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

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Vol. 10   No. 20

This issue is sponsored in honor of Klal Yisrael.
May Hashem continue to spread
His wings of protection over them.

Parshas Tetzaveh

The Ketores

The Preparation
(Based largely on 'The Living Torah')

The Ketores (the Incense [which was not allowed to be duplicated]), comprised eleven major ingredients, four of which are specified by the Torah (Notof [balsam], Shecheiles [onycha], Chelbenah [gelbanum] and Levonah Zakah [pure frankincense]). The other seven ingredients (Mor [myrrh], Ketzi'ah [cassia], Shiboles Nard [spikanard], Karkom [saffron], Kash't [kustus], Kinmon [cinnamon] and Kinmon Bosem [cinnamon bark]) were handed down by tradition. They would prepare in advance, the requirement for the entire year, a total weight of three hundred and sixty-eight Manim (one Manah = a hundred Dinrim = five pounds [approx two and a half kg.]), one Manah per day, fifty Dinrim in the morning and fifty, in the afternoon. One Manah was to be brought daily, the extra three Manah, which was refined many times on Erev Yom-Kipur, was taken by the Kohen Gadol into the Kodesh Kodshim on Yom Kipur.

The amounts of the respective ingredients varied. In fact, the first four each consisted of 70 Manah, the second four - 16, Kasht - 12, Kinmon - 9 and Kinmon Bosem - 3 Manim.

In addition, a small measure (a quarter-Kav [one Kav = a quart]) of Sodom salt (nitrate) and small amounts of Ma'aleh Ashan (which, as its name suggests, caused the smoke to rise vertically), and Kippas ha'Yarden (probably cyclamen) were added. And besides this, nine Kabin of Boris Karshinah (vetch lye) and three and half Kabin of Caper wine (or white wine) were used to prepare the Tziporen.

The Ketores was ground fine, and, because speech enhances its quality, they would constantly repeat the words 'Heitev hodeik, hodeik heitev' as they ground it.


The Avodah
(Adapted from the Rambam)

Any Kohen was eligible to bring the daily Ketores, not specifically the Kohen Gadol. The Kohen would bring half of that day's Ketores (a Manah daily) in the morning (between the preparation of the Menorah and the conclusion of the Korban Tamid), and half in the afternoon, between the kindling of the five lamps of the Menorah and that of the remaining two. This is how the Rambam describes the Avodas ha'Ketores (Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin 3:4-9):

The Kohen who won the right to clear the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav would enter the Heichal with a holy vessel made of gold (known as a 'Teni') that held two and a half Kabin. Placing it on the ground in front of the Mizbei'ach, he would proceed to scoop the ashes and the spent coals that remained on the Mizbei'ach with his hands and empty them on to the Teni. Whatever was left, he would sweep into it.

The Kohen who won the right to bring the Ketores would then take a covered vessel (called a 'Bazach') already heaped with Ketores. This, he would then place inside another vessel called a 'Kaf' (a giant spoon) which he covered with a cloth. He was now joined by a second Kohen, who had won the right to perform the Avodah of 'the Machtah' (the pan), and who had taken burnt coals from the middle of the 'second arrangement' (of firewood) from on the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah, (see commentaries on the Rambam) with a silver shovel (that held four Kabin). He now descended and poured the coals into a golden shovel (that held three Kabin). If no more than a Kav of coal spilt, they would sweep it into the Amah (the stream that ran across the Azarah), whereas on Shabbos, since its was Muktzah, they would simply cover it with a vessel (known as a 'P'sachter'). If more than a Kav of ashes spilt, they would shovel it back on to the silver shovel, and from there on to the golden one. The two Kohanim then entered the Heichal together.

Meanwhile, the Kohen who had cleared the Mizbei'ach, had taken the Teni with the spent ashes, prostrated himself, and left the Heichal. The Kohen with the golden pan would then empty its contents on to the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav, and flatten them across the top, using the base of the pan. Then he too, would prostrate himself and leave.

The remaining Kohen would then remove the Bazach from the Kaf and hand it to another Kohen, who would then pour the contents of the Bazach (together with whatever spilt onto the Kaf) into the Kohen's two hands, prostrate himself and leave the Heichal.

