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

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Vol. 18   No. 25

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Parshas VayikraTzav
(incorporating Purim Supplement)

Men, Women and Children

On the Pasuk "Blot out the Memory of Amalek", Rashi comments 'Men and women, children and babies'. Someone asked me as to why the Torah issues this command in connection with Amalek, and not with Amon and Mo'av. They too, perpetrated evil against Yisrael, for which reason the Torah rejected them, forbidding them to marry into K'lal Yisrael. Yet, based on the fact that the women were not involved in those sins ('men hire people to curse, women don't'; 'men can be expected to travel to the desert to provide food, women can't'), the prohibition was confined to the men marrying Jewish women. Amoni and Mo'avi women are permitted to marry Jewish men.

In that case, the questioner asked, it was surely the men who attacked Yisrael in the desert, and not the women. So why does the Torah condemn the entire nation, including the women and children, to annihilation?


The first thing that springs to mind is the fact that Amalek was the first to attack Yisrael after they became a nation. It can be compared to the Avos, who are considered Avos, despite the fact that many others have since sanctified G-d's name by a profusion of charitable and righteous acts - because they were the first to lead the way. They practiced monotheism whilst the rest of the world still practiced paganism; They displayed a love of G-d and of their fellow-man whilst the rest of the world lived lives of depravity. They taught Kidush Hashem to a world that did not even acknowledge His existence. And it is for this that they are considered the pillars of our nation.

In the same way, it was Amalek who taught the world that it was conceivable to attack K'lal Yisrael and to attempt to destroy them, at a time when nobody else was the least concerned about what Yisrael was doing or where they were going. They introduced baseless anti-Semitism at a time that it was unknown. And it is in that capacity that A,alek is considered the father of evil and the father of G-d-haters (for, as Chazal say; anyone who hates Yisrael hates G-d).


But it goes much deeper than that. To explain it, let us turn to the famous Mashal cited by Rashi, of the hot bath, into which everyone was afraid to jump. Until along came one worthless individual and took the plunge.

Following the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt and of the Reed Sea, the entire world stood in awe of G-d - "the chieftans of Edom, the strong men of Mo'av and all the inhabitants of Cana'an", (as stated in the Shirah). Presumably Amon and the other nations of the world did too, and the reason that they are not mentioned in the Shirah is because they were not directly threatened by Yisrael at that time. There was not one nation that would have dared attack the beneficiary of those miracles, and perhaps they never would have - if Amalek had not brazenly taken the initiative and attacked them, paving the way for others to follow suit.


In a nutshell, the rest of the world expressed a minimal degree of Yir'as Shamayim (albeit at the lowest level, based as it was on self-preservation). All that is, except for Amalek! So intense was their hatred towards Yisrael, that it dispelled every vestige of the Fear of G-d from their hearts, even if 'jumping into the boiling bath' would result in getting severely burned and suffering excruciating pain! That did not deter them from defying G-d and attacking K'lal Yisrael. And that is what Rashi means when, commenting on the Pasuk "and he did not fear G-d", he explains that this refers to Amalek. No other nation bears the shameful title of 'One who is devoid of the fear of G-d'. Their Yir'as Shamayim may not be on the highest level, but they acknowledge His Greatness when they witness it, and allow themselves to be awestricken before His Majesty. Amalek did not!

And a nation which is utterly devoid of Yir'as Shamayim, has no place in this world. As Chazal have said - 'G-d's Name is not complete, neither is His Throne complete until Amalek's name is blotted out - man, woman and child!'

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Way Kings Eat

"And an earthenware vessel in which it (a sin-offering) is cooked, shall be broken" (6:21).

Rashi explains that this is because what the pot absorbed from the Chatas became Nosar, which in its natural state has to be burned.

By why should Nosar be forbidden, asks the Riva, seeing as it is 'Nosen ta'am ki'fegam' (i.e. gives a detrimental taste to the food in the pot), as is the case with any vessel that absorbed non-Kasher food from the previous day; and 'Nosen ta'am li'fegam' is permitted?

