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

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Vol. 14   No. 26

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refu'ah Shleimah for

Lipa ben Rachel n.y.

Parshas Shemini

From the Haftarah
(Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

The Yoke of Torah

Our sages teach us that David ha'Melech forgot the Torah's injunction to carry the Aron on one's shoulders, because in a Pasuk in Tehilim (119:54), he referred to Hashem's statutes (Torah) as 'songs'. He had the Aron transported on a wagon, and as a result, Uza, one of the Kohanim who accompanied it, was killed. As is well-known, Hashem always punishes Midah k'Neged Midah, and the question arises, what has the punishment here, got to do with the crime? What is the connection between David's forgetting the Halachah of carrying the Aron on one's shoulders on the one hand, and his comparison of Torah to songs, on the other?

The Avnei Azeil explains that someone who wants to acquire Torah in a way that it makes a lasting impression on him, needs to adopt a serious attitude towards Torah. He needs to apply much effort in studying and observing it, and not treat it casually; for so Chazal have taught 'Torah only lasts with someone who "kills himself" over it'. On the other hand, Torah that one acquires without putting any effort into one's learning, has no permanence.

It is necessary to carry the Aron on one's shoulders (and not on a wagon), as a reminder that Torah was given to us to bear as a yoke, and not to be taken lightly.

Albeit as a result of his boundless love for Torah, David ha'Melech referred to Torah and Mitzvos as 'a song', implying that he accepted them lightheartedly, without the feeling that they were a yoke and a serious responsibility.

Now it is easily understandable as to why David's reference to Torah as a song resulted in his forgetting that the Torah must be borne on the shoulders. The two are really one and the same. They are both symbolical of his failure to treat the Torah with the due seriousness that it deserves.


The Difference Between David and Shaul

"And David said to Michal '(I am dancing) before Hashem, Who chose me from your father and from his entire house, to appoint me king over the people of Hashem ".


Why did David find it necessary to insert the words "from your father and from all his house", asks the Ma'ayanah shel Torah?

To answer the question, he cites the Gemara in Yuma (22), which states that Shaul performed one sin and lost the kingship, whereas David performed two and retained it'. What was the sin that caused Shaul to lose the throne? He kept alive the sheep of Amalek, despite orders to destroy Amalek and all that he owned. And why did he do that? Shaul answered the question himself, when he said to Shmuel ha'Navi "because the people took pity on the best of the flocks ... I was afraid of the people, so I listened to their request" (Shmuel 1 15:15).

Shaul lost the kingship because he was afraid of the people and acceded to their request. With that one seemingly minor infraction, he demonstrated that he was unfit to be king. A Jewish ruler (any Jewish leader for that matter) must decide what is right and go ahead with it, irrespective of what the people think or say, particularly when Kavod Shamayim is at stake. His job as king is to lead the people; he must not, under any circumstances, allow the people to lead him!

That is why Shmuel said to him on that occasion "You may well be small in your own eyes: but you are the head of the tribes of Yisrael!"


Michal rebuked her husband David for 'making a fool of himself before the eyes of the people', by prancing wildly in front of the Aron, which he was leading to its new home in Yerushalayim ... not for dancing wildly per se, note, but for 'making a fool of himself in front of the people'. That is why David retorted that Hashem had chosen him "from your father and from his entire house". Her father, he was reminding her, was rejected precisely because he was more concerned about what the people said than about doing what was right.

And if Hashem had chosen him to re-place Shaul, he was intimating, then he would do what was right, irrespective of what the people thought or said. Were he to retract from expressing his joyous feelings at transporting the Aron to its rightful place in Yerushalayim, merely on account of what the people would think, he would be repeating the sin which cost Michal's father the kingdom, whereas Shmuel specifically informed Shaul (Shmuel 1 15:28) that Hashem had torn the kingdom away from Shaul and had given it to his fellow who was better than him.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(adapted mainly from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

Publicizing his Sin

"Take for yourself (Aharon) a calf from the herd for a sin-offering " (9:2).