Before the remaining Kohen began emptying the Ketores from his hands on to the Mizbei'ach, those present would warn him not to begin pouring it at the point closest to him, to avoid getting burned as his hands moved over the burning Ketores towards the far side of the Mizbei'ach.

The Kohen in charge would announce 'Hakter' ('Proceed to sacrifice the Ketores'), adding the title 'Ishi Kohen Gadol' if it was the Kohen Gadol who was performing the Avodah that day, and the Kohen would pour the Ketores from his hands across the surface of the Mizbei'ach (gently, like one sifts flour), beginning at the far end, as we explained.

The moment the Kohen gave the order to proceed, everyone had to leave both the Heichal and the innermost area in the Azarah, known as 'between the Ulam and the Mizbei'ach'.


Parshah Pearls


"Six of their names on one of the stones ... " (18:10).

Why does the Torah express itself in this way ("Shishoh mi'sh'mosom")? Why did it not say simply 'Six names ('Shishoh sheimos') on one stone, and six names on the other'? The letters 'Mem' and the 'Saf', apart from appearing to be superfluous, also seem clumsy in style?

The Meshech Chochmah answers this with the Yerushalmi, which explains that the name Binyamin did not appear on one stone, but the letters 'Bin' on one stone, and 'yamin' on another, one on either shoulder.

And this is hinted in the Pasuk in Ve'zos Hab'rachah "and He dwells between his shoulders" (plural [written in connection with Binyamin]).

Consequently, when the Torah writes "mi'sh'mosom", it means that at least one of the names was split up, part written on one stone, and part on another.


Either Torah or Unity

"And Aharon will carry the judgement of the B'nei Yisrael on his heart" (28:21).

Yisrael's right to exist is based on one of two conditions: 1. If they keep Torah and Mitzvos; 2. If they stand united, for so Chazal have said - even if Yisrael worship idols like they did in the days of Enosh, they will be pardoned for their sins, as long as there is unity and peace among them.

And these two issues are hinted in the 'Urim ve'Tumim' (by which name the Choshen Mishpat is also known). 'Urim' represents the Torah ("Ki Ner Mitzvah ve'Torah Or"), and Tumim, Yisrael's unity (as in Te'umim, twins).

That is the judgement of Yisrael which Aharon carried on his heart, because Yisrael are judged either by the one or by the other.


On the Merit of Aharon

" ... me'asher le'Aharon u'me'asher le'vonov (from Aharon's ram and from the ram of his sons)" 29:27.

The Torah also uses the word "u'me'asher le'ovinu" in connection with Lavan's sons "and from what belongs to our father (Ya'akov made his wealth)".

This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that it was due to the merits of Aharon that his sons were anointed to serve as Kohanim in the Mishkan.


Opposite the Sun

"Two lambs in their first year (kevosim b'nei shonoh, shenayim)" 29:38.

The first and last letters of the two words "shonoh shenayim" spell 'hashemesh' (the sun). This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at the Halachah that the Tamid was Shechted opposite the sun, on the west of the Azarah in the morning, and on the east, in the evening.

Whilst the kings of the world were bowing down to the sun, as Chazal have taught, Yisrael was facing the sun, but sacrificing to Hashem, to demonstrate that the sun derives its might and power from the G-d who created it.


Two Times 365

Taking into account the leap-year (that occurred every third year or so), Yisrael brought 365x2 lambs for the Korban Tamid annually.

This is hinted, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, in the words "shenayim la'yom tomid", whose first letters add up to 720, precisely the number of lambs that they brought each year.


A Lamb with a 'Hey', and a Lamb Without a 'Hey'

"es ha'keves ho'echad (the one lamb [you shall bring in the morning ...])" 29:39.

In Pinchas, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, the almost identical Pasuk is written "es ha'keves echod ... " (without the 'Hey').

The numerical value of ho'echad is eighteen, a hint to the Amidah, which Chazal instituted in lieu of the Korbanos, at times when they cannot be brought. The numerical value of ''echod" is thirteen, hinting at the maximum number of Kohanim who would sometimes be involved with the Korban Tamid at one time (see Mishnah Yuma 2:5).


Nine for a Starters

"es ha'keves echad ta'aseh ba'boker (and the one lamb you shall bring in the morning)" ibid.

The word "ta'aseh" contains the letters 'tish'ah' (nine) because that is the minimum number of Kohanim who dealt with the Korban Tamid at one time.


