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Vol. 3/No. 20
Double Purim Issue
The Gemoro in Erchin (16a) cites three different forms of atonement for loshon ho'ra: 1. Tzora'as (a Divine plague which affects the skin or hair, the clothes or the house); 2. The Ketores (bi-daily incense-offering); and 3. The Me'il (the cloak worn by the Cohen Godol). To resolve this seeming inconsistency, the Gemoro divides loshon ho'ra into three categories: 1. There where the loshon ho'ra is effective; 2. where it is ineffective and is spoken privately, and 3. where it is spoken publicly. Consequently, tzora'as serves as a kaporoh for effective loshon ho'ra, the Ketores for private loshon ho'ra, and the Me'il for loshon ho'ra that is spoken publicly (both of the latter when they are ineffective). The Gemoro, commenting on the latter atonement, adds: "Let something which makes a noise (the Me'il, which had 72 bells attached to its hem) come and atone for a 'noisy' act".
The Chofetz Chayim further explains that the cloak was made entirely of "techeiles" (dark blue wool), because that colour is reminiscent of the sea and the sky, and ultimately reminds one of Hashem's Throne of Glory. The Tanno de'bei Eliyohu writes that the words of loshon ho'ra come before Hashem's Throne (thus stressing the severity of loshon ho'ra and insinuating that loshon ho'ra begs for immediate attention from G-d Himself). Presumably, the Chofetz Chayim adds, the Cohen Godol will remember what he is wearing and reflect on the significance of the Me'il - and this will prompt him to guard his own tongue from speaking evil - presumably so too will those who see him, and even those who merely learn about him. "And the mouth of its top shall be folded inside" (28:32). This comes to teach us how a person should keep his words inside - as the Gemoro states: (Chulin 89a) "The world exists on the merit of one who "clamps his mouth shut at the time of argument". He controls his speech, even at a time when he is sorely aggravated and feels the urge to respond to the insults being hurled at him.
"There should be a rim around its mouth, the work of a weaver". He should imagine, explains the Chofetz Chayim, that his lips are woven tightly shut and he is unable to open them.
"Like the mouth of a suit of armour - so that it should not tear". It was customary, writes Rashi, to reinforce suits of armour at the neck, so that they should not tear. This is a hint, says the Chofetz Chayim, that guarding one's tongue acts as a shield against verbal attack, much in the same way as a suit of armour protects the wearer from the attackers' onslaught, as indeed, it protects the wearer from the attackers' arrows - evil words are compared to arrows, as we find in Yirmiyohu (9:7), "Their tongue is a sharpened arrow". This is simply because, if one does respond, the heat of dispute is intensified and the consequences are far more severe.
The pomegranates and the bells on the hem of the Me'il represent the voice of Torah (the antidote to and the atonement of, loshon ho'ra) and the pomegranates the ability to be silent, to conform with the Gemoro in Chullin (89a), where Chazal say "What is man's profession in this world? To make himself dumb. Perhaps this also applies to learning Torah? But the Torah says "Speak righteous words".
From here we see that whenever a person has spare time, he should talk divrei-Torah, not sit idle. If he is unable to study Torah, then he should sit idle, like a dumb man who cannot open his mouth. All this is hinted in the bells and the pomegranates that bedecked the hem of the Me'il, the noise of the bells, symbolising the voice of Torah, and the silent pomegranates, the need to desist from speaking devorim be'teilim, like someone who is dumb. If the message of the Me'il gets through, then one can be rest assured that "his voice will be heard when he comes to the Holy" concludes the Chofetz Chayim. His voice of Torah, untainted by the filth of loshon ho'ra, will reach its destination and will be accepted by G-d.
TETZAVEH - TERUMAH
The Rashbam, quoting Chazal, writes that whenever the Torah uses a derivative of "tzav", it is referring to an ongoing mitzvah (see the first Rashi in Parshas Tzav).
In last week's Parshah, the Torah referred throughout, to the construction of the Mishkon, a once-only mitzvah. Therefore, it avoids using the term "tzav".
