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

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Vol. 8   No. 22

This issue is sponsored in honour of the 80th birthday of
Rabbi Chaim Wilschanski of London
by his wife and family.
"Od yenuvun be'seivoh desheinim ve'ra'ananim yihhu"

Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei

The Ketores
(Part II)


We mentioned last week that the Chelbenoh was included in the Ketores despite its repugnant smell.

The G'ro once disqualified a tenth man from making up a minyan because he was a mumar (someone who did not keep Torah and mitzvos). When they asked him about the chelbenah, he pointed out that the Chelbenah was the eleventh ingredient and that there were ten spices without it. Chazal in fact, learn from the Chelbenah that it is vital to include sinners in one's minyonim when there is a ta'anis (K'risus 6b). The G'ro apparently, interprets those 'sinners' to refer to sinners who have not repented on their sins.


Rabeinu Bachye however, writes with reference to this Gemoro, that 'the Name of Hashem is uplifted and sanctified when the resho'im perform teshuvah and are counted together with the tzadikim'. Otherwise, he says, the tzadikim will be held responsible for the sinners misdeeds (due to the 'arvus' [responsibility for one another] that Yisroel undertook at Har Gerizim and Har Eivol), and their tefilos will not be answered. The K'li Yokor too, understands the Gemoro this way, adding that it is through fasting and teshuvah that the resho'im attain forgiveness (see Gemoro Sanhedrin 37a). And that is how their combined tefilos go up together before the Heavenly Throne.


The Ketores was brought every morning and every evening at the same time as the Menorah was prepared (in the morning) and lit (in the evening, as we explained last week). In fact, the procedure was to prepare five of the seven lamps each morning, and then to bring the Ketores, before preparing the remaining two. Whereas in the evening, the Ketores was brought before the kindling of the Menorah, since it was forbidden to bring any Korban once the Menorah had been lit.

In light of what we just wrote, it is interesting that the Sedra Tetzaveh opens with the Menorah and ends with the Mizbei'ach ha'Ketores. Rabeinu Bachye at the beginning of the sedra, quoting the posuk in Mishlei "Oil and incense make the heart happy", explains how just as the creation of the world filled G-d's heart with happiness, so too, did the completion of the Mishkon. The completion of the Mishkon refers to the bringing of the Ketores, which caused the Shechinah to enter into it, and that was followed by the kindling of the Menorah, which symbolizes joy, as the Posuk writes "Light is sown for the tzadik, and for the straight-hearted, joy". He adds that the fuel for the light was olive oil, because the olive-tree brought joy to the world, when the dove returned to No'ach with an olive-leaf in its beak.


The Seifer ha'Chinuch ascribes the reason for the kindling of the Menorah as the honour and the glory of the Mishkon, since it is an honour for Yisroel when the House of G-d is well lit. The Torah Temimah uses this explanation to explain the Gemoro in Menochos (86b), which comments on the posuk "and they shall take for you pure olive-oil" - "for you", 'and not for Me', Hashem said, 'since I do not need its light' (but you do!). And it is due to the joy and honour that the light symbolizes that we always light candles at the table by a se'udas mitzvah.

And he ascribes the same reason to the Ketores (as we cited last week), 'to enhance the glory of the House, so that a beautiful aroma should pervade, like in the palace of a King.


To explain on a deeper level the association between the light of the Menorah and the Ketores, it seems that the former represents Torah-study (as is hinted in the posuk "Ki ner mitzvah, ve'Torah or"), and the latter, good midos, which are compared to a fragrant smell. And that will also explain why the Ketores must precede the kindling of the lights as we explained, because, good midos, the commentaries explain, are the foundation of Torah. Without them, any Torah that one learns is bound to be abused, and is therefore of little value.


Perhaps we can suggest a second explanation based on the Mishnah in Pirkei Ovos (4:13) which lists three crowns: the crown of Torah, of Kehunah and of Malchus, adding that the crown of a good name straddles all of them.

In that light, perhaps the Menorah represents the Oral Torah; the Mizbei'ach ho'Oloh, the Avodah; the Shulchan, Gemilus Chasodim; and the Mizbei'ach ha'Ketores, a good name.


Parshah Pearls


(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

The Shabbos D'roshoh

"And Moshe gathered all the congregation ... . On six days work shall be done" (35:1) The Torah talks about gathering the congregation specifically when it speaks about Shabbos, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, to hint at the minhag to gather together on Shabbos to hear the Shabbos d'roshoh. That in turn, is due to the fact that Shabbos is the one time that everyone is in Shul, and nobody is in a rush to go to work.


