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

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Vol. 10   No. 44

This issue is sponsored by
Mr. & Mrs. Shabsi Rubin n.y.
in honour of the Bar Mitzvah of
their dear son Moshe Shmuel

Parshas Va'Eschana
Shabbos Nachamu

The Three Mitzvos
(Part 1)

In the Parshah of Sh'ma, the Torah juxtaposes three Mitzvos - Torah-study, Tefilin and Mezuzah. And it lists them both in the first Parshah of the Sh'ma ('Sh'ma') and in the second ('Ve'hoyoh im Shomo'a'), only with a difference. In the first Parshah, the Mitzvos follows the order that we just listed them, whereas in the second, the Torah inverts Tefilin and Torah-study, so that the order is now Tefilin, Torah and Mezuzah.

I once heard from Rabbi Baruch Horwitz (Sh'lita), that this is because the first Parshah lists the Mitzvos from an idealistic point of view, where the first thing that a father does with his son is study Torah; the Mitzvos follow when he turns bar-Mitzvah. The second Parshah however, speaks of a situation when, due to our misdeeds, we find ourselves in Galus, without Torah, and it is the performing of the Mitzvos (particularly Tefilin, as the Torah writes in Bo [13:9], in connection with the Mitzvah of Tefilin "in order that the Torah of Hashem shall be in your mouth"), that inspires us to learn Torah, rather than the other way round.

Perhaps this will also explain the different terms that the Torah uses, "ve'Shinantem le'vonecha" in the first Parshah, and "ve'Limadtem Osam es beneichem le'daber bom" in the second. The former is an expression of sharpness (i.e. to have all the answers at one's fingertips), as Rashi explains, for ideally speaking, the Mitzvah is to learn Torah, until one is able to answer any questions, and to resolve all problems. The latter on the other hand, is a plain expression of learning, depth of understanding notwithstanding, pertaining to the situation in Galus that we just described.


The above explanation fits hand in glove with the explanation of the Meshech Chochmah at the end of Eikev. Quoting a Sifri, the Meshech Chochmah establishes the first Parshah by Torah-study, and the second, by the performing of Mitzvos. This distinction is based on the Torah's use of the term ''to serve Him with all your heart'', which according to the Sifri, has connotations of good deeds, rather than of Torah-study. That, he says, explains why the Torah finds it necessary to warn us against going astray after other gods. This would not be necessary when talking to people who study Torah, because as Chazal have said, 'the light contained in the Torah would have brought them back to the right path' (and it goes without saying that it would have prevented them from it in the first place. And it is only when somebody separates themselves from Torah that he is prone to serve idols.


With this Sifri, the Meshech Chochmah explains, we can understand the Gemara in B'rachos (35b). The Gemara there cites the opinion of Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai, that when Yisrael perform the will of Hashem, they are able to learn Torah day and night, and their work is performed by others, and it is when they do not perform the will of Hashem that the Torah writes (in the second paragraph of the Sh'ma) "and you will gather your corn, your wine and your oil" (meaning that you will have to do it yourselves).

Tosfos asks there, how Rebbi Shimon can possibly establish this Pasuk by when Yisrael are not fulfilling the will of Hashem, when the Parshah begins with the words "And it will be if you will listen to (obey) My Mitzvos"?

According to the Sifri, says the Meshech Chochmah, this is no problem. The above description of K'lal Yisrael merely indicates that Yisrael perform the Mitzvos diligently, but not that they study Torah, and if they do not study Torah, then they belong to the category of those who do not perform the will of Hashem.


And it is in this context that, later in the chapter, the Torah, with reference to our subsequent sins and exile, predicts that when we are in Galus, we will reflect on our situation, and do Teshuvah. We will lay Tefilin, and that will inspire us to study Torah, as we explained.


Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)

No Repetition Allowed

"And G-d said to me, that's enough, speak no more to Me about this matter!"

The G'ro cites a Medrash which tells of a tradition that Moshe had, that whenever he repeated the word "Na" (please, or now), his request would be granted. Based on this tradition, he reinterprets the above phrase, giving it a slightly different slant, as we shall now see.

In fact, the G'ro heard that the source for this is the Gemara in Shabbos (89a), which describes how, when Moshe ascended Har Sinai, all the angels presented him with a gift, including the Angel of Death. This piece of information it seems, was the gift that Moshe received from the Angel of Death.

That is why, when Moshe prayed for Miriam's recovery (after she had been stricken with Tzara'as), he said "Keil Na, re'fo Na loh", repeating the word "Na", to ensure that his sister was cured.

And that explains why, in this Parshah, Moshe asked G-d "E'ebro Na" ...... (Please let me cross ..."), with the intention of repeating the word "Na", until G-d cut him short, by telling him "That's enough! Don't repeat that word!"


Good Intentions Notwithstanding

Do not add to the things that I command you today ... to observe the Mitzvos of Hashem ... Your eyes beheld that which Hashem did at Ba'al Pe'or, because whoever followed Ba'al Pe'or, Hashem destroyed ... " (4:2/3).

