed with a bountiful harvest the following year, to encourage him to repeat the Mitzvah.

The question then arises as to why the Torah writes "Aser Te'aser", rather than "Aser she'te'asher".

The reason for this, says the Imrei Shefer, is because the most important outcome of the Mitzvah is not so much the reward, as the opportunity to repeat the Mitzvah. So the Torah writes "Aser Te'aser", if you give Ma'aser, you will give Ma'aser again, the greatest conceivable reward in this world.

That is not to say that there is no reward forthcoming for the Ma'asros that one gives, but that the major reward is due in the World to Come, as the Torah broadly hints at the end of Vo'eschanan.


(Part 5)
(based on the morning Korbanos, with the commentaries of Rashi on the Chumash and of the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

The Parshah of the Korban Tamid (cont.)
(Bamidbar 28:1/8 & Vayikra 1:11)

ve'Shochat Oso ... Tzofonoh ...

Based on the principle that even a Zar (a non-Kohen) is eligible to Shecht Korbanos (since Shechitah is not considered an Avodah), anyone may Shecht the Korban Tamid.

"On the north side of the Azarah " - where in fact, all Kodshei Kodshim (Korbanos belonging to the higher category of Kedushah [i.e. Olah, Charas and Asham]) had to be Shechted. And they were Shechted, not on the Mizbe'ach, but beside it, since no animal sacrifices were actually Shechted on the Mizbe'ach.

"Tzofonoh lifnei Hashem" - Chazal explain, 've'ein Tzofonoh be'Bamah'. This means that it is only in the Beis-Hamikdash and in the Mishkan (both in the desert and in Shiloh), that Kodshei Kodshim had to be Shechted on the north, but not before Mishkan Shiloh and after it (until Shlomoh built the Beis-Hamikdash), when they sacrificed on Bamos (altars that were not housed in a building).

The word 'Tzofon', also has connotations of 'hidden' (Tzafun). The Anaf Yosef therefore, explains that the Korban Tamid evokes the merit of Yitzchak Ovinu, whose ashes are hidden with G-d. And it also hints, he says, at the Midas ha'Din, which is hidden (quashed) before the Midas Rachamim.

The former explanation goes hand In hand with the Medrash cited by the Beis Yosef, which in turn, quotes Eliyahu who promised to evoke the merit of the Akeidas Yitzchak on behalf of any Jew who recites this Pasuk.


Ve'Zorku B'nei Aharon ... es Domo al ha'Mizbe'ach Soviv

Bearing in mind that 'Zerikah', by definition, entails sprinkling the blood directly from the bowl; the word 'soviv' cannot be understood literally, since there would not have been sufficient blood in the bowl to sprinkle it all the way round the Mizbei'ach. That is why Chazal interpret it to mean that the blood of the burnt offering) had to reach all four sides. The Kohen achieved this by sprinkling it on the northeastern and the southwestern corners (the two diagonally opposite corners which were both encircled by the Yesod [the Amah base]). And the same applied to the Asham and the Shelamim.


The Parshah of the Ketores
(Sh'mos 30:34-38 & 30:7/8)

Kach Lecho Samim ...

"Take Samim" - implying two spices;

"Nataf, u'shecheiles ve'chelbenah" - (balsam, onycha and galbanum) make five. The Torah repeats "samim", to add the same amount again, plus "levonah zakah" (pure frankincense) making a total of eleven spices, which comprise the incense that is brought daily on the Mizbe'ach ha'Ketores in the Heichal.

The Chelbenah is actually a foul smelling spice, which is smooth and shiny like a nail. Nevertheless, the Torah requires it to be added to the Ketores, to hint that we are obligated to include sinners in our gatherings on fast-days, to enable them to do Teshuvah, transforming their otherwise repugnant smell into a pleasant aroma, as they repent together with the community.

The Levonah, like the Nataf, is a sap with a fragrant smell. The four listed spices must all be of the same weight.


Ve'osiso Osoh Ketores ... Memulach Tohor Kodesh

All of these are blended into Ketores, by being thoroughly mixed by a master perfumer, until the individual spices are unrecognizable (others interpret "Memulach" as Sedomis salt, which must be added to the mixture). In addition, the mixture must be pure and holy (verbally sanctified).


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