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

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Vol. 10   No. 19

This issue is sponsored
in honor of the 25th Wedding Anniversary of
Yerachmiel and Rachel Fuchs n.y.
May Hashem bless them with many more happy years together.

Parshas Terumah

An Eved Ivri
(Part II)
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

Should the Eved Ivri wish to extend his six-year term of Avdus, he may, but only after he has his ear pierced to ''the door and to the door-post". The K'li Yakar explains the significance of the door and the door-post. He draws an analogy to a prisoner whose warden left the door of his prison cell unlocked, an open invitation to go free. But the prisoner remained in his cell - simply because he was too lazy to leave. Indeed, Chazal use the same Mashal to describe someone who fails to do Teshuvah during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, when G-d avails Himself to anyone who 'opens his heart a crack no more than the eye of a needle'. And when a person ignores the opportunity to escape the punishment that awaits him in the coming year, he evokes G-d's wrath at his stupidity, in the same way as the prison warden subsequently fumed at the folly of the prisoner for opting to remain in jail when there was nothing to stop him going free.

So it is with the Eved Ivri, who initially serves a mortal instead of Hashem albeit against his will. But then, when he is offered the opportunity to go free, he demonstrates that his love of mundane things overrides his love of freedom.

It is most befitting therefore, that he is pierced by the door and the door-post, because that is where he will find the Pasuk "And you shall Love Hashem your G-d", whilst he declares how much he loves his master, his 'wife' and his 'children'! A man who has the effrontery to switch the Love of Hashem for the love of a Shifchah Cana'anis deserves to be marked on his ear, for everyone to see the extent of his warped priorities.

And besides, the K'li Yakar remarks, a free man has the option of 'frequenting the doors of the Beis-Hamedrash each day, to guard the door-posts of Hashem's entranceways'. Yet this man chooses instead to frequent the doors of his master, and removes his ears from hearing the words of Hashem.


A second reason why the Eved's ear is pierced by the door and the door-post, says the K'li Yakar, is as if to say that due to his misplaced choice, this is where he belongs and this is where he will remain.

And a third reason, he adds, is based on the Gemara in Kidushin (70a). Chazal say there that if someone marries a woman who is forbidden to him, Eliyahu will bend him over, and Hashem will pierce his ear (though Rashi interprets this Gemara differently). Indeed, the source of that Gemara, he says, is the current Pasuk regarding Eved Ivri, who has his ear pierced because of his attachment to his Shifchah Cana'anis wife. It is a disgrace for a Jewish man to defile himself with such a woman, he explains. True, the Torah permitted him to live with her, but after six years, the Torah opens the door to freedom, giving him the opportunity to remove the stigma of living with a slave-girl. If he can then turn round and insist on remaining, because he loves 'his wife', he is no better than the man who married a forbidden woman, who is bent over until his ear touches the door and the doorpost, and his ear is pierced.

For the only limb that experiences the embarrassment of living with a woman who is forbidden to him, is the ear, which hears everybody deriding him, and declaring 'This is your Pasul (flawed) wife and these are your tainted children!'


And finally, the K'li Yakar explains that in reality, the Eved deserves to be smitten in every limb in his body. However, the Torah took pity on him, and ordered him instead to be smitten in one limb. And He chose the one limb that Chazal describe as being equal in value to all the limbs. For so the Gemara in Bava Kama states (85b) 'If one severs the hand of a fellow-Jew, he must pay for the hand; if he blinds his eye, he must Parshah Pearlscompensate him for his eye; but if he deafens him, he is obligated to pay his full value.


Parshah Pearls

Terumah, One Fiftieth

"And they will take for Me Terumah (a separation)" 25:1

Even though the word Terumah appears to be a borrowed term, the Ba'al ha'Turim actually links the concept of the real Terumah (the small fraction of one's crops that one gives to the Kohen) to the Mishkan. He points out that just as the Chachamim fixed Terumah at one fiftieth, so too, was the Courtyard of the Mishkan (which measured a hundred by fifty Amos) one fiftieth of the Har ha'Bayis of the Beis Hamikdash (which will measure five hundred by five hundred Amos).

