subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 30, v. 13: "Machatzis hashekel" - The gemara Yerushalmi Shkolim 2:3 explains why exactly this amount was required. Since the bnei Yisroel brought this for the Mishkon, and one reason for building the Mishkon was to atone for the sin of the golden calf, which was considered idol worship. Idol worship is equated to forsaking all the Ten Commandments. Therefore, a half-shekel was required to be given, equal to ten "geiroh."

Ch. 30, v. 13: "Machatzis hashekel b'shekel hakodesh" - The gemara Megiloh 13b says in the name of Reish Lokish, "It was known to the One Who created the world that Homon would weigh "shkolim" to purchase the bnei Yisroel and do with them as he wishes. Therefore Hashem preempted him by giving the bnei Yisroel the mitzvoh of giving "shkolim." This is fulfilled as mentioned in the first mishnoh of Shkolim, 'On the first day of the month of Ador announcements are made to give 'shkolim.'"

Tosfos on the gemara Megiloh 16a d.h. "v'dochi" writes that he heard that the 10,000 "kikar" weights of silver that Homon offered Achashveirosh (Megilas Esther 3:9) equals the amount of "shkolim" that the 600,000 bnei Yisroel who left Egypt gave in the form of half-"shkolim," and Homon wanted to give their complete redemption. Tosfos ends by saying that if you calculate it you will find that it is accurate.

The Chizkuni on our verse independently gives us a calculation of how Homon's 10,000 "kikar" weights of silver equal the amount of half-shkolim 600,000 bnei Yisroel would give. On average people live seventy years. The responsibility to give a half-shekel begins at the age of twenty (This is contested by some. See Torah Tmimoh) as is written in the following verse, "mi'ben ESRIM shonoh." On average people give a half-shekel for fifty years. The type of half-shekel given is in the "shekel hakodesh" coin system, which has double the value of non-kodesh "shkolim," hence 25 shiklei kodesh given in a lifetime equal 50 standard shkolim. Fifty "shkolim" equal 100 zuzim, given on average by each person. Sixty people would give 6,000 "zuzim," equal to 60 "monoh," the weight of a "kikar" of silver. Ten-thousand times this amount was given by 600,000 people as 60 goes into 600,000 ten-thousand times. Thus a total of 10,000 "kikar kesef," a "kesef" equals a "zuz," was given by these 600,000 people, and Homon offered an equal amount. The Ba"ch on the above Tosfos calculates exactly as the Chizkuni and says that this is the intention of the Tosfos.

The Targum Sheini on Megilas Esther simply states that Homon offered 100 "kesef" for each of the 600,000 bnei Yisroel who left Egypt. He does not explain why 100 "kesef" per person was offered.

I believe that the calculation of the Chizkuni is not that of the Tosfos. Tosfos clearly mentioned that the amount was to equal that given by the bnei Yisroel WHO LEFT EGYPT. The 600,000 adults who left Egypt above the age of 20 years did not start giving a half-shekel until the second year in the desert at the time of the building of the Mishkon, at the earliest being 21 years of age, thus allowing for only 49 years of giving, and also, they did not live beyond the age of sixty because of the death sentence brought on by their sinning at the time of the sending of the spies, as recorded in Bmidbar 14:29. This further reduces their giving to 39 years. Thus the calculation Tosfos had in mind seems to not be that of the Chizkuni.

Perhaps the intention of Tosfos can be explained with the words of the Rabbeinu Chanan'eil mentioned in Tosfos d.h. "Odom" on the gemara Sotoh 5a. He says that the weight of a "rviis halug" of blood, the minimal amount required to be in a person's circulatory system to stay alive, is that of 25 "shkolim." The R'vid Hazohov explains according to this that the giving of a half-shekel is a fiftieth weight of that of a "rviis" of blood. Thus a half-shekel is truly a tithing, a "trumoh" as mentioned in the end of our verse, since the average tithing of "trumoh" is one part of fifty.

As mentioned earlier, Tosfos said that Homon wanted to give their COMPLETE redemption. The R'vid Hazohov says that this likely means "shkolim" for the complete weight of their blood, 25 "shkolim", 100 kesef, per person. We thus arrive at exactly 10,000 "kikar kesef."

Ch. 30, v. 23: "B'somim ROSH" - Some translate ROSH as "prime," - highest quality. However, the Daas Z'keinim says that it is to be translated as "total count," as we find in the second verse of our parsha, "Ki siso es ROSH," which Targum Onkeles translates as "chushban."

Ch. 30, v. 35: "Maa'sei rokei'ach" - The Sforno explains that these words teach us that the different components of the incense mixture should be ground to different levels of fineness, as the maximum aroma when they are burned is only realized when this is done, as one level of grind is not appropriate for all spices.

Ch. 31, v. 2,6: "R'ei korosi v'sheim B'tzal'eil, Vaani hi'nei nosati ito eis Oholiov" - These two people coordinated the building of the Mishkon. The gemara Shabbos 49b says that we derive 39 primary categories of creative work that are prohibited on Shabbos from the work done to create the Mishkon. The gemara Yerushalmi Shabbos says that Rabbi Yochonon and Reish Lokish studied the laws of Shabbos for three years and tallied 39 subcategories of work under each of the primary categories of work that are also prohibited to do on Shabbos. When squaring 39 we arrive at a total of 1,521 subcategories of work that are prohibited. The names B'tzal'eil and Oholiov when spelled "b'milluy," i.e. the letter Beis is Beis-Yud-Tof, etc., have the numerical value of 1,521, equal to that of the total number of subcategory "m'lochos" that are prohibited on Shabbos. (Variation on L'oroh shel Torah)

Ch. 31, v. 13: "V'ATOH t'da'beir el bnei Yisroel leimore ACH es ShabbsoSAI tishmoru" - Why do we have the seemingly superfluous word V'ATOH, as we know that Hashem is commanding Moshe? What is the intention of predicating the command to safeguard the Shabbos with the word ACH, a word that connotes limitation (gemara Yerushalmi Brochos 9:7). What is meant by the suffix at the end of the word "ShabbsoSAI," MY Shabbosos?

