by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS T'TZAVEH 5773 BS"D
Ch. 27, v. 20: "L'haalose ner tomid" - To elevate a permanent light - M.R. cites the verse, "ki ner mitzvoh v'Sorah ohr." A man often wants to fulfill a mitzvoh that requires an outlay of money. His evil inclination comes running and tells him to not do the mitzvoh, but rather to leave the money for his children. The verse "Ki ner mitzvoh" equates a mitzvoh to a burning light. Just as a burning light can ignite thousands and thousands of candles without diminishing its own light, doing a mitzvoh, even one that requires an expenditure, will not diminish one's financial holdings.
Ch. 28, v. 2: "V'ossiso bigdei kodesh l'Aharon ochicho l'chvode ulsifo'res" - And you shall make holy apparel for Aharon your brother for honour and for glory - The Chinuch mitzvoh #99 writes that the need for the Kohein to wear unique priestly garments is to serve the purpose of his being continuously aware of his awesome responsibility of doing service in the Mikdosh, which brings atonement for the bnei Yisroel. Wherever he looks on his body, it is clothed in special clothing. There is a similar theme by the wearing of tefillin even by a non-Kohein, although it covers only a limited area of the body. The Kohein likewise wears tefillin even when wearing priestly garments, but must totally cover his body with unique apparel, as he has an even higher calling.
Ch. 28, v. 2: "V'ossiso bigdei kodesh l'Aharon ochicho l'chvode ulsifo'res" - And you shall make holy apparel for Aharon your brother for honour and for glory - The gemara Shabbos 31 relates that a non-Jew passed a beis medrash and heard someone reading the list of priestly garments. He asked for whom these garments are to be made. When he received the response that they were for the Kohein Godol he decided that he would convert to Judaism and become the Kohein Godol. He appeared in front of Shamai and made his request that he be converted so that he may become the Kohein Godol. Shamai pushed him away with a building rod. He then came to Hillel with the same request and Hillel converted him. Hillel then said that one cannot become a king without first learning kingly protocol. Similarly, he told the newly converted man that he must first learn all the laws of priesthood. He proceeded to do this and when he reached the verse, "V'hazor hako'reiv yumos," - the alien who comes close shall be put to death, he asked to whom does this verse apply. He was told that even King Dovid would be liable to this punishment. He then applied the following logic to himself: A born Jew is called a son of Hashem as per the verse, "Bni b'chori Yisroel" (Shmos 4:22), and even to him does the verse "V'hazor hako'reiv yumos" apply. All the more so to a come-lately convert does it apply, and his aspirations to become Kohein Godol came to an abrupt end.
Ch. 28, v. 6: "V'ossu es ho'eifode …… maa'sei chosheiv" - And they shall make the apron …… masterful work - All the priestly garments were made skillfully, so why only here and by the breastplate that sat on the eifode (verse 15) does it say "maa'sei chosheiv?" the gemara Zvochim 88b says that the eifode brings atonement for idol worship. Idol worship is unique in that if a person thinks and plans to serve it, even though he did not carry it out, he has sinned, "machashovoh k'maa'seh." The verses by the eifode and breast plate therefore say "maa'sei chosheiv," thought is equal to action. (Holy Alshich)
Ch. 28, v. 11: "T'fatach es shtei ho'avonim al shmos bnei Yisroel" - You shall engrave the two stones on the names of the bnei Yisroel - Rashi explains "al" to mean "with." The Rambam writes that the names of the bnei Yisroel were written in ink on these two shoulder stones and the "shamir" worm was placed onto the ink on the stones and they split. We thus have the engraving literally done "al shmos bnei Yisroel." (Medrash Talpios entry eifode)
Ch. 29, v. 1: "V'zeh hadovor asher taa'seh lohem" - And this is the matter that you shall do for them - The verse could have simply said, "v'zeh asher taa'seh lohem." "Hadovor" alludes to "dibur," speech. Although here there are sacrifices offered, there will be a time when there will not be this opportunity and we replace it with verbalizing the verses and the laws of the sacrifices, "Unshalmoh forim sfoseinu" (Hoshei'a 14:3). (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Ch. 29, v. 4: "V'es Aharon v'es bonov takriv …… v'rochatzto osom bamoyim" - And Aharon and his sons shall you bring close …… and you shall wash them in water - Toras Kohanim #169 says that this washing means immersing in a mikveh. We now understand why the verse separates Aharon from his sons, as indicated by "v'es" rather than a "Vov hachibur" (see gemara B.K. 65b). A father is not allowed to bathe with his son (gemara P'sochim 51). (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 29, v. 37: "V'hoyoh hamizbei'ach kodesh kodoshim" - And the altar shall be holy of holies. It is most unusual to see that in our verse and in 40:10 the outer altar is called "holy of holies," while the golden altar, which is situated in the Mishkon, is only called "kodesh" (40:9). There is a symbolic message here. When one is located in a very holy location, such as in a beis medrash, when he leaves he must make sure he is behaving "kodesh kodoshim." Otherwise, he will be negatively affected by the outside world he encounters. To the contrary, all who come in contact with him should be elevated, "Kol hano'gei'a bo yikdosh," as it says by the outer altar. Even disqualified offerings that are placed on the outer altar remain there.
Alternatively, one who is a "kodesh," a religious ben Yisroel, is considered by many as "kodesh kodoshim," so when he is outside and in contact with them, he must be on his best behaviour, on the level of "kodesh kodoshim," lest people learn to be complacent and lenient. (Dorash Moshe)
Ch. 30, v. 3: "V'tzipiso oso zohov tohor" - And you shall clad it with pure gold - On the last page of the gemara Chagigoh that the thickness of the overlay was the thickness of a dinar. Tosfos ad loc. cite a Medrash Tanchuma. Moshe wondered how with the twice daily burning of incense on this altar's top the wooden body of the altar did not burn. Hashem responded that He sends down His fire and its nature is to consume other fires and not to consume other things, as Moshe himself had experienced by the burning bush (Shmos 3:2).
Now since Moshe himself experienced that heavenly fire does not consume wood, what was his question? The gemara Eiruvin 63a says that although a fire descended from heaven to the altar, there was still a requirement to bring regular physical fire, "aish shel hedyot." This was Moshe's question. Why didn't the non-celestial fire burn the wood? Hashem responded that the heavenly fire consumes other fires. (Likutei Shoshanim)
Based on this insight I am not clear about which fire burned the incense.
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