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

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Vol. 18   No. 26

This issue is sponsored jointly
in honour of the special birthday of
Rabbi Chaim Wilschanski,shlita
by all his grandchildren
L'iluy Nishmos
Ha'Rav Simchah ben ha'Rav Asher
and Gita bas Bentziyon z.l.
& Chayim Ze'ev ben Yisrael
and B'rachah Miriam bas Moshe Aharon z.l.

Parshas Shemini

Wonders of the Creation
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

As is well-known, G-d created the world out of four basic elements, fire, wind, water and earth, starting from the top (the lightest and most spiritual elements) going down (to the heavier and more physical ones). They are known by their acronym 'Arma' [Eish, Ru'ach, Mayim and Afar], and this is the order in which Shlomoh Hamelech listed them in Mishlei (30:4) - though it is not the order in which they are listed in the second Pasuk of the Creation.

If one examines the Parshiyos of the Kasher and non-Kasher animals, one will see that the Torah presents them according to the elements, but in the reverse order (going upwards - 'Amra' Afar, Mayim, Ru'ach and Eish]), as we shall now explain. Hence the Torah begins with the signs of Kasher animals and beasts ("This is the Chayah that you may eat from all the animals that are on earth, whose basic creation was from earth").

The second Parshah deals with the signs of Kasher and non-Kasher fish ("This you may eat from all that lives in the water"), whereas the third Parshah discusses the Kasher and non-Kasher birds ("And these you shall abhor from the birds", whose major component is air, which explains why they are able to fly).

Whilst the fourth Parshah (that of the Sheratzim [the rodents] all of which are forbidden), contains the only one of G-d's creations that is made of fire, the lightest and least physical of the elements, as we will now explain. The Torah writes "And this is what is forbidden to you among the rodents that crawl on the earth: the weasel, the mouse, and the toad according to their species". "According to their species, Rabeinu Bachye explains, comes to include a salamander, a species of lizard that is created in an oven that has been burning constantly, day and night, for seven years. Should the salamander leave the fire for one moment, he explains, it will die (just as a fish will die if it leaves the water for a very short period of time).


And it is in connection with these wonders that the Sifra quotes Rebbi Akiva, who, upon learning the latter Pasuk, exclaimed 'How great are Your works, oh G-d; all of them You did with wisdom! You created large creatures in the sea and You created large creatures on dry land. If the former were to go up on to dry land, they would die immediately; and if the latter were to enter the sea, then they would die immediately. You created large creatures in fire and You created large creatures in the air. If the former were to fly into the air they would die immediately; and if the latter were to enter the fire then they would die immediately. One cannot but exclaim 'How great are Your works, oh G-d; all of them You did with wisdom!'


And it is for the same reason that the Torah uses the word "Eileh" in connection with both the creatures that were created with wind (11:13 & 11:24) and those that were created from fire (11:31). This is because "Eileh" denotes spirituality, which also explains why it comprises G-d's Name "Elokim" (the 'Yud' and the 'Mem' which conclude it merely denote the plural). And by the same token we find G-d's Name attached to wind ("and a Divine wind was hovering on the surface of the water") and to fire "and a Divine fire fell" (in connection with Iyov's sons) - whereas this never occurs with regard to the two heavier elements water and earth.


Alternatively, the author adds, the use of the word "Eileh" can be attributed to the inherent hint to Avodah-Zarah, since "Eileh Elohecho Yisrael!" are the words the Eirev Rav announced as they began to make the Golden Calf. And so it is that many gentiles worship wind and fire, because they are light and spiritual, and they set out to benefit an abundance of goodness and success in their endeavours on account of it.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

Tearing One's Clothes in Mourning

"And Moshe said to Aharon … (following the death of Nadav and Avihu) 'Do not let your hair grow long and do not rend your garments!' " (10:6).

Why do Chazal learn the Din of tearing k'ri'ah from a Pasuk in Sh'muel (1, 1:11)"and he rent his garments"?, Why do they not rather learn it from this Pasuk, which implies that Aharon and his sons should not tear k'ri'ah, but that others should? Indeed, Rashi makes this very inference with regard to the prohibition of an Aveil cutting his hair, from the words in this very Pasuk "Do not let your hair grow long!"

Citing Rebbi Elyakim, the Riva answers that although they could have learned it from this Pasuk, they preferred to learn it from the Pasuk in Sh'muel, which also teaches us a. that the k'ri'ah should be performed standing and b. that it must measure at least one Tefach.


Precluding the Camel

"Whatever has split hooves at the top (Mafreses Parsah) and at the bottom (ve'Shosa'as Shesa) that you may eat" (11:3).

Rashi explains that this precludes the camel, whose hooves are split at the top but are joined at the bottom.

