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1. Rabbi Binyomin Adler Toras Chanukah page 2
2. Rabbi Binyomin Adler Shabbos Taam HaChaim page 3
3. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein Maharal's Gur Aryeh page 5
4. Rabbi Oizer Alport Parsha Potpourri page 6
5. Rabbi Stephen Baars-Aish.Com Brainstorming With Baars page 8
6. Dr. Avigdor Bonchek Whats Bothering Rashi? page 8
7. HaRav Eliezer Chrysler Midei Shabbos page 8
8. Rabbi Moshe Erlbaum-Aish.Com Torah Teasers page 10
9. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Chamishoh Mi Yodei'a page 10
10. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Chasidic Insights page 11
11. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Oroh V'Simchoh page 11
12. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Sedrah Selections page 12
13. Rabbi Yissocher Frand RavFrand page 12
14. Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen-Aish.Com The Guiding Light page 13
15. Rabbi J. Gewirtz Migdal Ohr page 14
16. Rabbi Nosson Greenberg Khal Machzikei Torah page 15
17. Rabbi Rabbi Yakov Haber Torahweb page 15
18. Rabbi Avraham Kahn Torah Attitude page 16
19. Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky Beyond Pshat page 17
20. Rabbi Shlomo Katz Hamayan page 18
21. Rabbi Dov Kramer Taking A Closer Look page 19
22. Rabbi Moshe Krieger Bircas HaTorah Parsha Sheet page 20
23. Rabbi Eli Mansour Weekly Perasha Insights page 21
24. NCYI Weekly Dvar Torah page 21
25. Rabbi Kalman Packouz-Aish.Com Shabbat Shalom page 23
26. Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff Weekly Chizuk page 24
27. Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand Likutei Peshatim page 26
28. Rabbi Naftali Reich Legacy page 27
29. Rabbi Mordechai Rhine Rabbi's Message page 27
30. Rabbi Elyakim Rosenblatt Yeshiva Kesser Torah page 28
31. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Covenant & Conversation page 29
32. Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum Peninim on the Torah page 29
33. Rabbi Dovid Seigel Haftorah page 32
34. Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair Ohr Somayach Torah Weekly page 32
35. Rabbi Jacob Solomon Between the Fish and the Soup page 33
36. Rabbi Doniel Staum Stam Torah page 34
37. Rabbi Berel Wein Zachor/Purim page 36
38. Rabbi Berel Wein Weekly Parsha page 36
39. Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZTL-Aish.Com 48 Ways to Wisdom Way #20 page 40
40. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb - OU Person In The Parsha page 37
41. Rabbi Pinchas Winston Perceptions page 37
42. HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl Bais Hamussar page 38
43. Yeshiva Aish HaTorah-Aish.Com Jewish History Crash Course#37 page 39
44. Rabbi Leibie Sternberg Pleasant Ridge Newsletter The Back Page
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See page 41 for columns on last weeks parsha that were received after publication.
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Rabbi Binyomin Adler
Toras Chanukah) 5773
(formerly known as Toras Purim)
Ok, so the first thing youre probably wondering is why is this edition
called Toras Chanukah and not Toras Purim? Actually, the answer to that
question is a long story, a few thousand years to be exact, but for now Ill
give you the short version. See, many years ago the Chashmonaim
defeated the Yevanim and ok we light Chanukah candles and spin
Dreidel and give gifts to the kids, but what about the real fun, like eating
festive meals? So, throughout the years people started secretly cooking
latkes in makeshift kitchens so that their parents would (hopefully) not
notice, but eventually everyone caught on and these became known as
Chanukah parties, so now theyre official. The big question, though, is
what is the source in Halacha for these improvised Seudos? So heres a
little background. The Rema is emphatic that these parties are Seudos
Reshus, discretionary meals, so, guess what? No points scored if you make
a big Chanukah party and invite all your friends and family over. You
certainly can take credit for their expanding waistlines and all that, but not
much else. Now, some may say that Chanukah is a time of simcha, so we
know the Jews get the most joy when it comes to eating, so you can rely
on those opinions if that is what is gonna tip the scales (just kidding) but in
truth, its really tantamount to Bitul Torah. Supposedly a great gadol (kind
of redundant terms, no?) ztl said that Chazal instituted two holidays and
failed miserably with both of them. Purim, no need to elaborate (look
under your table after the Seudah is over). Chanukah, surprisingly, also
has its troubles, with long drawn out discretionary parties, and
something called kvitlach, which I never figured out what that has to do
with Chanukah. (Actually, in editing this (yes, I actually edit my writings,
would you believe it?) I determined through complicated algorithms (Im
surprised MS word even recognized this strange word but whatever) and
calculations based on Hamans lotteries, that guess what? The word
actually, unbelievably, equals, ok, youre gonna fall off Hamans horse
when you hear this one (watch out that you dont hit Parshandasa on your
way down) anyway it equals the sum of the words , yup,
Chanukah gelt!!!! (Ok, I knew that even if youre drunk you would pull
out ol trusty and try to calculate it, so to save you from falling again, they
both equal exactly and precisely, not to mention to the tee, 249.) Wow, so
we have a mitzvah, at least a discretionary one, to play Kvitlach on
Chanukah. Ok, slow down, dont make plans for the casino so fast.
Hopefully, well find a way to assur this as soon as we hear back from our
technicians, known as K9 G (for gelt) Tag. So, how do we resolve this
dilemma of having holidays that are not what the founders had in mind?
Although this is officially supposed to be a humorous essay, I feel that
Purim should not be totally holilus visichlus (look them up in the Bible
dictionary) so I will share an insight with you regarding Chanukah, and
then tie it back to Purim, if you are still sober enough to follow all this.
The Levush writes that on Chanukah we are not required to prepare
Seudos because the Greeks sought to eradicate (great word, no? almost
sounds Greek to me) the holiness and purity and loftiness and ok, the
greatness from the Jewish People. On Purim, however, we celebrate with
feasting and wine (lots of wine, and all kinds of other drinks not mentioned
in halacha, but we wont beat you up for not fulfilling the mitzvah
properly) and the reason for this is because Haman (and Achashveirosh,
lets not forget about that madman) wanted to literally kill the Jews, which
was a decree on the , the body. For this reason we make real parties and
celebrate how we beat the stuffing out of Haman and his cohorts (and
henchmen and accomplices and partners in crime). Now, the Taz, Reb
Dovid HaLevi Segal ztl (in case you were interested enough in his
bibliography) questions this rationale (yes, he was sober when he
questioned this) because the Gemar states that the one who makes
someone sin is worse than one who kills someone (lo aleinu) because one
who sins loses the next world whereas (another Greek word) someone who
dies still can earn a share in the Next World (getting drunk on non-wine
beverages is a safek just kidding). So, that being the case, given the
aforementioned perplexity, why do we not celebrate Chanukah, the time
when our souls were saved, with feasting? Dont tell me (Gemara
singsong) that Chazal didnt want to institute two days of resting, because
we can easily shlugg that up (definitely not Greek words, but something
that we did to the Greeks) because I will tell you that they easily could
have switched Purim with Chanukah and then, hmm, that would be
interesting: Shimmy, arent you excited that Chanukahs coming up?
Why, Zalmy, whats there to get excited about? Well, you know the
wine-filled latkes (ugh) and the uh, the uh, you know, the reading of
Megillas Antiochus and more fun stuff. So, maybe it would not be as
exciting as Purim, but still, with all the fasting going on, Im sure the GUF
(get where Im going with this?) would be very happy and satisfied and
satiated and full and well, just be downright happy. So bottom line, why
the fasting on Purim and not on Chanukah? Im running out of space but
Ill say this much (and catch me at the Purim Seudah when we indulge the
GUF and Ill have even more to say about this and other topics). The word
, (oh boy, another gematria coming up) when you take the " "
(which means is , is , etc. but stop at some point) you get guess
what? Ok , I wont keep you in suspense (that well leave for the Megillah
, get it?. So you have , yes, the derivative and introduction and
subset of the word . So, the , which is what Haman and his
entourage wanted to destroy, turned into , which is interesting, because
means lot (not Avrahams nephew and brother-in-law, whose wife did
not have a good lot) and you would think that a body should not turn into a
lot (a body can turn into salt though ed. Note see Ibid ad loc. Et al note
above regarding Lots wife). Anyway, who are we (or at least who am I, a
mere mortal inside a GUF) to try to figure that one out? If the early ones
were like angels, then we are like mortals. (mortals, mortals, just thinking
about that word anyone out there called mort? You may think of
changing your name) Ok, so bottom line is that because Haman and
company (H & C ? neh, I like Haman and Sons better) tried to annihilate
(clearly a Latin word almost has the word Latin in it you Latino, man?)
our GUF, HaShem (yes, He and he alone, even though His Name is not
mentioned once in the Megillah would you want your name associated
with Haman and sons?????) transformed (converted well, someone in
Hamans descendants did convert check out Binei Brak when you have a
chance) the (remember, this alteration and transformation can only
occur in Hebrew) to . So there we have it. Oh, I almost forgot the most
important part, which , yes, is another gematria (I call " " gematria
too know what gematria means? Hint: you can become wise if you start
to know what it means). Ready for this one? Are you there? Sober? Or at
least awake? So, the gematria (simple gematria, no complex wrangling) of
is , which, if you have been following, is the thesis (definitely a
Greek word) of this essay and my magnum opus (yes, we use really
interesting words in America). is , you ask? I thought that it was
on Purim that Haman wanted to destroy the , not on Chanukah. Well,
that goes back to the machlokes mentioned earlier. Apparently, the
gematria accords (not musical) with the Taz who maintains and posits and
opines that it is worse to try to cause someone to sin than to destroy his
, so maybe that is why the word equals , because the Greeks (I
dont think its the same Greeks who made up their dictionary) left our
intact (latkes aside) and we abstain from indulging in food until the great
holiday of Purim. Ok, I cant say I have a great answer, but did you ever
notice in Judaism that even the best answers always have more questions.
So, mir ken bleiben mit a tzurich iyun (even the janitor in my Yeshiva
knew what that meant) and vit dat I vill vish you a Gutten Purim, and a
Freilechen Purim, and a Lichtige Purim, and farzicher a Lichtige
Chanukah and we should be zoche mamash, bikarov, to ales gut bimheira
viyameinu Amen viamein. Thats it, no lengthy brachos today, only to
Haman who got lucky that we drink until we think he is blessed, but by the
way, the word can actually mean cursed, so even when he is blessed,
he is cursed, forever and ever, , and we should see
soon the downfall of our enemies (look out modern day Persia) and the
rise of the tzadikim, speedily, in our days and in their nights, right now,
exactly, as we stand today (uh oh sounds like the Gettysburg Address) like
this day, on this night, during the early evening hours, at dawn and with
the rise of the sun and the fall of the moon, Dovid Melech Yisroel Chai
Vikayam (hope you can read that transliteration) and etc forever liolam
vaed. Zei gezuent un shtark. See you next year in Yerushalayim
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 3
Warm regards, sincerely, fondly, much appreciated, expressing inertest,
and all that good stuff. Happy (hic) Purim
Kol Tuv. Bye cu later TTYL OMG IMHO
And now for our sponsors:
This Heilege Varme Toras Chanukah (un Purim) has been sponsored
graciously (or graciously sponsored, depending how you look at it)
LiRefuah Shleima
Now, there are more sponsors, but they havent revealed themselves yet, in
consonance with the Purim theme that the miracles must remain hidden,
but we gratefully acknowledge their unknown presence and HaShem
should bestow them with much wealth and honor, not to mention publicity,
and we should all be zoche (here I go again) to many brachos and mamash
a Shikkerdike Purim bimheira. Done. End. Amen. Selah. Vaed. Netzach.
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Rabbi Binyomin Adler
Shabbos Taam HaChaim
Tetzaveh-Zachor-Purim 5773
(From the archives)
Shabbos in the Parasha
In this weeks parashah the Torah records the instruction that HaShem gave to
Moshe regarding the holy vestments to be worn by the Kohen Gadol, the High
Priest, and his sons. One of the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol was
the Ephod, which was like an apron. It is said (Shemos 28:6) vicheishev
afudaso asher alav kimaaseihu mimenu yihyeh zahav techeiles veargaman
visolaas shani visheishes mashzar, the belt with which it is emplaced, which is
on it, shall be of the same workmanship, it shall be made of it, of gold;
turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, and twisted linen. The Meshech Chochmah
writes that the Gemara (Erchin 16a) states that the Ephod served to atone for
the sin of idolatry. The Gemara elsewhere (Kiddushin 40a) states that regarding
idolatry, even if one has an idolatrous thought, it is akin to having actually
worshipped idols. Thus, our verse alludes to this idea, as the word vicheishev
can be interpreted to mean thoughts, and the words kimaaseihu mimenu yihyeh
alludes to the idea that the thoughts are considered like a maaseh, an action.
Perhaps we can expound further on this idea. Why is this idea hinted to
specifically regarding the ephod? It is noteworthy that there are a few words
that equal the same number in gematria, numerical value. These words are
ephod, malach, haElokim, and Sukkah. All these words equal 91 in gematria.
What is the association between these words? A Sukkah symbolizes protection
from foreign influences. When the Kohen Gadol would enter the Holy of
Holies on Yom Kippur, he was required to be completely focused on his role of
gaining atonement for the Jewish People. Were the Kohen Gadol to entertain
one deviant thought, he would die inside the Holy of Holies. Thus, the Kohen
Gadol was required to be akin to a malach, an angel. Elokim means G-d, and
this Name is also used to depict one who has ascended to great spiritual
heights. The manner in which one gains spiritual perfection is by not allowing
foreign influences to penetrate ones inner domain. Thus, it is fitting that the
ephod served to atone for idolatry. The ephod was worn over the tunic and the
robe, thus symbolizing protection from all external influences. We do not
currently have the Bais HaMikdash and the Kohen Gadol serving within, but
HaShem has bestowed upon us His precious gift of the Holy Shabbos every
week. Shabbos is the opportunity that we need to be shielded from foreign
influences so that we can ascend the spiritual ladder. On Shabbos one is
prohibited from performing meleches machasheves, intended labor. On
Shabbos one should focus on avoiding the performance of any prohibited act.
Furthermore, one should focus on delighting in the Shabbos, and he will then
be spared from any negative influences.
This week is Parashas Zachor, when we read aloud how Amalek, the
archenemy of the Jewish People, sought to infiltrate the Jewish camp and they
were defeated by Yehoshua and the Jewish army. We read Parashas Zachor
prior to Purim as Haman, the enemy of the Jewish People in Persia, was a
descendant of Agag, the Amalekite king. The commentators point out that for
all practical purposes, the true Amalekite does not exist amongst us anymore.
Yet, we are still biblically commanded to remember the evil that Amalek
sought to perpetrate towards the Jewish People and how HaShem has promised
us that the memory of Amalek will eventually be obliterated. One must wonder
how we can be required to remember the evil wrought by Amalek and how we
can be instructed to obliterate the memory of Amalek, when Amalek does not
exist in the physical form. In order to gain a better understanding of this
obligation, we must first examine the festival of Purim and how we relate to
this holiday in a practical manner. We celebrate Purim by reading Megillas
Esther, making a feast, giving presents of food to our friends and by proffering
charity to the indigent. What is the significance in these four rabbinically
ordained mitzvos? I recently saw a fascinating explanation from one of the
Gerrer Rebbes regarding Mordechais exhortation to Esther. It is said (Esther
4:13-14) vayomer Mordechai lihashiv el Esther al tidami vinafsheich lihamaleit
bais hamelech mikol haYehudim ki im hachareish tacharishi baeis hazos revach
vihatzalah yaamod layehudim mimakom acher viat uveis avich toveidu umi
yodeia im laeis kazoos higaat lamalchus, then Mordechai said to reply to
Esther, Do not imagine in your soul that you will be able to escape in the
kings palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping
silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from
another place, while you and your fathers house will perish. The conventional
understanding of these verses is that Mordechai was warning Esther that if she
did not act, then HaShem would save the Jewish People through other means,
but Esther and her family would not survive. The Gerrer Rebbe, however,
understands that Mordechai was informing Esther that the way to accomplish
the salvation was by viat uveis avich toveidu. The Gerrer Rebbe renders the
word toveidu, normally translated to mean perish, as to forfeit your life. Thus,
Mordechai was instructing Esther that the vehicle to salvation was by forfeiting
her life for the Jewish People. Based on this premise, we can begin to
understand the particular manner in which we can approach our requirement to
remember what Amalek sought to do the Jewish People and how we are
required to obliterate the memory of Amalek. Amalek was willing to forfeit
their lives in order to destroy the Jewish People, so we must act in the same
manner and sacrifice our lives for HaShem and His Torah. The Gemara
(Megillah 7b) states that one is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim until
he cannot distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai. The
Seder Hayom writes that one is required to become so intoxicated that he falls
to the ground. The reason for this, writes the Seder Hayom, is because Haman
sought to spill our blood to the ground, so we must act in a manner that
counters Hamans desires. Based on the interpretation of the Gerrer Rebbe, we
can place this ruling in perspective and also understand an incident recorded in
the Gemara. We become intoxicated to the point that we are willing to forfeit
our lives for HaShem, and the Gemara demonstrates this with an incident
where Rabbah and Rabbi Zeira celebrated the Purim feast together. Rabbah
killed Rabbi Zeira and then brought him back to life. This Gemara clearly is
telling us that on Purim one must attain a level where he is willing to forfeit his
life for HaShem. Now we can understand the function of the four mitzvos that
we perform on Purim. We feast and drink and become intoxicated, and we thus
demonstrate that we are willing to forfeit our lives for HaShem. Furthermore,
we give each other food gifts. Unlike the rest of the festivals where we
essentially conduct private feasts, on Purim we are required to give of our food
to others. This also reflects on our sacrifice for HaShem and His people.
Additionally, we are obligated to give alms to the poor, to the extent that we
must fulfill the rabbinic dictum that kol haposehit yad nosnim lo, anyone who
extends his hand on Purim receives charity. This certainly is a sacrifice on our
parts. Lastly, we are required to read the Megillah, and we must even forgo
Torah study to fulfill this mitzvah. For a Jew, studying Torah is akin to a fish
swimming in water, and we are still required to interrupt our Torah study for
the reading of the Megillah. There can be no greater sacrifice than forgoing
Torah study. Thus, the four mitzvos that we perform on Purim all reflect a
degree of sacrifice, which counters the sacrifice that Amalek and their
descendant Haman demonstrated in threatening the Jewish People. The Gemara
(Shabbos 118b) states that had the Jewish People only observed the first
Shabbos in the Wilderness, no race or nation could have assailed them. Proof
of this is because some of the Jewish People violated the first Shabbos and this
violation was followed by the arrival of Amalek. We are required to sacrifice
everything except our lives to observe Shabbos. The Medrash (Esther Rabbah
1:9) states that the reason Achashveirosh was able to conduct his parties is
because the Jewish People had desecrated the Shabbos. It is well known that
when we slack off in our sacrifice for mitzvah performance, the gentiles are
allowed to dominate us. It should be HaShems will that we observe the
Shabbos and the festivals properly, and then we will merit the fulfillment of the
verse that the Jewish children quoted to Haman (Yeshaya 8:10) utzu eitzah
visufar daberu davar vilo yakum ki imanu kel, plan a conspiracy and it shall be
annulled; speak your piece and it shall not stand, for G-d is with us.
Shabbos in the Zemiros - Eishes Chayil
Composed by Shlomo HaMelech in Mishlei
, , , she stretches out her hands to the distaff, and
her palms support the spindle. Continuing the theme that these verses allude to
Shabbos, we can suggest that the verse alludes to the idea stated in the Zohar
that Shabbos sustains a person during the six days of the week. This is the
meaning of the words , , and her palms support the spindle. It is
noteworthy that the words , equal in gematria the words ,
it is Shabbos.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Accepting heavenly sovereignty in unity
Vichulam mikablim ol malchus shamayaim zeh mizeh, then they all accept
upon themselves the yoke of heavenly sovereignty from one another. What
does it mean that they accept the yoke of heavenly sovereignty from one
another? One would think that accepting the yoke of heavenly sovereignty is
something that one does on his own. The Iyun Tefillah writes that it is said
(Yeshaya 6:3) vikara zeh el zeh viamar, and one would call to another and
say Targum Yonasan renders these words to mean umikablin dein min dein,
which Rashi explains to mean that the angels take permission from each other.
Perhaps we can offer an alternative explanation to this passage. Regarding the
Jewish People receiving the Torah, it is said (Shemos 19:2) vayichan sham
Yisroel, neged hahar, and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain. Rashi
(Ibid) writes that this wording teaches us that the Jewish People encamped
opposite the mountain kiish echod bileiev echod, like one man with one heart.
This teaches us that in order to accept the yoke of heavenly sovereignty, one
must be united with all the Jewish People. Although one can recite Shema and
contemplate HaShems unity, we are declaring shema Yisroel hear O Israel,
which reflects the idea that true acceptance of heavenly sovereignty can only
be accomplished when the Jewish People are united. In a similar vein we can
suggest that the actions of the angels on high reflects our conduct down below.
Thus, the angels also, so to speak, unite in their acceptance of the yoke of
heavenly sovereignty.
Shabbos Stories
Giving tzedakah properly
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: When the Satmar Rav came to this
country after World War II he had a handful of Hungarian immigrants, most of
them Holocaust survivors, as his Chasidim. As the custom is with Chasidic
rebbes, they would come for a blessing and leave a few dollars for the rebbe to
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give to charity on their behalf. The poor immigrants would come in for
blessings, some leaving a dollar, others some coins and on occasion a wealthier
chasid would leave a five, a ten, or even a twenty-dollar bill. The Rebbe would
not look at the offerings; rather he would open the old drawers of his desk and
stuff them in, ready, and available for them to be put to charitable use.
Of course, givers were not the only one who visited the Rebbe. Those who
were in need came as well. Each of them bearing their tale of sorrow, asking
for a donation.
Once a man came desperately in need of a few hundred dollars, which the
rebbe gladly agreed to give.
The Rebbe opened his drawer, and began pulling out bills. Out came singles
and fives, a few tens and even a twenty. Then the Rebbe called in his Gabbai
(sexton), Here, he said, please help me with this.
The Rebbe began straightening out the bills one by one. Together, they took
each bill, flattened it and pressed it until it looked as good as new. The Rebbe
took 100 one dollar bills and piled it into a neat stack. Then he took out a
handful of five-dollar bills and put them into another pile. Then he took about
five wrinkled ten dollar bills, pressed them flat, and piled them as well. Finally,
he slowly banded each pile with a rubber band, and then bound them all
together. He handed it to the gabbai and asked him to present it to the
supplicant. Rebbe, asked the sexton, why all the fuss? A wrinkled dollar
works just as well as a crisp one!
The Rebbe explained. One thing you must understand. When you do a
mitzvah, it must be done with grace, and class. The way you give tzedakah is
almost as important as the tzedakah itself. Mitzvos must be done regally. We
will not hand out rumbled bills to those who are in need. (
Shabbos in Navi - Shmuel I Chapter 28
Shabbos is a day for the living
In this chapter we learn how Shaul feared the Plishtim who had mobilized their
army to battle the Jewish People. Shaul disguised himself and sought out a
female necromancer who raised up Shmuel from the dead. Shmuel informed
Shaul that his kingship would be torn from him and given to Dovid.
Furthermore, Shmuel informed Shaul that the Jewish People and Shaul would
be delivered into the hands of the Plishtim and Shaul and his sons would die.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 65b) states that proof that Shabbos exists in the world
is because a necromancer cannot raise up the dead on Shabbos. Perhaps the
deeper meaning of this statement is that Shabbos is the life of the world, and
the dead do not take part in Shabbos in any form. Similarly, the Gemara (Ibid
and Rashi ad loc) states that the wicked are not punished in Gehinnom on
Shabbos. This statement also implies that Shabbos is for the living and the
holiness of Shabbos even extends to those who are no longer alive.
Shabbos in Agadah
Shabbos in lieu of lashes
The Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe, writes (Ki Seitzei 5677) that it is brought in
Tikkunei Zohar that on Shabbos we are prohibited from performing forty acts
of labor minus one, and this number corresponds to the forty minus one lashes
that one receives upon violating a negative commandment. One who is
scrupulous to avoid performing one of the thirty-nine acts of labor on Shabbos
does not require thirty-nine lashes. The Imrei Emes cites the Targum attributed
to Yonasan who states that regarding lashes it is said (Devarim 25:3) viniklah
achicho lieinecho, and your brother will be degraded in your eyes. The Targum
renders the words to mean that your brother should not be ashamed. The Imrei
Emes writes that this means that one should not be ashamed because of the
lashes. Rather, one should be ashamed because of the sin that he has
committed. On Shabbos, however, one can shame himself without actually
being whipped. The Zohar states that the word Bereishis is an acrostic for the
words yarei Shabbos fear of Shabbos, and for the words yarei boshes, fear
which leads to shame. Shabbos contains within it a chastisement to an
understanding heart, and it is for this reason that one does not receive lashes on
Shabbos in Halacha
Exception to the prohibition of insulating with a heat-retaining material
There are certain instances in which a container can be insulated in a heat-
retaining material on Shabbos. [These exceptions only apply to fully cooked
food. One is never permitted to insulate partially cooked food on Shabbos.]
One example of this permit is that one can rewrap a pot of fully cooked food
that was wrapped in a heat retaining material, i.e. a towel, prior to Shabbos and
then became uncovered on Shabbos. Furthermore, one can unwrap the
container on Shabbos to remove some food and re-insulate it. One is also
allowed to add an extra layer of insulation i.e. another towel to a pot that was
insulated prior to Shabbos.
Shabbos Challenge Question
Last week we posed the question: why do we recite in the blessing of Retzei in
Bircas Hamazon that there should be no distress, grief, or lament on this day of
contentment? Do we only desire that Shabbos should be free of strife and not
the rest of the week? The Pinei Menachem answers that the Zohar states the
source of all blessing during the weekday is from Shabbos, so it follows that if
there is no distress, grief, or lament on Shabbos, then there will not be distress,
grief, or lament during the week either.
This weeks question is, the Gemara (Shabbos 119b) states that if everything is
prepared properly on Friday night, then the bad angel must declare that it
should be this way the following Shabbos. How is it possible that angels who
do not change can be transformed from bad to good? If you have a possible
answer, please email me at and your
answer will be posted in next weeks edition of Shabbos: Taam HaChaim.
Shabbos: Taam HaChaim Tetzaveh-Zachor-Purim 5773 is sponsored in
memory of Rav Yehuda (ben Shmuel) HaChasid, author of Sefer Chasidim
(1150-1217). His father (1120-1175), led a famous yeshiva in Speyer, and
served as Rav Yehudas rebbe.
Rav Moshe (ben Yehuda Hersch) Langner, the fifth Strettiner Rebbe (1959). In
1921, he moved the family from Galicia to Toronto.
Rav Moshe (ben Dovid) Feinstein (1895-1986). Born in Uzda (near Minsk),
Belorussia, he was a great-grandchild of the Beer Hagolah. His mother was
Feige Gittel, daughter of R Yechiel, rov of Kopolia. He joined the yeshiva of
Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer in Slutzk at the age of twelve. At the age of sixteen,
Rav Moshe completed Shas and Shulchan Oruch. He was rabbi of Luban from
1921 to 1936. He escaped the Stalinist regime in 1936 and settled in New York
as rosh yeshiva of Tiferes Yerushalayim. He authored Igros Moshe, Darash
Moshe, and Dibros Moshe and was universally acknowledged as the posek of
the American Litvish community.
, , "
New Stories
Eat, Pray, Love, Connect
The Shabbat of Unity allowed me to get out of my own bubble and
connect to J ews different than me.
by J udy Gruen
It had been an unusually stressful week, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief
when I checked into the Hilton Hotel in Woodland Hills, California on a
recent Friday afternoon. Normally, there's no place I'd rather be on Friday
afternoons than my own home, as I count the minutes until I light my
Shabbat candles and bask in the glow of a sanctified oasis in time. Those
last hours before Shabbat are a mixture of stress (How is it possible I still
have two vegetables to cook but only 45 minutes left?) and joyful
Shabbat means to "stop" or "cease." These days, who doesn't need to cease
and desist from the incessant barrage of workweek demands? What a gift
to be able to just say no to 25 hours worth of phone calls, texts, emails,
assignments, bills and other demands. On Shabbat, to borrow from a
phrase, we "let go and let God."
The Jewish world is too-often segregated into enclaves.
My Hilton stay was no random act of getting away from it all. I went to
join an innovative gathering called the Shabbat of Unity, organized by the
Jewish Womens Initiative (JWI), an eclectic coalition of more than 100
Jewish women representing all flavors of observance, including the
marginally-affiliated and members of Reform, Reconstruction,
Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues. The Jewish world is too
segregated into its own little enclaves. As someone who lives in a bit of an
orthodox bubble, I was excited to meet other Jewish women whose paths
might not otherwise cross my own.
I felt the excitement and energy all around me from the moment I arrived
and was handed my name tag and "welcome" bag. Many of the women
had already met one another, having gone on one of the TAG (Transform
and Grow) Israel trips sponsored by the Jewish Womens Renaissance
Project (, spearheaded by Aish.coms phenomenal Lori
Palatnik. To date, more than 2,000 women from 40 cities and 7 different
countries have gone on these life-changing trips.
Based on the women I met at this Shabbaton, the impact of these trips has
been profound. Even those whose Israel trips had been two years earlier
were still highly charged about their personal spiritual journeys, and eager
to continue nurturing the friendships that first blossomed in Jerusalem.
Many of the women have embraced new-to-them Jewish values and
traditions such as baking challah, lighting candles, and some regular form
of Torah study. They introduce Jewish practice into their lives according
to what their intuitive feminine wisdom tells them is right for their
families. To stay connected, they formed the JWI, a new womens division
of Aish HaTorah Los Angeles, under the leadership of two wonderful
teachers I am proud to know: Chana Heller and Sharon Shenker.
While the TAG Israel trips are the rocket that launches this energy and
motivation for Jewish involvement, in Los Angeles, the JWI and its
programs keeps it flying. Under Chanas and Sharons leadership, the JWI
offers a monthly "growth group" and weekly classes. Sharon explained,
"Jewish moms are the ones who are stoking the fires. If you inspire a
woman you inspire a family, and if you inspire enough families you
inspire a community. Judaisms primary base is in the home, not the
Common Ground
The Shabbat of Unity was also conceived and run by the women of the
JWI as a way to connect with other orthodox women in addition to the
teachers they had met in Israel and through their local classes. As I lit my
little tea lights in the hotel dining room that Friday night amid a sparkling
array of flickering flames, I heard one woman softly help another with the
blessing over the candles. During our Shabbat service, we sang together,
welcoming the "Sabbath queen." At dinner, I spoke with a woman who has
been touched deeply by the new Jewish ideas she has learned, but isn't
optimistic that her husband, who works seven days a week, will soon share
her inspiration. Yet she perseveres, knowing that she needs to nurture
herself. She hopes the rest will follow.
Throughout ice-breaker getting-to-know-you exercises, and listening to the
stories and enthusiasm of the women who took turns speaking about their
experiences, I learned that what we have in common as Jewish women is
far greater than what might set us apart. That was a message I heard over
and over again from other women, too.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 5
Phyllis Shinbane echoed these thoughts. "I came to the weekend with
expectations of how many differences there would be between us, and
came to realize quickly how similar we all are in so many ways. I love
experiencing that."
For Amy Somers, the Israel experience was just the beginning. She attends
the monthly growth group and occasionally a weekly class about various
Jewish topics, such as the meaning of dreams in the Torah, and the
meaning behind the prayers. She also attends a Shabbat service called
"Nashuva" run by a conservative rabbi, which she refers to as "Judaism
from the heart.
Amy began lighting Shabbat candles and baking challah special
mitzvahs associated with Jewish women. "I drive the Jewish train in my
house," she said. "Sometimes my family is on the train, sometimes they
get off at some station and then get on again. But as long as I stay on the
train I believe it will have impact."
The feeling of unity in the room was palpable.
Like many of the other weekend participants, Amy loved the guest
speaker, Toronto-based Adrienne Gold, who comes from a secular
background and spoke movingly about her transition from a career in
television and the fashion industry to observant Judaism. "Adrienne was
such a wonderful surprise," Amy said. "I grew to really appreciate her and
found her incredibly relatable, like an inspiring girlfriend." I smiled as
Amy confessed, "I used to be a casting director, and I wondered if some of
the religious women had been professionally cast. They had phenomenal
personalities, and they were open to being asked questions."
The observant contingent, myself included, was thrilled to make new
connections, to discover some of our stereotypes about others were wrong,
and to gain inspiration from the enthusiasm and energy of our new friends.
Beth Firestone remarked, "This was an unexpectedly emotional weekend
for me. Many times I found myself choked up or teary-eyed. There is
something bigger than all of us going on here with Jewish women. These
women have so much energy and spirit. They truly inspire me, and
hopefully they felt inspired by some of us. Bringing the communities
together was a win-win for both groups. The feeling of unity in the room
was palpable."
Sarah Weintraub added, "Shabbat with the JWI women was magical. I was
so impressed with everyones passion for bringing values into their homes.
I encouraged my daughter to come from New York for this event. She was
blown away. There is so much power in creating a community of women
devoted to learning, laughing and growing. Wow."
No Labels
The energized members of the JWI are so driven to offer the JWRP Israel
experience to other women (the trips are heavily subsidized), that they are
doing what Jews have successfully done through the ages: fundraising.
Their current project is a cookbook called "Try It, You'll Like It," whose
recipes have come from the members of the JWI and which will be out in
time for Mother's Day. The cookbook committee, spearheaded by the
exuberant Sheri Levy, who I am guessing was a motivational speaker in a
previous life, has already pre-sold more than 500 copies. (Note to self: Get
these women to help me publicize my next book!)
The weekend also worked because it was a blend of meaningful
discussions, classes, relaxed meals and fun. Saturday night we broke out
the games, and I had no idea that Mah jong had so many ardent fans. I
laughed my head off playing Scattegories, and commandeered the mic
during Karaoke, doing my best Springsteen imitation of "Born in the
U.S.A." It could be the first time in history that a woman did that in a skirt
and kerchief. But hey, the Boss used to wear a bandana in the old days,
Just because a woman may not keep kosher doesn't mean she isn't deeply
committed to spiritual growth.
I left the weekend feeling energized and refreshed. I know from my own
journey that the path to spiritual growth takes much time, effort and
patience. But if you keep at it, you can mine a spiritual reservoir that may
have lain dormant for years and build a deeper, richer and more
meaningful life. I was reminded that just as many less-observant women
may have had preconceived notions about what I might be like (would I be
judgmental? A fuddy duddy?), I had forgotten that just because a woman
may not light candles or keep kosher doesn't mean she isn't deeply
committed to spiritual growth. I was happy to be reminded of that. I think
it was no coincidence that the Shabbaton took place so close to Purim, a
holiday where we remember that in some sense, we all wear masks, and
what appears on the surface hides the true person within.
For me, the weekends main message was driven home by Carolyn
Ormond, who had gone to Israel with JWRP in 2011. She said her Jewish
growth was "about becoming a better person in relationship to your
parents, your spouse, your children, your everyday activities, and how you
see yourself. It changed me in a big way. For example, I now call my
parents every day just to check in with them, and when I got together with
friends recently, I was careful to avoid saying anything gossipy." Her
connection with her JWRP friends also extends to a Sunday walking
group, a book club, Mah Jong games, girls' nights out and couples' nights
out. "We have a special bond."
Carolyn remembers that on her Israel trip, she once referred to herself as a
Reform Jew. "You're not a Reform Jew, the group leader said. We're all
Jews, period."
It was amazing and uplifting to share a weekend with other Jewish women
where all the labels fell away and we were all just Jews.
Megillas Esther: Rav Chaim Volozhin's Purim Secret From A
Mysterious Guest
One Purim an old man appeared at Rav Chaim Volozhin's Purim seuda.
Rav Chaim gave him a coin for tzedaka. The old man then said that if he
gives him another coin, he will tell him a Chiddush in the Megillah. Rav
Chaim agreed and the old man asked a question.
The Medrash says that after the gezeira of Haman, Moshe Rabbeinu told
Eliyahu HaNavi to go tell Mordechai to daven on earth while they will
daven in Shamayim. Eliyahu told Moshe that he already saw that the
gezeira was signed and sealed in Shamayim so there was no chance of
salvation. Moshe asked, was the seal out earth or blood. Eliyahu said it
was out of earth. In that case said Moshe Rabbeinu there is still hope.
Where, asked the old man, do we see in the Megillah that the seal was not
from blood? Rav Chaim didn't answer and the old man continued. The
Megillah says that Haman plotted to destroy the Yehudim, "U'Liabdam".
