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

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Vol. 24   No. 20

This issue is sponsored anonymously

Parshas Tetzaveh

It's All Hinted in the Torah

A Torah-Jew requires no proof that Torah is min ha'Shomayim (the work of G-d Himself), or that it preceded the creation by two thousand years, serving, in fact, as the blue-print of the world's creation. Its astounding beauty and infinite depth, combined with its irrefutable truth and eternal character, amply attest to G-d's Divine Hand and to its supernatural qualities. It would simply have been far beyond man's capabilities to have composed a work of such exquisite perfection, a work that is equally appealing to the youngster of six as it is to the veteran of seventy.

Yet, there is ample proof of the Torah's Divine character in the maxim of Chazal (Ta'anis 9): "Is there anything not hinted in the Torah?" Events, place names and even the names of people are hinted at in the Torah, often long before they occurred or were actually named.

The story is told of Shevno, a disciple of the G'ro, who renounced his Yiddishkeit because he considered nonsense the acclaimed theory that everyone's name is hidden somewhere in the book of Devarim. He simply did not believe it. Until, confronted by the G'ro, he challenged his illustrious Rebbe to show him where his name was to be found. Whereupon, the G'ro indicated where "Shevno" was clearly and appropriately hinted in the first letter of four consecutive words. The stunned Shevno immediately repented.

His own name, the G'ro pointed out, was hinted in the words "Even Shleimoh vo'tzedek yih'ye loch" (Devarim 25:15), the first two words serving as an acronym for "Eliyahu ben Shlomoh".

See also Rashi Bereishis 2:14 and 14:7 for two examples of towns mentioned by the Torah long before those towns were actually built.


A remarkable reference to the two Batei Mikdash is to be found both in last week's Parshah (Terumah) and in this week's. In last week's Parshah the Torah writes: "And they shall make for me a Mikdash, and I will dwell in their midst" (Sh'mos 25:8). Now, the word the Torah uses for "and I will dwell" is "ve'Shochanti". Break up the word into two parts and you have "ve'Shochan tov-yud" - "And He will dwell 410 [years]" - the actual number of years that the first Beis ha'Mikdash stood. Take the same word "ve'Shochanti" and break it up differently to read "ve'Sheini tov-chof" - "and the second [one] 420 [years]" - and you have a direct reference to the years that the second Beis ha'Mikdash stood. The beauty of this prediction is enhanced when one realises how the Torah refers to making a "Mikdash", whereas in reality, it relates to the Mishkan, the term used to describe the Divine Dwelling in the very next pasuk. "Mikdash" clearly hints to the Beis ha'Mikdash, the object of the Torah's uncanny prediction.


In this week's Parshah, the Torah writes (27:20): "And you shall take for yourself pure olive oil, beaten for the light". The word that denotes "beaten" is "kosis" - read backwards (hints connected with G-d's Midas ha'Din often appear backwards) and broken into two parts, it reads "tov-yud" and "Tov-chaf" - 410 and 420 respectively. Again, we have a clear hint to the years that the two Batei Mikdash stood, and the very same word "kosis" (beaten) indicates that they would ultimately be destroyed. The pasuk concludes "to kindle the everlasting lamp (one that will never be extinguished)" - a neat inference to the third Beis ha'Mikdash, which will never be destroyed, but its light will shine forever.

Yet another reference to the duration of the two Batei Mikdash occurs in the opening words of Parshas Pekudei: "Eileh Pekudei ha'Mishkan, Mishkan ho'Eidus". The gematriyah of "ha'Mishkan" (including the five letters) = 420 (the duration of the second Beis ha'Mikdash).

"Mishkan" = 410 (the duration of the first Beis ha'Mikdash).

"Ho'eidus" - the duration of the (era of) the Mishkan, which lasted 479 years, until the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash by Shlomoh ha'Melech, 480 years after Yisrael left Egypt (the Mishkan was built in the second year after they left Egypt).

It may be true that no proof is required that Torah is min ha'Shomayim, yet the numerous beautiful and stunning hints that abound in the Torah, leave no room for doubt that it was.

(See also Parshah Pearls, "The Three Keys")

* * *

Parshah Pearls

What, No Moshe?

This is the only Parshah in the Torah (from Sh'mos - where Moshe's birth is recorded - and onwards), which does not contain Moshe's name. The Ba'al ha'Turim gives two reasons:

1) Because Moshe asked Hashem (in Parshas Ki Sisso) to blot out his name from the Seifer Torah. Although Hashem did not accept Moshe's request in its entirety, nevertheless, a tzadik's curse must materialise. So Hashem fulfilled it at least in one Parshah of the Torah - Parshas Tetzaveh. Why specifically Tetzaveh? Refer to the final paragraph at the end of this Pearl.

2) Because this Parshah deals with the various details of the Kehunah, for which Moshe was originally destined, but which he lost when he persisted in his initial refusal to undertake the leadership of Klal Yisrael at the burning bush. The Kehunah was subsequently given to Aharon.

Consequently, Moshe's name is not mentioned, as a sign of the emotional pain that he must have suffered at seeing his brother appointed to the position that was originally his. (Refer to Pearl "Human Nature")


The most popular answer however, is that of the G'ro, who points out that, in most years, the 7th of Adar, Moshe's yohrzeit, falls in the week of Parshas Tetzaveh. In deference to Moshe therefore, G-d who, knowing in advance that Moshe would die then, omitted his name from this Parshah.


The Three Keys

The Gemoro writes in Ta'anis (2a) that three keys remain in the hands of Hashem (in other words, there are three issues over which He alone retains control - He does not delegate to a Shli'ach): that of life, as the Torah writes "and He opened her womb"; that of rain, as it writes "And Hashem will open for you His good storehouse"; and that of Techiyas ha'Meisim, as the Torah writes "When I open your graves".