Plus Two, Makes ...

"And the second lamb you shall bring in the afternoon" (ibid.).

"Ha'sheini", hints at two more Kohanim, because for the Korban Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim, two more Kohanim would ascend the ramp on to the Mizbei'ach, each holding a log of wood to add on to the Ma'arachah (Ba'al ha'Turim).


Here the Torah writes ''ta'aseh'' (in the singular), whereas in Pinchas, the Pasuk writes ''takrivu" ('you shall bring', in the plural).

This is because, on the one hand, the lambs had to be communal property, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, whereas on the other, an individual was permitted to donate a lamb to the community for that purpose.


Six Lambs

The Torah mentions six lambs here - "Kevosim" (denoting two), "keves", "ha'keves", "la'keves", "ha'keves", because that is how many lambs had to be ready for use in the 'Lishkas ha'Telo'im' (the 'Room of the Lambs') at any given time, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out.

And correspondingly, the word "Olah" occurs six times in the Parshah of the Akeidah, since that is what the Korban Tamid was.


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

The Post-Churban Era (Part V)

The Era of the Amora'im
(The Seder ha'Doros goes back a few years and fills in some missing details).


Rebbi Efes, who succeeds Rebbi as Rosh Yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, is two and half years Rebbi Chanina bar Chama's senior. When he dies, Rebbi Chanina is appointed Rosh Yeshivah.



Alexander is crowned the twenty-fifth Emperor of Rome. He is well disposed towards the Chachamim and a good friend of the poor and the needy, for whom he always has a kind word. He used to say that if one in a hundred would obey an order, the other ninety-nine would sooner obey a request.



Rebbi Yochanan succeeds Rebbi Chanina as Rosh Yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, a position that he will hold for eighty years.



Persia attacks Rome.



This is a year of upheaval, in which the sky turns dark to the point that they need to kindle light in the middle of the day ... other terrifying signs appear in the sky ... many cities are destroyed by an earthquake, which takes numerous lives, many others are drowned by a tidal wave which destroys people, animals and property, and this is followed by a plague, which takes five thousand lives in Rome alone.



Rav dies in Sura (in Bavel). Shmuel (Yarchina'ah), his colleague, who was already Rosh Yeshivah in Neherda'a before Rav arrived in Bavel, succeeds him by seven years, during which time the two Yeshivos (Sura and Neherda'a) merge. Rav Ada bar Ahavah lives at this time.



A total eclipse is followed by a disastrous earthquake which shakes the entire land, toppling many cities, and taking many human lives.



Rav Yehudah (bar Yechezkel) becomes Rosh Yeshivah in Pumbedisa. He was born on the day that Rebbi died (in 3980). (Rava will be born on the that he dies, and Rav Ashi, on the day that Rava dies. According to others, the former was merely born before the latter died.)

Rav Huna succeeds Shmuel as Rosh Yeshivah in Sura, a post that he will hold for forty years. Round about this time, the Persians turn against the Jews. They kill many wealthy men and Chachamim, and make life so hard for them that many convert. Rav Nachman (bar Ya'akov) is Rosh Yeshivah in Neherda'a. He, Rav Yehudah and Rav Huna are appointed Rosh Yeshivah at this time, and serve in that position until the year 4060 (although earlier, the author cited another opinion - see year 4050).



Papa bar Netzer destroys Neherda'a. Rabah bar Avuhah leaves for Mechuza, the hometown of Rav Yosef bar Chama, the father of Rava.



Some say that Rebbi Yochanan compiles the Yerushalmi Talmud at this time (eighty years after Rebbi completed the Mishnah, two hundred years after the Churban). According to other opinions however, including that of the Rambam, this will occur only a hundred years later, in the year 5128. In the latter case, it is clear that Rebbi Yochanan lived exceptionally long.



Papas ben Pulmus destroys Shmuel's Beis-Hamedrash in Neherda'a.



Rebbi Yochanan dies. According to other opinions, he will die only in 4160, the same year as Rav Yehudah (see also year 4128).



The Emperor Karus is camped with his army beside the River Chidekel, when a terrible thunderstorm strikes his camp. Concurrently with one particular thunderclap, a hailstone containing fire falls on him from the sky and strikes him dead.



Rav Huna dies. According to others, he will only die in 4160.



Rav Yehudah dies. According to others, he will die two years later.


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