If you break the word U'Liabdam into two words it says "V'Lo B'Dam",
the decree was not sealed in blood.
Rav Chaim was so excited about this answer that when he went to visit his
Rebbi the Vilna Gaon, he repeated it to him. The Vilna Gaon also became
emotional upon hearing this and told Rav Chaim that the "old man" was
none other than the old man who revealed this secret over 2,000 years ago
during the story of Purim. It was Eliyahu HaNavi himself.
Parshas Shoftim: Rav Chaim Soloveitchek - Purim War In Volozhin
In Parshas Shoftim the torah tells us the speech that is given to Bnei
Yisroel as they are about to enter war. In Volozhin one year they
performed a Purim skit theatrically depicting the scene.
One hundred thousand soldiers gathered together to hear their last minute
instructions on the battlefield. It is announced that anyone who built a new
house and not settled in should go back from the front. Immediately
10,000 soldiers do an about face and leave the battlefield. Again they call
out whoever planted a vineyard and has not reaped the benefits should
return. Another 10,000 soldiers pick up and leave. And whoever is
engaged to be married is dismissed as well and just like that they are now
short 30,000 soldiers.
Then comes the big announcement. Whoever is afraid because they have
sinned even a small aveira should also return home. All the remaining
soldiers throw down their weapons and leave, except for four remaining
soldiers, the Sha'agas Aryeh, the Noda B'Yehuda, the Vilna Gaon and the
Pnei Yehoshua.
Rav Lazer Silver of Cincinnati, a talmid of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky,
relates that when they told this humorous story over to Rav Chaim
Soloveitchek he said they forgot to tell over the punch line of this play.
The four tzaddikim won the war! (Iturei Torah)
Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz Explains Purim's Non-Jewish Timing To The
A priest once asked Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz, the Rav of Prague, a
question about Purim. He said, You Jews celebrate all your holidays at
night and then the day, because for you, the day follows the night. So why
do you celebrate the feast of Purim during the night after the day?
Rav Yehonasan answered, I wonder the same thing about you. You
celebrate all your holidays during the day and at night, because for you,
the night comes after the day. But on the holiday of the birth of your
savior, you celebrate beginning the night before. But were right, and
youre right. Our Purim came to us through a non-Jew, so we celebrate
like your custom. Your holiday comes to you through a Jew, so you follow
the custom of Yisrael! (Chayim Sheyash Bahem) (
Have a wonderful Shabbos and a Freilechen and Lichtige Purim
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363 To subscribe weekly by email, please email View Shabbos: Taam HaChaim and other Divrei Torah on

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
Maharal's Gur Aryeh
Big Bull Or Little Calf(1)
This is the matter that you shall do for them to sanctify them to minister to
me. Take one young bull and two unblemished rams.
Rashi: The significance of the young bull was that it would atone for the
incident of the Golden Calf, a calf being a younger form of a bull.
Gur Aryeh: Why would we use a bull rather than a calf itself to atone for a
sin committed with a calf?
Know that the calf was not a figure chosen at random, but had profound
significance. Those responsible for the debacle of the eigel looked
specifically to the bull for the image they wished to use for their avodah.
They chose the bull because it was one of the four animals of the
merkavah/ chariot in the prophecy of Yechezkel.(2) (Since, as Chazal tell
us, even the common folk were treated to fuller prophetic visions at the
6 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
splitting of the Yam Suf than Yechezkel, they presumably had access to
the imagery to which he was later treated .) In that prophecy, one of the
four animals that bore Hashems Throne was the bull. The people
understood the single Throne to be a representation of the inscrutable
Oneness of Hashem. This idea was so lofty, that it could not serve their
need to connect with Him. But the Throne stood on a vehicle drawn by
four animals. This implied that a vehicle was necessary to bring a
humanly-graspable conception of Hashem to places remote from His
majesty. The four animals represented the four directions of a world of
physical dimension, not the ethereal non-dimensionality of a spiritual
world. They would pull the vehicle, carrying the Throne to the corners of
our world.
Moreover, the bull stood to the left, which always implies something of
secondary importance. To those who trekked through the Wilderness, this
meant that if any image could be teased out of the merkavah to serve
alone, it would be the bull. They chose an eigel, a calf, rather than a bull,
because they understood that any spiritual force does not have a full
representation in the world of time and space, but only a weak shadow of
the original. The bull of the prophetic vision was therefore reduced to a
calf when it stood ready to serve as a stand-in for the original. The eigel
performed as a junior version of the original, but in their minds, it stood
for the bull.
While this explanation is more than satisfactory, there are a few gaping
holes in the theory. If it were true, every korban connected with atonement
for the sin of the Golden Calf would be a bull rather than a calf. This is far
from the truth. In fact, the parallel offerings of Aharon and the Jewish
nation at the time of their presentations during the inauguration of the
mishkan - were both calves(3) and not bulls.
Moshes rank and role dictated the difference. Moshe was on a higher
level; he also represented din, judgment, rather than the chesed of Aharon.
For Moshe it was appropriate to use the more powerful image of the bull.
The others would use the altered and weakened image of the calf.
Why all the duplication of atonement effort? If Moshes earlier offering
brought atonement, why would Aharon and the Bnei Yisrael bring
korbanos to make the same statement? The answer is that atonement
comes in steps. For seven days of the inauguration, Moshe was in charge,
and performed the avodah. He served as a kohen, and his daily korban
mentioned in our pasuk told his generation that Hashem had forgiven
them. That, however, did not mean that Hashem was ready, as it were, to
readmit them to the closeness of close interaction. Aharon would take their
kaparah request to the next level though his avodah on the eighth day of
the mishkans inauguration.
Furthermore, it is a truism that moments of great spiritual accomplishment
are fraught with danger, because the yetzer kora mounts the greatest
resistance at those moments, never conceding ground without a good fight.
It was no coincidence that Klal Yisrael plunged so deeply and suddenly at
the precise moment that Hashem, as it were, handed the luchos to Moshe
as the representation of having received the Torah. Klal Yisrael was
particularly imperiled at that moment, and unfortunately lost the battle to
the pushback of the yetzer kora. We can take away a principle from this.
Moments of great spiritual triumph precipitate counter-activity by the
Accuser. Past flaws and indiscretions become increasingly problematic.
The appropriate antidote is atonement granted in advance by Hashem
This was the position that Klal Yisrael found itself in during the mishkans
inauguration not once, but twice. The seven days positioned the kohanim
to become appropriate masters of the avodah. The eighth day began the
regular, continued operation of the mishkan. Each of these
accomplishments would be resisted by the Soton. Each required kaparah
for the gaping hole in the spiritual record of the people. Moshes korban
brought that kaparah during the seven days, while those of Aharon and the
people brought kaparah independently needed because of the great
milestone achieved on the eighth day.
We are still puzzled by the use of a bull whether a young calf, or an
older adult to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf. The gemara(4) tells us
that golden vestments were banned from the inner avodah because an
accuser cannot become a defender. Gold stands in perpetual reminder of
the sin of the Golden Calf. As an accuser, it cannot serve to help defend
the Jewish people in their quest for forgiveness. The gemara says that an
overlay of gold similarly invalidates a shofar. Yet in the days of the
miluim, bulls and calves play a role in securing atonement for the sin of
the eigel!
We observe an obvious distinction between cases. An accuser like gold
or a calf cannot generally be a suitable vehicle for forgiveness for
unrelated transgressions. But where atonement is requested specifically for
the sin of the golden calf, i.e. where they are used to achieve atonement for
their own improper use in the past, they have a definite, desired role.
When their purpose is not related to forgiveness at all but to some other
function of the avodah, then the location makes a difference. They become
invalid only in the holiest places in the interior of the mikdosh.
1. Based on Gur Aryeh, Shemos 29:1; Tifferes Yisrael chap. 38; Netzach
Yisrael chap. 2
2. Yechezkel 1:10
3. Vayikra 9:2-4
4. Rosh Hashanah 26A
Rabbi Oizer Alport
Parsha Potpourri
Parshas Tetzaveh/Purim Vol. 8, Issue 20
" ' "
) 28:2 (
Rav Yitzchok Hutner once related that while studying in the Slabodka
yeshiva in Europe, he often heard America referred to as the Goldeneh
Medinah, but living in the poverty that was rampant in Eastern Europe at
that time, he couldnt even begin to imagine the wealth and excess being
referred to. Even upon arriving on Americas shores, he and all of the
immigrants with whom he associated continued living under very simple
and modest conditions. Hearing those around him complain about the
difficulty involved in finding a job that paid a reasonable salary and
allowed a person to observe his religious traditions, Rav Hutner remained
cynical about the reports that America was a country where money was the
most precious commodity and dollars rolled down the streets.
One day that all changed. It was the week of Parshas Tetzaveh. Rav
Hutner was walking outside when he observed two young Jewish boys
playing ball in front of their house. The older of the two was regaling his
younger brother with all that he had learned in yeshiva about the lofty
position of the Kohen Gadol: his special garments designed to invoke
glory and splendor, the offerings he was able to bring daily in the Beis
HaMikdash, and his unique role in effecting atonement for the entire
nation on an annual basis. The younger boy listened with interest and
fascination, envisioning the action transpiring before his very eyes. He
paused to take it all in and digest it before asking, Tell me, how much
was his annual salary? Sadly, Rav Hutner realized that he had finally
been welcomed to the Goldeneh Medinah, where the emphasis on the
pursuit of the mighty dollar takes precedence over spiritual goals and
' ) 1 15:19 - (
The Haftorah for Parshas Zachor records Shmuel's instructions to Shaul to
kill all of the Amalekites and their animals. When Shaul did not follow
orders, Shmuel came to rebuke him and informed him ' -
you have done evil in the eyes of Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim points out
that Shaul's primary sin was seemingly passive in nature, meaning that he
was commanded to fulfill the Biblical commandment of destroying
Amalek, and he neglected to do so when he decided not to kill Agag and
some of the animals. If so, Shmuel's word choice seems inaccurate, as he
said that Shaul's sin was actively doing something evil in the eyes of
The Chofetz Chaim explains that Shaul was commanded to kill all of the
Amalekites, and if he had followed Shmuel's instructions and done so, it
would have been considered a mitzvah. However, since he did not adhere
to Shmuel's orders, he demonstrated that everything he had done was not
to fulfill Hashem's command, because if that was his motivation he would
have killed all of them. Therefore, now that Shaul wasn't acting to fulfill
the mitzvah, he was considered guilty of murder for every Amalekite who
was killed, and these countless acts of murder were the active sin to which
Shmuel was referring when he said ' .
) 2:7 (
The Gemora in Megillah (13a) quotes the opinion of Rav Yehoshua ben
Karcha, who maintains that Esther was not inherently beautiful. In fact,
she was a she had a green complexion but Hashem
miraculously caused to find favor in the eyes of everybody who saw her.
The Gemora does not provide a source for Rav Yehoshua ben Karcha's
opinion, and it seems difficult to understand. If the Megillah explicitly
testifies that Esther was physically attractive, for what reason did he
denigrate her?
The Vilna Gaon explains that specifically Rav Yehoshua ben Karcha had
no choice but to reinterpret the Megillah's statement about Esther's
appearance. The Gemora in Bava Basra (15b) records a dispute regarding
when Iyov lived, and it quotes several opinions. One of them is that of Rav
Yehoshua ben Karcha, who maintains that he lived in the times of
Achashverosh. His source for this is a verse in Iyov (42:15) which states
Iyovs daughters were the most
beautiful women in the world. When was there a time in world history that
the entire world was searched and examined for beautiful women? In the
times of Achashverosh.
However, this explanation presented Rav Yehoshua ben Karcha with a
difficulty. If Achashverosh set up a royal beauty pageant to seek out the
most beautiful woman to be his wife, why didnt he choose one of Iyovs
daughters if the verse testifies that they were the most attractive women in
the world at that time, and why did he choose Esther if she was less
beautiful? In order to resolve this question, Rav Yehoshua ben Karcha
concluded that Esther's selection had nothing to do with her true
appearance, as she was in fact naturally unattractive, but Hashem
miraculously caused her to find favor in the eyes of everyone who saw her,
which caused Achashverosh to select her over Iyovs daughters.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 7
The Medrash teaches that there were four individuals who began speaking
using the word , and each of them was punished and destroyed. The
serpent said to Chava (Bereishis 3:1) -
Did Hashem perhaps say that you may not eat from any of the trees in the
garden. Pharaoh's chief baker said to Yosef (Bereishis 40:16)
- I also (had a dream); in my dream, behold,
three wicker baskets were on my head. Korachs followers said to Moshe
(Bamidbar 16:14) - Moreover, you didn't
bring us to a land flowing with milk and honey. Finally, Haman told
Zeresh and his friends - Moreover, Queen Esther brought
nobody (to her royal banquet other than me).
When our Sages group multiple episodes together to point out that they are
similar, they are not merely making a superficial observation, such as the
fact that these individuals began their sentences with the same word. There
must be some deeper common thread. In this case, the Kli Yakar explains
that each of them sinned as a result of strong feelings of - jealousy.
The serpent was jealous of Chava, the baker was envious of the positive
interpretation that Yosef provided the cupbearer for his dream, Korachs
followers coveted the leadership of Moshe and Aharon, and Haman was
jealous of Mordechai's refusal to bow down to him. The Kli Yakar adds
that this explanation is beautifully alluded to by the fact that the letters in
the word stand for Korach, (serpent), (baker), and Haman.
) 9:10 (
When the person reading the Megillah gets up to the names of Haman's ten
sons who were hanged, he pauses while the congregation reads them
quickly before he reads them out loud. The Rogatchover Gaon gives a
brilliant explanation for this custom. Even though most people dont read
the Megillah, they fulfill their obligation to hear it through the concept of
, which means that somebody who listens to something is
considered to have said it himself.
However, while this principle works for fulfilling our primary obligation
to read the Megillah, in this case, theres a problem. The Gemora
(Megillah 16b) teaches that there is an obligation to read the names of
Haman's ten sons in one breath to commemorate the fact
that they all took their last breaths together at the same time. Ideally, we
would say all of their names simultaneously, but since that isnt humanly
possible, we read them quickly in one breath.
The Rogatchover explains that although the rule of makes it
legally considered that the listener said something himself, its not enough
to make it viewed as if he said it in one breath, which leaves the listener no
choice but to say the names of Haman's ten sons himself in one breath, as
that requirement cannot be fulfilled by listening to somebody else do it.
) 9:28 (
The Mishnah in Megillah (17a) rules that a person who reads the Megillah
backward does not fulfill his obligation. The Ostrovtzer Rebbe questions
why a person would ever consider reading the Megillah backward. He
suggests that although most of us are familiar with the plot of the storyline
from a young age, somebody who is encountering the narrative for the first
time may quickly become frightened by the rise to power of the inimical
Haman and his diabolical scheme to exterminate the Jews.
Such a person may quickly flip a few pages to see if the story, as
Hollywood has taught us to expect, ends happily ever after. Upon
discovering that the Jews were indeed saved, Haman and his sons were
hanged, and Mordechai and Esther inherited Hamans estate, he then turns
back to the beginning to continue with the narrative to discover how the
suspenseful plot unfolds.
Every persons life is full of struggles and challenges. The lesson of the
Megillah is that a Jew must face them with a deeply-rooted conviction that
an all-powerful and loving Hashem is watching over him and will
orchestrate the unfolding events in a way which is for his ultimate good.
The Ostrovtzer Rebbe writes that the Mishnah is hinting that a person who
reads the Megillah backward, only willing to relive the difficult and
frightening events after he is already assured of the happy ending, has
missed the point entirely and therefore failed to fulfill his Purim
The Megillah records that Esther and Mordechai instructed the Jews of
their generation to establish the observance of the days of Purim in their
proper times. The Gemora in Megillah (2a) derives from the plural
reference to times of celebration that the day on which walled cities
observe their Purim festivities (15 Adar) must differ from the day on
which unwalled cities do so (14 Adar).
Rav Zev Leff notes that Purim is known as the Yom Tov of achdus (unity),
as we focus on joining together to hear the Megillah and eat the festive
Purim meal, sending packages of food to friends and family, and
remembering to help our poor brethren so that they may also enjoy their
meals. If so, wouldnt it have made for more of a sense of community for
the Sages to insist that all Jews should specifically observe Purim together
at the same time?
Rav Leff answers that if everybody is acting in the exact same manner at
precisely the same time in an identical fashion, this can hardly be called
true togetherness. The reason they would feel united wouldnt be because
of any genuine, deep-rooted sense of identification with other Jews, but
merely because they all happen to be doing the same thing at the moment.
True achdus is when one Jew is able to tolerate and accept that another
Jew is conducting himself differently than he is, and to nevertheless
recognize that each in his own unique way is equally fulfilling the will of
Hashem. The Sages further obligated us to send Mishloach Manos, which
represent the concept that one Jew sends food from his personal kitchen,
prepared according to his customs and preferences, to his friend, who in a
demonstration of genuine unity happily partakes of it. In order to teach us
this lesson about the definition of authentic achdus, Esther and Mordechai
specifically mandated that Purim be observed on different days.
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) If female Kohanim would be permitted to serve in the Beis HaMikdash,
would they be allowed to wear the garments of the Kohanim, or would
doing so violate the prohibition (Devorim 22:5) against wearing mens
clothing? (Gilyonei HaShas and Haaros Al Kiddushin 36b)
2) Of all of the items that Hashem created during twilight on Erev Shabbos
at the end of the week of Creation, which of them was needed for the
garments of the Kohanim? (Avos 5:6, Sotah 48b)
3) Rashi writes (Devorim 25:19) that in order to completely blot out the
memory of Amalek, we must also destroy the possessions of the
Amalekites so that their name shouldnt be mentioned in conjunction with
them. How was Esther permitted to accept the house of Haman (Esther
8:1), who was descended from Amalek? (Shut Oneg Yom Tov
Introduction, Shem MiShmuel Purim, Imrei Emes, Nesivos Rabboseinu,
Taima DKra Esther, Maadanei Asher 5769)
4) If Purim falls on Motzei Shabbos, may one practice reading the
Megillah on Shabbos, or is this forbidden as an act of preparation for after
Shabbos? (Shemiras Shabbos KHilchaso 28:fn169)
Answers to Points to Ponder:
1) The Mishnah (Kiddushin 36a) rules that acts of Divine Service are
invalid if performed by a female Kohen. Tosefos (36b d.h. chutz)
questions why this cant be derived from the fact that even male Kohanim
who perform the Divine Service without wearing the requisite garments
invalidate it. Tosefos answers that the Mishnah is discussing a case in
which a woman is wearing the garments of the Kohanim. Rav Yosef
Engel questions how a woman is permitted to wear these male garments.
He answers that if female Kohanim would be permitted to perform the
Divine Service, they would also need to wear the garments. In this case,
the garments would be considered made for both men and women, in
which case no prohibition would apply. He proves this from the Maharsha
(Nedorim 49b), who explains that Rav Yehuda and his wife were
permitted to share a robe because it is a garment made for both genders.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv disagrees with the proof and argues that even
if women were allowed to perform Divine Service, they would transgress
the prohibition against wearing mens clothing if they wore the garments
of the Kohanim. Nevertheless, their actions would be valid if they did so,
and if no male Kohen was available, they would be permitted to serve due
to the Talmudic principle of one may transgress a
negative prohibition if this is the only way to perform a positive
2) The Mishnah (Avos 5:6) lists 10 items that were created at this time,
one of which was the Shamir worm. The Gemora (Sotah 48b) explains
that it was needed to engrave the names of the 12 tribes on the Avnei
Shoham that were placed on the Ephod (28:9). Each name was outlined on
the stones, and the worm was coaxed to crawl along the outlines, thereby
etching out the names of the tribes.
3) The Shem MiShmuel and Brisker Rov answer that that if somebody is
killed for sinning against the king, his possessions arent inherited by his
family but belong to the king (Sanhedrin 48b). Therefore, when
Achashverosh had Haman killed, he automatically inherited possession of
Hamans estate. When Esther and Mordechai accepted it, they werent
receiving the possessions of an Amalekite, but they were instead taking the
possessions of Achashverosh. The Imrei Emes and Rav Chaim
Kanievsky explain that since Haman was Mordechais slave (Megillah
15a-b), whatever he acquired legally belonged to Mordechai, so when
Esther and Mordechai received Hamans estate, they werent receiving the
possessions of an Amalekite but were simply claiming what had always
rightfully been theirs. The Oneg Yom Tov suggests that the obligation to
eliminate the possessions of the Amalekites only takes effect after all of
the people of Amalek have been destroyed. In the time of Mordechai and
Esther this hadnt yet occurred, so it was permissible for them to accept
Hamans possessions.
4) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach rules that it is permissible to practice
reading the Megillah on Shabbos, as even though his actions indicate that
he is preparing for after Shabbos, the benefit from his actions is immediate
as his familiarity with the Megillah increases as he reviews it.
2013 by Ozer Alport. To subscribe, send comments, or sponsor an issue, email

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Aish.Com - Rabbi Stephen Baars
Brainstorming With Baars
In Jewish life, there are two things that wear bells: Daisy the cow and the
High Priest (the Cohen Godol). The Torah describes lots of bells sown
around the base of one of the High Preist's garments (Exodus 28:33).
Most would consider that alone to be strange enough, but this week's
Torah portion instructs us that the High Priest's garments were designed
specifically to exhibit "Honor and beauty." (ibid 28:2)
Being British, it's hard for me to imagine the Queen of England opening
Parliament wearing a bell.
So why the bells and what does this have to do with honor? The solution to
this riddle is found in understanding honor. For many, obtaining honor is
somewhat of an enigma.
You have probably encountered the person who thinks he is entitled to
more honor than perhaps he deserves. These people demand that their
name be pronounced properly at all times, that they get a seat
commensurate with their "station" in life, and other conspicuously little
(and some not so little) details.
Our Sages tell us "He who chases honor will have honor flee from him." In
other words, the more we demand respect, the less we get it.
Honor comes from respecting others. As Ben Zoma (Perkey Avot 4:1)
explains, "Who is the one to be honored, the one who honors others." So
what do clothes of honor look like?
As our Sages explain, so that the High Priest would never walk in on
someone unexpectedly and potentially make him feel uncomfortable, he
would wear bells to alert him of his presence in advance. In fact, our Sages
explain that even a person in his own home should knock before entering a
room, to respect everyone else.
The more we value, respect and honor others, the more honor returns to us.
That is true honor, bell or no bell.
Brainstorming Questions To Ponder
Question 1: Have a family debate, who is the most honorable person you
have ever met?
Question 2: Who is the most honorable person in the world today? In
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Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
Whats Bothering Rashi?
Parashas Zachor (T'tzaveh) (73)
On Shabbos Parasahas Zachor we read from Deut. 25:17. But Amalek's
attack is originally recounted in the Torah in Parasha Beshalach.
There (Exodus 17:8) it says:
"And Amalek came and made war with I srael in Refidim."
RASHI on that verse writes:
"Then came Amalek: Rashi: This section is placed near the previous verse
("Is Hashem in our midst or not?") in order to convey (G-d's thoughts) "I
am always among you and ready to fulfill your needs and yet you say 'Is
Hashem in our midst or not?' ! By your life ! The dog Amalek will come
and bite you and you will cry out to Me and then you will know where I
am." Etc.
Rashi's comment is based on the technique of S'michas Parshios, two
sections that are placed next to each other in the Torah. But in this instance
this technique is not appropriate, since it is most likely that these two
events (the desire for water and Amalek's attack), did in fact, occur one
after the other. Indeed both occured in Refidim. Only when two events did
not occur in succession, and yet they follow one another in the Torah, is
there reason and need to interpret their place in the Torah. But if two
events followed each other chronologically, as did the events discussed
here, there is no need to interpret why they are placed one next to the
Why does Rashi do so?
Understanding Rashi
An Answer: We must note Rashi's precise wording here. He does not say
"why is this section placed next to the previous section" he refers rather to
why this section is placed next the previous verse." The verse above says
"And he called the name of the place Masseh and Meribah, because of the
quarrel of the Children of Israel," etc. This verse would be more
appropriately placed earlier, when the source of the names is mentioned.
Verse 17:2 says: "And Moses said to them 'Why do you quarrel ( "terivun"
= Merivah ) with me, why do you try ( "t'nasun" = Masseh) Hashem?"
Here is the appropriate place for our verse. Rashi is sensitive to this and
thus interprets the placement of this verse immediately before Amalek's
attack, as a moral message to the People of Israel.
Can you see any evidence from our verse (17:8) that would indicate that
Amalek started this war completely unprovoked?
An Example of the Torah's Precise Wording
An Answer: It says: And Amalek came.
Ther Gur Aryeh points out an interesting consistency in the Torah. In all
other instances of war described in the Torah the word used is "went out"
and not "came." See "When you go out to war" (Deut. 21:10). Other
examples can be found in Genesis 14:8; Numbers 20:20; 21:23; Deut.
1:44; 3:1 and 29:6.
So here, when the Torah says that Amalek CAME and made war, it has the
sound of of an unprovoked incitement. Or we could say, it has the sound of
his being invited to come! G-d invited him to make war with Israel as
punishment for Israel's disregard of G-d's presence.
Shabbat Shalom, Avigdor Bonchek
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. A Hebrew translation of the Bereishis "What's
Bothering Rashi?" is published. It is greatly expanded and is call "L'omko shel Rashi" look for it in bookstores. This article is provided as part of
Shema Yisrael Torah Network Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper, provided that this notice is included intact. For
information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael Classes, send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel 732-370-3344
HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Midei Shabbos
Vol. 20 No. 20
This issue is sponsored anonymously
Parshas Tetzaveh: From the Wicked Comes Evil
(Cont. from previous issue)
In the main article of Parshas Mishpatim, we asked, notwithstanding the
fact that King Shaul was the anointed one of G-d, a) why David ha'Melech
repeatedly refused to kill him in self-defence and b), how he could claim
that if he did, he would be deemed a Rasha? As David himself stated
clearly, Shaul was a Rodef (out to kill him), and the Halachah permits one
to deliver the first strike against someone who comes to take one's life.
Before attempting to answer the questions, let us turn to another episode
that happened not long afterwards (See Shmuel 1, 26). There, too Shaul
gathered an armed troop of three thousand men and set out to trap David
and his small band of fugitives in the desert of Zif. After discovering that
Shaul was on his trail and pinpointing the exact location of Shaul and his
army, David took Avishai ben Tzeruyah, one of his most trusted officers ,
to spy out the camp at night. Arriving there, they found everybody,
including the King and the captain of his forces, Avner, fast asleep! The
Pasuk describes this strange phenomenon as an act of G-d!
The two men found themselves standing next to the sleeping Shaul, and
for the second time, Shaul was at the mercy of David, Just as David's men
had done in the cave, Avishai volunteered to assassinate Shaul once and
for all, to put an end to Shaul's on-going attempts on David's life. Once
again, David adamantly refused, as he would have no hand in laying a
hand on the anointed one of G-d. And he swore that Shaul would die very
soon, either because G-d would strike him down with an illness, or
because his allotted life-span was due to expire or he would fall in battle
(see R'dak).
As a matter of fact, David had made a similar statement on the earlier
occasion, when he declared (to Shaul) "G-d will judge between me and
you, and punish you for what you are doing to me".
From these two instances and a number of others, where G-d had
intervened and miraculously prevented Shaul from killing David, it was
clear to David that he was under Divine protection. Moreover, he had been
anointed King over Yisrael, even during King Shaul's lifetime.
It is therefore fair to assume that, aware that he was under Divine
protection, and knowing that Shaul's days were numbered, he was
absolutely certain that Shaul could do him no harm. Consequently, by not
laying a hand on Shaul he was not endangering his own life. Indeed, to do
so would have been an act of murder and would earned him the title
Parshah Pearls
The Urim ve'Tumim (Two Points of View)
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)
The Gemara in Yuma (73b) explains that the Urim ve'Tumim were so-
called because their words were enlightening (their instructions were clear-
cut [Urim]) and their words were final. This means that, unlike prophesy,
which, under certain circumstances, can be rescinded, the predictions of
the Urim ve'Tumim cannot.
The Yerushalmi on the other hand, interprets 'Urim ve'Tumim' to mean
that they enlightened Yisrael (Urim) and that they showed them the way
only when Yisrael perfected their ways (Tumim).
The Torah Temimah explains this by referring to the civil war between
Binyamin and the rest of Yisrael, following the episode of the Pilegesh
The Pasuk relates there how Yisrael consulted the Urim ve'Tumim as to
whether to go to war against Binyamin or not. The Urim ve'Tumim
responded positively, yet they lost two battles and many soldiers before
ultimately defeating Binyamin. The reason for this, the Medrash says, is
because the same zealousness that they displayed in honour of the
murdered concubine was lacking when it concerned the honour of
Hashem, inasmuch as the image of Michah was being worshipped and
nobody batted an eyelid.
'You protested when the Kavod of a human being was defiled, but not
when My Honour was defiled!', G-d declared, and duly punished them by
causing them to suffer humiliating defeats at the hand of the smaller army
of Binyamin. Yisrael's relationship with G-d was imperfect, so the Urim
ve'Turim did not answer them clearly.
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The Sin-Offering of the Milu'im
" The flesh of the bull you shall burn in fire" (29:14).
Rashi comments that this is the only case of a Chatas whose blood was
brought outside (in the Azarah), yet its flesh was then entirely burned (and
not eaten by the Kohanim).
The Ramban explains that Aharon brought this Chatas as an atonement for
the sin of the Golden Calf (even though he had not yet perpetrated it). And
this he says, explains why it was brought in the form of a bull (which is the
same species as the calf). Moreover, it had to be completely burned, he
explains, since that is what Aharon did with the lump of gold that the Eirev
Rav brought him. In reality, he points out, the blood ought to have been
sprinkled inside too (as was the blood of a Kohen Gadol's Chatas, and he
justifies the fact that it was not).
And it also explains why his sons had to lean their hands on the head of
the bull (even though they were not involved in the manufacture of the
Golden Calf). Nevertheless, as Chazal explain, G-d was so angry with
Aharon that He decided to kill his children. That is why they too, had to
participate in the atonement of their father, by leaning their hands on the
head of the bull, together with the hands of their father.
The 'Vav' in Aharon
" The one ram you shall take, and Aharon and his sons shall lean their
hands (vesomchu) on the head of the (first) ram" (29:15).
Why, asks the Da'as Zekeinim, is there a 'Vav' in the word Aharon, which
throughout the Torah is spelt without one? Moreover, he asks, why does
the Torah here write "ve'somchu" (in the plural), whereas in Pasuk 10 (in
connection with the bull), and later, in Pasuk 19 (in connection with the
second bull) it writes "ve'somach" (in the singular), even though there too,
it is referring to Aharon and his sons.
Initially, he suggests that here, Aharon and his sons leaned their hands on
the Korban simultaneously, whereas on the other two occasions, Aharon
leaned his hands first, and his sons, afterwards.
Then he suggests that the first question answers the second. Using the
principle 'Gor'in Mosifin ve'Dorshin' (which enables taking a superfluous
letter out of its context and adding it elsewhere), he explains the extra
'Vav' in Aharon is applied to the two words "ve'somach", equating them
with the "ve'Somchu" in our Pasuk. Consequently, what happened was that
Aharon and his sons leaned their hands simultaneously on all three
The problem with this D'rashah is that our Sifrei Torah (and according to
the Minchas Shai, this is the correct version) do not have an extra 'Vav' in
Aharon. Consequently, we will have to make do with the Da'as Zekeinim's
first answer.
Blood Taken from the Mizbei'ach
"And you shall take from the blood (of the Ram of the Milu'im) which is on
the Mizbei'ach and sprinkle it on Aharon " (29:21).
The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos remarks with surprize that blood
that has already been sprinkled, was taken from off the side of Mizbei'ach
to re-sprinkle on to Aharon, his sons and their garments.
This must be the only time where blood with which its Avodah has already
been performed is used again for a second Avodah.
The Annual Quota
"Shenayim la'yom tomid" (29:38).
The Pasuk is teaching us that come what may, day in day out, the
Kohanim had to bring two lambs on the Mizbei'ach as the Olas Tamid (not
counting the Musafim on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh and Yom-Tov).
If one reckons with the leap-years, this adds up to seven hundred and thirty
lambs per year.
Hence the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the first letters of the three words
"Shenayim la'yom tomid" add up to seven hundred and thirty.
Vol. 20 No. 210
This issue is sponsored li"n R' Shlomo ben R' Yaakov Prenzlau whose
twelfth Yohrzeit will be on the 13th Adar, by his children Dr. Eli and
Sheryl Prenzlau n"y and family
Purim Supplement
Thoughts on Parshas Zachor
Implementing Parshas Zachor
" erase the memory of Amalek from under the heaven " (Ki Seitzei,
Rashi comments on this Pasuk 'from man to woman, from child to baby,
from ox to lamb, so that the name of Amalek should not be mentioned
even in connection with an animal, to say that this animal belonged to a
descendent of Amalek'.
This wording is obviously taken from the Pasuk in Seifer Shmuel, where
the Navi commanded Shaul to fulfil the current Mitzvah and to wipe out
Amalek completely. Indeed the Ib'n Ezra states that what the Torah has
taught us generally, the Navi explains in detail.
The Torah Temimah, quoting a Medrash cited by the Poskim, adds that
one is obligated to obliterate his name even from wood and stones.
It is unclear why the Rambam and the Seifer ha'Chinuch, do not cite this
Halachah, in spite of the fact that it is based on a Sifri and a Mechilta.
Despite this Medrash, they interpret 'the memory of Amalek' with
reference to killing even the women and children (whom one may
generally take captive).
According to the Ramban, the Mitzvah of wiping out Amalek pertains
specifically to a king. The Rambam, who in Seifer ha'Mitzvos, refers to it
as a communal Mitzvah, nevertheless, in Hilchos Melachim (5:1) ascribes
its fulfilment to a king (presumably because he is the one who has the
power to implement it). See also following article.
The Seifer ha'Chinuch initially describes the Mitzvah as a communal one
because it entails going to war. Hence, he explains, women are exempt
from the Mitzvah - of remembering Amalek as well as of actually wiping
him out. He adds however, that the Mitzvah applies to each and every Jew,
to kill any Amaleki with whom he comes into contact - should it lie within
his power to do so.
The Meshech Chochmah cites the G'ra on the above-mentioned Mechilta
(obligating the killing of every animal belonging to Amalek), who explains
that according to the Seifer ha'Chinuch, the Mitzvah upon every individual
is confined to killing every man, woman and child, but does not extend to
their animals and property.
And he proves this from an incident in Sh'muel (1, Chap. 27), where David
ha'Melech and his men, after attacking Amalek and destroying the entire
town, returned with sheep and cattle as booty. According to the Mechilta,
this would have been forbidden had it been carried out by the national
The author makes no mention of the fact that the Seifer ha'Chinuch
himself does not mention the Mechilta at all. According to him therefore,
even a king fighting against Amalek has no obligation to exterminate all
the animals belonging to Amalek.
The Three Mitzvos
Based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin (20b), the opening Rambam in Hilchos
Melachim discusses the three Mitzvos which Yisrael were commanded
upon entering Eretz Yisrael - appointing a king, destroying the seed of
Amalek and building the Beis-Hamikdash.
In Halachah 2, he states 'Appointing a king precedes fighting Amalek,
since the Navi writes in Shmuel "G-d sent me to anoint you as king. Now
go and smite Amalek!"'
He then goes on to elaborate on the Mitzvah of appointing a king. From
the order of precedence, as well as from the fact that the author refers to
destroying Amalek as a battle, as well as from the fact that, in chapter five,
the Rambam introduces the Mitzvah of destroying Amalek as the first
obligation of a king, strongly suggests that the Mitzvah of Mechi'as
Amalek is incumbent exclusively upon the king. And this is enhanced by
the fact that the author places this Mitzvah in Hilchos Melachim and is
further borne out by the Pasuk in Shmuel quoted by him.
Destroying the Memory of Amalek
Rabeinu Bachye, writes (in Parshas Zachor) 'that after inheriting the land,
one should wipe out the memory of Amalek', as the Pasuk writes in
Shmuel "from man to woman, from child to baby, from ox to lamb, from
donkey to camel", to the point that nobody should be able to say that this
ox belonged to Amalek.
Quoting a popular Medrash, he ascribes an additional reason to the above
Mitzvah. The Amalekim, he explains, by means of witchcraft, were able to
turn themselves into animals, thereby saving themselves from the sword in
Whereas at the end of Parshas Beshalach, commenting on the oath
contained there, and on the connection between the revenge against
Amalek and the completion of G-d's Throne (as Rashi explains there) he
writes as follows: G-d swore, he says, that any king who comes to do
battle with Amalek should do so entirely for the sake of Hashem, and that
he may derive no benefit from the spoils of war.