The Dew of Life

"These are the things which G-d commanded you to do" (35:1) As Chazal have taught, the words "Eileh ha'Devorim" hints at the thirty-nine forbidden creative acts that are prohibited on Shabbos, and which are derived from the Mishkon. The numerical value of "Eileh =36, "Devorim" means 2 things, and the 'hey' (of "ha'Devorim") adds 1 to make thirty-nine.

Similarly, if one counts all the expressions of 'Asiyos, b'riyos, melochos, havayos, hotzo'os and havdolos, in Bereishis until the end of the creation, they add up to thirty-nine. So do the number of words from the beginning of this parshah until "Lo Seva'aru Eish" (indeed, the numerical value of "Sheishes" [representing the six days of work] is equivalent to that of 'arbo'im choser achas' - hinting at the 39 melochos in the way that the Mishnah describes them). This is because the construction of the Mishkon corresponded to the Creation of the world (see main article, para beg. 'In light of'), of which Shabbos was the climax - and each of these is inexorably linked with the number 39.

The significance of thirty-nine is that it represents 'tal shel techiyah' (the Dew with which Hashem will revive the dead at the time of Techiyas ha'Meisim) - and the numerical value of 'tal' is 39. And so is that of 'lat' - meaning curse, the due of those who overturn Shabbos and desecrate it. Not much imagination is needed to extrapolate from here the supremacy of Shabbos.


Torah and Shabbos

"Lo seva'aru eish ... be'yom ha'Shabbos ... va'yomer ..." (35:3/4).

The first and last letters of "ha'Shabbos" and "va'yomer" spell Torah, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out. A clear indication that the main day for learning Torah is Shabbos at least, as far as the working man is concerned), when he is free from his other mundane obligations. Certainly, one is obligated to enjoy Shabbos, to eat better and to sleep more than one does during the week. However, one should not forget the Neshomoh, which expects its share of the spoil too! Hence the obligation to Daven more and to learn more. It seems that it is not for nothing that the segulah of Shabbos, based on the Neshomoh Yeseiroh, is double: two lambs (for the Korban Musaf), two challos, two candles ... .


Betzalel's Hidden Knowledge

"And Betzalel made the Oron" (37:1).

This is the only vessel with which Betzalel's name is directly mentioned, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim. And it teaches us that he was 'in the shadow of G-d' ('be'tzeil Keil'), inasmuch as he knew the secrets of the Oron and the Merkavah (G-d's Holy Throne, with the angels that support it). Because that is what the Oron represented. Doubtlessly, this is bound up with Chazal, who say that Betzalel was conversant with all the combinations of letters that Hashem used to create the world.

(Refer also to the following piece.)


Parshas Pikudei

Betzalel's Wisdom

"And Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur of the tribe of Yehudah ... " (38:22). This is one of the three occasions where Betzalel's yichus is listed. It corresponds to the three areas in which he excelled, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim - Chochmah (knowledge), binah (understanding) and da'as (Ru'ach ha'Kodesh).


A Hundred Sockets

" ... a hundred sockets, a Kikar per socket." (38:27).

It is to these sockets that Shlomoh Hamelech was alluding when he wrote in Shir Hashirim (5:15) with reference to Hashem Himself "established on golden sockets", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains. And it is corresponding to these hundred sockets (the foundation of the Mishkon) that Dovid ha'Melech instituted the recital of a hundred b'rochos each day.


The Four Aces

"ve'Eis ha'Hamitznefes Sheish, ve'es Pa'arei ha'Migbo'os sheish, ve'es Michnesei ha'bad sheish ... ve'es ha'Avneit sheish." (39:28/29).

The Ba'al ha'Turim learns from the four "eses" that each of the bigdei kehunah had its own bag in which it was kept (as befits royal robes).


It Was Completed on Chanukah

"va'Teichel kol avodas Mishkan ... " (39:32). The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the numerical value of these four words is equivalent to that of 'be'esrim va'chamishoh be'Kislev nigmar' ('it was completed on the twenty-fifth of Kislev').

And so it was! Only Hashem postponed its completion until Nisan, the month in which Yitzchok Ovinu was born, compensating the date on which it ought to have been completed with a Yom-tov of its own (Chanukah).