Having finished with the actual construction, the Torah opens this week's Parshah with the words"Ve'atto tetzaveh". The oil for the light (unlike the annointing oil), was not a once-only mitzvah, explains the Rashbam, but one that would have to be repeated regularly. Therefore this term is appropriate.
Throughout the Parshah of Terumah, the Torah writes "Ve'osiso" - "and you shall do" or "make". The Seforno points out that it was obviously not Moshe Rabeinu himself who had to manufacture the Mishkon and the "Holy vessels". What the Torah means, he says, is that Moshe had to see to it that the workers got on with the job. (In fact, it is not at all clear why the Torah uses the second person at all, since it was Betzal'el who was designated as chief architect of the Mishkon, and not Moshe). In any event, writes the Seforno, it is clearly in an impersonal capacity that Moshe was told to make the Mishkon and its accessories.
Therefore the Torah opens this week's Parshah with three mitzvos that were different, and to demonstrate this point, it uses the word "Ve'atto" three times. 1. "And you shall command the B'nei Yisroel and they shall bring to you pure olive oil." 2. "And you shall draw near to you Aharon etc., and his sons" etc. "to serve Me as priests" etc. 3. "And you shall speak to all the wise-hearted men" etc. "and they shall make Aharon's garment" etc. The Torah is stressing that Moshe Rabeinu was personally responsible for instructing Yisroel how to make the olive oil. The Ramban, who learns like the Seforno, adds that Moshe had to ensure that they brought the ready-made oil to him to verify that it was indeed "pure" and "beaten" as specified. He was also personally responsible for initiating Aharon as Cohen Godol and his sons as Cohanim and to speak to the wise-hearted men and instruct them about the manufacture of the "bigdei Kehunah".
The Ohr Ha'cha'im Ha'Kodosh explains that the Torah uses the word "Ve'atto", attaching Moshe's name to the above three mitzvos because it wishes to boost Moshe's esteem in these three very important issues: 1. The donating of the materials for the Mishkon, (therefore the Torah writes "And they shall bring to you" - as if it was to you they were donating); 2. The manufacture of the Mishkon and the "bigdei Kehunah" (therefore it writes "And you shall speak" etc. - as if they were merely working for you). 3. The "avodah" in the Mishkon (therefore the Torah writes "And you shall draw Aharon near to you" etc. - as if Aharon and his sons were coming to serve Moshe). In the Parshah of Terumah, Moshe took no part in the actual construction of the Mishkon and one may have been led to believe that he was not in fact involved. The Torah therefore, makes a point of beginning the Parshah of Tetzaveh by stressing that not only was Moshe Rabeinu involved, but that the entire Mishkon, in all its aspects, was ascribed to him. It is as if he had built it and as if it had been built for him.
The Torah has concluded the Mishkon. It is only natural to then deal with the lights, in the same way as the first thing that one does upon completing a house is to install the lighting.
This can be understood in the spiritual sense, as well as in the physical. As soon as the structure is standing, it is only proper to illuminate it - to fill it with spirituality. (To understand the link between physical light and spiritual light, refer to the two morning brochos before Kriy'as Shema.)
The precendent for this is to be found at the creation, where G-d created man and immediately He breathed into him a Soul of life - and "the Soul of man is the lamp of G-d" (Mishlei 20:27).
GEMS FROM THE MEGlLLAH
(adapted from the Gro)
The Three Pesukim
It was just after Homon's letters of destruction had been sealed that Mordechai spotted three Jewish children coming out of school. He ran after them and asked them "their possuk" - i.e. the possuk they had learnt that day. The first child replied "Do not be afraid of a sudden fear, or of the holocaust of the wicked when it comes" (Mishlei 3:25). The second child quoted the possuk "Make plans but they will be foiled, speak your words but they will not materialise" (Yesha'yah 8:10).
The third child cited the possuk "Up until old-age I am He, and until advanced years I will bear" etc., "I will bear and I will save" (ibid. 46:4).
When Mordechai heard that, he laughed and was extremely happy.
The Gro explains the significance of the three pesukim, together with Mordechai's reaction, like this: we find that on three separate occasions Amolek attacked Yisroel: 1. in Parshas Beshalach, where the Torah writes, "And Amolek came, and he fought with Yisroel in Reffidim (Sh'mos 17:8).
