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

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Vol. 7   No. 20

Parshas Tetzaveh

The Urim ve'Tumim

Adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro

"And you shall place into the Choshen Mishpot the Urim and the Tumim .... " (28:30)

The Ramban explains that the Urim ve'Tumim comprised some of G-d's holy Names, on which the Kohen Godol had to concentrate, causing the relevant letters to shine or to protrude, as the Gemoro explains in Yumo (73a). To combine the letters in the correct order however, the Kohen Godol required Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, since without it, letters can be combined in a number of ways.

For example, when they asked who should go first to fight with the Kena'anim (Shoftim 1:1), and Hashem wanted to answer "Yehudah ya'aleh", the 'yud' from "Levi", the 'hey' from "Yehudah", the 'daled' from Don" and so on would light up. There were various possible ways of reading the reply, but by means of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh (a level that was below that of Nevu'oh, but above that of a Bas Kol), he would arrive at the correct reading of the designated letters.

This explains, says the Ramban, why the Urim ve'Tumim were hidden during the period of the second Beis ha'Mikdosh (because they merited only the level of prophecy of 'Bas Kol') but not that of the Urim ve'Tumim). They had the Choshen Mishpot, but without the Urim ve'Tumim inside it.


It may well be, the Ramban continues, that, once Moshe Rabeinu placed the relevant Names of Hashem inside the Choshen, these Names became known to the sages of that time and were then passed down from generation to generation. So we find that Dovid ha'Melech possessed an Eifod (a form of apron) that was worn by Evyosor ha'Kohen. It was made of linen (see Shmu'el I 2:18), and was worn specifically by a Kohen who was from the student prophets (of whom there were many in those days). The King would sometimes consult him concerning matters of importance and on occasions, he would receive an answer through the Urim ve'Tumim.


The Gemoro in B'rochos (31b), commenting on the statement of Chanah: "No my master, I am a sober woman ..." (Shmuel I -1:15), explains 'You are not a master in this matter, and Ru'ach ha'Kodesh does not rest on you, since you suspect me in this matter (of being drunk)'. Others explain that she was telling Eli that he could not have had Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, because, if he had, he would have judged her to the scale of merit and not to the scale of guilt.

But this is very difficult asks the Gro! Since when does one need Ru'ach ha'Kodesh in order to judge a person to the scale of merit?


Neither can she have meant to say that someone who is on the level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh ought to have known that she was not drunk, because this is simply not true. The prophets did not need to know everything. In fact, we have numerous examples of prophets who were not aware of the facts: Yehoshua did not know that the noise emanating from the camp was the sound of the people worshipping the Eigel ha'Zohov - he thought it was the sound of battle; and Moshe suspected the soldiers who returned from the war with Midian of returning to their former sins - to quote two examples. So what was Chanah telling Eli?


The Medrash adds that, when Chanah claimed that she was sober and that she was only praying for children, she said 'Like Sarah, Rifkah and Rochel'. What she meant was that she, like they, was barren and was praying for children. This Medrash too, is difficult to understand. Why was this analogy to the Imohos necessary?

According to the Ramban that we quoted above however, it all becomes clear - that is, if we also assume that when the Gemoro in Yuma (71a) states that only the King or a public figure was permitted to consult the Urim ve'Tumim, it was referring to the Urim ve'Tumim in the Choshen, but not to the 'mock' Urim ve'Tumim that were sometimes worn in the linen Eifod. That was for the benefit of any tzadik who knew the Names of the Urim ve'Tumim and who had Ru'ach ha'Kodesh.


Consequently, when Eli, who knew Chanah to be one of the unique tzidkoniyos of that generation, became curious when he saw her speaking to herself, her lips moving but uttering not a sound, behaviour that was untypical for a woman of that calibre - he consulted the Urim ve'Tumim in his linen Eifod.

Immediately the letters 'hey', 'kof', 'shin' and 'reish' protruded or lit up, which he combined to read 'shikorah' (drunk), which explains why he confronted her and asked her why she was drunk.

"No, my master", replied Chanah 'You are not a master in this matter, nor do you possess the Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that is needed to combine the letters correctly. Because their correct combination is 'kof', 'sin', 'reish', 'hey' - to read "ke'Soroh', because, like Soroh, I am perfectly sober and am simply praying for children. Yet, instead of judging me to the scale of merit, you judged me to the scale of guilt (because you did not have Ru'ach ha'Kodesh). The Medrash merely adds 'Rifkah and Rochel' in order to elaborate.