On the words in parshas Shmos "Va'yar b'sivlosom" (2:11) the M.R. 1:28 says that Moshe say that the bnei Yisroel could no longer endure such harsh slavery. He went to Paroh and stated that he who drives his slave so harshly and does not give him a day of rest will grind him to death. Paroh agreed and said, "Tell the bnei Yisroel that they are granted a weekly day of rest." Moshe designated the day of Shabbos for this rest.

We now have an answer for all three questions. V'ATOH, specifically YOU, who once told the bnei Yisroel to not work on Shabbos so that they may rest their weary bodies, now tell them ACH, exclude the previous reason that Shabbos is for resting the body, but rather tell them a new reason for safeguarding; it is ONLY because the Shabbosos are MINE, a sign between Me and you, "ki ose hee beini u'veineichem." (Ari z"l brought in the Nachal K'dumim)

Ch. 31, v. 13: "ACH es Shabbsosai tishmoru" - This is placed immediately after the verses dealing with the building of the Mishkon to teach us that the building of the Mishkon does not push aside the laws of restraining from working on Shabbos (Rashi).

This ruling is especially well understood in light of the words of the M.R. Breishis 3:12 (also alluded to in short in the gemara Megiloh 10b) that the building of the Mishkon completed the creation of the world (See Baal Haturim on the word "va'teichel" (Shmos 39:32).

The Yalkut Shimoni at the end of parshas P'kudei remez #419 says that the building of the Mishkon paralleled the creation of the world, as the Mishkon contained all the components of the creation of the world in a microcosmic form. If so, it is well understood that to build the Mishkon, the microcosmic embodiment of the creation of the world, at the price of desecrating the Shabbos is senseless. By desecrating the Shabbos in the process one negates the testimonial mitzvoh of Hashem's having created the world in six days and ceasing from work on the seventh day.

Ch. 31, v. 15: "Shabbas Shabboson kodesh laShem" - Here we find the description of Shabbos being "kodesh" after the words "Shabbas Shabboson." In the beginning of parshas Va'yakheil (35:2) we find the reverse, "kodesh Shabbas Shabboson laShem," with the word "kodesh" preceding "Shabbas Shabboson." The Rokei'ach says that this teaches us that one should add to the Shabbos, "tosfos Shabbos," before and after. There is a well-known expression of the Admorim of Vizhnitz and their adherents: "hei'li'gen Shabbos kodesh." At first glance there seems to be a redundancy here, similar to "mayim acharonim vasser." Perhaps this expression is based upon these two verses, where "kodesh" is mentioned both before and after Shabbos.

Ch. 31, v. 17: "UvayoM hashviI shovaS vayinofaSH" - The final letters of these four words spell SHTAYIM - two. This alludes to the extra spirit, "n'shomoh y'seiroh," a person receives on Shabbos. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid)

Ch. 33, v. 23: "Vahasirosi es kapi" - Rashi in the previous verse says that once Hashem's "hand" is removed, permission is given to the destructive powers to do their damaging work. Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropolia explains Rashi as follows: In last week's parsha it says "sofoh y'h'yeh L'fiv Soviv Maa'sei Oreig" (28:32). The first letters of the four words starting with "L'fiv" are Samach-Mem-Alef-Lamed. This spells the name of the chief of the destructive angels "SaMo'EiL". Continuing in this same verse, it then says "k'fi Sachro Y'h'yrh Lo Lo Yiko'rei'a." The first letters of the five words starting with "Sachro" spell the female counterpart "LILIS." The only thing separating the groups of words that spell out these two names is the word "K'FI," spelled Kof-Pei-Yud. This is what is meant by "vahasirosi es KaPI." If I were to remove the letters of KaPI, which form the word K'FI, then the names of SaMo'EiL and LILIS would run consecutively, and permission would be granted to these two destructive powers to do their damaging work ch"v.

Ch. 34, v. 27: "Ksov l'cho es hadvorim ho'ei'leh" - Rashi says that the words "es hadvorim ho'ei'leh," - specifically these words - and no more, are Hashem's response to Moshe's request to write not only the written Torah but to include the future verbal Torah as interpreted by our Sages as part and parcel of the written Torah. The Medrash Tanchuma says in the name of Rabbi Yaakov son of Rabbi Sholom that Hashem said to Moshe, "If you will write the oral Torah the gentiles will claim that they are the bnei Yisroel, claiming that they received the Torah, just as they will in the future falsely claim that the Torah that I allow you to write is theirs." Thus if it is not written for many generations, until after their false prophets claim Divine revelation, it will be clear to all that the oral Torah is uniquely the bnei Yisroel's. Indeed, history has clearly borne this out.

It seems that since the oral Torah cannot be claimed by anyone else than the bnei Yisroel, this should be a clear indication that the written Torah is uniquely theirs as well, as the oral Torah is clearly needed to understand the written Torah.



Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel