subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 27, v. 20: "V'atoh" This is the first word of our parsha. The last word of the previous parsha is "n'choshes." The Holy Zohar writes that Moshe was a reincarnation of Noach and Sheis. This is alluded to in the juxtaposition of these words. The four letters of "N'ChoSheS" spell NoaCH SheiS. Thus "Noach Sheis V'atoh" are one. (M'ga'leh Amukos)

Ch. 28, v. 8: "V'chei'shev afudoso asher olov k'maa'seihu mi'menu y'h'yeh" The Alshich writes that these words allude to the gemara Z'vochim 88b that says that the "eifode" garment when worn by the Kohein Godol brings atonement for the sin of idol worship. The gemara Kidushin 39b says that although when a person thinks about sinning it is not considered as if he has committed the sin, thoughts of idol worship are considered as if one actually perpetrated the sin. Read our verse "V'chei'shev," when one has thoughts of "afudoso," that which the "eifode" garment atones, i.e. idol worship, "k'maa'seihu," it is as if the act were done.

On the converse side, Rabbeinu Efrayim interprets these words as follows: "V'chei'shev afudoso," if one thought to do a mitzvoh such as creating the "eifode" garment, "k'maa'seihu," it is as if he had done the mitzvoh, as the gemara Kidushin 39b says that a person's thought to do a positive act is considered as if it were done.

The Nachal K'dumim explains why a positive thought is considered as if it were done, while a negative one is not, with the exception of thoughts of idol worship, which are also considered as if the act were done. In Iyov 1:11 it says "Hashem nosan VAShem lokach." The M.R. Vayikroh 24:2 says that the term "VAShem," AND Hashem, means Hashem and his celestial court. "Hashem nosan" means Hashem gave a reward. This does not involve his court, as this statement of the verse does not say "VAShem." Since only He is giving the reward, it can include reward for positive thoughts besides actions since Hashem knows all that is in a person's heart and can discern if he truly wanted to fulfill the mitzvoh he contemplated to do. "VAShem lokach" refers to punishing. The verse says that this includes His celestial court. The members of His court do not know what lies in the depths of a person's heart, so punishment for thoughts cannot be administered by Hashem AND His court. If you will ask, "Why doesn't Hashem act as a witness and testify to the court about people's thoughts," we can answer that Hashem is disqualified to testify against the bnei Yisroel who are called his sons, "Bonim attem laShem Elokeichem" (Dvorim 14:1). A father may not testify regarding his son. However, if one has thoughts of idol worship, ch"v negating his allegiance to Hashem, he is no longer considered a son of Hashem and Hashem may testify against him, telling the celestial court of his negative thoughts of idol worship. Thus they may proceed to punish a person for the sinful thought of idol worship.

Ch. 28, v. 10: "Shishoh mishmosom al ho'evven ho'echos" The gemara Yerushalmi Sotoh 7:4 says that Biyomin's name appeared on the "eifode" stones with the first two letters Beis-Nun on one stone and the last letters of his name on the other stone. This seems to be alluded in the word MIshmosom, a section of their names, indicating that a name is not complete on one stone. Indeed on the words "Shishoh mishmosom" the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel also says ""Shiso min k'tzas shmos'hone," six of part of their names. Why was Binyomin's name chosen to be the one to be split between the two stones? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that this is indicated in Dvorim 33:12, "U'vein kseifov shochein," regarding Binyomin the verse says, "and between the two shoulders (of the Kohein Godol) he rests."

Ch. 28, v. 11: "T'fatach es ho'avonim al shmos bnei Yisroel" The gemara Sotoh 48b says that the names of the bnei Yisroel may not be put onto the stones by writing, as the verse says "pituchei chosom," indicating a requirement to be imbedded IN the stones. The names may also not be etched into the stones as the verse says "b'milu'osom" (verse 20), in their completeness. How are the names placed into the stones? The names were written onto the surface of the stones with ink and a unique worm called "shamir" was placed upon the stones. It would crawl along the path marked by the ink and the stones would burst along the guidelines, similar to the bursting of the surface of a ripe fig, and nothing would be removed from the stone, hence fulfilling the "bmilu'osom" requirement.

With this gemara we can explain these words of our verse. "You should OPEN (create the letter forms by causing the stones to open) on the names of the bnei Yisroel, which were first written upon the stones in ink." (Medrash Talpios in the name of the Chochom Rabbi Mordechai haLevi) More on the rule of "b'milu'osom" - complete stones, in verse 20.