2. in Parshas Chukas, immediately after Aharon's death, where the Torah writes (Ba'midbor 21:1) "And the Cana'ani King of Arod, who dwelt in the south, heard that Yisroel was coming by way of the spies, and he fought with Yisroel" - and Rashi explains there that "who dwelt in the south" refers to Amolek, who changed his language to speak Cana'ani, in order that Yisroel should daven to Hashem to deliver the Cana'anim into their hands. But of course, the Amolekim were not really Cana'anim, so Yisroel's prayers would have remained unanswered. However, Yisroel were not deceived; they saw the enemy dressed like Amolekim, and speaking like Cana'anim, so they davened to Hashem, asking Him to "deliver this people (whoever they may be) into their hands" - and to that prayer, Hashem was able to respond favourably.
3. Homon himself, who was a direct descendant of Amolek. And it was to those three occasions that the children hinted with their minor prophesies. The first child mentioned a sudden fear, an obvious reference to the attack mentioned in Beshalach, where the Medrash points out how Amolek travelled a huge distance overnight, in order to catch Yisroel by surprise - but Hashem saved us from his clutches.
The second child, who spoke of a plot, clearly referred to Amolek's scheme to trick Yisroel by changing their language - there too, did Hashem save us.
The third child, who talked about Hashem's capabilities even in old age, can only have been referring to the Ma'amar Chazal which describe the dialogue that took place between Achashveirosh and Homon (see Megillah 13b). When Achashveirosh expressed fear of G-d's retaliation for destroying His people, Homon countered with the argument that there was nothing to fear. G-d may well have punished Par'oh and Sisro for abusing His people, but that had all happened a long time ago. In the meantime, He had become too old to take retaliatory action.
There, Hashem responded with the possuk "Up until old age", etc. "I will bear and I will save." Mordechai was now convinced that, just as Hashem had saved Klal Yisroel on the previous occasions, so too, would he save them now. Little wonder he was happy.
Homon Dun It!
"And the King arose in his anger . . . And the King returned from the tree-garden" (Megillas Esther 7:7-8). Chazal comment that he returned from the tree-garden, his anger unabated. Why? Because in the garden he came upon angels, in the guise of men, cutting down fruit-trees. They explained how they were merely carrying out Homon's instructions. The Gro ascribes this rather strange scenario to the fabrications that Homon concocted about Klal Yisroel, in the discussion with Achashveirosh which resulted in Achashveirosh granting him permission to destroy the Jewish people. So Hashem responded, midoh ke'neged midoh, by creating a fabrication of His own, thereby causing Homon to fall foul of the King, and precipitating his death, which followed almost immediately.
Taken figuratively, one could also see the angels' statement as being the truth. The trees that Homon had ordered to be cut down might well have symbolised the Jewish people, whom Homon had ordered to be killed. After all, does the Torah not compare people to trees (Devorim 20:19), and Dovid Ha'melech tzadikim to date-palms and to cedars (Tehillim 92:13-14)?
Kiymu Ve'kiblu ha'Yehudim
"The Jews accepted and they undertook" (ibid 9:27). The Gemoro in Megillah (7a) writes that Megillas Esther was written with Ruach Ha'kodesh, and the Tannoim bring various proofs for this. Shmuel, who was an Amoro, then states that his proof is better than theirs and he quotes our possuk. "They accepted in Heaven," he explains "what they undertook on earth." And Rovo then goes on to corroborate Shmuel's words. The only proof that is flawless, he maintains, is indeed that of Shmuel. But how can that be, asks Tosfos? The Gemoro in Shabbos (88a) uses the very same possuk to prove that, although Yisroel were "anusim" on the Kabbolus Ha'Torah at Har Sinai, where Hakodosh Boruch Hu "forced them" to accept the Torah by holding the mountain over their heads (see Rashi Sh'mos 19:17), they accepted it willingly in the days of Achashveirosh. "They established what they had already accepted." And it is generally assumed that Chazal do not derive two ideas from the same words in a possuk.
