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

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Vol. 15   No. 22

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmos Frank
and Frieda Kaplan z"l and Yosef Loescher z"l
l'Iluy Nishmas Mordechai ben Avraham Tz'vi z"l

Parshas Vayakhel

Shabbos and the Mishkan
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

Rashi explains that the Torah places the Parshah of Shabbos before that of the Mishkan, to teach us that Shabbos takes precedence over the Mishkan, and that one may not violate the former in order to construct the latter.


But surely this is obvious, asks the K'li Yakar, when we bear in mind that constructing the Mishkan is a Mitzvas Asei, whereas Shabbos is a La'av which carries with it the penalty of Kareis?

Indeed it is, he answers, yet we find that once the Mishkan is completed, many areas of the Avodah (in the realm of communal sacrifices that have a fixed time) override Shabbos; so it would stand to reason that the actual building should, too. That is why we need a Pasuk to teach us that it does not.


In Parshas Ki Sissa, the Torah opens with various aspects of the Mishkan, dealing with Shabbos only later. Consequently, the Pasuk needs to add the word "Ach" (which always comes to preclude) to teach us that the Mishkan does not take precedence over Shabbos (as Rashi explains there).

The question arises, says the K'li Yakar, as to why the Torah sees fit to give the Mishkan precedence, and then to have to insert the word "ach"? Why did it not switch the order of the Parshiyos, placing Shabbos first, in which case "Ach" would not have been necessary?

In Ki Sissa, the author himself explained that the Torah specifically wanted to insert "Ach", in order to convey the message that the Mishkan and the anointing oil (which is also mentioned there) will not last forever if Yisrael fail to keep the Shabbos, since it is the observance of Shabbos that will bring the redemption. Indeed, he explains, based on the Chazal, who say that Mashi'ach will come when Yisrael observe two Shabbasos, that also explains why the Torah there refers to Shabbosos in the plural, when it writes ("Ach es Shabsosai tishmoru"). Here however, he gives the following answer:


The apparent discrepancy between the two Parshiyos, he says, is based on the fact that whereas Shabbos demonstrates the honour of Hashem, who created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, the Mishkan, which proves that G-d forgave Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf and was ready to rest His Shechinah among them, represents the praise of Yisrael. Consequently, in Parshas Ki Sissa, G-d, who is primarily concerned about the praise of Yisrael, ordered Moshe, to give precedence to the Mishkan, creating the need to add the word "Ach", to prevent the misconception that the Mishkan overrides Shabbos. But in this Parshah, it is Moshe who is passing on G-d's instructions to the people. And Moshe was more worried about the honour of Hashem. Consequently, he placed Shabbos before the Mishkan, rendering the addition of the word "Ach" unnecessary.


One final question which the K'li Yakar poses: If, as Rashi assumes in this Parshah, the Torah places the more important issue first, to teach us that it takes precedence over those that follow, why in Parshas Kedoshim, when the Torah presents the Mitzvah of respecting one's parents, followed by that of keeping Shabbos, do Chazal learn that Shabbos overrides Kibud Av, even though it is written last?

And he answers by ascribing that d'rashah to the Torah's use of the plural in the Pasuk "ve'es Shabsosai tishmoru". This is no problem with the first half of the Pasuk ("Ish imo ve'aviv tira'u" [plural]), from which the Chachamim extrapolate that a woman is no less obligated to respect her parents than a man. But why does it employ the plural in the second half of the Pasuk?

What the Torah must therefore be saying is that even though a man must respect his father, his father, together with him, are both obligated to observe the Shabbos, another way of saying that Shabbos takes precedence over Kibud Av va'Eim, despite the fact that Kibud Av va'Eim are mentioned first.

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Parsha Pearls

Making a Fire on Shabbos

"Do not light a fire on the day of Shabbos" (35:3).

The Torah finds it necessary to warn against lighting a fire (even though it was one of the thirty-nine Melachos performed in the construction of the Mishkan, which are not specified), explains the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos, because it does not look as if it is a Melachah (indeed, in essence, it is destructive, rather than constructive, like all the other Melachos). Therefore, people might otherwise assume that it is alright to kindle a fire on Shabbos, in order to be prepared after Shabbos to work in gold, silver or copper.


The Knitted Garments

"And the knitted garments (Bigdei ha'S'rod) to administer in holiness, the holy garments for Aharon and Aharon " (35:19).