What on earth does Ba'al Pe'or have to do with the Mitzvah of 'bal Tosif' (not adding to the Mitzvos), asks the G'ro? And he explains that among those who worshipped Ba'al Pe'or (whose manner of worship, as is well-known, was to defecate in front of it, or even on it) were people whose intention was to disgrace the idol (adding to the Mitzvah of not turning to idols at all). They thought that by mocking the idol, and performing such a disgusting act in front of it, they were performing a great Mitzvah, when in reality, they were Chayav Miysah, since that was the way the idol was worshipped. That is why the Torah writes here "Do not add to the Mitzvos (even if your intention is "to observe the Mitzvos of Hashem". because) your eyes beheld what Hashem did at Ba'al Pe'or ... " (good intentions notwithstanding).


The Great Extraction

"And Hashem will scatter you among the nations ... and you will worship there man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see, cannot hear, cannot eat and cannot smell" (4:27-29).

Why, asks the G'ro, does the Pasuk mention the senses sight, hearing and smell, whilst making no mention of the fact that those same images are unable to speak?

To explain this, he cites a story from the Medrash, which describes Nevuchadnetzar's tremendous efforts to induce Daniel to bow down to the huge image that he had erected.

Eventually, he assured him that if he (Daniel) only saw what it was capable of doing, he would not hesitate to prostrate himself before it of his own accord. He was referring to the image, into whose mouth he had placed the Kohen Gadol's Tzitz, with G-d's holy Name engraved on it, and which now responded to the songs of praise which the priests sang before it, by announcing "I am Hashem Your G-d ... ' .

Daniel's response was to ask for permission to kiss the image on the mouth (ostensibly because that was the limb with which it performed such wondrous deeds). When that was granted, he clambered up the image, and ordered the Tzitz sitting in the image's mouth, to do his bidding, as he was the Sh'li'ach of Hashem, who was coming to put a stop to the terrible Chilul Hashem that it was causing. With that, he placed his mouth to that of the image, and sucked the Tzitz from the mouth of the image into his own. Immediately, the image stopped responding to the singing and playing of the instruments. No sooner had Daniel descended than, a strong wind blew down the image from its pedestal.

And when the gentiles witnessed the subsequent miracles that G-d wrought with Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah, they smashed their own images, fashioning them into bells, which they hung around the necks of their dogs and their donkeys.


Our current Pasuk deliberately omits mentioning that the images cannot speak, because it incorporates to the image of Nevuchadnetzar, which did speak (no matter that it did not possess an intrinsic ability to do so). The Pasuk describes what will happen when Yisrael are exiled to Bavel, and they will worship the idols there (most Jews, unfortunately, did bow down to Nevuchadnetzar's image). And it concludes with the words "And you will seek there Hashem your G-d and you will find Him", an allusion to Yisrael's discovery that the image was not the real G-d, but Hashem, "because you will seek Hashem with all your heart ... and you will find Him (in the mouth of the image). "Because you will search for Him with all your heart ... ", as Daniel did, with great self-sacrifice..


The Dividends of Ahavas Hashem

"And you shall love Hashem your G-d ... " (6:5).

The Gemara in Shabbos (23b) states that someone who loves Talmidei-Chachamim, will merit to have sons who are Talmidei-Chachamim, someone who fears (respects) Talmidei-Chachamim will have sons-in-law who are Talmidei-Chachamim, whereas someone who honours Talmidei-Chachamim will himself become a Talmid-Chacham.

The author, in his footnotes, cites a letter from one of the G'ro's Talmidim, who favours this version of the three stages to ours (which inverts the first two), on the grounds that it is appropriate for someone who loves Chachamim (like a father loves a son) to have children who are Rabanan, and for someone who respects them to have sons-in-law (who generally respect their father-in-law).

According to this text, both sections of the statement are hinted in this Parshah. Firstly, after "ve'ohavto es Hashem Elokecha", the Torah writes "ve'shinantem le'vonecha", a hint that for loving Talmidei-Chachamim one will merit sons who will learn and become Talmidei-Chachamim. Secondly, Chazal explain the Pasuk "va'Atem ha'Deveikim ba'Hashem Elokeichem" (4:4, which cannot be understood literally), to mean that anyone who marries off his daughter to a Talmid-Chacham and who grants him benefit from his property, it is as if he would have cleaved to the Shechinah (referring to the fear of G-d) as the Torah writes "es Hashem Elokecha Tiyro" (to include Talmidei-Chachamim, as Chazal have explained). And the Pasuk ends with the word "u'vo sidbak", indicating that he will indeed merit it should he keep his side of the bargain.


Enjoying Our Pork-Chops (Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

"And houses full of all good things ... Take care not to forget Hashem (6:11/12).

