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

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:


Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler (Midei Shabbos Beshabbato, parsha sheet) has published a 3 CD Album of his own original tunes, including wedding songs!
Beautiful, wide range of melodies.
An excellent gift for yourself or others.
100 NIS
To purchase, contact by email to
Click on the links below to hear 3 samples.

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 23   No. 20

This issue is sponsored by Family Wilschanski
in honour of the Brisim of the sons of
Binyomin and Yochi Learman
and Noam and Miri Miller

Parshas Tetzaveh

The Choshen Mishpat
(adapted mainly from Rabeinu Bachye

The Choshen Mishpat was an amazing garment/ornament, which the Kohen Gadol wore on his heart. This was on the merit of Aharon, who displayed remarkable purity of heart when he felt not the slightest twinge of jealousy, following the appointment of his younger brother Moshe as leader of the Jewish people. Besides the power to atone for perversion of justice, as its name suggests, it served the unique function of answering any major query put to the Kohen Gadol concerning the king, the Sanhedrin or communal matters.


The Rambam explains that the Kohen Gadol would face the Aron ha'Kodesh, whereas the questioner, who stood behind him, faced him. The latter would then proceed to pose his question in a quiet voice, like one Davens the Amidah, at which point the former was enveloped with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. Looking at the Choshen, he would see the answer to the question appear on the Choshen, in the form of the relevant letters (all the letters of the Alef-Beis were engraved on its twelve stones, as we shall see shortly) which lit up and which actually appeared to protrude from the stones.

For obvious reasons, the letters did not generally illuminate in the right order, Consequently, to arrive at the correct reading, the Kohen Gadol needed to concentrate and read the letters with the aid of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. For this purpose, the Amah x half-Amah Choshen was folded to form a half Amah square - half an Amah is equivalent to one Zeres (the distance between the extended thumb and little finger). And it was into that fold that he placed a Name of G-d,. The Choshen with the stones that lit up was called the 'Urim', whereas the 'paper' containing G-d's Name (which inspired him with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh) was called the 'Tumim'; hence the Name 'Urim ve'Tumim', by which the Choshen Mishpat was known.


In order to fulfil the above-mentioned function, the Choshen had to contain all twenty-two the letters of the Alef-Beis. And, because the four letters 'Ches, Tes, Kuf & Tzadik' are missing from the names of the twelve tribes, the words 'Avraham Yitzchak Ya'akov Shivtei Yeshurun were added.

This meant that the number of letters engraved on the stones now totaled seventy-two (six on each of the twelve stones, as we shall see shortly) - corresponding to the Gematriyah of G-d's Holy Name, with the letters written in full, as well as the total number of Names by which both G-d and Yisrael are called. It also represents the number of hours in which G-d created the world (6x12) with Chesed (whose Gematriyah is also seventy-two), an indication that the world was created for the sake of the twelve tribes. This idea was further enhanced by the fact that the letters were arranged in such a way that each of the twelve stone contained six letters.


The stones themselves, which were square-shaped, Rabeinu Bachye points out, were the twelve most precious stones in the world. All other precious stones are merely variations of those stones.

He also describes how each of the stones mentioned in connection with the Choshen contained a unique Segulah (mystical power) which it transmitted to the wearer, and how the colour of the stone suited the nature of that tribe, and even coincided with the colour/s of their flag.

Here is the chart of the stones according to R. Bachye






Odem (Ruby)


Easy Childbirth


Pitdoh (a type of Emerald)

Leek- Green

Cools down (body & temperament)


Borekes (Carbunkle)

Bright Crystal (like the stone that illuminated Noach’s ark)



Nofech (Emerald)


Victory in battle


Sapir (Sapphire)

Dark Blue

Eyesight & pain relief


Yahalom (Pearl/diamond)

Off-white / Crystal

Success in business & antidote to insomnia


Leshem (Jacinth)

Bright Orange



Shevo (Topaz)

Yellow or Safran

Keeps rider in saddle


Achlomo (Crystal)

Reddish Crystal

Fortifies in battle


Tarshish (Chrysolyte)

Olive oil

Food digestion


Shoham (Onyx)




Yoshpeh (Jasper)

Red, black & green



Note: The above chart, which is based on the explanation of Rabeinu Bachye, is one of variety of opinions, as regards both the order of the tribes and of the translation of the stones.

The author himself (who gives alternative translations to some of the stones) translates them into Arabic, and we translated them into English, using a combination of tradition, common sense and the scholarly notes of 'The Living Torah' by Rabbi Kaplan - who presents a variety of possible translations (and colours) for most of the stones. Consequently, one must allow a margin of error in both our translations and the colours.

What is assured however, is the Segulah of each tribe's stone.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel