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

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Vol. 16   No. 17

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy zecher Nishmas
Yonah ben Elchonon Moshe z"l
whose Yohrzeit will be on 20 Shevat
May he be a meilitz yosher for his family
and for all of K'lal Yisrael

Parshas Yisro

Onochi & Lo Yih'yeh L'cho
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Rabeinu Bachye cites the Machlokes between the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim and the Ramban over what exactly Yisrael heard from G-d and what they heard from Moshe at Har Sinai.

According to the Rambam, he explains, Yisrael heard the first two commandments "Onochi" and "Lo yih'yeh lecho" exclusively directly from G-d, though even these they heard all in one go, as a result of which they were unable to discern what Hashem had said. And he learns this from the fact that, a number of times in this Parshah, the Torah refers to Yisrael having heard a "voice", or "a voice of words you hear", and not just "words".

And he supports his basic statement with the Gemara in Makos (24a), which specifically states that "Onochi" and "Lo Yih'yeh L'cho" we heard from G-d, the rest of the Mitzvos, from Moshe. The Gemara in turn, learns this from the Pasuk in Devarim (23:4) "Moshe commanded us Torah" (whose Gematriyah is six hundred and eleven), implying that Moshe commanded us six hundred and eleven Mitzvos, and G-d, the remaining two.


Indeed, says the Rambam, the difference between Moshe and B'nei Yisrael was that Moshe heard the words distinctly, and that is why Moshe himself writes in Devarim (5:5) "I stood between you at that time to tell you the word of G-d" - with reference to the first two commandments, which Yisrael had heard but could not decipher. And what's more, he says, this is also reflected in Unklus' translation of the Pasuk later (20:16), "and let G-d not speak with us", which he translates as ('ve'al yismalel imono min kodom Hashem' - and let [Hashem] not speak [with Himself] with us before G-d'), whereas in the Pasuk (20:1) "And G-d spoke with Moshe saying", he uses the word 'u'malel Hashem ' ('and G-d spoke '), drawing a clear distinction between the way G-d spoke to Yisrael and the way He spoke to Moshe.

What the author really means, the footnote points out (based on the actual wording of the Rambam himself) is that G-d spoke directly to Moshe words that he could understand, and Yisrael overheard those words but could not understand them.


Furthermore, says the Rambam, it was after they heard the first two commandments from the Mouth of G-d that their Souls left them (as the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim [5:6] teaches us). And it was after they had been revived that they approached Moshe, and, afraid that they would continue to hear from the Mouth of G-d, implored him (Devarim 5:22 &24) " and now, why should we die You approach G-d and listen to all that He has to say; and then pass on to us whatever G-d tells you, and we will listen" (see also the current Parshah, Pasuk 19).


As for the remaining eight commandments, Yisrael did not hear them directly from G-d, only from the mouth of Moshe (just as they received the other Mitzvos of the Torah), whose word they trusted implicitly, just as they had requested.


The Ramban however, quotes the Pasuk in Devarim (5:19) "These words G-d spoke to your entire congregation" and (4:13) "And he wrote them on the Two Luchos of stone", which clearly indicate that Yisrael heard all of the Ten Commandments.

Consequently, he explains, when Chazal say that we heard "Anochi" and "Lo yih'yeh l'cho" from G-d, implying that we did not receive the other eight commandments directly from Him, it means that it was only the first two commandments that we heard clearly from G-d, but not the remaining eight. And it is with regard to those eight commandments that the Torah inserts all the above Pesukim that we quoted earlier by the Rambam in connection with the first two!

The Ramban also refutes the Rambam's above-mentioned interpretation of Unklus, against which he cites numerous proofs that, according to Unklus, G-d spoke directly to the people at Har Sinai (at least as far as the first two commandments are concerned).

* * *

Parshas Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Eliezer was Special Too!

"And her two sons, the name of one of whom was Gershom And the name of the one was Eliezer " (18:3/4).

Surely it would have been more correct to write 'and the name of the second one was Eliezer', asks R. Bachye?

Each one he answers, was special. Gershom was special to Tziporah, not only because he was the firstborn, but because she saved him from death (See Highlights 'Gershom or Eliezer'); whereas Eliezer was special to Moshe, in that he named him after his own personal salvation.

Moreover, Eliezer was unique inasmuch as based on his one son Rechavyah, his descendants were destined to miraculously increase - to quote Chazal, commenting on the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim 1 (23:17) ' in excess of six hundred thousand'.


What Impressed Yisro

"Now I know that Hashem is greater than all the gods, because of the matter in which they were excessively cruel to them" 18:11.

Yisro acknowledged G-d's greatness, R. Bachye explains, by virtue of the fact that G-d did not punish the Egyptians for enslaving Yisrael (that was predetermined at the B'ris bein ha'Besarim, as the Ramban explains), but for overstepping the mark by throwing the Jewish babies into the River. That was not part of the decree "and they will enslave and afflict them" that G-d told Avraham.

And that is what the Pasuk in Ezra (Nechemyah 9:10) means when it says " because You knew that they were excessively cruel to them".