It is true, the Riva explains, that 'Nosen ta'am li'fegam' is permitted in the realm of Chulin, but not in the realm of Kodshim. This is because the Torah uses the word "le'moshchoh" (for greatness) with regard to Kodshim, indicating that one eats Kodshim like kings eat, and kings are generally served food that does not contain any foreign elements!


(Ibid.) Rashi explains that although the Pasuk is speaking about a Chatos (a sin offering), the Din extends to all Kodshim. The Bartenura asks why the Torah presents the Din with regard to a Chatas (which is Kodshei Kodshim) and we then extend it to all other Kodshim (from the double expression of 'Bishul' [See 6:21])? Why does the Torah not rather present it by a Shelamim (which is Kodshim Kalim) and we will automatically extend it to Kodshei Kodshim?

The Torah could not have taught us the Din by Shelamim, answers the Bartenura, because of the continuation of the Pasuk, which teaches us that if one cooks the same Kodshim in a metal vessel, it needs to be Kashered. Now this is true of a Chatos, which can be eaten for only one day. Consequently, if one cooked a Chatas today, then tomorrow morning, what is absorbed in the pot becomes Nosar, and the pot needs to be Kashered. Otherwise, it will exude into whatever is cooked next, rendering it forbidden (as we explained in the previous Pearl).Shelamim, on the other hand, can be eaten for two days, in which case, today's Korban will not become Nosar until the day after tomorrow. In that case, assuming that one cooks a Shelamim in it every day, it will never become Nosar, since each day's cooking Kashers the absorptions of the day before.


What we Learn from the Asham
(the Guilt-Offering)

"All male Kohanim shall eat it (the Asham) is Kodesh Kodoshim (Kodesh Kodoshim hu)" 7:6.

Rashi comments that this is explained in Toras Kohanim (without telling us what the Toras Kohanim actually says). The Bartenura, citing the Toras Kohanim, explains that, on the one hand, we learn from "Kodesh Kodoshim" that Zivchei Shalmei Tzibur (the Shelamim that is brought on Shavu'os together with the Two Loaves), like the Asham, must be eaten by male Kohanim, exclusively; and on the other, that "Hu" precludes the Todah (the thanks-offering) and the Eil (Ram of the) Nazir from the same ruling (i.e. anybody who is Tahor is permitted to eat them).

We already know that the flesh of both the Korban Todah and the Eil Nazir may be eaten by Zarim (non-Kohanim).

Consequently, the word "Hu" must be coming to teach us that even the four loaves of the Todah and the cooked foreleg of the Eil Nazir (which are separated and given to the Kohen as a gift), may be eaten by them.


Changing the Status of a Korban

"And the Kohen shall burn it on the Mizbei'ach, it is an Asham (a Guilt-Offering)" 7:5.

Until its name is removed from it, Rashi explains (it remains an Asham). The Din is that in a case where the owner of an Asham dies, or if the original Asham got lost, and is only found after he attained his atonement through a second Asham, the animal is sent into the meadow to romp around until it obtains a blemish, when it is sold and with its proceeds, one purchases an Olah that is brought on the Mizbei'ach as a voluntary communal Olah.

And what the Torah is therefore teaching us here is that even though the Asham stands to be brought as an Olah, if one then Shects it 'S'tam', without the express intention of bringing it as an Olah, it does not become an Olah; before it has been handed over to the shepherd who then sends it into the meadow to graze, it remains an Asham. It will become an Olah only if he Shechts it after it has been handed over to the shepherd.


Olas Kayitz ha'Mizbei'ach

When the Asham currently under discussion eventually obtains a blemish, it is sold, and the proceeds go to 'Olas Kayitz ha'Mizbei'ach', the name given to communal, voluntary Olos. The money was placed in one of the permanent collecting boxes that were placed in the Beis-Hamikdash. From time to time, they would take money from them with which they purchased animals to sacrifice on the Mizbei'ach whenever it was not in use. This was most commonly done during the long summer days, when the gap between the morning Tamid and the afternoon was longer. Hence the name 'Olas Kayitz ha'MIzbei'ach'.