And that is why, he explains, King Shaul was so severely punished. He
took spoil from Amalek, thereby failing to complete G-d's Holy Throne,
and that was why he and his three sons were killed in battle.
And that explains, he adds, why Mordechai, who was a descendent of
Shaul, made amends by warning the people not to take the spoil from the
battle with Haman and his henchmen, who was a descendent of Amalek.
This, even though Haman was no longer alive when the battle took place!
Poorim Pearlets
(Adapted from the G'ro)
Eat More, Drink Less
"And the drinking was like the law (ka'dos), nobody enforced it " (Esther
Commenting on the word "ka'dos", the Gemara in Megilah (12) explains
'like the law of the Torah, where eating exceeds drinking'.
Rashi explains this with reference to Korbanos, where the Minchah of a
bull consists of three Esronos (more than a hundred and twenty egg-
volumes), but only half a Hin (thirty-six egg-volumes).
In that case, asks the G'ra, the Gemara ought to have said, not 'like the law
of the Torah', but 'like the law of Korbanos'? He therefore connects it with
the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (6:4) "This is the way of the Torah: Eat bread
with salt, drink a mesurah (a tiny measure of water) '.
Note that the Tana gives a measure of water but says nothing about how
much (or little) food one should eat (as long as one does not indulge in the
pleasures of eating, one may eat as much as one pleases).
In any event, what the Gemara in Megilah is now telling us is that if the
drinking, which the law of the Torah limits, was so abundant, imagine
what the eating must have been like!
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Anger & Fury
"And Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command and the king
was extremely angry (vayiktzof ) and his fury (va'chamoso) burned
within him" (1:12).
In answer to the Gemara in Megilah (12b)'s question as to why
Achashverosh was so angry, Rava cites an additional comment that Vashti
made: 'The stable-hand of grandfather (Nevuchadnetzar) was able to drink
as much wine as a thousand men without getting drunk, and see how the
wine has made you stupid!'
And it was following that comment that Achashverosh began to fume.
The G'ro observes that the Gemara does not ask why the king was angry -
to be sure, Vashti's refusal to comply with the king's command was
sufficient to spark off his anger - but why the king was so angry.
Pointing to the different expressions of anger used by the Pasuk, he
explains that whereas the word 'ketzef' refers to external anger that is
visible for all to see, 'cheimah' denotes internal anger that a person keeps
to himself.
Consequently, he says, Vashti's refusal to comply brought on his initial
spate of anger (ketzef), which was visible for all to see. But when she
proceeded to hurl at him extremely embarrassing insults, the Pasuk writes
"va'chamoso bo'aroh bo" (his fury burned inside him). The embarrassment
that he felt certainly infuriated him, but he kept it inside due to the shame.
Jumping Ahead
"And Memuchan (alias Haman) said before the king and the ministers 'Not
against the king alone did Vashti the queen sin '" (1:16).
The Gemara in Megilah comments that 'Here is a case of an ordinary
person jumping in front (having the first say)'. The G'ro asks how the
Gemara knows that Memuchan was the first to offer his opinion. Perhaps
there were other ministers who spoke before him, and the reason that the
Pasuk mentions only his opinion is because it was the one that
Achashverosh ultimately accepted?
And he replies that the Gemara's proof is from the expression "before the
king and the ministers". Bearing in mind that the king initially asked the
ministers for advice what to do with his errant queen (as Pasuk 13 & 14
specifically state), it is obvious that whoever would answer, would answer
in front of the other ministers? So why does the Pasuk see fit to say that he
We are therefore forced to explain that "before the the ministers" refers,
not to the location, but to time - to teach us that even though Memuchan
was the most junior of the ministers, he was the first to offer his opinion,
and his opinion was accepted.
Hooray for Haman
Incidentally, Memuchan/Haman's plan was for his beautiful daughter
(apparently the very same daughter who would eventually pour a bucket of
garbage on his head).
His plan however, backfired, as it was not his daughter who ultimately sat
on the throne of Persia, but Esther.
Thus it transpires that Haman was responsible, not only providing us with
the villain, whose downfall we celebrate to this day, he also provided us
with the heroine who caused the villain's downfall, which we celebrate to
this day.
Hooray for Haman!
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Torah Teasers
Parshat Tetzaveh - 10 challenging questions.
1. Whose name appears in almost every parsha in the books of Exodus,
Leviticus and Numbers - but not in this parsha?
Moshe's name does not appear in this parsha. Parshs Tetzaveh is the only
parsha in the book of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers where his name
does not appear. One reason found in the Zohar (parshas Pinchas) is that
Moshe told Hashem: "If You do not [forgive the Jews after the sin of the
Golden Calf], erase my name from Your book" (Exodus 32:32). The words
of a righteous person are fulfilled even if the conditional statement is not.
Thus, even though Hashem forgave the Jews, Moshe was "erased" from
parshas Tetzaveh.
2. In this parsha, which priestly garment is "braided" (avot)? What other
item in the Torah is described as "braided"?
In this parsha, the chains attaching the breastplate to the vest (ephod) are
"of braided craftsmanship" (Exodus 28:22). Elsewhere, myrtle branches
taken on the festival of Sukkot are called "twigs of the braided tree" (anaf
eitz avot) (Leviticus 23:40), since the 3-fold leaf pattern appears to be
3. What unit of measurement is applied to only one object in the entire
A zeret, which measures a half-cubit, is the length and width of the
breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:17). This measurement is not
used for any other object in the Torah.
4. Which stone of the High Priest's breastplate is a name of a country
found in the Prophets?
The first stone on the fourth row is called tarshish (Exodus 28:20). The
country of Tarshish is referenced many times in the Bible, most notably
when the prophet Jonah attempts to evade prophecy by traveling on a ship
headed to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).
5. What do both the High Priest's head-plate and the breastplate have in
common with tzitzis?
The High Priest's head-plate, breastplate, and tzitzis each have a string of
techeiles (blue) wool. The breastplate is attached to the vest (ephod) with a
string of techeiles (Exodus 28:28). The head-plate is attached to the High
Priest's forehead with a string of techeiles (28:37). The tzitizis are to be
wound with a string of techeiles (Numbers 15:38).
6. Which term is used for the first time in this parsha to distinguish
segments of the Jewish people?
In this parsha, the word shevet ("tribe") is used for the first to describe
segments of the Jewish people (Exodus 28:21).
7. Of the seven species special to the Land of Israel, which two are
mentioned in this parsha?
Olives and pomegranates are mentioned in the parsha. Olive oil is used to
light the Menorah (Exodus 27:20), and woolen pomegranates are attached
to the bottom of the High Priest's robe (28:34).
8. What acts are done "constantly" (tamid)? (5 answers)
The following five processes are done "constantly" (tamid):
(1) The Menorah has one of its lamps constantly lit (Exodus 27:20).
(2) The breastplate (choshen) of the High Priest is always on the chest of
Aharon (28:29).
3) The head-plate (tzitz) is constantly on the forehead of the High Priest
(4) The daily offering is brought twice each day - morning and afternoon -
on behalf of the entire congregation (29:38).
(5) The incense is brought every day (30:8).
9. Which item described in parshas Terumah has to be "constantly
The showbread is always on the golden table in the Tabernacle (Exodus
10. In this parsha, which three actions are performed "in the afternoon"?
Three services have to be performed "in the afternoon":
(1) The second daily "Tamid" offering (Exodus 29:38),
(2) the lighting of the Menorah,
(3) and the burning of the incense (30:8).
11. What other actions in the Torah are done "in the afternoon"? (3
(1) In three places, the Torah states that the Passover offering must be
brought on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nissan (Exodus 12:6, Leviticus
23:5, Numbers 9:5).
(2) The make-up Passover offering is brought in the afternoon on the 14th
day of Iyar (Numbers 9:11).
(3) In parshas Beshalach, in response to the Jews' request for food,
Hashem promises to feed them meat in the afternoon (and bread in the
morning) (Exodus 16:12).
12. In what context is the Day of Atonement mentioned in this parsha?
The last verse of the parsha states that once a year, on the Day of
Atonement, Aharon should bring incense into the Holy of Holies (Exodus
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Chamishoh Mi Yodei'a
5 Questions On The Weekly Sedrah - Parshas T'tza'veh 5773 - Bs"D
Please send your answers and comments to: Sholom613@Rogers.Com
1) Ch. 28, v. 1: "V'atoh hakreiv ei'lecho es Aharon" - And you bring
close to you Aharon - Hashem was addressing Moshe in the first verse of
our parsha. What need is there to repeat "v'atoh" here? Hashem was
already addressing Moshe.
2) Ch. 28, v. 1: "L'chahano li" - To make him a Kohein for Me - Two
verses later we find "L'KADSHO l'chahano li." Why the addition of
3) Ch. 28, v. 1: "Nodov v'Avihu Elozor v'Isomor" - Why bother
mentioning them by name since the verse has already told us that Aharon's
sons are to likewise be inducted into the priesthood?
4) Ch. 28, v. 4: "Choshen v'eifode" - A breastplate and an apron - In
25:7, 35:9, and 35:27 the "eifode" is mentioned before the "choshen." Why
the switch in order here?
5) Ch. 28, v. 35: "V'nishma kolo b'vo'o el hakodesh" - And its sound
will be heard when he enters the Sanctury - The Rashbam writes that
the sound emanates from the bells when he walks. The Rashbam goes on
to say that the need for a sound system to accompany the Kohein Godol
when he performed the service was to alert others in the Sanctuary to leave
when he was doing the service, as per the verse in Vayikra 16:17, "V'chol
odom lo yi'h'yeh b'ohel mo'eid b'vo'o l'cha'peir ad tzeiso." This is most
puzzling, as the verse is discussing the service of Yom Kippur. When the
Kohein Godol enters to bring the bloods of the atonement ox and goat he
does not wear the "m'il," which has the bells on its bottom, rather, only the
four "white garments" of a regular Kohein.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 11
#1 The Rambam in hilchos klei Mikdosh 4:14 says that the Kohein Godol
must be appointed by the court of 71 judges. The gemara Sanhedrin 13b
says that Moshe is equal to a court of 71 judges. Therefore our verse says
"V'atoh," and YOU, specifically YOU, should induct Aharon into the
position of Kohein Godol. (Yoseif Lekach)
#2 We derive from the words "Asher yutzak al rosho shemen hamish'choh
u'mi'lei es yodo lilbosh es habgodim" (Vayikra 21:10), that we both anoint
and dress the Kohein in the Kohein Godol's garments to initiate him into
K'hunoh G-doloh. We also derive from these words that if we have no
anointing oil, just the donning of the special Kohein Godol vestments is
sufficient. The change in the wording mentioned above likewise alludes to
this. When we have already sanctified him with the anointing oil, then
when dressing him we only enact "l'chahano li," while when there is no
such oil available we do both "l'kadsho," and "l'chahano" through dressing
him in the priestly garments. (Rabbi Chaim Abulefia)
#3 1) To exclude Pinchos (whom we might have thought was included in
the word "bonov" by virtue of the dictum "bnei vonim k'vonim) (Tur)
2) To teach us that they did not become Kohanim by lineage only
3) We might have thought that not all 4 of his sons were included, only the
most worthy. These words teach us that they were all equally worthy.
(Imrei Noam)
4) To exclude Moshe's sons (even though Moshe had the status of Kohein
at the time of the dedication) (Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel)
5) To indicate that they were very prominent as Kohanim - Indeed, they
executed the majority of the services in the Mishkon. (Rabbeinu Chaim
6) We find no connecting letter Vov between Nodov/Avihu and
Elozor/Isomor. This alludes to Nodov and Avihu's very short-lived
K'hunoh. (Nirreh li)
#4 This is because the "eifode" is donned before the "choshen," which
goes on top. However, our verse is simply listing all the garments of the
Kohein Godol. The "choshen" is mentioned before the "eifode" here
because of its greater holiness. It houses the "urim v'tumim." (Tzror
#5 1) The gemara Yoma 53b says that the requirement of being alone
while doing the atonement service does not only apply to the Kohein
Godol, and not only on Yom Kippur, but also to any Kohein who enters
the Sanctuary to do the "k'to'res" service, which is also considered an
atonement. Thus, when the Kohein Godol does the daily "k'to'res" service
on Yom Kippur, he wears his complete eight garment regalia, which
includes the "m'il." We can even say that the Rashbam's intention is not
limited to Yom Kippur, but also to any day of the year, and although he
brings the verse of Yom Kippur, nevertheless, this verse is the source of
the daily requirement to have all others leave the Sanctuary when the
"k'to'res" service is done.
This raises a very obvious question: Why then doesn't any regular Kohein
have to wear a garment with the same warning bells when he does the
daily "k'to'res" service? This is answered through the words of the
Ramban, who writes that because of the extreme sanctity of the Mikdosh,
angels are present, and they are poised to attack a mortal human who dares
enter such a holy place. Since the regular Kohanim are usually of a lower
stature than the Kohein Godol, the angels pay no attention to them. He
adds that the importance of the bells ringing is only on Yom Kippur and
for the service in the outer room of the Sanctuary, when he wears all 8
2) This can also be the intention of the Rashbam, that he means on Yom
Kippur only, but only refers to the daily services done in the Sanctuary,
again "k'to'res," and also the lighting of the menorah.
3) The above-mentioned gemara Yoma 53b says that the vessel in which
the coals used to burn the incense in the Holy of Holies were transported
was different from that of all year in that it had a "niashtik." Although
Tosfos say that it means a leather cover on the handle attached with a bolt,
so that the Kohein Godol not burn his hand from the radiated heat, Rashi
says that it was a ring. He explains that a ring was attached for the Yom
Kippur service to create a clanging sound so that anyone in the Sanctuary
would leave, in fulfillment of the verse, "v'chol odom lo Yi'h'yeh b'ohel
mo'eod." We can thus say that this is the intention of the Rashbam. (Nirreh
li) A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Chasidic Insights
Chasidic Insights Parshas T'tza'veh From 5764 Bs"D
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Ch. 27, v. 20: "Kosis lamo'ore l'haalose ner" - Those who have gone
through trials and tribulations, "kosis," are more readily able to "elevate"
the light of Torah. (Rebbe Reb Dov Ber Magid of Mezeritch)
Ch. 28, v. 3: "V'atoh t'da'beir el kol chachmei leiv asher mi'leisov
ruach chochmoh" - Tell in a strong manner, "t'da'beir," to all those who
are wise of heart, who have great skills, that they should not become
haughty when they see the beautiful silver and gold creations that they
have wrought. It is not their own skill. They were, after all, downtrodden
slaves in Egypt and had no opportunity to learn to become silver or gold
artisans. Rather, it came from Me, "asher mi'leisiv ruach chochmoh." Only
when they recognize this will they be able to create items that are "bigdei
Aharon l'kadsho l'chahano li," to sanctify Aharon so that he may serve Me
properly, and not an avenue for the craftsmen for self aggrandizement.
(Chasan Sofer in Shaar Bas Rabim)
Ch. 28, v. 28: "V'yir'k'su es hachoshen .. bifsil" - Hashem, through the
medium of the "choshen" responds to the request of the Kohein Godol or
the king. The "choshen" is to be secured with a thread. Likewise, when we
daven to Hashem and request a kind response, we also wear a "p'sil," a
"gartel." (Toras Y'kusi'el)
Ch. 28, v. 28: "V'lo yizach hachoshen mei'al ho'eifode" - The
"choshen" represents the heart, as it is placed on the heart (verse 29). The
"eifode" alludes to the mouth, as the numerical value of "eifode" is 85
(when spelled without the letter Vov (as in verses 6 and 25), the same as
"peh," a mouth. One should make sure to have the two synchronized, "piv
v'libo shovim." (Degel Machaneh Efrayim)
Ch. 28, v. 32: "Sofoh yi'h'yeh l'fiv .. k'fi sachro" - Rashi says that
shields have a doubled rim at their edges. Just as a shield protects, so too, a
double barrier for one's mouth, i.e. great care before one opens his mouth,
is a most powerful protection against our greatest enemy, the evil
inclination. (Rabbi Sar Sholo-m of Belz)
Ch. 29, v. 13: "Hacheilev hamchasseh es ha'kerev" - The fat, pursuits
for the sake of physical indulgence, covers and impedes "kerev," coming
close to Hashem. Some people mistakenly believe that you can "have it
all," and pursue both a life of indulgence and of spirituality. The gemara
Yerushalmi K'subos says that before one prays that the words of Torah
should enter his innards, he should pray that sweets and delights should
not enter. The two are mutually exclusive. (Rabbi Uziel Meisels in Tiferres
Ch. 29, v. 45: "V'shochanti b'soch bnei Yisroel v'ho'yisi lo'hem
lEilokim" - From a distance, false gods seem very potent and formidable.
Upon close examination their weaknesses and falsehoods are readily
discernable. L'havdil a"h, with Hashem the opposite is true. The closer we
are to Him, i.e. the more we contemplate His traits, "v'shochanti
b'sochom," the more firmly rooted is our belief in Him, "v'ho'yisi lo'hem
lEilokim." (Rabbi Henoch of Alexander in Emes miKotzk Titzmach)
A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Oroh V'Simchoh
Oroh V'simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh On Parshas T'tzaveh - Bs"D
Ch. 27, v. 20: "V'yikchu EI'LECHO shemen zayis zoch" - The word
EI'LECHO deserves elucidation. See the words of the Ohr Hachaim
Hakodosh. The Meshech Chochmoh explains that EI'LECHO, similar to
the word L'CHO, often means for your benefit. See the words of Rashi on
Breishis 12:1, Lech L'CHO. Here too, having the oil for the kindling of the
menorah is for the benefit of Moshe. The Mechilta section Pis'cha chapter
#1 says that Hashem spoke to Moshe only by day. However the Ibn Ezra
on Bmidbar 8:2 explains that this limitation to day only is limited to when
there were no lights illuminating the night. The logic behind this might be
similar to the rule of judgements of monetary matters beginning to be
deliberated only by day, as per Choshen Mishpot 5:2, derived from the
words, "V'ho'yoh b'YOM hanchilo es bonov" (Dvorim 21:16). Yet if the
courtroom is illuminated it is permitted to begin the court proceedings at
night (Sefer M'iros Einayim ad loc s.k. 37).
Hence Moshe benefited from the illumination of the menorah by receiving
prophecy even at night. This obviously benefited all the bnei Yisroel as
well. However, after Moshe's death there was no such benefit and the only
reason for lighting the menorah was that it was a statute from Hashem to
do so, hence "chukas olom l'DOROSEICHEM" (verse 21).
Ch. 28, v. 8: "V'cheishev afudoso asher olov k'maa'seihu" - The
gemara Z'vochim 88b says that the wearing of the eifode garment atones
for the sin of thoughts of idol worship. In general we do not consider the
thought of sinning as a sin itself as per the gemara Kidushin 39b, but in
regard to thoughts of accepting a false god the thought is also considered a
sin. This is alluded to in the words of this verse. "V'cheishev" - and the
thought, "afudoso," - of the sin of idol worship for which the eifode
garment atones, "k'maa'seihu," - is as harsh as actually doing the sin.
(Nachal K'dumim in the name of Rabbeinu Efrayim, Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 28, v. 10: "Shishoh mishmosom al ho'evven ho'echos" - The
gemara Yerushalmi Sotoh 7:4 says that Biyomin's name appeared on the
"eifode" stones with the first two letters Beis-Nun on one stone and the last
letters of his name on the other stone. This seems to be alluded in the word
MIshmosom, a section of their names, indicating that a name is not
complete on one stone. Indeed on the words "Shishoh mishmosom" the
Targum Yonoson ben Uziel also says ""Shiso min k'tzas shmos'hone," six
of part of their names.
Why was Binyomin's name chosen to be the one to be split between the
two stones? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that this is indicated in
Dvorim 33:12, "U'vein kseifov shochein," regarding Binyomin the verse
says, "and between the two shoulders (of the Kohein Godol) he rests."
12 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
Ch. 28, v. 20: "V'yoshfei" - The gemara Kidushin 31a and Yerushalmi
Pei'oh chapter #1 relate that the "yoshfei" stone of the breastplate was once
lost and the Rabbis pursued a replacement. They came upon a non-Jew
named Domo the son of N'sino, whose father had such a stone. When they
came, his father was asleep and the key to the safety box in which he kept
his precious stones was on a cord that was wrapped around his neck.
Retrieving the key would require waking his father in the middle of his
siesta. Domo, out of respect for his father, refrained from waking him and
lost the sale.
The Meshech Chochmoh writes that it is most befitting that the lesson of
how far honouring one's parents goes is learned from a tale involving the
"yoshfei" stone. All the brothers who were involved with the sale of
Yoseif caused their father much pain. Yoseif, as well, by not
communicating with his father, also fell short in properly honouring his
father (see Ramban on 42:9 d.h. "Va'yizkor"). Only Binyomin was not
deficient in honouring his father, thus his stone was involved in this story.
The Baal Haturim points out that the numerical value of "yoshfei" equals
that of "Binyomin ben Yaakov." Possibly, according to the Meshech
Chochmoh it is well understood why the mathematical value of "yoshfei"
is that of "Binyomin ben Yaakov," of both the son and his father, to
indicate that specifically Binyomin was the most devoted son of Yaakov.
Ch. 29, v. 42: "Olas tomid l'dorosheichem pesach ohel mo'eid lifnei
Hashem asher ivo'eid lochem shomoh" - Some Rabbis drive from these
words that the word of Hashem emanated to Moshe from the top of the
outer copper-clad altar. Others derive from "v'dibarti itcho mei'al
hakaporres" (Shmos 25:22), that it emanated from the top of the lid of the
Holy Ark, and "asher ivo'eid lochem shomoh" refers back to "ohel mo'eid
lifnei Hashem" of our verse.
The Meshech Chochmoh suggests that these two opinions are in tandem
with the disagreement between Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and Rabbi
Yochonon in the gemara Megiloh 27a. They disagree if the words in
M'lochim 2:25:9, "habayis hagodol" refer to a house of Torah study or a
house of prayer. If it refers to a house of Torah study then one may convert
a house of prayer into a house of Torah study, but not the reverse, since it
is called "hagodol." If the verse refers to a house of prayer, then a house of
Torah study may be turned into a house of prayer, but not the reverse. If
we posit that prayer is greater then it is logical to assume that Hashem's
voice emanated from the top of the altar, the symbol of sacrifices, and
prayers are in the place of sacrificial service. If Torah study is greater, then
it is logical to assume that Hashem's voice emanated from the top of the
Holy Ark, which contains the Ten Commandments, which symbolize
Torah study. The Meshech Chochmoh expands upon this thought in his
work Ohr Somei'ach al hoRambam hilchos Talmud Torah 1:2.
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Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Sedrah Selections
Sedrah Selections Parshas T'tzaveh 5773 Bs"D
Ch. 27, v. 20: "L'haalose ner tomid" - To elevate a permanent light -
M.R. cites the verse, "ki ner mitzvoh v'Sorah ohr." A man often wants to
fulfill a mitzvoh that requires an outlay of money. His evil inclination
comes running and tells him to not do the mitzvoh, but rather to leave the
money for his children. The verse "Ki ner mitzvoh" equates a mitzvoh to a
burning light. Just as a burning light can ignite thousands and thousands of
candles without diminishing its own light, doing a mitzvoh, even one that
requires an expenditure, will not diminish one's financial holdings.
Ch. 28, v. 2: "V'ossiso bigdei kodesh l'Aharon ochicho l'chvode
ulsifo'res" - And you shall make holy apparel for Aharon your
brother for honour and for glory - The Chinuch mitzvoh #99 writes that
the need for the Kohein to wear unique priestly garments is to serve the
purpose of his being continuously aware of his awesome responsibility of
doing service in the Mikdosh, which brings atonement for the bnei Yisroel.
Wherever he looks on his body, it is clothed in special clothing. There is a
similar theme by the wearing of tefillin even by a non-Kohein, although it
covers only a limited area of the body. The Kohein likewise wears tefillin
even when wearing priestly garments, but must totally cover his body with
unique apparel, as he has an even higher calling.
Ch. 28, v. 2: "V'ossiso bigdei kodesh l'Aharon ochicho l'chvode
ulsifo'res" - And you shall make holy apparel for Aharon your
brother for honour and for glory - The gemara Shabbos 31 relates that a
non-Jew passed a beis medrash and heard someone reading the list of
priestly garments. He asked for whom these garments are to be made.
When he received the response that they were for the Kohein Godol he
decided that he would convert to Judaism and become the Kohein Godol.
He appeared in front of Shamai and made his request that he be converted
so that he may become the Kohein Godol. Shamai pushed him away with a
building rod. He then came to Hillel with the same request and Hillel
converted him. Hillel then said that one cannot become a king without first
learning kingly protocol. Similarly, he told the newly converted man that
he must first learn all the laws of priesthood. He proceeded to do this and
when he reached the verse, "V'hazor hako'reiv yumos," - the alien who
comes close shall be put to death, he asked to whom does this verse apply.
He was told that even King Dovid would be liable to this punishment. He
then applied the following logic to himself: A born Jew is called a son of
Hashem as per the verse, "Bni b'chori Yisroel" (Shmos 4:22), and even to
him does the verse "V'hazor hako'reiv yumos" apply. All the more so to a
come-lately convert does it apply, and his aspirations to become Kohein
Godol came to an abrupt end.
Ch. 28, v. 6: "V'ossu es ho'eifode maa'sei chosheiv" - And they
shall make the apron masterful work - All the priestly garments
were made skillfully, so why only here and by the breastplate that sat on
the eifode (verse 15) does it say "maa'sei chosheiv?" the gemara Zvochim
88b says that the eifode brings atonement for idol worship. Idol worship is
unique in that if a person thinks and plans to serve it, even though he did
not carry it out, he has sinned, "machashovoh k'maa'seh." The verses by
the eifode and breast plate therefore say "maa'sei chosheiv," thought is
equal to action. (Holy Alshich)
Ch. 28, v. 11: "T'fatach es shtei ho'avonim al shmos bnei Yisroel" -
You shall engrave the two stones on the names of the bnei Yisroel -
Rashi explains "al" to mean "with." The Rambam writes that the names of
the bnei Yisroel were written in ink on these two shoulder stones and the
"shamir" worm was placed onto the ink on the stones and they split. We
thus have the engraving literally done "al shmos bnei Yisroel." (Medrash
Talpios entry eifode)
Ch. 29, v. 1: "V'zeh hadovor asher taa'seh lohem" - And this is the
matter that you shall do for them - The verse could have simply said,
"v'zeh asher taa'seh lohem." "Hadovor" alludes to "dibur," speech.
Although here there are sacrifices offered, there will be a time when there
will not be this opportunity and we replace it with verbalizing the verses
and the laws of the sacrifices, "Unshalmoh forim sfoseinu" (Hoshei'a
14:3). (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Ch. 29, v. 4: "V'es Aharon v'es bonov takriv v'rochatzto osom
bamoyim" - And Aharon and his sons shall you bring close and
you shall wash them in water - Toras Kohanim #169 says that this
washing means immersing in a mikveh. We now understand why the verse
separates Aharon from his sons, as indicated by "v'es" rather than a "Vov
hachibur" (see gemara B.K. 65b). A father is not allowed to bathe with his
son (gemara P'sochim 51). (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 29, v. 37: "V'hoyoh hamizbei'ach kodesh kodoshim" - And the
altar shall be holy of holies. It is most unusual to see that in our verse and
in 40:10 the outer altar is called "holy of holies," while the golden altar,
which is situated in the Mishkon, is only called "kodesh" (40:9). There is a
symbolic message here. When one is located in a very holy location, such
as in a beis medrash, when he leaves he must make sure he is behaving
"kodesh kodoshim." Otherwise, he will be negatively affected by the
outside world he encounters. To the contrary, all who come in contact with
him should be elevated, "Kol hano'gei'a bo yikdosh," as it says by the
outer altar. Even disqualified offerings that are placed on the outer altar
remain there.
Alternatively, one who is a "kodesh," a religious ben Yisroel, is considered
by many as "kodesh kodoshim," so when he is outside and in contact with
them, he must be on his best behaviour, on the level of "kodesh
kodoshim," lest people learn to be complacent and lenient. (Dorash
Ch. 30, v. 3: "V'tzipiso oso zohov tohor" - And you shall clad it with
pure gold - On the last page of the gemara Chagigoh that the thickness of
the overlay was the thickness of a dinar. Tosfos ad loc. cite a Medrash
Tanchuma. Moshe wondered how with the twice daily burning of incense
on this altar's top the wooden body of the altar did not burn. Hashem
responded that He sends down His fire and its nature is to consume other
fires and not to consume other things, as Moshe himself had experienced
by the burning bush (Shmos 3:2).
Now since Moshe himself experienced that heavenly fire does not
consume wood, what was his question? The gemara Eiruvin 63a says that
although a fire descended from heaven to the altar, there was still a
requirement to bring regular physical fire, "aish shel hedyot." This was
Moshe's question. Why didn't the non-celestial fire burn the wood?
Hashem responded that the heavenly fire consumes other fires. (Likutei
Based on this insight I am not clear about which fire burned the incense.
A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
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Rabbi Yissocher Frand
Parshas Tetzaveh
Menorah 7 Allowing US To Leave The Light On For HIM
Parshas Tetzaveh begins with the mitzvah of kindling the Menorah. There
is a famous Medrash which teaches: "The Almighty states 'It is not that I
need their light for illumination. I am the Light of the World. Rather I am
giving you an opportunity to provide light for Me just as I provided light
for you.'" This means that when the Jewish people were in the wilderness
for 40 years, there was the Pillar of Cloud which provided light for them
throughout their travels. The Medrash compares this to a blind person and
a person with full sight who were walking together. The person with vision
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 13
told the blind person "Grab onto me and I will lead you along the way."
When they entered the house, the person with vision asked the blind
person to turn on the lights for him.
The goal in both situations is so that the recipient of the favor (Klal Yisrael
/ the blind person) will not feel that they owe a favor to their benefactor.
They were provided the opportunity to "return th e favor" so to speak: "I
took care of you when you could not see; now you turn on the light for me
so I can see."
Rav Yeruchem Levovitz, the Mirer Mashgiach in his sefer Daas Torah
says that the Almighty is teaching us a very important and a very common
lesson: When we do someone a favor and he comes to us later and tells us
"You did me a tremendous favor, how can I pay you back?" our natural
reaction is to respond "Think nothing of it. Do not worry about it."
Offhand, we think we are being very nice by giving such a response.
However, a greater act of kindness would be to respond, "I will tell you
how you can pay me back. Can you do this and that for me?"
This is a great kindness because it removes the sense of indebtedness that
will be hanging over the person who received the favor. It is not good to
feel beholden to someone. In truth, many people are happy when people
feel indebted to them. They like the fact that they "have something on
them" and that they can "lord it over on them".
The kindest way to do a favor to someone is to let him pay you back! This
is the lesson of lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan, according to the
above referenced Medrash.
The Tail of Vashti and the Tale of Truman: G-d's Hand in History
We all know the story. Achashverosh made a grand party. When he was
good and "happy," he commanded his wife Queen Vashti to appear before
those assembled to show off her beauty. Vashti refused to come.
According to the Talmud [Megilla 12], her refusal to come was not based
on any sudden sense of modesty on her part, rather the Angel Gavriel
came and put a tail on her.
Often, when the Talmud relates an incident of Aggadic nature such as this,
the Gemara is not to be taken literally. The Gemara is teaching a message
with this story. We do not need to assume that Vashti literally grew a tail.
The Chofetz Chaim suggests that the Gemara means something else.
The Talmud teaches [Sanhedrin 96] that Nevuchadnetzar, King of
Babylonia, was not born into royalty. How did he become King? The
Gemara relates that Chizkiyahu, King of Judea, became very sick and he
was miraculously saved. The Almighty wanted to publicize the fact that
the King of Judea was miracul ously healed so he made a second miracle
namely, the day that King Chizkiyahu was cured lasted 18 hours! That got
people's attention! The whole world realized that it was a miraculous day.
The King of Babylonia at that time was a person named Biladan. Biladan
said, I need to send congratulatory remarks to the King of Judea. "He is so
righteous that the Almighty changed nature for him, I must send him a
letter of congratulations and admiration." He ordered his scribe (who at the
time was Nevuchadnetzar) to draft the letter for him. However, that day,
for whatever reason, Nevuchadnetzar was not there. So, the other scribes
went ahead and drafted a letter without the input of the chief scribe,
The letter salutation was as follows: "Peace unto you King Chizkiyahu;
peace unto Jerusalem; and peace unto the Mighty G-d." Nevuchadnetzar
returned from wherever he was and asked to review a copy of the letter.
When he saw the salutation he objected that t he honor of the Mighty G-d
should have been placed first not third in the letter. However the other
scribes told him that the original had already been sent off.
Nevuchadnetzar ran after the messengers to try to stop them so as not to
send the letter with such a "blasphemous" salutation. The Talmud says that
he ran 4 steps in the direction of the courier. He wanted to stop him and
reverse the salutation by rewriting it according to proper protocol: "Peace
to the Almighty G-d; peace to the city of Jerusalem; and peace to King
However, the Talmud in Sanhedrin teaches that after he ran those four
steps (according to an alternate version in the Yalkut he ran only 3 steps)
to stop the letter, Gavriel came and stopped him in his tracks so that he
would not be able to run any further. The Talmud comments that had
Gavriel not come and limited the merit Nevuchadnetzar was gaining for
himself by showing G-d this honor, "there would not have been left a
remnant of th e enemies of the Jewish people" (a euphemistic way of
saying the Jewish people would have been totally wiped out). The Gemara
asks, "So what did Nevuchadnetzar get as reward for his walking the 4
steps?" The Gemara answers that he saw himself and 3 generations after
him become royalty. The 4 generations were Nevuchadnetzar, Evil
Merodach, BalShezzar, and Vashti. Vashti was a great-granddaughter of
The Chofetz Chaim explains that there is actually no dispute between the
version that says Nevuchadnetzar ran 4 steps and the version that says he
ran 3 steps. He actually ran 3 full steps. In the middle of the fourth step
Gavriel came and stopped him before he had a chance to complete the
fourth step. It was cut off in the middle.
That is why the Gemara testifies that if he would have taken four whole
steps the Jewish people would have been wiped out! The Chofetz Chaim
interprets: Since he did not take a complete fourth step, the reign of his
fourth d escendant (Vashti) was terminated prematurely. Had Vashti
remained on the throne, Esther would never have been in a position to save
the Jewish people and they would have been wiped out in the time of
The Chofetz Chaim states further that this is what it means that Gavriel
(the same Angel who stopped Nevuchadnetzar from taking that fourth
step) came and placed a tail upon Vashti. The term "zanav" (tail) alludes to
the fact that it was the tail end of the dynasty of Nevuchadnetzar.
The lesson of this story is that this is how the Almighty runs his world.
The incident with Gavriel happened in the time of Chizkiyahu King of
Judea many years before the era of Haman and Achashverosh. Because
of what took place then, Klal Yisrael was saved many years later in the
time of Purim.
Events happen or do not happen for a myriad of reasons, but behind the
supposed motivations of people, the Almighty is manipulating history to
carry out His Will. Behind the cu rtains, the Master of the Universe is
pulling the strings.
When I was in Mexico City, I heard a true story (which appears in the
historical archives of the Knesset) from Rabbi David Ordman. Rav Shlomo
Lorenz (a former Knesset member of Agudas Yisrael) once met Harry S.
Truman, President of the United States. President Truman told Rabbi
Lorenz, "You should know that when I agreed to recognize the State of
Israel, it went against the advice of my advisors and it was against every
political instinct that I have. But I will tell you why I did it..."
The conventional wisdom is that Harry Truman recognized the State of
Israel in 1948 because he had a Jewish partner in the haberdashery
business in Independence Missouri many decades earlier who came to him
in the White House and asked him for this favor. This is conventional
wisdom. Now you will hear the rest of the story from Harry Truman
President Truman told Rabbi Lorenz "I was a little boy growing up in the
United States and every little boy growing up in the United States dreams
of becoming president. That was my dream. I'll tell you something else. I
was a good Christian boy and I learned my Bible. My hero in the Bible
was Cyrus (Koresh, who was a descendant of none other than Queen
Esther). This Koresh is the one who let the Jewish people go back to their
homeland and build their Temple (Bais HaMikdash). I said, if I ever
become President of the United States, I want to imitate my hero and if I
ever get the opportunity to let the Jewish people go back to their country
and rebuild their Temple that is what I am going to do." "And that", he
concluded, "Is why I recognized the State of Israel."
This is the same story: The Hand of G-d at work. Just like with Vashti
we do not know what on earth possessed her to disobey her husband and
not come as he ordered. Somehow the Almighty "sent an Angel" and made
it happen, so that Klal Yisrael should be saved. So too, H arry Truman had
this 'mishugaas' he wanted to emulate Koresh. There is probably not
another person in the world whose main Biblical hero was Koresh, but that
was the idiosyncrasy of Harry Truman. Because of that, the rest is history.
