This issue is sponsored
Vol. 21 No. 25
l'ilui nishmas R' Sholomo ben R' Yaakova Prenzlau z"l
whose thirteenth Yohrzeit will be on the 13th Adar,
by his children Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n"y and family
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)
Vayikra and Tzav
"Command Aharon and his sons saying this is the law of the Olah" (6:2).
All the Korbanos that the Torah mentioned in Parshas Vayikra, it now repeats, adding their pertinent Dinim that it has hitherto omitted, says the Rashbam.
The question arises, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why the Torah sees fit to split the Dinim of the Korbanos into two? Why did it not include it all in Vayikra?
And he attributes the division to the fact that whereas Vayikra discusses the Dinim of the owners who bring their Korbanos to the Beis-Hamikdash, lean their hands on them, Shecht them and watch the blood being sprinkled, Tzav discusses the Dinim of the Kohanim who engage in bringing the Korbanos on to the Mizbei'ach. Indeed, the former begins with the words "Daber el B'nei Ysrael", the latter, with "Tzav es Aharon ve'es banav … ".
And it is for that reason, he adds, that whereas the Torah uses the stronger term "Command Aharon … ", it deliberately avoids using that term with regard to Yisrael, and writes instead "Speak to the B'nei Yisrael". Because, on the one hand, the realm of Korbanos is a major obligation regarding the Kohanim, this is generally not the case with regard to Yisrael. The Torah declining to impose Korbanos on the people, merely writes "A man from among you who brings a Korban to Hashem", and goes on to describe what he should do. As the Pasuk in Yirmiyah writes "For I did not speak to your fathers nor did I command them on the day that I took them out of Egypt regarding matters of Olah or Shelamim.
It seems to me that the reason for this is because the Torah wants a person to bring Korbanos based on a sense of goodwill, rather than something that is forced on him.
Burning the Pieces in the Night
"That is the Olah that burned on the Mizbei'ach all night until the morning … " (6:2).
The Pasuk, which is talking about burning the remains of a Korban overnight, teaches us that the limbs of the Korban must remain on the Mizbei'ach until dawn-break, and that, should it be off the Mizbei'ach at that point, it becomes Pasul be'Linah - and must be burned where Korbanos that have become Pasul are burned.
Initially, it would seem that the words "until the morning" are superfluous, seeing as that is included in 'until the morning". That is not however, the case, says the Oznayim la'Torah, and he cites the Gemara in Yuma (on Daf 20), which explains "morning" (in its superfluous form) as midnight (when the night begins to approach the morning), And what the Pasuk is therefore saying is, that, although unburned limbs must remain on the Mizbei'ach until dawn-break (and must be returned in the event that they fall off), burned limbs that fall off need not be returned..
The Right-Size Garments
" … the Kohen shall wear the right-size tunic" (6:3).
This Pasuk is talking about the Avodah of T'rumas ha'Deshen (removing one shovelful of ashes and depositing it besides the ramp of the Mizbei'ach). And it is instructing the Kohanim that whilst performing this Avodah, they are not permitted to wear garments that are too long or too short.
Having already taught that a Kohen who performs any Avodah wearing clothes that are not his size invalidates the Avodah, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why does the Torah see fit to repeat the prohibition by this particular Avodah?
And he gives two answers, according to the two opinions in Yuma (23) as to whether, whilst performing the T'rumas ha'Deshen, the Kohen wore just the pants and the tunic, or whether he wore the same four garments as he wore whilst performing any other Avodah.
According to the first opinion (Resh Lakish), the Kohen needed a special warning here, because, unlike the other Avodos, where the Kohen wore a belt, on to which he could attach the hem if it was too long, if it was too long (thereby validating the avodah and saving himself from the Chiyuv Miysah (bi'yedei Shamayim) that accompanied the sin of violating it, this was not possible here, since he did not wear a belt.
According to the second opinion (Rebbi Yochanan), the Torah sees fit to repeat the prohibition here, bearing in mind the Torah's description of the Bigdei Kehunah - 'for honor and glory'. This might have otherwise led us to believe that although his clothes must fit him perfectly whilst performing other Avodos, which were performed in full view of other people (at least, of his fellow Kohanim), this might not be necessary for the Avodah of the T'rumas ha'Deshen, which was performed in the dark, and nobody witnessed, as the Gemara explains in Tamid (Daf 28).