Now the words "They accepted (or established) what they undertook" - "Kiymu ve'kiblu (ha'Yehudim)" are a kri k'siv. The word "ve'kiblu" is read in the plural, but it is written in the singular "ve'kibeil". Consequently, we can explain both Gemoros to be correct, since one derives from the "kri", and the other from the k'siv."
Shmuel derives his proof from the "kri" - "They (the Beis-din shel Ma'aloh) accepted what they (Yisroel) had undertaken". Whereas the Gemoro in Shabbos is referring to the "k'siv" - "They (Yisroel) established what he (Moshe Rabeinu) had already accepted (at Har Sinai)."
The proof for this lies in a slight, subtle change of wording that Chazal make from the Gemoro in Megillah to the Gemoro in Shabbos. Whereas in the former, the Gemoro writes "as it is said, "Kiymu ve'kiblu", in the latter it writes "as it is written, Kiymu ve'kibeil".
(Kitzur Shulchan Oruch, Si'mon 141)
M.B.=Mishnah B'rurah M.H.=Misgeres Ha'shulchan Continued from last week
14. To Hear the Megillah in Shul The ideal mitzvah is to hear the Megillah in shul where there are many people, since "the more people present, the more the King is honoured". One should at least hear it with a minyan, and if this is not possible, then each individual should read it from a kosher Megillah with the relevant b'rochos beforehand. However, if only one person is conversant with the reading, then he should read and the others should listen and be yotze with his reading, even though there are not ten people present. In any event, the b'rochoh after the reading of the Megillah one only recites with a minyan, although an individual may, if he wishes, say it without the Name of Hashem and Malchus (i.e. "Boruch ho'rov, es riveinu", etc.).
15.The Megillah - A letter The universally accepted minhag is for the ba'al korei to lein not from a rolled Megillah, but to open it out like a letter, since the Megillah is referred to as "this letter of Purim", and to fold it page on page (since the bimah is not large enough to accommodate the open Megillah without it hanging disrespectfully over the side - M.H.) (The part that has been leined from, may be rolled in the conventional manner.) The listeners do not need to roll their Megillahs, even if they are kosher. (The M.B. believes that also the listeners have the minhag to open the Megillah, but that is not the prevailing minhag.)
16. The B'rochos over the Megillah The one who leins the Megillah both by day and by night must first recite three b'rochos: 1. "Al mikro Megillah"; 2. "She'osoh nissim"; 3. "Shehechiyonu". After the reading, one re-rolls the Megillah, places it in front of him and recites the b'rochoh "ho'rov es riveinu", etc. If an oveil is leining, someone else should recite the b'rochos, since an oveil does not recite "Shehecheyonu". (The Aderes maintains that this is a mistake, since on Purim the ba'al korei is also reading for himself, in which case there is no reason for him not to recite "Shehecheyonu", as opposed to the one who kindles the Menorah in shul on Chanukah, from which the above din is apparently derived.) (The M.B. writes that an oveil in the first year for his parents should only read the Megillah if there is no-one else present who is competent to read it.)
17. To Cover the Other Mitzvos When reciting "Shehecheyonu" by day, one should also have in mind the other mitzvos of the day, i.e. "sh'lach monos" (gifts to the poor) and "the Purim se'udah". The ba'al korei too, should have in mind to render the community yotze with these mitzvos.
18. For Everyone to be Yotze The ba'al korei must have in mind to render yotze all those who are listening. In addition, the listeners should have in mind to be yotze and must hear every word. Should they miss one word, they will not be yotze. The ba'al korei must therefore take great care to be silent whilst the children are banging Homon, and to wait for the noise to subside completely before continuing. Nevertheless, it is wise for everyone to have their own kosher Megillah, in order to read quietly, word for word, together with the ba'al korei, just in case one misses a word or two. (If one doesn't have a kosher Megillah, then he should at least follow in a printed text, in order to read from it any words that he fails to hear, and he is yotze "be'di'eved". (In fact, be'di'eved, one is even yotze if one recites the missing words by heart - see M.H. 10.)
