- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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The Parsha begins with the laws of Tumeh. Just as the original creation of the world, humans were created after the animals, so too the laws of man follow the laws of the animals.(Rashi)
The words Tamey and Tahor have no real parallels in English or in any other secular language, and we have to delve more deeply into the Hebrew in order to even begin to comprehend how it can be applied to the concept of Kashrut. The following is based on the work Derech Hashem, authored by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, better known as the"Ramchal,".
The word Tamey originates in the Hebrew word Atum, which means "impermeable" or "sealed off." When the Torah employs the concept of being sealed off it does so in a spiritual sense; Tamey refers to a person or creature or substance that is sealed off from the spiritual; it is impermeable to Divine emanation or light.
When Hashem created the world, He was faced with a dilemma. If He created a universe completely open to His Divine light, such a universe would be overwhelmed by the brightness of this light and would cling to Hashem, unable or unwilling to separate. On the other hand, if creation was impermeable to Divine light it could not survive. A created universe has no inertia. It needs the constant input of the fresh energy that we describe as the Divine light in order to continue to exist.
Besides, not only were these extremes impractical, they also defeated the purpose of creation. Hashem wanted the universe to contain the possibility of connecting to Him through a process of free choice. This required a built in possibility of separating from Him and still continuing to survive. Some restriction to the need for constant exposure to the emanation of the Divine light had to be part of the universe's basic design.
So Hashem made a creation that is a mixture of Tamey and Tohar, of substances that are porous mixed with those that are impenetrable. The part of creation that is permeable to His Light is known as Tahor; but a portion was designed to exist in a state of spiritual darkness; the portion we call Tamey. Since both parts are combined into a single entity, creation as an entirety can function without either being totally overwhelmed by Hashem's emanations or in any way bereft of tdd so that creation may continue to exist.
Not only does this solve the problem of maintaining the universe in existence in a state of partial separation, it also offers the built in possibility of free choice. As anyone can connect to the Tamey, a part of the universe that exists only in a state of separation from Hashem, there is a built in existential alternative to clinging to the Divine Presence.
Kashrut is an excellent way to bring this down to earth. We derive the energy for continued life from the things we eat. If we eat the Tamey, we are choosing to live in separation from Hashem by definition; if we wish to connect we must only consume that which is Tohar.
There is a Midrash which states if a person merits it, then they say to him, “you preceded all the works of Creation.' And if not then they say to him, 'the mosquito preceded you.”
We know that in Bereishis, the creation of man is last. So how can one say to a person "you preceded all the works of Creation?" We also need to explain what's wrong with being last. On the contrary, "saving the best for last" comes from an old saying of our Sages: "the last is most important!"
The Bais Yitzchak answers these questions, with a story of a gathering of philosophers devoted to studying and understanding all of the components of the natural world. They determined that everything in the world has a purpose. As we know today, complex ecosystems depend upon the interactions of every plant and animal within them, and the disappearance of even a single species can throw an entire system out of balance.
Other species are especially valuable in the service of man: horses and donkeys, for example. Various plants provide us with food; even poisonous varieties often have medical value when used externally.
This conclusion was finally reached after great effort over a long period of time. They were delighted to have discovered a true structure in all that had been created, and were ready to celebrate. One of them, however, was not satisfied. When they had all gathered at the party, he stood up and reminded them that they had failed to determine the purpose of one extremely important species: Homo-sapiens. “What was the purpose of creating humans, and does the world need us?”
So they chewed on that one for a while, and came up with no physical contribution made by humans to the rest of the world. We are not providers of natural resources -- we consume them. We cut trees and slaughter animals, destroying and eating while contributing nothing in return. Even human waste is useless, unlike the waste of many animals.
What do we conclude from that? If we decide that there is no great purpose to Creation, that it represents merely the random quirks of natural selection, then we conclude that humans are indeed destroyers. But the real purpose of man is not physical, but spiritual. We know this, however, not because we invested years of study into the natural order, but because the Torah tells us that had no nation accepted the Torah, the Creation of the world would have had no purpose. We exist not to provide physical contributions to the world, but spiritual.
When a person makes bread and separates challah from it, makes the blessing when slaughtering an animal, or makes a blessing upon kosher food on his or her table, this sanctifies the act of eating and consumption, and in so doing brings spiritual value to all the natural phenomena that went into the production of those foods. The person is then not a mere consumer or destroyer, but the provider of final perfection.
This being the case, then we understand the Midrash with which we began. "If a person merits it" - if he or she invests in spiritual pursuits and brings spiritual perfection to the world, then they say "you preceded all the works of Creation." Meaning, the world was created for the sake of this person and what he or she has done with the physical resources it provides. So although the physical Creation of all else came first, the reason for it all, the initial consideration upon which all of Creation was based, was indeed this person. And if not, if a person ignores the purpose of Creation, then "the mosquito preceded you." Even the lowly mosquito was here on earth first, so what right do you have to come and dominate and destroy it, or any other thing, afterwards? Every one of us has the tools in hand to bring perfection to the world!
(12:2) “Isha Ki Sazria V’Yalda Zachor V’tameh Shivas Yomim-If a woman conceives and bears a child she shall be impure for seven days.” The period of impurity differs for the birth of a male child versus that of a female. Many Torah critics complain of the Torah’s bias towards the male. But this concept of impurity needs clarification. Impurity sets in when a void of Kiddusha occurs. When a woman gives birth the soul she had been carrying in the form of that child leaves her creating a void of Kiddusha and Tumah automatically replaces it. An example of this is in the body of man. Man has been endowed with a soul. But when a man dies and that soul leaves his body, a tremendous Tumah sets in. This is why a Kohein is not permitted to enter a cemetery. The Kohein represents man at his highest and most holy point. For him to be in contact with Tumeh would go against his role in this world to be a connecting point to Hashem.
Another example is that of the Tumah one experiences upon waking up in the morning. There is a need to wash the hands to remove that Tumah. The reason is because when a person sleeps a part of his Neshama leaves his body. This is why sleep is considered one sixtieth of death. Since part of the Neshama leaves, a void is created which is immediately filled by Tumah.
The first childbirth ever recorded in history was when Chava gave birth to Kayin. The name Kayin is explained to come from her declaration (Bereshis 4:1) “Kanisi Ish es-Hashem-I have acquired an attribute of Hashem.” Just as Hashem has the ability to create, woman now has exhibited that ability to create. It is for this reason that the period of impurity for a female child is twice that of a male. For when a female soul is removed from the mother a greater degree of Kiddusha is lost. A Kiddusha that is more likened to Hashem in its capacity to create, than a male.
After the birth of a son, a woman is Tameh for seven days. The very next Posuk records that on the eighth day he should be circumcised. The close proximity of the seven and eight teaches us that the woman who observes the seven day Niddah laws will be blessed with sons who will be circumcised on the eighth day.
The previous Parsha ended with the details of kosher and non-kosher animals. But for eating non-kosher animals one is not punished with Tzoras. Hashem causes that public rebuke for the gossip and slander that devours people and their reputations. We can see people being very careful about what they eat but lax about what they say. Yet Hashem does not bring Tzaras on someone who devours pork, only one who devours people.
Tzaras was not a physical disease, it was spiritual. It revealed a hidden aspect of creation that was unique to the nation of Israel. The words “Toras HaMetzora” equal 1411 which also equal “Vayeidah Kol H’Eretz Ki Yesh Hashem B’Yisroel-All the world will know that Hashem is with Yisroel.
Tzaras was brought on the people in an era when few people spoke Loshon Hora. Yet today when there is little care taken about what people say we don’t see Tzaras? Tzaras was a divine warning to a person who was basically healthy; that he had done a bad thing It was a blessing as much as a punishment because it alerted him to a problem and forced him to deal with it. Now we live in a time where people are on a level where the sins that cause Tzaras are rampant. They don’t deserve this Divine reminder that something is wrong.
(12:8) “V’Lokcha Sh’tai Sorim...Echod L’Olah V’Echod L’Chatos V’chepaer Oleha HaKohein V’toharah -Take two Turtle Doves..One for an elevation offering and one for a sin offering and the Kohein shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” The actual order of the sacrifices is reversed? First we must remove the sin, only then can we come closer to Hashem through the elevation offering. Why then does the Torah write them listing the elevation offering before the sin offering? Perhaps we can say that coming closer to Hashem is the goal. Even though we must remove sin to get there, by listing the elevation offering first, we proclaim our intent from the start.
There are two forms of Loshon Hora. The Ohr Hachaim says one that is true but forbidden to say brings about Tzaras that is called Baheress, which comes from the word to clarify. The person wants to clarify his gossip. The second type is the slander which is totally untrue. This is punished by Seis a worse form of Tzaras. One is just on the surface the other is below the skin indicating that there is a more severe problem with the person.
(13:13) "V'Roh Hakohein V'Hinei Kisiso Hatzoras es Kol H'Basar-The Kohein shall look and behold the affliction has covered the entire his entire flesh." Why does the Kohein declare the person pure when his entire flesh becomes covered with the affliction? The Talmud in Sanhedrin (97a) explains that the Moshiach will only come after all governments of the world become total heretics. This verse supports this as G-d's salvation is closest to man when his ordeal reaches its greatest intensity. It is then that the turning point in his destiny occurs.
(13:33) “V’hisgaloch-He must shave.” The person wishing to become pure must shave his entire body. The word “Hisgalach” is spelled with a large letter Gimmel. The Otzer Chaim says that this is a hint to the law that permits taking a haircut on the 33rd. day of the Omer because this is the 33rd Posuk. The Arizal says that from here we have a Remez that a boy receives his first haircut in his third year corresponding to the large Gimmel which has a numerical value of three.
(13:47) "Wool and Linen" (13:48) "Linen and Wool" regarding wool listed first it is the material further from the body. The Tumeh comes first on what is more distant from the person. In the second case the order is what's is more valued.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
- Hits: 424
(9:1) “Vayehe Bayom Hashimini Koroh Moshe L’Aharon U’Vanav U’Lziknai Yisroel-It was on the eighth day that Moshe called to Aharon and his sons and to the elders of Israel.” Rashi comments that it was to announce that it was by divine command that Aharon entered the Mishkon and served as the high priest. That they not say he did this on his own authority. But even though Moshe proclaimed that he was acting only at Hashem’s behest, how could he make the people believe him if they had doubts? The Tiferes Shlomo writes that Moshe had within himself the spirit of the entire nation. When he served Hashem with all his heart, all the people were inspired with him. When he announced that he was carrying out Hashem’s command, the people felt a surge of enthusiasm at the service that was about to be carried out. When they became conscious of this spirit of holiness, they realize that it could be possible only because it was indeed Hashem’s command that was being performed. (Otzar Chaim)
(9:1) “Vayehe Bayom Hashimini-And it was on the eighth day.” The word “Vayehe” always hints to some sadness. Here it is the death of Aharon’s two sons. Nadav and Avihu. Many reasons have been given for their death by many commentators. Actually in Parshas Mishpatim by the giving of the Torah, we learned that Nadav and Avihu gazed at G-d while they ate and drank (Shemos 24:10) for this reason they may have deserved death but Hashem delayed their punishment not to mar the joy of the giving of the Torah. Instead He waited until this day, the day of the dedication of the Mishkon. It’s quite puzzling that this eighth day would be chosen since it is considered the most joyous day since the creation of the world?
R.Avigdor Miller gives the following explanation. Based on the Mesilas Yesharim he explains that in this world happiness is fleeting. In order for us to focus on the next world, Hashem’s plan is to interject sadness into people’s lives as a sobering experience. To teach us that you must always remain focused on the principal that true unadulterated joy will only come in the next world. What better time to insert this lesson than the most joyous day in the history of creation.
One answer is given by the Dubneh Maggid who gives the following parable. There was once a king who wished to build a great city. He wanted to spare no expense in having the finest of everything. He would bring the best craftsmen to build his palace and the most expensive materials were used. But it would not be complete unless they also included the finest people. So they went to seek out the most competent professionals. They found a doctor who had a reputation for being able to cure all types of ailments. Not long after he arrived, one of the elders of the city took ill. When the doctor went to visit him, he saw this man was gravely ill but the doctor said he would take the position and cure him. But soon after he began treating him he died. The king said to him “What kind of doctor are you? You said you could heal him?” To which the doctor replied “ If the people will think I can heal any type of illness, they will begin neglecting their health and only rely on me to cure them. Thus my coming here would be a disservice to the city. Now that they know that I cannot fix everything they will take heed of their health.”
The same is true regarding the Mishkon. The Mishkon was a place to reconnect the sinners with Hashem. But if they thought it can cure every sin they would begin neglecting the Torah and Mitzvos that is incumbent upon them. Therefore on the very first day of the functioning Mishkon Hashem needed to demonstrate this fact. This sent the most powerful message to Klal Yisroel. That even the most righteous sons of Aharon Hakohen are not above such judgements.
(9:1) “Vayehe Bayom Hashimini-And it was on the eighth day.” This was actually the first working day of the Mishkon. Why is it referred to as the eighth day? R. Dovid Feinstein writes that it comes to show how the preparations leading up to the dedication of the Mishkon are just as important as the dedication itself. The Gemarrah in Megillah point out that there are similarities between the wording here and the wording found at the six days of creation. The word “Hashimini” with the letter “Hey” indicates a special day just as the word used by the first Shabbos uses the “Hey”to express the uniqueness of “Yom Hasheshe” the sixth day of creation. Being that this was the culmination of what the world was created for, to bring the Shechinah back down to the physical world, it means that this was the continuation of Masser Bereishis. Seven represents the Tevah, the physical laws of the world, and Shimini represents above the physical, beyond the laws of nature.
But perhaps we can suggest an alternative explanation. Man was created on the sixth day. He sinned on that same day and death was introduced into the world. However that sentence was delayed. In fact man was not expelled from Gan Eden until after Shabbos (MiMochros HaShabbos) which was actually the “Eighth” day of creation. We now have come full circle. Now we return to the “Eighth” day, the day the Shechina returned to this world for the first time since it left on the very first Eighth day!
“Vayehe Bayom Hashimini-And it was on the eighth day.” is equal to 504 in gematria. The same as the word “V’Solachtah- I have forgiven you.”
