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

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Vol. 13   No. 22

This issue is co-sponsored
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(Parshas ha'Chodesh)

The K'lei Mishkan and the Bigdei Kehunah (Part 1)

Moshe's Inventory
(adapted from the K'li Yakar)

The question is asked why Moshe only made a detailed inventory on what was done with all the silver and copper that was donated, but not with the gold (see also Parshah Pearls 'Giving Din ve'Cheshbon')?

The K'li Yakar answers this question by connecting the opening phrase of the Parshah to the preceding Parshah (Vayakheil [see also Ramban on this point]) rather than to the one that follows (Pikudei). Moshe was excited, he explains, at having successfully concluded everything, incorporating all the Keilim of the Mishkan, including everything that had to be manufactured from the silver and the copper. That is why he made a point of giving an inventory of the silver and the copper to clear himself from any suspicion of having misappropriated Hekdesh funds. He could not do the same with the gold, since much of the gold was still needed for the Bigdei Kehunah ([Priestly Garments] which contained no silver or copper, and) which are listed in Pikudei. In the meantime, he was happy to clear himself with regard to the two commodities, at the earliest possible opportunity.

The question remains however, why he did not give a reckoning on what he had done with the gold, later, after he had completed the Bigdei Kehunah?


The answer, explains the K'li Yakar, lies in the Medrash cited by Rabeinu Bachye. The Medrash records how, when Moshe came to account for the materials that he had received from the people, one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five Shekalim remained unaccounted for, until a Bas-Kol (a Heavenly Voice) announced "And the thousand the hundred and seventy-five Shekalim he made into hooks for the pillars (of the Chatzer)" (38:28), in fulfillment of the Pasuk in Beha'aloscha (12:7) "Not so My servant Moshe; in all My house he is trustworthy".

The Medrash, it seems, is perturbed by the extra 'Hey' that appears in both the word "ha'Elef" and "(Sh'va) ha'Mei'os". This suggests that Moshe forgot what he did with those Shekalim, causing the people to query his integrity. And the rumours that were already beginning to spread were only dispelled when they heard the Heavenly Voice, proving once and for all, that Moshe was above suspicion. At that point, the people withdrew their demand that Moshe continue to account for what had been done with the gold and the other materials. It was obvious, says the K'li Yakar, that if Moshe had taken as much as an ounce of gold for himself, the Bas-Kol would not have backed him up with regard to the silver; and besides, the words "in all My house he is trustworthy" speaks for itself.

That explains why Moshe no longer found it necessary to give a detailed inventory on the gold and the other materials.


The previous explanation seems to assume that Moshe's inventory was performed at the request of the people.

Alternatively, Moshe's inventory was entirely self-motivated (as we explained earlier), says the K'li Yakar, and the reason for his decision not to give one on the gold and the other materials was based on the Medrash's comment on the words "ha'Mishkan Mishkan ... ". Over and above the interpretation given by Rashi, the Medrash Tanchuma explains that the Mikdash shel Matah (the Mikdash on earth) corresponds exactly to the Mikdash shel Ma'alah ([the Mikdash in Heaven] though this is not meant location-wise, as the K'li Yakar will later explain). Initially puzzled by the Torah's insertion of this fact here at the beginning of 'Pikudei', he uses that problem to answer the question that we are currently discussing. In fact, he goes on to say, the Torah wrote in Parshas Terumah (in connection with the construction of the Mishkan) "Like all which I command you, the shape of the Mishkan and the shape of all its Keilim ... " (25:9), precluding the Bigdei Kehunah from this statement. This proves that whereas G-d displayed every item in the Mishkan to Moshe when he stood on Har Sinai, he did not show him the Bigdei Kehunah. This is because the items displayed were taken from the Beis-Hamikdash shel Ma'alah, whereas the Bigdei Kehunah, which were made specifically for Aharon's esteem, ("for honour and for glory") are not worn by the angels that serve in Heaven.

This explains why both when G-d instructed Moshe and here, the Mishkan and the Keilim and the Bigdei Kehunah are divided into two separate Parshiyos; And it also explains why in connection with the former, the Torah records a number of times that Moshe did "as G-d had shown him", whereas with reference to the Bigdei Kehunah, it writes that he did "like G-d commanded him" because, as we just explained, the former were indeed shown to Moshe, the latter were not.

To have used the word 'commanded' in connection with the Keilim would have been superfluous, because there was no likelihood for Moshe to err with regard to what he had seen with his own eyes. That Moshe got every detail of the Bigdei Kehunah right, even though he had never seen them, was truly amazing, and that is why in Pikudei, the Torah stresses over and over again that he did exactly as G-d commanded him.

