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

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Vol. 8   No. 20

This issue is sponsored in honour of
Elazar Simchah ben Binyomin Mordechai n.y.
on the occasion of his fourth birthday, wishing him a Mazel-tov levovis.
May he enjoy a happy birthday and a happy Purim.

Parshas Tetzaveh

(Incorporating Purim Supplement)

The Golden Altar


The Ramban asks why the Torah chose to mention the Golden Mizbei'ach at the end of Tetzaveh, after describing to Moshe all the holy vessels and the structure of the Mishkan. Surely it belongs in parshas Terumah, together with the other holy vessels with which it was placed in the Kodesh, the Shulchon and the Menorah, and that is where it should have been inserted (in the way that it is in parshas Vayakheil)?



The Meshech Chochmah answers this Kashya based on the halochoh that the Golden Mizbei'ach was unique, inasmuch as it was the only one of the major vessels that was dispensable. In the event that the Mizbei'ach became posul for example, they were permitted to bring the Ketores on the exact spot where the Mizbei'ach stood in the Kodesh. Consequently, the Torah first deals with those vessels that were indispensable, and only then, with the Golden Mizbei'ach.



The Rambam explains the mitzvah of Ketores based on the need to dispel the bad smell that pervaded the Beis Hamikdosh, due to the cutting up of the carcasses and the washing of the innards that was performed there constantly. The Seifer ha'Chinuch goes one step further. He explains that it was to create a pleasant aroma, to replace the bad smell that pervaded. In producing the most exotic aroma that it was possible to produce, he explains, they enhanced the glory of the Beis Hamikdosh.

In that case, it is easy to understand why the parshah of the Golden Mizbei'ach is placed at the end of Tetzaveh with the garments of the Kohanim, rather than in Terumah with the other vessels. Because the garments of the Kohanim too, were made 'for honour and glory, as the Torah specifically writes.



The Seforno goes one step further still. He points out that the purpose of the Golden Mizbei'ach and what was sacrificed on it was not to rest the Shechinah or to bring it down into this world, like the other holy vessels and the Korbonos brought on them were. Rather, its purpose was to honour (not the Beis Hamikdosh, but) Hashem after He had arrived there. Presumably, that is why it follows the posuk "And I shall dwell in the midst of the B'nei Yisroel” (29:30 see also pasuk 31). And since it was brought both in the morning and in the afternoon, it caused all the Korbonos that were brought in the day and in the evening to be accepted with goodwill.

And this in fact, is also the gist of the Ramban's explanation, who adds that the Ketores which is brought in honour of Hashem, is based on the Midas ha'Din. That explains why it has the power to subdue G-d's burning anger, as is hinted in the posuk in ve'Zos ha'B'rochoh "They will place Ketores in Your nostrils (a symbol of burning anger)". This in essence, is the secret that the Soton handed to Moshe on Har Sinai.

This also enables us to understand why, when the Ketores is misused, its power is devastating (as we see by the episode of Nodov and Avihu). Because, as it is based on Midas ha'Din, it, and it alone, has the power to placate the Midas ha'Din when it is handled correctly, but is fatal when it is misused.



A rather different approach to explain the positioning of the Golden Mizbei'ach is given by the Seforno. Later in the Seifer, he points out, the Torah juxtaposes the Golden Mizbei'ach to the parshah of the Menorah, because the Ketores was brought morning and evening, at exactly the same time as the Menorah was prepared and lit respectively. Whereas here, the Torah deliberately postponed it until after having discussed the Korban Olah that is brought on the Copper Mizbei'ach. Only then does it mention the Golden Mizbei'ach, where it concludes with the warning not to bring on it 'strange Ketores', nor burned-offerings, flour-offerings or drink-offerings. In short, the Torah makes a point of inserting the Golden Mizbei'ach next to the parshah of the Mizbei'ach ho'Oloh, in order to describe the contrast between the two, to teach us that what is sacrificed on the one cannot be sacrificed on the other.



Parshah Pearls


(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

 Where's Moshe?


This is the only parshah in the Torah (from the time of Moshe Rabeinu's birth in Sh'mos) where Moshe's name does not appear. The Ba'al ha'Turim gives two reasons for this. Firstly, he says, it is because Moshe requested from Hashem that his name be blotted out from the Torah, and the curse of a chacham inevitably comes true, if not completely, at least in part. So his name is omitted from this parshah (which generally coincides with Moshe Rabeinu's yohrzeit).

Secondly, because in reality, the Kehunah Gedolah was due to go to him together with the leadership, and it is only because he quarreled with Hashem for seven days at the burning bush that it was taken away from him and given to Aharon. Consequently, the omission of Moshe's name from the entire parshah is really a reflection of the anguish that he felt as he saw this precious gift being taken away from him and given to his brother.



In spite of this, there is nothing in this parshah that takes place without Moshe's direct participation. There is probably no parshah in the Torah where the word "ve'Atoh" or "ve'Osiso" occurs with the frequency that it does in Tetzaveh. There is surely no clearer indication of Moshe's greatness than this phenomenon. Even in the one parshah from which his name is deliberately omitted, his presence is not one iota less evident on account of it. Because Torah and Moshe are synonymous. Moshe's name may well be withheld from one parshah, but his identity is not!



