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

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Vol. 20   No. 22

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Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei

'Ein Kategor Na'aseh Sanegor'
(Adapted from the Beis Yisaschar)

"And this is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, shoes on your feet, staff in hand. And you shall eat it in haste; it is the Pesach (offering) for Hashem" (12:11).

Rashi, after commenting on the final phrase that the Korban is called 'Pesach' on account of G-d having jumped over the houses of Yisrael, adds - 'And as for you, do all the Avodos connected with it for the sake of G-d!'

The B'nei Yisaschar wonders what Rashi wants to tell us with this addition.

To explain its significance, he offers the following idea ('tongue in cheek'), with reference to what he himself explains in Parshas Shemini. The Pasuk writes there (9:6) "And Moshe said, 'this is the thing (zeh ha'dovor) that G-d commanded you to do, for the Kavod of Hashem to appear to you!' "

The Pasuk does not actually explain what it is referring to (See Targum Yonasan), thereby giving the appearance of being superfluous.


In introducing his solution to the problem, the author first presents a major problem: We know that, based on the principle 'Ein Kategor na'aseh sanegor' (a prosecutor cannot act as a defendant), the Kohen Gadol cannot serve in the Kodesh Kodshim with the regular Bigdei Kehunah, which contain gold; nor may one blow a Shofar of a calf on Rosh Hashanah (seeing as both of these serve as prosecutors before Hashem (as they remind Him of the sin of the Golden Calf).

In that case, he asks, how, on the eighth day of the Milu'im (the inauguration of the Mishkan that the Torah is discussing in Shemini) could G-d order Aharon to take a calf as a sin-offering - to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, to boot? To the contrary, seeing the calf would only act as a prosecutor and anger Hashem even more? So how could it possibly act as Aharon's defense-counsel?


To answer the Kashya, he cites a Gemara in Kidushin (5a). After explaining that a man cannot divorce his wife with money, since the same money that brought her into the marriage cannot take her out! ('Ein Kategor na'aseh sanegor), the Gemara asks why she can be divorced with a Sh'tar (a document) seeing as she can also be betrothed with one?

And the Gemara refutes this question on the grounds that (unlike the money, which would be the same as the money that brought her in) the words that are written on the Sh'tar that takes her out, differ from the words that are written on the Sh'tar that brought her in.

With this idea, we can now answer the problem of the superfluous Pasuk in Shemini 'this is the thing that G-d commanded you to do " . The words "zeh ha'dovor" can also be translated as 'These are the words'. In any case, whenever the Torah uses this expression, Chazal tend to find a connection with 'words'.

What the Torah is therefore saying is that Yisrael should make a point of stating that the sacrifices that they are bringing conform to those that G-d commanded them to bring. These words are quite different than the words "These are your gods, Yisrael!" that they uttered when worshipping the Golden Calf. And the fact that the two sets of words differ radically from one another, eliminates the problem of 'Ein Kategor na'aseh sanegor!'


Here too, G-d instructed Yisrael to 'Withdraw from idolatry and take a lamb of Mitzvah'. He was referring to relinquishing the Egyptian god 'Lamb' that they had hitherto worshipped, and exchanging it for the lamb of the Korban Pesach. There too, the question arises 'Ein kategor na'aseh sanegor!' How can the same lamb that they worshipped now defend them against G-d's wrath when He turned against the Egyptians? And here too, the Torah gives us the answer, when a few Pesukim later (Pasuk 27), it writes "And you shall say 'This is the Pesach offering' ". These are hardly the same words that they uttered when worshipping the Egyptian god. And because 'these words are not the same as those words', the argument of 'Ein kategor na'aseh sanegor!' falls away.

And that is precisely what Rashi meant when he added 'And as for you, do all the Avodos connected with it for the sake of G-d!' - by stating verbally in whose Name they are bringing the Korban Pesach, they are transforming the abhorrent accuser into the sweet defendant, rendering their Korban acceptable before the Eyes of G-d.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Day after Yom Kipur

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

Rabeinu Bachye, in his introduction, explains that this Parshah was said the day after he descended Har Sinai (on Yom Kipur).

On the eve of Rosh Chodesh Elul G-d told him that in the morning he would ascend Har Sinai for the third time. He remained there for forty days before receiving the second Luchos and he came down on Yom Kipur. On that day, G-d pardoned Yisrael on the sin of the Golden Calf, and because he went up on Monday and descended on Thursday (Tosfos in Bava Kama, Daf 82a says the opposite - See footnote), the Chachamim fixed these two days as days of judgement, on which Beis-Din sit and on which it is easy to obtain forgiveness.

And this is hinted in the Pasuk in Yeshayah (55:6) "Seek Hashem when He is to be found (be'himotz'o)". The word "be'himotz'o" is the acronym of " 'Beis' 'Hey' motz'o", as if to say 'On Mondays and Thursdays He is easily accessible!'


