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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 30, v. 12: "Ki siso es rosh bnei Yisroel lifkudeihem v'nosnu ish kofer nafsho" - When you will elevate the head of the bnei Yisroel to their counts and they shall each give his soul's atonement - The Alshich interprets: When you are to appoint a leader over the bnei Yisroel appoint someone who is ready to give his life as an atonement for them, i.e. someone who is totally dedicated and had no aspirations for himself.

Ch. 30, v. 12: "Ki siso es rosh bnei Yisroel lifkudeihem v'nosnu ish kofer nafsho" - When you will elevate the head of the bnei Yisroel to their counts and they shall each give his soul's atonement - When you elevate one who is already a head, an acknowledged leader, praising him to the sky, "lifkudeihem," it will bring about a response by a listener of their shortcoming (PKD is the word form that can also be translated as lacking or missing, as in "v'nifkad m'komo"). This requires one to make good and bring atonement for himself. The Holy Chofetz Chaim says that sometimes a person can so strongly praise another that it will likely bring a listener to deprecate the praised person. This is a form of "avak loshon hora." (n.l.)

Ch. 30, v. 13: "Machatzis hashekel" - Half of the shekel - Why specifically half a shekel?

1) Since it is used as atonement for the sin of the golden calf, which was done at the middle of the day (Chizkuni)

2) This was the right amount when totaled for the needs of the Mishkon. (Chizkuni)

3) So that each donour realize that his giving and for that matter many mitzvos he does are incomplete without joining with others (Alshich)

4) To be a reminder that only half the nation sinned with the golden calf, as the women were free of any involvement. (Likutei Bossor Likutei)

5) So that when one donates he should realize that his giving might be incomplete - One should give and give again. (Ksav Sofer)

6) Usually the wealthy, having the financial means, are willing to fulfill the mitzvos that are between man and man, as they often involve expenditure of money, but are not as careful with "man to Hashem" mitzvos. The poor don't have the means to fulfill "man to man" mitzvos, so they concentrate more on "man to Hashem" mitzvos. Thus, each is lacking in half of his requirements. The half shekel of each needs the supplementing of a partner, the wealthy and the poor. (Shaar Bas Rabim)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh" - The wealthy person shall not exceed - The cantillation on these words is "munach r'vii," which can loosely be translated as "a fourth should remain." This is an allusion to the statement of the gemara K'subos 50a that even he who is very generous with charity, should not dispense more than a fifth of his possessions. If someone commits himself to supporting another who is studying Torah, a Yisochor-Zevulun deal, he may expend even more than a fifth of his holdings as this is considered a sort of business venture. (Igros Moshe Y.D. #4)

Ch. 32, v. 11,12: "Lomoh Hashem yechereh apcho b'a'mecho asher hotzeiso mei'eretz Mitzrayim, B'ro'oh hotziom laharog osom behorim" - Why Hashem should Your anger burn in Your nation whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt, With negativity has He taken them out to kill them in (with) the mountains - The M.R. 46:2 says that those who actually served the golden calf were only the "eirev rav." The bnei Yisroel were to be punished for their complacency in not reprimanding the wrongdoers. Hashem does not punish for not fulfilling a positive mitzvoh, unless it is at a time of great anger, as per the gemara Shabbos 58a (see Pnei Yehoshua there). In truth Hashem should not have punished the bnei Yisroel for not reprimanding the "eirev rav." The reason for this is that the requirement to reprimand is a positive mitzvoh (see gemara M'nochos 41a), unless it is a time of great anger.

