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

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Vol. 9   No. 22

This issue is sponsored
By Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Wilschanski of London
In honour of the barmitsva of their grandson Yechiel Aharon n.y.
May he always be a source of nachas to his parents, family
And to all Yisrael
l'iluy Nishmas R'Amram Hillel ben Menachem Feldman
by his wife, children, parents and family.

(Parshas ha'Chodesh)

Pesach for Hashem
(adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

Commenting on the Pasuk in Bo "And this is how you should eat it ... it is a Pesach for Hashem" (12:11), Rashi writes 'The sacrifice is called Pesach because ... G-d skipped out the Jewish houses from between the Egyptian ones, jumping from Egyptian to Egyptian, whilst the Jew in the middle escaped (with his life). And you, perform all its service for the sake of Hashem.'

Rashi's last phrase appears out of place, seemingly unconnected to the previous one, asks the B'nei Yisaschar. Nor is it clear why he mentions this here.


To answer this, he cites a Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (26a), which ascribes the absence of gold from the garments of the Kohen Gadol serving in the Kodesh Kodshim on Yom Kipur, to the principle 'Ein kategor na'aseh senegor' (a prosecutor cannot become a defense counsel).

Consequently, it is inappropriate to wear gold (which was used to make the Golden Calf), as an atonement in the Kodesh Kodshim. And the same reason applies to the prohibition of adding gold to a Shofar.

That being the case, he asks, how could the Torah in Shemini, prescribe a calf as the sin-offering to be brought by Aharon that would atone for the sin of the Golden Calf?


To answer this question, the B'nei Yisaschar cites the Gemara in Kidushin (5a) which attributes the fact that a woman cannot be divorced with money to the same principle in reverse ('Ein Sanegor na'aseh kategor'). Seeing as she is bound to her husband by means of the money (of kidushin), it is not possible for the same money to divide them. She can however, be divorced with a document, the Gemara continues, even though a man can be bound to his wife by means of a document too. The difference, says the Gemara, is that, whereas it is the same coins that bind them that will now be used to separate them, the two documents are worded differently, and are therefore considered to be different entities.


Bear in mind that the Torah writes there (in Shemini) "zeh ha'dovor asher tzivoh Hashem ta'asu", indicating that Aharon and his sons were to specifically declare that they were bringing the sacrifices that G-d had commanded (because He had commanded them to). In that case, we can now use the same argument to resolve the Kashya that we just asked, justifying the choice of the calf as Aharon's sin-offering. For when they served the Golden Calf, they declared 'These are your gods Yisrael', thereby creating an entirely different entity from the calf that Aharon was now bringing in the Name of G-d.


Similarly, when Yisrael were ordered to take a lamb for the Korban Pesach, one might be tempted to ask that this too, was a case of 'Ein Kategor na'aseh sanegor', seeing as the lamb was one of the major Egyptian gods, which Yisrael had hitherto worshipped alongside the Egyptain masters? However there as well, the Torah writes 'va'amartem zevach Pesach hu la'Hashem', and there as well, the declaration of the Pesach lamb for the sake of G-d, turned it into a different entity than the lamb that they had previously worshipped.


And this is what Rashi presumably means when, after explaining why the Korban is called 'Pesach', he stresses the importance of performing its service for the sake of G-d. He too, is bothered by the question how it is possible to bring the same lamb that Yisrael worshipped in Egypt as a sacrifice to G-d. And he answers that the very name 'Pesach' reminds us that we are bringing it to celebrate G-d's choice of Yisrael as His nation. Consequently, if we specifically have in mind to bring it for His sake, it will no longer be the same entity as the one they worshipped in Egypt, thereby eliminating the problem of 'Ein Kategor na'aseh sanegor'.


The truth of the matter is that the B'nei Yisaschar's answer is superfluous. The very Gemara that prompts his question confines 'Ein kategor na'aseh sanegor' to something that enters the Holy of Holies, extending it to a Shofar only because the tone of the Shofar goes before G-d's holy Throne (which is equivalent to the Holy of Holies). After all, did the garments of the Kohen (as well as those that the Kohen Godol wore outside the Kodesh Kodshim) not contain gold? Consequently, neither the calf of Aharon's sin-offering nor the lamb of the Korban Pesach is subject to the principle 'Ein kategor na'aseh sanegor'. Nevertheless, one cannot overestimate the importance of a) performing a Mitzvah for Hashem alone and without ulterior motives, and b) of verbalizing that Parshah PearlsintenVayakheltion. Doing so, enhances the sanctity of the Mitzvah manifold and raises the level of the person performing it to a far higher plane. And presumably, that is what the B'nei Yisaschar had in mind too.


Parshah Pearls

Afraid of Moshe's Face

"And Moshe gathered the whole congregation of Yisrael" (35:1).