The Riva, citing Rashi in Sotah, however, attributes the name to dried figs, which were commonly eaten as a dessert in those days. This is because the extra voluntary Olos brought on the Mizbei'ach were a form of dessert. Incidentally, the reason that summer is called 'Kayitz; is precisely because that is when they used to place the figs in the fields to dry.


Conflicting Statements

"And the flesh of the Korban of his Peace-Offering shall be eaten on the day that it is brought " (7:15).

There are many inclusions here, comments Rashi - to include a Sin-Offering, a Guilt-Offering, the ram of a Nazir and the Chagigah of the fourteenth (that is brought together with the Korban Pesach), in the list of Korbanos that may be eaten for one day.

The Riva queries Rashi from his own words in Re'ei (16:4), where he establishes the Pasuk there by the Chagigah of the fourteenth, adding that the Pasuk there is coming to teach us that the Chagigah of the fourteenth may be eaten for two days and one night?

To resolve the discrepancy, the Riva establishes Rashi's two statements according to two different Tana'im, as cited in Pesachim. Rashi here follows the opinion of ben Teima, who requires the Chagigah that comes together with Pesach to be eaten within one day and one night; whereas Rashi in Re'ei follows the opinion of the Chachamim, who allow it to be eaten for two days and a night (like a regular Shelamim).


Seven Consecutive Days!

" do not exit the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed for seven days until the days of your inauguration are completed" (8:33).

This does not mean that Aharon and his sons were forbidden to leave the location of the entrance of the Mishkan for seven consecutive days, the Chizkuni explains. Much in the same way as when, at the end of the Torah, the Pasuk writes that they wept for Moshe for thirty days, where it is obvious that they did not spend thirty consecutive days weeping incessantly. Or when the Torah writes that we should dwell in Succos for seven days, where there is no prohibition in leaving the Succah from time to time.

What it does mean, he says, is that they were not allowed to move to another location to attend to any other business. At night time, they were allowed to go home.

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All About Purim
(Adapted from the Kol Eliyahu)

A hundred and Twenty-Seven Provinces

Chazal say that Achavrerosh ruled over a hundred provinces on land and twenty-seven provinces on the sea.

This is hinted, says the G'ro, in the last chapter of Megilas Esther. The Pasuk there informs us that Achashverosh imposed a tax ("mas") on the land and on the islands ("ve'iyei hayam").

The Gematriyah of "mas" is a hundred, and that of "ve'iyei" is twenty-seven.


The Thousand and Eighty Treasuries

Commenting on the longwinded Pasuk (1:4) "When he displayed the riches of his glory of his kingdom, and the honour of the splendour of his greatness for a hundred and eighty days ", the G'ro connects it with the thousand and eighty treasuries that Nevuchadnetzar hid in the river. These treasuries were later revealed to Koresh (Achashverosh's predessecor), as a reward for ordering the rebuilding of the Beis-Hamikdash, and Achashverosh inherited them from him.

And it was to show off his newly gained inheritance to the nobles and ministers of the land (to increase his popularity rating) that he initiated the hundred and eighty day party, says the G'ro, as it would have been inappropriate to simply invite them to come and view his treasures!

So what did he do? He organized a party for them, and when they were feeling a little high, he took them on a royal tour to view his hundred and eighty treasure-houses, six treasuries per day, as hinted in the words "riches, glory, kingdom, honour, splendour and greatness".


Two Kinds of Anger

When Queen Vashti refused to obey Achashverosh's command, the Pasuk writes that 'The king was very angry and that his fury burned within him' (1:12).

In answer to the Gemara's question as to why his anger was so intense, Rabah cites Vashti's message to the King that her father (Nevuchadnetzar)'s stable boy could drink vast amounts of wine and still remain sober, whereas he (Achashverosh) could not hold down his drinks.

Why, asks the G'ro, does one need to find a reason for Achashverosh's anger? Why was Vashti's refusal to obey his orders not reason enough?


The G'ro attributes the Gemara's question to the double expression used by the Pasuk. Moreover, he explains that the two words "va'yiktzof" (anger) and "va'chamoso" (fury) have different connotations; the former refers to external anger, the latter, to internal anger.