Rashi quotes the Gemarrah that says this day was as joyous to Hashem as the day the heaven and earth were created. We learn this from the similarity of words in Bereishis, which uses the word “Vayehe”and the opening of our Parsha where the word “Vayehe” is used as well. The Shem M’shmuel writes that really this was the first day of the working Mishkon.
We usually find that the number “eight” is more valued than the number seven. It is known that seven represents nature and eight is considered above nature. However here it seems to be reversed. All of the seven days of the inauguration of the sanctuary the Kohanim had to remain inside the tent of meeting and sacrifices were considered the holiest of holy only being allowed to be eaten in the courtyard of the Ohel Moed. On the eighth day the priests were not restricted to one place and the sacrifice was plain Kodesh and was permitted to be eaten in any place that was free of contamination just as the rest of the year?
To explain this concept we must look at the words of the Zohar with regard to the eating of matzoh. If matzoh is beneficial to our soul why is it not eaten all year long? He answers with a Moshel of a person who is ill and given a strict diet. Once he has regained his strength and has recovered from his illness he once again permitted to eat whatever he wishes. So too with regard to matzoh. When Klal Yisroel were in their infancy matzoh was required to strengthen their spiritual fortitude. Once strong they were not only permitted to eat Chometz they were required to elevate it through consumption. This can also be said of the days of inauguration. For at the outset more caution was called for. Seven represents nature and nature is physicality. Man needs to be cautioned not to drown in physicality. Moshe prepared the Tabernacle for seven days elevating it and preparing it for Aharon to take over. On the eighth day Moshe called to his brother and his sons raising them to the level required to serve in the Mishkon. Only after seven days would this be possible.
This hints to the very first Shabbos of creation and was a direct attempt to correct the original sin. The intent was that there be a Shabbos after six days of creation. That is, all the work of the seventh day was to be doubled over on the sixth day. Therefore when the seventh day of Shabbos arrived seven days of work had been completed. The intent being for the Shabbos day to sanctify the previous work days to the extent that they would never lose that Kiddusha. That is why Chazal say that had Man waited for Shabbos to come before the first sin, the world would have reached its perfection. The light of Shabbos, which is above nature, would have illuminated all of creation. Here the eighth day served as the completion of the seven inaugural days. But it was not enough to prevent the tragedy that occurred and marred the greatest day since the creation of the world.
In this weeks Parsha we have the final steps in the dedication of the Mishkon. There were ten miracles that occurred on that day. The culmination of which was the fire coming down through the Kodeshe Kodshim across the courtyard to the Mizbeach and consuming the Korbon in front of the entire nation. At that point they all screamed and bowed. Miraculously there was enough room for everyone to bow. The need for that miracle was to teach Yisrael that spirituality is not bound by space. It demonstrated that it was equally possible for the vastness of G-D to reside in a limited small place. In a Tabernacle.
The Parsha begins with the word “Vayehe” which always indicates a form of sadness. Besides the death of Aaron's two sons there was also another sadness associated with the Mishkon. Originally each Jew was to be worthy of the Divine Presence resting on him, but after the Chet of the Eigel it was necessary for the Mishkon to be the resting place of the Shechina. So it was truly sad that the Mishkon was dedicated because along with that joy was the realization that they had lost the opportunity for even greater closeness to Hashem.
After Aaron performed the service he stood in the courtyard in front of the altar awaiting the heavenly fire to descend but nothing happened. At this point he said to Moshe “Why did you put me up to this? It’s obvious that Hashem hasn’t forgiven me for my role in the Chet H’eigel.” At which point Moshe and Aaron prayed together and a fire descended and consumed the sacrifice. The question is why did the revelation of the Shechina not immediately follow Aharon’s service? The answer is that by withholding the heavenly fire Hashem demonstrated that His presence cannot be evoked automatically. That by just mixing together certain ingredients one cannot cause the Shechina to appear. Pardoning of sin is not something that is guaranteed by just going through the motions but depends ultimately on the individual and the spirit with which a sacrifice is brought.
(9:24)"A fire came forth from before Hashem ותצא אש מלפני ה׳“ This fire contained five miracles. It came down in a pillar, it was shaped like a lion, it consumed both wet and dry and was without smoke. It was one of the four original elements of creation.
(10:1) “Vayikchu Benei Aharon Nadav V’avihu Ish Machtaso-The sons of Aharon Nadav and Avihu each took his firepan.” When Nadav and Avihu saw the great love that Hashem showed by consuming the Korbonos they felt a tremendous need to reciprocate. What they did was with the highest intentions. Why then should they have deserved death? The Chidushe HaRim explains that when a person does a Mitzvah with tremendous devotion his soul should leave him and cleave to Hashem. The only reason that his soul does not leave is because Hashem commanded the Mitzvah and Hashem wants a person to live and do the Mitzvos. But in this case there was no command so they had no merit with which to keep the body and soul from separating. This is why the Posuk says of their sin “they brought a fire which had not been commanded.”
According to Jewish tradition the universe is a composite of the four basic elements, fire, air, earth and water mixed in varying proportions. The basic idea of the four elements is spiritual. They are really the emanations of the four letters of Hashem's holy name.YHVH. The elements as we encounter them in the physical universe are the very outermost expressions of these spiritual emanations. The level of physicality is always the very surface layer of reality that covers the metaphysical that lie concealed underneath.
The Sefer Nefesh Hachaim explains that as we encounter these elements in an everyday experience, fire always goes up toward heaven. It never burns in a downward direction. It has the capacity to transform all physical objects into smoke. Symbolically, the elements fire represents the drive towards spirituality, a drive to return to the creator and be consumed by a spiritual union with him.
Earth is at the opposite extreme. It never falls up but always descends down to the bottom of any solution. Symbolically fire and earth are two extremes. Burning passion for spirituality versus total apathy towards any spiritual movement. One of the four elements in man is fire. It is the predominant element, since it energizes him and enables him to move and function. Therefore Hashem's blessing is most needed there. In the temple a constant fire was required from below to mask the fire that descends from above. The aim of the blessing is wholeness, assuring that there is nothing missing and nothing extra. Too much fire can cause haughtiness, while too little can weaken his strength and ability to fulfill his purpose in the world.
This could explain the small “Mem” in the word Mokdah in Parshas Tzav (6:2)
When the sons of Aharon added fire without being commanded it caused a corresponding fire to come down into them that was more than they could handle and they were consumed. For Hashem responds according to the persons actions. This is why their bodies were not affected. The fire from heaven that fuels the soul caused an overload.
(10:3) "Vayidom Aharon- Aharon was silent" The word "Vayidom" means more than just silent. The root of the word is Domaim which means inanimate like a rock. Aharon was not just silent on the outside while bursting with pain inside. He was able to be accepting throughout. When a tragedy as great as this occurs it is Hashem speaking. This could be the meaning of Moshe's words of consolation to his brother. "Vayomer Moshe el Aharon Hu Asher Dibaer Hashem- Moshe said to Aharon this is what Hashem said." Do not read it as what Hashem said but rather "This is Hashem speaking."
(10:3) "Vayidom Aharon- Aharon was silent" What was it that he could have said? The Yalkut says he could have said "Ben Shemonas Yomim Yimol-On the eighth day we do Bris Milah." What does this have to do with the death of Nadav and Avihu? The Gemarrah writes that Avraham Avinu stands positioned at the gates of Gehenom and prevents anyone circumcised from entering. The message is that there is life after death for those who keep the Torah. The words "Vataitze Aish M'Lifnei Hashem-A fire went out from before Hashem" has the numerical value of 1034 the same as the phrase "Ben Shemonas Yomim Yimol-On the eighth day we do Bris Milah."
The Korbon that was brought on this first day of the Mishkon was to atone for the Chet of the Eigel and also the Chet of the selling of Yosef. Why was this done here and what is the connection between the two Averos? One of the reasons the brothers had for selling Yosef was that they saw in him there would come out Yirovum who later was the one to erect the Avodah Zara in Beis El. When the Jews would go up to the Beis Hamikdosh they had to pass this Avodeh Zara. So now that their own descendants committed this Chet of Avodah Zara by the Eigel they had to have a Kapora for the Chet of Yosef as well.
According to those who hold that the sin of the Eitz Hadas was committed through the use of the Grape vine, this was the reason Nadav and Avihu are considered to have sinned by becoming intoxicated with wine. Because what they really wanted to do was correct the sin of Adom by using the wine for the correct reason. But they were not commanded to do so.
Immediately following their deaths we find Moshe speaking to Aharon, stating that “I knew Hashem would be honored through the one’s closest to Him, but I always thought it would be you or me. Now I see that they were even greater than us." Many commentaries debate Nadav and Avihu's sin. They drank wine before entering the Holy of holies. The decided ``Halacha in front of Moshe. They refused to marry. They were anxious to take over the leadership from Moshe and Aharon. How could Moshe think they were greater than Moshe and Aharon? The Sefas Emes writes that before the sin of the golden calf, Klal Yisroel were on the level of Naaseh V'nishma. After that sin they lost that level. Nadav and Avihu being from the tribe of Levi, were not involved with the sin of the golden calf, they remained on the level of Naaseh V'nishma a level where doing precedes hearing. They wanted to lead the nation to this higher level. But the nation was not yet ready for that greatness.
The Sefas Emes writes that when Moshe consoled his brother he quoted Hashem's words “B’krovaye Akodesh-through my closest I will be honored.” The Gematria of B’krovaye Akodesh equals 719. There are only five words in the entire Torah that have the same numerical value. The first four are Ashkis- I will destroy, V’shechasa-He will destroy, Satis-you have gone aside, and Taktir-You shall burn. Each of these can be related to the deaths of Nadav and Avihu in some way, but just as there are four cups on Passover representing the four exiles, there is in every generation those Neshamas that have to be sacrificed before the redemption arrives. But there is a fifth word, and there is a fifth cup. The fifth word that equals 719 is V’hashevoso- you shall restore it. Just as there is a fifth cup representing the final Geulah, there is a fifth word here representing return to Hashem. The sacrifice of Nadav and Avihu’s Neshamas, B’krovaye Akodesh-through my closest I will be honored, show how their sacrifice was not in vain.
Where did these two holy souls go after they left the bodies of Nadav and Avihu? The Arizal says they entered into the body of Pinchas and the three of them became Eliyahu Hanavi. This is precisely what the fifth cup represents, Eliyahu. The gematria of Pinchas is 208 the same as Nadav and Avihu plus Eliyahu H'navi. The negative effects of the fire that consumed Nadav and Avihu was rectified in Eliyahu H'navi who left this world, whole, in a chariot of fire.
(10:1) “Asher Lo Tzivo-Which they were not commanded.” When Moshe Rabeinu was on Har Sinai receiving the Torah he was challenged by the Angels who believed that the Torah should not be given to man. Hashem told Moshe to respond to them. When his arguments won them over he was given gifts by all of the angels. The angel of death, thinking that his role in the world was completed, gave Moshe the secret of warding off death. Through the burning of incense death can be held at bay. This secret became known to Nadav and Avihu. The Chasam Sofer writes that this is the meaning of the words “Asher Lo Tzivo-Which they were not commanded.” One of the names for the Angel of Death is “Lo-Lamed Aleph” which is the reverse of Hashem’s name Aleph Lamed (Kael) . It comes out then, that their actions were a result of listening to the Angel of Death! “Asher Lo Tzivo-Which Lo commanded.”They were commanded by the angel named “LO”
(10:19)"בנים הנותרים-"Aaron’s remaining son’s” Even though Moshe directed his speech to Ahron's sons they remained silent. This behavior displayed their merit unlike their brothers who spoke before their Rebbe. That's why they are referred to as the surviving sons.
The Parsha goes on to inform us what animals are permissible to eat. This is one of the proofs to the authenticity of the Torah since it is impossible for any human to have known two thousand years ago every species of animal that exists. Even today scientist are finding out new things about the animal world, yet the Torah wrote specific details about these animals that are the only ones of their kind to have these signs. Recently it was found that the two pipes that are cut in the throat of an animal are connected to the brain by a nerve in the spine. This led the scientific community to claim that the ritual slaughter of animals done by Jews is inhumane. A study was conducted and the results of the scientists were confirmed. Every animal that did not have split hooves or chewed its cud had this nerve in its spine. And every animal that either chewed its cud or had split hooves did not have this nerve.
The Parsha details the events of the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkon. This was considered the greatest day since the creation of the world. The Shechina was brought back down to this physical world through the efforts of man. The Parsha goes on to describe the tragic events that marred this day with the death of Aharon’s two sons Nadav and Avihu. But the parsha ends with the details of what is permissible as food. The animals that are considered kosher, what signs determine if they are pure, what insects are permissible? It would seem out of place for the Torah to include this in this Parsha?
If we were to take a step back we would see how vital this information is for us right here. From the very beginning food is what caused the very first separation between man and G-d, when Adom and Chava ate from the forbidden fruit. We find that at every turn we use food to create a connection with Hashem. At the birth of a child we make a Kiddush for a girl or a Shalom Zachar for a boy. For a Yartzeit we make a Kiddush. At every opportunity we use food to reconnect. If a person would stop eating for only a few days the body and soul would separate permanently. This is why today in place of the sacrifices we have prayer which comes from the same place as food.
The Torah has given us the means to reconnect to Hashem. Now we have the instructions of how to maintain that connection. In the chain of life every stage advances over the previous one. The inanimate is consumed by the animal world; they in turn become a part of them. Animals are consumed by man and in turn become a part of him. The greatest merit for an animal is to be consumed by a Tzaddik, to become a part of his Mitzvos. Originally man was vegetarian. Only after the generation of the flood did meat become permissible to man. After a generation of corruption where the entire world had to be destroyed the process of correction began. As the souls of that generation transmigrated into other life forms the need for animals to be consumed by man became necessary for their correction. The Torah outlines those animals whose nature and character are kind and gentle, to be the one’s incorporated into man.
11:43-Rashi says, by eating these unclean foods, you will become unclean on earth. And thus Hashem says, I will in turn cause you to become unclean in the world to come! The consumption of these foods impedes a persons ability to elevate and sanctify himself. It creates a barrier between a Jew and his perception of Hashem. Just as painkillers dull the nerves, forbidden foods dull the spiritual antenna.