A Freilechen Purim!
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's
Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape #803, Late For Megillah And Other
Purim Issues Good Shabbos!
This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah
portion. Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail or visit for further information. Transcribed by David Twersky Seattle, WA; Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman, Baltimore,
MD RavFrand, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings
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Aish.Com - Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen
The Guiding Light
Pure Beginnings
The Torah Portion begins with God's instructions to Moses with regard to
the people who would make the vestments that Aaron, the Kohen Gadol
(High Priest), would wear during his service. "And you shall speak to all
the wise-hearted people whom I have invested with a spirit of wisdom, and
they shall make the vestments of Aaron, to sanctify him to minister to me."
(1) It is evident from this instruction that it was of the utmost importance
that the people making Aaron's clothing be on a high spiritual level. The
Netsiv, Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, discusses why this was so
significant; he introduces a principle that the intentions (kavannot) that are
present at the beginning of any spiritual endeavor will have a long-lasting
influence on the spiritual capacity of that endeavor. In this vein, he
explains that the kavannot with which the clothing was made would have a
permanent effect on the holiness inherent in it. This would in turn enable
Aaron to utilize the maximum possible holiness inherent in the clothing,
during his Holy service in the Mishkan (Tabernacle).
The Netsiv in another place in his commentary on the Torah,(2) elaborates
on this principle in explanation of a fascinating Gemara.(3) Two great
Tanaic sages, Rebbe Chanina and Rebbe Chiya were arguing in Torah.
They then proceeded to point out their respective merits.(4) Rebbe
Chanina pointed out that if the Torah would be forgotten, he would be able
to retrieve it through his great deductive abilities. Rebbe Chiya replied that
he had already ensured that Torah would not be forgotten. He proceeded to
explain how he went through a lengthy and difficult process; it began by
creating nets for trapping animals. He would then use those nets to trap
14 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
deer. He would slaughter the deer and give its meat to orphans. He would
use the skin as parchment for scrolls; he would write each of the five
books of the Torah on one scroll each, and teach five children one scroll
each. He would then do the same with the six orders of the Mishna. He
would then have each child teach the others the section that they had
learnt. In this way, he ensured that it was impossible that Torah be
forgotten. The section ends with Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi's praise of Rebbe
Chiya - 'how great are the deeds of Rebbe Chiya'!
The Netsiv asks why it was necessary for Rebbe Chiya to go through so
much effort in order to make the scrolls upon which the Torah and Mishna
would be written? Why could he not have simply bought the parchment
from a merchant and then written on that? He explains with the principle
that we mentioned above - that the intentions present at the beginning of a
spiritual undertaking have a great effect on the future ability of that
undertaking to succeed. Rebbe Chiya desired that the scrolls would be
created with the purest of intentions - in this way they could have a greater
effect in entering into the hearts of the children who would learn from
them.(5) This is a further example of how the intentions that a person has
at the very beginning of his endeavor have a great effect on its future
We see another example of this principle, but this time, in the negative
sense, where impure intentions have a detrimental effect. The Gemara in
Chagiga discusses the sad story of a great sage by the name of Elisha Ben
Avuyah who became a heretic.(6) The Gemara tells us of reasons as to
why he finally abandoned Torah. Tosefot on that Gemara brings the
Jerusalem Talmud that informs us that the defining event in Elisha's
abandonment of Torah actually took place when he was a baby. It
describes the festive meal in celebration of the bris mila of the young
Elisha. His father, Avuyah, invited all the greatest Sages of the time to the
meal. During the meal, two of the sages were in another room learning
Torah on a very high level. Their learning was so great that a fire came
down from Heaven and surrounded them. Avuyah entered into the room
and saw that his house was on fire. He expressed his concern that his
house would burn down, but they explained that there was no danger.
Their learning was on such a level that it was comparable to the day that
the Torah was given on Sinai when fire came down from Heaven. Avuyah
was so impressed by the power of Torah that he said that if the power of
Torah was so great then he would strive to dedicate his son to the learning
of Torah. The Talmud explains that since Avuyah's intentions for his son
were not purely lishma (for the sake of Heaven), his son eventually left the
Torah path.(7) We see from here that just as pure intentions facilitate
future holiness, so too impure intentions can result in subsequent impurity.
We have seen the importance of the purity of intentions at the beginning of
spiritual endeavors. However, there is another important Torah principle
that brings into question the above idea, in particular the account of the
negative impact of Avuyah's intentions for his son: The Gemara in a
number of places, tells us; "one should always toil in Torah and Mitzvot,
even loh lishma (not for the sake of Heaven), because from the loh lishma
(8) will come the lishma." (9) This means that even if a person is not at the
level of performing mitzvot and learning Torah purely lishma, nonetheless,
he should continue in his performance of the mitzvot with impure
intentions. And as a result of doing the mitzvot for the wrong reasons, he
will inevitably come to do the mitzvot for the right reasons. If this is the
case, then why did the impure intentions of Avuyah have such a
detrimental effect on the future of his son?
It seems that the key to answer this question is found in the words of Rav
Chaim Volozhin in his commentary to Pirkei Avot: He argues that there is
a very important limitation to the Gemara's assertion of the inevitability
that Avodat HaShem that is not for the sake of Heaven will lead to lishma
performance. He stipulates that this is only the case if the person who
performs the mitzvot not for the sake of Heaven, also has the active
intentions that he will eventually come to do the mitzvot lishma. This
means that even though he recognizes that he is currently at the level
where his Avodat HaShem is not totally pure, he realizes intellectually that
the ultimate goal is to serve God lishma. As Rabbi Akiva Tatz expresses it,
the person 'wants to want to do the mitzvah for the right reasons'. In this
way, his impure Avodat HaShem is acceptable in that it will surely bring
him to pure service at a later date. However, if he does the mitzvot not for
the sake of Heaven, with no future goal of being lishma then there is no
inevitability at all that he will ever come to perform mitzvot lishma. Based
on Rav Chaim of Volozhin's explanation, we can now understand why
Avuyah's intentions had such damaging consequences.(10) It seems clear
from the Yerushalmi that Avuyah's intentions were totally not for the sake
of Heaven, without any hope of attaining the level of lishma in the
We have seen how powerful the intentions that are present at the beginning
of spiritual endeavors (which include marriage, having children, starting
learning, and many other undertakings) are in determining the future
outcome of those endeavors. Therefore, it is very important that a person
strive to have the purest possible intentions. However, it is clear that
attaining such high levels of purity is very difficult and takes a great deal
of time and effort. Rav Chaim Volozhin teaches us that even if we are not
yet on the level of lishma we can realistically strive to have the attitude
that we want to get to lishma - in this way we can inject our actions with a
significant level of purity.
Moreover, it is important to note that even if a person has already began
his endeavor without the highest levels of purity, he can always achieve a
'new start' through the miraculous process of teshuva (repentance).(12)
Accordingly, a person who, for example, is already married or already has
children can restart the process through teshuva and thereby create a
greater capacity for future holiness. May we all merit to have pure
intentions in everything that we do.
1. Emek Davar, Shemos, 28:3.
2. Emek Davar, Shemos, 19:2.
3. Bava Metsia, 85b.
4. Superficially, it would seem that their conduct seems a little haughty,
however, it is obvious that there was no trace of arrogance in their
arguments. See Ben Yehoyada, Bava Metsia, 85b, who explains the
underlying issue that they were debating.
5. Emek Davar. Shemos, 19:2. Also see Maharsha, Chiddushie Aggados,
Bava Metsia, 85b for a similar explanation.
6. Chagiga, 15a. After he became a heretic he became known by the name,
'Acher', meaning that he because another person.
7. Tosefos, Chagiga, 15a, dh: Shuvu banim shovevim. See Sichos Mussar,
Maamer 9, Parshas Vayeira, for more discussion about this Yerushalmi
about Acher.
8. Examples of loh lishma are learning for the sake of receiving honor or
for gaining material benefit. The commentaries point out that there are
certain kinds of loh lishma that are so impure that this principle does not
apply to them. An example of this is one who learns in order to know
Torah laws so that he can use his knowledge to take advantage of other
9. Pesachim, 50b, Nazir, 23b, Horayos, 10b, Sotah, 22b.
10. Ruach Chaim, Avos, 1:13. This explanation also explains why so many
people seem to perform Mitzvos loh lishma and yet never attain the level
of lishma. It should be noted, however, that even if a person feels he is
totally loh lishma, he nonetheless must continue in his efforts to observe
all Mitzvos and learn Torah. Rav Chaim Volozhin himself stressed this in
his classic work, Nefesh HaChaim.
11. It should be noted that there is a strong difficulty with the principle of
Rav Chaim that loh lishma only leads to lishma if the person intends that
he should get to lishma at some future point. Rav Yitzchak Hutner (Pachad
Yitzchak, Shavuos, Maamer 6, os 4) asks that the source for the principle
of loh lishma leading to lishma is Balak - he offered up 42 sacrifices to
HaShem in his efforts to harm the Jewish people. As a result of these
sacrifices (despite the obviously impure intentions that motivated them!),
he merited to have a descendant who was lishma - Ruth (Nazir, 23b). Rav
Hutner points out that Balak clearly had no intention of ever getting to
lishma. Accordingly, if this is the source of the whole concept of loh
lishma leading to lishma, how could Rav Chaim say that the concept only
applies if one plans to get to true lishma - the whole source of the concept
is from Balak! Any approaches to this question are greatly appreciated.
12. The above quoted Netsiv in Shemos, 19:2 alludes to this point.
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Rabbi J. Gewirtz
Migdal Ohr
Volume 15 Issue 19 Parshas Tetzaveh-Zachor 5773 GEwT RDA GY
A publication dedicated to Harbotzas Torah
This issue sponsored by Jon Kaufman as a merit for Refuah Shelaima for:
HMXN IB YBC EwUNEH TB LUYG (Parents of Sandy Fried Tire Warehouse -
Spring Valley, NY)
They shall attach the breastplate from its rings to the rings of the
Ephod with a turquoise woolen cord and the breastplate will not be
loosened from upon the Ephod. (Exodus 28:28)
The idea of keeping two items in the Mishkan attached is not new. For
example, the rods of the Aron (Holy Ark) were not to be removed from the
rings into which they were placed. In this case, the Choshen Mishpat, the
Breastplate upon which were twelve precious gems inscribed with the
names of the twelve Tribes, had golden rings upon it which would be
connected by a woolen cord of techeiles, a special bluish color, to the
corresponding golden rings upon the Ephod, an apron-like piece of
clothing. The Choshen was not to be removed from the Ephod.
The question arises: if the Choshen was intended to remain connected,
why not sew it directly to the Ephod with stitches, or connect the rings
directly to each other? What is the purpose of having two sets of rings
connected by a thread?
To help answer this, we must identify some of the underlying meaning of
the special garments of the Kohain. Everything represented something
which would be brought before HaShem when the Kohain served.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 15
The Choshen Mishpat represents judgment: that of the nations who have
oppressed or attacked the Jews and deserved Divine retribution, as well as
the remembrance of the Jews merits, so that they might be judged
favorably and granted salvation.
The Ephod, notes the Netziv in Haamek Davar, represents material success
and well-being, an integral part of enabling a Jew to serve HaShem
properly. These two concepts go hand-inhand so the two Priestly
vestments were to be connected. However, they were not connected in a
permanent and solid way, but rather through a thread of Techeiles, bluish
There is a definite correlation between doing the Mitzvos and being
promised physical reward. As we say in Shema twice a day, It will be if
you listen to My mitzvos I will give the rain for your land in its time.
This idea is mentioned numerous other places too.
This correlation, though, is not absolute. That is why we see a righteous
person suffer and a wicked person prosper. Its one of the oldest and most
confounding questions in the world. But that doesnt mean the connection
has been broken.
Rather, the connection between these two is comprised of a techeiles
thread. The thread of techeiles in the tzitzis reminds us of the sea, which
reminds us of the sky, which reminds us of HaShems Heavenly Throne.
Here, too, the connection between what one deserves (Choshen Mishpat)
and what he gets (Ephod,) is a blue thread, representing HaShems input in
guiding this connection. A tzaddik may suffer poverty, but G-d alone
knows that it is for his benefit, such as to atone for some sin he has
committed. A wicked man may prosper, but HaShem has His reasons for
that as well.
In Shushan, the Jews felt they should attend the Kings banquet as a means
to prosperity. Political strategists advocated getting on the Kings good
side. Mordechai warned them that it was against G-ds will, and that they
should not go. Their failure to heed his words did not lead them to success,
but to near-destruction. The only true way to prosper is to follow the
judgments of the Torah, and then unquestioningly let HaShem be the
arbiter and decider of how that prosperity is manifested in our lives.
R Naftoli Ropschitzer was known for his incisive wit and brilliant mind.
He is reported to have said, Nearly every tefila, every prayer, every
Shemona Esrai, can be distilled down to a common thing a kopek. All we
ask HaShem for is money.
But, he continued. If you crack open that kopek, you will find Torah,
chesed, and avodas HaShem. We dont want the money for ourselves; we
want it to be able to serve our Creator.
Did You Know?
One of the most powerful messages of the Megilla is that of mida kneged
mida, that HaShem runs the world with a perfect balance, and rewards or
punishes a person measure for measure with their own actions.
When Vashti was to be punished for disobeying Achashveirosh, the King
asked the Jewish Sages for advice (knowing they would know how to
acquit her and save her life.) They demurred, saying that they were not
allowed to judge capital cases since the Bais HaMikdash had been
destroyed. Whose idea was it to stop the rebuilding of the Bais
HaMikdash? Vashti herself!
The Jews ate at the feast of Achashveiros in direct violation of
Mordechais command. As a result, they had to fast for three days
(including Seder night!) at his direction.
The Midrash states that all the women who were torn away from their
families and placed into Achashveiroshs harem, to remain spinsters for
the rest of their lives, were punished this way because they used to degrade
and disdain the Jewish women. Therefore, we must be extra careful to treat
the Jewish People, Chachomim, and the Torah properly and with respect,
and we will be properly rewarded, measure for measure.
Ed. Note The Choshen and Ephod are connected, as we said in the main
Dvar Torah. When we decide what others deserve financially or
physically, HaShem judges what we deserve, and the results are usually
not what we would hope for. Its better to wish the best for others, and
HaShem will bless us with the best.
Thought Of The Week:
The wisest of men is he who feels he knows nothing at all.
2013 J. Gewirtz Do what you can. Print, e-mail, and share Migdal Ohr with friends and
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2013 J. Gewirtz

Rabbi Nosson Greenberg
Khal Machzikei Torah
Tetzaveh 5773 - Coming Home
In this weeks parsha Hashem finishes instructing Moshe in the building of
the Mishkan (and in the manafacturing of the clothing for the kohanim).
The Ramban tells us (preface to sefer Shmos) that the exile of Egypt
officially concluded when the Yidden were able to spiritually regain the
level of the Avos. That, posits the Ramban, took place with the
construction of the Mishkan. For just as the Avos had a presence of the
Shechina resting in their tents, so too Klal Yisroel needed to have a
constant presence of Hashem in their midst i.e. the Mishkan.
Using this theme of the Ramban, Rav Eizek Sher (the Slabodka Rosh
Yeshiva,) makes a more specific comparison between the Mishkan and the
tent of one of the Avos. Chazal tell us that Saras tent was blessed with
three phenomena: a holy cloud clung to her tent, her Shabbos candles
miraculously remained lit the whole week, and the dough was blessed. So
too in the Mishkan, says Rav Sher, these three particular blessings were
present. A holy cloud rested over the Mishkan building, the ner maaravi -
the western candle of the menorah would (according to some opinions)
miraculously remain lit constantly, and the lechem hapanim - the bread
that sat on the golden shulchan - contained a blessing that just a small
portion of it would fill a person immediately to capacity.
How beautiful it would be if even today in golus we could recreate these
blessings within our humble homes, our mikdashai meat. We should
strive that the Shabbos candles remain lit the entire week. Shabbos
candles, we know, are lit to foster shalom bayis - peace and harmony
between husband and wife. How lovely it would be if such an aura of
tranquility could be found in our homes not just once a week or from time
to time, but rather as in Saras tent from Friday to Friday, a constant state
of shalom bayis.
How beautiful it would be if the dough in our lives would be blessed. Why
did Chazal use dough as an example of food that was blessed, and not the
more simple bread? Perhaps, when you look at dough it looks like a small
mound, but let it sit for a while in a warm environment. There it has the
ability to rise to majestic heights. Everything Hashem has given us is a
blessing. But sometimes we look at our possessions and achievements as
small chunks of doughy insignificance. Give them some time and a lot of
warmth. Warmth of emunah and bitachon, warmth of acceptance and
happiness. And we will see them grow. And they will fill us with simcha
to capacity.
How beautiful it would be if we could be totally connected with a holy
cloud. All of us are proud of the yiddishe houses that we have built, and
rightly so. But let us ask ourselves: is the Shechina clinging to our homes?
Is there enough of an infusion of kedusha that the Shechina is really
comfortable with being a guest in our humble abodes?
How beautiful it would be!
Have a great Shabbos, Rabbi Nosson Greenberg
Rav, Khal Machzikei Torah, Far Rockaway, N.Y.

Rabbi Yakov Haber
Purim and Providence: the Amaleik Connection
The reading of Parshas Zachor, describing the uninstigated battle of
Amaleik against the Jewish people, ultimately a battle against G-d
Himself, and the subsequent holiday of Purim are linked in many ways.
On a simple plane, Haman, a descendant of Agag, the king of Amaleik in
King Shaul's time, plotted to eradicate the Jews, another installment of the
battle plan of Amaleik to eliminate the Jewish nation. Haman's defeat
along with his allies represented another instance of Klal Yisrael's
fulfillment of the mitzva of eradicating Amaleik.
However, another, more subtle theme connects the two.(1) Amaleik
represents the life philosophy of mikreh, chance. Concerning Amaleik, the
Torah records: "asher kar'cha baderech - who chanced upon you on the
road" (Ki Teitzei 25:18). Klal Yisrael, by contrast, lives under the
philosophy of Divine Providence, believing that nothing in the world
occurs by chance. Amaleik's descendant, Haman, tries to eradicate the
entire Jewish nation via a chance "rolling of the dice" determining by lot
when an auspicious time to kill them would be. The Megilla records
Mordechai's description to Esther of what was happening: "eis kol asher
karahu" (Esther 6:13). On this, the Midrash (Esther Rabba 8:5) comments
"go tell her that the descendant of -karahu' has risen against you!", a
reference to Amaleik referred to by the Torah with the phrase, "asher
kar'cha baderech". The Midrash is linking the "chance" outlook of the
ancestor Ameleik with the selfsame attitude of Haman, the descendant.
However, as the piyut recited on Purim declares: "pur Haman nehepach
l'pureinu". Haman's chance lots turned out to be providentially arranged to
be a time of Divine favor in which Klal Yisrael were able to successfully
defend themselves against Amaleik both spiritually and physically.
The Gemara (Megilla 13b) comments that Haman was pleased with the
lots falling on Adar for in that month Moshe Rabbeinu left this world. But,
he didn't realize that "b'shiv'a b'Adar meis, uv'shiv'a b'Adar nolad". Not
only did Moshe die in that month, he was also born on the same day, and,
consequently, the month of Adar is a particular eis ratzon, a time of Divine
favor. Rav C. Y. Goldwicht zt"l explained further that even Moshe
Rabbeinu's p'tira led to a positive development, for it ushered in a new era
of Torah study, that of the era of Torah She'b'al Peh. Moshe Rabbeinu's
absolute clarity of Torah was parallel to Torah Shebichsav. The era
following his petira which required painstaking memorization and detailed
analysis to arrive at valid halachic conclusions represented the beginning
of the period of Torah Sheb'al Peh. Thus, not only was Haman wrong that
Adar was also a happy month due to Moshe Rabbeinu's birth, but the
precise event that he found inauspicious for B'nei Yisrael turned out to be
16 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
a joyous occasion also from a different perspective. Therefore the Gemara
does not just state that he was also born on that day but that "on the same
day he died, on that same day he was born," implying that both events had
positive significance for the Jewish people.
The name of the holiday, Purim, is "al sheim haPur", (Esther 9:26) after
the lots Haman threw. It seems odd that the holiday should be named after
these lots used to determine the time to destroy the Jews rather than it
being named after our victory and salvation. But the name says it all. It is
Haman's chance lots that proved to be another manifestation of Divine
Perhaps we can add another layer to the inter-relationship between chance
and providence implied in the Megilla. In perhaps the most famous
passage in the Megilla, Mordechai addresses Esther saying: "If you remain
silent at this time, relief and salvation will arise for the Jews from another
source, and you and your father's house will perish. Who knows if [it is
not] for precisely this time, you have become the queen!" (ibid. 4:14). Rav
Y. D. Soloveitchik interpreted this passage based on his oft-mentioned
theme of Fate and Destiny.(2) Fate represents that which Hashem pre-
arranges for us, the uncontrollable part of our lives. Destiny is the
destination which we are meant to reach with our free-willed choices given
our fate. Here, Mordechai highlights exactly this point. G-d arranged
everything for you: the right time, the right place, the right power. Now it
is up to you to convert the Fate into Destiny. Seize the moment! Risk your
life for the saving of your nation, and G-d will reward you with the
crowning glory of destiny to be successful in your efforts. I once heard
from Rabbi Elazar Hurvitz that it is for this reason that Esther suddenly
encounters the setback of not being called to Achashverosh's palace for
thirty days. If Hashem had arranged everything for Esther's successful
mission, why the sudden setback? Esther has to rise to the challenge to be
willing to put her life on the line to fulfill her destiny. Otherwise, the
salvation would be all Hashem's doing since it was He who arranged her
fate, and she would not fulfill her destiny. If that would be the case,
"Salvation will arise from another place." This means that G-d would
arrange fate in another series of steps so that another capable individual
would be presented with a similar challenge until one of them rose to the
occasion to fulfill her destiny.
Fate oftentimes is associated with chance. Hence, it deceivingly seems to
be a part of Amaleik's worldview. Chazal (Mo'eid Katan 28a) teach:
"Children, life and sustenance do not depend on merit, but on mazal".(3)
Mazal is often mistranslated as "luck".(4) But can we really imagine that
such crucial aspects of a person's life depend on chance? Rav Aryeh
Kaplan(5) explains that mazal refers to specialized Divine providence.(6)
The point the Gemara is making is that these aspects of Divine providence
are usually so rooted in the cosmic, overarching plan for the world and the
individual's role in this scheme, that they will rarely be overridden. Hence,
even this Fate theme of the Megilla, which, at first, seems to be dependent
on chance is truly none other than specialized Divine providence.
May we merit to always recognize the ever-present Hand of G-d in our
individual and collective lives.
1. The following presentation is wholly based on ideas I heard from Rav
C. Y. Goldwicht zt"l, former Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Kerem
B'Yavneh and gleaned from various sefarim on Purim.
2. Also see Lo Tachmod: Mazal, Destiny and the Prohibition Against
Coveting for a treatment of similar themes.
3. See Tosfos (ibid.) that merit can affect these matters as well but not
4. The traditional Jewish congratulatory blessing, "Mazal Tov!" is
normally translated as "Good Luck!"
5. Handbook of Jewish Thought (Vol. II, Divine Providence 19:25-26).
6. Thus, it would appear that "Mazal Tov!" should be translated as "May
Hashem grant you a wonderful set of circumstances (Fate) in which this
milestone of your life can help you reach your Destiny!"
Copyright 2013 by The TorahWeb Foundation. All rights reserved.
Rabbi Avraham Kahn
Torah Attitude
Tetzaveh-Purim: Accepting Torah Leadership
February 21, 2013
This Torah Attitude is dedicated with much love by Michael, Robyn,
Jamie, Adam and David to our wonderful wife and mother, Sally, in
honour of her birthday. Mazel tov!
The great sage Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was careful always to be the first
one to greet Jew and gentile alike. Mordechai was not ready to bow down and
prostrate himself, since Haman had adorned himself with idolatrous images.
Mordechais obstinate approach to Haman had enraged him. Although
Mordechai was able to arrange that the food and drinks were all kosher, the
immorality of the entertainment and the nature of Ahashvarous party were in
no way kosher. Mordechai informed his fellow Jews of his Divine dream, and
instead of blaming Mordechai, the Jews accepted their spiritual leader and
started to repent. The Talmud describes this as a renewed acceptance of the
Torah. In every generation the Torah leaders have a spark of Moses soul,
and this is how Moses is with us forever. Our acceptance of our Torah
leadership is part and parcel of our acceptance of the Torah. This time the
acceptance of Torah was whole-hearted, without any coercion. May we also be
saved from our enemies like in the story of Purim, and experience the total
salvation of the Jewish people very soon.
Greet Everyone
In last weeks Torah Attitude, we mentioned how the Talmud (Berachos
17a) encourages that everyone shall emulate the great sage Rabbi
Yochanan ben Zakai who was careful always to be the first one to greet
Jew and gentile alike. The Talmud does not make any difference whether
the gentile is friendly to the Jewish people or anti-Semitic. Rashi (Gittin
62a) explains that in order to live in peace with the non-Jewish population,
one should greet everyone.
Mordechai Not Bow To Haman
With this in mind, we need to understand why Mordechai did not bow
down to Haman. The Yalkut Shimoni (Ester 1054) relates that the Jews
told Mordechai that he was bringing them all down by transgressing the
royal decree. The truth is that Mordechai may have greeted Haman when
they met. However, he was not ready to bow down and prostrate himself,
since Haman had adorned himself with idolatrous images.
Mordechai Enraged Haman
We would expect that the Jews of Shushan would blame Mordechai when
it became known that Haman had convinced Ahashvarous to annihilate the
entire Jewish people. It seemed obvious that Mordechais obstinate
approach to Haman had enraged him, and this was the direct cause of the
terrible decree.
Immoral Party
However, an amazing thing happened. Mordechai had initially instructed
the Jews not to attend Ahashvarous lavish party. The political leadership
at the time felt that it was most important to participate, as the purpose of
the party was to determine who was loyal to the new monarch. Mordechai,
on the other hand, told them that the festivities were not appropriate for
them. Although Mordechai was able to arrange that the food and drinks
were all kosher, the immorality of the entertainment and the nature of such
a drinking party were in no way kosher. This would be comparable
nowadays to someone going on a cruise, or to a club, where the food was
kosher but the environment in general did not meet the standard of
Jews Repent
Now, when they were all in mortal danger, Mordechai was Divinely
informed in a dream that this was a Heavenly decree, because the Jews had
participated in Ahashvarous immoral party, and years earlier had bowed
down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar (see Rashi Ester 4:1). Mordechai
informed his fellow Jews of his Divine dream, and instead of blaming
Mordechai, the Jews accepted their spiritual leader and started to repent.
The Shuls and study halls filled to capacity, and when Ester requested that
they should fast for three days, everyone joined.
Renewed Acceptance Of Torah
The Talmud (Shabbos 88a) describes this as a renewed acceptance of the
Torah. Till then the Jewish people had observed the Torah
commandments, but when it came to a political question, such as
participating in Ahashvarous party, they thought that such decisions
should be made by the political lay leaders, rather than by the spiritual
Torah leaders.
Trust Moses Forever
However, before G-d gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai, He said to Moses
(Shemos 19:9): Behold I shall come to you in the thickness of the cloud,
in order that the people shall hear when I speak to you, and they shall also
trust you forever. Moses passed away before the Jewish people entered
the land of Israel, so what does it mean that we shall trust him forever?
The Kabbalists explain that in every generation the Torah leaders have a
spark of Moses soul, and this is how he is with us forever.
Acceptance Of Torah Leadership
Our acceptance of our Torah leadership is part and parcel of our
acceptance of the Torah. When the Jews in Shushan failed to listen to
Mordechai, even though they were otherwise observant, they lost their
connection to Mount Sinai. However, when they listened to Mordechai,
they reconnected and accepted the Torah anew.
Accept Torah Without Coercion
The Talmud (Shabbos 88a) points out that this time the acceptance of
Torah was whole-hearted, without any coercion. As we mentioned recently
(see Torah Attitude: Parashas Yithro: Why G-d chose the Jewish people),
at Mount Sinai G-d had raised the mountain over the Jewish people to
warn them that if they would not go through with accepting the Torah, that
would be their end. After the turn of events, with the downfall of Haman
and the salvation of the Jewish people, they lovingly accepted anew to
observe the Torah and listen to their Torah leaders. This, says the Talmud,
is hinted at in the Book of Ester (9:26-27): Because of all that is written
in this letter the Jews confirmed and accepted upon themselves and
their offspring Although the simple meaning refers just to Purim, the
deeper meaning is that with accepting Purim they accepted the message of
Purim, and how they must always follow the Torah leaders of the
Saved From Our Enemies
As we are going to celebrate Purim, we must remember to internalize this
important message. In this merit, may we also be saved from our enemies
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 17
like in the story of Purim, and experience the total salvation of the Jewish
people very soon.
These words were based on a talk given by Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva
and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.
Shalom. Michael Deverett
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Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky
Beyond Pshat
1. The Value of Spiritual Disappointment
The Torah states regarding the kindling of the Menorah, Now you shall
command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure, pressed olive
oil for illumination The Midrash states, Reb Meir says, G-d said, The
lights that Aaron kindled are more beloved to Me than the luminaries that I
have set in the heavens. Why is this so? When all of the Tribes were asked to
bring gifts and offerings to participate in the inauguration of the Mishkan, the
Tribe of Levy was excluded. As a result, Aaron was pained and entered into a
state of melancholy. He said, All of the Princes were asked to participate in
the inauguration of the Mishkan, but I have no share in the offerings. G-d
responded to him, I swear on your life! Their participation was only one time;
however, you will have your own special inauguration by kindling the lights of
the Menorah. As the verse in Psalms states, G-d had heard the desire of the
humble Because Aaron was pained that he was denied the opportunity to
participate in the inauguration of the Mishkan, G-d considered his kindling of
the Menorah to be more special than their inauguration of the Mishkan.
The Torah states at the end of the Portion of Ki Savo, Moshe summoned all of
Israel and said to them, You have seen everything that Hashem did before
your eyes in the land of EgyptBut Hashem did not give you a heart to know,
or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day. It was not until the Jewish people
had wandered in the desert for forty years that they had the capacity to fully
understand and internalize the value of their relationship with G-d. Rashi cites
Chazal, G-d did not give the Jewish people the heart to recognize His
Kindness to cleave to Him until this day. What happened on this day? Moshe
had finished writing a Torah scroll that he had given to the tribe of Levy. All of
the Jewish people came before him and said, Moshe, why are you giving the
Torah scroll only to the Tribe of Levy? We too stood at Sinai where G-d gave
us the Torah just as He had done to the Tribe of Levy. Why are you giving
them the right to dominate the Torah? We have the same rights to the Torah as
they do. One day the Tribe of Levy may say to us, The Torah was only given
to us and not to you. When Moshe heard their claim, he had great joy. Moshe
said, On this day I understand that you truly feel the desire to cleave to G-d.
Now you are His people. Just as Aarons kindling was considered something
special because he was pained for being denied the participation in the
inauguration of the Mishkan, so too the Jewish people became more worthy to
be G-ds people when they expressed their pain.
We say in the blessing of the Torah, Blessed are YouWho has selected us
from all the nations and gave us His Torah If one truly understands and
appreciates the privilege of being chosen by G-d to be given His Torah, one
would be overwhelmed with joy.
This is similar to the incident of Avrahams hosting of the angels on the third
day after his circumcision. The Torah tells us that G-d caused it to be the
hottest day (since the beginning of existence) so that Avraham should be able
to have a respite from engaging in hospitality. Rather than taking this reprieve
as an opportunity to recuperate, Avraham was pained because he was denied
the opportunity to host guests. He thus sat at the entrance of his tent awaiting
wayfarers. Avrahams hospitality was a means to espouse monotheism. He was
thus pained because he was denied the opportunity to bring mankind to
recognize G-d as the Omnipotent One. Because of his feeling of being denied,
G-d sent him three angels to host, who were the most special guests. The
Gemara in Tractate Bava Metizia tells us that every aspect of Avrahams
hospitality that he provided to the angels was evaluated and produced unlimited
benefits for the future of the Jewish people. As a result of this evaluation, the
Jewish people merited special gifts in the desert that allowed them to survive.
These gifts sustained and protected them throughout their forty-year trek in the
desert. In the merit of the water that was offered to the angels the Jewish
people received the wellspring of Miriam, which traveled with them. In the
merit of offering the shade of his tree, they received the protection and benefits
of the Clouds of Glory. In the merit of the bread that he offered, the Jewish
people were given the Manna.
In the merit of the meat that Avraham offered, the Jewish people were given
the slav (quail). Even beyond the forty-year period, Chazal tell us that the
mitzvah of Sukkah was given to the Jewish people in the merit of the shade of
Avrahams tree. Because Avraham experienced pain from being denied the
opportunity to do G-ds Will, his hospitality to the angels impacted upon the
future of the Jewish people until the end of time.
2. The Unforgivable Behavior of Amalek
King Solomon writes in Proverbs, A deprecator (letz) you should smite, but a
fool (pessi) could be made wise. The Midrash explains that A deprecator you
should smite refers to Amalek and a fool you could make wise refers to
Yisro. The Torah states, Yisro heard Rashi cites Chazal who explain that
Yisro heard about the splitting of the Sea and the battle against Amalek. It was
because of (either) these events that Yisro chose to forgo all of his glory as
sheik of Midian to become part of the Jewish people in the desert. Yisro
initially was classified as the fool, because he had chosen a path of idolatry. He
later became wise because of the events of which he had become aware. In
contrast, the deprecator is a person who has no capacity to appreciate the value
of what he mocks or belittles. Thus, King Solomon tells us that the only way to
respond to a deprecator is to smite him. Yisro was only lacking in spirituality
because he was not aware of truth. However, once he came upon truth, he fully
embraced it. Amalek, on the other hand, regardless of the blatant reality of
truth, he remained oblivious to it because he did not have the capacity to
appreciate it.
Chazal tell us that at the time of the splitting of the Sea, the presence of G-d
was palpable. As a result of the splitting of the Sea and the destruction of the
Egyptian armies, the Jewish people had assumed a special aura in the eyes of
the nations of the world. They trembled in awe before them. What G-d had
done on behalf of the Jewish people, revealed to the world His special
relationship with them. Despite the awesomeness of their presence, Amalek
attacked the Jewish people soon after the splitting of the Sea. How could
Amalek not be overwhelmed with fear from the Jewish people, as the rest of
the world was? They chose to attack the Jewish people without any concern for
the consequences.
Chazal tell us that Amaleks attack on the Jewish people is analogous to a fool
who jumps into a scalding
bath that others are too afraid to approach out of fear of being scalded. The fool
jumps into the bath and is severely scalded; nevertheless, the bath is cooled
down for others to enter. As a result of the attack of Amalek, the aura of G-d
and the Jewish people was diminished in the eyes of the world. Why did
Amalek remain unaffected after the splitting of the Sea, while the rest of the
world stood in reverence and fear from the Jewish people? It was because
Amalek possesses the characteristic of the deprecator (letz). They do not
have the capacity to appreciate or esteem anything that has relevance to G-d.
To the contrary, they are opposed to the existence of G-d. Thus, there is no
basis for entering into a dialogue with Amalek. The only way to deal with them
is to destroy them.
Rav Hutner ztl writes in his work, Pachad Yitzchak that if one truly esteems
and appreciates the value of something, he will belittle or deprecate it.
However, if one does not have the capacity to recognize or sense its value, then
he will deprecate it.
The Torah states in the Portion of Balak, (Bilaam said through his prophetic
vision), Amalek, the first of nations, in the end will enter into eternal
destruction. Chazal tell us that at the end of time all the nations will come to
recognize G-ds dominion over all existence. Despite the spiritual shortcomings
of these nations, they have some degree of capacity to appreciate His Presence.
Amalek, in contrast, because he does not have the capacity to sense G-d, will
not merit the ultimate revelation. Since they were the first nation to attack the
Jewish people after the splitting of the Sea, they openly demonstrated that they
have no relevance or capacity to appreciate spirituality. Thus, at the end of time
when G-d will reveal Himself to the world, Amalek will go into the oblivion.
The Gemara in Tractate Megilah tells us that Haman (the viceroy of the Persian
Empire) was unequalled in his ability to speak evil (lashon hara). No one was
able to communicate negativity as effectively as Haman, the evil one. When he
approached Achashverosh, the king of the Persian Empire, to annihilate the
Jewish people, he demonstrated his expertise in negative expression (lashon
hara). Why was Haman able to communicate negative speech in the most lethal
Haman personified every aspect of Amalek. He was a direct descent of the
Amalekite King Agag, who was killed by Samuel the Prophet (at the time of
King Saul).