Queen Vashti refused to appear before Achashverosh, so the latter became angry, and he displayed that anger for all to see. That is understandable. But what usually happens is that, when a person gives vent to his anger, it quickly abates. Hence the Gemara wants to know the cause of the 'cheimah', the suppressed anger. What else did Vashti do that brought on the additional anger that the king could not display. And Rabah explains Rabah's answer. Besides the refusal, she also instructed the servants to add some insults on the quiet. And that is why the Pasuk concludes "and his fury burned within him" (within him, because it concerned personal insults which he could not divulge, and therefore could not get rid of.


Getting in the First Word

"And Memuchan (alias Haman) said before the King and the ministers, 'Not against Your Majesty alone has Vashti the queen sinned " (1:16).

The Gemara in Megilah (12:) comments that here we have a case of a commoner being the first to speak.

From where does the Gemara kow this, asks the G'ro? Perhaps the other ministers too, had first had stated their opinions before Memuchan (the most junior of the king's seven cabinet ministers) presented his? And it is only because his advice was accepted that the Pasuk records it, but not the others?


And he answers by observing that the words "before the king and the ministers" are seemingly superfluous. The Pasuk has already informed us that the King had put the question 'What to do with Vashti?' before the leading sages in his kingdom, so it is obvious that it was in their presence that Memuchan spoke.

Consequently, he explains, we must say that "before the king and the ministers", means (not before them geographically, but) before them in time - that he spoke before they did, as Chazal explain.


Said One Way, Written Another

In the Gemara in Megilah (7a), Shmuel proves that Megilas Esther was said with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh from the Pasuk "Kiymu ve'kiblu ha'Yehudim" (9:27), which he explains as 'They upheld above (in Heaven) what they had accepted below (on earth)", with reference to the Mitzvah of reading the Megilah each year - something that Esther can only have known by means of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. Rava there concurs with Shmuel.

The G'ro citing Tosfos, points out that in Shabbos (Daf 88) himself learns from the same words that from the time that G-d held the mountain over their heads, thereby forcing them to keep the Torah, they could not really be punished, and it was only when they willingly accepted the Torah in the time of Esther that they became punishable, as the Pasuk explains "Kiymu ve'kiblu ha'Yehudim" - they upheld (in Shushan) what they had already accepted (at Sinai).

To answer the question, the G'ro points out that the word "ve'kiblu" is actually a 'K'ri K'siv' (written differently than the way it is read) - although we read it "ve'kiblu" (and they accepted'), it is written 've'kibel' (and he accepted). That being the case, we can now say that whereas the Gemara in Megilah ('they upheld in Heaven what they had accepted below') learns from the 'Kri', the Gemara in Shabbos learns from the 'K'siv' - 'They upheld (in Shushan) what he (Moshe) had accepted (at Sinai).


Keeping Track of Time

"And he hurried to give her the seven maidens that were fitting " (2:9).

The Gemara in Megilah (13a) explains that she used these maidens to keep track, which would otherwise have been highly problematic for a Jewish woman, alone in the royal palace.

Based on the Targum, the Torah Temimah explains the names that Esther gave each servant"

Sunday - 'Chulsa' (Formed [from the word "Yecholel Ayalos"] since the world was formed on Sunday.

Monday - 'Rok'isa' (Sky because the sky [Roki'a] was created on Monday).

Tuesday - 'Ginunisa' (Garden since the plants and vegetables were created on Tuesday).

Wednesday - 'Nehorisa' (Light because the great luminaries were created on Wednesday).

Thursday - 'Rochshisa' (Swarm based on the Pasuk [said on Thursday] "Let the water swarm living creatures").

Friday - 'Churfisa' (Early before the arrival of Shabbos).

Shabbos - 'Rega'isa' (Rest which is the essence of Shabbos [a day of rest from creative activity]).

* * *

Poorim Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

No Booty

"But they did not stretch out a hand against the booty" (9:10).