19. For the Women to be Yotze Also regarding the wise-hearted women who stand in the women's gallery, how nice it would be if they too, could have a kosher Megillah from which to read, particularly because there, it is difficult to hear, and a woman's obligation to hear the Megillah is equivalent to the man's.
20. Kiddush Le'vonoh If they have not yet recited Kiddush Levonoh, and the new moon is seen during the reading of the Megillah then, if they have not yet begun to read the Megillah, they should make Kiddush Levonoh before reading the Megillah. But if it appeared in the middle of the leining then, provided there will still be time to make Kiddush Levonoh after the leining, one should not interrupt the Megillah, but recite it afterwards. However, if the deadline for Kiddush Levonoh falls due during the leining, then one should stop the Megillah for Kiddush Levonoh and continue with the Megillah afterwards. However, if it is only an individual who has not yet made Kiddush Levonoh, which means that were he to interrupt the Megillah for Kiddush Levonoh, he would have to conclude the reading of the Megillah on his own, then he should not interrupt the Megillah, since "Pirsumei nisso" takes precedence over Kiddush Levonoh.
21. Reading the Ten Sons of Homon The ba'al korei should read the ten sons of Homon as well as the following word "aseres" in one breath, to tell us that they were all hanged at the same time. The minhag is to include the three previous words "chameish me'os ish". However, even if one breathed in the middle, he is yotze "be'di'eved". The minhag that some communities have for the whole community to read them in one breath is not correct, but the ba'al korei exclusively should say them and everyone else should listen, like the rest of the Megillah. (However nowadays, it is universally accepted that the community reads them first, after which they listen to the ba'al korei reading them, as in para. 23.)
22. On That Night When the ba'al korei reads the words "Ba'laylo hahu" he should raise his voice, since it is at that point that the principal part of the miracle begins. And when he says the words "ho'igeres ha'zos", he should shake the Megillah.
23. To Follow in a Possul Megillah A listener who has in front of him a possul Megillah or a Chumash, should not read with the ba'al korei, because then he will be unable to concentrate on hearing it from the ba'al korei (and he will not have heard the Megillah from a kosher Megillah). And besides, perhaps someone else will overhear him and concentrate on his reading, rather than on that of the ba'al korei. Similarly, nobody may assist the ba'al korei by heart. Consequently, the four pesukim of redemption which the community reads aloud, must be re-read by the ba'al korei from his kosher Megillah.
24. To Read for Someone Else Someone who has already fulfilled the mitzvah of Megillah and wishes to read for someone who has not; if the listener knows himself how to recite the b'rochos, then he should do so. The minhag is however, that the reader recites the b'rochos on behalf of the listener, even if it is a man who can recite them himself - M.B. But if the listener is a woman, then it is better that the reader recites the b'rochos, in which case, he changes the text of the first b'rochoh to "lishmo'a Megillah" instead of "al mikro Megillah". (The M.B. quotes the text as "lishmo'a mikro Megillah".) (M.H. - This is because some say that women are not obliged to read the Megillah, but to hear it [whereas with men, the mitzvah is to read it] - the Be'hag, and others. - On behalf of women, one should read after shul, rather than miss the reading in shul, since the reader himself should preferably fulfil his mitzvah within a community - see above, para. 14. (There appears to be no reason as to why this din should not apply equally to someone who reads on behalf of men.)
25. Handling the Megillah on Shabbos On Shabbos (which is not Purim - according to the M.B., even when it is Purim - today this can only happen in a walled city such as Yerusholayim, which celebrates Purim on the 15th Ador) it is permitted to handle the Megillah. However, when Purim falls on Sunday, it is forbidden to bring the Megillah to shul on Shabbos (even where there is an eiruv which permits one to carry), because one may not prepare on Shabbos for after Shabbos.
26. If There is No Ba'al Korei If a community has no ba'al korei to read the Megillah, someone should read without the notes, provided he reads the words correctly, without changing the meaning of the subject-matter. If, for example, one were to read instead of "U'Mordechai yoshev" ("and Mordechai was sitting") "U'Mordechai yoshav" ("and Mordechai sat") or instead of "ve'Homon nofel") ("and Homon was falling") "ve'Homon nofal" ("and Homon fell"), then even "be'di'eved" one will not be yotze (and he must re-read the Megillah without a b'rochoh - M.B.). Under such pressing circumstances, one may even insert vowels and notes in the Megillah and, in any event, this is certainly better than for someone to quietly prompt the ba'al korei by reading from the Chumash.