Chazal derive from the first Pasuk that during a Milchemes Mitzvah (such as the conquest of Cana'an) the Torah permits eating whatever one finds, even forbidden foods (such as pork chops), provided, says the Rambam, there is nothing else to eat. This explains, says the Meshech Chochmah, the juxtaposition of these two Pesukim. For, as is well-known, eating non-kosher food causes a timtum ha'leiv (a weak understanding and retention of one's Torah-learning), even there where doing so is unavoidable, and is therefore done with the Torah's permission. And it is avoid this Timtum ha'Leiv, that, should the need arise, it is preferable to Shecht an animal on Shabbos, to feed a dangerously ill person meat, rather than feed him a neveilah or a t'reifah (even though the Isur of Shabbos is far more stringent than that of eating treif).

Therefore the Torah needs to warn the soldiers making use of this concession, to make the extra effort not to succumb to this danger. No doubt, if they do all they can to study and to retain their learning, and pray to Hashem for Divine Inspiritation, Hashem will respond favorably and help them to overcome the problem.


Presumably, the Meshech Chochmah's explanation pertains to the opinion of the Rambam exclusively. According to the Ramban however (who asks why, according to the Rambam, we need a special Pasuk to permit t'reif food in cases of life-danger, and) who maintains that the Torah actually declares whatever one finds in the course of a Milchemes Mitzvah permitted under any circumstances (even where other food is available), the Torah has in fact, removed the prohibition from all T'reif products, and no harm will befall the person who eats them.

In that case, the reason for the above juxtaposition must be understood in light of the simple interpretation of the Pasuk. Money that one obtains too easily without having worked for it, tends to go to the recipient's head, causing him to become conceited and arrogant. Hence the warning that when, during the conquest of Cana'an, the soldiers will come across houses full of good things for which they did not work, they should beware not to become conceited and forget G-d in the process (see Seforno).


Part 4
(based on the morning Korbanos, with the commentaries of Rashi on the Chumash and of the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

The Korban Tamid
Temimim Shenayim La'Yom

The first letters of these three words add up to seven hundred and thirty, the total number of Korbenos Tamid that were brought each year (Rabeinu Bachye).


es ha'Keves Echad Ta'aseh ba'Boker

"Echad" - say Chazal, is an expression of 'Meyuchad' (special). The Korban Tamid must therefore be the choicest lamb in the flock.

"Echad" - not 'ha'Echad', because the numerical value of "echad " is thirteen, a hint that thirteen Kohanim would work on the Korban Tamid at one and the same time (Rabeinu Bachye).

"ba'Boker" - implies from the beginning of the morning (from the time that the sun's rays have lit up the entire eastern horizon) until the end of the fourth hour (though some say until mid-day). This Korban is known as the 'Tamid shel Shachar'.


ve'es ha'Keves ha'Sheini

Only one lamb is sacrificed in the afternoon. If for some reason, the Kohanim did not bring the Tamid in the morning, they may not bring it in the afternoon.


Ta'aseh Bein-ho'Arbayim

'The Tamid shel Bein-ho'Arbayim' is brought between the beginning of the evening (half an hour after mid-day, when the sun begins its descent towards the west) and the end (at sunset), though in fact, it is normally Shechted at eight and a half hours and sacrificed one hour later.


va'Asiris ho'Eifoh So'les le'Minchah

The Minchas Nesachim that accompanies the Tamid comprises a tenth of an Eifah (forty-three and a fifth egg-volumes) of fine wheat flour


Belulah ba'Shemen Kosis Revi'is ha'Hin

Mixed with a quarter of a Hin - (three Lugin) of crushed oil (to preclude oil that has been cooked). "Crushed" is a Mitzvah, but is not crucial Bedieved. The same applies to the mixing, which is Kosher anyway, as long as the proportion of flour and oil is such that they can be mixed.


Olas Tamid ho'Asuyah be'Har Sinai

The Torah compares the Olas Tamid to the Olah that was brought at Har Sinai (either the Korbanos that were brought during the days of the Milu'im [i.e. the inauguration of the Mishkan] or those that they brought before Matan Torah), to teach us that, like at Har Sinai, they must receive the blood in a K'li Shareis (a vessel that has been sanctified for that purpose), as the Torah specifically states there.


ve'Nisko Revi'is ha'Hin ba'Kodesh Hasech

ba'Kodesh - The three Lugin of wine are poured on to the Mizbei'ach, into a silver bowl that is attached to the south-western Keren (copper block), where it flows down to the Shitin (deep within the bowels of the Mizbei'ach). Even the congealed wine that the Kohanim scrape every seventy years from the walls of the conduit that lead down to the Shitin have to be burned in the Azarah.


Hasech Nesech Sheichar

Hasech Nesech - implies two 'Nisuchim', the bi-daily Nisuch ha'Yayin, and the Nisuch ha'Mayim, that takes place on Sukos. Sheichar - implies intoxicating wine (not wine from the vat that is less than forty days old). Others maintain that this is only mi'de'Rabbanan, and that "Sheichar" comes to preclude diluted wine.


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