Rashi explains that, had they taken the booty, King Achashverosh would have resented it - despite the fact that the king himself had given them express permission to do so (8:11).

According to the G'ro, it was in order to demonstrate that they were not fighting for monitory gains, but in order to fulfill the royal edict to defend themselves.

R. Bachye however, ascribes this to the Torah's command to forbid deriving any benefit from any of Amalek's property. Mordechai's ancestor King Shaul, had made that mistake, he points out, when, in a battle with Amalek, he failed to destroy the sheep. And that is why he lost his name and his throne, Midah ke'Neged Midah - seeing as the completion of G-d's Name and Throne hinge upon the destruction of Amalek and all that belongs to him.

That is why Mordechai made amends by forbidding the people to take any war spoils from the battle against Amalek's grandson, Haman.


Haman's Reasoning

In his second explanation, R. Bachye attributes the selling of K'lal Yisrael to Achashverosh for ten thousand Kikar of silver (five Shekalim) for each of the six hundred thousand members of K'lal Yisrael, to the sale of Yosef, for which they received twenty pieces of silver (five Shekalim).

Yisrael, he said, had not yet paid for that terrible crime, and Haman was therefore convinced that he would succeed in destroying them.

Indeed, the Medrash, commenting on the brothers, who sat down to eat after the sale, cites G-d as having declared 'You sold your brother whilst feasting, by your lives, your 'children' too, will be sold whilst your enemies feast', as the Pasuk writes "and the King and Haman sat down to drink, and the city of Shuchan was downcast!"

According to that, the author asks, it would have sufficed for Haman to pay one thousand Kikar of silver (half a Shekel per person)?

And the reason that he gave five (ten times as much), was because of the Aseres ha'Dibros that he had in mind to negate. In fact that is why he used to word "eshkol" (I will weigh out ). And we find that the words "eish" and "kol" are mentioned at Har Sinai.


Haman Evokes the Midas ha'Din

"And all this (honour) is worth nothing to me (ve'Chol zeh einenu shaveh li), as long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the gate of the King" (5:13).

This is what Haman told his friends and his wife Zeresh after being invited for a second time to a party with the King and Queen.


R. Bachye points out that wherever the Name Hashem (Havayeh) is hinted backwards, it denotes the Midas ha'Din (see his commentary in Bamidbar 1:51). In the current Pasuk, the Name Havayah is indeed hinted backwards in the last letters of the words " zeH einenU shaveH lI", a sign that Haman was evoking the Midas ha'Din against Mordechai.

What happened of course, was that, due to the turning of the tables ("ve'nahafoch hu"), he succeeded in directing the Midas ha'Din against himself. Barely an hour past before he was hanged!

* * *

Reading the Megilah
Takes Precedence

The Amora Rabah rules in Megilah (3b) that reading the Megilah takes precedence over both Torah-study and the Avodah in the Beis-ha'Mikdash.

The Ba'al ha'Turim in Parshas Tetzaveh (28:35 [which incidentally is read most years the Shabbos before or after Purim]), the Torah writes (in connection with the bells sewn on to the hem of the Kohen Gadol's Me'il [cloak]) "ve'nishma kolo be'vo'o el ha'Kodesh" (and his/its voice shall be heard when he comes into the Kodesh).

The word "ve'nishmna" appears in two other places in T'nach: in Parshas Mishpatim, when Yisrael announced at Har Sinai "Na'aseh ve'nishma", and in Megilas Esther - "ve'nishma pisgam ha'Melech" (and the edict of the king shall be heard). The Pasuk in Mishpatim hints at Torah-study, the current Pasuk, at Avodah, and the Pasuk in Megilas Esther, at Mikra Megilah, where the words are followed by "ki raboh hi" (because it is great), a hint that Mikra Megilah takes precedence over Torah-study and the Avodah. Moreover, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, it also states the name of the author - 'Rabah'. (Note that our Gemoros cite Rava, not Rabah, as the author of this ruling).

* * *

(Adapted from the Mo'adim ba'Halachah)

The Obligations of the Day

Purim comprises seven Mitzvos, Mitzvos, not Minhagim or traditions, says the Mo'adim ba'Halachah.