In addition, he finds hints for many of the Dinim of Terumah, because, as we know, everything is hinted in the Torah, including all the Mitzvos and Minhagim instituted by the Sages).

The Torah juxtaposes the opening phrase "and they shall take for Me Terumah" to the last word in the previous Parshah "laylah (night)", hinting at the Halachah cited in the first Mishnah in Shas. The Tana records there that, even after having toveled in a Mikveh, it is only after nightfall that a Tamei Kohen is permitted to eat Terumah.

The numerical value of "li" (in the opening phrase "ve'yikchu li Terumah") is forty, that of "kol" (in the following phrase "me'es kol ish"), fifty, whereas the first letters of "me'es kol" ('Mem' and 'Kaf') add up to sixty. For so Chazal have said 'A generous person gives a fortieth to the Kohen, an average person, a fiftieth and a miserly one, a sixtieth (as you can see, all three are hinted in the Torah).

And the numerical value of " ... el B'nei Yisrael ve'yikchu li Terumah" is equivalent to that of 'Ach B'nei Yisrael yiheyu tormin, lo ha'Goyim' (only Jews may separate Terumah, but not gentiles - conforming with another halachah in Hilchos Terumah).



"Tikchu es Terumosi" (ibid.).

The Torah writes "tikchu" ('you shall take', in the plural, rather than "tikach" (in the singular, which is the form with which the Pasuk began ["Daber el B'nei Yisrael ... "]).

This is a hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Tzedakah collections require two people (because people will suspect one collector of dishonest practices).


The Angel Gavriel

"Like all which I show you, the shape of the Mishkan ..." (25:9).

Who was the Sheli'ach that taught Moshe how the Mishkan and all its vessels looked?

The numerical value of "mar'eh (show)" is equivalent to that of 'Gavri'el', says the Ba'al ha'Turim. Gavriel wore a leather belt, he says, as he taught Moshe exactly how the Mishkan and each of its vessels had to look.


The Aron Was Different

"ve'Osu Aron ... " (25:10).

By all of the holy vessels the Torah writes "ve'osiso" ('And you shall make'). The sole exception being the Aron, where it writes "ve'Osu" ('and they shall make').

This is because when Shlomoh Hamelech built the Beis-Hamikdash, he made replicas of all the vessels - except for the Aron, says the Ba'al ha'Turim.

Rabeinu Bachye citing a Medrash, answers the question differently. He explains that the Torah changes from 'you' to 'they', because it wanted everyone to participate in the construction of the Aron (some by donating, others by assisting in the work, and others, with their thoughts - Ramban).


The Or ha'Chayim associates this phrase with Torah in general, which requires the participation of all segments of the community to play their part for its total fulfillment. Some Mitzvos pertain to Kohanim, some to Levi'im and others to Yisre'elim.

And perhaps this is hinted in the three Crowns, as the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos informs us. The Crown of Kehunah is designated for the sons of Aharon, the Crown of sovereignty, for Yehudah, but the Crown of Torah is available to whoever wants to wear it. Hence the Torah switches from "you" (in the singular) to "they".


The Crown of Torah

The numerical value of ''Aron" is 'Nezer' (crown), points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, because the crown of Torah rises above the other crowns (see previous vort). And it is for the same reason, he explains, that by the Shulchan, the Torah writes "and you shall make for it ('ve'osiso lo'), but by the Aron (after the opening phrase "and they shall make") it writes "and you shall make on it" ('ve'osiso olov', with connotations of elevation) a golden Crown.


Broken Measurements

" ... two and a half Amos its length, one and a half Amos its width and one and a half Amos its height" (25:10).

Notice how all the Aron's measurements are broken (halves). To teach us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that a person who studies Torah must break himself and feel humble before the Omnipresent G-d whose Torah he is studying.

According to others, it is a reminder that however much one studies Torah, one can never learn more than part of it, for it is "longer than the earth and wider than the sea".

An earthenware vessel that is Tamei, Chazal have said, becomes Tahor when it is broken. And what is man, if not an earthenware vessel?