Hashem Hu ha'Elokim!

"And Yisro took burnt-offerings and peace-offerings to Elokim" (18:12).

On principle, says R. Bachye, we never find the term 'Elokim' used in the realm of Korbanos, only 'Hashem'.

Yisro however, in spite of having just mentioned Hashem by Name, was not yet familiar with that Name; so he referred to Elokim (with which he was familiar).

And that, says R. Bachye, explains why the Torah writes (in Pasuk 8) with regard to Moshe "And Moshe related all that Hashem had done to Par'oh, whereas the opening Pasuk in the Parshah informs us how "Yisro heard all that Elokim had done for Moshe and Yisrael .".


Simchah & the Shechinah

" and Aharon and all the elders of Yisrael came to eat bread before G-d" (18:12).

This Se'udah was basically in honor of Yisro, who had just converted with Milah and Tevilah, R. Bachye explains. But there was more to it than that.

Like the delicacies that Yitzchak Avinu ate before blessing Ya'akov, this Se'udah was intended to bring Aharon and the seventy elders to a level of Simchah that would enable the Shechinah to rest on them. For, he explains, the power of the Soul is tied up with that of the body, and that when the body is aroused by the food that it eats, the Soul is affected in whichever direction a person turns it. And we find this in connection with the prophets, who would arrange for a harp to be played so that the Shechinah should rest on them, as the Navi writes in Melachim (2, 3:15).


Perhaps by the same token, the Simchah of Sheva B'rachos too, serves as a prerequisite to the entry of the Shechinah into the young couple's home, as Chazal have said, 'Ish ve'Ishah, Shechinah sheruyah beineihem'.


Speaking to the Women

"So you shall say to the House of Ya'akov" (19:3).

G-d commanded the women first, says R. Bachye, to teach them ethics and good manners (though it is unclear what he means by that). He then gives two good reasons as to why Moshe should teach the women the main points of Torah first; one, because their minds are less settled than those of the men, secondly, because a good woman, is the cause of Torah, inasmuch as she is the one who is at home and who knows how to attract her sons to learn Torah with sweet words already from an early age. Consequently, the author concludes, awoman should make a point of praying to Hashem when she lights the Shabbos-lights, to grant her children who will light up the world with their Torah. For G-d listens quicker to a person's Tefilos, when they are prayed in the process of performing a Mitzvah.

* * *


Gershom or Eliezer?

"And her (Tziporah's) two sons,one of whom was called Gershom, because he (Moshe) said 'I was a stranger in a foreign land'; and the other, Eliezer, because (he said) 'the G-d of my father helped me and saved me from the sword of Par'oh' " (18:3-4).

To explain the omission of the word "omar" (he said) with regard to the birth of Eliezer, the Ba'al ha'Turim initially suggests that the "ki omar" that is written by Gershom covers Eliezer too, as if the Pasuk had written it by Eliezer, too. Alternatively, he bases the fact that the Torah inserted it by the former and not by the latter, on the Medrash, which relates how when Yisro had given his daughter to Moshe, he had acceded to Yisro's request to dedicate his first son to Avodah-Zarah. That is why Moshe failed to circumcise him, nor does it appear that he intended to do so. And it was only when the angel came and threatened him, that Tziporah circumcised him after releasing her father's condition.

Based on that Medrash, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, the words "ki omar" mean that it was revealed for all to see that Moshe was an Oneis (not at fault) for accepting Yisro's terms, since he was a foreigner in a strange land. That did not help him however, inasmuch as, as a result of that condition, Gershom's son Yonasan, later became a priest for Michah's image. Regarding the birth of Eliezer on the other hand, it would have been inappropriate to insert "ki omar", seeing as the incident whereby Par'oh tried to kill Moshe and G-d saved him, was the result of his having killed the Egyptian, and not of any condition that he made.


The author remarks however, that from the Gemara it would seem that it was not Gershom whom Moshe failed to circumcise, but Eliezer. The Gemara cites Moshe's quandary of how he could circumcise his son, having been ordered by G-d to go to Egypt (see Rashi Sh'mos 4:24). And this must have been Eliezer, since we do not find Moshe having any more children once he arrived in Egypt.

See also Parshah Pearls 'Eliezer was Special Too'.


Moshe's Tent

"And Yisro, Moshe's father-in-law came to Moshe, to the Desert where he was encamped (choneh) " (18:5).

The word "choneh" also appears in Tehilim (34:8) "The angel of G-d encamps (choneh) around those who fear him " (18:5). This teaches us that when Yisro arrived in the Camp of Yisrael, he did not need to enquire as to the location of Moshe's tent, since it was marked by the Cloud that surrounded it.


"And it was on the following day (mi'mochoros), and Moshe sat down to judge the people " (18:13).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the Gematyriyah of "mi'Mochoros" is equivalent to that of 'le'mochor Yom ha'Kipurim'. This supports Rashi, who, quoting the Sifri, explains that "mi'Mochoros" refers to the day after Moshe descended from Har Sinai (which was on Yom Kipur).