(11:44) “V’Heyisem K’doshim Ki Kodosh Ani-You will be holy for I am Holy.”Whenever the Torah writes the word “Holy” referring to man it is spelled without a “Vav”. When referring to Hashem it is spelled with the “Vav” The idea behind it is that all Kidusha comes from Hashem. The letter “Vav” is the letter of connection from above to below. The word Shmini equals Kodesh in Gematria. But just as we know how to make Kiddush nowadays this Parsha, with all of the laws of Kasheruth teaches that we must know how to make Havdalah as well.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(6:2) “Tzav es Aharon V’es Bonov Leimore-Command Aharon and his sons saying.” This weeks Parsha discusses the various Korbonos that Aaron was to bring. The word “Tzav” denotes a swiftness that is needed in regard to Korbonos in general. The reason is because when dealing with monetary loss a person must be extra careful in handling the property of others.
The Maharal describes our performance of Mitzvos with speed as an expression of our desire to leave the confines of our physical existence, to break through to the metaphysical reality. As humans, we exist in a world defined by time, space and matter; the performance of a Mitzvah is an expression of our desire to break the limits of time and establish a true relationship with G-d who transcends time. A Mitzvah is a vehicle, in which we take the journey from the physical to a metaphysical state.
Why does sacrificing a mere piece of flesh, an animal, effect atonement for sin? A sin-free person is beyond the control of nature of the physical world. When a person is sin-free, that person has the power to control the functions of nature, because that person is strongly attached to Hashem. G-d is called “the place of the world” (Mokom Shel Olam). This means that G-d contains the actual place of the physical universe within His essence, and not the other way around. Therefore, one who is connected to G-d is beyond the control of the laws of nature, and is spiritually above this earth, just as is G-d Himself.
When a person commits a sin, even in error, he/she loses his/her place and high spiritual standing in the world and falls under the control of the whims of natural occurrences. How do we know that a person after sinning loses his/her place in this world and falls spiritually under the control of nature? For when Kayin sinned, by killing his brother Hevel, he told G-d the following: “Behold you (G-d) have driven me out of the face of the earth.” (Bereishis 4:14) This means that Kayin, as well as all other sinner, fall under the control of nature. However, when a person repents of one of his wrongdoings, that person once again rises above the control of the laws of nature. For that person has become reattached to G-d who is above the laws of nature. The laws of nature were created and is controlled by G-d himself to distance sinners from his presence in this world. The laws of nature were also created to give man the opportunity to receive reward for doing G-D’s will in this world of free choice.
The place for every animal is in this physical world. They do not receive any of the pleasures of the world to come for that is not their real place. However, man’s place is in the future world, which is not part of this physical world. Therefore, since man really doesn’t belong to this world if he/she remains sin-free, he/she are not subjugated to the laws of nature, for they are still connected to an area which is above this world.
It is strictly forbidden to offer a sacrifice in any place other than Jerusalem. Why is this so? The temple in Jerusalem was spiritually connected to Hashem more than any other place n the world. The torah always refers to the temple as “The place which Hashem will choose to rest his presence there.”(Devarim 16:2) Since the temple site was so firmly connected to Hashem, the laws of nature applied less to the temple area than any other place on earth. The Talmud mentions that there were ten miracles visible daily in the temple. Included was the ability to house the entire nation of millions of people in the very small area of the temple grounds. This was only possible because the temple area was detached from the earth more than any other place. Therefore, when a sacrifice was offered in the Chosen place, the temple area had the ability to elevate the person who had committed a sin, back to his former station, united with Hashem.
An animal only desires to attain as much pleasure as possible, and never thinks about the past or future consequences of his actions. This is why an animals only place belongs in this temporary world, which is limited. Therefore, sin is atoned for by the act of offering an animal on the altar in the temple. Sin was the result of a lack of thought to control one’s passions. Therefore this person acted no different than an animal would. As a result he became partially removed from Hashem and fell below the level of an animal, and became subject to all the of the shortcomings of this world. All of a persons possessions are spiritually connected to his soul. Therefore, when a person sacrifices an animal, he is actually offering part of his own soul. When the animal is sacrificed in the temple, which is a place that is firmly connected to Hashem, it has the ability to elevate and reconnect the soul of the owner to Hashem. This is why offering an animal can atone for sins. For the owners soul is transported, through the vehicle of his possessions and the bridge of the temple area, back to where it came from, action, this is the true definition of repentance being reunited with Hashem.
The Torah tells us that the Chatos must be slaughtered in the same place as the “Oleh.” In using this roundabout way of telling us the location, the Torah is giving us an insight to the underlying cause of the sin. The Oleh is brought in the Tzofon (northern) part of the courtyard. The word Tzofon also means hidden, because the Oleh is brought to atone for hidden thoughts of the heart. The Chatus comes to atone for unintentional sins, not for thoughts, but the Torah compares it to the Oleh because if someone sins by mistake it is certain that his act was preceded by sinful thoughts and desires.
(6:10) Kodesh Kodashim He K’Chatos V’K’asham-It is Holy of Holies as the sin-offering and as the guilt-offering.” The sacrifices that were brought by Aharon and his sons daily are called “Most Holy” and yet they are compared to the Chatos and Asham the sin and guilt offerings? When something is compared to something else, usually the second item is more valued. Here writes the Kli Yakar, the offering of the Repentant (the Baalei Teshuva) are more cherished than the Holy of Holies.
All Korbonos that require the blood be brought into the Sanctuary must be burned, but the meat of other Korbonos can be eaten by the Kohanim. By ordinary sins committed unintentionally the sin remains an external thing, at heart the person remains good, because he sinned only with his body not his mind. Therefore the Kohanim may eat the meat in a holy place, as part of his atonement. But in the case of a Korbon brought for intentional sins the act involved the mind as well as the body. This perversion had to be rooted out, symbolized by burning the entire Korbon.
Regarding the Korbon Todah the Posuk says "Zovach Todah Yechabdoni" whoever brings a Todah honors me. The word Yechabdoni is spelled with two Nunes. The Midrash says this means to bestow honor upon honor to Hashem. The Ksav Sofer says the person who thanks Hashem should have two honors in mind. He should be grateful for the miracle that saved him, and he should be grateful for the danger as well, because what happened to him influenced him to recognize his need to do Teshuva. This is what the Gemarrah means when it says in the days of Moshiach people will bless Hashem even for the seemingly bad things.
The Korbon Todah was a type of Shlomim but it could only be eaten for one day, all other Shelamim's could be eaten for a day and a half? The reason is as we say in Modim of Shemoneh Esrei we thank Hashem for miracles that are with us everyday. When we bring a Todah it is only because we became aware of one miracle while ignoring all the others. That’s why the Todah can only be eaten for one day. Tomorrow there are other miracles to give thanks for.
Thanking and showing gratitude for what is being done for us is of such great importance that it cannot be done for us by someone else. We see this from the Modim of Shemoneh Esrei for it is the only blessing of Shemoneh Esrei that the congregation cannot simply respond with Amen to the one leading the Shemone Esrei repetition. Instead each and every one needs to express their thanks.
The Gemarrah (Brochos 6b) writes that one who rejoices before the Chassan at his wedding is considered to have brought a thanksgiving offering. What connection is there between these two?We find that the thanksgiving offering is composed of two opposite ingredients. It has the unique distinction of being the only sacrifice made up of both Chameitz and Matzoh. These diametrical ingredients symbolize the union of man and his creator. Man is finite, imperfect, mortal but is given the opportunity to attach himself to Hashem. Hashem allows man to obtain spirituality when they cling to him. He established a place for His servants to reach out to Him. For this alone, man owes Hashem much thanks. In fact the thanksgiving offering is the only sacrifice that will remain in Messianic times. There is no better way to thank Hashem than through a sacrifice that teaches how all elements of the world belong to Hashem and despite their polar opposites they find harmony through Him.
In marriage one sees a similar incompatibility. Like Chometz and Matzah, men and women are dissimilar, even opposites in many respects. They differ in their thinking, their emotions in their reactions with others. They are so opposite that it may seem inconceivable that they could join their lives together. But the Talmud teaches that just as Chometz and Matzoh converge to form an offering to Hashem, so too can man and woman merge their distinct natures to become husband and wife, as long as Hashem remains the constant focus of their relationship. This concept is highlighted in the Holy of Holies. The place where Hashem communicates with man is in between the male and female Cheruvim. Hashem resides in the place where opposites merge in harmony. Heaven is referred to as Shomayim in Hebrew which is a combination of opposites Aish u'Mayim-fire and water. This is what the thanksgiving offering represents.
(7:1) "Zos Toras H'Asham Kodesh Kodoshi, Hu-This is the teaching of the Guilt offering, it is most Holy." The Abarbanel writes that Holy of Holies refers to the Chatas and Asham. The reason is that after tasting sin, the sinner is still willing to repent. This is viewed by Hashem as the most holy. For the Gemarrah says in the place where Baalei Teshuva stand even the most righteous are unable to stand.
(7:16) “B’Yom Hikrivu es-ZivchoYeachel-On the day he offered his feast-offering.” The Korban Todah is given the least amount of time to be consumed. This is because every day there is a new reason to thank Hashem.
(7:38) “Asher Tziva Hashem es-Moshe-As was commanded by Hashem to Moshe.” We find this statement several times in the Torah. Many commentators have given reasons for this statement. The Oznayim L’Torah writes that in Parshas Tetzaveh we don’t find Moshe Rabeinu’s name mentioned even once. The Baal Haturim explains that the reason is because Moshe was Mispalel on behalf of Klal Yisroel, after the Chet of the Eigel, that in order for them not to be destroyed, Hashem should wipe out his name from the Torah. Since that which a Tzaddik utters must be true, Hashem eliminated his name from just one Parsha, Tetzaveh. But since Moshe did this on behalf of Klal Yisroel he had to be compensated. This is why every time a Mitzvah that was said in Parshas Tetzaveh without Moshe’s name, and is then repeated, it is followed by “Asher Tziva Hashem es-Moshe”.
(8:3) “V’es Kol H’Aida Hakael el-Pesach Ohel Moaid-And gather the entire congregation to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” Rashi says that this was one of the miraculous times where a very small place contained a very large number of people. The question is why? What lesson was meant to be learned from this miracle? Hashem said to Moshe (Shemos 25:8) “Vasu Li Mikdosh V’shchanty B’sochom-Build for me a Temple, and I shall dwell among them.” Now after the completion of this Mikdosh Klal Yisroel was faced with a very small structure. In fact it was much smaller than the Beis Hamikdosh that was later erected in Yerushalaim. The human mind has difficulty grasping that He whose essence fills the universe could contract His presence into the relatively small space between the Cheruvim. Therefore he gave Klal Yisroel a concrete example of miraculous contraction. Six Hundred thousand men stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. This experience enabled them to believe that Hashem’s Divine Presence would actually dwell in their midst. In the Mishkon.
(8:3) “V’es Kol H’Aida Hakael-And gather the entire assembly”. Why the entire assembly? One answer is that since the Kohanim were going to act as the agents of Klal Yisroel it was necessary for them all to be there and take part in the inauguration to make them their agents (Sheluchim).
(8:5) "Zeh Hadovar Asher Tzivah Hashem-This is the thing Hashem commanded" Rashi comments it was not for Mosh’s honor. Why would they believe him? The Tiferes Shlomo writes that Moshe had within the spirits of the entire nation. When he served Hashem with all his heart, all the people were inspired with him. Here when he announced his carrying out Hashem's command, the people felt a surge of enthusiasm at the service. Where they became conscious of this spirit of holiness they realized that it could only be possible because it was Hashem's will. (Otzer Chaim)
(8:35) “Upesach Ohel Moed Teishvu Yomam V’Loyla Shivas Yomim U’shmartem es-Mishmeres Hashem-And at the door of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of Hashem.” The Midrash Tanchumah writes that this began from the 23rd of Adar. This was in order for Aharon and his sons to fulfill seven days of mourning for the deaths of Nadav and Avihu who were destined to die on Rosh Chodesh Nisan. Nadav and Avihu sat in mourning of their own deaths prior to it having occurred. We see from here that a person does not know his own time. Not only does a person not know when his time will come, but he does not even understand the true nature of the moment he is now experiencing.
The question is how could they mourn before the deaths occurred? This is the meaning of the phrase “U’shmartem es-Mishmeres Hashem- and keep the charge of Hashem.”
At the time of the flood Hashem delayed the onslaught of the deluge for a seven day mourning period. This was for the death of Mesushelach. But according to the Midrash Tanchumah this was to mourn the impending destruction of the world. Only regarding Hashem, who knows future events, could this be done. In this case Aharon and his sons would not have been permitted to mourn after the Mishkon was functioning for they were the only Kohanim in existence who could perform the service. Hashem therefore commanded that “At the door of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of Hashem.”
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(25:2) “Dabaer el Benei Yisroel Vayikchu Li Terumah-Speak to the children of Israel and let them take for me a portion.” This verse is the 2,195th verse in the Torah. The corresponding year (2195) is also the year of the birth of Levi the tribe selected from amongst the tribes to serve Hashem in the Mishkon. Thus it emerges that the taking of the tribe of Levi.
Parshas Terumah begins a series of Parshiyot that deal exclusively with the building of the Mishkon. For the next five weeks up until the end of Sefer Shemos every detail and every item connected with the Tabernacle is recorded. This great length and attention to detail may seem very odd when we consider the Tabernacle was only a temporary structure.
The answer seems to be quite profound. If we look at the history of Israel to this point we find a long series of complaints. They complained right from the start as soon as Moshe began to intervene which made their situation worse. They complained at the crossing of the Red Sea, and again when there was a lack of water. Within weeks of the revelation at Sinai they made a golden calf. If all of these miracles were unable to bring these people to a mature response what could? Then Hashem said let them build something together. This simple command transformed a nation. During the entire time of the construction of the Tabernacle there were no complaints. The people contributed gold, silver and bronze. Some gave their time and skills. They gave so much that Moshe had to order them to stop. It thus comes out that it is not what G-d does for us that transforms us. It is what we do for G-d. The building of the Mishkon was the first project Israel undertook together. It gave them a chance to give back to Hashem. This concluded the birth of our nation and is perhaps the reason it concludes the book of Shemos.