The Holy Vessels

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

The Torah describes the Aron, the Shulchan, the Menorah and the Mizbei'ach ha'Ketores, in that order. This was the order in which they stood in the Mishkan - (beginning from the inside): the Aron inside the Kodesh Kodshim, the Shulchan outside in the Kodesh on north, the Menorah opposite it on the south and the Mizbei'ach ha'Ketores in the middle, but drawn a little towards the Chatzer.

And it was in this order that the Kohanim performed the Avodah each day. A Kohen would enter to clean out the Menorah, but, due to the principle "Ein ma'avirin al ha'Mitzvos' (never to pass by a Mitzvah), he would first clear the ashes from the Mizbei'ach, since he had to pass it before arriving at the Menorah.

Hence the B'raysa states that 'clearing the inner Mizbeiach preceded cleaning out the Menorah'.


Moreover, says R, Bachye, the above four Vessels represent the four letters of Hashem's Holy Name ('Yud', 'Hey', 'Vav' and 'Hey').

The Aron, which was ten tefachim tall, represented the 'Yud', the Shulchan, which stood in the north, represented Malchus, which receives its influence from the first 'Hey' of G-d's Name, the Menorah, with its six branches, the 'Vav' and the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, on which the Ketores was brought to appease the Midas ha'Din, the last 'Hey' of G-d's Name.

That explains why, says the author, the Torah places the Shulchan before the Menorah.

And this also helps us to understand what Chazal mean when they say that Betzalel knew how to combine the letters with which Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu created the world. Indeed, he explains, the 'Yud' stands for Chochmah, the 'Hey', for 'Atzilus' - the power with which all the other draw from Chochmah, the 'Vav' stands for 'Binah' and the last 'Hey' for Da'as'. Hence the Pasuk writes 'And I filled him with a Divine Spirit, with Chochmah, with Tevunah, with Da'as " (31:3).


Parshas Pikudei

The Me'il

The Ramban in Parshas Tetzaveh disagrees with Rashi's description of the Me'il.

Whereas Rashi describes it as an overshirt with an opening at the neck and with sleeves, the Ramban defines it as a cape, permanently closed at the neck, with no sleeves but open in front.

The Ramban supports his explanation with the Gemara in Zevachim (85b), which writes that the golden bells, that were affixed to it at intervals round its hem, numbered seventy-two, thirty-six on one side, and thirty-six on the other. This makes sense, says the Ramban, if the Me'il was a cape open in front with a flap on either side. But if it was entirely closed at the hem, then how can the Gemara refer to two sides?


The Bells and the Pomegranates

The Ramban also disagrees with Rashi's interpretation of the wool and linen pomegranates and the golden bells that were attached to the hem of the Me'il. According to Rashi (and the Rambam), they were affixed to the hem alternately - bell, pomegranate, bell, pomegranate. The Ramban maintains however, that the bells were affixed to the hem at intervals around the hem, and the pomegranates encased them.

Simply put, when, in chapter 39, Pasuk 25, (I am quoting the Pesukim here, rather than those in Tetzaveh, because the point I am about to make is more marked here), the Torah writes that they placed the bells "be'soch" the pomegranates, Rashi translates "b'soch" as 'among', whereas the Ramban translates it as 'inside'.


If we examine the three current Pesukim (24-26), we will find Rashi's explanation very difficult to understand: After recording that, on the hem of the Me'il, they made pomegranates of Techeiles , the Torah informs us that they made bells of pure gold, and that they placed them among the pomegranates on the hem of the Me'il, adding "among the pomegranates".

Finally, the Torah concludes "A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate on the hem of the Me'il ".

These Pesukim pose two problems with Rashi's explanation.

1. Why does the Torah say that they placed 'the bells among the pomegranates'? Bearing in mind that according to Rashi, the hem was circular and unbroken, it could just as well have said the reverse, that they placed 'the pomegranates among the bells'. In fact, neither would appear to be appropriate?

2. Why does the Pasuk repeat itself not once, but twice? Having informed us that they placed the bells among the pomegranates on the hem of the Me'il, the remaining one and a half Pesukim appear to be redundant?

According to the Ramban however, the Pesukim are clear.

After informing us that they affixed the woolen pomegranates to the hem of the Me'il, the Torah informs us that they manufactured golden bells, which they placed inside the pomegranates (repeating the words "inside the pomegranates") to teach us that "b'soch" means, not 'among the pomegranates', but "inside them".

And the Pasuk concludes that the entire circumference of the hem was surrounded with bells inside pomegranates.

Perhaps the Torah first gives the pomegranates precedence, because they were visible, whereas the bells were not, and then switches the order, since the bells, which rung whenever the Kohen Gadol entered the Heichal, served a more prominent role.

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