The Gemara in Yuma (72b), commenting on the word "ha'S'rod" (and assuming that the Bigdei ha'S'rod and the Bigdei Aharon are one and the same (See Rashi in Ki Sissa 31:10), comments that were it not for the priestly garments, no remnant (*Sorid) or refugee of Yisrael would remain.

Rashi, in spite of his explanation in Ki Sissa (to which we just referred), ascribes the atonement that K'lal Yisrael receive through the Bigdei Kehunah to the Korbanos, of which they (the Bigdei Kehunah) are an intrinsic part.

The Torah Temimah asks why Rashi finds it necessary to say this. Why does he not explain that it is the garments in and of themselves that atone for Yisrael, and ensure their continuity, as indeed the Gemara teaches us in Erchin (see main article, Parshas Terumah)?

And he answers that Rashi had difficulty with that, inasmuch as what use are the Bigdei Kehunah unless the are used in performing the Avodah of the Korbanos?

This answer does not seem adequate however, since what Rashi ought to have said was that the Bigdei Kehunah (which atone intrinsically), only do so provided the Kohen actually performs the Avodah in them. And as for the Korbanos themselves, they too, atone in their own right.


Sad to Relate

"And the men came together with the women, all those who were generous-hearted" (35:22).

How can one read this Pasuk and not tremble, asks the Yerushalmi? Here it was only the generous-hearted who were willing to donate, yet when it came to donating for the Golden Calf, the Torah testifies that "All the people took off their jewellery!


Desecration - Conflagration


Rabeinu Efrayim interprets the Pasuk to mean that one should cause outbreaks of fire by desecrating the Shabbos - a hint that the desecration of Shabbos causes conflagrations.


The Princes' Pride

"And the princes (ve'ha'Nesi'im) brought the onyx stones " (35:27).

A 'Yud' is missing from the word "ve'ha'Nesi'im", Rashi explains, because they were lax in donating materials to the Mishkan, opting to wait until everybody else had donated, with the intention of supplementing whatever was missing. They ought to have donated immediately, says the K'li Yakar, anticipating the possibility that the people would donate all the needs of the Mishkan, leaving them with nothing to bring. Indeed, Chazal inform us, this is what almost happened. All the Mishkan's basic needs were provided for, and were it not for the clouds that transported the precious stones together with the Princes' Manna (see Highlights from Targum Yonasan 35:21), there would have been nothing left for them to donate.


The K'li Yakar explains why it was specifically the letter 'Yud' that was omitted from their name. The 'Yud' he points out, is the only letter from Hashem's Holy Name that is contained in the word 'Nesi'im'. The root of their laxness, he maintains, was pride, in that they wanted to be able to boast that it was thanks to them that all the materials for the Mishkan were available, and that without them, it would not have been completed. And based on a Pasuk in Tehilim, Chazal have taught that a conceited person drives Hashem's presence out of the world. No wonder then, that due to the princes' pride, the Holy letter 'Yud' was removed from their name.


Mishkon - Mashkon

"And he made the planks for the Mishkan" (36:20).

When the Torah writes "for the Mishkan", explains the Rosh, it is subtly hinting at a secondary role that the Mishkan plays. If Yisrael should sin and be deserving of destruction, the Mishkan will become a 'Mashkon' (a security). G-d will take it in lieu of the people - allowing the Jewish nation to survive.

When Moshe asked G-d what will happen if the degeneration of Yisrael occurs at a time when neither a Mishkan nor a Beis-Hamikdash is standing, He replied that He would then take Tzadikim as the security. This too, is hinted in the Pasuk in Eichah (2:4) " and he slew all those who were pleasant to the eye".


First the Aron

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

The Aron was the first vessel to be manufactured, explains the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., because the Pasuk writes in Mishlei (119:130) "Your opening words will illuminate", and light was the first of all the creations. Therefore, the Aron, into which the Torah (which is called light) was placed, had to be the first vessel to be manufactured.

And to no other Vessel other than the Aron do we find Betzalel's name connected, because that is where 'the Shade of G-d' (the acronym of 'be'Tzel-Keil') rests. And in addition, it is in connection with the Aron that Betzalel 'corrected' Moshe, in that the construction of the Mishkan naturally had to precede that of the Aron, to which Moshe replied 'You were in the shade of G-d', as the Gemara explains in B'rachos (55a).


Acacia Wood

"And Betzalel made the Aron of acacia wood (Atzei Shitim)" (37:1).

Why did Hashem choose particularly this kind of wood for constructing the Mishkan, asks the Rosh?