And it is precisely on account of the extra Kedushah of the Mishkan and its Keilim, which as we explained, resembled the Mishkan and the Keilim in Heaven, that Moshe declined to give Din ve'Cheshbon on the gold, as this would have meant combining the less holy Bigdei Kehunah with the more holy K'lei Mishkan (as we explained at the beginning of the article).

* * *

Parshah Pearls


Making Fires on Shabbos

"Don't burn fire on Shabbos" (35:3).

The Gemara in Shabbos (119a) states that conflagrations are common where there is Chilul Shabbos.

Maybe this is hinted in this Pasuk, which could be translated as 'Do not cause fires to be burned on account of the Shabbos (i.e. by desecrating it)'.


No Problem at All

"And all the women ... spun the goats-hair" (35:26).

This required a special expertise ('Umnus Yeseirah'), Rashi explains, since they spun it directly off the goat's back. Whatever a woman produces belongs to her husband, asks the Yalkut ha'Urim. So how could the women donate their work to the Mishkan?

No problem, he answers. The Halachah confines the above ruling to her regular productivity rate. Whatever she produces over and above that, she is permitted to retain. And perhaps this is hinted in Rashi's words, since 'Umnus Yeseirah' can also mean 'excessive work'.


Making Them with the Right Kavanah

"And he made copper hooks to join the Ohel (the goat-skin covering) to become one" (36:18).

The question arises why the Torah did not add the same words ("to join the Ohel, to become one") in Pasuk 13, in connection with the golden hooks that connected the 'Mishkan (the two bottom sets of coverings made of T'cheiles, purple wool ...)? The Meshech Chochmah bases this on the Halachah that all the accessories for the Mishkan had to be made 'li'shmoh' (for the sake of the Mitzvah, and not for personal use). Consequently, he explains, to ensure that the people would not take their own personal copper hooks, which they may well have used in putting up their tents, the Torah had to make it clear that the hooks had to be made specifically for the purpose of joining the 'Ohel'. This was not necessary however, with regard to the golden hooks, which the people were most unlikely to have used for their personal needs.


A Mishnah Taught by Moshe

"And he made the Chatzer; on the south-side: the hangings of the Chatzer of twined linen, a hundred Amos" (38:9).

The Mishnah in 'Eizehu Mekoman" states 'and they (Kodshei Kodshim) are eaten by the male Kohanim within the hangings of the Azorah ... '. But surely the Azorah in the Beis-Hamikdash comprised not hangings, but proper walls. The hangings were needed in the Desert, where they were constantly on the move, and under the circumstances, curtains were more appropriate than walls. So why does the Mishnah, which presumably, was learned in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash or even later, go back in time and refer to something that was long obsolete, asks the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro?

To answer the question, he cites the Beis Yosef. The Beis Yosef, citing the Ra'ah, ascribes the insertion of (specifically) 'Eizehu Mekoman' in Davenning each morning to its uniqueness, inasmuch as the entire Perek contains not a single machlokes Tana'im. And the reason for this, he explains, is because the text, word for word, is Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai.

It is now clear why the Mishnah refers to the curtains (rather than to the walls), since this Mishnah dates back to Moshe Rabeinu, and in the days of Moshe Rabeinu, that is indeed what there was.

* * *


Giving Din ve'Cheshbon

"And the silver of the counted ones of the congregation ... " (38:25).

Why, asks the Ahavas Yehonasan, does the Torah give an inventory of the silver, but not the gold?

And he answers with the fact that everybody had to give silver in the form of a half-Shekel. Moshe knew that among so many thousands of Jews, there were bound to be some who would want Moshe to account for what he had done with their donations. Not so the gold, which was donated voluntarily. It was only generous people who donated gold, and generous people are less fussy and demanding. So Moshe knew that as far as they were concerned, no inventory was necessary.


And this will also explain why, on the other hand, Moshe did make an inventory of the copper. Because as opposed to the gold, it was donated by people who were not so generous, in which case he reckoned that, like the silver, an inventory would be necessary. (See also main article).


Scant Kavanah

"And the thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five (Shekalim) he made into hooks for the pillars" (38:28).

Moshe examined the Kavanah of each donor, and determined where each article would go accordingly. The more intense the Kavanah, the closer to the Kodesh Kodshim was the article placed, says the Lotzker Rebbe.

Upon examining these 1775 Shekalim, Moshe saw that they were given with scant Kavanah, and he did not quite know what to do with them. And it was because he was at a loss where to place them that he initially forgot about them ... until G-d pointed out to him that they were needed as hooks for the pillars. As of themselves, their Kedushah was too weak to be of any use in the Mishkan.


