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

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Vol. 5 No. 26

Parshas Shemini

"Ve'nitmeisem Bom"

Chazal derive from a combination of peculiarities in the possuk "And don't render yourselves impure through them (the eight tamei insects) for you will become impure through them": (11:43), that the eating of forbidden foods "stops up" the heart (i.e. it causes a mental blockage). They derive this from the last two words "ve'nitmeisem bom" which, simply translated, means: "And you will become impure through them". Yet Chazal, playing on the word "ve'nitmeisem" (which is written without an 'aleph') change its meaning to 'stopped up', as if it was rooted in the word 'timtum' - which also containes no 'aleph', rather than 'tum'oh' (impurity), which of course, does.

No doubt, they also based their interpretation on the double expression used by the Torah and by the strange switching from the negative "don't render yourselves impure", etc. to the positive 'for you will become impure". And perhaps we might add another subtle hint to their explanation:The final word in the possuk is "bom" (through them), whereas in the first phrase the word used to denote "through them" is "bohem". Now "bom" as we know, can refer specifically to the words of Torah, as our Sages have taught us in the Kriy'as Shema, where "ve'dibarto bom" (and you shall speak about them) is understood to be a positive mitzvah, to speak words of Torah, and not idle chatter. This in turn, is hinted in the two letters 'beis' and 'mem' which form the word "bom". The 'beis' represents the first letter in Chumash (Bereishis) and the 'mem', the first letter in the Mishnah (Me'eimosai) - the written Torah and the oral Torah respectively. The Torah is telling us here that, by eating forbidden foods, one is liable to suffer a mental blockage when studying the written and the oral Torah.

The Re'mo in Yorei Dei'oh (81) rules that one should preferably refrain from feeding a young child forbidden foods, despite the ruling that a father is not obliged to stop his young son from eating treifah (or from practising other negative mitzvos). Strictly speaking, that may be so. Neverthless, says the Remo, one should stop the child from eating non-kosher foods, since the intake of non-kosher foods is destined to have far-reaching harmful effects on him: it will cause him to suffer a mental blockage when he grows up.

The Torah Temimah, elaborating on the Re'mo's ruling, goes so far as to say that even if a baby needs to feed from a non-Jewish milk nurse, she should, if possible, be restrained from eating non-kosher food during that period, to prevent the child from being harmed.

It is evident that the intake of non-kosher foods causes mental damage to a Jew, irrespective of whether the partaker did so deliberately or not - even a baby who would be in mortal danger were he not to feed, and who is certainly blameless of sinning, is nevertheless subject to the mental dangers that will result from eating non-kosher foods. It can be compared to someone who is prescribed a form of poison to save him from a terminal disease. The urgency of taking his medicine will not remove the potent danger of the poison - and forbidden foods are synonymous with mental poison!

Little wonder then, that so many people are far removed from Torah-learning, due to a lack of interest in a study which is stunningly beautiful and which contains a magnetic attraction to those who swim in its sparkling waters. Its magnetism however, attracts the Soul of the Jew, since both (Torah and the Jewish Soul) stem from the same Divine origin. Consequently, it only attracts those souls that remain uncontaminated (above all) by the intake of forbidden food.

Those who do contaminate themselves, wittingly or otherwise, are likely to experience a timtum ha'lev, resulting in a scant understanding - even a total rejection - of the words of the holy Torah.

Parshah Pearls
Parshas Shemini
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

"And it was on the Eighth Day" (9:1)

The Gemoro in Megillah (10b) quotes a B'raysa, that on this day, the eighth day of the 'Milu'im' (the inauguration of the Mishkon), G-d was as happy as the day that He created Heaven and earth. And it derives this from the word 'Va'yehi', which appears both here, at the beginning of the Parshah, and at the creation in Bereishis, where the Torah writes 'Va'yehi erev, va'yehi voker' etc.