The Torah therefore found it necessary to obligate the Kohen to wear clothes that fit perfectly - even by the T'rumas ha'Deshen as well.
The author adds that, the question also falls away according to the Rambam, who maintains that the Kohen wore his own private clothes for the T'rumas ha'Deshen. In that case, the current ruling is necessary to teach us that the prohibition extends even to his own personal clothes, and is not confined to the Bigdei Kehunah. Perhaps this is because honour and glory are intrinsic, and not necessarily bound by how many people witness it.
Furthermore, he cites Tosfos in Chulin, who explains that 'children' may Duchen together with grown-ups, but not on their own. Presumably, Tosfos means together with many grown-ups - in the Mishkan however, it transpires that the only grown-up was Aharon, which also explains why Aharon's sons, who were ketanim or whose beards had not yet grown (a condition required by others when Duchening), did not join their father to bless the people, according to Rashi.
Finally, the Oznayim la'Torah suggests that Aharon's sons did actually participate in the Birchas Kohanim, only, since Ketanim only join their older peers in order to add sweetness to their voices, the Torah does not find it necessary to mention it.
* * *
Shlomoh's Throne, Moving from Eilam (in Bavel) to
Shushan (in Persia)
& Mordechai ha'Yehudi
(Adapted from the G'ro)
Although the Pasuk makes no direct mention of Shlomoh ha'Melechech's throne, the G'ro connects it with the royal Throne mentioned in the second Pasuk of the Megilah.
Achashverosh, it seems, coveted the magnificent throne. The problem was that he was unable to ascend it. (Many foreign monarchs tried to, but could not. The only king to ascend it and sit on it was Koresh the first, a reward for giving his consent to the Jews to rebuild the Beis-Hamikdash.)
So he decided to have a replica of the throne made. However, although the seat of the kingdom was in Eilam (a Province neighboring Bavel, where until then all his predecessors had reigned), it was only in Shushan, the capital of Persia, that they were able to make it - for the simple reason that the original throne, which they were copying, was in Shushan. Sh'lomoh's throne, which was mobile, had been exiled from one country to another, and had somehow landed in Shushan.
It took Achashverosh three (incomplete) years to construct it (hence the party in the third year of his reign), Unfortunately, the new throne (unlike the original one) was not mobile, and due to its colossal size, it was too large and cumbersome to transport to Eilam. So instead, they moved the seat of the kingdom to Shushan. That is why the Pasuk records that Achashverosh made the party in Shushan the capital (since it was in order to accommodate the newly-built throne that he made Shushan his capital).
And the Pasuk stresses this to teach us the lengths to which Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu went to orchestrate the move from Eilam to Shushan.
Why did He do that? Because that was where Mord'chai, who was destined together with Esther, to save Yisrael from annihilation, lived. As the Pasuk writes later in the Megilah "There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordechai … ".
Imagine what might have happened had the decree emanated from Eilam, whilst Mordechai lived far away in Shushan!
It would of course, have been much easier to cause Mordechai to move to Eilam. But that is not the way G-d operates. He created the world for Yisrael and for the Tzadikim, and it is the world that must conform with them, rather than the other way round!
* * *
Esther, Hidden Miracles &
Who's Interested in Achashverosh's Party Anyway
(& Other Things)?
(Adapted from the G'ro)
The Gemara asks in Chulin (139) where Esther is hinted in the Torah, and it cites the Pasuk in Vayeilech "ve'Onochi hastir astir Ponai ba'yom ha'hu" (And I [says Hashem] will hide My Face on that day").
The Gro queries the Gemara's question. Why should Esther be hinted any more that David ha'Melech or any of the other Biblical characters with whom G-d performed miracles that appear in T'nach?
And he explains that what the Gemara means to ask was, not about the woman called 'Esther' but about the word. The Gemara wants to know where the Torah hints that G-d performs miracles even at times when His Presence is hidden from us - when we are in Galus.
That he performs miracles in Eretz Yisrael when the Beis-ha'Mikdash is standing is easily understood. That is why the Gemara does not ask where the miracle of Chanukah, which was also a great miracle, but which took place in Eretz Yisrael, is hinted. It asks about the miracle of Purim, which took place in Chutz la'Aretz when there was no Beis-Hamikdash. The fact that even then G-d performs miracles is a great Chidush, which cannot be taken for granted and which must therefore have a source in the Torah.