This week’s Parsha begins the instructions for building the Mishkon. The Shelah Hakodesh writes that originally when Hashem created the world His principal residence was in this world. Because of that He provided unification between heaven and earth. This allowed for an unimpeded communication and transfer to our world of sources of blessing from the inexhaustible pools of the upper regions. This is alluded to in the verse (Bereishis 2:1) Vayechulu Hashomayim V’ha’aretz V’chol Tzivo’om- Hashem concluded the creation and all of their array.” This means that each part of the lower universe was also a part of the higher universe and thus contributed to the other’s existence. The conduits supplying sources from one region to the other worked perfectly without hindrance.
All of that changed when Adom sinned with the Eitz Hadas Tov V’ra. The balance between the two worlds became disrupted. This resulted in the conduits between heaven and earth being broken; the sources of supply to earth were interrupted and Hashem’s presence withdrew creating a separation between the upper and lower regions. For ten generations this withdrawal continued with the presence of Hashem moving further back from the terrestrial region until the advent of Avraham Avinu who began the process of mending the tear in the spiritual universe. He was not only the first to recognize Hashem in this world, but he introduced the radical idea that the spiritual and physical worlds are not mutually exclusive. The physical world is to be used as the vehicle to be elevated for higher spiritual purpose.
Once again, the Presence of Hashem began to be drawn back towards earth step by step. The book of Shemos is called the book of redemption. But that redemption was not complete with the mere freeing of slaves. Only with the restoration of the Divine presence on this world could the process be deemed a success. The building of the Mishkon completed the process of reuniting these two worlds and preparing a place for Hashem’s presence to once again reside on this world.
The Parsha begins with the command “Vayikchu Li Teruma Me’ase Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo-Take for me Terumah from every man whose heart will motivate him.” Hashem wants to dwell in each and every heart. Therefore only money received with the purest of intentions could be collected. This would begin the process of mending the separation between heaven and earth caused by the sin of the Eitz Hadas Tov V’ra. The Gamatria of the words Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo (972) is equal to M’eitz Hadas Tov V’ra.
(25:2) "Vayikchu Li Terumah Me’ase Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo-Take for me Terumah from every man whose heart will motivate him.” The verse should say "give for me Terumh" not “take Terumah? What it means is that when you give, it's as if you are the one receiving because the giving is going towards such an important cause, building a structure to house the presence of G-d!
The Kli Chemdah writes that since there wasn't enough gold for all of the various vessels Hashem made it that what they gave went according to what was in their hearts. It became more, based on their desires. Therefore the term "Take for Me" refers to the strong desires to do the will of Hashem.
(25:5) "Oros Tachoshim-Tachashim skins" The Tachashis was an animal that only lived during that period then became extinct. Why did this animal become extinct? The multicolored skin of this single horned animal was so beautiful that Hashem had it removed from this world so that it would not ever be used for secular purposes.
(25:8) "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom-Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you." The Ohr Hachaim asks why the Torah refers to the Sanctuary as "Mikdosh " in one place and as "Mishkon " in another? He answers that the command to build a place for the Shechina is not limited to one period of time but is really incumbent upon us all, at all times. However once the Beis Hamikdosh was built it became forbidden to create alternate sites to serve Hashem. Speaking about the Tabernacle that was built in the Midbar, the Torah uses the term "Mishkon" to infer that this was a temporary situation.
(25:8) "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom-Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you." The Torah goes to great length detailing the construction of the Mishkon. Why do we need all of these details?
The answer lies in another phrase of the Torah. One that is mentioned no less than twelve times!
"El H'mokom Asher Yivchar Elokechah L'shakein Shemo Shom-The place I shall choose to rest my name." The actual place where Hashem says He will rest His presence is never mentioned. Shiloh or Jerusalem, places where the Divine presence eventually did rest, are never mentioned. Perhaps the idea is as follows. Hashem wanted to dwell in each and every individual heart of man. When the Posuk says "V'Shochanti B'sochom" it means literally in You! This is why no specific place is mentioned. Twelve times an offer was made for each tribe to rise to the challenge of being worthy to house the Divine Presence. When none were found, plan B was to build the Mishkon.
This is perhaps why the numerical value of the words " "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom- Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you” are equal to the phrase "'El H’mokom Asher Yivchar Elokechah L'shakein Shemo Shom-The place I shall choose to rest my name." (2120-2121)
The synagogue is one of the most remarkable examples of an Itaruta De’letata, “an awakening from below.” It came into being not through words spoken by God to Israel, but by words spoken by Israel to God. There is no synagogue in Tanakh, no command to build local houses of prayer. On the contrary, insofar as the Torah speaks of a “house of God” it refers to a central Sanctuary, a collective focus for the worship of the people as a whole.
We tend to forget how profound the concept of a synagogue was. Professor M. Stern has written that “in establishing the synagogue, Judaism created one of the greatest revolutions in the history of religion and society, for the synagogue was an entirely new environment for divine service, of a type unknown anywhere before.” It became, according to Salo Baron, the institution through which the exilic community “completely shifted the emphasis from the place of worship, the Sanctuary, to the gathering of worshippers, the congregation, assembled at any time and any place in God’s wide world.” The synagogue became Jerusalem in exile, the home of the Jewish heart. It is the ultimate expression of monotheism – that wherever we gather to turn our hearts towards heaven, there the Divine Presence can be found, for God is everywhere.
Where did it come from, this world-changing idea? It did not come from the Temple, but rather from the much earlier institution described in this week’s Parsha: the Tabernacle. Its essence was that it was portable, made up of beams and hangings that could be dismantled and carried by the Levites as the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness. The Tabernacle, a temporary structure, turned out to have permanent influence, whereas the Temple, intended to be permanent, proved to be temporary – until, as we pray daily, it is rebuilt.
(25:11) "V'tzipisah Oso Zahav Tohar M'Bayis Umichutz-You shall cover it with pure gold within and without." The Ark was constructed of three boxes. Gold was used as the outer and inner box, while wood was at the core in between. Pure gold would not have been strong enough to withstand the tremendous weight of the cover with the two Cheruvim upon it. It was therefore necessary to have wood at its center for support. On a deeper level the Kli Yakar writes that the wood alludes to the phrase referring to Torah as a Tree of Life to those who hold on to it. "Eitz Chaim He L'Machazikim Bo" It does not say L'lomedcha-to teach Torah but rather L'Machazikim to strengthen, support Torah learning. Coating it with gold within and without refers to the revealed and hidden parts of the Torah.
Binyamin was born in the year 2208. The the 2,208th verse in the Torah appears in this weeks Parsha. (25:11) “V’Tzipisah Oso Zahav Tohar M’Bayis U’mechutz-You shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without.” The coating of gold alludes to the fact that not everyone can comprehend the depths of the Torah however this teaches that every person can still have a share in Torah either through learning or supporting Torah. The inner part is as important as the outer part. Binyamin was the last tribe born and the only one born in Eretz Yisroel. Not only did his birth completed the Shiftei Kah, but he became one of only two tribes that became the current Jewish nation. The foundation of Klal Yisroel was now set.
(25:24) "V'tzipisah Oso Zahav-And it should be covered in gold." The table should covered in gold. The word "Zahav" is an acronym for the three blessings of Bircas Hamozon. Zayin for Zon, Hey for H'aretz and Beis for Boneh. (Rabeinu Bachya)
After listing the thirteen materials to be collected for this purpose the first thing the Torah commands is to build the Aron, the cabinet which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments. On top of the Aron two gold Cherubim were placed. The pair was made of one block of gold. They had an angelic appearance with their spread wings touching, and they faced one another. It was from the space between the two Cherubim that G-d communicated with the Jewish people. They had wings pointed upward; they faced each other and had faces like children. The reasons are as follows. The wings represent the laws pertaining to man and his creator. They faced each other to represent the laws between man and their faces were like children to show that the Chinuch of the children is above everything.
It is somewhat strange that Judaism should prescribe a pair of Cherubim, rendered in human form, in the holiest of places. After all, what is the difference between the Cherubim and the golden calf? Why should one represent Divine communication, and the other desecration?
Rashi teaches us that the reason that the Cherubim were not idols was that G-d commanded us to construct them. This teaches us that the reason that the Cherubim were allowed was that G-d commanded us to construct them. Conversely, the reason that the golden calf was considered idolatry was that G-d did not command us to construct it. The word Mitzvah means "command"; the phrase Avodah Zara means "strange worship," that which was not commanded. What was the significance of the Cherubim? The first mention of Cherubim in the Torah is in the verse describing the eviction of man from the Garden of Eden: (Bereishis 3:24) “Man was evicted and Cherubim were placed East of the Garden of Eden, and a revolving burning sword was placed in order to guard the path to the Tree of Life.”
As a result of man's sin, the Cherubim enter the world, in order to protect the Tree of Life. We have noted the identification between the Tree of Life and the Torah. It is therefore interesting to note that in the Mishkan the Cherubim protect the Ark which contains the Torah, and in Eden the Cherubim protected the path leading to the Tree of Life/Torah. Before the sin of Adom and Chava, the Cherubim were unnecessary; they appear only as a result of the sin. Perhaps we may draw the following conclusion - the Cherubim represent none other than Adom and Chava themselves, young and innocent and naked in the Garden of Eden. Only as a result of their sin did they become aware of, and embarrassed by, their nakedness. The new, "sophisticated" perspective of Adom and Chava, born of partaking of the forbidden fruit, gave them a different, perhaps distorted view of the world. After the sin, they knew that they were naked; they needed to clothe themselves, to hide from G-d.
It is fascinating that the Hebrew word for clothing is Beged, which shares the same root as the word "rebellion." The clothing which man wears is a reminder of the rebellion and the resultant distancing from G-d. At the top of the ark, in place of this couple, pathetically attempting to hide from G-d, now stood a male and a female, representing Adom and Chava before the sin in a state of total innocence before G-d. Specifically from this place would the word of G-d emerge and reverberate.
The two Cherubim were made of one piece of gold, just as Adom and Chava were initially joined together as one. The Cherubim therefore symbolize the ultimate return to one's self. Throughout the generations the Kohen Gadol would enter into the Holy of Holies, on Yom Kippur, the day on which the Jews were finally forgiven for the sin of the golden calf. Yom Kippur, more than any other day, symbolizes rebirth, regained innocence, as the Kohen Gadol saw before him this perpetual message of innocence - a hope for the future through the image of the past.
The Midrash writes that the donations given to the building of the Mishkon relates to the Posuk “Torah Tzivah Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehilas Yakov.” What does this have to do with the giving towards the Mishkon? The word Morasha (inheritance) can be read as Morasah, as a marriage to the Torah meaning that the Torah is married to Klal Yisroel. But what does this really mean? When a person is engaged he is always at the parent’s house. After the wedding they receive visits from the parents. This is a Moshel to the giving of the Torah. Before the giving of the Torah we had to come to Hashem. After the Torah was given the Torah is here for us. Moshe would have to go up to the mountain to receive the Torah. It was Moshe's Avodah that brought Hashem close.
Before the Torah there were people who knew Hashem. A person could work on himself to see insights into the creation. Avraham knew Hashem by studying the world. He understood that there must be a Baal of the universe, a master. This world did not come about by itself. He had to delve into the physical world to realize the spiritual. This was the only way for a person to have any kind of recognition of Hashem. But it was only on the level that the person could attain. Now that we have the Torah, Hashem is always with us. We don't need to dwell on our own in thought. Through learning a person can develop an understanding of the world. There is a Moshel of a king who was marrying off a daughter. He wanted to stay close to her so he said build a room for me where you live so that I can visit you there. This is the Moshel for the Mishkon. That we make a place for Hashem to be among us since the Torah is in our midst.
The incident with the Eigel actually took place before the commands to build the Mishkon. Why then are these Parshiyos of Terumeh and Tetzaveh placed before Ki Sisa? The Oznayim L’Torah says that this is to inform us of Hashem’s way of supplying the cure before inflicting the plague. But why is this Parsha right after Mishpatim? Benei Yisroel heard the Halochos of returning loans and wanted to go back to Egypt to return the gold and silver they had borrowed. Hashem said they should donate to the Mishkon instead. Had there been any question as to their right to keep these possessions Hashem would not have allowed their use for the construction of His place of dwelling.
There were three crowns of gold that were in the Mishkon. The Aron - the Ark, the Mizbeach -the Altar and the Shulchon- the Table. The Aron represents the crown of Torah, the Mizbeach represents the crown of Kehunah - the Priesthood and the Shulchon represents Avodah-the Temple service. Each one is mentioned differently in the Torah. When the Aron is described all of the measurements are in fractions. When the Mizbeach is mentioned the measurements are all whole. By the Shulchon there is a combination of both whole and fractioned measurements. The Kli Yakar explains the reason for this. The Aron has fractions because since it represents the Torah and man must never feel as though he has completed his learning. The Mizbeach has measurements that are whole because by offering sacrifices the Mizbeach serves to make man whole through the pardoning his sins. The Shulchan was a combination of whole and fractions because it was the source of Brachas-blessings in the world. A person should always feel happy with his lot in life (whole) and on the other hand (as a fraction) always strive to be more complete.
The Posuk says they should use the skins of the Tachash. Rashi explains that this animal only lived for a short time. The Gemarrah in Shabbos asks about this animal. It says that any animal that is to be used for Hashem has to be able to be one that can be eaten. They ask then why this Tachash is not listed with the animals that are permitted to be eaten? They answer that it is not listed because it’s sole purpose was for Mishkon, having fulfilled that purpose it was destined to become extinct.
The Lechem Haponim was on the Shulchan. The Ramban says that when Hashem created the world, he created something from nothing. That was the only time. After that all miracles were done by using existing matter and transforming it or expounding upon it, rather than creating something from nothing. When Hashem places Bracha into the world he uses existing matter to bring out the Brachas. Man did not have to work. All of his needs were attended to. But after the Chet not only was he cursed but the earth was cursed as well. In committing the Chet man took what was Hashem’s Bracha and perverted it. He took the physical blessing of the material and misused it. This is why the earth was included in the curse.