The Torah Temimah connects this Gemoro with the Medrash which quotes Hashem as saying that the day on which the Mishkon was set up, was to Him like the day that He created the world. And it is explained there that, from the time that He created the world, Hashem desired to unify His name and His holiness in the world by means of the Mishkon. And he also connects it to the Gemoro in Megillah (31b) which writes that, were it not for the Ma'amodos (the groups of Yisre'elim who stood by the Korban in rotation), Hashem would not have created the world.

This would appear, at first sight, to comply with the opinion of the Ramban, who holds that the Mishkon was not built primarily as an atonement for the Golden Calf, but because it was part of G-d's initial master-plan to build a house where He might come and live here in this world.

It is interesting to note that the Gemoro in Megillah does not write that G-d rejoiced like on the day that He created the world, but on the day that He created Heaven and earth.

What Chazal probably meant was this: when Hashem created the world, He created two totally diverse bodies that are conflicting by nature. They have nothing whatsoever in common that might unite them - they are Heaven and earth.

Yet He then did an amazing thing: He created a unique creature, that was itself composed of Heaven and earth, and who would unite Heaven and earth to fuse them into one entity - and that creature is called man.

Hashem's happiness at the creation only reached its climax when the world was created - with the creation of man - because then the potential of fusing the material and the spiritual into one was set in place. And this fusion became a reality when that very same man built Hashem a Mishkon, to bring G-d into his midst. That is why Chazal say that Hashem was happy on the day that the Mishkon was finally erected, like the day that He created Heaven and earth.
"Lo Sochlum" (11:42)

"Do not eat them, because they are abominable." 'To warn the grown-ups not to feed the children,' say Chazal in Yevomos (114a) - because 'lo sochlum' can be read as 'lo sa'achilum' - do not feed them! There is no proof from here, explains the Gemoro, that one is obligated to stop a child from transgressing a negative command, since what the Torah is warning here, is not to feed a child something that is forbidden, but not to stop him from eating it himself.

The Torah Temimah quotes here a Hago'os Oshri in Avodah Zoroh who prohibitsfeeding a child forbidden foods - even if they are only forbidden mi'de'Rabbonon, because they are harmful to the child (see main article). Other prohibitions that are not connected with food, we might infer, are permitted, even to encourage the child to do it. The Ramban however, in Parshas Emor (21:1) comments that Chazal make this d'roshoh three times: by the blood, by sheratzim and by the Tumah of Cohanim. And from these three we can extend this prohibition to all issurim (negative commands in the Torah) namely, that it is forbidden to help or to encourage a child to negate any lo sa'aseh in the Torah.

History of the World
( Part 42)
(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)

Yehu ben Nimshi kills Yehoram, son of Ach'ov and all of his seventy brothers. Some say that the Tzorfatis (the woman who accommodated Eliyohu) is the mother of Yonah. According to some Yonah lived for more than a hundred and twenty years. He receives the power of prophecy from Elisha.

Achazyah, King of Yisroel, dies. His mother Asalyah, daughter of Ach'av, rules for six years. She kills all the royal family, except for the one-year- old Yo'ash, son of Achazyah, who is saved by Yehosheva, daughter of King Yehoram, wife of Yehoyodoh, the Cohen Godol. She delivers him to her husband who hides him for six years - in the attic above the Holy of Holies in the summer, and in the rooms during the winter.

When Dovid ha'Melech appointed his youngest son Shlomoh as his successor, he also ordained that should Shlomoh or any of his descendants die childless, then the descendants of his oldest son Nosson, should rule. From that time on, Nosson's descendants became known as 'the brothers of the princes', until the days of Yehoshofot and Achazyah.

The men whom Yehoram, King of Yehudah, killed (in year 3050) were from the brothers of the princes. The last descendants of Shlomoh were Yehorom and his son Achazyoh. When they died, Asalyoh tried to kill the remainder of the royal family - the brothers of the princes. Consequently, Yo'ash, the sole survivor, was not a descendant of Shlomoh ha'Melech, but of his older brother, Nosson. (All this is a quote from the Book of Pillon. According to this account, Yehoram cananot have been the son of Achazyah, but a distant cousin.)