The Missing Garments


"And these are the garments that they shall make ... " (28:4), and the Torah promptly goes on to list six of the eight garments worn by the Kohen Godol. Why does the Torah omit the Michnasayim (the trousers) and the Tzitz (the metal band worn on the forehead)?

The Ba'al ha'Turim ascribes these omissions to the fact that the former was not worn for honour and for glory, which is how the Torah describes the Bigdei Kehunah in the previous posuk; and the latter was, strictly speaking, an ornament, not a garment.

In other words, the Torah lists here the garments that the Kohen Godol was to wear for honor and glory. It does not include ornaments, nor does it include garments that were worn for other motives. Consequently, the Tzitz, which was not a garment, and the trousers, which were worn for reasons of modesty, and not for honour, are not listed here.

This explanation however, is inadequate, in view of the fact that the Torah does list the Choshen, which Rashi describes as an ornament.




Honouring the Kehunah

 The Torah uses the phrase "el sh'nei" three times, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. Once in this parshah " ... el sh'nei ketzosov ve'chubar" (in connection with the straps of the eifod - a symbol of the kehunah), once in Shmuel "Lecho le'os asher yovo el sh'nei b'nei Eli", and once in Melochim "va'Yotzar kikrayim ... va'yitein el sh'nei ne'orov" (in connection with Na'amon, the Syrian general).

The sons of Eli were killed in battle because they despised the Kehunah. Na'amon on the other hand, who revered it (when he requested earth from Eretz Yisroel with which to build an altar), was brought close to under the wings of the Shechinah, and some of his descendents taught Torah in public.



Binyomin and his Stone

 The last precious stone on the Choshen was 'Yoshpeh'. It was the stone of Binyomin. Rather amazingly, the numerical value of "Yoshpeh", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'Binyomin ben Ya'akov'.



Bells and Pomegranates

 All in all, there were thirty-six bells and thirty-six pomegranates, making a total of seventy-two. Bearing in mind that the Me'il came to atone for loshon ho'ra, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the seventy-two bells and pomegranates atoned for the seventy-two different appearances of tzora'as that exist across the board (incorporating tzora'as of the house, the clothes, the body and the hair).



Megilah - Priority Number One


"ve'Nishma kolo be'vo'o el ha'Kodesh" (28:35).

The word "ve'Nishma" occurs three times in T'nach; here, in Mishpotim "Na'aseh ve'nishma", and in Megilas Esther "ve'Nishma Pisgam ha'Melech".

The Gemoro in Megilah, quotes Rabah, who says that Mikra Megilah takes precedence over both Torah-study and the Avodah of the Kohanim.

Based on that, we can now explain the Mesorah as follows:

"Na'aseh ve'nishma" hints at Torah-study, "ve'Nishma kolo be'vo'o el ha'Kodesh", at Avodah. But "ve'Nishma Pisgam ha'Melech" ... Ki Raboh hi" - the greatest of all is the Megilah, which overrides the other two. And besides, the author of this halochoh is Raboh.



On the Merit of the Korbonos

 "ve'es B'sar ha'por ... tisrof bo'eish" (29:14).

The word "tisrof" appears three times in T'nach: here, in Yehoshua "ve'es markevoseihem tisrof bo'eish", and in Yirmiyah, with regard to Tzidkiyohu and Yerusholayim - "ve'es ho'ir ha'zos tisrof bo'esh".

The merit of Korbonos ("tisrof bo'eish") stood Yehoshua in good stead, helping him to defeat his enemies ("ve'es markevoseihem tisrof bo'eish"). But when, at the time of the siege of Yerusholayim, they stopped bringing the Korbonos, Yerusholayim was destroyed ("ve'es ho'ir ha'zos tisrof bo'esh").



 Parshas Amolek

(from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

 When One Doubts Hashem


Chazal learn from the juxtaposition of "Va'yovo Amolek" to "ha'yesh Hashem be'kirbeinu im ayin?" that Amolek attacked Yisroel because they doubted whether Hashem was in their midst (see Rashi 17:8). It is certainly no coincidencethat the numerical vakue of 'Amolek' is equivalent to that of 'sofek' (doubt).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the words "im ayin" occurs four times in T'nach: Here; in Shmuel ("im ayin, atah daber", when Avsholom repeats Achitofel's suggestion, to attack David); in Iyov ("im ayin atah sh'ma li"), and in Sh'lach-lecho ("ha'yesh boh eitz im ayin", in connection with the spies).

We learn from this, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that just like doubting whether Hashem was in their midst resulted in their having to go to war against Amolek, so too, was the entire conquest of Cana'an the result of their having sent spies (an indication that they doubted Hashem's assurance that the land was good). For so Chazal have said 'Had Yisroel not sent spies, they would not have had to fight for the land'.



All About Amolek

 "va'yilochem im Yisroel bi'Refidim" (Sh'mos 17:8). "bi'Refidim" contains the same letters as 'be'raf yodayim' (weak-handed'), because Amolek attacked them as a result of their laxness in mitzvos. That is why " im Yisroel bi'Refidim" is the same numerical value as 'rofu yedeihem min ha'mitzvos'.