Ch. 28, v. 20: "B'milu'osom" The gemara Sotoh 48b derives from this word that the stones must be complete. The Ramban notes that we do not find this word form mentioned by the two stones that are placed onto the "eifode" shoulder straps, only by the "choshen". He derives from this that there is no requirement to have the names of the twelve tribes etched into the stones in a manner that does not remove any material from the stones, i.e. by using the "shamir," as mentioned earlier in 28:11. However, Rashi on the gemara Sotoh 48b d.h. "avonim halolu" says that this ruling applies to the stones of the "eifode" as well. These words of Rashi require clarification since we only find "b'milu'osom" by the "choshen" stones, as pointed out by the Ramban. Perhaps Rashi interpreted verse 11 as did the Medrash Talpios mentioned earlier, thus an indication that writing was required before the etching, in turn showing that the "shamir" must be used. Obviously this is only to comply with the need for "complete" stones. However, the gemara derives the need for complete stones from the word "b'milu'osom" and not from verse 11.

Ch. 28, v. 29: "V'nosso Aharon es shmos bnei Yisroel b'choshen hamishpot al LIBO" - Rashi on the words "v'ro'acho v'somach b'LIBO" (Shmos 4:14) says that in the merit of Aharon's having true happiness in his heart that Moshe would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, even though Aharon was his older brother, he merited to have the "choshen" on his heart, as stated in our verse.

The Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Acha'rei explains the words of our Yom Kippur prayer "ki Atoh Solchon l'Yisroel u'Mocholon l'shivtei Yeshurun." He says that besides our asking for individual atonement for our own personal sins, we ask Hashem for forgiveness for two communal sins, the sin of the golden calf, a sin between man and Hashem, and the sin of the sale of Yoseif, a sin between man and his fellow man. Thus we say that You Hashem are the SOLCHON, Forgiver, to the bnei Yisroel, referring to the sin of the golden calf, where we find the term "Va'yomeir Hashem SOLACHTI kidvo'recho" (Bmidbar 14:20). In regard to requesting Hashem for forgiveness for the sale of Yoseif we say "u'MOCHOLON l'SHIVTEI YESHURUN." This is a most unusual term to use for the bnei Yisroel. However, it is well understood if referring to the bnei Yisroel in regard to the lingering shadow of the sin of selling Yoseif, which was done by our tribal ancestors, the SHIVTEI YESHURUN.

He goes on to explain that this concept of the two communal sins carries through to other matters. The gemara R.H. 26a says that the reason the Kohein Godol does not wear his normal eight priestly garments when he enters the Holy of Holies to beseech Hashem for atonement is because the set of eight garments includes the material gold, a stark reminder of the gold used for creating the golden calf. We have a rule that "ein ka'teigor naa'seh sa'neigor," - a prosecutor may not become a defender. Gold indicts the bnei Yisroel, so it is inappropriate to wear it when entreating Hashem for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. The Meshech Chochmoh adds that likewise it is inappropriate for him to wear the set of eight garments, which includes the "choshen" that carries upon it the names of all the tribes, since we are also requesting atonement for the sale of Yoseif, which was perpetrated by his brothers, the tribal ancestors.

He says that this also explains why the holiest service of atonement, the offering of the incense in the Holy of Holies is brought specifically there. Besides the obvious, that it is appropriate to have the holiest person do the holiest service on the holiest day of the year in the holiest location on earth, he says that since we are requesting of Hashem to forgive us the sin of selling Yoseif, it requires taking place in the tribal portion of Binyomin, who was not a partner in this crime. The Holy of Holies is in the tribal portion of Binyomin (See gemara Z'vochim 53b and Rashi d.h. "d'omar" and diagram in Rashi).

He continues by saying that once the kingdom was split with a king of Yehudoh and a king of the north, the Urim and Tumim were no longer consulted for Divine guidance. This is because the "choshen" contains the names of the tribes. Once the tribes were not unified, as the kingdom split, it was inappropriate to use the "choshen", which embodies the concept of the unity of the tribes.

The words of Rashi mentioned earlier are so well understood now with the insight of the Meshech Chochmoh. The "choshen" symbolizes the unity of the tribes. The older brothers were jealous of their younger brother Yoseif when he claimed that he had received a prophecy by way of dreams that he would become a king. This was the antithesis of the "choshen". Aharon, on the other hand, displayed the opposite reaction. Hashem testified that when Aharon would meet Moshe who would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, as the gemara Z'vochim 102a says, that Moshe had the status of a king, chosen over his older brother. Nevertheless, Aharon would feel only true happiness in his heart, the opposite reaction to that of the brothers of Yoseif when he told them that his prophetic dreams indicated that he would become a king. Therefore Aharon deserved to have the "choshen" with the names of all the tribes, indicating unity without jealousy even for a younger brother who would rise above him in position, upon his heart.

Ch. 29, v. 39: "Taa'seh" - The Baal Haturim points out differences in the wording between the verses in our parsha (38-42) and those in parshas Pinchos (Bmidbar 28:1-8). Among the differences he writes that in our verse it says "taa'seh," while in parshas Pinchos we find "taa'sU" (28:4). This is most puzzling, as we find "taa'seh" there as well. However, in the M'chone Hamo'ore edition of the Torah it says that in parshas Pinchos we find the plural form "takrivU" (28:3).



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