He personified the characteristic of deprecation and was thus able to speak
lashon hara in the most lethal manner. He was unable to see any aspect of the
Jewish people in a positive light. Therefore, when he spoke negatively about
the Jewish people he was able to bring about the decree to annihilate them.
It is interesting to note that The Gemara in Tractate Taanis tells us that when
the Torah is studied for its own sake it is the equivalent of a life potion;
however, when it is studied with a sinister intent to undermine or disgrace
another person, the same Torah study is transformed into a death potion.
Regarding the one who studies Torah with a sinister intent, Chazal tell us that
G-d says, It would have been better that he should not have come into
existence. Why is G-d so severe with the one who studies Torah with a
sinister intent? Torah is the ultimate illuminator as it is stated by King
Solomon. The Torah reveals G-dliness in existence by revealing holiness where
it has been hidden. When one studies Torah with the proper intent, he is able to
see truth. However, when one utilizes the Torah to undermine another, he is
expressing the characteristic of Amalek with something that is the most holy
thing in existence, which is the Torah itself. Rather than brining about life
through the Torah, he chooses to utilize it for negativity and destruction. Thus,
it would have been better that this individual not have come into the world.
G-d says, My throne is not complete until Amalek has been obliterated from
under the heavens. It is because Amalek is the ultimate deprecator who denies
G-ds existence and thus undermines His Presence. He must be removed from
3. The Inaugural Feast Of Achashverosh, a Cause for Annihilation
The Gemara in Tractate Megillah tells us that there was a discussion between
Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai and his students regarding why the Jewish people
were deserving of annihilation during the period of Purim. Reb Shimon Bar
Yochai asked them, What is your opinion why the Jewish people were
deserving of destruction? They responded, Jewish people deserved
annihilation because they benefited form the inaugural feast of Achashverosh
(the Emperor of Persia). Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai rejected their reason,
because if it were as they had said, then only the Jews in Shushan who
participated in the feast should have been liable for punishment and not
the entire Jewish people. He said that the reason the Jewish people deserving
annihilation was that they had bowed to the image of Nebuchadnezzar
(Babylonian Emperor, who had destroyed the First Temple). Nebuchadnezzar
had ordered all of his subjects to bow to his image or be subject to death. The
only ones who did not bow were Chananyia, Meshael, and Azarya.
18 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
The students of Reb Shimon Bar Yochai asked him, If in fact the Jewish
people deserved to be destroyed why were they not? He answered them,
Because when they bowed, it was only an external action that was devoid of
any belief that Nebuchadnezzar was a deity. Thus, the decree against the
Jewish people also manifested itself as something that was external but not
Chazal tell us that the feast in which the Jewish people had participated was in
conformance to dietary laws. If so, why was benefiting from the banquette a
reason for the Jewish people to be deserving of annihilation?
The Gemara in Tractate Megillah explains why Achashverosh delayed his
inaugural feast until the third year of his reign. Under normal circumstances, a
king would celebrate his coronation at the beginning of his reign. Why did
Achashverosh delay it until the third year? The Gemara explains that the
Prophet had said in the Name of G-d that after 70 years of exile in Babylon, the
Jewish people would return to the Land of Israel. According to Achashveroshs
calculation, the 70-year period was not complete until the third year of his
reign. His position as emperor was secure only after he was assured that the
Jews were not returning to the Land of Israel. When the anniversary of the 70th
year had passed, and the Jews remained in exile, Achashverosh believed that
G-d had abandoned and forsaken His people. G-d reneged on His promise that
He will bring them back.
In essence, the feast of Achashverosh was the celebration of the abandonment
of the Jewish people by G-d. Thus, the banquette was the celebration of the
desecration of G-d (Chilul Hashem). This is the reason Mordechai was
vehemently opposed to the Jewish people participating in the banquette. Thus,
because the Jewish people benefited from the banquette, they deserved to be
annihilated. However, Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai disagreed with his students.
4. Reciprocation- a Prerequisite to Reinstatement
The Midrash explains the basis for every aspect of the Mishkan, Rav Bisna
says, G-d said to the Jewish people: My Children, I want you to do for Me as I
have done for you. Just as I sustained you in the desert with the Manna, I want
you to sacrifice before Me a lamb every morning (daily communal sacrifice).
Just as I cleansed you with water, you should make for Me a Laver (kiyor). Just
as I anointed you with oil, you should bring the anointing oil (shemen
hamishchah). Just as I have cloaked you in elaborate embroidered vestments,
you should make for Me an embroidered curtain (Paroches)Just as I adorned
you with ornaments, you should make the Holy Ark and its crown. Just as I
adorned you with earrings/nose rings/jewelry, so too should you cover the Ark
with a gold coveringJust as I provided you with the pillar of fire that
accompanied you at night in the desert, so too should you kindle the
Menorah What is the significance of the Jewish people reciprocating for
what G-d had done for them as a people? G-d, being Complete in an absolute
sense, does not need anything.
Ramban explains that the Mishkan was a replication of Sinai. The intensity of
G-ds Presence in the Holy of Holies in the Mishkan was the equivalent to that
of the Sinai event. Just as G-d communicated to Moshe and the Jewish people
at Sinai, He spoke to Moshe from between the Cherubs on the Holy Ark that
was located in the Holy of Holies. Ramban presents many correlations, (based
on verses) that indicate that the Mishkan was the equivalent of Sinai.
The Gemara in Tractate Avodah Zorah explains that when the Jewish people
had unequivocally accepted the Torah at Sinai with the declaration Naaseh
vnishma we will do and we will listen they were reinstated to the level of
spirituality of Adam, before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. A consequence
of their new spiritual status was that they had overcome all of their physical
handicaps (if one were blind he was able to see etc.) The Jewish people were
no longer subject to death. They had reverted to the state of Adam before the
sin, which was eternal. It was only after the Sin of the Golden Calf that they
regressed to the post-sin status of Adam.
The Mishkan was a symbol of the reinstatement of the Jewish people after they
had sinned with the Golden Calf. The Mishkan was the medium through which
G-d dwelt in their midst. As it states, Make for Me a Sanctuary so that I shall
dwell in your midst. In order to replicate the setting for the Divine Presence to
dwell, the Jewish people needed to meet certain criteria.
The Torah tells us that the materials that were given by the Jewish people for
the building of the Mishkan needed to be given through the generosity of their
hearts (not as an obligation). If one felt obliged to contribute the materials to
the Mishkan, it did not qualify. The materials for the Mishkan needed to be
given with the same selfless dedication as the Jewish people had embraced the
Torah at Sinai with their declaration of Naaseh vnishma.
The Torah tells us that when G-d confronted Adam regarding his eating the
fruit of the Tree, He asked him Have you eaten of the tree from which I
commanded you not to eat? Adam replied, The woman whom You gave to
be with me she gave me of the tree Chazal tell us that Adams response to
G-ds question was an expression of an ingrate. Rather than being thankful and
appreciative for the wife that G-d had created for him, who was essential to
actualize his potential, Adam chose to blame G-d for his failing. He had said
that as a result of this woman that G-d had given him, he ate of the tree. When
the Jewish people complained about the Manna in the desert, which was
essential for their survival and spiritual development, G-d quantified them as
ingrates. He said, You are ingrates who descend from an ingrate (Adam).
The innate negative characteristic of lack of appreciation emanates from Adam,
the father of mankind.
In order for the Mishkan to be able to facilitate the Divine Presence in its
midst, the Jewish people had to address the innate failing of Adam. After eating
of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam had demonstrated the negative characteristic
of being an ingrate. The materials, which G-d had instructed the Jewish people
to donate, acted as a medium through which they would express their gratitude
for everything that G-d had provided for them from the time they had left
Egypt until the present. Through this reciprocation they addressed and
corrected the failing of Adam, thus allowing themselves to be worthy of a
relationship with G-d that was similar to what had existed before the sin.
In order for a Jew to have greater relevance to the Divine Presence, he must
continuously be appreciative for all that G-d provides. One must recognize that
even his own initiative is a gift from G-d.
5. The Challenges of Life
The Torah tells us in the Portion of Terumah that one of the materials that was
needed to build the Mishkan was Acacia wood (atzei sheetim). Rashi cites
Chazal who ask, From where did the Acacia wood come in the desert?
(Acacia trees do not grow in the desert nor are they an indigenous species in
Egypt.) Yaakov, our Patriarch had seen in his Divine vision that the Jewish
people would one day be redeemed from Egypt and would need to build the
Mishkan in the desert. He therefore brought with him Acacia trees from the
Land of Canaan to Egypt. He instructed his children that when they would
leave Egypt was is important to take with them the Acacia wood.
The Gemara in Avodah Zorah tells us that after the receiving the Torah at
Sinai, the Jewish people had ascended to the level of Adam before the sin and
they were no longer subject to death. However, after the sin of the golden calf,
they had reverted back to the level of Adam after the sin and they were subject
to death. Had they not sinned with the golden calf they would have been
qualified to be the location of the Divine Presence. However, because they
were tainted as a result of their sin, a Mishkan was needed to be built to be the
medium through which G-d could dwell among them. As it states, Build for
Me a Sanctuary so that I may dwell in your midst. This is similar to the
firstborn (bechorim) who were initially qualified to be G-ds officiants.
However, because of the golden calf, they became tainted and were no longer
qualified. They were replaced by the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron who were
not involved with the golden calf. Why did the Jewish people fail with the sin
of he golden calf?
Rashi in the portion of Ki Sisa cites the Midrash that tells us that towards the
end of the forty-day period when Moshe was in heaven receiving the Torah the
skies blackened and the Jewish people saw the bier of Moshe being carried
across the heavens. This vision of Moshes remains indicated to them that
Moshe had died in heaven and was not going to return. As a result of this
belief, the rabble initiated the idea that they needed a deity to assume the
position of leadership because Moshe who had taken them out of Egypt was no
longer there. In actuality, what they had seen was a distortion of truth. The
Jewish people
were deceived by satan, which caused them to fail with the golden calf. Had
they known that Moshe was alive, they would have not considered sinning and
the world would have been brought to spiritual perfection.
The Torah states in the Portion of Vayechi, Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt
seventeen years; and the days of Yaakov Rashi cites the Midrash, which
addresses the opening paragraph structure of the Portion of Vayechi. It is
referred to as a parsha setumah (a sealed portion). One of the interpretations
regarding the significance of the portion being sealed is that Yaakov wished
to reveal the end of time (hakeitz) to his sons but it was concealed from him.
The keitz is the end of time when Moshiach will come and the world will
brought to a state of spiritual perfection. Yaakov did not reveal the end of time
to his sons.
There is a question in the Midrash if it was Yaakov choice not to reveal it or
G-d had caused Yaakov to forget when the moment of the end was going to be.
The end of time that Yaakov would have revealed was the moment that the
Jewish people had achieved their level of perfection at Sinai. The world had
been reinstated to a level of purity before the sin of Adam. If Yaakov would
have revealed to his children that the end of time was going to be the Sinai
event, the Jewish people would have not been deceived by satan because they
would have received a tradition from Yaakov that their moment at Sinai was
the end of time. However, because it was not shared with them, they did not
realize the significance of that moment and thus visualizing Moshes remains
in a darkened heaven was truly a test for them, which they had failed. G-d
wanted the Jewish people to be subjected to the test of the golden calf to see if
they would have sufficient faith in Him or fail as they did.
Rabbi Shlomo Katz
Parshas Tetzaveh - The Goodness Within
Volume 27, No. 20 13 Adar 5773 February 23, 2013
Sponsored by Eli, Rachel Adina, Daniel Avraham, Yonatan and Chana
Rutstein in honor of the birthday of wife and mother Galit Rutstein
Todays Learning:
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Shabbat 143
One of the actions which is prohibited on Shabbat is borer / selection.
However, not all selection is prohibited on Shabbat. One is permitted
(under certain circumstances) to select the ochel / food out of a
mixture, but he is not permitted to select the psolet / rejects out of the
same mixture. For example, if a person has a salad in front of him, and he
wants only the tomatoes, he is not permitted to push aside the other
vegetables to get to the tomatoes. (In this case, the other vegetables are the
psolet even though they are technically food. In the context of this law,
anything desirable is called ochel, and anything undesirable is called
psolet.) On the other hand, if any tomatoes are already uncovered, one
may select the tomatoes out of the salad if he meets certain other
conditions. [Please consult reliable halachic sources for practical
R Avraham Eiger zl (1846-1914; the Lubliner Rebbe) offers the
following rationale for these laws: Shabbat was given as a time for man to
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 19
work on self-improvement. How does one improve himself? Deep down
within every Jew is a soul which is inherently good. Mans task, especially
on Shabbat, is to draw out the goodness which is hidden within him.
(Indeed, on Shabbat, that goodness awakens and tries to show itself.) The
laws of borer teach that one should not improve himself by peeling away
the layers of psolet / undesirable qualities. Rather, one should reach
deep inside himself and bring out the ochel / desirable qualities within.
(Quoted in Noam HaShabbat p.49)
And you shall speak to all the chachmei lev/wise-hearted people whom
I have invested with a spirit of wisdom." (28:3)
The Gemara (Berachot 55a) teaches: Hashem gives wisdom only to one
who has wisdom, as it is written (Shmot 31:6), I have endowed the heart
of every wise-hearted person with wisdom. It also is written (Daniel
2:21), He gives wisdom to the wise. Hashem operates the world such
that a full vessel can receive more, while an empty vessel cannot receive
anything. [Thus, one who already has wisdom can receive more, while one
who has no wisdom cannot receive any].
If so, asks R Chaim of Volozhin z"l (1749-1821), how does one acquire
wisdom in the first place? The answer is found in the words of both King
David (Tehilim 111:10) and King Shlomo (Mishlei 9:10), The beginning
of wisdom is the fear of Hashem. The wisdom which precedes
Hashem's gift of wisdom is fear of Heaven.
A person can acquire this initial "wisdom" (i.e., fear of Hashem) only
through his own toil. The Gemara teaches (Berachot 33b), Everything is
in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven. Thus, when the
Gemara says that Hashem gives wisdom only to one who has wisdom, it
means that He gives wisdom only to one who has acquired fear of Heaven
through his own hard work. Similarly, the wise-hearted people of our
pasuk are those who possess fear of Heaven. (Ruach Chaim 4:1)
They shall make the Ephod / apron of gold; turquoise, purple, and
scarlet wool, and twisted linen, with a woven design. (28:6)
Rashi zl writes: If I set out to explain the making of the Ephod and the
Breastplate in the order of the verses, their description would be
fragmentary and the reader might err in piecing the details together.
Therefore, I shall write down in order how they were made, so that the
reader may run through it, and afterwards I shall explain them in the order
of the verses . . .
R Yerucham Levovitz zl (mashgiach ruchani of the Radin and Mir
yeshivot; died 1936) comments: This statement by Rashi awakened me to
the immense kindness that Rashi did for us. We read earlier (21:1), These
are the ordinances that you shall place before them, on which Rashi
comments: God said to Moshe, It shouldnt enter your mind to say, I
will teach them a section of the Torah or a single halachah twice or three
times until its wording is fluent in their mouths, but I wont take the
trouble to make them understand the reason of each law and its
significance. Rather, the Torah says, which you shall place before
them, like a table fully laid with everything ready for eating.
R Levovitz continues: One might have thought that a teacher need not
trouble himself to explain every detail to a student; rather, the teacher
could place the material before the student and let him toil until he
understands it. However, the Torah is teaching us that this is not the way.
Not only Moshe Rabbeinu was obligated to ensure that the material was
understood. Instead, halachah requires every teacher to set the table for
the student, and this is what Rashi Hakadosh did for us as well. (Daat
The stones shall be according to the names of Bnei Yisrael, twelve
according to their names . . . Aharon shall carry the names of Bnei
Yisrael on the Breastplate of J udgment when he enters the Sanctuary, as
a constant remembrance before Hashem. (28:21, 29)
R Yitzchak Isaac Chaver zl (1789-1852; rabbi of Suvalk, Lithuania)
writes: It is no coincidence that there are twelve tribes and twelve stone in
the Breastplate. These are in opposition to the twelve constellations of the
zodiac. Through the Kohen Gadol, the Shechinah rests on Yisrael and we
are able to transcend the laws of nature and to be subject to hashgachah
pratit / G-ds direct intervention. In turn, this gives us the ability to get
advice and direction from the Urim Vtumim, contained in the Breastplate
with twelve stones. If we do not merit, we are subject to the laws of nature
and to the influence of the stars.
R Chaver adds: There are twelve months in a year and twelve hours in a
day, and it is for us to determine whether they will be subject to the twelve
signs of the zodiac or to hashgachah pratit. Also, when we merit,
Yerushalayim of the future will have twelve gates. (see Yechezkel 48:31-
34). (Haggadah Shel Pesach Yad Mitzrayim p.206)
The contents of the document were to be promulgated in every province
and be published to all peoples so that the J ews should be atidim / ready
on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. (Esther 8:13)
In this verse in the megillah, the word atidim is spelled with an extra,
silent letter vav. What is the significance of that vav? R Mordechai Zvi
Adler zl (dayan in Uglya, Hungary; late 19th - early 20th centuries)
The Mishnah (end of Tractate Uktzin) teaches that Hashem has found no
receptacle more suitable for holding blessings than shalom / peace. This is
why Birkat Kohanim / the Priestly Blessings culminates with a blessing for
shalom, for that is the pinnacle of all blessings. Note that Birkat Kohanim
consists of six phrases, of which, May He give you shalom, is the sixth.
Note also that the gematria of the letter vav is six.
When Mordechai pleaded with Esther to go to Achashveirosh in an
attempt to annul Hamans decree, she responded (4:16), Go, assemble all
the Jews to be found in Shushan . . . It was understood that if the Jewish
People would observe the entire Torah, they would be invincible.
However, it is impossible for any one Jew to observe the entire Torah,
since some mitzvot are only for men, others only for women, some only
for kohanim, some only for leviim, etc. But, if the Jewish People are
united, then, collectively, they can observe the whole Torah. That is why
Esther instructed Mordechai to assemble all the Jews.
This, concludes R Adler, is the reason for the extra vav. In order to be
ready to fight back against Hamans attack, the Jewish People needed the
vav, the sixth blessing, which is shalom. (Ir Mivtzar)
R Moshe Isserles zl (Rema; 1525-1572), best known for his glosses on
the Shulchan Aruch, also authored Torat Haolah, a work of philosophical
and ethical lessons derived from the structure of the Bet Hamikdash and
the laws of the korbanot. In the introduction to that work, he writes about
the importance of studying these matters:
The Midrash Tanchuma states: The Torah is greater than all of the
sacrifices, as it is written (Vayikra 7:37), This is the Torah of the olah /
burnt offering, the minchah / the meal offering, the chatat / guilt offering
etc. One who studies the Torah, i.e., the laws, of the olah is deemed to
have brought an olah; one who studies the Torah of the minchah is deemed
to have brought a minchah; and so on. Similarly, Rema writes, early
commentaries state that if one studies the structure of the mishkan and its
utensils, he fulfills a great mitzvah. How much more so is this true if we
merit to understand the inner meaning of even one of the things to which
the mishkan or its utensils alludes!
In reality, there are two benefits from studying the inner meaning of the
mishkan, the Bet Hamikdash, the utensils and the sacrifices, Rema writes.
One is that this study will cause us to mourn for the Temple, for we will
understand what we are missing. The second benefit is that we will be able
to bring sacrifices in our minds when we sin; this is relevant to us all, as
it is written (Kohelet 7:20), There is no man in the world who is a tzaddik
who does only good and does not sin.
Copyright &copy 2013 by Shlomo Katz and The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study and discussion of Torah
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Rabbi Dov Kramer
Taking A Closer Look
When we thank G-d for saving us from Haman in Al Hanisim, the verse in
the Mgilla describing Hamans intent (3:13) is quoted, as Haman wanted
"to destroy, kill and wipe out all of the Jews, from young to old,
[including] children and women, on one day, on the 13th [day] of the 12th
month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. This
last clause seems problematic, for several reasons. First of all, its quite
awkward to include the part of the decree that called for plundering our
possessions while thanking G-d for saving our lives. Would the loss of
material possessions mean anything to their owners after they were
murdered? Why was this aspect included in the prayer of thanks and
praise? Would our expression of gratitude be any less complete if this part
of the verse wasnt quoted? Secondly, although our possessions being
plundered was a primary motivator for our enemies to kill us (since they
could take our belongings afterwards, see Ralbag), and is therefore
included in the wording of the decree (in the Mgilla), the word decree is
not included in Al Hanisim; we are describing what Haman wanted to
do, not what he decreed. We are therefore stating that Haman wanted to
plunder our possessions. Not that he wanted our possessions to be
plundered by others so that they would kill us, but that he himself wanted
to take possession of our things. How can we state that Haman wanted to
take our things for himself if our possessions would have been taken by
those who killed us, not by Haman?
The very notion that the king of the Persian empire would allow a decree
of genocide to be issued seems rather far-fetched. For a king who had to
maintain the loyalty of 127 different provinces, wiping out one of the
nations he was supposed to be protecting would be very problematic. Did
Achashveirosh really want to be thought of as barbaric by the people of his
empire? He didnt seem to even be aware that such a decree was issued, as
when Esther pleaded for her life and the life of her people (7:3), he asked
her who it was that wanted to kill them (7:5). Unless he was feigning
ignorance, wasnt it obvious who it was? How many peoples in his
kingdom were slated to be wiped out? Additionally, if a decree to wipe out
every Jew was issued in Nisan to be carried out 11 months later (in Adar),
why would any Jew remain in the Persian empire? Why didnt they all
move to Greece, or somewhere else not under Achashveirosh's rule? Why
didnt they rebel, or at least cause a major commotion? There were
powerful Jews in the capital city of Shushan (Mordechai being one of
them). Why was Mordechai the only one who seemed to be concerned (see
20 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
4:1)? Was Esther so sheltered in the palace that she had to ask Mordechai
why he was mourning (4:5)?
In Esther/Ruth/Jonah Deciphered, Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Ph.D,
asks numerous questions about the plot of the Purim story as described in
the Mgilla (including why the Jews didnt just leave), and makes some
fascinating suggestions. Although not all of them are consistent with the
text of the Mgilla, the way it was understood by our sages, or even with
some of his own suggestions, one of his main suggestions makes a lot of
sense, has historical backing, and would explain a lot of otherwise curious
One of the main issues facing Achashveirosh, at least by the time Haman
became second-in-command, was the finances of the kingdom. The
Persian army had quashed a rebellion in Egypt (Kushs northern neighbor,
at the western end of the empire) during the first two years of his rule, and
Achashveirosh had thrown a six month party, giving the leaders of each of
his provinces a turn to have a private audience with the king so that he
could solidify his rule and gauge how they would react if he attacked
Greece. After a less than successful war with Greece, the royal treasury
was depleted, but placing additional taxes on the people in his empire
would hardly be tolerated. It was at this point that Haman came up with a
plan to raise revenue without increasing taxes across the board.
Until then, taxes were levied on property owners, with local governors
collecting the property taxes within their province. Haman suggested
adding a head tax on top of that, but only on one nation, one that was
scattered and separated among the nations in all of the provinces of the
empire (3:8), so had no real power base to fight the tax. Administering
this new head tax on the people of a scattered nation would be quite
onerous, but Haman had a way to deal with that as well. Rather than the
local governors collecting it, or the king hiring new tax collectors, Haman
offered to become a tax farmer, paying the king a flat amount (10,000
talents of silver, see 3:9), to come from those doing the work (ibid), i.e.
those collecting the tax, with anything collected above and beyond the
10,000 silver talents going to Haman (perhaps with a percentage going to
his tax collectors). In order to raise such a substantial amount, an
exorbitant sum was imposed on each person--man, woman and child (Dr.
Rosenberg goes through the numbers to show how high the tax on each
head was).
This head tax would be extremely difficult to pay; even those who could,
would likely have to use their life savings and/or go into severe debt.
Therefore, the consequences of not paying it would have to be severe. And
they were; any person whose head tax was not paid by the due date (the
13th of Adar) would (or could) be put to death. In other words, the decree
was framed as a highly focused head tax that gave the tax collectors the
legal right to do whatever it takes to collect it--even if it means executing
those who fail to pay, not as an order of genocide that allowed for taking
the victims possessions.
Did anyone think that failure to pay would really bring about mass
executions? Was the decree seen as a death warrant or as a harshly-worded
tax levy? Achashveirosh, desperate to raise needed funds, went along with
it; the money is given to you (3:11), i.e. any funds collected above the
10,000 silver talents for the royal treasury belonged to Haman, as well as
the nation, to do to it whatever you see fit (ibid), i.e. you have the
authority to make the consequences of not paying anything you want, even
death. Nevertheless, when Esther told Achashveirosh that had the
consequences of not paying the head tax only been being sold into
slavery she wouldnt ask him to intervene, but since the intention was to
actually kill her people (7:4) she had to, he was either taken aback or
pretended to be, having thought of Hamans decree as a tax levy not an
order of genocide. Although the decree was known by all (3:14), no one
fled the empire, as they also viewed it as a harsh tax levy rather than a
death warrant. Only Mordechai understood that Hamans real intent was to
murder Jews, men, women and children, using unpaid taxes as a cover, and
this is how he framed the decree when he described it in the Mgilla.
Although we are thanking G-d for sparing our lives, if the decree that
would have led to genocide was framed as a tax levy, it would be
inappropriate to ignore that facet completely. Therefore, the plundering of
our possessions was included in Al Hanisim, as this was how the
genocide was disguised. And since Haman would have been allowed to
keep everything he collected beyond the 10,000 silver talents, it could be
said that it was Haman himself who wanted to plunder our possessions.
This approach can also explain the wording of the Purim stanza of Maoz
Tzur, sung after lighting the Chanukah candles; [Hamans] abundant sons
and his possessions were hung on wood. We know that his ten sons were
hung (9:13), but were his possessions hung too? If Haman kept all the tax
money collected above 10,000 silver talents, after he was hung (7:10) it
would have gone to his sons. However, after Haman and his sons were all
killed, even if Achashveirosh couldnt confiscate Hamans private
possessions (besides his royal house), he could take the tax funds that
Haman and his family would have kept and deposit them in the royal
treasury instead. In essence, by killing all of Hamans sons and hanging
them, Haman's possessions could also be said (in prose form) to have been
hung, as it was the hanging of those who would have inherited him that
allowed the funds to go towards the kings deficit.
If the circumstances that allowed the decree to have been issued centered
around the need to raise funds to cover the expenses of Achashveiroshs
wars, it is fitting that the Mgilla ends with Achashveirosh placing taxes on
everybody (10:1). Whether Achashveirosh returned the funds from the
head tax to those Jews who had paid them and these new taxes replaced
those funds, or these taxes were less severe than they otherwise would
have been because of the funds raised through the head tax, is unknown.
Nevertheless, highlighting the taxes at the end indicates that raising funds
for the royal treasury played a primary role in the Purim story, including
Hamans fateful decree possibly being presented as a tax levy rather than
as genocide.

Rabbi Moshe Krieger
Bircas HaTorah Parsha Sheet
Parshas Zachor
This week we read a special maftir that inspires us to remember what
Amalek did to us, hate them, and accept upon ourselves the mitzvah of
destroying the nations evil seed and everything it represents. Seemingly,
Amaleks unparalleled hatred for the Jewish People is so significant in
Hashems eyes that it was deemed fitting and even necessary that such a
menace be eliminated. However, according to this line of reasoning, we
should have a mitzvah to kill and take vengeance on every anti-Semitic
person and all his offspring. In the Torah we see many other instances of
anti-Semitism, exhibited by the Egyptians, Bilaam, and nearly every other
non-Jewish figure mentioned. Why do we only have a mitzvah to
exterminate Amalek? What about all the other anti-Semites?
One way to answer this question, is to say that Hashem takes issue with
Amalek in particular because asher karcha baderech, literally, they
happened to you on the way. However, Rashi comments that asher
karcha baderech doesnt only mean that the Amalekites happened
upon the Jews. Karcha can also mean that the Amalekites cooled the
Jews down. Midrash Tanchuma in parshas Ci Tetzei tells the parable of a
hot bath that no one dares to jump into for fear of scalding themselves.
However, one man is brazen enough to jump in and, though burning
himself terribly, he causes others to think that jumping into the bath may
not be such a big deal after all. After yetzias Mitrayim, nobody had the
slightest notion that the Jewish People were vulnerable to attack. It may be
true that there were plenty of nations that hated the Jews, but G-ds
Providence was so evident that it was understood that fighting the Jewish
People would be a suicide mission. Only after Amalek attacked did the
other nations begin to reevaluate their positions with regards to the Jewish
People. Thus, Amalek reintroduced anti-Semitism into the world.
Furthermore, this was not just an anti-Semitism that the non-Jewish
nations would harbor in their hearts throughout posterity. Rather, as we
have seen over the last few thousand years, this was an anti-Semitism that
has been activated innumerable times. The Megilla itself almost concludes
with the genocide of the Jewish People due to the efforts of a descendant
of Amalek. This is what makes Amalek so deserving of G-ds vengeance
until the end of time. As the cause of all the unrelenting anti-Semitism in
the world, they are deserving of that very same hatred. They are
responsible for every attempted genocide that has afflicted the Jewish
People throughout the course of history, so we have a mitzvah to
annihilate them in return.
Rav Chaim Friedlander gives a different answer . He claims that the threat
of Amalek isnt just physical. It is spiritual as well. Amalek represents the
atheistic viewpoint that everything that happens in our lives is random
happenstance. In Amaleks eyes, there is no such thing as hashgacha
pratis. Things just happen. Amalek happened upon us on our way out of
Egypt. Our previous successes were like nothing in their eyes. They were
just happenstance. Amaleks attack demonstrated their opinion that
everything is happenstance. This was their sincere belief and they worked
desperately to spread this disgusting idea to the rest of the world. After
yetzias Mitzrayim, the entire world saw the mighty hand G-d displayed in
saving the Jewish People. G-ds power was in the consciousness of every
human being at that time. When Amalek attacked suddenly, they
reintroduced the concept that some things are beyond Hashems control,
has vshalom. Such a hillul Hashem demanded severe consequences.
According to Rav Friedlander, all apikorsus today stems from this attack
of Amalek. This was the worse sin of Amalek above all others.
The gemara in Megilla 30a says that if Purim falls on erev Shabbos, we
read parshas Zachor the preceding week. Rav, an amora, explains that the
reason parshas Zachor must be read before the Megilla is because
remembrance should take place before doing. The simple
understanding of the gemara is that we must remember our obligation to
wipe out Amalek by reading parshas Zachor before we actually annihilate
Amalek through the reading of the Megilla. How does our Megilla reading
wipe out Amalek? If one appreciates the hashgach pratis inherent in the
Megilla he is eradicating everything Amalek stands for. Amalek sees a
world without G-d. When we read the Megilla, we see a world with G-d.
G-d is in control of everything in our lives and always places the remedy
before the illness. Today, we are unable to identify any descendant of
Amalek. Therefore, the Megilla is the most powerful tool we have for
actualize this mitzvah.
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May we all be zoche to completely erase Amalek and his memory in our
Rabbi Eli Mansour
Weekly Perasha Insights
Our Protection from Amalek
On Shabbat Zachor, we read the final three verses in Parashat Ki-Teseh
which command us to remember the unprovoked attack launched against
our ancestors when they left Egypt by the nation of Amalek. This attack
occurred in a place called Refidim, and the Sages teach us that this
location was so named because while Beneh Yisrael were there, Rafu
Yedehem Min HaTorah they became lax in their engagement in Torah
study. It was on account of this laxity, we are taught, that G-d brought
upon us the vicious attack of Amalek.
In commanding us to remember this incident, G-d instructs, Remember
what Amalek did to you. Despite the fact that this unfortunate incident
was our own doing, a result of our failure to properly devote ourselves to
Torah, G-d nevertheless describes the war as something brought upon us
by Amalek, rather than something we brought upon ourselves. One Rabbi
compared this to a king who had a close friend whom he trusted and
regarded very highly. The friend, however, proved unworthy of this trust,
and one night tried to break into the palace. The guard dogs immediately
began to bark loudly, chasing the man away. The king heard about the
incident, and summoned his friend to the palace.
Im really sorry about those dogs, he said. Its terrible the way they
frightened you. They should never have done that.
Although it was obviously the mans fault that the dogs attacked him, the
king, out of his unconditional love for his friend, focused on the dogs
aggressiveness rather than the friends grave breach of trust.
Similarly, Amaleks assault Beneh Yisrael was because of our breach,
due to our failure to properly devote ourselves to Torah. Yet, in speaking
about this incident G-d begins by focusing not on our failure, but on the
brutality of Amalek. This expresses just how much G-d loves and cares for
His people, how even in our times of failure He wishes for our wellbeing
and looks angrily upon those who oppress us.
In the next verse, however, G-d indeed draws our attention to the cause of
Amaleks attack. He describes how at the time of this attack Beneh Yisrael
were tired and weary, and not G-d-fearing. Rashi explains the phrase
and not G-d-fearing as referring to Amalek, but according to the Or
Hahaim, it refers to Beneh Yisraels condition at that time. Because they
were tired and weary lax and apathetic toward Torah study their
Yirat Shamaim declined. Torah study is what keeps us alert and sensitive
to our religious duties, and thus when our devotion to learning is lacking,
so is our overall devotion to G-d. And when this happens, we become
vulnerable to Amalek, to the many adversaries that threaten us and seek
to perpetrate evil against us.
This is the fundamental message of Shabbat Zachor the importance of
Torah learning as our source of protection against Amalek and our other
foes. As long as we remain committed and dedicated to Torah study, our
enemies are powerless against us. As we recite at the Seder, Vehi
Sheameda Laabotenu it, the Torah, is what has stood in protection of
our people throughout the generations.
Particularly in our day and age, when enemies of the Jewish people pose
such a grave threat to our existence both in Israel and around the world, we
must heed the reminder of Zachor, the warning of Rafu Yedehem Min
HaTorah. When we are tired and weary, when we do not approach
Torah study with the vigor and intensity it demands, then we become
vulnerable, as we lose our single most important source of protection and
National Council of Young Israel
Weekly Dvar Torah
Parshat Tezaveh-Zachor, Purim
Daf Yomi: Shabbos 143
Guest Rabbi: RabbiYonoson Hirtz, Utopia Jewish Center, Queens, NY
As we read Megillat Esther, the climax of the Purim story is at Esthers
second private party. King Achashverosh asks his queen: "Whatever
you want, Esther, I will grant you up half of my kingdom."
Esther responds that she requests life, because her nation was sold for
annihilation. Esther continues .if we would have just been sold as
slaves, I would have remained silent, but the adversary is not worthy of the
Kings damage. Shocked, Achashverosh asks, "Who is this? Where is
the one who dared to do this?"
It is astonishing that Achashverosh was surprised, considering that, just a
few days earlier, he listened to Haman, the one who indicted the Jews and
plotted his plan to eliminate them from his 127 provinces. What was the
Kings response to Hamans request? He not only agreed, but he removed
his signet ring and gave it to Haman as Haman promised the King ten
thousand silver talents for the Kings treasury. Apparently, the King is in
on the plan! Haman could not have attempted to succeed without the
Kings consent, so how could the King have forgotten this in just a few
short days? What does he really mean by asking Where is the one who
dared to do this?
The Malbim, in his commentary to the Megillah, points out a very
important nuance that sheds light on this issue, and explains the
relationship between Haman and Achashverosh. Looking closely at the
initial anti-Jewish request Haman makes of Achasverosh, we see that he
says "If it pleases the King, let it be recorded that they be Labdam"
[Esther 3:9]. What does the word Labdam mean? The root of the word is
to disappear or to be lost. The Malbim explains that Haman did not say
to kill and annihilate the Jewish people when he was making his proposal
to the King. Haman knew the King was interested in the Jews becoming
lost meaning, to be somewhat assimilated into the indigenous
population. Haman knew that the King was not a lover of the Jewish
people either. But Achashverosh just wanted them to be lost as Jews, to
have them disappear as a distinctive nation with a unique belief system.
However, Achashverosh was not a murderer; he was not interested in mass
extermination and bloodshed. His thinking was that you can destroy
Judaism without destroying the Jews. Therefore, Haman told
Achashverosh, let us take care of this religion; there will be no one in
your kingdom who practices Judaism Labdam. And the king agreed!
But the king did not agree to genocide. The king was not a partner in the
murder of the Jews; he did not like the Jews either, but he was not ready to
physically eliminate the Jewish Nation from the face of the earth.