The Seven 'Mishkanos'

"And it was on the first day of the second year, on the first of the month the Mishkan was set up. And Moshe set up the Mishkan ... " (40:15/16).

Chazal inform us that on each of the seven days of the 'Milu'im' (the consecration that took place from the twenty-third of Adar until Rosh Chodesh Nisan), Moshe erected the Mishkan and dismantled it. Why did he do that, asks the Chidushei ha'Rim? The seven erections, he explains, represented the seven 'Mishkanos' ... that of the Midbar, Gilgal, Shiloh, Nov, Giv'on and the first and second Batei-Mikdash, which are also called 'Mishkan'. By setting up the Mishkan after each dismantling, he paved the way (Ma'aseh Avos Si'man le'Banim) for the rebuilding of each Mishkan after it was destroyed (or hidden) by the evil forces that rule in the world.

And this is hinted, he says, in the Pasuk in Mishlei (24:15:16) "Do not lurk, Rasha, near the dwelling of the Tzadik, do not plunder his resting-place; for though the Tzadik may fall seven times, he will arise ... ".

* * *

Parshas ha'Chodesh

The Connecting Link

It is not at first clear as to why the Torah places the Mitzvos of Kidush Rosh Chodesh and Korban Pesach together in one Parshah.

Upon reflection however, it seems clear that the connecting link is the Mazalos, which begin with T'le (Lamb) the Mazel of Nisan. The years begin with Tishri (whose Mazel is Moznayim), but the months begin with Nisan, as the Torah clearly indicates in the first Pasuk of Parshas ha'Chodesh. This in turn, is to remind us of the miracles of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim and of G-d's kindness towards K'lal Yisrael, which are intrinsically bound with the month of Nisan and with Mazal T'le. And that in fact, has dual connotations. Firstly, it reminds us of the smiting of the firstborn that took place on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan, when the Mazel T'le was at its zenith, demonstrating G-d's superiority over the Mazalos. And secondly, it reminds us that He took us out of Egypt in the Spring, when the climate is moderate, thereby making life that much more tolerable in the Desert (which is otherwise scorching during the day and freezing at night). Indeed, the Torah specifically mentions this in Parshas Bo (13:4) where it writes "Today you are going out, in the month of spring". Moreover, the Halachah demands that Pesach falls in the spring, and one of the major reasons that we have a leap year is to ensure that it does.


No mention of Tum'ah

Despite the stringent prohibition which the Torah attaches against bringing and eating Korbonos be'Tum'ah, the Or ha'Chayim observes, it fails to mention Tum'ah in any of the various Parshiyos in Parshas Bo that deal with Korban Pesach. Areil and ben Neichar are duly dealt with (at the end of Perek 12), but not a word about Tum'ah.

The omission is glaring, and begs an explanation.

The reason for this, he explains, is because up until Matan Torah, Yisrael had the Din of B'nei No'ach, who are not subject to Tum'ah. Consequently, they were permitted to bring the Korban Peach be'Tum'ah in Egypt, and the first mention of this being prohibited appears in Parshas Beha'aloscha, in connection with Pesach Sheini, which was said after Matan Torah.


Why Parshas ha'Chodesh Follows Parshas Parah

The Yerushalmi comments that Parshas ha'Chodesh ought really to have preceded Parshas Parah, since the Mishkan was erected on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, whereas it was on the second of Nisan that Elazar burned the first Parah Adumah?

It replies 'Because it constitutes the purification of Yisrael'. It is not however, clear what the Yerushalmi means with this.

The Avudraham explains that Yisrael need to separate from Tum'as Meis, in order not to miss bringing the Korban Pesach, which would force to bring the Pesach Sheini.

But the Avudraham's answer sheds little light on the Yerushalmi, and itself, requires elaboration. Don't we all know that this is the function of the Parah Adumah?

It seems to me however, that what the Avudraham means is the following:

If, in the Desert, there were no problems, that is only because the setting up of the Mishkan and the burning of the Parah Adumah took place on two consecutive days. That being the case, after the preparation of the Parah, twelve days remained until Pesach, ample time for whoever was Tamei to become Tahor by the time the fourteenth of Nisan arrived, and the Korban Pesach needed to be Shechted.

The reading of the two Parshiyos is a different matter. These are read, not one day apart, but a week apart. Consequently, if Parshas ha'Chodesh was to precede Parshas Parah, then, even if it were to be read on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, Parshas Parah would only be read on the eighth of Nisan, in which case there would not be sufficient time to become Tahor before Pesach. And that is what the Yerushalmi means when it says 'Because it constitutes the actual purification of Yisrael' (and not just reading about it).

* * *

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