With this explanation, we can also understand why, in the original texts, Rashi, commenting on the words "No, my master" wrote 'ke'Soroh'. The printers, not understanding what Rashi meant with that (perhaps they too, lacking Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, read the word 'kesheiroh'), omitted it. In fact, Rashi's comment is beautifully appropriate and to the point, conforming as perfectly with the Medrash.


Parshah Pearls


Moshe's Name

It is well-known that Moshe Rabeinu's name does not appear in Tetzaveh, and that it is no mere coincidence that, in most years, this parshah coincides with the week of the seventh of Adar, Moshe's Yohrzeit.


The Gro points out however, that the parshah contains a hundred and one pesukim, and that the si'man given at the end of the parshah is 'Micho'el'.

If one writes out the letters of Moshe's name ('mem, shin, hey') in full, one will find that the 'hidden letters' (the second 'mem' of the 'mem', the 'yud' and the 'nun' of the 'shin', and the 'yud' of the 'hey') - the letters that do not actually appear in his name - add up to a hundred and one. This teaches us, explains the Gro, that, although the external part of Moshe was taken away from us, and does not appear in the entire parshah, nevertheless the internal part of Moshe (his spirituality, the Torah that he taught us) remains with us to this day.


The Me'il

The cloak (or cape according to the Ramban) atoned for loshon ho'ra, as the Gemoro explains in Erchin (16a). Maybe that is why it is called Me'il (because loshon ho'ra is described as 'me'Ilah be'KodshIm', as if he was abusing something that was holy (his mouth - which was created in order to learn Torah and daven ... ).


The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the bells and the pomeganates at the hem of the Me'il totalled seventy-two, the equivalent of the seventy-two possible appearances of nego'im that could appear on one's house, clothes or body, and that came mainly as a result of one's having spoken loshon ho'ra. Perhaps that in turn, is connected to the seventy-two letter Name of G-d, of whose sanctity loshon ho'ra is the very antithesis.


The Chofetz Chayim explains how the bells at the hem of the cloak represent the sound of the Torah that one should be speaking, whilst the pomegranates respresented the silence that should prevail when one is not learning Torah.

The No'am ha'Mitzvos puts it like this: The rim around the mouth, he says, hints clearly at those things that one is forbidden to speak (loshon ho'ra, lies, unclean speech ... ), whereas the bells hinted at those things that one should be speaking - Torah, tefilah, kind words ... And perhaps their specified location is an indication of their respective qualities: the rim around the mouth was on the top edge of the garment, because it is pride and conceit that lead a person to speak loshon ho'ra, which render this sin, more than any other, so terribly lethal.

The bells on the other hand, appear on the lowest part of the Me'il; because it is the Torah and tefilah that are based in humility that characterize the Torah student.


The Merit of the Korbonos

"And the flesh of the bull ... you shall burn in fire" (the only case of a regular sin-offering, whose blood was son the copper Mizbei'ach in the courtyard, to be entirely burnt, comments Rashi).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the phrase "you shall burn in fire" appears three times in T'nach: here; "and their chariots you shall burn in fire" (in Yehoshua); and "This city you shall burn in fire" (in connection with the exile of Tzidkiyohu - Yirmiyohu 38:23).

Because it is on the merit of the Korbonos (mentioned here) that Yehoshua would vanquish the nations of Kena'an, and it was when they ceased to bring the Korbonos that Yerusholayim was destroyed.


Two Lambs Daily

"And this is what you shall bring on the Mizbei'ach: two lambs daily - regularly" (29:38).

The first letters of "two lambs daily regularly" ("sh'nayim la'yom tomid") - number 730, the total number of lambs that were brought for the Korban Tomid each year, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim


He also points out that "keves" (lamb) appears six times in this paragraph (including the one in this posuk, which is in the plural - and therefore counts as two). This corresponds to what Chazal have said - that there were never less than six inspected lambs in the Lishkas ha'T'lo'im (the room where the lambs for the Tomid were kept).

Correspondingly he adds, the word "oloh" appears in the Parshah of the Akeidoh six times.


The Engraved Seal

" ... an engraved seal ("Pituchei chosom") holy for Hashem" (30:12).