Why, asks the Or ha'Chayim, does the Torah need to mention this? Surely Moshe always gathered the people before he spoke to them? He answers that the circumstances were different here than in other cases due to the fact that the Torah has just written that Moshe's face was aglow with a spiritual radiance of which B'nei Yisrael were afraid. Consequently, Moshe would have to make a special effort to prevent them from running away. Hence the Torah's need to tell us that he gathered them, in a way that was not necessary on other occasions.


To Do or Not to Do

" ... these are the things that Hashem commanded to do them" (ibid.).

Why, asks the Or ha'Chayim, does the Torah find it necessary to add the words "to do them", which appear superfluous? Moreover, he asks, considering that the essence of Shabbos is to desist from work, why does the Torah use a positive term?

The Or ha'Chayim has already dealt with this latter question in Ki Sisa, where the Torah writes "And Yisrael shall observe the Shabbos to do the Shabbos" (31:16), where he gives numerous explanations. We might add that there "And Yisrael shall observe the Shabbos" refers to the prohibitions of Shabbos (contained in "Shomor"), and "to do the Shabbos", to the positive Mitzvos (such as Kidush [contained in Zachor]). But here, where the Torah speaks exclusively about not working, a different explanation is called for.

The Or ha'Chayim himself gives a number of additional answers. In one of them, he explains that it is indeed Yisrael who make the Shabbos, who transform it from a theory into practice. If they did not, Shabbos would be nothing more than an abstract term. It is only Yisrael's keeping the Shabbos that turns it into a vibrant reality.

The basis for this explanation is a Mechilta - see Torah Temimah Ki Siso (31:16, Note 37). It seems to me that this concept fits beautifully with a well-known Medrash. The Medrash relates how Shabbos complained that of all the days of the week, it alone had no partner. Whereupon G-d replied that it need not fear, since Yisrael was its partner. And this, in conjunction with the Gemara in Sanhedrin (22b), which states that a woman only makes a covenant with the man who made her into a vessel. And it is Yisrael who make Shabbos into Shabbos.


The Seforno however, sees the Pasuk in a different light, According to him, the Pasuk is not referring to the Shabbos at all, but to the six days of the week. It is as if to say that the creative tasks that the Torah is about to forbid on Shabbos (those that are connected with the construction of the Mishkan that follows) one may perform during the six days. The Ba'al ha'Turim elaborates on this idea. He points out that the word "La'asos" (to do), written as it is without a 'Vav', contains the letters that spell 'Lamed Tesha' (thirty-nine). It therefore transpires that the thirty-nine Melachos that one performs during the week, may not be performed on Shabbos.


Taking from Oneself

"Take from yourselves a gift for Hashem" (35:6).

The K'li Yakar explains the words "from yourselves" in a number of ways.

Firstly, he says, it comes to preclude gifts from stolen goods Hashem hates theft, and rejects anything stolen that one offers him, as the Navi Yeshayah explains (see Sucah 30a).

Secondly, he explains how, when it comes to performing Mitzvos and giving Tzedakah, some people always take their cue from others. That is why the Torah writes here "Take from yourselves" - exhorting the people to generate their own inspiration when donating this gift to Hashem, and not to rely on what they see others doing.

And thirdly, he says, someone who donates his money for a worthy cause with a good heart is considered as if he had given himself. Indeed, Chazal have said, with reference to the Pasuk "u've'chol me'odecho", that some people even love their money more than their bodies. And this message is particularly true of a poor person who gives for a good cause.


Parshas Pikudei

The Shiv'as Yemei ha'Milu'im

"On the first day of the first month you shall set up the Mishkan ... And you shall bring the Table ... and the Menorah" (40:4). This Parshah speaks about the Yom ha'Shemini (the Eighth Day of Consecration), the day that Aharon and his sons began the regular Seider ha'Avodah.

Interestingly, throughout the Parshiyos that deal with the Shiv'as Yemei ha'Milu'im (the seven days of Consecration, during which time Moshe served as Kohen), both in Tetzaveh and in Tzav, no mention is made of any the Holy Vessels, other than the Mizbei'ach ha'Nechoshes, on which Moshe sacrificed each day.

This is the first time that the Torah mentions the Shulchan, the Menorah, the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav and the Kiyor (the Laver). With regard to the latter ( regarding the Shiv'as Yemei ha'Milu'im), even when the Torah instructs Moshe to wash Aharon and his sons (29:4), Rashi comments that this refers to Toveling in a Mikvah (and not the washing of the hands that would precede the Avodah once their inauguration was complete). Even the Aron is mentioned here for the first time, although it is difficult to conceive the Mishkan without it.


From all this, it appears that, apart from bringing the daily Korbanos and those of Aharon's inauguration, Moshe did not perform any of the other Avodos during the period that he served as Kohen Gadol. Those were reserved for Aharon and his sons, when they began the full Avodah on the eighth day, on Rosh Chodesh Nisan.