To make it known that Hashem had atoned for him on the sin of the Golden Calf which he had manufactured, says Rashi.


Chazal explain that the Pasuk prescribes the Shechitah of a Chatas in the same location as that of an Olah, in order to avoid embarrassment on the part of the owner of the former, who is after all, in the process of doing Teshuvah on his sin. In this way, people will think that he is bringing an Olah, and not a Chatas.

This only holds true however, regarding a regular Chatas, but not regarding a Chatas that is brought for having worshipped idols. In that case, the Gemara concludes, one is obligated to publicize one's sin, seeing as embarrassment is an intrinsic part of the atonement.

Our Pasuk is dealing with the first Chatas, indeed the first Korban, to be brought in that location, in which case, the identity of the Chatas was blatantly obvious.

Rashi is coming to explain why G-d ordered Aharon to bring his Chatas openly for all to see, thereby causing him embarrassment. It is, he explains, because it was coming to atone for the Golden Calf, (Avodah-Zarah), and Avodah-Zarah needs to be publicized for the perpetrator to receive his atonement (R. Heschel).


The Leaders Pave the Way

"And atone for yourself and on behalf of the people" (9:2).

The atonement of Aharon, says the K'li Yakar, is tied up with that of the people. Because when the leaders are O.K., then the people are O.K. Whereas a defect in the leaders causes the people to become defected too.


Nadav and Avihu Drank Wine

"And fire came out from Hashem and burned them" (9:22).

According to R. Yehudah, says Rashi, Nadav and Avihu died because they entered the Mishkan after having drunk wine. We need to understand, on the one hand, why they made a point of drinking wine before entering the Mishkan, and on the other, what is wrong with entering the Mishkan after drinking wine.

Chazal have taught that wine (and spices) make a person wise, in that they elevate a person's spirit and enable him to serve Hashem with more devotion. In that case, says the S'fas Emes, there can be no doubt that this was what Nadav and Avihu set out to achieve. If they were about to come close to Hashem, they may as well make the most of the opportunity, and serve him with an elevated spirit.

Yet this is considered a sin, he explains, something which "Hashem did not command them", because the Kohanim, who are Hashem's servants, are expected to reach the highest levels of devotion from within themselves, and not by artificial means.


A Time to Be Happy

Do not let the hair of your heads become long, and do not rent your clothes ... and your brothers, all the house of Yisrael, shall bewail the conflagration that Hashem ignited" (10:6).


Commenting on the Mishnah in B'rachos, which obliges a person to recite a B'rachah over bad that happens, just as he recites one over good, Rashi explains that one must recite the B'rachah over the former with the same joy as the latter. Yet there is a distinct difference between good and bad in this regard, R. Shlomoh Kluger points out. To be sure, he says, the person who experienced the 'bad' as well as the one who experienced the good, must recite the B'rachah with joy. But what sort of reaction are others expected to display? That, he says, is a different story. Whereas a Jew is expected to share in the joy of another, there is certainly no Mitzvah in rejoicing over his misfortune. On the contrary, one is obliged to feel pain at the suffering of a fellow-Jew.

And that, says R. Shlomoh Kluger, is what the Pasuk is teaching us here. Aharon and his sons were not permitted to display any signs of mourning. They were obligated to accept G-d's decree with joy; but the people, that was a different story. They were duty-bound to express their sorrow at the terrible loss that Aharon and his sons had suffered.


The Rosh Chodesh Sin-Offering

"And Aharon spoke to Moshe ... had I eaten the sin-offering today, would it have been good in the eyes of Hashem?" (10:19).

If you heard it (that I must eat the Korban even as an Onein) with regard to momentary Korbanos (the goat of the people and that of Nachshon, both brought on account of the Milu'im), Rashi explains, you cannot also be lenient with regard to regular Korbanos (the Chatas of Rosh Chodesh).