The Merit of Judging

" from the morning to the evening" (Ibid.).

The Torah adds two extra 'Heys' ("min ha'boker ad ha'erev" [two x 'Hey' = 'Yud', ten), both of which are omitted in the following Pasuk. This hints, he says, at the great merit of someone who judges honestly, who is considered as if he was a partner with G-d in the creation, that He created with ten commands (as we learned in Pirkei Avos).


Moshe - Bil'am - Tzidkiyahu

"Let me advise you " (18:19).

The Ba'al ha'Turim observes that this same word is used by Bil'am (Bamidbar 24:19, whose powers of prophesy are compared to those of Moshe) and by Yirmiyahu ha'Navi (38:15) when he advised Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech to surrender to Nevuchdnetzar. Moshe listened to Yisro and took his advice, which is why the Pasuk concludes " the people will arrive in peace at his place". Tzidkiyahu, on the other hand, refused to obey the Navi's instructions. That is why he was sent into exile.

* * *

(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 127:
Adding a Fifth for Eating or Misappropriating Hekdesh (Me'ilah)

Anybody who benefits from Hekdesh, irrespective of whether it is Kodshei Mizbei'ach or Kodshei Bedek ha'Bayis, (Hekdesh funds), even from Chermei Kohanim (property that has been sanctified for the use of the Kohanim) or Kodshim Kalim (Kodshei Mizbei'ach of a lesser Kedushah), or someone who eats Kodesh (i.e. Terumah) - be'Shogeg, must pay for whatever he ate plus an additional fifth. He is also obligated to bring a ram worth at least two Sela'im as a Korban (a guilt-offering), 'an Asham Me'ilos' (one of five Ashamos Vaday [that are brought for five known specific sins), as the Torah writes in Vayikra (5:15) "A person who deals falsely with G-d and sins inadvertently regarding the Kodshim of Hashem, he shall bring his Asham to Hashem and what he sinned from the holy he shall pay, and a fifth he shall add".

A reason for the Mitzvah to instill dread and fear in every person who enters the vicinity of what is Holy. The author has already explained earlier the advantages of fear in this context and of elevating the status of Hekdesh in the eyes of the people.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah Chazal have said in Kidushin (54b) that if Reuven and Shimon are Mo'el, one after the other, then, if Reuven did so be'Shogeg, Shimon is Patur. This is because the object has left the realm of Chulin, when Reuven became Chayav to pay and to bring a Korban. Whereas if he sinned be'Meizid, in which case he is not obligated to bring a Korban, then Shimon is Mo'el They also said that there is no Mo'el after Mo'el by Kodshim, with the sole exception of animals and K'lei Shareis (sacred vessels) someone who takes a P'rutah (a small coin) belonging to Hekdesh thinking it is his, is not Mo'el until he spends it. If he gives it to his friend, he is Mo'el, his friend is not, because 'there is no Mo'el after Mo'el by Kodshim ' (as we just explained) The Din of Me'ilah, irrespective of whether it is Kodshei Mizbei'ach or Kodshei Bedek ha'Bayis, applies to the minimum value of a P'rutah Kodshim that have become permitted to eat, such as the meat of a Chatas and an Asham, or the Two Loaves on Shavu'os after the blood of the accompanying Shelamim has been sprinkled, are not subject to Me'ilah, even if a Zar (a non-Kohen) eats from them. Since some people (in the above cases, Kohanim) are permitted to benefit from them, others who benefit from them are not Mo'el either (though this does not mean that they are permitted to do so) Kodshim that were permitted and became invalidated (e.g. by becoming Tamei) are not subject to Me'ilah, since they were permitted at one stage Someone who is not sure as to whether he has been Mo'el or not neither needs to pay nor to bring a Korban Both payment of the principle and bringing one's Korban are crucial to the atonement, but not the additional fifth, as the Torah writes (Ibid.) " and the Kohen shall atone for him with the 'eil ha'Asham" ("eil' refers to the ram that he brings as his Korban, 'asham', to the principle that he has to pay), from which Chazal extrapolate that only the ram and the principle are crucial to the kaparah, but not the fifth Someone who benefits from the fifth that he (or somebody else) designated to pay for his previous Me'ilah, is obligated to add a fifth to his second Me'ilah, since that fifth has the status of a new Hekdesh The fifth of which we are speaking is (a fifth portion, which is) actually a quarter of the value of the article from which one benefited and the remaining details are discussed in the Masechtos Me'ilah and Temurah).

This Mitzvah applies in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash to both men and women. Anyone who contravenes it and eats or benefits from Hekdesh deliberately, through an action, to the value of a P'rutah must pay what he benefited and is subject to Malkos (since a Meizid does not need to add the extra fifth). The warning (i.e. Pasuk in the Torah) for Me'ilah (without which one cannot receive Malkos) is in Re'ei (12:17) "You are not permitted to eat within your gates ", as the author explains there (in Mitzvah 460 'not to eat the flesh of an Olah'). Someone who is Mo'el be'Shogeg must pay for the benefit the principle plus a fifth and bring a Korban, as we explained.

* * *

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