At the time of the giving of the Torah, Hashem lifted the mountain over the bnei Yisroel as if it were a barrel, in affect forcing them to accept the Torah. This allows for a "modo'o raboh l'Oreiso," an excuse for not fulfilling the precepts of the Torah, as they were accepting under coercion (gemara shabbos 88a). However, M.R. Shmos 29:3 says that "Onochi Hashem Elokecho asher hotzeisicho mei'eretz Mitzrayim" is to be understood as "I took you out of Egypt with the understanding that you will accept the Torah." It is therefore incumbent upon us even, and there is no excuse of coercion. This logically does not apply to the "eirev rav," as they were free men in Egypt. For them there is the claim, "B'ro'oh hotziom laharog osom behorim," it is with negativity that He took them out to kill them under the mountains, i.e. the threat of killing them by dropping the mountain upon them. They have a legitimate excuse of having accepted under coercion. If they deserve to get off scot-free then the complaint that the true bnei Yisroel did not reprimand them also falls to the wayside, as it is no longer a time of great wrath. This is the intention of Moshe's words, "Lomoh Hashem yechereh apcho b'a'mecho," - Why Hashem be angry with Your nation bnei Yisroel, because they did not reprimand the "eirev rav." "Asher hotzeiso mei'eretz Mitzrayim," if it is because You took them out of Egypt, and in turn they are committed to accept the Torah, but it is only at a time of great anger against the "eirev rav" that You would punish the bnei Yisroel for not reprimanding. Since You threatened the "eirev rav" with "laharog osom behorim," and they have an excuse, there is no longer "idon d'ris'cha," a time of great anger, and therefore You should not punish the bnei Yisroel for not fulfilling the positive mitzvoh of reprimanding. (Ponim Yofos)

Ch. 32, v. 19: "Va'y'hi kaasher korav el hamacha'neh va'yar es ho'eigel" - And it was when he came close to the encampment and he saw the calf - Hashem told Moshe, "Leich reid ki shicheis amcho," so Moshe knew what had transpired even before he descended from the mountain. However, he responded to Hashem, "I will not believe this until I see it with my own eyes." This is why it was only when he descended and saw the calf that he shattered the tablets. Woe to people who testify to something that they did not actually see. Moshe surely believed Hashem's words, but did not act upon them until he was eye witness himself. By responding this way to Hashem's words Moshe taught the bnei Yisroel to not act upon hearing something even from a person who is trustworthy. (Shmos Rabboh 46:1)

We might say that Moshe's response was justified because he heard this from Hashem while he was in the heavens. There, even before something actually takes place, since Hashem knows what the future holds, it is as if it had already taken place. This is why Moshe had to see for himself if on earth this had actually taken place. (n.l.)

Ch. 32, v. 19: "Va'yashleich miyodov es haluchos" - And he threw from his hands the tablets - "Va'yashleich" means he threw them to a distance and didn't simply drop them to the ground. There was a practical reason for this. Had he just dropped them they would have smashed down upon his feet. (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. #45, Rashbam, Chizkuni)

Ch. 32, v. 31: "Choto ho'om ha'zeh chato'oh g'doloh" - This nation has sinned a large sin - Moshe was the arch-defender of the bnei Yisroel. If so, why did he point out to Hashem that their sin was one of large proportions? The term "chet" means a sin done unintentionally. There were no doubt layers and layers of sins committed. One might consider some of them as intentional and some unintentional. Moshe, in an attempt to minimize their sin, said that the "chet," unintentional component was very large. (Rabbi Yehoshua Admor of Belz)

Ch. 33, v. 20: "Ki lo yirani ho'odom vochoi" - Because the man cannot see Me and live - Why doesn't our verse say," Ki lo yirani odom vochoi?" Why do we have a definitive letter Hei before "odom?" From the words, "V'lo kom ode novi b'Yisroel k'Moshe" that although there will never be a prophet among the bnei Yisroel on the level of prophecy as Moshe, but among the nations of the world there will be one, and that is Bilom. The gemara B.M. 114b says that when the verse says "odom" it must mean a ben Yisroel only. Tosfos (ad loc.) says that this only applies when the word is "odom," but if the verse says "ho;odom," it can also mean a non-ben Yisroel. Moshe requested of Hashem to be see Him in a higher level than previously. Hashem responded that in truth He could have acquiesced to this request, but in turn He would have to also give this level to Bilom. Bilom could not have such a clear vision and remain alive. "HO'odom" of our verse refers to Bilom. (Rabbi Menachem haKohein of Prostnitz)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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