In that case, asks the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, in the next Pasuk, when the Torah declares the camel Tamei because it is not "Mafris Parsah", it ought rather to have written because it is not "Shosa'as Shesa"?

In similar fashion, he queries Rashi (in Pasuk 27) who explains that the Pasuk " … whatever walks on the soles of its feet is Tamei" is coming to preclude bears, dogs and cats, who walk on the soles of their feet (despite the fact that they are completely split).

In that case, he asks, why does the Torah declare a rabbit and a hare Tamei "because it does not have split hooves (she'Ein Mafrisin Parsah)"? It should rather have attributed the fact that they are Tamei because 'they walk on the soles of their feet'?


It seems to me that whereas Rashi considers walking on the soles of their feet an independent sign of Tum'ah, and that the term "Mafris Parsah ve'Shosa'as Shesa" can also be applied to split soles as well, the Da'as Zekeinim maintains that a Kasher animal must have hooves and that those hooves must be totally split ("Mafris Parsah ve'Shosa'as Shesa"). And any animal that walks on the soles of its feet, is Tamei because it is not included in "Mafris Parsah ve'Shosa'as Shesa", not because walking on its soles is an intrinsic sign of Tum'ah.


Moshe's Humility

"And Moshe heard, and it was good in his eyes" (11:20).

Rashi explains that he was not ashamed to say 'I did not hear this'. The note in Rashi explains that what Rashi means is that he did not say 'Lo shoma'ti', but rather 'shoma'ti ve'shochachti' (I heard it but I forgot).

The Riva explains that for Moshe to have said 'I did not hear it' would not have been anything out of the ordinary, seeing as in the Mishnah in the last Perek of Pirkei Avos, we have learned that one of the seven qualities of a Chacham is to admit that he has not learned something that he has indeed not learned. And if that is something that is expected of every Chacham, then it goes without saying that Moshe Rabeinu adhered to it.

But to admit that he had learned, but forgotten it, when he might well have said that he never learned it, must have been terribly embarrassing for the leader of K'lal Yisrael; yet that is what he did!


Forbidding a Mixture

"And it (eating sheratzim [rodents]) shall be an abomination for you" (11:11).

This comes, says Rashi, to forbid Ta'aroves (a mixture that contains Sheratzim).

But we already know that an Isur that gives taste forbids the mixture in which it is from the Pasuk in Naso (in connection with Nazir) "ve'chol Mishras", so why do we need the current Pasuk to repeat the Isur?

And he suggests that perhaps we need the Pasuk here to fix the Shi'ur (the minimum measurement of rodents that the mixture contains) as a k'Zayis (an olive-volume), since we might otherwise have thought that one is even Chayav if it contains the volume of a lentil (k'adashah [like its Shi'ur Tum'ah]).

In that case, asks the Riva quoting his Rebbe, why do we need to establish the case by a mixture? Why can we not simply say that we need the Pasuk "and it shall be an abomination for you" to teach us that one is only Chayav if one eats a k'Zayis of rodents, but not for a k'Adashah?


The Ostrich and its Daughter

"And the daughter of the ostrich's daughter" (11:16).

The Torah lists the ostrich's daughter among the forbidden birds and not the ostrich itself, explains the Riva, because the flesh of the ostrich, which eats metal (and glass), is hard, and inedible, whereas the flesh of a young female ostrich is tender and edible.


Earthenware Vessels

" … any earthenware vessel, into which some of them (Sheratzim) fall, whatever is inside it shall become Tamei and it you shall break."

An earthenware vessel, Rashi comments, can only become Tamei via its inside (but not by mere contact with something that is Tamei, like other vessels).

The reason for this, says the Rive, is because, unlike metal vessels, it can only be purified by being broken.

Consequently, the Torah had pity on the owner, by limiting the incidence of Tum'ah, by restricting its susceptibility to becoming Tamei. Otherwise, everybody would constantly be breaking their earthenware vessels.

* * *


"And a fire went out … and it consumed them (vatochal osom)" 10:2.

The word "osom", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, has an extra 'Vav', hinting at the six sins of which Nadav and Avihu were guilty: They brought a strange fire; They issued a ruling in the presence of Moshe; They drank wine prior to performing the Avodah; They declined to get married and have children; They had their eye on the leadership ('When will these two old men die, so that we will be able to take over?'); They did not take counsel before acting).


"And Moshe called to Misha'el and Eltzafan … and he said to them "Approach (kirvu [the dead bodies of Nadav and Avihu]) and carry your brothers from before the Holy place … " (10:4).