And Moshe? What did he think? Why did he not perceive such an obvious distinction?


The Yehudi ha'Kadosh from P'shischa gives the following explanation: The Gemara in Chulin (60) explains that the goat of Rosh Chodesh comes to atone for Hashem's having diminished the size of the moon at the time of the creation. "Bring an atonement on My behalf, said Hashem, because I made the moon smaller' - Yisrael are compared to the moon, he explains, and the act of diminishing the moon is symbolical of Yisrael going into exile. That is why, when Mashi'ach arrives and Yisrael will leave Galus, 'the light of the moon will be equal to that of the sun', as we say in Kidush Levanah.

The Ari ha'Kadosh states, had Aharon eaten the Chatas of Rosh Chodesh on the eighth day of the Milu'im, then the 'sin' of diminishing the moon would have been atoned for ('the Kohanim eat and the owner [in this case - Hashem] receives his atonement').

Now Moshe Rabeinu was fully aware of this. He therefore believed that Aharon would certainly eat his Chatas. For you see, had he done so, it would have been the last time it would have needed to have been brought, rendering it as much a momentary Korban, as those of the Milu'im, justifying, in retrospect, his having eaten it.

But Aharon, in his extreme humility, did not see how he, of all people, could possibly be worthy of atoning on behalf of Hashem. To his mind therefore, the Chatas Rosh-Chodesh was there to stay, in which case it was not possible to derive a concession to eat it from the momentary Korbanos of the Milu'im. Now however, that Aharon had burned the Korban, Moshe had no choice but to concede retroactively, that Aharon, by virtue of his own choice, was right.


Why is the Kind Stork Not Kosher?

"And the Chasidoh (the stork) ..." (11:19).

Rashi explains that it is called Chasidoh, because it performs kindness with its friends, by sharing its food with them. In that case, asks the Chidushei ha'Rim, why is it listed among the non-kosher birds?

And he answers by pointing out that it only performs kindness with its friends, whereas in keeping with Chazal, who say that one does not examine a person's credentials when it comes to sustenance; one gives, irrespective of whether the recipient is a friend or a foe.


It seems to me however, that one might ask the same question as to why cats are not kosher because they are modest, and ants because they are diligent (two very 'kosher' traits)?

The answer is that these traits are instinctive in the animals concerned, and as such, they are not praiseworthy. By the same token, the fact that the stork is kind is not praiseworthy either.

G-d blessed different animals with different character-traits, so that we should learn from them, not for the animals to receive credit, nor even to render them Kosher.

* * *


'And it was on the eighth day of the anointing of Aharon and his sons, and the eighth day of the inauguration, which was the first of Nisan, Moshe erected the Mishkan but did not dismantle it. He would never serve again on the Mizbei'ach (see Rashi Tzav 8:33); therefore he called Aharon, his sons and the elders of the Sanhedrin of Yisrael' (9:1).


'And he said to Aharon "Take for yourself a calf from the herd for a Chatas (so that the Satan should not speak Lashon-ha'Ra about you, because of the Calf that you made at Chorev); and take also a ram for an Olah (to evoke the merit of Yitzchak, whose father bound him like a ram on the 'Mountain of Avodah'). Both of these shall be without blemish ... " ' (9:2).


' ... Say to the B'nei Yisrael "You shall take a goat from the flock (since the Satan is compared to a goat, to prevent him from speaking Lashon-ha'Ra about you, because of the goat from the herd that the tribes of Ya'akov slaughtered, and then tricked him with it) and bring it as a Chatas; and a calf (because you worshipped the Calf), and a lamb in its first year (to evoke on your behalf the merit of Yitzchak, whose father bound him like a ram). Both pf these shall be without blemish ... " ' (9:3).


'And Moshe said "This is what you shall do: Remove the Evil Inclination from your hearts, and the Divine Shechinah will appear to you immediately' (9:6).