Through the Mitzvos we are commanded Hashem allows us to be partners in restoring the world to what it once was. In fulfilling His will we reveal Godliness once again to the physical world. The word Mitzvah contains the letters Mem Tzaddik Vav Hey. If we take the first two letters and transpose them through Atbash (A form of Gematria that replaces the first letters of the Aleph Beis with the last letters. Aleph=Tuf, Beis=Shin) we have the letters Yud Hey. Combined with the last two letters, Vav Hey, reveal Hashem's name
Hashem created the physical world for Yisroel and they were to use the Torah to instill spirituality into the material. They were to fix up the Chet of the world. The Mishkon was to be a place of pure Kiddusha. A model of how a perfect world should be. The Lechem Haponim was the source of all Parnosa in the world. Hashem used it as the root through which his Brachas could materialize.
(25:31) “V’Asisa Menoras Zahav Tohar-You shall make a Menorah of pure gold.” When Moshe was told to make the Menorah, Rashi says he didn’t understand how it should be done. Hashem told him to put the gold in the fire and it would make itself. Later on Rashi says when Moshe couldn’t make it Hashem showed him a vision of the Menorah in fire. It would seem to be a contradiction. The answer is that they are both right. First Hashem showed him the vision. Moshe had to begin the process. When he still couldn’t make it Hashem made it form by itself. The Menorah represents the light of knowledge. This lesson applies to any person who attempts to learn Torah, first he must make the initial effort to learn, then Hashem gives him the needed help to acquire the knowledge.
The obvious question asked by the Sefas Emes is that if the Menorah was impossible to make, why did Hashem tell Moshe to make it, and why did He show Moshe a diagram of it in fire? The answer holds one of the keys to the universe. A key of which the secular world is totally unaware. It is the secret of Ratzone-Will or desire. By Hashem showing Moshe the Menorah He ignited within him the desire to accomplish even the impossible. Only after he had acquired that Ratzone was he able to attempt the impossible. The secular world is opposed to us reaching our true potential. They wish to limit our desire to become something more, or to ask the question: “What can I do to advance myself in the eyes of my creator.” As a result we live in fear of expressing our desires for something better.
By turning on that Ratzone a person is able to connect with a reality beyond our limited selves to a reality of connection with Hashem where anything becomes possible. Thus the expression “Aiyn Dover Omed Lifnei HaRotzone-Nothing stands in the way of desire.” This is the lesson Hashem was teaching Moshe Rabeinu. Ratzone is the secret to the success of Yisrael.
(26:15) “Atzei Shitim Omedim-Acacia wood Standing) The Midrash learns from here that the Mishkon was eternal. Why did they choose the beams to learn this? Why not from the Ark or the Menorah? This wood came from the trees that were planted by Yakov when he went down to Mitzrayim. He commanded that they be taken out along with the nation when they left to travel in the Midbar. He knew they would be needed to build the Mishkon one day. The sight of these cedar trees gave hope to the people that one day they would be redeemed. What made them eternal? They were originally planted by Avraham after he made a bris with Avimelech, for he feared his descendants would be influenced by the Philistines in a negative way. This planting of an Ashel was done in purity for a Mitzvah and was infused with Kiddusha. The word Ashel is a acronym for Achila. Shesiya and Lina. The three acts of Chesed that Avraham performed for his guests. Yakov stopped by in Beer Sheva to take these trees down to Mitzrayim with him. They became the focal point for their future.
This verse is also notable because it is the 2,255th verse in the Torah which corresponds to the year 2255 from creation. The year that Yakov Avinu died. His legacy continued through his descendants and were given additional hope during the long exile they endured. The Acacia wood sealed the notion that Yakvov Lo Mase.
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
- Category: Torah
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(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro Kohein Midyan-Yisro the priest of Midyan Heard” Why does this Parsha of Matan Torah open with the narrative of Yisro coming to join Klal Yisroel? Why mention that he was a priest?
The Torah is teaching us that if a person wants to come close to Hashem, it doesn’t matter where he was in life before. One might think, how can I attempt to change, look where I’ve been, look what I’ve done in my life? But the Torah is teaching us that even someone like Yisro who preformed every type of Idol worship that existed, would be accepted, was capable of change.
There are four people in the Torah who had a letter added to their names. Avraham, Sarah, Yisro and Yehoshua. Yehoshua had the letter "Yud" added. Avraham the letter "Hey" Yisro the letter "Vav" and Sarah the letter "Hey". All of these extra letters comprise the name of Hashem "Yud Hey Vav Hey." The understanding is that all of these people brought souls closer to Hashem. Avraham and Sarah began the Kiruv movement. Yisro was the first person to convert after the giving of the Torah. Yehoshua converted people as well. Hashem repaid these acts by giving a part of His name to each of them.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- And Yisro heard.” What was it that Yisro heard? Rashi says that he heard about Yetzias Mitzraim and the war with Amalek. Why was it that these two events caused Yisro to wish to join Benei Yisroel? What about all of the miracles performed in Mitzraim? The Gur Aryeh says that the reason these two events caused Yisro to have a change of heart was because these two event occurred throughout the entire world. The splitting of the red sea did not only occur there but all the waters of the world split. Regarding the battle with Amalek, Amalek calculated when the most successful time to overcome Benei Yisroel was. Moshe caused the sun to stop and affected all the constellations. When Yisro heard this he understood that Hashem is the true power in the universe. Had it just been the Macos in Mitzraim people might have said Hashem was punishing the Mitzri'im for their bad ways. But through these two events it was known that Hashem rules the world. In addition it had to be these two events one would not have been enough, because through them it became apparent that Hashem rules in both the heaven and the earth. The Krias Yam Suf showed that Hashem rules over the physical world. The war with Amalek showed that Hashem also rules over the heavens. Another reason why it had to be these two events that caused Yisro to convert is that Yisro knew that no nation can survive on miracles alone. Had it just been the Macos in Mitzraim or even Krias Yam Suf he would not have come. But after seeing the war with Amalek, where they had to take up arms to defend themselves, he knew that they would be able to survive in the world in natural ways (Tevah) as well.
Another reason given for the need of having two things that Yisro heard is that after seeing the tremendous miracles of the splitting of the sea, anyone would be willing to convert. The fact that Amalek was able to attack and cool off the waters so to speak, brought Benei Yisroel back to some semblance of reality. They brought doubt back into the equation. Even though they got burnt, the other nations of the world now feared a bit less. This doubt was what enabled Yisro to become a convert.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- And Yisro heard.” What was it that Yisro heard? Rashi says that he heard about Yetzias Mitzraim and the war with Amalek. Why was it necessary to have two events? Would one not have been enough? What Yisro observed was how Klal Yisroel behaved. When Egypt chased them to the Red Sea there were only 600 chariots against more than 600,000 armed Israelis. They were grossly outnumbered and yet Klal Yisroel did not attempt to fight. The reason was Hakoras Hatov. The Jews were indebted to Egypt for being hosted by them for all those years. But Yisro could not tell if it was from an inability to fight or real gratitude that they were displaying. This is what the war with Amalek clarified. Had he only seen the splitting of the Red Sea he would not have known if their lack of resistance was due to an inability or real Hakoras Hatov. But once he saw the war against Amalek he knew the truth.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- Yisro heard.” Why was it that only Yisro heard? The whole world was aware of the tremendous events taking place? The whole world heard but only Yisro acted upon what he heard. Only he felt motivated enough to change his entire life and follow his convictions.
How was Yisro able to convert? The Benei Yisroel were not accepting converts after all of the miracles in Egypt the free will was temporarily suspended. Not only was Yisro accepted, he had a Parsha named after him and his advice accepted? The Midrash says that when Yisro heard about the Yam Suf he had to be with them. The fact that Hashem used measure for measure to avenge the Egyptians showed him that there is nothing that happens just by chance. Yisro was one of Pharoh’s advisers when the decision to drown all male Jewish babies was made. This showed Yisro the greatness of Hashem. What about the war with Amalek? How did this show that Hashem repays measure for measure to avenge those who oppose him? Amalek calculated when the most successful time to overcome Benei Yisroel was. Moshe caused the sun to stop and that affected all the constellations. It therefore comes out that the very method Amalek used to attack Yisroel is what was used to overcome them. When Yisro got to the Midbar he shot an arrow into the protective cloud that surrounded their camp. Since no previous arrow was able to penetrate the cloud they knew it was a sign that Hashem accepted Yisro.
(18:12) “Vayikach Yisro-Oleh U’zevachim L’Elokim-Yisro brought sacrifices to Elokim.”
This is the only place in the Torah where we find the name "Elokim" associated with Korbonos. Yisro was not yet familiar with the dimension of Hashem Yud Hey Vav Hey. As we see by Yisro's own words when he said "Now I know that Elokim is greater than all the other Gods" because he saw how he punished the Egyptians Midah Keneged Midah. It was through the dimension of Elokim which is the name that implies strict judgement.
The Posuk continues that Aaron and the elders came to share the meal with him. This seems very puzzling? The normal way is for the host to invite the guest to a meal yet here the guest is inviting the host? We learn from here that a Bris requires a meal with it. Yisro was joining the rest of Israel by converting. He therefore performed a Bris and this is why he invited Aaron and the elders. But if you look closely at the Posuk you will see it says they were invited to eat bread with them not eat from the sacrifice. Why not? Because we sacrifice to Hashem and Yisro made his sacrifice to Elokim. Aaron was therefore unable to eat with him. Instead they ate bread. Where did the bread come from? They were only eating Munn at this time? It must be that a special portion came down for this new convert and from this they made their meal. This was the only time Munn fell at mid-day, when all other Munn was melting. They knew it was sign for Yisro's acceptance.
The Arizal writes that Yisro was a reincarnation of Hevel. In Bereishis when Kayin and Hevel are arguing it doesn't say what they were arguing about. We learn from the Posuk that because of the extra word “es” that there was born along with Kayin a twin sister and that's who they married. Regarding Hevel the word “es” is used twice, alluding to two sisters. This is what the argument was over. It seems that Kayin was jealous of Hevel having two wives and he killed him over it. In doing so he said “There is no judge and there is no judgment.” When Hashem punished him he put a sign on his head so people would know who he was and not kill him. The sign was the letter “Vav” which represents 13 when you spell out the letter. Vav Aleph Vav equals 13 which also equal Echod/one. Yisro was originally called Yeser. The letter “Vav” was added to his name. This served as a completion of his soul's correction. For it was Yisro who pointed out the justice in Hashem's handling of Egypt. (18:11) “Atoh Yodaty Ki Gadol Hashem Mikol- H'Elokim- Now I know that Hashem is greater than all of the other G-d's.”
Another reason for the letter “Vav” added to Yisro’s name is the following. At the end of Parsha’s Beshalach we learn that the name of Hashem is not complete until Amalek is completely destroyed. “Ki Yad al Kes Koh.” The name of Hashem is spelled “Yud Hey” missing the final “Vav Hey”. This name of Hashem “Yud- Hey- Vav- Hey” represents His manifestation as past, present and future. With these two letters we are able to form the words Hayah and Yihiyeh - was and will be, but not Hoveh which is the present tense. Amalek wants to destroy that which we have, the present. The past is gone the future is not here yet. All we have is the present. They claim that Hashem was in the past. But he no longer focuses his attention towards us. What will be in the future no one really knows. But in the present He is not active. This is what Yisro came to proclaim. He said (18:11)“Atoh Yodaty Ki Gadol Hashem Mikol-H’Elokim- Now I know that Hashem is greater than all other G-d’s.” Now being the operative word. The “Vav”added to Yisro’s name represents this connection of the past and future, of Hashem operating in the now.
Yisro was a Gilgul (reincarnation) of Kayin's Neshama. He was to fix the Chet of Kayin. Rashi in the very first Posuk lists the seven names that Yisro had. Re'uel, Yeser, Yisro, Chovav, Chever, Kainey, Puti'el. The very name Kainey is a derivative of Kayin. Each name represented a different level that Yisro attained in his life. Kayin on the other hand had seven bad Midos. Each of Yisro's levels corrected a corresponding fault of Kayin. One name was Reu'el meaning recognizing Hashem. Kayin said there is no judge and no judgment, Yisro said I see now that Hashem is Echod that there is measure for measure in the way Hashem avenges. That’s why there was a Vav added to Yisro's name the same letter that was put upon Kayin. The name Yeser which means to add to the world was the opposite of what Kayin did by subtracting from the world. Chovav meaning one who loves, as opposed to Kayin who hated his brother. Yisro even had the name Kainey of the root Kayin. In the Midrash it says that Moshe was a Gilgul of Hevel. Why was it that Hevel deserved to die? Because the Torah says when he offered his Korbon to Hashem a heavenly fire came down and consumed it. The reason he deserved to die was because he stared at the Shechina. When Moshe saw Hashem by the burning bush he was drawn to look, but turned his head away so as not to see. This was the Tikun for Hevel.
When Yisro first arrived at the camp of Yisroel he said (18:6) “ Ani Chosnecha Yisro- I am your father in-law Yisro.” This is an acronym for the word Achi-Brother. Yisro was the reincarnation of Kayin the brother of Hevel in the previous life. The Seforim also say that Tziporah was a Gilgul of Hevel's twin sister. So it comes out that Yisro gave his daughter, whom they fought over in another life, to the one whom he killed in another life.
(18:18) "Soneh Betzah-Select people who hate gain" Moshe was advised to select people who are removed from physicality. Such people are more open to receiving Ruach Hakodesh which is needed to be able to judge truthfully.
The name Moshe is an acronym for the names of those to whom Moshe's soul rolled over into. They were Shlomo Hamelech and Hillel. Mem is Moshe Shin is Shlomo and Hey is for Hillel.
When a person is born under the Mazel of a violent astrological sign he should channel his tendencies to Mitzvos. Like Dovid Hamelech did to channel himself for war of a Mitzvah. Or if a person is born under such a sign he should be a Mohel or a Shochet. That’s what it says about Yisro, the first thing he did when he came to the camp was perform Milah on himself. This too represents 13 because in the Parsha of Milah the word Bris appears 13 times. Also the reason why the advice Yisro gave to Moshe was accepted was because it was regarding Mishpat, the very thing that was Kayin's Chet when he said there is no judge and there is no judgment.