The Gemoro tells us in Ta'anis (2a) that three keys remain forever in G-d's jurisdiction, and that they are never handed over to a sh'liach: the key of birth, as the Torah writes "And G-d opened her womb" (Bereishis 30:22); the key of rain, as it is written "And G-d will open for you His good storehouse" (Devorim 28:12),; and the key of bringing the dead back to life, as the Novi writes in Yechezkel (37:13) "When I open your graves".

It is well-known that there is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah; and indeed, the above is no exception, because all three are hinted in this posuk: "Pituchei (Miftei'ach - a key) chosom" - which forms the first letters of chayah t'chiyoh and mottor (a woman giving birth, life and rain), and the posuk concludes "Kodesh la'Hashem" - they are holy for Hashem, and nobody else has access to them.


History of the World

(Part 59) (Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)


Yehudah, Mattisyohu Kohen Godol's son, assumes leadership after his father's death. He is known as Yehudah Hamacabi (which means a strong man of war in Greek, and which forms the first letters of the words 'Mi Komocho Bo'eilim Hashem' - a phrase that appears on his banner of war).


In his first battle, Yehudah routs the Greek army, kills their commander-in-chief Appolianus, and captures his sword, which he will use for the remainder of his life. In similar fashion, he destroys the Greek commander Sirene together with his army.

After he kills nine thousand of Nikanor's troops and burns the General Phillipus to death, the Greek King Antiochus retaliates. He gathers a huge army and attacks Yerusholayim. The people cry out to Hashem, who responds by striking him with a terrible plague of boils and stomach pains. He falls from his chariot, breaking all his bones. The boils on his body smell repulsive, and his servants, after attempting to carry him on a chair on their shoulders, throw him down in disgust, leaving him to die in disgrace.

The list of Yehudah's war victims is incredible - 1,000, 20,500, 11,000, 1,300, 10,000, 30,000, 25,000, 20,000, 30,000, 15,000 - and these are only some of his victories.


On the 25th of Kislev, the victorious Yehudah arrives with his troops in Yerusholayim. They discover one jar of pure olive-oil stamped with the Kohen Godol's seal. They bring wood for sacrifices, but there is no sacred fire. So they pray to G-d, and a fire comes out of a stone on the Mizbei'ach. They place wood on top of the fire, which continues to burn until the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdosh two hundred years later.


Some say that the story of Yehudis, who killed the commander-in-chief Aliporni, takes place at this time (though, according to others, it took place in the days of Nevuchadnetzar or of Kambishi, son of Koresh King of Persia, some two or three hundred years earlier).



Yehudah kills Nikanor, the Greek general, and all his troops. He rules for six years. He is also the one to vanquish Antiochus. His brother Elozor dies in war, when a large elephant falls on top of him.



Demetrius Susar, the son of Seleicus Phillipus, Antiochus' uncle, rules over Greece. He sends his general Nikanor (perhaps this is not the same Nikanor that Yehudah is purported to have killed in 3623). But Yehudah defeats him, and puts his army of thirty thousand to the sword.

Bakirus, the Greek general, leads an army against Yehudah. Yehudah kills fifteen thousand of his men, but he himself dies in battle. The whole of Yisroel bitterly mourns his death. For the next four months Yisroel suffer terribly at the hands of the Greeks - until Yonoson, Yehudah's brother, ascends the throne.

King Demetrius Susar has a change of heart. In honour of the Beis ha'Mikdosh, he cancels the annual tax of ten thousand shekolim, and donates fifeen thousand shekolim of silver and gold with which to buy sacrifices. He issues a decree that whoever flees to the Beis ha'Mikdosh should be protected by the law - even if he sinned against the king - and volunteers to pay for all repairs to the Beis ha'Mikdosh.



Yonoson, third of the Chashmono'i Kings, rules for six years (though others say it is nineteen). Antiochus Sirut,, King of Greece, attacks Yerusholayim, but Shimon, Yonoson's brother, together with his sons, rout his army. Only Antiochus and his two sons escape.

For the remainder of Yonoson's reign, Yisroel live securely.

Shimon ascends the throne. He rules for eight years. His daughter marries Ptolomy, King of Egypt.



Ptolomy kills his father-in-law, Shimon. His own wife and her two sons, he places in chains and leads down to Egypt. The older son Hyrcanus, a great solder, he kills, but Yochonon, the younger one, manages to escape.


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