' ... When Aharon saw the Mizbei'ach with its 'horns', resembling a calf, he became afraid to approach it; so Moshe said to him "Control your emotions and approach the Mizbei'ach; don't be afraid and bring your Chatas and your Olah ... " ' (9:7).


'And Aharon went to the Mizbei'ach with alacrity, and he Shechted the calf of a Chatas that was his' (9:8).


' Then he brought the Olah of the people; he took the goat of the Chatas ... , slaughtered it and atoned with its blood, like he atoned with the blood of his calf (see Rashi) which he brought earlier' (9:15).

* * *

(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 103:
The Mitzvah of Burning the Ketores

The Kohanim are commanded to burn the Ketores (the spice-incense) twice each day on the Golden Mizbei'ach, as the Pasuk in Tetzaveh writes (30:7/8) "And Aharon shall burn on it the spice-incense each morning; when he prepares the lamps (of the Menorah) he shall burn it. And when Aharon kindles the lights in the afternoon, he shall burn it". Each year they have a Mitzvah to prepare the Ketores in advance. That preparation and the Mitzvah that is performed with it each day is considered one Mitzvah, because when all's said and done, the ultimate objective is to bring it on the Mizbei'ach - despite the fact that the Torah divides them into two Parshiyos, the preparation, in Ki Sisa (30:34), and the burning, here in Tetzaveh. Nonetheless, the Poskim unanimously reckon them both as one Mitzvah. They do however, argue over another point, since the Rambam counts the morning and the afternoon Ketores as one Mitzvah, whereas according to the Ramban, they are two.

A reason for the Mitzvah is ... (also) to enhance the Kavod of the Beis-Hamikdash, which in turn, is to increase its awe and esteem on the people. It is only possible to make an impression on a person by means of something that he considers great, and which gives him pleasure and joy; and as is well-known, a pleasant aroma benefits the soul, is highly desirable and attracts the person who smells it. And what's more, the smell of the Ketores was as pungent as was possible for a person to fabricate. Indeed, the Mishnah in Tamid (3:8) informs us, the smell of the Ketores that was brought in Yerushalayim could be smelt in Yericho (some forty kilometers from Yerushalayim).

Some Dinim of the Mitzvah ... As we learned in K'riysus (6a) 'Pitum ha'Ketores' consists of eleven spices, four of which are specifically mentioned in the Torah, whereas the remaining seven are a tradition ... The Gemara in Yuma (26a) teaches that both the Kohen Gadol and a Kohen Hedyot are eligible to bring the Ketores, and in Menachos (49a) we have learned that if, for some reason, the Ketores was not brought in the morning, then the full day's quota (of a hundred Dinrim [in weight]) is brought in the afternoon. In general), half of that Shi'ur is brought in the morning, and half, in the afternoon (after the Tamid shel bein ha'Arbayim, before the kindling of the last two lights of the Menorah, but after that of the first five), since the lights of the Menorah were kindled in two separate parts ... This is how the Ketores is brought: The Kohen who obtained the right to perform the Mitzvah takes a vessel (called a 'Teni') heaped full with Ketores. Whoever is in the Heichal at that time is then obligated to leave, and so is anyone in the area between the Ulam and the Mizbei'ach, as the Torah specifically writes in Acharei-Mos (16:17). The Kohen then burns it in the way prescribed by the Gemara - he gently throws the Ketores in to the coals that are on the pan, prostrates himself and leaves the Heichal ... and the remaining details, as to how it is manufactured, and how they would recite 'Heitev hodeik, hodeik heitev', based on Chazal's teaching (Menachos 6b) that the human voice is good for spices that are being ground, are discussed in K'riysus and in Tamid (and in the Rambam, Hilchos T'midin u'Musafin).

This Mitzvah applies to male Kohanim when the Beis-Hamikdash is standing. Any Kohen who burns the Ketores has fulfilled this Mitzvas Asei.

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