After Achashverosh agreed to Labdam, Haman called the scribes and
dictated what ostensibly, were the Kings orders to destroy, to kill and
to Labed to have them become lost. Those letters were sent throughout
the 127 provinces that on the 13th day of Adar, all Jews shall be
exterminated. But, remember, Achashverosh never agreed to that! He only
agreed to LAbdam. That is why, when Esther said that had we been sold
as slaves (which would ultimately lead to the assimilating of the Jews
because, as slaves, they would not be able to practice their religion), she
could not have said anything else since you [King] agreed to that.
However, Haman wanted to exterminate us! That is what Achashverosh
meant not, who is the one responsible, because Achashverosh knew it
was Haman. What Achashverosh was surprised about was who had the
chutzpah to usurp my authority! Who thought he could speak for the king?
Who authorized the genocide? Achashverosh became angry at Haman for
what Haman did! not to the Jews (or what he attempted to do), but
because Achashverosh was always looking over his shoulder since he was
always wary of a coup. He himself was not of royal blood. He became the
King during political upheavals at which time he maneuvered himself into
power. He knew that if someone such as he were able to assume power,
another person could also do the same. He was cautious of Haman, and
now he saw that Haman had attempted to encroach on speaking as the
King. That is all Achashverosh needed. (He was already cautious when
Haman suggested that the greatest honor that could be bestowed on a
person whom the King wants to honor is to wear the Kings clothes and
ride the Kings horse, etc.) Who signed a decree in my name which
I did not agree to?
Haman was immediately killed for usurping the Kings authority. The
story of Purim is the Story of the Jewish people. There have always been
the Hamans who wanted to see us dead. There have always been the
Achashveroshs who didnt want us to practice Judaism. And there have
always been external conflicts, as well, which indirectly affected the Jews.
But Am Yisrael outlives them all. Let us hope that the Hamans and the
Achashveroshs of our world will come to an end, and the miracles of
Purim will once again occur as they did Bayamin Hahaim.
Shabbat Shalom Chag Purim Samayach.
Dvar Torah Titzaveh By Rabbi Dovid Sochet
Parashas Titzava Shabbos Zachor: How to Defeat Amalek
Chazal declared Parshas Zachor to be read on the Shabbos prior to Purim.
Haman (a direct descendant of Amalek) and his followers were defeated
during the miracle of Purim. This defeat was in part a fulfillment of the
Divine command and promise to eliminate Amalek (1).
How does this sacred commandment apply to us today?
The Zohar Hakadosh (2) says that Satan is the heavenly officer of Amalek
while other commentators say that Amalek refers to the Yetzer Hara or the
evil inclination. In other words, when commanding us to obliterate the
remembrance of Amalek, we are also commanded to blot out our own
Yetzer Hara, which is our personal Amalek.
The Medrash (3) points out an acronym on the letters of Eisav's name:
Ha,-shav sheh'barasi beh-ohlomi - "Behold! There exists deceit which I
created in my world "(4). This alludes to Eisav who used dishonesty to
make Yitzchak think approvingly of him (5). Eisav is compared to the
swine who smugly flaunts its split hooves (as if to say, "See, I am
Kosher"), while actually remaining "non-Kosher" (6). Eisav married at the
age of forty just as his righteous father did pretending to emulate him, but
yet he engaged in sinful activities.
The Sheim MiShmuel (7) notes that lying and deception had already been
introduced into the universe at the time of its inception. When the serpent
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spoke slanderously of Hashem to Chava (Eve) he stated that Hashem had
eaten from the Tree of Knowldege and thus created the world. They too
could be divine by doing the same (8)!
The Sheim MiShmuel distinguishes between these two distinct Hebrew
words for falsehood- "sheker" and "shav". "Sheker", he proposes, refers to
lying to others when the liar actually knows the truth. This was the case
vis--vis the serpent.
"Shav" in the above mentioned Medrash refers to a lie where the liar fools
himself to believe that he is in fact being truthful = self-deception. From
Eisav's viewpoint he was fully deserving of the birthright and blessings.
Based on this self-deception, after Yitzchak warns Yaakov not to marry
Cana'anite women, Eisav went and married his uncle Yishmael's daughter,
but nonetheless, he did not divorce his previous two Cana'anite wives!
This was because he attributed his unworthiness of the blessings not to his
sinful behavior but to his Cana'anite children who were not fit to receive
the blessing. In his erroneous belief he felt that this would be corrected by
his fathering non-Cana'anite children from Yishmael's descendants. As
such he saw no need to divorce his previous wives.
This attribute of deception and self-deception was further advanced by
Eisav's son Amalek. Our Rabbis (9) comment on how Amalek used
deception to wage war against the Jews by dressing like Cana'anites (10),
using the pretense of wanting to trade with the Jewish people to approach
them in order to attack them. The art of deception is pervasive and viral in
nature; this quality implants within others both the ability to deceive and
the capacity for self-deception, to obscure truth and clarity of vision.
The Navi says (11)
the remnant of Israel shall not do injustice nor speak lies; neither
shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth. Reb Yehudah Hachosid
(12) relates the following story in his Sefer Chasidim (13).
A sinner came to a wise man and said, If you tell me how to do teshuva-
repent- by doing one single act no matter how difficult, I will do it. The
wise man answered him, Be extra careful never to tell a lie. Through this
you will achieve complete penitence. The wicked man said he would do it
even though it will be very difficult.
At the next opportunity to steal he thought to himself.If I get caught I will
not be able to deny the theft I committed. I will be punished if I admit to
the crime and I cannot lie to save myself. Thus he refrained from stealing.
Similar thoughts repeated themselves in his mind for each sin he wanted to
commit and kept him from carrying out any misdeeds. After a time he
became a completely righteous man.
The Pasuk (14) tells us for I will utterly erase out
the remembrance of Amalek (the words utterly erase in the pasuk
literally reads, "for erase, surely shall I erase the memory of Amalek").
Later the pasuk (15) says - Thou shall erase the
remembrance of Amalek. In total the word "erase" -in one form or another
in reference to the annihilation of Amalek- is repeated three times.
"Moche" - erase, "Emcheh" surely shall I erase, and "Timche" - you shall
erase. - The acronym of the words that refer to the eradication of Amalek,
"Emcheh", "Moche", "Timche", spell out the Hebrew word emet (emes)
meaning truth. This can perhaps be what the Torah is alluding to with the
acronym of emes, truth, when referring to the eradication of Amalek
which is symbolic of our own personal evil inclination. The Torah is
telling us that the sublime way in defeating our own evil is to constantly be
scrupulous in maintaining our own honesty and to be extra cautious that
we do not deceive ourselves as to our own righteousness.
Please feel free to forward this Torah thought to anyone you feel will take
pleasure in reading it. Feel free to contact me at
with any questions and comments.
Good Shabbos and a Happy Purim, Rabbi Dovid Sochet
1. See Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 603
2. 3:281B
3. B'reishis Rabba 63:8
4. The Hebrew letters for Esavs name are Ayin Shin Beis. The commentators
on the Medrash explain that shebarasi beolami is the acronym of the letters
Shin and the Beis. The letter Ayin is derived from Ha,-shav which begins with
the letter Hai,, in the Hebrew language the letters Hai and Ayin are sometimes
5. Bereishes 25:28 see Rashi there
6. See Rashi Bereishes 26:34
7. Rav Shmuel Bornstein of Sochatchov 1855-1926
8. See Rashi to Bereishes 3:5
9. Tanchuma Ki Teitzei 9
10. See Rashi Bamidbar 21:1
11. Tzfaniah 3:13
12. Rabeinu Yehudah Hachosid of Regensburg 1150-1217, was one of the
great Rabbis of Ashkenaz
13. Chapter 647
14. Shemos 17:14
15. Devarim 25:19
Rabbi Dovid Sochet is the son of the Stoliner Rebbe of Yerushalayim; he spent a considerable
amount of his formative years in Los Angeles CA, and the 5 Towns in New York. He studied in
the following Yeshivas: The Mesivtah of San Diego, Yeshiva Harbotzas Torah in Flatbush NY,
and Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic. He currently is a Rabbi in Spring Valley New York where he
resides with his wife and children. Rabbi Sochet is also certified Mohel.
The Weekly Sidra- Ttzaveh By Rabbi Moshe
The Mizbaiach (altar) inside the Mishkan (Tabernacle) had several
names- Mizbach HaKtores (incense altar), Mizbach HaZahav (golden
altar), and Mizbach HaPnimi (inner altar). Here it is being commanded in
this weeks Sidra:
And you shall make a Mizbaiach to burn incense upon; of Shittim wood
shall you make it..... And you shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, and
the sides around it, and its horns; and you shall make for it around a rim of
gold. (Shmos 30:1 and 3)
As to the placement in the Torah of the Mitzvah of the Mizbach
HaKtores, the Ramban (Rav Moshe Ben Nachman- 1194c- 1270) of
blessed memory, among many others, asked the following.
In last weeks Sidra, which was Terumah, the construction of almost all
the vessels of the Mishkan was discussed. This would include the Aron
(ark), the Shulchan (table), the Mnorah, and the outer Mizbaiach. But,
why was the Mizbach HaKtores not included in last weeks Sidra, only to
be placed at the very end of this weeks Sidra, after the making of the
clothing of the Kohanim? Fortunately for us, several answers to this query
are available from Rav Baruch HaLevy Epstein (1860-1941) of blessed
memory, author of the Torah Tmimah.
It seems that Ain KElokainu (which contains the Pitum HaKtores-
pounding of the incense) is recited at the end of our Tfillos (prayers).
Why, posed Rav Baruch, should this be so? Our answer can be found in a
Mishna in the Gemarah Berachos 42a-b:
..The same person recites the Bracha (blessing) over the Mugmar
(spices burning on hot coals for inhalation), although the Mugmar is not
brought in till after the meal.
Now, the purpose of this Mugmar was to give off pleasant and satisfying
aromas, which might have been beneficial for digestion. And, related Rav
Baruch, this Mugmar has a certain affinity to the Mizbach HaKtores,
based on the following Passuk (verse):
Who is this who comes from the wilderness like columns of smoke,
burning (MKuteres) with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the
merchant? (Shir HaShirim 3:6)
If we look in the Targum, the Aramaic translation, we find the expression
MiTagmra (from Mugmar), which connects the Mugmar with the
Mizbach HaKtores, both coming at the end of something. The Mugmar
comes at the end of the meal, while the Mizbach HaKtores comes at the
end of all the other vessels and clothing under the category of Mishkan
(Tabernacle). Just as the Mugmar comes to sweeten the meal, so too does
the Mizbach HaKtores come to sweeten the construction of the Mishkan.
That is why it was saved for very last. And, similarly, Pitum HaKtores
comes to sweeten our Tfillos.
Now, according to Rav Baruch, there is a more technical perspective in
Halacha (Torah law), as to why the Mizbach HaKtores is mentioned last
in this weeks Sidra.
Concerning most of the vessels of the Mishkan, it stands to reason, that if
the vessel is unavailable, the specific Avodah (service) of that vessel
cannot be accomplished. When there is no Mizbaiach HaChitzon (outer
altar), there is no bringing up of the organs of the Korban (offering). When
there is no Shulchan, there is no Lechem HaPanim (show bread). When
there is no Mnorah, there is no kindling of its lights.
This is true for all the vessels of the Mishkan, taught Rav Baruch, except
for the Mizbach HaKtores. For, we find the following in the Gemarah
Zvachim 59a:
But surely Rav Gidal said in Rav's name, If the Mizbaiach (HaKtores)
was removed (from its place), the incense was burnt on its site!
That is, explained Rav Baruch, the Avodah of burning the Ktores may
even be accomplished when there is no Mizbach HaKtores. And, because
unlike the other vessels, its unavailability does not hamper in any way its
Avodah, the Torah opted to make mention of the Mizbach HaKtores only
after having made mention of all the other vessels. So end the answers of
Rav Baruch to our original question. Now, while the technical aspects here
are certainly most worthy of note, there is a moral lesson as well.
In our discussion we found that Pitum HaKtores comes at the end of our
Tfillos, to sweeten them. Reciting only that which is essentially
necessary, and not a word more, reduces Tfillah to an automated and
indifferent activity, rather than the very sincere offering of the heart it
should be.
It would appear that the purpose of the Pitum HaKtores is to keep us in
the Tfillah mode for a moment or two longer, to sweeten our Tfillos into
an Avodah from the heart, and to keep us from rushing away so quickly to
our daily chores. All in all, a good lesson to remember.
May we soon see the Gulah Shlaimah in its complete resplendence-
speedily, and in our times. Good Shabbos.
The Weekly Sidra Wishes All Of Our Readers
A Happy Purim From Rabbi Moshe Greebel and Family
Confidential matters may be sent to Rabbi Greebel at: Also
appearing on the website: The National Council of Young Israel
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Torah Insights -Parshat Tezaveh
By Rabbi Dov Shapiro
Purim Unity
Have you ever considered how Mordechai and Esther would feel about our
Purim celebrations today? Actually, its difficult to know, since we dont
have much information about what their Purim parties looked like.
Nevertheless, there is at least one lesson of Purim which Mordechai and
Esther expected us to learn.
Lets begin with a few questions:
When Haman approached Achashveirosh with the plan to annihilate the
Jews, he described them as Am echad mfuzar umforad bein haamim.
Chazal tell us that these words scattered and separated allude to the lack
of achdus, the disunity and machlokes that existed within the Jewish
people at that time. Hamans point to Achashveirosh was that without
achdus the Jews no longer merit Hashems protection and can be defeated.
In response, a critical part of Queen Esthers plan to save the Jews
included her instructions to Mordechai Lech knos es kol hayehudim
Gather together all the Jews. Chazal interpret these words as telling
Mordechai that he must bring the people together, inspire them to embrace
one another with love and unity.
We can understand that unity is important, but is the lack of unity really
deserving of the destruction of an entire people who for the most part were
following the Torah?
Another question: To further persuade Achashveirosh, Haman
immediately gave him 10,000 talents (about 750 tons) of silver to
compensate him for any lost revenue that would result from the destruction
of the Jews. The Gemara recounts that in order to counter this danger,
Hashem had instructed the Jews many years earlier to contribute machatzis
hashekel. That merit would now be utilized to redeem them from Hamans
evil plan.
Why was the particular contribution of machatzis hashekel selected as the
merit to redeem Klal Yisroel? There have certainly been more lucrative
charitable campaigns over the course of Jewish history that have yielded a
greater merit than each person contributing one half shekel! The Jews
raised the millions of shkalim needed to build the entire mishkan in a
period of a couple of days. More recently, they had contributed an
enormous amount of money towards the construction of the first Beis
Hamikdash. There must have been many other tzedakos that the Jews
contributed to over the years. What was so special about the machatzis
Furthermore, for whatever reason the mitzvah of machatzis hashekel was
selected as the mitzvah that would save Klal Yisroel, why wasnt its effect
immediate? Initially Haman appeared successful as he persuaded
Achashveirosh to go along with his plan, and the decree to destroy the
Jewish people was enacted. It was only after a great deal of repentance and
prayer, aided by Queen Esthers intervention that Hamans plan was
thwarted. If -as the Gemara states- the Jews already had the merit of the
machatzis hashekel to save them, why wasnt Hamans plan immediately
Perhaps we can suggest that the merit of the machatzis hashekel was not
merely a zchus of giving tzedaka, but there was a much more important
element in that mitzvah which the Gemara was referring to. The very first
machatzis hashekel was utilized as a way to count the Jews after several
thousand of them perished as a result of the sin of the golden calf. Just as a
shepherd whose flock is attacked by a wolf counts how many sheep remain
because they are important to him, Hashem instructed Moshe to count the
Jews who remained. Hashem certainly knows how many Jews remained
alive; the counting was meant to show the Jews that He still loves them
and cares about them despite their having sinned terribly. What a powerful
lesson the Jews learnt at that moment! No matter how imperfectly - or
worse - a Jew acts, he is still precious in Hashems eyes, and he should be
important and beloved to us as well.
When the Gemara says that the machatzis hashekel that the Jews had given
would save them from Haman, it wasnt simply the merit of the charity
given, but of the underlying lesson contained in the machatzis hashekel
experience, the message of appreciating and loving our fellow Jews. And
while Haman observed a Jewish nation plagued by disunity and
machlokes, and thus no longer deserving of Hashems protection,
Hashems response was: Dont be so quick to write them off. There may
be interpersonal conflict now, but I taught Klal Yisroel about appreciating
and loving each other many years ago when I counted them with the
machatzis hashekel. And if they remember that lesson and they will come
together with achdus, and once again merit divine protection. The potential
of the Jewish people to come together with love was something that
Haman didnt anticipate. But until that potential was realized, Haman
indeed had the upper hand. Hamans initial success was due to the fact that
at that time, the Jews truly didnt deserve Hashems protection - Haman
was correct. Only after the Jews heeded Esthers admonition Lech knos
es kol hayehudim, repented, improved their love for one another, and
came together as one people did the machatzis hashekel lesson and merit
actually come alive.
Sometimes not only do we underestimate the enormous damage that
machlokes can do to Klal Yisroel, but we often miscalculate the potential
we have to repair and heal discord with other people. Sometimes we feel
that a certain relationship is irreparable, we just dont see eye to eye
there is too much bad blood between us, and we resign ourselves to
living with that reality. That is precisely what Haman saw. What Haman
didnt see is that Jews have a connection to one another that runs deeper
than any dispute or conflict. And the choice is ours whether to utilize that
unity to dispel whatever dissension exists. In the time of Purim, it took the
Jews some time but they eventually succeeded.
If we utilize Purim and its mitzvos to try to come a little bit closer to our
fellow Jews, particularly those with whom conflict exists, we will be
replicating exactly what the Jews did at that time, and Mordechai and
Esther would certainly approve.
Rabbi Dov Shapiro is the Rav of Kehillas Bnei Aliyah in New Hempstead, and a Certified Mohel. He can be reached at 877-88-Mohel or To receive an e-mail of his weekly parsha column, e-mail
Please feel free to forward this Torah thought to anyone you feel will take pleasure in reading it. Feel free to contact me at
with any questions and comments. Rabbi Dovid Sochet is the son of the Stoliner Rebbe of Yerushalayim; he spent a considerable amount of his
formative years in Los Angeles CA, and the 5 Towns in New York. He studied in the following Yeshivas: The Mesivtah of San Diego, Yeshiva
Harbotzas Torah in Flatbush NY, and Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic. He currently is a Rabbi in Spring Valley New York where he resides with his wife
and children. Rabbi Sochet is also certified Mohel. Confidential matters may be sent to Rabbi Greebel at: Also appearing
on the website: The National Council of Young Israel

Aish.Com - Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Shalom Tetzave 5773
GOOD MORNING! Rabbi Joey Grunfeld once related to me a story of the
time he was asked to give a guest sermon in a synagogue in South Africa.
He asked the rabbi if there was any particularly sensitive topic that he
should avoid. The rabbi replied, "No, speak about whatever you like. My
congregation are all yenemites." Rabbi Grunfeld was totally puzzled by
the rabbi's answer. He thought the rabbi said "Yemenites", but that didn't
make sense. In any event, he gave a rousing sermon.
After the services, he and the rabbi were standing at the door of the
synagogue greeting the parishioners as they left. One member told Rabbi
Grunfeld, "That was a fantastic sermon. It was just what the guy sitting
next to me needed to hear!" The synagogue's rabbi turned to Rabbi
Grunfeld and said, "See, they are all yenemites. Everything they hear is for
yenem, (the Yiddish word for) 'the other guy.' "
In some respects, we are all yenemites. For instance, this week's Question
& Answer on honoring one's parents, I am sure will be met with, "Thank
God, this is just what I needed to give to my kids to read!" No! This is
meant for you. This is just what your parents are excited about for you to
Q & A: What Is The Mitzvah Of Honoring One's Parents And How Is
It Fulfilled?
Included in the Ten Commandments, is the mitzvah (commandment) to
honor your father and mother. The Torah writes: "Honor your father and
your mother so that your days may be lengthened upon the Land which the
Lord your God gives to you" (Exodus 20:12). Later in Deuteronomy, in
the restating of the Ten Commandments, the verse reads: "Honor your
father and your mother as the Lord your God has commanded you in order
that your days may be lengthened and that it should be good for you upon
the Land which the Lord your God gives to you" (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Another relevant verse from Leviticus: "Every man shall revere his mother
and his father and you shall observe My Sabbaths; I am the Lord your
God" (Leviticus 19:3). (It is interesting to note that the Torah commands
us to observe the Sabbath in the same sentence as the commandment to
honor one's father and mother. This is to clarify that the same Source
which commands you to honor your father and mother commands you
NOT to listen to them if they tell you to violate the Shabbat or any other
We see from these verses that there are two mitzvot (commandments): 1)
To honor your parents and 2) To revere your parents. Love motivates one
to do positive things; fear keeps one from transgressing the negative.
What difference does it make if a child learns this principle as a
commandment from God or he picks up his attitude towards parents from
his society?
A rabbi was sitting next to an atheist on an airplane. Every few minutes
one of the rabbi's children or grandchildren would inquire if they could
bring him something to eat or drink or if there was anything they could do
for him. The atheist commented, "It's wonderful the respect your children
and grandchildren show you; mine don't show me that respect." The rabbi
responded, "Think about it. To my children and to my grandchildren, I am
one step closer in a chain of tradition to the time when God spoke to the
whole Jewish people on Mt. Sinai. To your children and grandchildren --
unfortunately, you are considered to be one step closer to being an ape."
Are children more inclined to respect their parents if they think they are
one step closer to being an ape or if they believe that their parents are one
step closer to being created by the Almighty who heard God speak?
From the Torah perspective, a parent is a paradigm for relating to God. A
parent loves his child unconditionally, sets boundaries, reproves, feeds his
child though the child did wrong, wants only the best for his child. A
parent is not always understood or appreciated and is sometimes suspect of
not having the child's best interest at heart. (Mark Twain once commented,
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly
stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was
24 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
astonished at how much he had learned.") Hopefully, the children
eventually appreciate their parent's motivation.
If one does not show gratitude and respect to his parents who gave him
life, how is he expected to show gratitude and respect for God who not
only is a Partner in giving him life, but Who has given him the whole
world? The Torah helps us train our children in how to relate to their
parents and therefore how to relate to the Almighty.
The Torah teaches us our obligations to our parents and our elders. It
teaches us that we must stand up for our parents, a person with Torah
knowledge or a person over 70 (if one has lived 70 years then he or she
has wisdom about life -- just through living). Our society? Note a recently
seen bumper sticker: "Be good to your children. They choose your nursing
How does one engender love and appreciation of children for parents?
Where there is peace in the home, no arguing amongst the parents in front
of the children, unconditional love, respect for each other, boundaries and
consistency ... and values, there is a good chance that our children will
have such warm feelings for us.
The Almighty has implanted in parents an innate love for their children,
but this does not lessen the Torah obligation to honor and respect one's
parents. We must be grateful for the numerous acts of kindness that our
parents have bestowed upon us. We have no right to minimize their efforts
on our behalf by questioning their motives.
Here are some basic halachot, (Jewish laws) instructing us how to respect
our parents:
A child should consider his parents distinguished, even if others
do not consider them so.
We must always speak to our parents with a soft and pleasant
A child must not contradict his parents. (Yorah Daiah 240:1 --
The Code of Jewish Law)
A child must not call his parent by name. (Yorah Daiah, 240:1)
A child must not sit in a place where his parent usually sits.
A child should fulfill his parent's requests with a pleasant facial
You are obligated to stand up before your father and your
mother when they enter the room (YD 240:7)
A child has no right to humiliate or embarrass his parents,
regardless of what they do to him.
If a parent tells a child to violate either a Torah law or rabbinical
law, he is forbidden to comply.
A child must be careful not to awaken his parents.
Parents should make sure that their young children show respect towards
them and others. If a young child forms the habit of being disrespectful to
his parents or others, he will also lack respect when he grows up. (This is
why I never let my children call adults by their first names even if my
friends introduce themselves to my kids using just their first name.) The
reward for honoring parents is long life. Therefore, if a parent sincerely
loves his children, he should make sure that they fulfill this
Torah Portion of the Week: Tetzaveh
The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the
Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary -- oil for the Menorah and clothes for the
Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the
Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for
constructing the Incense Altar.
Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "You shall make the Choshen Mishpat ("the Breastplate
of Judgement" -- one of the eight garments of the High Priest, the Cohen
Gadol) (Exodus 28:15). Each of the garments had a specific spirtitual
impact and purpose. What do we learn from the Choshen Mishpat?
Rashi, the essential commentary on the Torah, tells us that the Choshen
Mishpat "substantiates its statements and its promises come true." When a
question was asked to the High Priest, the letters of the breastplate would
light up in a sequence spelling out the answer.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz clarifies that Rashi is coming to teach you to be
very clear exactly what you are and are not promising. If you do not
clarify and qualify when you make your promise, it is not truth. To
promise "the world" but intend to offer limited help shows a lack of
integrity. It creates greater problems later on. Being specific in promises is
especially important in raising children; it teaches them whether or not
they can trust their parents!
Quote Of The Week:
The best present to your child is your presence
With Special Appreciation to Alby & Nancy Galbut, Miami Beach, Fla
Happy 35th Anniversary Kalman & Shoshana. Love, Dad & Mom Packouz
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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Weekly Chizuk
Purim: Choice Or Chance
Adapted from "Sifsei Chaim" vol. II pg. 186 by Rav Chaim Friedlander,
zt"l, Mashgiach Ruchani of the Ponevich Yeshiva
Purim is called "Purim" because of the "Pur" (lots) which Haman used to
determine the date upon which to destroy the Jews. (Esther 3:7 and 9:26)
The name Purim expressed and delineates the root of all the lessons that
are to be learned from the holiday of Purim.
How does "Purim" express anything special about this holiday? Haman
threw lots, and his lots turned to our favor. Wasn't this simply a minor
detail? Haman merely wanted to determine the right date to decree the
annihilation of the Jews. Haman didn't want to randomly choose a date to
kill the Jews; instead, he threw lots to determine the date. This was just
one detail of the many occurrences of that time. Why was it designated to
be the name of the holiday?
Secondly, if the name of the holiday is based on the lottery, it should be in
the singular "Pur" and not "Purim" (lots - plural).
The root to answering our questions lies in studying the difference
between choice versus chance.
Normally a person determines his actions by himself. He uses intelligence
and understanding to determine a course of action. However, sometimes an
individual finds it difficult to make his mind up. For whatever reason it is,
he can't decide on his own. Then he decides to choose without
deliberation, like flipping a coin. This decision is not based on the person's
own choice. Rather he is leaving it up to "luck".
We also find the concept of a lottery in the Torah. There was a special
mitzvah to choose among the two goat offerings of Yom Kippur by a
lottery (Yoma Chap. 6 Mishna 1). Both goats were equal in all respects.
The lottery determined which was offered to G-d and which goat was sent
to Azazel. The inheritance of Eretz Yisroel was also done by a lottery.
("And you shall inherit the land by a lottery to each of your families."
Bamidbar 33:24)
How are we to understand this process of lottery? Is the Torah telling us to
leave things up to "blind chance"?
There are two ways to relate to a lottery. We can look at it from a vantage
point of emuna. The lottery shows us G-d's will. It is a decision which is
not in Man's hand. This was the lottery of Yom Kippur. Heaven
determined the fate of each goat, if it was to be offered as a sacrifice to G-
d, or to be sent to Azazel. So too, the division of Eretz Yisroel.
Heaven determined which section of land went to each tribe.
The nonbeliever, however, views the lottery from a heretical vantage
point. When he doesn't want to decide on his own, when he doesn't want to
make a rational decision, he leaves the decision up to "Chance". "Chance"
will decide!
When Haman gave over his decision to the whims of the "lots" it was not
out of a deep belief that the result would be the revelation of the will of G-
d. Rather his intent was that "chance" should make the decision for him.
This was the deep conviction behind Haman's every action - everything is
merely chance. There is no Divine will
"And Mordechai told him (Hasoch) everything that had "happened" ????
to him." [Lit. - Mordechai related to Hasoch) the whole chain of events
that had occurred.] He said to him, Go tell Esther that the grandson of "it
happened by chance" ( (????has come against us (Esther Raba 7:5).
Mordechai read into the word ???? - "happened" as referring to Amalek.
The possuk relates: ??? ??? ???? "Who happened (chanced) upon you on
the way." Haman was a descendant of Agag, king of Amalek, the nation of
Mordechai summed up the whole essence of Haman - the descendant of "it
happened by chance." Amalek watches all the miracles and wonders that
had occurred during the Exodus from Mitzrayim and the splitting of the
Sea. "The chiefs of Edom were astounded.... all the inhabitants of Cana'an
melted" (Shemos 15:15). All of the surrounding nations saw the events and
heard of the miracles. As the news penetrated their hearts, they stood in
awe of all the Divine justice. But Amalek stood up and waged war with
Yisroel. How could they have the audacity to do such a thing after seeing
all the miracles? The answer lies in the possuk, "who chanced upon you on
the way." Amalek saw the same chain of events: the Exodus, the splitting
of the Sea, as merely a sequence of chance events; simple natural
occurrences. He denied Hashgacha Pratis.
Haman was following in Amalek's footsteps. This was Mordechai's
profound description of Haman's essence - the grandson of "it was mere
chance." He saw everything as accident. Nothing moved him. He was
impervious to noticing a miracle. He absolutely denied any Divine
supervision in the world.
Throughout the Megilla we see Haman's attitude. His counselors advised
him to hang Mordechai. Haman immediately went to Achashverosh to
request to hang Mordechai on the gallows he had specially prepared for
him. That very night the Hashgacha arranged that the king couldn't sleep,
and Achashverosh requested to have the chronicles read before him. The
servants "by chance" opened up to the very spot where Mordechai is
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 25
mentioned as having uncovered the plot by Bigsan and Seresh to poison
the king. The Yalkut explains that since Mordechai was mentioned
favorably in the chronicles, the reader tried to skip this section, but the
letters kept jumping back to the incident of Mordechai: It is not written
"and they read..." Rather it is written, "and it was read." The chronicles
read themselves. And some say that Eliyahu came and wrote it in."
Precisely at that moment Haman walked into the courtyard of the king (to
ask him to hang Mordechai.) The king called him in and asked him what
honor should be done to the one whom the king wishes to honor and glory.
Haman, (thinking the king meant himself) told the king. Then the king
asks Haman (previously elevated in stature above all the other officers) to
honor Mordechai (Haman's arch enemy), to sit him upon the king's horse
and lead him through the streets of the city. Fantastic. How marvelously
the Hashgacha arranged the whole chain of events.
And what was Haman's response to all this? "And Haman related to his
wife Zeresh and to all his friends everything that chanced to happen to
him" (6:13). It was mere chance. He wasn't moved one iota by this
Hashgacha Pratis. He failed to see any Divine punishment for his
wickedness. Only a chain of unrelated incidents. One incidents upon
another which were out of the realm of his control.
Even his counselors were unable to see any Divine Hand in these
"accidents." They couldn't understand that it G-d's will was not to hang
Mordechai. They merely answered him with the same outlook. "And his
wise-men and Zeresh his wife said to him, If Mordechai, before whom you
have started to fall, is from the seed of the Jews, you can do nothing to
him, because you will certainly fall before him." (6:14). All pure accident.
"If he is from the seed of the Jews." Anyone who provoked Jews, when
fortune shines upon him, he will see the light of good luck. But if he
doesn't succeed, it was merely bad luck, and the wheel of fortune will
continue spinning against him until he finally falls before it.
This was Mordechai's description of Haman: the grandson of chance.
Nothing enlightens his eyes to see G-d's Hashgacha; he sees in everything
mere chance. If he succeeds, it is his good luck, and if he fails, he is not to
blame at all. It was all just a matter of bad luck beyond his control.
"Luck" Is Divinely Decreed
If we look deeper, however, we notice that even Mordechai used the word
chance: "And Mordechai related everything that had happened (????)"
(4:7). True, the Midrash explains that he meant "the grandson of "it merely
happened". Yet we cannot ignore the simple meaning of the possuk, that
he also related the events to chance and accident. He used exactly the same
terms as Haman. (see 6:13)
Rav S.R. Hirsch (Breishis 24:12) explains, "Nothing is farther from Jewish
belief than the idea of 'chance.' Rather, the term ???? (happening) refers to
those moments of one's life that he himself did not guide but which guided
him. They were unexpected events; not reckoned on, not intended, but
which could be the most intentional messages sent by the One Who directs
and brings about all things."
Yes, everything which is outside the realm of our choice and free will is
called an accident, a ,???? it just happened like this. However, this is
merely what is apparent to our eyes. In reality it is determined and directed
by G-d (not like most people who think that it is entirely accidental.)
There are two basic categories of the way things happen in this Creation:
A. There is that realm in which we act according to our choice; whatever is
accomplished is because that is our will. B. There is another realm, outside
of this framework of our choice: C. Things which are determined from
above; the "accidents" of nature prepared in Heaven according to Man's
needs in his service to G-d. This realm of chance accident beyond Man's
control, the realm of the accidents of Fortune, is a realm of Divine decrees.
Mazal ??? (fortune, or luck) comes from the root ???? - to flow - it flows
from above. (See also Daas Tevunos pg. 190.) Mazal refers to whatever is
decreed upon Man in Heaven as his station in Avodas Hashem, not as a
reward for his actions.
According to this we can understand what Mordechai said to Hasach, "And
Mordechai told him all that had 'happened to him.'" The Targum translates,
"...all that had happened for not bowing down to Haman and not bending
before the image (that Haman wore)." He had been accused of
endangering all of Klal Yisroel. However Mordechai understood that this
was the role designated for him from the Beginning of Time (see Megilla
12b, and Michtav Me'Eliyahu V. II p. 130, Yalkut Shimoni sec. 1056).
"And Mordechai did not bend, nor bow down." The people said to him,
you should know that you are throwing us onto the sword, why are you
opposing the decree of the king? He answered them, I am a Yehudi. They
said to him, don't we find that your ancestors bowed down to his ancestors,
as it says, "And he (Yaakov) bowed down 7 times." Mordechai answered,
my forefather Binyomin was still in his mother's womb and didn't bow
down. I am his grandson, as it says, "A man of Yamini." Just as my
grandfather didn't bow down, so too I will not bend nor bow down.
This was Mordechai's special role in Avodas Hashem, to sanctify Heaven's
name even when there was no outright prohibition involved. Mordechai
understood that this role had been predetermined and preset from the
beginning of time as his portion in Avodas Hashem, and in light of this
role he had to serve Hashem Yisborach.
As we see, our actions are carried out according to the plan designed for us
at the beginning of Creation, each one with his personal role in Creation.
Each person has to match himself to his role. Then his free will is
expressed if he acts properly and uses to a perfection the tools given him
for this role.
However, there is a danger in this. Sometimes the person decides to
change his role. Instead of seeing the fortune presented to him as his
Heavenly destined task and harmonizing his own desires to this, the
individual sometimes wants to match his role to his personal desires.* This
is the statement of Chazal in Avos (4:1), "Who is rich, he who is happy
with his lot." What is his lot? This is the lot of a person predetermined
from the beginning of Creation, and the person has to be happy with his
role in the framework of Avodas Hashem, and to understand and recognize
that if HaKodosh Baruch Hu has selected for him this lot, then this portion,
and only this portion is for his benefit, and for the benefit of the goal of the
entire Creation. Spontaneously he will not aspire for someone else's job
which is not at all suitable for him within the framework of Avodas
Hashem incumbent upon him.* This should be our outlook on the
"accidents of Fortune (mazal) and Chance."
*For example. Sometimes an individual goes into business in order to
become rich. He may mistakenly rationalize that he is doing this in order
to support Torah. His true intention, however, is to lighten his own
obligation of learning Torah.
The Denier Tries To Subject Chance To His Own Desires
The denier straddles the fence from both sides. He uses chance for his own
personal desires to gain success. However he knows that there are things
decreed from above which are not within the realm of his control.
However, he deceives himself that he is still, so to speak, the master of his
fortune. He has the ability and power to bend fortune to his desires the way
he wants. When he succeeds, he does not accredit his success to good
fortune; rather it was his prowess and personal abilities. On the other hand,
when he doesn't succeed, he attributes this to bad luck. He lives with the
feeling that it wasn't his fault, because there are things which aren't within
the boundary of one's control. After all, it is merely bad luck. He fails to
detect the contradiction.
It was with this heretical attitude that Haman lived, the "grandson of
chance." He straddled the fence living in two worlds at once. On the one
hand he wanted that the successful day for his plan should be chosen from
above, according to his personal gain and desire in his hatred of the Jews.
On the other hand, he was the greatest heretic: his attitude toward
everything that happened was that they were only a combination of
accidents and pure luck, not within the realm of his control. It wasn't a
result of his evil actions. This was the internal contradiction. If you hand
your decision over to Heaven to decide, then you have to also know what
Heaven expects of you, to subordinate yourself to the Heavenly powers,
and not the opposite, to try to subjugate the Heavenly powers to your
personal desire.