Like Hashem Commanded Moshe

"Like Hashem commanded Moshe".

This phrase appears by the construction of every vessel, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is Hashem's response to Moshe's request for his name to be blotted out from the Torah (See Parshah Pearls, Parshas Tetzaveh 'Where's Moshe?').

Eighteen (chai) times the Torah writes this phrase (or a slight variation of it), and correspondingly, Chazal instituted the Amidah, comprising eighteen B'rochos. And corresponding to "like Hashem commanded so they did", they later added the b'rochoh of 've'Lamalshinim'.


The total number of words contained in these nineteen phrases is 113, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, and this corresponds to the total number of words in the final section of each b'rochoh (e.g. 'boruch Atoh Hashem, Mogein Avrohom'). And that is precisely how many times the word 'leiv' appears in the Chumash, a gentle reminder that tefilah requires kavonas ha'leiv.



Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mitzvos ha'Kotzer
of the Chofetz Chayim.

(The Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh)

143. ... not to castrate the male of any species of living creature - as the Torah writes in Emor (22:24) "And a limb that is squashed, crushed, pulled loose or severed; and in your land you shall not do this".

The Gemoro in Shabbos (110b.) explains this posuk to mean that all these are prohibited to a Jew, whether on the body of a human or of another other living creature, kosher or non-kosher. Someone who contravenes this la'av is subject to malkos, even if he performs only the second stage of the castration, and irrespective of whether he performs it on a human or on an animal. A woman too, is forbidden to castrate a male, both human and animal.

Similarly, it is forbidden for a man to take oral contraceptives or to feed them to any other man or animal. A woman though, is permitted to take them.

Nor may one ask a gentile to castrate any living creature belonging to a Jew. However, in the event that he did so of his own accord, the animal remains permitted to a Jew to use or to eat. However, should the Jewish owner have intimated to him to do it, then Beis-din will penalize him and force him to sell the animal to another Jew.

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


144. ... not to construct a human image, even as an ornament - as the Torah writes in Mishpotim (20:20) "Do not make with Me ... ".

The prohibition is confined to three-dimensional images whose limbs protrude, for which one is subject to malkos. If the limbs of a three-dimensional image are depressed, and certainly if the image is only a two-dimensional one (such as a painting), it is permitted.

A signet-ring with the stamp of a human-being that protrudes is forbidden to retain, but permitted to use (e.g. should it belong to a gentile) (in wax or clay, since the image will then be depressed in the wax). But if the stamp is depressed, it is forbidden to use (since the image will protrude), but permitted to retain.


It is forbidden to draw or paint the picture of the sun or the moon or of other luminaries, as the Torah writes "Do not make with Me", meaning the image of any of the celestial bodies that serve before Hashem in the heavens. And this is forbidden even in two dimensions (since that is the way they appear to us).

It is however, permitted to paint or to sculptor the picture or the image of any other living creature, tree or plant.


It is also forbidden to construct a house with the same dimensions as the Heichal (the Kodesh), or a hallway with the same dimensions as the Ulam (the Hallway between the Azarah and the Heichal). Neither may one construct a courtyard with the same dimensions as the Azoroh, nor a table or a metal seven-branched Menorah with the dimensions of the Shulchan or the Menorah in the Heichal.

One may however, construct a Menorah of less or of more than seven branches, or even one of seven branches that is not made of metal.

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


145. ... not to duplicate the anointing-oil - as the Torah writes in Ki Siso " ... and you shall not duplicate its formula" (30:32).

Unlike the Ketores (see following mitzvah), one is only chayav if one duplicates the entire quota of one 'hin' (twelve lugin = 72 egg-volumes), but not for duplicating half of it. Someone who contravenes this la'av on purpose is subject to koreis. Should he contravene it be'shogeg (inadvertently - without realizing that it is forbidden), he is obliged to bring a Korban Chatos, provided he made it for anointing purposes, but if he made it merely as a study, he is exempt.

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


146. ... not to duplicate the ingredients of the Ketores (the Incense) - as the Torah writes in Ki Siso (30:37/38) "And do not duplicate the formula of the Ketores for yourself, Anyone who duplicates it to smell, will be cut-off".

One is chayav koreis even for only duplicating a half of the full quota, as long as he duplicated the ingredients proportionately, and a Korban Chatos for doing it be'shogeg. Someone who duplicates the Ketores in order to smell it, is chayav even though he did not actually do so. But if he duplicates it merely as a study, he is patur.

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


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