There is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah (see main article). So where is this hinted, asks the G'ro? The hint lies in a pasuk in this week's Parshah, he replies; in the pasuk "Pituchey chosom, Kodesh la'Hashem" (28:36). Now "chosom" is made up of three letters, a ches, a sof and a mem, representing 'chayoh' (a woman who gives birth), 'techiyeh' (revival) and 'mottor' (rain) respectively. "Pituchei" of course, is from the same root as 'maftei'ach' - keys.

There is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah.


When Chazal write that the three keys were not handed to a Shli'ach, they do not necessarily mean unconditionally, since we do find that the keys of rain and of Techiyas ha'Meisim were handed to Eliyahu and to Elisha the prophets. What they mean is that the keys are never given to a Shli'ach premanently, only on a temporary basis (Tosfos - Ta'anis). Or, as Rabeinu Gershom explains there, that two of the keys may have been handed to a Shli'ach, but never all three (even temporarily).


Human Nature

We quoted earlier the Ba'al ha'Turim, who refers to the emotional pain of Moshe Rabeinu at seeing Aharon his brother taking over the Kehunah, which was originally designated for him.

Initially, taking into account Moshe's extreme humility, it seems hard to understand how a man so humble could have room in his heart for pangs of jealousy. Yet, there is a Gemoro in Manochos 109b, which quotes the Tanna R. Yehoshua ben P'rachyoh, who said that at first, had anybody even suggested that he take a position of importance, he would have tied him up and tossed him to the lions.

However, now that he was the Nosi of the Sanhedrin, he would take anyone who dared to tell him to step down, and pour a pot of boiling water over his head. And he proves his point from King Sha'ul, who ran away from kovod when he was initially appointed to the throne. Yet when he felt David to be a threat to his sovereignty, he set out to kill him. And Sha'ul was praised by Chazal for his incredible humility.

Perhaps Moshe Rabeinu was above all this?

The Medrash describes how Moshe requested to enter Eretz Yisrael, if not as leader - because Yehoshua's time to rule had arrived - then at least, as second in command to Yehoshua.

His request accepted, he proceeded to follow Yehoshua. as Yehoshua had followed him. When Yehoshua returned from a prophecy, and Moshe asked him what Hashem had said, he was told that, had Hashem wished to speak to him, He would have done so directly (presumably that was the prophecy that Yehoshua had received from Hashem).

At that moment, Moshe felt the pangs of jealousy welling in his heart, and at that moment, Moshe decided that a hundred deaths are better than one jealousy, so he accepted to die graciously.

In any event, we see that even Moshe Rabeinu was not totally free of human emotions. Certainly those emotions were kept at a minimal level, certainly those emotions were perfectly controlled, but they were there. It is human nature, and every human being is subject to them!

* * *

Vol. 24   No. 20

This issue is sponsored
li"n R' Shlomo ben R' Yaakov Prenzlau z"l
whose sixteenth Yohrzeit will be on the 13th Adar,
by his children Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n"y and family

Purim Supplement

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 pasuk" - i.e. the pasuk 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 pasuk "Make plans but they will be foiled, speak your words but they will not materialise" (Yesha'yah 8:10).

The third child cited the pasuk "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 Yisrael:

1. in Parshas Beshalach, where the Torah writes, "And Amalek came, and he fought with Yisroel in Refidim (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 Yisrael" - and Rashi explains there that "who dwelt in the south" refers to Amolek, who changed his language to speak Cana'ani, in order that Yisrael should daven to Hashem to deliver the Cana'anim into their hands. But of course, the Amolekim were not really Cana'anim, so Yisrael's prayers would have remained unanswered. However, Yisrael 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 Yisrael 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 K'lal Yisrael, 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 and 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 pasuk. "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 Yisrael 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 pasuk.

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 (Yisrael) had undertaken". Whereas the Gemoro in Shabbos is referring to the "k'siv" - "They (Yisrael) 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".

* * *


The numerical value of Amolek is 240, equivalent to that of 'rom' (haughty), 'sofek' (doubt) and 'mar' (bitter). Amolek is our greatest and most bitter enemy, and this applies equally to the well-known Amolek from within - the Yeitzer ha'Ra, who employs exactly the same tactics as his external name-sake and disciple, and the above sequence simply demonstrates his strategy. We cannot perhaps perceive this strategy in Amolek himself, but it is easily discernable in those who are influenced by him - not least of all in ourselves.

He begins by inflating our ego and leading us to believe that our achievements are entirely the result of our own efforts. Clearly, he convinces us to believe that we carry our own destiny, and even the destinies of others, on our very broad shoulders.

That leads us to doubt both the need for Hashem and the role He plays in our lives. As a matter of fact, our first encounter with Amolek (in the desert immediately following K'riy'as Yam-Suf) was the result of the doubt that we expressed "Is Hashem in our midst or not" (Sh'mos 17:7&8).

Indeed we have driven Him away with our pride, since Hashem refuses to live together with someone who is proud. This is synonymous with serving Hashem coldly, without warmth and enthusiasm, which is in turn protrayed by the Torah in the words "asher korcho be'derech" (who cooled you down on the way) - see Rashi (Devorim 25:18). Hashem is our source of livelihood, health and security, and driving Him away can only lead to a bitter end - to death, destruction and exile.

Conversely one attains the level of serving Hashem with warmth and perceiving Him clearly and accepting him unequivocally.

That is what we should learn from Parshas Zochor.

* * *

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