subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


Ch. 30, v. 34: "Kach l'cho samim .. v'chel'b'noh" - Rashi (gemara Krisus 6b) says that "chel'b'noh" is a spice that has a bad fragrance, and nevertheless is included in the incense. This teaches us that when we declare a public fast and pray to Hashem for mercy we should not be reluctant to include sinners as part of our congregation, just as we include a spice that has a bad fragrance in the incense.

Rabbeinu Bachyei explains that if we are not accepting of a sinner, then it is unlikely that he will repent. This is a black mark on the righteous person. Including him in our congregation will bring him to repent, and this will be a great merit for the righteous. This is reminiscent of taking the four species together on Sukos. This includes the willow, "arovoh," even though it symbolizes a person who is lacking in both Torah knowledge and fulfillment of mitzvos.

The Mahara"l of Prague in Gur Aryeh writes that a person who considers himself righteous will not be as contrite as a person who realizes that he is a sinner. With proper contrition and prayer Hashem will respond, thus the need for a sinner as part of the congregation.

Rabbi Chaim, the brother of the Mahara"l of Prague, in B'eir Mayim Chaim, writes that Hashem judges us relative to all other bnei Yisroel, as we find in Rashi on "pen tidbokani horo'oh vomati" (Breishis 19:19), hence the advantage of having sinners in the congregation.

The Maharsh"o writes that although they are accepted as part of the congregation, just as we find that there are 10 other spices that exude a pleasant aroma besides the "chel'b'noh," so too, we should attempt to have at least 10 people, the minimal quorum, who are righteous, in our congregation.

Ch. 30, v. 34: "Bad b'vad" - The gemara K'risus 5a offers several interpretations for these words in relation to how the incense components are to be measured. See the Meshech Chochmoh on Shmos 27:11 for a wonderful insight into this matter.

Rashi says that the literal meaning of "bad" is ONE, thus "bad b'vad," one one, means that they should be equal one to another.

The Rada"k says that "bad b'vad" means each one ALONE, similar to the word "l'vad." This teaches us that each spice type should be ground separately (Rambam hilchos klei Mikdosh 2:5 and Kesef Mishneh), or that they should be weighed separately, thus benefiting the Sanctuary coffers by adding a slight bit called "hechra," to safeguard against falling short of the amount required.

The N'tzi"v writes that "bad b'vad" teaches us that the grains of spice that are to be ground should be brought as complete grains, carefully handpicked, and not broken grains of spice, as are commonly found mixed in with complete ones which one purchases in a spice store.

Ch. 30, v. 35: "M'muloch" - Rashi says that this means that the different spices should be well blended. The Ramban and Ibn Ezra in his first explanation say that it means that they should have "melach S'domis," sulfurous salt found where the city of S'dome once stood, added to it, as per the gemara Krisus 6a. Alternatively, the Ramban and the Ibn Ezra in his second explanation offer that it means finely ground, and the letter Lamed of this word can be considered extra as per Yeshayohu 51:6 "ki shomayim ke'oshon nimlochu," leaving us with the word form "moch," meaning finely ground. Rashi there translates "nimlochu" similar to "m'muloch" of our verse.

Ch. 30, v. 36: "V'shochakto mi'menoh ho'deik" - The gemara K'risus 6b says that when the spices are ground a person says "ho'deik hei'teiv hei'teiv ho'deik," because the sound is beneficial for the spices. Rashi says that a Mikdosh worker says these words while the spice grinder does his work. The Rambam in hilchos klei Mikdosh 2:5 says that the grinder himself says this. However, his text of the chant is "ho'deik hei'teiv ho'deik hei'teiv." Why is this beneficial? The Abarbenel says that the grinder grinds the spices with a pestle. As he shakes around the spices in an orderly manner and they come under the crushing blow of the pestle, they become a relatively fine powder. To make sure that the banging of the pestle is done evenly, we have him continuously say these two syllable words, assuring that he bangs at equal intervals, resulting in evenly ground spices.

However, the Mei'am Lo'eiz in the name of the Kolbo writes that by saying these words the spices benefit. These words have their sounds come mostly from the throat, and this throat vapour is beneficial. It would seem that this opinion would fit well with the opinion that the grinder says the chant, as he stands next to the spices that he is grinding. If a Mikdosh worker says the chant, he may well be standing quite a distance from the spices, and there would be no benefit. If indeed he would be required to stand nearby, this should have been mentioned either by the gemara or an halachic authority.

Ch. 32, v. 4: "Eigel ma'seichoh" - A molten calf - Rashbam explains that they created a mold and poured molten gold into it. In verse 24 where Aharon says "va'yeitzei ho'eigel ha'zeh," he explains "va'yeitzei" to mean and their actions DEVELOPED a calf.