It was to atone for the sin of the daughters of Mo'av, which they would later perpetrate in the fortieth year, prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, when they were encamped in Shitim, he answers, adding 'Blessed be the One who creates the cure before dealing the stroke'.


The Copper Mirrors

"And he made the copper basin with the mirrors of the women who flocked " (38:8).

The copper basin was placed between the Ohel Mo'ed and the Mizbei'ach, the Rosh remarks, but drawn a little to the north (so that it could be seen from the Ezras Yisrael [which was situated east of the Ezras Kohanim & the Mizbei'ach]). This would ensure that the women who entered the Ezras Yisrael would be able to see it (if they stood towards the north), and recall that it was from there that the water was drawn for the Sotah to drink in an earthenware vessel, and they would be duly chastised (and refrain from sinning).

* * *


"And all the men came whose hearts were willing and who were filled with a spirit of prophesy, and they brought their gift " (35:21).


"And the clouds of the heaven went to (the River) Pishon and they transported from there the onyx stones and the filling stones to set in the Efod and in the Choshen, and they placed them on the surface of the desert, and the princes of Yisrael went and brought them for the needs of the Avodah" (35:27).


"Then the clouds of the heaven went to Gan Eden to fetch choice spices and olive-oil for illuminating, and pure balsam for the anointing-oil and for the incense" (35:28).


"And he made the lid (of the Aron) of pure gold, two and a half Amos its length and one and a half Amos its width, though it was a Tefach thick (36:6).


"And he made for the Mizbei'ach a grating of net-work made of copper, below its surrounding ledge down until its midpoint, to catch the coals and the bones that fell off the Mizbei'ach" (38:4).


"And he made the Copper Basin with its copper base from the copper mirrors of the modest women, who, when they came to Daven at the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, would stand by the Korban of their blood, thanking and praising Hashem. Then they would return to their husbands and, when they had become Tahor from their Tum'ah, they would conceive righteous children (38:8).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 114:
The Prohibition of Carrying Out the Death-Sentence on Shabbos

Beis-Din are forbidden to carry out the death-sentence on Shabbos, as the Torah writes in Vayakhel (35:3) "Do not burn a fire in all your dwelling-places on the day of Shabbos". The Gemara in Yevamos interprets this as a prohibition on Beis-Din against carrying out the sentence on someone who has been sentenced to death by S'reifah (burning, which entailed boiling up lead). And Chazal extend this prohibition to the other three deaths perpetrated by Beis-Din (strangulation, piercing with the sword and stoning). They learn this way, the author explains, because, having already issued the ruling (in Sh'mos 20:10) "Do not perform any Melachah", the Pasuk per se is otherwise superfluous, since kindling a fire (that is necessary) is in itself, a Melachah. It must therefore come to teach us an independent ruling, as we explained. And that is also how the Mechilta explains it: 'Do not burn a fire". Burning a fire has already been included (in the La'av of "Do not burn a fire " [which we cited earlier]); And the reason that the Torah singles it out is to teach that, just as S'reifah, one of the four deaths of Beis-Din, does not override Shabbos, so too, do the other three deaths not override Shabbos Over and above this D'rashah, we also learn out other D'rashos from the same Pasuk (e.g. that burning comes to divide the Melachos [that someone who performs a number of Melchos in one go, having forgotten that it is Shabbos, is obligated to bring a Korban Chatas for each Melachah, and not just thirty-nine should he transgress all of them]) The Yerushalmi actually learns from the words 'in all your dwelling places" that Beis-Din are forbidden to convene on Shabbos.

A reason for this Mitzvah is because G-d wants to honour this day, that it should be a source of Menuchah (rest) for everybody, even to sinners and people who have been convicted to die. This can be compared to a great king who once invited his subjects to a banquet, who graciously welcomes all his guests, irrespective of who they are or what they have done, and who postpones all judgements for the following day. So it is here, where G-d wishes to sanctify and to honour the day of Shabbos, for our good and for our merit, as the Chinuch explained. And this too, is part of that Kavod.

This Mitzvah applies when the Beis-Hamikdash is standing, to men, who are responsible for the dispensation of justice, and who are therefore obligated to prevent the death-sentence from being carried out. Should Beis-Din contravene the Din and issue a command to put someone to death by burning (?) on Shabbos, they have transgressed this La'av, though they will not receive Malkos, because they did not perform an act. In the event that they did (i.e. if they actually put the guilty party to death) then, if there are witnesses and warning, the Dayanim are Chayav Sekilah (stoning). Otherwise, they bring a Chatas as an atonement.

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