The Mishkan and the Creation

Ten Parshiyos in Terumah begin with 'Asiyah' (construction), corresponding to the ten commands that G-d used to create the world (Ba'al ha'Turim).

In fact, Rabeinu Bachye draws many comparisons between the two.


Inside and Outside

" ... pure gold on the inside and on the outside" (25:11).

The numerical value of the letters "zoho v tohor mi'bayis u'michutz" is equivalent to that of 'Hinei he'chacham yiheyeh tocho ke'baro' (behold the inside of a Talmid-Chacham should be like his outside'), as indeed Chazal, based on these words, have taught.

This means that someone who studies Torah is expected to attain such a level of integrity that he will do nothing in private that he would not do in public. This is the hallmark of a genuine Talmid Chochom, says the Gemara.



The Amidah
(based mainly on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
(Part XXXIV)

The B'rachah of Retzei (cont.)

u'Sehi le'Rotzon Tomid ...

In any event, the Iyun Tefilah explains, we ask Hashem to accept our Avodah with goodwill always, both at the time when the Beis-Hamikdash stands (when the Avodah comprises sacrifices), and nowadays (when it refers to Tefilah, which replaces them).


ve'Se'erav Alecho Asiroseinu ...

The Tikun Tefilah includes this piece in the daily Amidah, concluding 'she'oscho levadcho be'yir'oh na'avod', though it is customary nowadays to recite it exclusively on Yom-tov at Musaf.


The Iyun Tefilah cites the Gemara in Sukah. The Gemara (14a) explains that the Tefilah of Tzadikim is referred to as 'Asirah', from the word 'osor' (a pitchfork). A pitchfork turns over the hay, moving the hay that is on the top to the bottom, and the hay that is at the bottom to the top. Likewise, the Tefilah of Tzadikim turns the Midas ha'Din into Rachamim (moving Din to the bottom and Rachamim to the top, as it were).

So we ask Hashem to treat our Tefilos like the Tefilos of the Tzadikim, that they should appear pleasant in His Eyes ...


ke'Olah u'che'Korban

... Like the Olas Tamid (the daily communal burnt-offering) and the Musaf-offering, explains the Iyun Tefilah. Chazal have taught us that the Tamid of the morning had the effect of atoning for the sins that K'lal Yisrael had performed the preceding night, and the Tamid of the evening did the same with their sins of the preceding day. That way, the community was always in the clear. This enhances the reason that we just gave for referring to our Tefilos here as 'Asiroseinu', for we are now praying that our Tefilos, like the Korban Todah, should transform the Midas ha'Din into Midas Rachamim, each morning and each evening.

The Dover Shalom however, explains 'Olah' and 'Korban' in a different light. The 'Olah', which was completely burnt, represents Yisrael's spiritual needs, which begin and end for the sake of Hashem; and the 'Korban', other sacrifices which were partly eaten by the Kohen or by the owner, represents their physical needs, which begin initially as personal ones, but which are ultimately used in the service of Hashem too.


Hosheiv Shechinoscho le'Tziyon Irecho ...

Tziyon it seems, refers to the Divine connotation of G-d's holy city, and Yerushalayim to the physical one. So we ask that Hashem return His Shechinah to Tziyon, so that we should be able to serve Him there in awe



As we explained, we recite this Tefilah only when the Kohanim Duchen at Musaf (though this is probably based on the Minhag of Chutz la'Aretz, the prevalent Minhag until recent times, where Duchening is confined to Musaf of Yom-tov). The Iyun Tefilah ascribes this to the fact that just like Tefilah has the power to turn the Midas ha'Din to Rachamim (as he explained earlier), so too, does Birchas Kohanim. Indeed, the Yerushalmi in Sotah explains that it is Birchas Kohanim that serves as the antidote to G-d's moment of anger each day (expressed in the Pasuk in Tehilim "ve'Keil zo'em be'chol yom ). This too, conforms with the 'pitchfork' effect of which we spoke earlier, by virtue of the fact that like the Korban Tomid, Birchas Kohanim transforms the Midas ha'Din into Midas Rachamim.


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