1. Mikra Megilah; 2. Mishlo'ach Monos; 3. Matonos lo'Evyonim: 4. K'ri'as ha'Torah; 5. 'Al ha'Nisim' (in the Amidah and in Birchas ha'Mozon); 6. Se'udah (Mishteh ve'Simchah); 7. The prohibition of Hesped and Ta'anis.


Mikra Megilah

Purim has its own Masechta in both Bavli and Yerushalmi, which Chanukah doesn't, named after the first of the seven Mitzvos listed above. This is indicative of the prime importance of the Mitzvah of Mikra Megilah, which is further borne out by the fact that it is the only one of the seven Mitzvos over which Chazal instituted Birchas ha'Mitzvos (' asher Kidshonu be'Mitzvosav ').

Whether the two other B'rochos that accompany it ('she'osoh nisim' & 'shehechiyonu') pertain specifically to the Megilah or whether they are general B'rochos of thanks that pertain to the miracles and the Mitzvos of the day is subject to a Machlokes Achronim.

The ramifications of the Machlokes will be manifest in a case where there is no Megilah available, as to whether one recites them or not.

And the importance of Mikra Megilah is evident not only vis a vis the other Mitzvos of Purim, as we just explained, but also with regard to other Mitzvos, even Mitzvos min ha'Torah. Hence we find that reading the Megilah takes precedence over Talmud Torah and the Avodah in the Beis-ha'Mikdash. In fact, the only Mitzvah that takes precedence over it is that of burying a Meis Mitzvah (a corpse that has nobody to bury it).


Taking Precedence v Negating

The R'mo, citing the Ran and R. Eliyahu Mizrachi, restricts the previous ruling to taking precedence (that one Leins the Megilah first and performs the other Mitzvah afterwards). But where it is a matter of performing either one or the other, he claims, how can Mikra Megilah, which after all, is only mi'de'Rabanan, push away a Mitzvah 'd'Oraysa?

The Taz however, disagrees, and there are many Poskim, among them the G'ro, who agree with the Taz. Apart from the proofs each of the disputants brings from the Gemara, the Taz counters the Ran's argument by pointing out that Megilah is not just a Mitzvah de'Rabbanan; it is considered 'Divrei Kabalah', and Divrei Kabalah have the power of a d'Oraysa, as the Gemara explains in Rosh Hashanah (19a). Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch cites this S'vara (in Siman 696, Se'if 7), where he writes that according to some opinions 'an Onan (whose close relative has just died) is permitted to eat meat and drink wine on Purim, since the Asei of mourning that pertains to an individual cannot push away a communal Asei d'Oraysa. Rejoicing on Purim, he explains, is Divrei Kabalah, and Divrei Kabalah are akin to Divrei Torah'.

Another outcome of the above Machlokes concerns the principle 'S'feika de'Rabbanan le'Kula' (taking the lenient view in issues of de'Rabbanan, whenever there is a doubt), which will not apply if we consider Purim to be Divrei Kabalah. As an example of 'Safek', the Mo'adim le'Halachah cites cities that one is not certain as to whether they had walls in the time of Yehoshua bin Nun or not. As is well known, he says, the old cities in Eretz Yisrael (such as Yaffo, Acco, Aza, Lud and Teveryah, Sh'chem, Chevron, Tz'fas and Haifa) read the Megilah both on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth. If the Megilah was a Mitzvah de'Rabbanan, it would suffice to read it on the fourteenth, like most cities, that did not have a wall in the time of Yehoshua bin Nun. And this is the opinion of many Rishonim, who explain that the Amora'im cited in Megilah who read the Megilah on both days were going beyond the letter of the law.

The Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch (in Si'man 688) however, rule that the Amora'im acted according to the Halachah. The Turei Even explains the ruling as follows - 'Since the reading of Megilas Esther was given with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, and are therefore considered Divrei Kabalah, they have the Din of Torah law, and in case of a Safek one is obligated to adopt the stringent ruling', and that is his conclusion.

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