Haman lived in the world of "luck". When something happened which was
possible to explain, it didn't deviate from the Natural order of things. It
happened that the king got drunk in the middle of a party. It happened that
he wanted to show off his wife to all the people. And it happened that he
got so angry at his wife that he executed her. It even happened that he
chose an unknown woman to be his new queen, even though she refused to
disclose her people or birth place. Regarding each of the individual events
of the Megilla, we could say, it happened. But when we see the events
unfurling before us in an orderly chain, from beginning to end, we see a
marvelous supervision hiding within nature.
Haman also saw all the chain of events. But each time he saw only a lot - a
chance happening with no connection to the other events. When he
succeeded in utilizing chance for his own benefit and will, it was as if he
had succeeded in overpowering "the powers that be." But when he couldn't
succeed, he didn't feel at fault at all. His response was, "And Haman
retold... all that had chanced upon him." This was the grandson of "it
Haman's Fortune Was Transformed To Our Fortune
Now we can understand why we call the holiday "Purim" (plural) as the
expression of the essence of the day. Yes the lottery which Haman threw,
and which is the name of the holiday, was merely one detail among all the
occurrences in the Megilla. But from this one detail it becomes vary
apparent Haman's heretical train of thought. How he wanted to subjugate
the Heavenly powers to his own desires. This took concrete expression not
only in his throwing the lots. All of his actions were calculated to use
fortune for his own personal whims. He thought that he had the ability to
manipulate fortune for his own gain, and with this he tried to subjugate the
Heavenly decrees according to his will.
However, Heavenly mercy shown down upon us and in the end all his
plans were like the lot - which turned into our lot. Hashem Yisborach
turned Haman's desires into the conduit through which the Heavenly
decrees would be activated. For example: Haman wanted to act against G-
d's will and threw lots in order to pick the right day to kill all the Jews. He
wanted to use "chance" for his will and desire. In the end these lots turned
into our lots and as this day turned out to be the day of Yisroel's success.
"On the day when the enemies of the Jews chose to overpower them, and it
was turned around that the Jews overpowered their enemies" (Esther 9:1).
He even chose the most successful month for the Jews, as the gemora
states in Taanis (29b), "Who has a lawsuit with a gentile should go to court
26 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
during Adar." This means to say that Hashem Yisborach used Haman's lot
to eventually bring about the good for Klal Yisroel.
The plan of Haman to kill Vashti eventually turned against him: Esther
was taken to the king's palace to eventually bring about his downfall. The
tree on which he prepared to hang Mordechai in the end became his own
gallows. The advice he gave to the king in order to elevate his own stature,
to be honored with sitting on the king's horse and led around the city, was
turned against him. He had the degrading job of putting his mortal enemy,
Mordechai, on the horse and leading him through the city.
Haman, however, saw all of this as mere chance and accident - he was the
grandson of chance. Sometimes he succeeded, and sometimes chance just
wasn't within his control. HaKodosh Baruch Hu, however, arranged
everything according to His pre-planned Hashgacha; all of Haman's lots
(Purim) - would in the end be turned to our lots. And through all this
would come out a stupendous sanctification of Hashem's name and the
benefit of Klal Yisroel.
Now we can understand why the name Purim was chosen, signifying the
drawing of lots, in the plural form, and not Pur, in the singular. There are
really two sides to the drawing of lots. There was, on one hand, the lot that
Haman wanted to use to accomplish his own goals. On the other hand, this
lot was in reality our lot. Haman wanted to control the Heavenly powers
for his own gain, and it turned into our fortune. Hashem Yisborach
manipulated Haman's desires to bring to fruition the Heavenly decrees, and
in the end Haman was the conduit to create a marvelous Kiddush Hashem.
Therefore there were really two lots: 1) the lot which Haman wanted, 2)
the lot which was really our fortune.
The lesson to be derived from all this is how HaKodosh Baruch Hu directs
the whole chain of different and seemingly unrelated events. Our role is to
take an active part to fulfill HaKodosh Baruch Hu's will. However, the
achievement is really only possible if the person matches his will to his
role in Avodas Hashem, and not, Heaven forbid, to try to adjust his role to
suit his personal desire. In addition to this, he has to divorce himself from
the tendency of using his personal failings and faults as an excuse to
lighten his obligation to fulfill his role faithfully.
We also learn from all this a very important principal in Avodas Hashem -
on one hand there is the Heavenly decree on the person. On the other side,
there is our free will. There is no contradiction or paradox between these
two opposites. Even what we do freely and according to our intellect has
been preplanned in Heaven. HaKodosh Baruch Hu arranges how we act,
both good and bad, to bring about in the end HaKodosh Baruch Hu's will.
Not only does HaKodosh Baruch Hu predetermine the framework of our
Avodas Hashem. But in the end result, even those things which are within
the realm of our free will and choice, are used by HaKodosh Baruch Hu to
fulfill His will. As long as we have the desire to bring about Hashem
Yisborach's plan, accordingly will HaKodosh Baruch Hu help us to be the
conduit of public Sanctification of His name.
Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos & A Freilachen Purim!
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff 4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel Tel: 732-858-1257 Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim
Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood). If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff, or change your subscription,
please contact: Shema Yisrael Torah Network Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand
Likutei Peshatim
Volume 27 Number 20
February 23, 2013
op n1w .on q1 vwn 1n
The Apron Atones For Leshon Hara
And you shall make the Meil of the Eiphod entirely of turquoise wool.
Shemos 28:31
Why was the 9vo" /apron of the Kohen Gadol made of wool that was
completely turquoise? The Gemara (Arachin 16a) tells us that the meil
atoned for leshon hara.
There is a famous lesson of the sages (Zevachim 89a) that the color of the
techeiles was a turquoise blue which was similar to the color of the ocean.
Now, when the ocean was created it was given specific boundaries as to
where its waters were allowed to approach, and others beyond which it
was prohibited to cross. (see Bereshis 1:9 and Tehillim 104:9) In other
words, the waters were told that they may spread until the shoreline, and
that they were prohibited from inundating the dry land.
Kli Yakar points to the Gemara (Arachin 15b), which tells us that the
tongue is encircled with two layers of protection. It is guarded with the
teeth and also with the lips. In this way, when a person is considering
using his tongue to speak leshon hara, he should be reluctant. In fact, the
Gemara points out that we should each take a lesson from the sea, which
has also been commanded to control itself, and it is in fact careful not to
breach its borders. As a result of this consideration, a person can control
himself and keep his mouth shut, and not speak slander. It is for this reason
that the meil/apron was entirely turquoise, the color of the sea. By
reflecting upon the lesson of the sea and its ability to remain within its
borders, we too can be disciplined and keep our tongues under control, not
allowing it to speak in areas which are prohibited.
To Minimize Anxiety
And it shall be on Aharon in order to minister; and its sound shall be
heard when he enters the Sanctuary before God and when he leaves, and
he will not die. Shemos 28:35
Why is the Torah so concerned that the bells of the apron be sounded, to
the extent that it seems that the verse is warning that the Kohen is culpable
for death if they are not heard?
We can explain that the verse is actually referring to the fact that on Yom
Kippur, when the Kohen Gadol would enter into the Holy of Holies, those
who would remain outside and await his departure after having
successfully completed the service would be aware of his success by
hearing the bells. The sound of the bells would be heard as he entered
into the holy sanctum and when he departed, thereby informing the
observers that he had not died.
Sefer Mleches Machsheves tells us that the Gemara (Yoma 52b) teaches
that the Kohen Gadol would pause on his way out of the Kodesh
Kodoshim and would recite a short prayer. Although the moment was very
opportune, he would not offer a lengthy prayer, in order not to delay in
coming out from the Holy of Holies, thereby causing undue concern to
those who awaited his return. In order to announce further his successful
mission, he wore an apron with bells on the bottom so that his arrival
would be heard even before he was seen. Now that his every move was
accompanied by the ringing of these bells, the Kohanim on the outside
would be able to monitor his movements and would be assured that he was
still alive. As the verse states, Their sound would be heard as he enters
and as he exits, that he did not die. In other words, the sound of the bells
was not a condition to be met in order that he not die, but rather it was an
indication that he did not die.
We may wonder, however, why the Kohen Gadol would not be able to
offer a longer prayer as he exited the Holy of Holies, for the ringing of the
bells would have already announced his having survived, and a few extra
moments of prayer should not have caused any alarm. Nevertheless, we
must say that when the Kohen prayed, he would not move his legs, just as
we stand when we recite the Shemoneh Esrei. Accordingly, the sounding
of the bells would have stopped, and, once again, the Kohanim on the
outside would be worried as to whether he had survived. This is why the
Kohen Gadol shortened his prayers, for he wanted to minimize the anxiety
of the people, who would be wondering where he was and whether he was
Parashas Zachor
In Sefer Devarim (25:17), regarding the mitzvah of obliterating Amalek,
the Torah writes p9ov (9 nwv wn nn JI - Remember what
Amalek did to you. This stastement seems to be grammatically incorrect.
Whenever a statement is directed towards a group, the word you should
be written in the plural form, uJ9 The word (9, however, is to be used
only when talking to an individual. Why, then, did the Torah use the word
(9. when speaking to the nation of Israel, as opposed to the word uJ9?
Throughout the history of the Jewish people we find a common thread
woven into its existence: hostility from other nations. Whether it is in
Europe, Israel, or even America, we have been despised by the gentiles.
What is the source of this animosity?
Rabbi Baruch Weinberg explains that there are two sources given by
Chazal. First, from the moment that Eisav realized that Yaakov had
stolen the brachos, Eisav developed a tremendous personal hatred
towards Yaakov, to the extent that we are taught,
1pv nn n1w wv v\1a nJ9n - It is a law that Eisav hates Yaakov.
(Sifrei 9:10). Additionally, in Masseches Shabbos (89b), Chazal expound
on the name given to the mountain upon which the Torah was given to the
Jewish people, Har Sinai. The Gemara explains that the word Sinai
comes from the word nn1w , which means hatred, for it was on account
of the Jewish people receiving the Torah that the nations of the world hate
us - out of jealousy of this prized possession.
Amalek attacked us upon our exodus from Egypt. Amalek, who was a
grandson of Eisav, could not have hated us based on our possession of the
Torah, for the Jewish people had not yet received the Torah. Amaleks
hatred, however, was the hatred of 1pv nn n1w wv - the hatred on a
personal level. It is for this reason that the pasuk uses the word (9. as
opposed to uJ9 Amaleks attack was directed at every descendant of
Yaakov as an individual, not to the nation as a whole. It is this personal
hatred that we are obligated to remember and completely eradicate.
Megillas Esther
And Haman took the clothes and the horse, and dressed Mordechai and
caused him to ride through the streets of the city and proclaimed before
him: Thus shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.
Esther 6:11
And Haman took the clothes and the horse. (Esther 6:11) Haman went
and found that the rabbis were sitting before Mordechai, and he was
demonstrating the laws of kemitzah to them...Haman asked the students,
What topic were you studying? They answered him, When the holy
Temple was in existence, one who pledged a minchah offering would
bring a fistful of flour and would gain atonement through it. Haman said
to them, Your fistful of flour has come and has pushed aside my ten
thousand silver talents. - Gemara (Megilla 16a)
Haman was seen approaching the study hall to call Mordechai. Mordechai
was very frightened, as he thought that Haman was coming to apprehend
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 27
him. He alerted his students to scatter, lest they be captured together with
him. Mordechai was gripped with a genuine fear that Haman was going to
prevail, at least to some degree, and that the Jews would suffer some
casualties, 9.
In Ateres Mordechai, Rabbi Mordechai Rogow, 9xI, explains that
Mordechai knew that he would have nothing to fear if the Jews had
staunchly maintained their loyalty to Torah and the mitzvos, for Hashem
would certainly not abandon His cherished people to fall prey to Haman.
However, the state of the Jews was not good. They had participated in the
banquet of Achashverosh, and many of the people had drifted far from the
ways of our fathers. There were only a few dedicated individuals who had
drawn close to Mordechai, and these were the devoted and trusted Torah
scholars. These few, however, were not much of a consolation for
Mordechai in face of the rampant departure from tradition that the
multitudes had followed. This was the dismal condition that faced
Mordechai. Then, at the point of almost total hopelessness, Mordechai
studied the laws of kemitzah - the fistful of flour. Suddenly, he detected a
message of hope. The entire measure of flour is to be consumed by the
Kohen after a small token amount is placed upon the altar. Even though
only a small representative amount is consecrated for the fire, its effect is
far-reaching. To Mordechai, this meant that even though only a handful of
students had remained loyal, yet, these few were as the fistful of flour,
which had the power of consecrating the entire measure. These dedicated
students were leaders, each with vision and direction, and they would
succeed in educating and training the entire nation to rediscover their
When Haman asked about the days lesson, he was forced to admit that the
message was true. Haman recognized that his attempt to bribe the king
with his ten thousand talents of silver was now eclipsed by this small core
of dedicated and devoted students. The key to the survival of the Jews was
that there remained within the Jewish people even a small group of
dedicated and committed young people who were prepared to defend the
virtuous and true values of the Torah. If these students would be prepared
to ascend the altar of religious and devoted service of Hashem, then any
and all threats from the enemies would vanish. This handful of Torah
students has within them the ability to ward off all danger and to neutralize
all peril.
Halachic Corner
Parashas Zachor
Before Purim commences, it is customary to donate half the prevalent
currency unit in the country, to commemorate the half-shekel the Jews
used to give in the month of Adar for the buying of the public sacrifices.
The general practice is for every person to give three half-shekels, because
in Parashas Ki Sisa (Shemos 30:11-16), the word "no\n" (offering) is
mentioned three times. It is given in the evening before the Megillah is
read, and the money is distributed among the poor. A minor is exempt
from contributing the half-shekel, but if his father has once contributed for
him, he must continue to do so. Some authorities hold that a lad of thirteen
must donate it, while others hold that he is exempt up to the age of twenty.
Questions for Thought and Study
1. In what way was Moshe commanded to make Aharon like himself when
Hashem commanded Moshe to bring Aharon close to him - "(9n 1pn"?
See Malbim 28:1
2. Which stone on the Urim VTumim represented Binyamin? What hint is
there to this? See Baal HaTurim 28:20
3. What hint is there that our prayers can substitute for the sacrifices when
we dont have a Temple? See Rabbeinu Bachya 29:1
4. Why did Esther ask Bnei Yisrael to fast specifically for three days? See
Taamei Minhagim nonn and Bnei Yissaschor
5. If a baby is scheduled to have a Bris on Purim morning, why do we do
the Bris first then read the Megillah? See Taamei Minhagim nsnn
1. Aharon was becoming like Moshe in that he would be the intermediary
between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael in service to Hashem. Moshe was the
intermediary for Bnei Yisrael when they received the Torah.
2. The nsw stone represented Binyamim because these two words are
numerically equal.
3. Pasuk 29:1 says "nwvn wn 11n nI - This is the thing that you
will do. The word "11" is extra. It is alluding to "a1" (speech), which
can replace the sacrifices when necessary.
4. Taamei Minhagim says that tzaddikim will never suffer more than three
days (as indicated in Yehoshua Ch. 2), so this fast would end the suffering.
Bnei Yissoschor says that three days is 72 hours, and this would inspire
the 1on (kindness) of Hashem, which is numerically equal to 72.
5. This is because after the Bris the child is considered a 1\n" and part
of the miracle. Also, the word nnow in the Megillah is alluding to n9o.
Likutei Peshatim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker in loving memory of Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, . May their memory be for a blessing. Prepared by the faculty,
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Rabbi Naftali Reich
Parshas Tetzaveh: King of Hearts
This week's Torah portion is devoted primarily to describing in intricate
detail the special vestments worn by the kohanim and kohen godol when
performing their service in the Bais Hamikdash, and the manner in which
these garments were to be crafted.
Of these, the most magnificent was the choshen, the breastplate worn by
the kohain godol. On its surface were attached 12 precious stones with the
name of a tribe engraved on each one. Within the choshen lay the urim
v'tumim, the slip of parchment upon which Hashem's name was inscribed.
This name gave the choshen its sublime power through which the
individual letters of the tribal names would light up (signified by the word
"urim" meaning light).
When the illuminated letters were properly aligned, they provided the
answers to questions of national import posed by the kohen gadol to
Hashem. Various letters of the breastplate would become luminescent,
allowing the high priest to unite them into words, in order to read
Hashem's response (signified by the word "tumim," completeness or
This miraculous Divine form of communication remained with the Jewish
people until King Yehoash hid the urim v'tumim at the time of the First
Temple's destruction, to ensure that it would not fall into enemy hands.
Our sages point out that Aharon Hakohen merited to wear this wondrous
vestment as reward for a particularly noble deed. When Moshe was chosen
as the redeemer of the Jewish people, he was worried that his older
brother, Aharon, would feel a tinge of jealousy at his being passed over for
this exalted role. Hashem testified to him (Shmos 4:15) that, on the
contrary, Aharon rejoiced in his heart at his brother's appointment to
It was due to this noble and selfless joy at his brother's lofty position, says
the Midrash, that Aharon merited to become the bearer of the choshen.
We cannot fail to marvel at Aharon who exhibited such amazing
selflessness towards his younger brother. But why was he rewarded
specifically with being able to wear the choshen? Couldn't Hashem have
alternatively showered him with wealth or longevity as a reward?
The manner in which Hashem communicated his message to His people
through the choshen provides us with a fascinating clue as to why this
particular reward was most appropriate.
Whenever Hashem responded to a question from the kohain godol, the
answer was conveyed through the choshen's illuminated letters. But the
response had to be deciphered by aligning the glowing letters in a
particular sequence, so that the words they formed would correctly
determine Hashem's precise answer. It required a great measure of
temimus, pure faith and wholeness of heart, to correctly interpret the
Divine communication.
On various occasions we read in the Talmud that the message of the
choshen was misread and misinterpreted, often with dire consequences. To
correctly decipher the code required a rare degree of pure-heartedness and
objectivity. By expunging every trace of ego and demonstrating that he
was capable of rejoicing in his brother's good fortune, Aharon attained this
degree of selflessness.
Aharon's quintessence reflected his loving embrace of his fellow Jews.
Because he saw each Jew as a beloved brother, he excelled in uniting
others, in fostering peace and harmony between people. Untainted by envy
or self-aggrandizement, he knew how to draw forth the best in others and
how to build on these strengths.
Aharon perceived no evil in anyone for he truly saw the inner light that
ennobled every Jew. He was thus capable of using the illuminated letters
of the urim v'tumim, and interpreting them as Hashem desired.
In our own lives we, too, can strive to attain a degree of Aharon's noble
trait of being able to rejoice in another's good fortune and to discern their
special virtues. By emphasizing the inherent goodness of our family
members, our neighbors and co-workers, we too will merit the skill of
interpreting life's message appropriately and communicating directly with
our Divine source.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos, Rabbi Naftali Reich
Legacy, Copyright &copy 2013 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education
Center. Questions or comments? Email Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings this and a host
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Rabbi Mordechai Rhine
Rabbi's Message
The Missing Names
One of the noteworthy facts about this week's Parsha is that it does not
contain the name of our teacher, Moshe. From the beginning of Shemos
when Moshe was born until the very end of the Torah, there is no other
Parsha with this unusual phenomenon. Similarly noteworthy is that the
Book of Esther which we read this coming week on Purim, makes no
mention of the most important player in the entire story, Hashem Himself.
28 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
Hashem's name does not appear in the entire book. What is the meaning of
the missing names?
I once heard of a remarkable statement from one of the greatest Jewish
educators of recent times. The Alter of Slabodka, a man who mentored
many of the leaders of the recent generation is said to have commented:
"My hope is to influence great leaders in a way that when I am gone, no
one should realize what I have done."
The comment was made well before his students took their roles of
leadership in the Jewish world. Included in the students he would influence
were Rabbi Aaron Kotler, Rabbi Yakov Kamenetsky, Rav Ruderman, and
Rabbi Reuven Grozovsky. Apparently, he hoped to influence greatness in
such a profound but subtle way that his name would not be flashed around
in association with the greatness that he did produce.
Jewish tradition maintains that the reason Moshe's name is not in this
week's Parsha is because of his selflessness. At the time of the golden calf,
when Hashem offered to make Moshe into a great nation instead of the
Jews who had sinned, Moshe declined the offer. Moshe said, "If you
destroy the people, then remove my name from your Torah." Hashem did
not destroy the people, but Moshe's name is missing from one Parsha- the
one that corresponds with the week of his Yartzeit on 7 Adar- as a tribute
to him. Although all of Torah was mentored to us through Moshe, his
agenda was not a personal one looking to be famous and recognized as
influential. Moshe's influence and mentorship would be felt forever, but he
would have been perfectly comfortable doing so incognito.
Interestingly the reason that Hashem's name is missing from the Book of
Esther may follow the same reasoning. Even though Hashem's influence is
everywhere in the Purim story, Hashem has no need for his name to be
flashed around. The Purim story was orchestrated by Hashem with perfect
timing: Vashti was executed by Achashveirosh, Esther was positioned as
Queen, a plot against the king is discovered by Mordechai and is recorded,
and the king is reminded of Mordechai's kind deed just as Haman comes to
ask permission to hang Mordechai. The story has G-d's influence
everywhere, but it is not a story about G-d. The Purim story is influenced
by G-d, but it is the story of mankind. It is the story of Esther's bravery,
and the story of the Jewish people who returned to Hashem with great
devotion when they realized that they were in danger. It is as if Hashem
says, "I am perfectly comfortable influencing all, but hiding My name.
This story is not about Me," Hashem says, "I t is about you and the
decisions that you make in life."
Sometimes as parents and teachers we mistakenly think that education and
mentorship is all about us. The good or bad decisions that people make
seem to reflect on us to define our success. The reality is that the
mentorship relationship is not about us, it is about people we have
influenced. Like the Alter of Slabodka, and Hashem and Moshe before
him, there is no need to flash around our names. We know what we have
done, and we know what we can do. We can mentor and influence people.
We can set the stage for success. But part of good mentorship is leaving
go. Ultimately, to make good decisions is up to the "student". And when
they do make good decisions we are perfectly comfortable going incognito
and allowing the "student" to take the credit.
Rabbi Elyakim Rosenblatt
Yeshiva Kesser Torah
A Commentary Published by Yeshiva Kesser Torah of Queens
Megilas Esther Vol. III No. XXII
Copyright 2013
The Awesome Power Of Halacha
"Every day Mordechai would walk before the courtyard of the house of the
women to know the well-being of Esther and what would be done with her.."
(Megillas Esther 2:11)
The Megillah relates that Esther was among the many beautiful women who
were gathered in the search for a new queen for king Achashverosh. The
posuk states that Mordechai would walk daily before the courtyard where the
women were housed in order to ascertain Esther's well-being and what would
be done with her. This is the simple meaning of this posuk.
Rashi adds a deeper insight into the meaning of this posuk. He states that
Mordechai was one of two Tzadikim(1) to whom Heaven revealed a remez
yeshua, a hint of an oncoming salvation. Mordechai reasoned, "It cannot be
that this righteous woman will be taken to be the wife of a gentile, unless she
is destined to arise and bring salvation to Israel." Therefore, he repeatedly
visited the courtyard where Esther stayed, anxious to witness the drama of the
salvation of Israel unfold through Esther(2).
Mordechai received "divine signals" that it was the will of Heaven that Esther
be in the house of Achashverosh, and that the salvation of Klal Yisroel would
come about through her. Nevertheless, we find that Mordechai did everything
within his power to extricate Esther from the house of Achashverosh. Even
before Esther was chosen to be queen, Mordechai tried his utmost to prevent
Esther from becoming the queen of this gentile king.
Before Esther was chosen to be queen, Mordechai had instructed her neither to
reveal "her people nor her descent (Megilas Esther 2:10)." Rashi explains that
Mordechai instructed her thus, so that those in charge would think that she
came from a simple and lowly family. He had hoped that this would be
enough reason for them to reject her from securing the position of queen. If
they knew that she was a direct descendent of King Shaul, they certainly
would decide to select her. Thus we see that prior to Esthers being chosen as
queen, Mordechai had made every effort to prevent Esther from being taken
as the wife of this gentile king.(3)
This is mystifying. Mordechai had a remez yeshua, a divine signal, that
through Esther's selection as the queen of Achashverosh, the salvation of Klal
Yisroel would come about through her. Thus, Heaven wanted Esther to be in
the house of Achashverosh. Yet, nevertheless, we see that Mordechai tried
with all his resources to prevent Esther from being chosen queen and from
having forbidden relations with this gentile king. How could Mordechai
possibly go against the remez yeshuah, the divine signal from Heaven, that
required Esther to remain in the house of Achashverosh?
We see from here the awesome power of Halacha. Mordechai was
confronted with two possibilities: either to follow the remez yeshua that Esther
remain in the house of Achashverosh, something entirely forbidden according
to halacha, or to follow the halacha, the Shulchan Aruch, which demanded that
Esther be removed from this forbidden relationship. Mordechai opted that the
halacha should reign supreme even against a remez yeshua from Heaven.
There exists no force on earth that can uproot or displace the halacha. Not
even a remez yeshua, a divine signal from Heaven, involving the salvation of
the entire Klal Yisroel could effect the supremacy and authority of the
We can also glean from here another pertinent revelation. Although there are
some people who mistakenly think that one's goal and purpose in life should
be the achievement of lofty ends, no matter what improper means are
trespassed along the way, this is untrue. Mordechai's actions have taught us
that no ends whatsoever, no matter how crucial and important, can ever justify
means that do not fully comply with the Shulchan Aruch. Our duty here on
earth is to do things with the proper means, within the proper framework of
halacha. Results and ends are not our domain, but the domain of Hakadosh
Boruch Hu Himself. If He wills them to be, they will be. If He does not will
them to be, they will not be. We have no right to violate the halacha - whose
fulfillment is our duty on earth - in order to accomplish ends which are not in
our domain, but in the domain of HaKadosh Boruch Hu Himself.
May we realize the awesome power of halacha. It supercedes even a divine
signal from heaven involving the salvation of the entire Klal Yisroel.
May we realize that the duty and goal of every Jew is to firmly adhere to the
Shulchan Aruch and the halacha. There is no end result, no matter how lofty,
that can justify breaching the halacha.
May we be zoche to dedicate our lives to its study and its observance. Amen.
1. Dovid HaMelech was the other Tzaddik.
2. According to the Torah Temima and the Chidushei Radal on Esther Rabbah
3. Indeed, also after Esther was chosen to be queen, we find that Mordechai
persisted to exert every opportunity to remove Esther from the hands of
Achashverosh. The Psukim (Megilas Esther 2:18-19) relate that after Esther
was proclaimed queen, Achashverosh made many attempts to discover
Esther's roots. He made a great banquet in her honor. He reduced taxes and
squandered gifts in her honor, but to no avail. Esther would still not reveal her
roots. As a last resort, Achashverosh made one final attempt to discover
Esther's roots.
The posuk says (Megillas Esther 2:19) "When maidens were gathered a
second time and Mordechai was sitting at the king's gate."
This posuk is baffling and seems to have no meaning whatsoever for two
reasons: 1] Since Esther was already chosen to be queen, why then were the
young maidens being gathered a second time? 2] What does the former part of
the posuk, "When maidens were gathered a second time" have to do with the
latter part, "and Mordechai was sitting at the king's gate..?" The Maharsha
explains that it was precisely these two questions which brought the Gemorah
to explain this posuk as follows: Achashverosh came to Mordechai, who was
sitting at the king's gate, to consult with him as to how he could get Esther to
reveal her roots. Mordechai's advice was that maidens should be gathered a
second time, in order to make Esther jealous. She might then be afraid that she
would lose her "coveted" position as queen to another fair maiden. Therefore
in order to secure her position, she would possibly reveal her roots. The
meaning of the posuk then, is that this indeed did occur. That is, Achashverosh
did, in fact, follow Mordechai's advice, and gathered the young maidens a
second time in order to get Esther to reveal her roots. Nevertheless, the next
posuk states that Esther failed to reveal either her nation or her descent in
accordance with Mordechais command. Thus this seemingly perplexing
posuk has been beautifully interpreted by the Gemorah.
The Maharsha continues to add further insight into Mordechai's advice to
Achashverosh to gather maidens a second time. He states that although, on the
surface, Mordechai's advice to Achashverosh seemed to be sound and
innocent, nevertheless, Mordechai had a deeper intent in giving Achashverosh
this advice. The Maharsha states that the true intent of Mordechai in giving
Achashverosh this specific advice to "gather maidens a second time," was to
facilitate the possibility of another woman finding grace in the eyes of
Achashverosh. Mordechai had hoped that perhaps Achashverosh would
proclaim such a new maiden queen and send Esther away. Thus we see once
again, that Mordechai sought every means at his disposal to remove Esther
from the house of Achashverosh.
These weekly Parsha sheets are based on Shmuessin delivered at Yeshiva Kesser Torah by HaRav ElyakimG. Rosenblatt, Shlita, Rosh HaYeshiva. This Shmuess is
adapted from a Shmuess of Maran HaGaon HaRav Henach Leibowitz, ZTL. Yeshiva Kesser Torah, 72-11 Vleigh Place, Flushing, NY 11367. (718) 793-2890. For other Shiurimby Harav Rosenblatt Shlita, login to For telephone shiurimcall Kol Halashon at 718-
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Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Covenant & Conversation
Tetsaveh Prophet and Priest
The sedra of Tetsaveh, as commentators have noted, has one unusual
feature: it is the only sedra from the beginning of Shemot to the end of
Devarim that does not contain the name of Moses. Several interpretations
have been offered:
The Vilna Gaon suggests that it is related to the fact that in most years it is
read during the week in which the seventh of Adar falls: the day of Moses
death. During this week we sense the loss of the greatest leader in Jewish
history and his absence from Tetsaveh expresses that loss.
The Baal HaTurim relates it to Moses plea, in next weeks sedra, for G-d
to forgive Israel. If not, says Moses, blot me out of the book you have
written (32: 32). There is a principle that The curse of a sage comes true,
even if it was conditional (Makkot 11a). Thus for one week his name was
blotted out from the Torah.
The Paneach Raza relates it to another principle: There is no anger that
does not leave an impression When Moses, for the last time, declined G-
ds invitation to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt, saying Please send
someone else, G-d became angry with Moses (Ex. 4: 13-14) and told
him that his brother Aaron would accompany him. For that reason Moses
forfeited the role he might otherwise have had, of becoming the first of
Israels priests, a role that went instead to Aaron. That is why he is missing
from the sedra of Tetsaveh which is dedicated to the role of the Cohen.
All three explanations focus on an absence. However, perhaps the simplest
explanation is that Tetsaveh is dedicated to a presence, one that had a
decisive influence on Judaism and Jewish history.
Judaism is unusual in that it recognises not one form of religious
leadership but two: the navi and Cohen, the prophet and the priest. The
figure of the prophet has always captured the imagination. He (or she) is a
person of drama, speaking truth to power, unafraid to challenge kings
and courts or society as a whole in the name of high, even utopian ideals.
No other type of religious personality has had the impact as the prophets of
Israel, of whom the greatest was Moses. The priests, by contrast, were for
the most part quieter figures, a-political, who served in the sanctuary rather
than in the spotlight of political debate. Yet they, no less than the prophets,
sustained Israel as a holy nation. Indeed, though Israel were summoned to
become a kingdom of priests they were never called on to be a people of
prophets (Moses said, Would that all G-ds people were prophets, but
this was a wish, not a reality).
Let us therefore consider some of the differences between a prophet and a
The role of priest was dynastic. It passed from father to son. The role
of prophet was not dynastic. Moses own sons did not succeed him;
Joshua, his disciple did.
The task of the priest was related to his office. It was not inherently
personal or charismatic. The prophets, by contrast, each imparted
their own personality. No two prophets had the same style (This,
incidentally, is why there were prophetesses but no priestesses: this
corresponds to the difference between formal office and personal
authority. See R. Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, Responsa Binyan Av, I: 65).
The priests wore a special uniform; the prophets did not.
There are rules of kavod (honour) due to a Cohen. There are no
corresponding rules for the honour due to a prophet. A prophet is
honoured by being listened to, not by formal protocols of respect.
The priests were removed from the people. They served in the
Temple. They were not allowed to become defiled. There were
restrictions on whom they might marry. The prophet, by contrast, was
usually part of the people. He might be a shepherd like Moses or
Amos, or a farmer like Elisha. Until the word or vision came, there
was nothing special in his work or social class.
The priest offered up sacrifices in silence. The prophet served G-d
through the word.
They lived in two different modes of time. The priest functioned in
cyclical time the day (or week or month) that is like yesterday or
tomorrow. The prophet lived in covenantal (sometimes inaccurately
called linear) time the today that is radically unlike yesterday or
tomorrow. The service of the priest never changed; that of the prophet
was constantly changing. Another way of putting it is to say that the
priest worked to sanctify nature, the prophet to respond to history.
Thus the priest represents the principle of structure in Jewish life,
while the prophet represents spontaneity.
The key words in the vocabulary of the Cohen are kodesh and chol,
tahor and tamei, sacred, secular, pure and impure. The key words in
the vocabulary of the prophets are tzedek and mishpat, chessed and
rachamim, righteousness and justice, kindness and compassion.
The key verbs of priesthood are lehorot and lehavdil, to instruct and
distinguish. The key activity of the prophet is to proclaim the word of the
Lord The distinction between priestly and prophetic consciousness (torat
cohanim and torat neviim) is fundamental to Judaism, and is reflected in
the differences between law and narrative, halakhah and aggadah, creation
and redemption. The priest speaks the word of G-d for all time, the
prophet, the word of G-d for this time. Without the prophet, Judaism
would not be a religion of history and destiny. But without the priest, the
children of Israel would not have become the people of eternity. This is
beautifully summed up in the opening verses of Tetsaveh:
Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives, to keep the
lamp constantly burning in the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that is
in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep the lamps burning
before the Lord from evening to morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance
among the Israelites for the generations to come.
Moses the prophet dominates four of the five books that bear his name.
But in Tetsaveh for once it is Aaron, the first of the priests, who holds
centre-stage, undiminished by the rival presence of his brother. For
whereas Moses lit the fire in the souls of the Jewish people, Aaron tended
the flame and turned it into an eternal light.
Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Peninim on the Torah
Parshas Tetzaveh
And you shall command Bnei Yisrael and they shall take pure olive oil,
crushed, for illumination, to light the eternal light. (27:20)
Yirmiyahu HaNavi says: Zayis raanan yifei pri toar kara Hashem
shemeich. "A flourishing olive tree, a beautiful and shapely fruit Hashem
has called Your Name" (Yirmiyahu 11:16). What did Yirmiyahu see that
catalyzed his comparison of our ancestors to an olive tree? All types of
liquids mix with one another, but oil stands by itself. So, too, Klal Yisrael
does not mix with the non-Jews. As it says, V'lo sischatein - "You shall not
be married to them." The Sfas Emes explains that oil's nature prevents it
from mixing with water. Hashem has made the unique nature of the Jewish
People similar to that of oil. Even when we sully ourselves with sin, we
remain distinct from our non-Jewish neighbors. This is supported by the
prohibition against intermarriage. The Torah does not just prohibit the act
of intermarriage. The prohibition is written in the reflexive form, implying
that one cannot bring himself into a union created by the marriage of a Jew
and non-Jew. It is not simply forbidden; it cannot work. One will always
remain separate. When oil is mixed with water, it will eventually rise to
the top. So, too, the Jewish People cannot intermingle with the nations.
Pure oil - even when crushed and mixed with its dregs - retains its separate
To put the above into simple perspective, the following will have to
suffice. The institution of marriage is a secular term used to describe what
is supposed to be a lasting relationship between a man and a woman, in
much the same way that the secular world terms it, "tying the knot." Then
there is the Torah perspective of Kiddushin, a holy relationship, a bond
based upon kedushah, a consecration. Jewish marriage is more than a
relationship - it is a spiritual union between man, woman and G-d. If the
couple brings Hashem into the equation, it becomes a sanctified
relationship. The marriage functions not only on a physical level, but it
also includes a spiritual component.
In his highly acclaimed manual for marriage, "The River, the Kettle and
the Bird," the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Ner Israel, Horav Aharon
Feldman, Shlita, teaches us the three stages of marriage. The initial stage is
much like a river which connects two cities, serving as a channel by which
merchandise can be shipped from one city to another. It is the bridge that
connects the two communities. A couple/ man and woman, begin their
marriage with good relations between one another. They remain two
separate entities with a bridge/river that allows them to fulfill one another's
needs. In the secular world, this bridge is called love. Perhaps it is love of
oneself, because, in truth, this is no more than a business relationship. The
two people do not even have a common goal, similar to a business
relationship in which each member is out to take care of himself.