Yo'ash, who is seven, is crowned King of Yehudah. Asalyah is killed on the orders of Yehoyodoh, the Cohen Godol. Yehoyodoh and Pedoyoh are the Cohanim Gedolim. Zecharyoh ben Yehoyodoh is both a Cohen Godol and a prophet. Yo'ash escaped from the descendants of Dovid who were killed (measure for measure) because Evyosor (son of Achimelech the Cohen Godol) escaped when King Shaul killed Nov the city of Cohanim (in 2883). Dovid was partly blamed for that episode, and if, when Nov was destroyed, Evyosor had not escaped from his descendants, Yo'ash would not have escaped either.

Zecharyoh takes over the Kehunah Gedolah from his father Yehoyodoh.

Yeho'ochoz, son of Yehu, rules over Yisroel for seventeen years.

King Yo'ash strengthens the Beis ha'Mikdosh in the twenty-third year of his reign (155 years after Shlomoh built it).

Hoshei'a ben Be'eiri, from the tribe of Re'uven, is the twelfth in line to transmit Torah to the next generation. He prophesies in the days of Uziyah, Yosam, Ochoz, Chizkiyah - Kings of Yehudah - and Yerov'om the son of Yo'osh - King of Yisroel. The head of Beis-Din is Omotz (the father of the prophet Yeshayah). The Cohen Godol is Tzidkiyohu (no connection with King Tzidkiyohu, who lived many years later).

According to tradition, Hoshei'a died in Bovel. Before his death, he asked to be buried in Eretz Yisroel, but, because the journey was a long and hazardous one, he ordered them to place his body in a coffin after his death, to tie the coffin onto a camel's back and to let the camel take him wherever it fancied. This they did, and the camel took him straight to Tzfas, where he (as well as his father Be'eiri) is buried today.

Yo'osh, son of Yeho'ochoz, rules over Yisroel during the thirty-seventh year of Yeho'osh King of Yehudah. Elisha the prophet dies (he has survived his Rebbe, Eliyohu by fifty-one years). Yehoyodoh the Cohen Godol, his disciple, dies the same year, aged 130.


There are six issues that the Torah orders us to remember. The Mekubolim have said that anyone who verbalises them each day is assured of going to the World to Come. They are:

1. The Exodus from Egypt
"In order that you should remember the day that you left Egypt all the days of your life" (Devorim 16:3).

2. Shabbos
"Remember the day of Shabbos to sanctify it" (Sh'mos 20:8).

3. Ma'amad Har Sinai
"Only beware, and take great care, lest you forget the things that your eyes beheld, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life, and you shall inform your sons and your grandsons about them: the day that you stood before Hashem your G-d at Chorev..." (Devorim 4:9-10)

4. The Sin of the Golden Calf
"Remember, do not forget, how you angered Hashem your G-d in the desert..." (Devorim 9:7).

5. The Sin of Miriam (Loshon ho’Ra)
"Remember what Hashem your G-d did to Miriam on the way when you went out of Egypt" (Devorim 24:9).

6. What Amolek Did
"Remember what Amolek did to you on the way, when you left Egypt. How he 'met you' on the way, and he cut down all those behind you who were weak, and you were tired and weary, and he did not fear G-d. And it will be, when Hashem your G-d gives you rest from all your enemies from around you, on the land which Hashem your G-d gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amolek from under the heaven - don't forget!" (Devorim 25:17-19).

This list appears immediately after Shachris in most siddurim, though the order varies from siddur to siddur. The order that they are cited here is significant in the following way:

1. To remember the Exodus (one of the bases of Torah and Mitzvos, as is evident from the Seder). Through it, one becomes aware of an equally important principle: namely, the creation of the world, which in turn is symbolised by -

2. the Shabbos, which negates evolution and forms the foundation of Faith. The three most important national events that ever took place were the creation, the Exodus from Egypt and

3. the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai.

4. Remembering the sin of the Golden Calf reminds us how bitter it is to deviate from Hashem through sinning to Him. And -

5. remembering the sin of Miriam, how bitter it is to sin against our fellow man.

6. Remembering Amolek, the symbol of evil, and destroying every trace of him will lead to the time when Hashem is one and His Name is one.

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