27. If There is No Megillah A community which has no kosher Megillah: if they have a Megillah written on parchment in the correct manner, only it has words missing in the middle, then as long as it is not missing a complete topic, they may lein from it with the b'rochos, and the missing parts the ba'al korei should read orally, or someone should prompt him from a Chumash. But if they have no kosher Megillah at all, or a complete topic is missing, or a few letters at the beginning or at the end of the Megillah are missing, then the Megillah is possul - and they should read from a Chumash without reciting the b'rochos. In that case, each person should read for himself in memory of the miracle, not in order to fulfil the mitzvah. (According to the M.B., if a few words at the beginning or at the end of the Megillah are missing, the Megillah is nevertheless kosher - even if a whole possuk is missing, he is not sure as to what the din should be, but writes that perhaps one ought to be strict in this latter case and invalidate the Megillah. The M.H. writes that if more than half the letters are missing, badly smudged or broken, then it is also possul. It is preferable to use a Megillah written on parchment, etc., even if it is possul, than to read from a Chumash.
28. A Mourner on Purim An "oveil" during the first seven days, must keep all the dinim of aveilus, and he is prohibited even from watching all kinds of rejoicing. (Some permit this however. Therefore, he should see to minimise and, in any event, not to participate in the current simchah - M.B.) However, he should not take off his shoes, nor should he sit on a low stool, because these are things which are seen by the public (and public mourning is forbidden on any Yom-tov. (Also in other areas that would be termed public mourning, many Acharonim write that an oveil may take a lenient line, and that is the prevalent minhag in these countries. He should not however, leave the house for something which is not a mitzvah.)
29. An Onen on Purim (contd.) In the morning, when shul has terminated, he should bury his deceased relative, and then daven and lein the Megillah or hear it from someone else. (This din also applies at night-time, there where the minhag is to bury at night - M.B.) If he heard the Megillah before the burial, he is yotze, though he should preferably read it over again without the b'rochos (according to the M.B., this is imperative). He should not wear Tefillin even after the burial, since it is his first day of mourning. An "onen" on the day of Purim may eat meat and drink wine. Although he does not normally recite the b'rochos, he does in fact recite the relevant b'rochos over the se'udah, since this se'udah is obligatory; he is therefore permitted to make the appropriate b'rochos over the food and over the wine - M.H. quoting the Chochmas Odom.
32. Shachris on Purim In the morning, one rises early for davening (Purim is one of the five days on which davening should begin a little earlier than usual: i.e. Rosh Hashonoh, Yom Kippur, Ho'sha'ano Rabbo, Purim and Tish'oh Be'Av). After the Shemoneh-esrei one recites half-Kaddish and calls up three men in Parshas Be'shalach ("Va'yovo Amolek) - Half-Kaddish as usual, one returns the Seifer-Torah and reads the Megillah. After the final b'rochoh, one does not say "asher heini", as on the previous night (since one has already said piyutim during davening - M.H. quoting the Mogen Avrohom). After the conclusion of the b'rochoh "ho'Keil ha'Moshia", one says "Shoshanas Ya'akov", etc., followed by Ashrei, U'vo le'Tziyon and Kaddish-tiskabeil. One does not remove one's Tefillin until after the reading of the Megillah, because in the Megillah it mentions "vi'yekor" (and glory), which Chazal interpret as referring to Tefillin.
33. A Bris on Purim If there is a bris, this should be performed before the reading of the Megillah, because in the Megillah it mentions "ve'soson" which Chazal interpret as referring to the bris miloh. (To read about a certain mitzvah whilst not practising it is akin to false testimony - as Chazal have taught us with regard to reading the Shema in the morning without Tefillin.)
34. A Walled City A town which was surrounded by a wall in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun should read the Megillah on the 15th Ador.
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