When Hashem was about to give the Torah it was first offered it to all the other nations. First he offered it to Essav who asked what's in the Torah? Hashem said “Thou shall not kill!” Essav said “that's not for me.” Hashem then offered it to Ishmael who asked what's in the Torah? Hashem said “Thou shall not steal!” Ishmael said that's not for me. But when Hashem offered it to Benei Yisroel they said “Naseh Venishma” we will do and we will hear. The question that the commentaries ask is that this is really not fair. By telling the nations the one thing in the Torah that is totally opposed to their nature of course they would not accept the Torah. Perhaps if Hashem had told them about Shabbos first or even Tifillin maybe they would have come around? Why tell them the one thing that is opposed to their nature? The answer is that this is what the Torah is all about. To accept the Torah a person must recreate himself. He must be willing to go against his natural instincts. Before eating he must first make the proper Brochos he must wash his hands first. He cannot just grab food, as would be his natural tendency, when he is hungry. This is the essence of Kiddusha, to rise above the physical nature of man and to control every aspect of existence. Tumah is the opposite of this. When a person has no control of his physical functions this brings about Tumah. This is why we must wash our hand after going to the bathroom. In some small way we become Tumah from not being able to control the physical. When a woman gives birth her body takes over and she has little control. This is why she becomes Tumah after giving birth. The most extreme form of Tumah is death when the mind has lost all control over the physical. Kiddusha on the other hand is having control over all aspects of the physical. That could be why Hashem gave Benei Yisroel the Munn in the Midbar. When eaten it produced no waste and therefore no Tumeh. Through this they were able to attain a higher level of Kiddusha.
One question remains. What about the test of Klal Yisroel ? Although they did say Naseh V’Nishma was there not a test for them to overcome as well? Their test came when they were commanded to not cross the boundary set up around Har Sinai. Twice they were commanded not to attempt to breach the perimeter of the mountain. This was a tremendous test for them. To resist the temptation to come close to Hashem.
(18:23) “V’Gam Kol H’am Hazeh Al-M’KomoYovo B’Sholaim-And this people as well shall arrive at its destination in peace.” The destination referred to here is the final destination, the next world! If we set up judges and have no outstanding debts, we may then arrive at our final destination in peace. If however we leave this world with unpaid debt, we will be forced to return. But if we set up correct judges, we will come to our destination in peace.
(19:3) "U'Moshe Alah el H'Elokim Vayikra Aylav Hashem-Moshe ascended to G-D and Hashem called to him" Should these words not be reversed? First there is a calling and then there should be an ascent? The Ramban explains that Moshe went partially up to Hashem and then was called by Hashem. The Meam Loez writes that Moshe going up means that he reached the highest level that a human can attain. Hashem calls to him, refers to the adage "Habo L'Taheir M'Sayeen Oso- If a person wishes to go in the pure direction he is assisted from heaven." Moshe went up, made the first move, and Hashem called him and gave him the needed assistance.
(19:4) “V’Asah Eschem Al Kanfei Nesharim-How I bore you on Eagles wings” The Torah describes how Hashem took Benei Yisroel out of Egypt as if on the wings of eagles. In reality it was with “the clouds of glory.” The Torah is not just being poetic. What is to be learned from this metaphor? We know that eagles fly higher than any other bird. They carry their fledglings upon their backs to protect them from below. They fear nothing from above. They only fear arrows shot from below. However their talons are too short to enable them to place their fledglings upon their backs. They therefore hover near the nest allowing their young to take a leap of faith onto the back of the adult eagle. This is the metaphor for Klal Yisroel. In order to merit the protection of the clouds of glory, they needed to exhibit a leap of faith in Hashem.
(19:10) “Vayomer Hashem el-Moshe Laich el-Ha'am Ve'Kidashtom Hayom U’mochor Ve'Kibsu Simlosom- Hashem said to Moshe “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow and they shall wash their clothing” It would seem rather strange for the Torah to mention the washing of their clothing at this time. And then it is repeated in Posuk 14 where it says that Moshe did sanctify the people and wash their clothes. At the time when Benei Yisroel was standing at the foot of Har Sinai they had once again attained the level of Adam before the Chet, a time when the physical body was the clothing for the Neshamah, before man knew shame. Here too the body was the clothing for the soul so when the washing of clothes is mentioned it is referring to immersion in a Mikveh. The numerical value of the words “Kibsu S’molos” is 858 the same as the phrase “B’tzelem Elokim Boro Oso-In the image of Hashem he created him.”(Nireh Li)
(19:10)“Vayomer Hashem el-Moshe Laich el-Ha'am Ve'Kidashtom Hayom U’mochor- Hashem said to Moshe “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow” Hashem had originally planned for the revelation to take place after they prepared themselves for two days. Moshe added a third day. This meant that the Torah was to be given one day earlier and it was delayed by a day. How could the day that the entire universe was depending on, be left for Moshe to decide? Moshe understood that the revelation should take place on Shabbos. Just as Shabbos completed the creation, Kabolas Hatorah completes creation. Shabbos is the time reserved for the intimate Union between man and his wife, so too it is the day for the meeting between man and his creator.
(19:12) “V’higbalta es H’am-You shall set boundaries for the people.” Hashem commands Moshe to set boundaries so that the people don’t charge the mountain in their desire to see Hashem. Moshe descends and informs the people of Hashem’s command. Then out of respect he returns to Hashem and informs Him that he has done what Hashem requested. Hashem tells Moshe once again to go down and make sure that the people understand not to draw near to the mountain lest many people will die. Moshe says back in Posuk 22 that the people cannot do that for you have warned them not to. Hashem replies (19:24)“Lech Rade-Go down and tell them again. What is going on here? Moshe could not comprehend that a person would disobey Hashem. He was therefore told “Go Down from your exalted level and warn the people.”
The Posuk says that at Sinai there was Kol Gadol V’lo Yosuf-A great sound that did not
cease. This sound continues to this very day. If we could train ourselves to tune in to the
frequency, we would be hearing the sounds from Sinai today. This is the explanation of the
reason we say Shemah twice a day and at the time of death or when a child is having a bris. We could say instead of Hear oh Israel, understand oh Israel or the word know. But the reason we use the word hear is to allude to this hearing of the sounds of Sinai. The sound of the first two commandments came directly from Hashem. They continue on. The rest were said through Moshe. So when we recite the Shema we are really saying “Hear the sounds of those first two commandments that never stopped resounding.”
The Midrash relates that when Klal Yisroel stood at Har Sinai to receive the Torah, Hashem held the mountain over them like a barrel and said “If you accept the Torah fine if not this will be your grave.” Hashem said that the world would not continue and that he would revert the world back to its undeveloped state as it was before creation. How do we understand this Midrash? Why should the world cease to exist just because Klal Yisroel rejects Torah?
To answer this we need to look at another Midrash which states that when Moshe Rabeinu went up to receive the Torah the Malachim argued with him. They said that who is man that he should have this wondrous gift of Torah? It should remain in heaven. Moshe Rabeinu answered “Do you have parents that you need to honor? Do angels put on Tefilin?” To which they consented that the Torah does belong in their world. What does this Midrash mean? What great insight did Moshe Rabeinu convey to them? Did they not know what was written in the Torah? What we have to understand is that the Malachim had the Torah but on a much higher level. They have all of the letters, which according to some, is but one of the divine names of Hashem. They perceive the Torah from the letters in all of its variations. For the first time, Moshe Rabeinu showed them that there are such things as words which can be constructed from those letters. In order to make the Mitzvos understandable to man, Hashem had to translate them into corporeal form. Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world. What this means is that Hashem took those letters and then created Heaven and Earth because there were those letters in the Torah. He created a world for man to elevate to the level of Malachim. Succah, Tefillin and Tzitzis are actually a mundane expression of a more complicated spiritual ideal. Now we can understand why Hashem would have reverted the world back to its previous state had we not accepted the Torah, because without our acceptance there is no need for the physical manifestation of the spiritual world?
(19:13) "B'Mishoch Hayovel-Upon the extended blast of the Shofar" The Shofar of Sinai was the left horn of the ram offered by Avraham at the Akeidah, after he removed Yitzchak from the altar. The right horn will be used to herald the coming of Moshiach. The question is however, the ram offered to replace Yitzchak was an Oleh, a sacrifice that is totally consumed. If so how can its horns be used at a later date? Rabeinu Bechaya answers that Hahsem resurrected it in total. From here we learn that anything totally given over to Hashem will never be lost.
(19:16) “Vayehi Kolos U’Vrakim-And there was thunder and lightning.” Normally we find that lightening comes before the thunder. Why does the Torah here reverse the order? Perhaps we can say that since we know that later on the Torah writes (20:15) “V’chol Ha’am Royim es Hakolos-The entire nation saw the sounds.” If they were able to see the sounds it means that the sounds were traveling at the speed of light. A revelation of this magnitude could not be limited to physical restraints. The visual and audible sensations occurred simultaneously in an out of body type of experience. The reversal of the order hints to this.
The Aseres Hadibros begin with the words “Anochi Hashem.” The second commandment is “Lo Yihyeh Lecha Elokim Achairim.” a command not to have other G-d’s. Really this should have been expressed first because we have learned that we must first separate from evil before we can do good. (Sur M’rah V’aseh Tov) We learn from this a tremendous Chesed that Hashem performed for Klal Yisroel. When Klal Yisroel left Mitzraim they were on the lowest level. For them to be able to accept the Torah, to bond with Hashem needed a tremendous transformation. This could not have happened overnight. But Hashem granted them this level even before they reached it on their own. This is reflected in the fact that Anochi came before Lo Yihiyeh. What it means is that even though they might not yet have given up Idolatry entirely, Anochi Hashem, I am still your G-d. Even if a person has sins he can still come close to Hashem.
(19:22) " V'gam es Hakohanim-And also the priests." Although there were not yet any Kohanim, the first born were acting as priests. This explains how later in n the Torah we find a seemingly redundant phrase repeatedly when it says "The Kohanim the sons of Aharon." while we know at that point that the only Kohanim were those who descended from Aharon, we see from here that it is meant to exclude the first born who previously were the priests
(20:2) “Anochi Hashem Elokeicha Asher Hotzeisicha M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.”This is the first of the Ten Commandments why didn’t Hashem begin with “I am Hashem Who created the heaven and earth” ? Wouldn’t that have been more impressive? We are speaking to the nation that actually just experienced that exodus? They witnessed the splitting of the Red Sea. Of course they know Hashem took them out! But this is the incredible one time revelation that never occurred in the entire history of the world. G-d speaks! Not just to one prophet but to an entire nation! Not through an intermediary, but directly to millions of people! Certainly this is no simple obvious statement. What tremendous message is hidden in these words? The Chidushe HaRim is bothered by this and he quotes from the Arizal.
The world was created with “Ten dictums.” Those ten dictums are the laws of nature. The miraculous laws of nature that with amazing exactness and precision, govern the physical world. But they became hidden beneath the veil of Egyptian sorcery and black magic. It thus became necessary to peel away that veil with the use of the “Ten Macos”. That being behind us we stood at “HarSinai”poised to receive the “Ten Commandments” the first message contained therein is “Anochi Hashem Elokeicha Asher Hotzeisicha M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.”You can now have a relationship with the Almighty. How is that possible? Because “I have taken you out of nature.” By designating us as His people Hashem is saying that you are no longer confined to the limits placed on ordinary human beings. Hashem has taken you out of Mitzrayim, out of the Meitzar/constraints of the physical world. You now possess unlimited possibilities as long as you remain connected to Hashem.
We find a similar example when Moshe was about to receive the Torah. The angels complained that the Torah should not be given to man. Hashem told Moshe to respond to the angels. But how could a mortal man prevail against divine beings? Therefore Moshe grasped on to the throne of Hashem before responding.
(20:11) "Vayikadshehu- He sanctified it" Shabbos was sanctified through the Munn. This teaches a fundamental point about the creation of the world. Just as no work needed to be done on Shabbos, so too one who refrains from work and honors the Shabbos, he will not need to work for he is sustained by Shabbos. Klal Yisroel keep the Shabbos but Shabbos keeps Klal Yisroel.
Why do we call the week days Chol ? Two thirds of the earth is made up of water. The crashing waves are held back from inundating the earth by the sand (Chol) at the shore. The same is true with regard to the Shabbos. The Kiddusha of Shabbos is so great that had we not had Chol the holiness of Shabbos would overtake the entire world (Spinka Rav)
(20:15) “V’chol Ha’am Royim es Hakolos-The entire nation saw the sounds.” Why was this necessary? Rashi explains that when the first word of the Dibros was spoken, all of the Torah was heard in that one instant. What no mouth can speak was spoken and what no ear can hear was heard. But if they could not hear or comprehend, what was the purpose?
The Ten Commandments were directly correlated to the Ten Mamorous (Statements) which Hashem used to create the world. When Hashem spoke, the physical world came into being. But this revelation of Hashem was disguised in the physical world. It was meant to be revealed by man but instead became more and more concealed until Avraham came along and was able see Hashem in all of the creation. He was able to look at the world and see the Torah in it. But man further covered over the true essence of creation until it reached the apex which was Mitzraim. At that point the world appeared to be controlled by the sorcery that prevailed there. They had so hidden Kidusha in the world that Hashem had to bring about the Ten Plagues, as the Gr’a explains, in reverse order of the Ten Mamoros that created the world, to peel away the layers of Tumeh, like an onion, that was masking that Kidusha.
Once this was done it became necessary for Hashem to re-create the world so to speak. After peeling away the layers of Tumeh and returning to the raw essence of the Briya, it was time to reveal the purpose of this creation. This was Matan Torah. When Hashem spoke they were able to see the sounds of that speech. Just as by the Ten Mamorous, words resulted in physical reality, so too here, the words were visible but to an even greater degree. This is what is meant by Rashi that all of the Torah was heard in that one instant. The revelation was such that in one instant the harmony and oneness of the cosmos was perceived.