Ch. 32, v. 13: "Z'chor l'Avrohom l'Yitzchok u'lYisroel" - Here the name Yisroel is mentioned, while in Dvorim 9:27 it lists our Patriarchs as Avrohom, Yitzchok, and YAAKOV. The Mahari"l Diskin explains that the name Yisroel is specifically used here because when Hashem gave Yaakov the name Yisroel He promised that "goy ukhal goyim yi'h'yeh mi'meko" (Breishis 35:11). Our Rabbis interpret this to mean that Binyomin , Efrayim, and Menasheh would descend from Yaakov, and that they would develop into a large assemblage. Thus when Hashem told Moshe here that He planned to begin the nation anew with Moshe as its Patriarch (verse 10), Moshe countered with invoking the name Yisroel, indicating that there was a promise of Binyomin, Efrayim, and Menasheh being part of the nation. This would be to naught according to Hashem's plan. Thus Moshe provided a defense for all of the bnei Yisroel.

Ch. 32, v. 13: "Avo'decho" - Here "avo'decho," your servants, appears after the names of our Patriarchs, while in Dvorim 9:27 it appears before their names. This teaches us that they were dedicated servants of Hashem from the beginning of their lives until the end. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 32, v. 14 "Va'yinochem .. asher di'ber laasose l'AMO" - Hashem only relented regarding the punishment He had in mind to do to His nation, the bnei Yisroel. However, the "eirev rav" that was among them suffered a devastating plague. (Malbim)

Ch. 32, v. 15: "Va'yi'fen va'yei'red Moshe min hohor" - When one faces an outstanding scholar and is ready to leave, he does not turn around and leave, as he would then have his back towards the Torah scholar. Surely when one is facing the Holy presence of Hashem and takes leave, he should not turn around. If so, why did Moshe turn and descend? (Actually Rabbeinu Bachyei says that Moshe descended while still facing Hashem's presence.)

The Tzrore Hamor writes that Moshe would have turned away even earlier, upon his completing his discussions with Hashem, but out of embarrassment he turned to face "the music" at the last possible moment, when descending the mountain. This does not answer the question raised above, and it was not the Tzrore Hamor's intention to do so.

MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l answers that since Hashem told him in verse 7 "lech reid ki shicheis amcho," that Moshe was commanded to descend. It is obvious that if one descends a mountain while facing it he will be greatly slowed down. Moshe had to turn away and see where he was going to be able to fulfill Hashem's command with alacrity.

Ch. 32, v. 16 "V'haluchos maa'sei Eolkim" - The Ramban writes that it would have been appropriate to describe the greatness of the tablets earlier in 31:18, where the verse tells us of Moshe's receiving them. However, lauding their great holiness was delayed until here to show that in spite of this Moshe felt it was proper to break them.

Ch. 32, v. 18: "Ein kole anose g'vuroh v'ein kole anose chalushoh kole anose onochi shomei'a" - The Mahari"l Diskin explains these words as follows: There is no voice of the powerful majority who have sinned, coupled with the voice of the weak minority that is protesting this great abomination. If this were so all might have been saved as would have been the case with S'dome if there would have been 10 righteous men among them. However, all I hear is one united voice with no protestors.

Ch. 32, v. 20: "Va'yashk es bnei Yisroel" - Moshe ground the golden calf into dust and placed it into water. He gave this concoction to the bnei Yisroel to drink and the results were similar to that of the "sotoh waters." If the person was guilty, even though Moshe had no witnesses, let alone witnesses who warned him to not sin, the golden calf waters would bring about the guilty person's death. (Rashi)

It seems that Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #45 gives a secondary interpretation to the words "va'yashk es bnei Yisroel." He says that it refers back to the golden calf mentioned at the beginning of our verse. People went to the calf and placed their lips on its and received a KISS from the calf. These people's lips miraculously turned a golden colour. The bnei Levi killed them by sword. It would seem that by a Heavenly edict this circumstantial evidence was equated to having been warned and having witnesses testify to their sin.

Ch. 32, v. 25: "Ki FORUA hu" - Rashi says that this means exposed. Their shame was exposed. However, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on Shir Hashirim 2:17, "ad sheyofuach ha'yom" says that when the bnei Yisroel created the golden calf Hashem removed the clouds of glory and they were exposed to the harsh desert elements.

Ch. 32, v. 28: "Va'yipole min ho'om .. Kishloshes alfei ish" - The verse says "Kishloshes," LIKE 3,000 people fell. The Holy Zohar on parshas Bolok page 194a writes that only Yonis and Yambreis the sons of Bilom were killed by the bnei Levi.

I have come across these two people in the Targum Yonoson on Shmos 1:15, where he relates that Paroh had a dream which they interpreted to mean that a saviour for the bnei Yisroel will be born to them and through him the whole of Egypt will be laid desotale. It seems that they might have later joined the ranks of the "eirev rav."

Ch. 32, v. 30: "V'atoh e'e'leh el Hashem ulay achaproh" - The Malbim interprets this as: "and now I will ascend to Hashem by dying. Perhaps this will bring about an atonement for the nation's sin, as the death of the righteous atones.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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