The word "Kirvu", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, has on it two neginos (notes). This hints he explains, that they were not to actually enter the Heichal (a part of the Mishkan where even Levi'im were forbidden to enter). What they therefore did was to throw iron javelins (attached to ropes) inside, which caught on to their clothes, and drag them out.


"Do not drink wine or intoxicating drinks (Yayin ve'sheichar al teisht)" 10:9.

The words " … ve'sheichar al" is the Notrikun (first letters) of the words 'Ve'im Shosoh K'dei Revi'is (Yayin), Osur Lehoros' (And if one drank a Revi'is (of wine), one is forbidden to issue rulings …)

And "teisht@ is the Notrikun of 'Tefilas Shikor To'eivah!' (The prayers of a drunk are an abomination).


"These are the beasts that you may eat from all the animals that are on the land" (11:2).

To preclude, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, a sea-ox, which is forbidden.


"From their flesh you shall not eat … they are tamei (i.e. forbidden) to you. This you may eat from all that is in the water … " (11:8/9)

The juxtaposition of the two statements hints at the Halachah permitting a sea-donkey to be eaten.


"And these you shall abhor from among the birds - the eagle (es ha'nesher)" 11:13.

The Torah begins the list of the forbidden birds with the eagle, because it is the king of the birds.

Why is it called a 'nesher'? Because it 'drops its plumage (and grows it afresh [from the word noshar - to fall off]), as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (103:5) "And renew your youth like an eagle".


"And every species of raven (ve'eis kol oreiv le'miyno)" 11:15.

"Species of raven", say Chazal, comes to include the starling (zarzer). Sure enough, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, the Gematriyah of "oreiv le'miyno" is equivalent to that of 'zarzer'.


" … and the falcon (ve'es ha'tachmos)" 11:16.

Based on the word "chomas" (to rob), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the tachmos is so-called because it grabs the food from other birds. Since it is the magpie that is known to steal anything from anybody, perhaps, according to the Ba'al ha'Turim, 'tachmos' is a magpie.


"… and the sparrow hawk (ve'es ha'neitz)" Ibid.

The 'Neitz' earns its name, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains a. because of its thick plumage (notzoh) and b. because it vanquishes (menatzei'ach) other birds and seizes them.


"And the desert-owl, the pelican (or cormorant) and the owl (ve'es ha'kos, ve'es ha'sholoch ve'es ha'yanshuf)" 11:18. The "kos" is so-called, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because it is hidden from view (nichseh), since its habitat is in the desert, the sholoch (See Rashi) and the "yanshuf", because it flies at nighttime (neshef).


"The bat, the pelican and the Egyptian vulture (ve'es ha'tinshemes, ve'es ha'ko'os ve'es ho'rocham)" 11:18.

They are so-called, says the Ba'al ha'Turim: the "tinshemes" - because whoever sees it is astounded (yishom, because it is weird-looking and ugly); the "ko'os" - because it vomits ('ko'oh') its food, and the "rocham" because it is particularly kind (rachamim) to its young.

* * *

(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 483:
Not to Work with Kodshim (cont.)

One is permitted to remove the hair from the vicinity of a wound of a B'chor or of Pesulei ha'Mukdashin in order to show it to an expert for examination. That hair however, is forbidden to benefit from even after the animal has been Shechted (assuming the expert passes the wound and gives the go-ahead). This is due to a decree, in case one comes to retain the animal - since it is not subject to atonement. On the other hand, the wool that falls from a sin-offering and a guilt-offering is permitted, because, since they come to atone, the owner is unlikely to retain them. If however, hair is detached from a burned-offering, it is uncertain as to whether it is permitted or not … Animals belonging to Kodshei Bedek ha'Bayis (Kodshim belonging to the Beis-Hamikdash's repair fund) are forbidden mi'de'Rabbanan to shear and to work with, but not min ha'Torah. Consequently, someone who works with them is not subject to Malkos min ha'Torah, though he does receive Makas Mardus (Malkos mi'de'Rabbanan) … If someone declares an unborn fetus Kodshei Mizbei'ach, the Rabbanan forbade working with its mother because working with a fetus' mother weakens the fetus. Consequently, they permitted it to be shorn, since shearing the mother does not affect the fetus … If one declares Hekdesh one of an animal's limbs, it is not certain as to whether the entire animal is forbidden to work with and to shear or not. Consequently, one should not do so, but if one does, one is not subject to Malkos …and all other details of the Mitzvah are discussed in Maseches B'choros. This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to both men and women. Because, although the author already mentioned a number of times that nowadays, one may not declare an animal Hekdesh to go on the Mizbei'ach, or even to Bedek ha'Bayis, nevertheless, if one does, the Hekdesh takes effect on the animal. Somebody who contravenes it, and works with or shears an animal of Kodshim in the way that we described, is subject to Malkos,

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