(20:12) “Kabeid es Avicha V’es Imecha L’maan Yarichun Yomecha-Honor you mother and your father so that your days will be .” We don’t find a reason given for any of the other Ten commandments. What is the measure for measure in extending a person’s life? R.Chaim Sonnenfeld explains the reward for honoring parents as follows. There is a dilemma that many children face when parents begin to age. A child needs to give Kovod to parents both when young and old. But as the parents age the roles are often times reversed. The child becomes the parent and the parent becomes childlike. That is the parents begin to need assistance, whether in getting dressed or going to doctors, eating, shopping. So a child might think that this burden will be at the expense of their own life. That their time will be lost giving to the parent. The Torah is teaching us that all of the time spent caring for a parent will not be lost. The Gematria of Kabeid es Avicha V’es Imecha-Honor thy father and thy mother is equal to L’maan Tarichu Yomim-In order to increase your days.(928)
- Written by Boruch Fischlewitz
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(47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt." A Tzaddik knows the day of his death 30 days prior to his death. This is where this Parsha begins. Daas Zekainim writes that just as Yakov sustained Yosef for the first 17 years of his life, so too Yosef sustained Yakov the last 17 years of his life.
There is the question as to when we use the name Yakov and when we use the name Yisroel. Generally it has been explained that the name Yakov relates to the physical aspect and Yisroel the spiritual. Until we get to this weeks portion. (47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt." We begin with Yakov "lived"
(47:28) "Vayikrivu Yimey Yisroel Lomus-And the day of the death of Yisroel approached" Yakov lived while Yisroel dies? It seems to be the opposite of what we would think?
The K'sav Sofer writes based on the Gemarrah in BB-16b that when a person dies and leaves behind a son who is his equal, the term death is not used. The names Yakov and Yisroel connote two different levels of our Patriarch. The name Yisroel refers to a higher level than the name Yakov. On the level of Yakov we have an equal, Yosef, to whom was transmitted by his father everything that was taught to him in the Yeshiva of Eiver. However on the level of Yisroel no equal was left. The Torah is saying Yakov Lo Mase but that level of Yisroel was about to die.
(47:30)-"V'shochavti I'm Avosai- I will lie with my fathers" Rashi says it refers to death not burial. The Mar-shah says this term is used when the person dying leaves behind righteous sons. It means that he isn't really dying if he left behind sons that follow his ways. The word Shochavti-Lie refers to the soul that never dies, but lies in wait for the day it will once again be reunited at Techiyas Hamaisim.
The Meam Loez writes that the dead will arise in Israel 40 years before they do outside of Israel. Partly because of the suffering involved in living there.
This Parsha deals with the death of Yakov yet it's called Vayeche? The numerical value of Vayeche is 34. Yosef was 17 years old when he was sold to Mitzraim and Yakov spent the last 17 years of his life with Yosef in Mitzraim. That equals 34, the years he spent with Yosef. Those were the years he "lived". Also since it say's in the Gemarrah that "Yakov lo Mase", the term "Vayeche" seems quite appropriate.
Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu derives from the word "Vayeche" that these seventeen years were of the highest possible form of life. It was May'ain Olam Haboh- a semblance of the world to come. But how can it be that the years in Egypt were even more like Olam Haboh than his years in Eretz Yisroel? We see that Yakov's entire life was spent preparing for the years in Golus. As soon as he left his parents home to go to live by Lavan he spent fourteen years preparing for Golus studying at Shem V'Aver.
We have a tradition that the world will exist as we know it for six thousand years. We can see a direct correlation between the lives of the Avos and these six thousand years. The world was able to remain in existence in the Zechus of Avraham Avinu for the first two thousand years. His was the Midah of Chessed. These were the years of turbulence when the creation was in jeopardy. It was the year two thousand that Avraham first received his calling from Hashem saying "Lech Lecha". The next two thousand years stood on the merits of Yitzchak. His Midah was that of Avodah. These were the years of Torah where we had the Beis Hamikdosh and the Korbonos. The final two thousand years are in the merit of Yakov. These are the years of Golus in which we find ourselves today. Yakov's years in Mitzraim were the culmination of a lifetime of preparation for this type of existence, one that would be needed for the survival of his descendants till the end of days. Here he "lived" with his entire family thriving around him ready to withstand whatever the future exiles would heave upon them.
(47:28) "Vayeche Yakov B'eretz Mitzraim Sheva Esrei Shanah - Yakov lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years.” The term most often used for “lived” is not “Vayeche” it is Vayogor or Vayeshev, why does the Torah choose this term “Vayeche”? Another question is why was it necessary to write “seventeen years” we were just told that Yakov was 130 years old when he stood before Pharoh and now we are told he was 147 at the time of his death? What is the Torah trying to allude to? If we look for the first incident of the number 17 in the Torah we find that it occurs at the dawn of creation. When Hashem said let there be light followed by “And Hashem saw that the light was Tov/good” which equals seventeen in Gematria. This was the supernal light that was hidden away for the righteous in the future. This is what Yakov brought to the land of Egypt to infuse the children of Israel and to maintain the connection to Hashem that was needed to withstand the oncoming exile. The word “Vayeche” is used specifically to express that Yakov did not merely live in to the land of Egypt but gave life to it.
The question asked about Yakov is why there seems to have been no apparent attempt on his part to return to Eretz Yisroel after the famine had ended? After all he did spend seventeen years in Mitzraim. Two years of the famine had already passed by the time Yakov arrived, while the famine was only supposed to last for seven years. We find when Yakov was preparing to reunite with Yosef in Mitzraim that Hashem assured him that it was okay for him to travel down there. (46:3) "Al-Tirah Mair'dah Mitzraimah - Do not be afraid to go down to Mitzraim." In the very next Posuk it say's (46:4) "Ve'Yoseif Yasis Yahdo al-Ainecha - Yosef will place his hands upon your eyes." This would seem to infer that Yakov was destined to die there. So unless there was another vision given to him to leave this was where his life would conclude.
(46:4) "Ve'Yoseif Yasis Yahdo al-Ainecha - Yosef will place his hands upon your eyes." This verse alludes to the covering of eyes when reciting the Shema. It hints that what the eyes see is not always the reality.
This Parsha is closed. (Stumah) There aren’t the usual 9 spaces between the last Parsha and this one. This must indicate that there is a connection between the end of Vayigash and Vayeche. In the beginning of Vayeche Yakov wanted to reveal the Kaitz (The end of all of the Golus when Moshiach will come) but it was withheld from him. Therefore the Parsha is Stumah (closed). Why was it concealed from him? At the end of Vayigash it says that the Shevotim acquired land in Mitzraim. Not only in Goshen but they spread out to all parts of Egypt. They settled in and became too comfortable because they knew their Kaitz. They knew that they would not be leaving Mitzraim in their lifetime. This was not a good thing. They became too assimilated to the extent that four fifth's of Benei Yisroel died in the plague of darkness because they refused to leave. In Vayeche Yakov thought it would not affect them negatively if they knew the Kaitz. But he was wrong. This is why it was withheld from him. R.Hutner writes that at the time Yakov wanted to reveal the Kaitz it was held back because it would affect the Bechira and when a revelation is going to affect a person’s Bechira it is held back. If this knowledge was given over it would alter our decisions and outlook on life.
The Midrash says Yakov was concerned that perhaps his offspring was unworthy to hear the "Kaitz". So they said to him look in our names there is no letter Ches or Tes which spell Chet. He replied there is also no letter Kuf or Tzadik which spell Kaitz.
(47:29) "V'Asisah Emodi Chesed Ve'Emes - And do kindness and truth with me." The kindness and truth referred to here is that of burial for it is that which cannot be repaid. The question is we find that Yakov gave an extra inheritance to Yosef, the city of Shechem, as payment for this extra effort which he needed to accomplish this? The answer is that this was not something that Yosef received in this world. He never acquired Shechem in his life but rather received it as his burial place. So in essence he only received payment for this "Chessed" in the next world. Another interpretation is that when a person does a kindness to another person he never really knows if that action is ultimately for the good. If he lent money to someone for a business venture the final outcome is always in doubt. Will it be for the good or will it fail? But here when a person does this type of kindness we know that the outcome will be a Chesed Shel Emes.
One of the reasons that Yakov was insistent on not being buried in Mitzraim is because he feared that the Egyptians would worship his remains and he knew that in the future Hashem would punish all of the so called Gods of the Egyptians. Furthermore if he were indeed buried in Mitzraim, in his merit Hashem might spare the Egyptians from the Ten Plagues. Yakov wanted to insure that his descendants would not have any reason to make Mitzraim their permanent home. By being buried in Eretz Yisroel he would be creating a strong bond there that they would always have no matter where they were exiled. This link would insure that their heritage was always connected to the Holy land.
(48:2) "Vayischazek Yisroel Vayeshev al-Hamitah - Yisroel gathered his strength and sat up in bed." It says when Yosef came into the room Yakov sat up on the bed. We learned that if a person comes to visit the sick it removes one sixtieth of the sickness. The Gematria of the word “the bed” (Hamita) equals 59 which are what was left of the sickness after Yosef visited him. The Posuk begins with “Vayged L’Yakov” but ends with "Vayischazek Yisroel” Why the switch from Yakov to Yisroel? Perhaps we can say that Yakov was ill, but when it came to blessing his sons, the future of Klal Yisroel, the Shechina rested upon him and he was therefore referred to as Yisroel.
(48:5) "Ve'atoh Shinei-Vonecha Hanoladim Le'cha B'eretz Mitzraim Ad-Bo'e Aylecha Li-Haim Efraim Umenashe Ki'Reuvein Ve'Shimeon Yihyu-Li - And now the two sons that were born to you in the land of Egypt prior to my coming to you are mine, Efraim and Menashe like Reuven and Shimeon will be to me." First we must understand the use of the words "Li Haim" (they are mine) and then again it says "Yihu-Li" (they will be to me). Why this double Loshon? Also why is Yosef the recipient of this double blessing which is usually given to the Bochor? Reuvein was also a Bochor yet he received no such double blessing?
The Meam Loez say's the night that when Reuvein disturbed the sleeping arrangements of his father was the night that Efraim and Menashe were supposed to be conceived.(35:22) His interference caused that not to happen. Therefore he was not worthy of receiving this double blessing. So now when Yakov say's "Li Haim" they are mine, he is saying that those Neshamas were supposed to have been mine. Now they will be like Reuven and Shimeon to me. The Baal Haturim say's that the numerical value of Reuven and Shimeon equals that of Efraim and Menashe.
Why Reuvein and Shimon and not another tribe? Both Reuvein and Shimon had deficiencies in that there were complaints towards them. The complaint towards Efraim and Menahe was they were not from Yerech Yakov. (Tzor Hamor)
The Zohar say's in Vayishlach that Yakov fulfilled his original intention by giving the Bechor to Yosef. He originally had Rochel in mind when he mistakenly slept with Leah on their first night of marriage. This resulted in the birth of Reuvein instead of Yosef. The Ohr Hachaim explains that the thoughts that the parents have at the time of conception influence to a large degree the tendencies of the offspring. If for example the father was thinking about self gratification at the time of intercourse he can't be surprised if those tendencies are transmitted to the offspring. Avraham carried over some of the negative tendencies he received from his father Terach, who was an idol worshiper, and transmitted them to Ishmael. And some were transmitted to Essav through Yitzchok. But we have learned that Yakov had a Mitah Shelamah? Meaning that all his offspring were righteous? If so how could Reuvein have committed such a grave sin as interfering with his fathers sleeping arrangements? The answer is that at the time of Reuvein's conception, Yakov's thoughts were on Rachel and not Leah. This also explains another Posuk. In 49:4 where Yakov is blessing Reuvein it say's "Ki Olisah Mishkivey Avichah Oz Chilaltah Yitzuey Olah - Because you went up onto the couch of your father then you profaned your fathers couch. There is the use of the plural in the word "Mishkivey" (couches). The Ohr Hachaim explains that this means that there were two times that his couch was profaned. The first time Reuvein disturbed the order of things was then, at the time of his conception.
(48:7) “V’ani B’vo M’padan Maisoh Olay Rochel b’Eretez Canaan Baderech-And as for me when I came from Paddan, Rachel died on me in the land of Canaan in the way.” Yakov, at this point, is telling Yosef that his two sons are to be considered as if they were Yakov’s children instead of grandchildren. Now he is explaining why he buried Rachel on the road instead of in Chevron. Why does the Torah include this argument here instead of earlier (47:29) when Yakov asked Yosef to bury him in Israel? The fact that Rachel died soon after Hashem promised Yakov that he would be a congregation of peoples, made it clear that this promise would be realized through grandchildren not through Yakov’s sons.
When Yakov was being buried at the Moros Hamacpela, Essav contested the burial. Why didn't he contest when Leah was buried? Logically that's when he should have said something. The answer is that Leah died 12 years before Yitzchok so while his father was still alive he would not interfere. But now that it was time to bury Yakov he showed his true colors.
Pirkei D'rav Eliezer describes the burial of Yakov: The tribes prepared to bury Yakov next to Leah in the Moros Hamachpelah. Essav protested and said this last space is reserved for me not Yakov. The Tribes answered that he sold the rights to the cave to Yakov. Essav demanded they show the contract which was in Egypt. Naftali ran swiftly to retrieve it and the burial was delayed. Chushim, Dan's son who was deaf saw the commotion and realized that the delay was because of Essav. He then hit Essav on the back of the head with a stick (Tosefos say's it was Yehudah who gave the final blow). Essav fell dead and his head rolled into the cave which is where it remains. The rest of his remains was taken to Har Seir for burial. Why was Essav's head permitted to be buried there and not the rest of him? Perhaps we can say that since originally Essav was supposed to marry Leah and father half of the Shevotim. They were to have a Yissachar and Zevulan type of relationship. Essav would have mastered the physical world while Yakov mastered the spiritual world. But Essav chose a different path. He followed his body rather than his soul. He let the body rule his mind. So it was only his mind, which contained that potential, which could have been worthy to be accepted in this holy burial place.
(48:10) “V’Aynei Yisroel Kovdu M’Zokein-The eyes of Yisroel were heavy with age.” Both Yakov and Yitzchok seem to have had problems seeing in their old age. Something not found by Avraham. The Sefer Chasidim writes that when conveying divine blessings, one must eliminate all extraneous impressions from his sight and direct all of his thoughts to the spirit that inspires him and gives him the power to bless. We don’t however find Avraham blessing Yitzchak per se, but rather giving Yitzchak the power to bless others. We therefore find no deficiency in Avraham’s vision.
