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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 27, v. 21: "Yaaroch oso Aharon uvonov mei'erev ad boker" - Aharon and his sons should set it up from evening to the morning - As explained by Targum Onkelos, the antecedent of "oso" is the menorah. The verse then goes on to say that "mei'erev ad boker" is the time calculation for the oil and wicks to last.

However, the Ibn Ezra says that the antecedent of "oso" is the oil. "Yaaroch" is translated as "he should calculate," as we find the same term by assessing the value of a person, "erech."

It seems that the Ibn Ezra's rejection of the earlier explanation is that if it refers to the menorah, the verse should have said "osoH," although the setting up includes the cleaning of the oil cup, the "ner" (masculine), as well.

Ch. 28, v. 2: "L'chovode ulsifo'res" - For honour and for glory - The gemara M'nochos says that these words teach us that if a Kohein's garments were soiled, for example, blood of a sacrifice spilled upon them, they are no longer usable, and it is as if he is not wearing the proper garments. He can thus not perform the priestly duties until he changes into other clean priestly garments. The Holy Chofetz Chaim in Likutei Halochos, his work on the halochos that he extracted from the gemoros on Kodoshim, writes that if the garments only had small specks of blood on them, albeit visible, they are not considered soiled. He bases this on simple logic. Any Kohein working with slaughtered sacrifices will inevitably have small specks of blood land on his garments. It would otherwise be impossible to do the service.

Ch. 28, v. 3: "V'atoh t'dabeir el kol chachmei leiv asher mi'leisiv ruach chochmoh" - And you shall speak too all the wise of heart whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom - This phrase begins with the plural, "chachmEI," and ends with the singular, "mi'leisIV." Targum Onkelos translates the intention of these words and ends with the plural as well, "d'ashleimis imhoN." Some prints of Targum Onkelos have it in the singular, "i'mei." Others say that the single form refers to Betzaleil. Although others are being involved as well, Betzaleil will be the head of this elite group of people. Others say that the singular "mi'leisIV" refers to each of the people's heart (see Holy Zohar and Ibn Ezra).

Ch. 28, v. 4: "Choshen" - Breast plate - Rashbam says that this word is sourced from "chosh," with speed. When a question is raised to the Kohein Godol, the response through the Choshen Mishpot is quick in coming.

Haksav V'hakaboloh offers a novel explanation. The letters Nun-Ches-Shin spell "nochosh," which, besides meaning a snake, also mean divining, as we find in Breishis 44:15, "Nacheish y'nacheish, "which Targum Onkelos translates as "vodoka m'vo'deik," examines to clarify. Similarly, the Choshen Mishpot is the instrument through which questions are raised for a Celestial response. However, since the use of the goblet was for earthly physical matters and sourced from a non-holy source, and here it is from a Holy source, the letters of this word have their order changed, and Nun-Ches-Shin becomes Ches-Shin-Nun.

Ch. 28, v. 4: "V'avneit" - And a sash - The Rambam in hilchos klei Mikdosh 8:19 writes that the sash was three finger-breadths wide and 32 "amos" long. The Kohein Godol would wrap it around and around his waist. It would seem that if it was a thick piece of cloth that there would be considerable bulge. Of course, if the Kohein Godol had his own considerable bulge, the sash would not go around that many times and would be less bulky.

Ch. 28, v. 8: "V'cheishev" - And its wrapping - This word belongs to the set of words whose order of letters changes and yet retains the same meaning, such as "ke'ves" ans "ke'sev," "simloh" and "salmoh," etc. Here too, "cheishev" is the same as "cheivesh," meaning that with which it is wrapped tightly. (Chizkuni)

Ch. 28, v. 10: "Shishoh mishmosom al ho'evven ho'echos v'es shmos hashishoh hanosorim al ho'evven hasheinis k'soldosom" - Six of their names on the one stone and the names of the six who are left over on the second like their births - The gemara Sotoh 36a offers two explanations of our verse. These in turn, are explained differently by the commentators. The first explanation says that "k'solodosom" only refers to the second stone, while the first stone has the names listed out of birth order. Yehudoh, representing kingship was the first name, and on the first stone. After him came Reuvein, Shimon, Levi, Dan, and Naftoli, as is the order of their births (Rashi). The gemara goes on to say that there were a total of fifty letters, with 25 on one stone and 25 on the other.

The next opinion is that of Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel. He posits that the order was not that as listed in the beginning of Chumash Bmidbar, but rather, of Shmos. The sons of Leah are in order, the two sons of Rochel are one here and one here, and the sons of the maid-servants are in between. Rashi explains that the first stone had the sons of Leah listed in the order of their births, and the second stone had Binyomin, Dan, Naftoli, Gad, Osher, and Yoseif. To explain how we arrive at 25 letters on the second stone the gemara manipulates the spelling of Yoseif/Y'hoseif and Binyomin with two letters Yud. (To arrive at 25 on the first stone we have to spell Zevulun with only one Vov, which some say is the earlier one (Riv"o), and some say is the latter one (Rambam).

Rashi in his commentary on our verse seems to explain things according to neither opinion set out in the gemara. This might be because his explanation here fits into the simple text of the words the best. It also seems that Rashi here explains matters so that "k'soldosom" refers to even the first stone, which seems to be the simple meaning of the verse, as there is a "tipcha" cantillation, a sort of coma, before "k'soldosom."

The Rambam in hilchos klei Mikdosh 9:9 writes that the order is as follows: On the first stone we have Reuvein, Levi, Yisochor, Naftoli, Gad, and Yehoseif. On the second stone we have Shimon, Yehudoh, Zevulun, Dan, Osher, and Binyomin. The Kesef Mishneh explains that the Rambam accords with Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel, that "k'soldosom" refers to the order at the beginning of parshas Shmos. (Obviously on each stone, this does not follow the order of the verses there. Rather, the intention is the first is first on the one stone, and the second is first on the other stone, and so on.) The intention of the Rambam's words that the sons of Rochel are one here and one there, and the maidservants divide, is not that between Yehoseif and Binyomin we have the names of Bilhoh's and Zilpoh's sons. Rather, he means that they divide between the sons of Leah and Rochel.

The names were listed one below the other, so on the first stone we have Naftoli and Gad between Yisochor and Yehoseif, and on the second stone we have Dan and Osher between Zevulun and Binyomin. "The one here (Yehoseif) and the one there (Binyomin)" means that each is at the bottom of a separate stone. The Ralbag supports the opinion of the Rambam by noting the word "MIshmosom." If the intention was to have the names in birth order, one through six on one stone, and seven through twelve on the other stone, the verse should have said, "shishoh sheimos," not "MIshmosom." The prefix MI indicates that "some but not all" of their names in order of birth will appear on the one, and the same for the other.

The gemara also offers another opinion, that the order of names follows the division of tribes at the time of accepting the oath at Mounts Grizim and Eivol. Without elaborating further, Tosfos on the gemara cites the gemara Sotoh Yerushalmi 7:4 that according to this opinion the name Binyomin had its letters split between the two stones. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel seems to explain our verse according to this opinion (see Meshech Chochmoh).



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

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