A proof for this can be found in Tetzaveh, where the Torah has just discussed Moshe's duties during the Shiv'as Yemei ha'Milu'im, including the sanctification of the Mizbei'ach ha'Nechoshes and the Korbanos that Moshe was to bring on it. The Torah then goes on to discuss the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav, where it writes (30:7) "And Aharon and his sons shall burn the Ketores ... ", and continues " ... And when Aharon kindles the lamps in the afternoon he shall burn it". This implies that whereas Moshe brought the Korbanos mentioned earlier, the other Avodos were Aharon's domain, exclusively.


That is what Chazal meant when they wrote that among other things, the Eighth Day of the Milu'im was 'Rishon le'Seider ha'Avodah' (the first day of the order of the Avodah). Because up to then, Moshe had performed the Avodah only in part, but not all of it.


From the Haftarah

When Times Are Tough

"And it was when the Kohanim left the Kodesh ... the Cloud covered the House of Hashem and the Kohanim were unable to stand to serve ... then Shlomoh said "G-d said that He would dwell in the thick Cloud" (Melachim 1 [8:10-12]).

After Shlomoh had concluded the building of the Beis Hamikdash, he saw in a prophecy that the building would be destroyed, a thick cloud would cover the location where it had stood and the Kohanim will be denied access to it.

He took comfort however, in Hashem's promise that He would never forsake His people, and that He would be with them in that thick cloud, to watch over them when times were tough. Allegorically speaking, all this is clearly hinted in these Pesukim in Melachim..

A similar hintappears in Parshas Yisro (20:21), where the Torah writes "And Moshe approached the thick Cloud where G-d was". This too, comes to hint that even in the worst times of trouble, G-d is there, because "Hashem will not forsake His people" - come what may! (adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah, quoting the Lubliner Rav).



A New Year ...

"This month shall be for you the head of the months, it is the first for you of the months of the year" (12:2).

The word 'month' (in one form or another) appears here three times, the Ba'al ha'Turim remarks. This comes to hint at Chazal, who say that Rosh Chodesh Nisan is considered Rosh Hashanah for three things - it is the first month (and not Tishri); it heralds the first of the Yomim-tovim (Pesach), and it is the day on which, in connection with dating documents, each subsequent year of a Jewish king's reign commences (the second year, the third year ... ).


... and for Korbanos, Too

Another significant role that Rosh Chodesh Nisan plays, is with regard to the purchase of the coming year's communal sacrifices, which had to be purchased with money donated before Rosh Chodesh Nisan (for which reason we read Parshas Shekalim a month earlier). This too, we derive from the word "ha'chodesh"('Chadesh ve'havei mi'Terumah chadoshoh'). Presumably, this is merely a branch of of the first of the above-mentioned three.

And for this too, the Ba'al ha'Turim finds a hint. The Torah writes here "le'Chodshei ha'shanah", and the same words appear in Parshas Pinchas "Olas chodesh be'chodsho le'chodshei ha'shanah". This teaches us that one of the functions of Nisan as the head of the months is to ensure that all the monies to be used for the purchase of the Korbanos for the forthcoming year have been collected by then.


Four days in Advance

"And it (the Korban Pesach) shall be for you a charge (to inspect it for blemishes) until the fourteenth of Nisan" (2:6). As a matter of fact, all Korbanos required inspection four days in advance. But this could have been carried out any amount of time before the animal was Shechted, after which it could be designated even one day before it was to be sacrificed, or even on the same day. This was the only time that a Korban had to actually be designated four days in advance. There are a number of reasons given as to why specifically the Korban Pesach of that particular year had to be designated four days in advance for inspection.

Rashi explains that it was in order to give Yisrael the opportunity to perform sorely needed Mitzvos, on whose merit they would be able to go out. And others explain that Yisrael needed to display Mesiras Nefesh (the spirit of self-sacrifice) in risking their lives for the sake of their G-d, by preparing the Egyptian god for the slaughter. Indeed, the commentaries explain how the Egyptians' inability to react when they saw their gods being tied to Yisrael's bed-posts - four days prior to its slaughter - constituted a miracle in its own right (the miracle of Shabbos ha'Gadol). And it was this Mesiras Nefesh that was instrumental in their freedom.


The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos attributes the four days to the mitzvah of B'ris Milah, essential for the bringing of the Korban Pesach. They performed it immediately on the tenth, to allow the three days during which a person is weak and vulnerable (as we learn from Shimon and Levi with Sh'chem) to pass. This enabled them to leave Egypt on the fourth day, by which time they had recovered.

Rashi however, takes Chazal (who say that they performed the B'ris Milah on the night that they Shechted the Korban Pesach - on the fourteenth, and that the blood of the one mixed with the blood of the other) literally. According to him, it was nothing short of a miracle that they were able to leave Egypt so soon after the Milah. And that explains why he disagrees with the Da'as Zekeinim ... with regard to the purpose of the four-day period.


The Ba'al ha'Turim, commenting on the Pasuk, "Vehoyoh ha'dom lochem" (and the blood shall be for you ... " points out that the numerical value of "lochem" is equivalent to that of "ha'Milah" because, he says, 'they performed the B'ris on that night'. Clearly, the Ba'al ha'Turim sides with Rashi in this issue.


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