(48:14) When Yakov wanted to bless the two sons of Yosef he placed his left hand on Menashe because he was the Bechor. This doesn't make sense? He should have placed his right hand on Menashe if he is the Bechor. In Parsha's Vayishlach (35:22) Reuvein was upset that Yakov moved his couch into Bilha's tent after Rachel died, thus he interfered with his fathers couch. The Ari’zal say's that Reuvein entered Bilha's tent and interrupted their intimacy. This is why there is a letter “Paye” in the middle of the Posuk. Indicating that Yakov was Posek (stopped). This resulted in the thirteenth Shevet not being born. Right after the letter Paye the Posuk say's the Shevotim were twelve? What does this mean? In Parsha's Vayeshev, when Reuvein returns to the pit that Yosef was in, the Torah writes (37:29) that when he saw that Yosef wasn't in the pit he tore his clothes. Rashi say's because he rearranged the couch of his father. He had thought that Yosef would be the one through whom the thirteenth tribe would be completed. The thirteenth which he had stopped his father from completing. That's why he tore his clothes. So now in our Parsha when Yakov put his left hand on Menashe it was because he (Menashe) was the Bechor meaning that Efraim was the thirteenth who now would complete the tribes. That's why Yakov placed his right hand upon him.
Why is the blessing for Efraim and Menashe so special? Why was it given to them? When Yakov made them as his own children he made them like Shevotim. Normally the generation that follows loses a Madrega. But Efraim and Menashe maintained the level of their previous Dor. They became as Shevotim. This while being the first Dor to be raised in Golus and remain loyal to the Torah. So the Bracha was especially important there.
(48:15) When Yakov was to bless Yosef it seems that he didn't bless him at all. He only blessed his son's. The Shelah and the Ramban say there is no greater blessing for a father than for his children to be good and follow in the paths of their fathers. Here Yakov blessed Yosef by saying "Veyikaray Bohem Shemy Veshaim Avosay" That they should go in the ways of their fathers. This was a tremendous Bracha for Yosef and is the reason why it say's Vayevarach es Yosef.
(48:17) Vayar Yosef Ki Yoshis Aviv Yad Yemino...Vayeirah B’Aynov-Yosef saw that his father placed his right hand..and it was bad in his eyes.”When Yosef saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he assumed that Yakov suspected that he sinned with the wife of Potiphar and that she had given birth to his bastard son. Therefore that bastard son would have been the firstborn rather than Menashe. This was very upsetting to Yosef that his father suspected him. Of such an evil deed. He therefore said, “No my father (48:18) Do not suspect that I defiled my self. You can be assured that Menashe is the firstborn son.” Yakov replied, “I know my son, I know.” I know that at that moment you saw a vision of my face and did not sin. (Meam Loez)
(48:17) “ Vayidgu L’rove B’kerev H’Aretz-May they proliferate abundantly like fish in the land.” What is the meaning of “fish in the land?” Fish proliferate in water? Perhaps we can say that since Klal Yisroel will be spending the majority of their time outside of Eretz Yisroel in exile, they are like a fish out of water. The blessing then states, may you prosper even when you are out of your element in hostile surroundings. We know that in Egypt the more they were oppressed the greater they became. The years that Rashi lived were some of the most difficult times for Jews, and yet some of the greatest Torah works were compiled.
Another answer is that of the Midrash who states that when the Egyptians decreed that all Jewish babies be thrown in the Nile, the women would give birth in the fields. Miraculously the babies were absorbed into the earth and were sustained there until they were weaned. This is the meaning of the blessing here “like fish in the land.”
(48:19)"I know I know" Why the repetition? The Kli Yakar writes we find throughout Jewish history that Hashem always raises the lower ones. Yitzchok and Yishmael, Yakov and Essav. Now Efraim and Menashe.The Meam Loez writes "Yakov knew" means the following. When Yosef saw Yakov switch hands he thought his father suspected him of having relations with Potifar's wife which would mean the elder is a Mamzer! Yakov answered the extra "I know" to say that I know you withstood that temptation.
(48:20) “B’choh Yivorech Yisroel-By you shall Israel bless.” The blessings of Efraim and Menashe are given to our sons because they did not exhibit any jealousy towards each other, which was the reason for the Golus in the first place. Even when the younger was chosen over the elder. Why do we not bless with the Avos? Because Efraim and Menashe were the first Jewish children born in Golus.
(48:22) “Vani Nosati Lecha Shechem Echad al Achecha-I have given you the city Shechem one more than your brothers.” Why was Yosef given the city of Shechem? The Tzror HaMor writes that when Dina was abducted, Shechem had offered it to her as a gift (34:12) Since Dinah’s daughter, Asenath had married Yosef, he obtained his right to Shechem as part of his wife’s estate. This is one of the three places in Eretz Yisroel whose Jewish ownership cannot be contested since the Torah itself documents their legal acquisition. Yakov chose this city as his gift to Yosef because Schechem was the place where Yosef’s journey began to unfold and now would become the place where his journey would end seeing that his final resting place became Shechem.
(49:1)“Vayikra Yakov el-Bonav Vayomeru Heasfu Vagidah Lochem es Asher Yikrah Eschem B’achris Hayomim-Yakov called for his sons and said “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days.” Parshas Vayeche is the last in Sefer Bereishis, the Sefer which lays the ground work for all the future generations. (Masser Avos Simin L’bonim The actions of the fathers are signs for the offspring) We would expect some profound message in the closing chapter of this Sefer. Rashi is of the opinion that Hashem prevented Yakov from divulging the final Geulah, since we don’t see it revealed in the next words spoken by Yakov. Instead he appears to go on to something else namely the blessings of the tribes. But perhaps we can suggest that hidden in those words Yakov actually does reveal the final days.
Instead of disclosing the time of the final Geulah Yakov calls each of the tribes by name saying- “He’asfu-Assemble yourselves”in other words Unite!
We know that one of the reasons Klal Yisroel were able to be redeemed was the fact that they didn’t change their names. Why is that?
“Vagidah Lochem es Asher Yikrah Eschem-I wil tell you what will befall you.” The word Yikarah is spelled with an Aleph instead of a Hey. Literally meaning calling not happening. Yakov was teaching them the calling of the end of days. One of the reasons Yisroel would be redeemed from exile is that they did not change their names. The book of Exodus is called Shemos-Names. Right at the start of the Golus the exit plan is put into place. We know that Yakov died in the year 2254. If you add that number to the total Gematria of all of the names of each of the Shevotim (3746 counting Menashe and Ephraim instead of Yosef) you arrive at the number 6000. Yakov was telling them the Kaitz saying “Assemble yourselves” only through the Achdus-unity of Klal Yisroel (adding up each of your names together) will we arrive at the Kaitz. Therefore not changing their names was essential to the final Geulah. (Nireh Li)
The number 3746 (the total Gematria of all of the names of each of the Shevotim) is equal to the Posuk (Bereishis 27:29) Yavducha Amim V’Yishtachavu L’cha L’umim Heve Gevier L’Achecha V’Yeshtachavu L’cha B’nei Imecha Orurcha Orur U’Mivorachecha Boruch-Peoples will serve you and nations bow to you, be master over your brothers and your mother’s sons will bow to you. Those who curse you are cursed and those who bless you are blessed.” Yitzchok, in blessing Yakov, was attempting to annul the curse placed upon Adom, after the original sin, and thereby restore the world to its former beauty. In the future this blessing given to Yakov by his father Yitzchok, will protect us from those who wish to do us harm.
When Yaakov wants to relate to his children the end of days the time of the final Geulah and Moshiach's coming, the Shechinah departed from him. Instead he began to speak about other things (Rashi). Apparently the other things refer to the Brochos given to the Shevatim before his demise. However, if we look closely at the Brochos we will discover that the "other things" are not a separate topic at all but rather an elucidation and insight into the Final Day of Moshiach's coming.
At the conclusion of the Brochos the Possuk says “Yaakov blessed them with the blessing that fitted each of them. Rashi writes “The blessing which in the future was to be bestowed upon each one.” Here Rashi explains the fundamental mission of our lives. Each person is a wellspring and fountain of potential. Each individual is unique in that he must actualize his potential of positive moral choices in order to bring about a sum total of sanctifications of Hashem's name during his lifetime. He already was given his destiny that he could attain if he chooses so. That goal is his Brocha to himself, to his nation, to the world, and to Hashem. By doing so he becomes a chariot to Hashem's glory.
(49:2) Hekovtzu V’Shemu Benei Yakov V’Shimu el- Yisroel Avichem-Gather yourselves and listen, sons of Yakov, and listen to Israel your father.” This is the only time that we find the names Yakov and Yisroel used in the same Posuk. Why is it that the Torah switches names and also why does it repeat the word “listen”?
Benei Yisroel were beginning their long exile. Yakov, the family patriarch, was preparing them for the long dark years ahead. They must first know that they are the children of Yakov. They must hear that they are a family of seventy souls entering a lions den of depravity. They must know that they are a nation with a common history, a heritage. This will unite them into a nation. But that is not enough. How could they not get swallowed up in this new culture? How is it that throughout history the Jews have survived centuries of exile and oppression? The answer is in the second half of this verse. “V’Shimu el- Yisroel Avichem-Listen to Yisroel your father.” Yisroel a name that represents eternity, of overcoming both man and angel. “Listen” further for only by connecting with Yisroel the spiritual side, will they be able to withstand what lies ahead.
(49:6)“B’kahalom Al Tachad Kivodi-Do not join my honor with their congregation.”Yakov did not wish his name to be mentioned with their conspiracy. The commentators differ on which conspiracy Yakov had in mind, a past or future one. It would seem that the future actions defined the past. When Levi and Shimon avenged their sister’s rape, they were acting for the right reasons. however their future actions were testimony as to the true motives. When the tribe of Shimon sinned with the daughters of Midian it reflected back to this sin. However when the tribe of Levi was asked to stand with Hashem by the Golden Calf, they proved themselves to be truly faithful.
(49:28) “V’Zos Asher Dibaer Lohem Avihem Vayivorech Osom Ish Asher K’Vrichoso Berach Osom-And this is what their father spoke to them and he blessed them, each according to their blessing he blessed them.” Why is the word being blessed repeated? Yaakov wanted them to receive the blessing that was unique to them. Each of us has a particular blessing which Hashem has bestowed upon us. Yaakov wanted each of them to be able to take that good which was already given them by Hashem and make it into a fulfillment of their potential.
(49:33)" Vayigvah Vayai'osef el-Amov - He expired and was gathered to his people." Unlike Avraham (25:8) and Yitzchok's deaths (35:29) the Posuk over here makes no mention of the word “Mase”. This may have prompted Rashi to quote the Gemarrah in Taanis (5b) which states "Yakov Avinu lo Mase - our father Yakov did not die." The Gemarrah in Sotah (13b) relates the scene at Yakov's funeral where Essav disrupted the burial. According to that Gemarrah Yakov lived on even in the literal sense. After Chushim the son of Dan struck Essav so hard it caused his head to come off, Yakov apparently opened his eyes and laughed. Most of the commentators perceive the statement that Yakov did not die in a spiritual vein. The fact that this was only said of Yakov and not the other Avos could be explained by the fact that even though they all had offspring that could carry on their heritage, only Yakov had twelve complete sons that were all righteous. This was a virtual guarantee that there would be offspring that would carry on. Both Avraham and Yitzchok had no such guarantee. But on a more physical note Yakov so perfected his physical body that the transition from one phase to the next was almost non discernible. Death for most people is a wrenching experience because the soul must be removed from the material existence it had come to crave. The less materialistic a person is the easier the transition. Now since Yakov lived a life of total spirituality his body and soul both craved the holier life that awaited him. He had reached the level of Adam before the Chet, when the body and the soul both had the same desires. For him there was no death.
(50:2) "Vayetzav Yosef es-Avodav es-Horofim Lachanot es-Aviv - Yosef commanded his servants the doctors to embalm his father." It would seem to be a strange act for Yosef to command that his father be embalmed. According to the Ohr Hachaim the reason for this was because Yosef knew that his father’s body would not decompose. Had the Egyptians seen this they would surely have proclaimed him a deity and not permitted him to be buried outside of Mitzraim.
(50:4) "Vayidabeir Yosef el-Beis Pharoh - Yosef spoke to the house of Pharoh." Why does the Posuk say to the "House of Pharoh" instead of to Pharoh himself? The Me’am Loez say's that since Yosef was still in mourning he could not seek personal audience with Pharoh. As long as his father was not buried he was considered an Onan. Such audiences were not granted to people who were grieving. Yosef had to speak to the officers in charge of Pharoh's house for permission to fulfill his promise to his father.
(50:13) "Vayisu Oso Bonav Artzah Canaan - His sons carried him to the land of Canaan." Rashi say's that only his sons and not his grandsons were permitted to carry the casket. The reason given is because his sons married Canaanite women. This would seem to be very strange because we know that the nation of Canaan was cursed and that marriage with them was forbidden from the days of Avraham. The Ramban explains that the term "Canaanite" means foreign women, whose fathers were merchants passing through the land of Canaan. According to the Midrash that maintains that Yakov's children married twin sisters it is possible to say that the reason his sons had to be the one's to carry the coffin was to set a precedence for the Shevotim in the Midbar who positioned themselves in the same order as those who carried the-Aron (R.Dovid Feinstien)
(50:15) “Vayar Achi Yosef Ki Mase Avihem-Yosef’s brother saw that their father had died.”What prompted the brothers to approach Yosef at this point and why would the Torah mention now that Yakov died? We have been dealing with Yakov’s death all along? However on their return from the funeral, Yosef stopped at the place where he was thrown into the pit. The brothers assumed he was remembering their crime against him. But instead Yosef was there to fulfill the Mitzvah of making a blessing on the spot where a miracle was performed.
Yosef died ten years before his time. Some are of the opinion that it was because he had his father embalmed, he should have had more faith that Hashem wouldn't let his father’s body decay. Others say it's because he heard Yehudah say “my father your servant” ten times and didn't protest. However in the Posukim we see it only mentioned five times? This is because he heard it from Yehudah five times, but he also heard it repeated from the translator five times.
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