"Vayehi yodov emunah ad bo ha'shomesh" (ibid 12)

The Torah hints here at the merits of the three ovos: "emunah" hints at Avrohom, by whom it is written "ve'he'emin ba'Hashem"; "ad bo" hints at Yitzchok, by whom it is written "ve'Yitzchok bo mi'bo", and "ha'shemesh" hints at Ya'akov, by whom it it is written "vayolen shom ki bo ha'shemesh".



"zikoron ba'seifer ve'sim be'oznei" (ibid 14).

The first letters of these words spell 'z'vuv' (fly), because Amolek thirsted for the blood of Yisroel like a fly.



"Mochoh emcheh" (ibid).

The only other time this word appears in the Torah is in Parshas No'ach, where Hashem said "Emcheh es h'odom" ('I will blot out man'). Just like the flood wiped out every trace of that generation, so too, must every trace of Amalek be wiped out, until, as Chazal have said, nothing of his remains.

That is why King Shaul was punished, says the Ba'al ha'Turim; because he left a trace.





(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mitzvos ha'Kotzer of the Chofetz Chayim)

 (The Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh)


137. ... a mamzer may not marry a bas-Yisroel - as the Torah writes in Ki Seitzei (23:3) "A Mamzer may not enter into the congregation of Hashem (to marry a kosher bas-Yisroel). The definition of a 'mamzer' is a child who is born to chayvei koreis (incorporating all cases of incest). This does not include a nidah, who, on the one hand, is listed in the parshah of incest, but on the other, a child that is born from a relationship with her is not a mamzer, but a 'pogum' (tainted).

The descendants of a mamzer and a mamzeres are forbidden forever. Both are permitted to marry converts, though their children are mamzeirim, too (following the pattern that prevails whenever a kosher person marries one who is posul).

Someone who is born from an unmarried woman who declines to name the father, or who names him as so and so, who is a mamzer, is a sofek (doubtful) mamzer. And the same applies to a baby whose father and mother are unknown, whom one finds abandoned in the street. By Torah law, a sofek mamzer is permitted to enter into the congregation and to marry a kosher Yisroel. Chazal however, forbade it. Consequently, he (or she) is prohibited from marrying at all, since he is now forbidden to marry a kosher Yisrael, a mamzer or a sofek mamzer.

If, after a woman hears that her husband died and remarries without carefully substantiating the news, her first husband turns up, she is forbidden to live with either husband. Any children she subsequently has from the second 'husband' are mamzeirim, and from the first, are mamzeirim mi'de'Rabbonon.

A mamzer mi'de'Rabbonon may marry only another mamzer mi'de'Rabbonon like himself.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times. 



138. ... that a kohen may not marry a zonah - as the Torah writes in Emor (21:7) "They shall not take a zonah". A 'zonah' is either a woman who is not a bas Yisroel or one who had relations with a man who is forbidden to her or with a cholol (someone who is born from an isur kehunah). She bears this title even if she was raped, or if she was sodomized. In all cases, she is a zonah.

An unmarried woman who has regular illicit relations with men to whom she is not forbidden is not considered a zonah however, but a kedeishah (see mitzvah 133). Neither does a nidah who has relations with a man to whom she is otherwise permitted, or relations with an animal, render her a zonah.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times.




139. ... that a kohen may not marry a chaloloh - as the Torah writes in Emor (21:7) They shall not take a zonah or a chaloloh". A chaloloh is either a woman who is born from an isur kehunah or a woman who is forbidden to marry a kohen but nevertheless did.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times.



140. ... that a kohen may not marry a divorcee - as the Torah writes in Emor (21:7) "And they shall not take a woman who is divorced from her husband". A chalutzah (a yevomoh who performed chalitzah) and her daughter are also forbidden (mi'de'Rabbanan).

A kohen who marries any of these three women (a zonah, a divorcee or a chaloloh) and who is subsequently intimate with her is due to receive malkos. A kohen who has relations with a sofek chaloloh or with a chaloloh mi'de'Rabbanan, receives makas mardus (mi'de'Rabbanan).

There is no prohibition forbidding Kosher kohanos from marrying p'sulei kehunah (i.e. chalolim).

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times.




141. ... that a kohen may not render himself tomei for a dead person - as the Torah writes in Emor (21:1) "He may not make himself tomei for a dead person among his people".

This mitzvah incorporates neither touching a corpse, nor making an ohel over it (by stepping over it with the complete body or with part of it, or by being under the same roof as it), carrying it, or touching a grave. And it also extends to all tum'os that come from the corpse, such as a revi'is of blood. Should the kohen render himself knowingly, he is due to receive malkos. All of this is permitted however (and is even a mitzvah), in the case of a meis mitzvah (a corpse that has nobody else to see to its burial.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times.




142. Not to interbreed a beast or a bird with a different species - as the Torah writes "You shall not interbreed your animal, kil'ayim" (Kedoshim 19:19), and our sages have a tradition that this la'av incorporates birds.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women alike.


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