In response, it cites the Pasuk that we cited "ve'Onochi hastir astir Ponai ba'yom ha'hu".
The fact remains however, that the miracles of Purim were hidden, and that is why we constantly refer to the miracles that took place in Egypt (and not to those that took place in Shusham), even though the salvation only entailed from slavery to freedom, whereas the miracles in Shushan entailed from death to life.
The G'ro takes this idea further. Not only were the miracles of Purim themselves hidden in a vast web of 'natural miracles', but so is their presentation. As we just saw, the miracle of Sh'lomoh's throne appears in the one phrase "When King Achashverosh sat on the throne of his kingdom". Nothing in those words suggests anything miraculous, yet basically, the first chapter of the Megilah concerns it. Indeed, he points out, nobody is really interested in the details of the kings drinking party, yet the Pasuk describes it in depth. Each and every Pasuk, says the G'ro, tells us something about the numerous miracles that G-d wrought on our behalf at that time. A few of them emerge - Vashti's unnatural and sudden downfall is a prime example, with some assistance from the Medrash; most of them are hidden in the text just like the miracles themselves.
And it is in this connection that the Gemara in Chagigah (Daf 5b) cites a certain heretic, who wondered about the chances of survival of a nation, about which it is said that 'its G-d turned His Face away from them'. To which Rebbi Yehoshu replied - that 'His Hand is still stretched out to help them in time of trouble'. G-d may well hide His Face from us, but He is there nonetheless.
To illustrate this, the G'ro cites the parable (that we discussed a few months ago) about the king who sent his errant son into exile. However, afraid that he would be attacked and killed by wild animals and courtiers who hated him, he sent a secret army of agents to watch over him without his being aware of their presence. Sure enough, as he traveled through the forests from place to place, he was attacked, first by a bear and then by one of the king's courtiers. And each time, an agent 'miraculously' appeared and saved him from the danger. At first, the son thought that his savior had been on hand by pure chance, but when this happened a few times, it struck him that it had been orchestrated by his father. This planted in his heart a deep love for his father, and filled him with remorse for all his past evil deeds.
And that is what happened in Shushan. The endless stream of 'chance' happenings which culminated in Yisrael's salvation from certain death to salvation filled Mord'chai, Esther and Yisrael with the realization that even though G-d's Face was turned away, His Arm was still outstretched, and everything that had transpired and that was hidden in the Megilah was the result of G-d's love towards His People.
Consequently they did Teshuvah, and accepted the Torah out of love, without reservations.
Based on this idea, the author also explains the Gemara in Chagigah (13b) which says that the Navi Yeshayah (whose prophecy concerning the Merkavah is cryptic) actually saw the same as his colleague Yechezkel (whose describes the same topic in detail); only whereas Yeshayah is compared to a townsman, Yechezkel is compared to a villager.
The G'ro interpreting townsman to mean that he prophesied in Eretz Yisrael, and a villager, that he prophesied in Chutz la'Aretz, explains the Gemara as follows: Since Yeshayah prophesied in Eretz Yisrael, he did not need to go into detail when he informed the people that he saw the 'King', since the people believed him at his word. Not so Yechezkel, who prophesied in Chutz la'Aretz. The people did not think this was possible, until he described his revelation in detail.
* * *
A Stink for a Stink
When Haman's Daughter Got Her Own Back
The Medrash tells us that Memuchan (alias Haman) suggested that Achashverosh sentence Vashti to death, because he had a beautiful daughter who, he figured, was a suitable replacement. And so it was that, after Vashti was killed and all the beautiful (and not so beautiful) girls, took turns to spend the night with Achashverosh, Haman's daughter was among them.But something went wrong - very wrong (depending upon whose side you're on). She stank from head to toe! And the king threw her out - from head to toe.
Another Medrash tells us what happened when Haman was leading Mord'chai (on horseback) around Shushan, Haman's daughter, who was watching the tragicomedy (again depending on whose side you're on) from the rooftop, got confused and thought that it was Mord'chai leading her father. So she threw a bucket of sewage on her father's head.
The Seifer 'Lo Hayah ve'Lo Nivra' explains that what she did was not really a mistake at all. She was merely paying her father back for entering her in the competition for Queenhood.
* * *