The second stage of marriage is like a kettle of water resting on the stove.
The fire on the stove and the water in the kettle work together to create
boiling water or steam. Each one needs the other. The fire on the stove
without the water is static, much like the water in the kettle without the
fire. Water and fire, however, cannot coexist. Thus, the kettle separates
them, allowing them to coexist and function in such a manner in which
they can achieve the mutual goal of creating boiling water. Likewise, a
couple, over time, work together towards achieving a mutual goal. They
each have a distinct task; they remain individuals; their goal, however, is
mutual and can be realized only when they work together. The kettle has
"one over" the river in that the two principals work toward a common goal.
The third stage of marriage - and perhaps the rarest - is likened to a bird.
The bird has two ways of propelling itself forward: its legs and its wings.
There is a time and place for each to function. At times, the bird needs to
walk; then it uses its legs. Other circumstances require the use of its wings.
The legs and wings have disparate functions and different goals, but they
are both organs of the same body. The wings and legs are always together
as part of the same body. Indeed, a bird that is missing either one of these
vital organs is blemished. Likewise, in the marriage relationship, husband
and wife have varied functions and individual goals, but they are united
through matrimony and love as one body. Perfect unity is the goal of a
30 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
Jewish marriage. This can only be achieved when the spiritual component
of marriage is realized.
In his book, "Perfect Strangers," Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitz observes that
such marriages are rare. I am not sure that they are rare, but they are
certainly unique and clearly ideal. While there are couples who live out
their lives in complete harmony - no fights - peace and tranquility reign in
their home, they are still not yet wed in the spiritual sense. They are
compatible with one another, like the river or the kettle that serve as
conduits between two separate communities/entities. Thus, they provide
emotional and physical support for one another. Nonetheless, they are not
one unit. Their souls are not united. Unless the "Hashem component" is
entered into the relationship, the souls will never unite; the marriage will
never achieve kedushah.
This paper is not a manual for marriage, but rather, it is an exploration of
why the matrimonial relationship of a Jew and gentile can never achieve
the level of unity required in a Torah-sanctioned marriage. When the
foundations of the religions are as different as night and day, when one is
compared to oil and the other to water, it just becomes quite impossible to
create a symbiotic fusion between the two components.
The Menorah is lit from the purest and finest oil, which is derived from the
first drops after the olive has been broken open. A second oil is derived
after the olive has been crushed and ground. While this second oil is not
used for the Menorah, it is used for the Menachos, Meal-offering. The
Midrash comments, "Just like the olive that is harvested and pounded,
and then ground and afterwards surrounded with ropes and pressed by
rocks, and, after all of this, it gives its oil, so, too, the Jewish People. The
gentiles come and pound and drive them from place to place, imprison and
place them in chains, surround them with soldiers and afterward, they (the
Jews) repent, and Hashem answers them." A fascinating Medrash which is
explained by the Sfas Emes. The two types of oil are a reference to the
Jewish People during two periods in their nascency. The "first drops" - the
extra-pure oil, free of dregs and impurities, came when, at Har Sinai, Klal
Yisrael declared, Naase v'Nishmah, "We will hear and we will listen." It
was then that they revealed their total commitment to Hashem, their desire
to carry out His will. The secondary oil, with its impurities and dregs,
symbolizes the Jews, but at a later time - a few weeks later when they
descended to the depths of turpitude following the sin of the Golden Calf.
Their pure beginning was tainted by sin, just as their pure hearts were
blemished by the introduction of the yetzer hora into their lives. Yet,
Yirmiyahu HaNavi called the nation a thriving olive tree - even at their
time of sin, at their point of degradation. To find favor in Hashem's eyes,
explains the Sfas Emes, we must squeeze out the oil from dregs. This can
only be executed through teshuvah, the process of repentance and return.
The secondary oil was not used in the Sanctuary for the Menorah. It lacked
sufficient purity. Outside, however, in the Temple Courtyard, it was used
as part of the Menachos. The Flour-offering was unique in that it was the
Korban offered by the ani, Jew stricken by poverty. An animal or fowl was
beyond his meager budget. A flour-offering mixed with the specific quota
of oil would suffice. This offering symbolizes a Jew who has lost his way,
who has fallen from his initial lofty spiritual perch. Nonetheless, through
our connection with the pure oil inherent within the dregs, we retain a
ceaseless capacity to raise an eternal light l'haalos ner tamid - always.
Even during those times that we are lowly, the Jew still has within him a
drop of pure oil.
They shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil for illumination. (27:20)
There were two forms of olive oil. First was the oil which was used for the
Menorah. This was pure without sediments, derived from the first pressing.
The olives were picked from the top of the tree, where they received the
most sunshine. They were then pressed with a mortar - rather than ground
in a mill. The second oil, which was the product of grinding and included
within it tiny pieces of sediment, was appropriate only for the Menachos,
Meal-offerings. Kassis la'ma'or, pressed for illumination; v'lo kassis
la'Menachos, not pressed for the Menachos, say Chazal. The oil used for
the Menachos did not require the quality inherent in oil processed through
kassis, pressing with a mortar.
In the Talmud Megillah 6b, Chazal make a fascinating statement
concerning limud ha'Torah, Torah study. If one states, Lo yagati u'matzasi,
"(Despite the fact that) I did not toil in learning, yet I achieved success",
Al taamin, "Do not believe him." The reason for this, explains the K'sav
Sofer, is that Torah can only be acquired through exertion. If one toils in
pursuit of Torah knowledge, he will succeed. Without toil, there is no
success. The K'sav Sofer applies Chazal's exposition regarding the oil,
kassis la'maor, v'lo kassis l'Menachos, in order to explain the distinction
between Torah study and other academic disciplines.
Kassis la'maor; one must press himself and toil in order to achieve the light
of Torah. This illumination does not come easy. One must expend effort.
V'lo kassis la'Menachos; for a livelihood (minchah is a meal-offering -
meal symbolizes parnassah, livelihood), he does not have to exert himself.
Whatever hishtadlus, endeavoring, he applies will be sufficient. The rest is
derived from Hashem's blessing. One can work minimally, yet amass great
wealth. Others may work day and night and barely eke out a living. His
toil is not the key to success.
And make holy garments for your brother, Aharon, for honor and
distinction. (28:2)
Seeing the Kohanim resplendent in their Bigdei Kehunah, Priestly
vestments, must have been a glorious sight. These garments were similar
to those worn by monarchs. Indeed, in the Yom Kippur Musaf, a prayer
describes the appearance of the Kohen Gadol. Emes mah nehedar hayah
Kohen Gadol, "True! How majestic was the Kohen Gadol." I have always
wondered how it was that this wondrous sight did not impact all of Klal
Yisrael. Some Jews, albeit a minority, did not buy into the program. After
seeing such majesty and splendor, one should be enthusiastically filled
with exceptional pride. Yet, we see that this was not always the case.
Perhaps it is because, in order to be impressed, in order to be impacted,
one must take note; one must see. One who does not perceive the greatness
of the image before him is either sightless or refuses to look. One who
refuses to look, to delve into the spectacle before him, will not be moved
by its wonder. With the power of cognitive perception one is able to
envision the beauty of an experience even though all that stands before his
eyes are simple, mundane allusions to the greater experience. Please bear
with me as I explain with a captivating story, which was related by my
Rav, Rabbi Aharon Dovid Lebovics, in his Shabbos morning drashah.
The story was actually relayed on a tape by Rabbi Fishel Schachter. Rabbi
Schachter related his family's experience with a baalas teshuvah, a young
woman who had embraced Torah observance. Sadly, as the yetzer hora,
evil inclination, would have it, as soon as she became frum, observant,
everything started going downhill. She sustained a serious brain injury in
an accident. Her health began to deteriorate. To add insult to injury, her
mother vehemently opposed her decision to adopt the Orthodox way of
life. Rather than giving her support in her time of need, her mother would
rub it in that all of this had happened because she had become observant.
This is neither the forum nor the venue for critiquing the mother's
parenting skills, but let it suffice to say that the young woman was in the
hospital alone and scared.
Somehow, the mother contacted Rabbi Schachter and the Rav and his
family became regular visitors in the hospital, encouraging the girl and
empathizing with her ordeal. Then the dread news came: she required life-
sustaining surgery, which might have a serious effect on her vision. The
surgery to save her life could drastically impact her optic nerve.
Confronting sightlessness is a tall order for anyone, especially a young
baalas teshuvah who had already been through so much. One would have
expected a number of horrible reactions, but what Rabbi Schachter heard
from this girl was startling.
Rabbi Schachter visited her that day, and she told him about her crisis. She
was frightened about the surgery and, for lack of something to say, he
injudiciously asked her, "Why?" Her reply is what this story is all about:
"Being cooped up in the hospital, sedated with pain killers, unable to move
about freely, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, I have one thing to
which I look forward every week. The Bikur Cholim girls visit every
Friday and set up a little table with grape juice and challah. They provide
me with an electric candelabra, so that I may experience Shabbos. This is
my only moment of joy and reflection. If I lose my eyesight - how will I
see Shabbos?"
Imagine, this young baalas teshuvah saw Shabbos! When the candelabra
was lit and her little hospital table was bedecked with challah and grape
juice, her perception of the holy day was beyond - indeed, way beyond -
what the average frum Jew experiences. Her ability to see transcended the
physical. An addendum to the story occurs six months later when, upon
eating her Shabbos meal at Rabbi Schachter's house, she spilled
horseradish on her dress. She saw the stain!
And make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for honor and
distinction They shall cover Aharon and his sons when they enter into
the Ohel Moed to serve in the SanctuaryI t shall be a statute forever
for him and for his descendants after him. (28:2,43)
The idea of clothing making the man is a Madison Avenue stratagem. In
truth, as we see from the Bigdei Kehunah, Priestly vestments, clothing is
actually a reflection of the man. They do not make a person, but they do
convey a message and allow us a window into the wearer's personality and
character. The Bigdei Kehunah were an essential part of the character of
the Kehunah, Priesthood. Their significance is evident from the
instructions concerning their construction. The validity of the sacrificial
service is dependent upon the priestly garments. Indeed, they are a chukas
olam, statute forever, such that, without these garments, the Kohen is
viewed as a zar, stranger, and may not serve in the Sanctuary.
Horav S.R. Hirsch, zl, observes that the Priestly garments must be supplied
and owned by the nation. This explains why only a Kohen dressed in these
garments may be called a Kohen altogether. Only in this attire does he
come forward to represent the nation as its noble servant. Only in this
manner does the ritual he performs become that service which the nation
was commanded to render to the Sanctuary. Only thus can the ideas - both
esoteric and ritualistic - attain the character of a duty commanded by
Hashem. Only then does the service which begins as an act of obedience
transform into devotion symbolizing the nation's commitment to Torah.
Rav Hirsch explains that, without the Priestly vestments, the Kohen is
merely an ordinary individual, with his ritual taking on the character of
personal predilection - not the representative of the nation. Thus, he
produces the very antithesis of the attitude which the Sanctuary is intended
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to foster. Rav Hirsch goes as far as to posit that without his Priestly
garments, the individual personality of the officiating Kohen stands
lacking, with all the human failings and shortcomings that can afflict even
the finest and best among us. Without his garb, the Kohen might well
present a defective version of the ideal which the sacrifices should
When the Kohen stands before Hashem, radiant in his Priestly attire, he
presents himself not in terms of the personality he might be, but rather, as
the character he should have in accordance with the requirements as
dictated by the Torah. By the very act of donning the garments for the
express purpose of carrying out the service in the Sanctuary, he makes
both himself and those whom he represents aware that, as a person, he is
still inadequate regarding the demands symbolized by the Sanctuary.
Rav Hirsch posits that clothing per se is a reminder of man's moral calling.
Indeed, it is the most conspicuous feature that characterizes a creature as a
human being. Clothing was first given to Man when Hashem sent His
children out of Gan Eden into the world, in which toil and renunciation
were a way of life. The external mundane world, with its physicality and
attendant moral dangers, presents constant obstacles which might lead man
astray, thus causing him to descend to the level of beast. Clothing is his
In the Talmud Sanhedrin 94a, Chazal relate that Rabbi Yochanan Kari lei
l'mani mechubadosai, the Tanna Rabbi Yochanan referred to his clothes as
his honor guards. Indeed, the appropriate garments imbue a person with
dignity and respectability, often signifying his station in life. Horav
Yisrael Belsky, Shlita, adds that the manner in which a person dresses
reveals the inner truth about himself. One who feels that he is an eved
Hashem, a servant of the Almighty, dresses the part - with a clean , pressed
shirt, tucked in, thereby presenting himself in a respectable manner which
brings honor to the Torah world which he represents.
In contrast, is the person who wants to feel free and unencumbered -
unrestrained by convention and tradition. He may choose a hairstyle that
fits in best in a bar or casino, and wear clothing that is provocative, which
sends a foolish message or makes a negative statement. Some go so far as
to mutilate their bodies. These practices are designed to shock spectators
and project an image of living beyond normal human convention. These
styles reflect the baseness of the human condition, the sad state of affairs
and insecurity that the wearer presents about him/herself. Their lack of
self-respect is evident. The only question is what prompted this tragic
The Rosh Yeshivah explains that every style of garment conveys a
message. When a person wears clothing that identifies him as a ben Torah,
he is heralding to those with whom he comes in contact that he belongs to
a unique club. He is a member of a group of people who are dedicated to
spiritual growth, whose relationship vis-a-vis the physical world in which
they live coincides with the will of Hashem. Wearing clothes that are
proper and modest in nature manifests respect for oneself and respect for
There are people who, by the clothing they wear, convey a false message.
They present themselves as G-d-fearing, righteous individuals when, in
fact, this could not be further from the truth. Their clothing and public
demeanor are designed to fool the world, such as when an unsavory and
immoral character dresses up like a holy person and portrays himself as
such, while concealed behind closed doors he commits the most vicious
acts of moral degradation. Indeed, there are even those who make use of
their rabbinic garb to pass as distinguished scholars, thereby granting
themselves license to commit acts of indiscretion, and to slander and
malign those who have the nerve not to respect their "public" image.
Yes, clothes tell us something about a person. I have, over the years, come
across a number of "wardrobe" stories, many of which I have used. I have
two new such stories which convey a penetrating message. In "The Life
and Times of Reb Rephoel Soloveitchik," the reader garners a glimpse into
the lifestyle of the Brisker Rav, zl, his devotion to Torah, Klal Yisrael and
family. The Brisker derech, way, in ehrlichkeit, integrity, is characterized
by a lifestyle of pashtus, simplicity. They were mistapek b'muat, subsisted
on the bare necessities, avoiding the luxuries and financial pursuits which
undermine the struggle to achieve emes, truth. Rav Rephoel remembers
that, as small children, he and his siblings were inculcated with
instructions from their father regarding what is significant in life and what
is not, what to place on the scale of values and what not. Rav Rephoel was
wont to say, "I lack nothing." His wife and daughter attested: "We never
craved luxuries, and we were neither attracted to nor influenced by the
latest styles and merchandise in the display cases. Everything in our home
was the most basic and simple in nature."
Shortly after their marriage, Rav Rephoel and his Rebbetzin moved into
their new apartment. It was not large; it was not lavish; it was simple,
equipped with the very basics they needed to live. Rav Rephoel asked his
father if he should make a Chanukas HaBayis, consecration of a new
dwelling. The Brisker Rav replied that for the first meal which they eat in
the new apartment, they should invite a poor man to share their meal. This
would be their Chanukas HaBayis. We now have an idea of the type of
individual Rav Rephoel was and his perspective on life.
Rav Rephoel never owned a new suit until he married. Everything that he
wore until that point was a hand-me-down from his older brothers. During
the War of 1948, he had one suit which he wore both for Shabbos and
during the week. When the suit needed cleaning for Pesach, he was
informed by the dry cleaner that it could be cleaned easily at home by
brushing it down with kerosene. He cleaned his suit with kerosene, but
could not bring it indoors because of the odor. He stayed indoors all day,
while the suit aired out on the balcony.
Rav Rephoel once received a suit from his brother that was made of
strong, good quality cloth. It had become too frayed to wear. Rav Rephoel
took it to the tailor who turned the material inside out and cut it down to
size. When Rav Rephoel brought the suit home to show his father, the
Brisker Rav said, Es iz tsu shain far dir, "It is too nice for you (to wear
now). Put it away in the closet." He put it away until he became a choson.
He wore this suit to his wedding.
The next story concerns Horav Michoel Forschlager, zl, a talmid chacham,
Torah scholar of repute, who lived in Baltimore, circa early twentieth
century. He was a true Torah genius as attested to by such distinguished
Roshei Yeshivah as Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, zl, Horav Yitzchak
Yaakov Ruderman, zl, Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, Horav Yisrael
Gustman, zl, and the Satmar Rav, zl. His Rebbe, the Avner Nezer offered
him semichah, ordination, at the age of eighteen. Rav Forshlager
demurred, claiming that he did not want to practice rabbinics. Well before
the age of thirty, he was considered to be among the most brilliant
Talmudists in Europe. He spent his life engrossed in Torah study, writing
brilliant novella. He shunned the limelight. His greatest enjoyment in life
was speaking in learning with those who came to visit him. Our story,
which was related by Rabbi Yechiel Spero in "Touched by a Story," is
about one such incident and the lifelong impression it left on two yeshivah
The Rosh Yeshivah of Ner Israel, Horav Yitzchak Yaakov Ruderman,
would send older students to Rav Forshlager's home on Erev Shabbos to
speak in learning with him. One Friday afternoon, two bochurim, students
of the Yeshivah, knocked on the apartment door of Rav Forshlager. When
they entered the apartment, they felt they had walked into a different
world. The apartment - if one could call it that - was sparsely furnished.
Whatever furniture was there was old and chipped, the couch was thread
bare, the floor covering was worn and cracked. This was, however, not the
most striking aspect of the visit. It was the sweater which Rav Michoel
wore. The fabric was tattered, discolored and worn out. The mere fact that
the sweater did not simply fall apart was incredible. They had never seen
anyone wearing such a deteriorated garment.
Apparently, from the appearance of the small apartment, Rav Michoel
cared about only one thing: Torah. Seforim lined the shelves from floor to
ceiling. The dining room table served as a place to eat, but, even more so,
as a place to study. It was overflowing with seforim - some opened, others
still closed, but about to be opened. Rav Michoel made room at the table,
so that the students could sit, but, before they began learning, he had to do
one more thing. He left the room and, a few moments later, returned
sporting another sweater - one that was slightly less torn, less discolored,
and perhaps slightly more presentable. Rav Michoel noticed the students
sort of staring at him, so he took the time to explain his behavior.
"Let me explain why I changed sweaters. I own two sweaters: one for
Shabbos and one for the weekday. Prior to your arrival, I was wearing my
weekday sweater. After all, I am home alone. When I saw that I would be
speaking with two bnei Torah, students of the Yeshivah, it was such a
kavod, honor, I felt it important to change into my Shabbos sweater. After
all, where would be my kavod haTorah?" This is how a gadol, Torah giant,
understands kavod haTorah: to change sweaters in honor of two yeshivah
students who came to speak in learning. Nothing but Shabbos "finery"
could be sufficient for such distinguished guests.
Va'ani Tefillah
V'Solicheinu komemius l'artzeinu. And lead us upright to our land.
In his commentary to Parashas Bechukosai (Vayikra 26:13), Rashi
interprets komemius (v'oleich eschem komemius, "and I will lead you
upright") as b'komah zekufah, "an upright and erect posture." Clearly,
there must be a deeper meaning to this. Perhaps it is true that our moral
posture is significant, but, concerning our physical posture, is it necessarily
a blessing to be able to stand straight? In his Baruch She'amar,
commentary to the siddur, Horav Baruch HaLevi Epstein, zl, explains that
one's physical posture can be a reflection of a much deeper issue. It all
depends on why one's posture is "failing." He cites Tosfos in the Talmud
Kiddushin 36B, who comment that "one who eats from his friend's
charitable hand is naturally ashamed to look in his face." When we enjoy
the benefits graciously rendered to us from others, we have a slight feeling
of embarrassment; - thus, we feel awkward in facing up to them.
We, therefore, ask Hashem to lead us upright into the land. We want to be
deserving and our reward warranted. We do not want to be perceived as
beggars who have accepted a gift. We want to be worthy to stand erect and
upright, proud of our service and commitment to the Almighty. It might be
a "tall" order, but the alternative is standing stooped over, announcing that
we are undeserving of Hashem's graciousness.
L'zechar nishmas ha'isha ha'chasuva Glicka bas R' Avraham Alter a"h
niftara b'shem tov 8 Adar II 5760 In loving memory of Mrs. Gilka
Scheinbaum Bogen by her family
Peninim on the Torah is in its 20th year of publication. The first fifteen years have been published in book form. The Fifteenth volume is available at
your local book seller or directly from Rabbi Scheinbaum. He can be contacted at 216-321-5838 ext. 165 or by fax at 216-321-0588 Discounts are
available for bulk orders or Chinuch/Kiruv organizations. This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network Permission is granted to
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Rabbi Dovid Seigel
Haftorah Zachor - Parshas Tetzaveh
Shmuel I 15:2
This week's haftorah that we read before Purim deals with Hashem's
command to Shaul Hamelech (King Saul) to annihilate Amalek. The time
had come for the Jewish people to eradicate every trace of their earliest
archenemy who paved the way for all subsequent battles. A pure
descendent of the wicked Eisav, Amalek displayed no fear or reverence for
Hashem and arrogantly waged war against Hashem's chosen people with
overt blasphemy. Although the Jewish people successfully defeated
Amalek his open blasphemy had not been addressed. Shaul Hamelech
(King Saul) faithfully fulfilled most of his order and annihilated the entire
Amalek save one soul, King Agag. Shaul destroyed almost all their
animals but acquiesced in the Jewish people's plea to spare select sheep for
sacrifices. Hashem immediately summoned the prophet Samuel to
reprimand Shaul for his shortcomings. Shmuel told Shaul that his serious
oversight cost him the throne and that his successor was already in place.
Shmuel proceeded to summon King Agag and gruesomely execute him.
However, Shmuel's act came after Agag remained alive one last day. The
Sages teach us that the Amalekite king took full advantage of Shaul's error.
In a most unpredictable way Agag managed to spend his last hours of life
procuring his nation. His attempt was successful and, against all odds, the
entire nation of Amalek was reborn. (see Mesichta Megila 13a) This total
reversal seems to reflect Hashem's interest in preserving Amalek.
Although one day earlier Hashem decreed Amalek's total destruction the
Jewish people apparently forfeited this privilege. Their recent error called
for Amalek - the epitome of anti-Semitism - to continue to exist.
In order to properly understand this let us discover Hashem's purpose for
this wicked nation and what benefit it serves. For this, we refer to the
Jewish people's initial encounter with Amalek and the strategy used
against him. The Torah states, "And when Moshe raised his hand the
Jewish people overpowered (Amalek) and when he lowered his hand
Amalek overpowered (the Jews)." (Shmos 17:11) These words peculiarly
suggest that the Jewish nation's success against Amalek depended on
Moshe Rabbeinu's raised hand?! The Sages ask this question and answer
that Moshe Rabbeinu's hand served as a vehicle and gauge for the Jewish
people's devotion to Hashem. (Mesichta Rosh Hashana Perek 3)
The Sages explain that the defeat of Amalek required extreme devotion
and tefilla prayer. Hashem demanded His people to totally subject
themselves to Him before responding to their dangerous predicament.
Moshe's hands did not fight the war but they did propel the Jewish people
into devoting every fiber of their heart and soul to Hashem. As long as
their hearts were totally focused on Hashem's salvation He responded
accordingly. But, the moment they deviated from total devotion Hashem
no longer assisted them. Moshe Rabbeinu's hand was a perfect catalyst for
this devotion. His totally raised hand reflected their total subjection to
Hashem and the slightest lowering of it indicated their lack of focus on
Him and predicted inevitable defeat.
This initial encounter reveals the need for Amalek and why Hashem
permits him to attack Hashem's people. The Sages trace this back to the
Jewish people's initial shortcoming in the desert. The Sages support this by
citing the verse immediately preceding Amalek's arrival. Therein the
Torah states, ".....For your testing Hashem and questioning, 'Does Hashem
dwell in our midst or not?'" (Shmos 17:7) The Sages explain that the
Jewish people became acclimated to their miraculous existence in the
desert. Hashem so perfectly attended to their needs that they began
questioning if Hashem's presence remained amongst them. Thus far, their
relationship consisted of crying out to Hashem and Hashem coming to
their rescue. Their recent stretch did not involve hardship and overt
danger. Hashem so efficiently provided their needs - food, drink and
shelter - that they felt totally secure in their incredibly perilous
predicament. Consequently they did not feel Hashem's presence and began
qu estioning if He truly remained amongst them. (see Rashi Shmos 17:8)
This absurdity reflected their lack of subjection to Hashem and
unwillingness to recognize His constant involvement in their lives. In
truth, the clouds of glory were themselves a manifestation of Hashem's
glorious presence. Yet, instead of praising Hashem for every moment of
existence the Jewish people took all their favors for granted and began
searching for Him. This absolutely unwarranted behavior called for
immediate response and Amalek was summoned to send the shock. He
was notorious for his unwillingness to recognize Hashem and subject
himself to a supreme power. Amalek reflected, in extreme proportions, the
Jewish people's subtle - but similar - imperfection. They immediately
responded and reversed their line of thinking. During the attack they
remained transfixed on Hashem's salvation thereby rectifying their lack of
devotion. Hashem responded to their abrupt turnabout and delivered them
from the hands of their enemy.
With this newly gained insight we return to Shaul Hamelech's subtle - yet
serious - deviation. The Sages reveal that Shaul Hamelech found it
difficult to accept Hashem's command to annihilate an entire nation. He
compassionately questioned, "If Amalekite men are sinful why must the
children perish and their cattle die?" (Mesichta Yoma 22b) Although these
concerns came from the heart they reflected Shaul Hamelech's faint
unwillingness to subject himself to Hashem's supreme intellect. His error
together with the Jewish people's weakness reinstated their earlier
shortcoming and gave rise to Amalek. Regretfully, the Jewish people and
their king did not seize the opportunity to overcome their deep-seated
problem. They forfeited through this their one time chance and Amalek
was granted the right to exist. It was then determined that anti-Semitism
would remain and be on call to remind the Jewish people to totally subject
themselves to Him.
This pattern reappeared in the days of Purim. The Jewish people became
acclimated to their lifestyle in the diaspora and reduced their focus on
Hashem. At their first opportunity to display Persian loyalty the Jews of
Shushan eagerly attended a royal feast despite Mordechai's stern warning.
Severe immorality reigned at the feast, as would be expected at occasions
of that nature. In addition, the sacred vessels of the Bais Hamikdash were
exposed and defiled but the Jewish people were indifferent to all. The
Sages reveal that, under cover, this royal feast actually was meant to
celebrate Hashem's rejection of His people. The Persian king
Achashveirosh believed that he accurately calculated the Jewish people's
promised day of return. Once this did not happen he was convinced it
never would. In honor of his newly gained control over the Jewish nation
he gleefully celebrated and arrogantly served in the sacred Bais
Hamikdash vessels. (see Mesichta Megila 11b)
They should have protested and fainted at the sight of the vessels but they
were so insensitive to Hashem that they did not even respond! Such
indifference called for immediate action and once again Amalek was
called to give the shock. Haman, a pure descendent of Amalek suddenly
rose to power and reminded the Jewish people to focus on Hashem. He
influenced the king to involve the entire world in a one day merciless
frenzy of total Jewish annihilation. Through Mordechai and Esther's
guidance the Jewish people responded with three consecutive days of
prayer and fasting. This total subjection to Hashem reestablished the
Jewish people's long lost relationship with Him. Hashem miraculously
responded and Haman and tens of thousands of Amalekites were
decimated without a single Jewish casualty. The Jewish people responded
to Hashem's display of love and rededicated themselves to His Torah in an
unprecedented manner. (see Mesichta Shabbos 88a)
Let us pray to Hashem that we learn our Purim lesson well and merit to
reestablish our relationship with Hashem. Once we totally subject
ourselves to Hashem He will undoubtedly respond and end our seemingly
endless troubles. May the day soon arrive when Eisav's descendent
Amalek will be totally destroyed thus clearing the path for Hashem's
absolute rule over all of humanity. Amen.
Haftorah, Copyright &copy 2013 by Rabbi Dovid Siegel and The author is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Toras Chaim of Kiryat Sefer, Israel.
Kollel Toras Chesed 3732 West Dempster Skokie, Illinois 600 76 Phone: 847-674-7959Fax: 847-674-4023 Questions or comments?
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602-1350 FAX: (410) 510-1053

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
Ohr Somayach Torah Weekly
G-d tells Moshe to command the Jewish People to supply pure olive oil for
the menorah in the Mishkan(Tent of Meeting). He also tells Moshe to
organize the making of the bigdei kehuna(priestly garments): A
breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, a sash, a
forehead-plate, and linen trousers. Upon their completion, Moshe is to
perform a ceremony for seven days to consecrate Aharon and his sons.
This includes offering sacrifices, dressing Aharon and his sons in their
respective garments, and anointing Aharon with oil. G-d commands that
every morning and afternoon a sheep be offered on the altar in the
Mishkan. This offering should be accompanied by a meal-offering and
libations of wine and oil. G-d commands that an altar for incense be built
from acacia wood and covered with gold. Aharon and his descendants
should burn incense on this altar every day.
Star Billing
And now, you shall command the Children of I srael... (27:20)
It always amazes me how many people it takes to make a movie all those
names that roll down in the titles at the end.
Theres the third assistant grip. Poodle manicure services by... Beers
chilled by.... A vast and determined army has come together to create two
and a half hours of armchair illusion.
And thats only the end titles. The opening titles are usually a showbiz
lawyers nightmare (or dream, really, when he bills his client).
Who goes first, the Director or the Star? Is it Sheldon Shmendrick
presents Rock Jaw or should it be Starring Rock Jaw in A Sheldon
Shmendrick production? What about the pecking order of the lesser
actors? Is it with Gilly Arayos or should it be featuring Gilly Arayos as
Brenda. And then of course there are the TV trailers and the print ads.
Have you ever seen so many names in so many typefaces in so many
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different point sizes grace a piece of printed material as the average
Hollywood blockbuster poster?
If Hollywoodis about anything, its about prestige. Or as its called in
Hebrew Kavod. Honor-seeking in Judaism is one of the things that
removes a person from this world. It puts him into a non-real world
where he becomes a legend in his own lunchtime. Kavod is something that
a Jew runs a million miles from.
Theres a fascinating section of the Talmud which describes a conversation
between the Almighty and Yerovam ben Navat. Yerovam was a Jewish
King, a great and brilliant scholar, who was ultimately responsible for
turning the Jewish People to idol worship. It was he who caused the
division of the twelve tribes into the Kingdoms of Yisrael (the ten tribes)
and Yehuda (the other two tribes). Those ten lost tribes, the vast majority
of the Jewish People, are now vanished, invisible and lost to the Jewish
People. That was Yerovam.
What can cause someone who was so great to fall so far? The Talmud
(Sanhedrin 102a) gives us a telling insight into Yerovam's character:
Rabbi Abba said, the Holy One, Blessed is He, grabbed Yerovam by his
garment and said to him Return to your former self and I and you and Ben
Yishai (King David) will walk in Gan Eden. He (Yerovam) said, Whos
going to be at the head? Ben Yishai will be at the head. If so, I dont
Why did Yerovam ask the Almighty who would be first? He already told
him. G-d said I and you and Ben Yishai will walk in Gan Eden. He
already told him that he would be first. If G-d put Yerovam ahead of King
David, why then did Yerovam ask who would be at the head?
Yerovam wanted a billboard fifteen stories high with his name in lights.
He wanted G-d to spell it out.
This was the granddaddy of disputes over billing. It wasnt enough that he
would go first. Yerovam wanted his billing locked into the contract.
If Kavod seeking honor is something so despicable and lowly, its
reverse is the greatest treasure. Humility is the greatest prize that man can
aspire to. The praise of the greatest Jew who ever lived was that he was the
humblest of men. That man was Moshe, our teacher.
From his birth until Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy), Moshes name appears
in every Torah portion except one this weeks parsha. The Vilna Gaon
explains that Moshe died on the seventh of Adar. This date usually falls in
the week of Parshat Tetzave. So just as Moshe was removed from this
world during the date of this week, so too his name was removed from
the parsha of this week.
The words of the tzaddik can have a power beyond their immediate
context. When G-d wanted to destroy the Jewish People after their
infidelity with the golden calf (next weeks parsha), Moshe pleaded with
G-d, saying Erase me from your Book that you have written. Moshe
asked that he, rather than the Jewish People, should be eradicated. Even
though Moshe spoke out of total self-sacrifice, nevertheless his words
made an impression, and it is for this reason that his name was erased
from this weeks parsha.
The question remains however, why this weeks parsha? Moshes name
could have been omitted from any of the other parshiot in the Torah. The
answer is the G-d delayed omitting Moshe from the Torah as long as He
could, as it were. For next weeks parsha deals with the golden calf and
Moshe will again make the statement Erase me from your Book that you
have written. So this parsha was G-ds last chance, so to speak, to leave
out Moshes billing from the Torah.
Sources: Baal HaTurim, Nachal Kadmonim, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz
1995-2013 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved. Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also
encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that
you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions

Rabbi Yaakov Solomon
Between the Fish and the Soup
Parshat Tetzaveh 5773: D'var Torah
And you (Moses) bring Aaron and his sons with him - to be priests to
me (in the Tabernacle) (28:1).
The Parasha opens with the sacred oil, and the details of the garments
worn by the high priest and regular priests in the Tabernacle and
(following the commentaries) later on in the Temple.
The priests were to officiate daily in the Temple service, a 'place of
appointment' between G-d and the people (29:43). The commentators state
the reason that this privilege went to Moses' brother, Aaron rather than to
Moses himself. It was because it was Aaron that acted as a spokesman for
his people during their sufferings in Egypt. As Moses put it to G-d: 'I am
not a man of words for I speak heavily and with difficulty' (4:10).
Therefore Moses did the instructing and Aaron did the speaking (7:2).
The commentators also note that Moses' name does not appear in this
Parasha, and suggest various reasons. The simple explanation, however,
appears to be that there is no obvious reason why it should. The command
to build the Tabernacles according to 'the specifications as you (Moses)
were shown on the mountain' (26:30) is introduced in the previous parasha
with 'G-d spoke to Moses' (25:1), which is followed by the detailed
specifications of each Tabernacle-item, opening with 'You shall make'
This line continues in this week's parasha, on the same topic, in the same
What does appear more remarkable is that G-d does not address Himself
directly to Aaron. After all, Aaron, together with his descendants, served
in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, day by day. Moses had one
function - to lead the people. Aaron had another - connecting the people
with the Creator through the divine service in the Tabernacle. Indeed this
'division of state and religion' was a permanent feature until the
Hasmonean kings who combined both and were ultimately to lead the
Jews to disaster, locking them deeply into the Roman Empire.
The reason may be as follows. Aaron does not receive a direct
communication here, because the Torah wishes to stress the continuing
unity between Moses and Aaron. In contrast with the sibling rivalry
between Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers,
Moses and Aaron - the founders of the Israelites going from a family to a
nation - worked together, and they were pleased to do so. As the Torah
records on Moses' return to Egypt: 'Aaron is coming to meet you and will
be happy when he sees you' (4:14), and before the Ten Plagues: 'Those
who spoke to Pharaoh were Moses and Aaron' (6:27).
Indeed, 'How good it is for brothers to live in unity!' (Psalms 133:1) is
followed with a simile that includes a direct reference to Aaron himself.
Parashat Tetzaveh (Haftara Zachor) 5773
Samuel said: "Does G-d desire burnt offerings and peace offerings as
much as the obeying of His voice? Because you rejected the word of G-
d, He has rejected you from being a king."
Saul replied: "I have sinned I did transgress G-d's command - for I
feared the people, and I listened to their voice."
Samuel said to Saul: "I will not return with you. For you have rejected G-
d's Word, and G-d has rejected you from being king over Israel." (Samuel
I 15:22-6)
Guided Tour...
The Books of Samuel, set in the Holy Land during the mid-eleventh and
the early tenth century BCE, record the transition in Israel from the period
of the Judges to the era of the united monarchy. The change in Israel's
national life revolved around three central figures.
Firstly, Samuel - the last of the Judges. He was the first personality since
Joshua to be a national, rather than a local figure. Unlike his predecessors -
Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jehpthah, and Samson - his influence did not just
cover a district or region, but the entire Holy Land (3:20). Indeed, he made
a point of regularly traveling around the country to dispense justice in
person (7:15-17). In addition, the period of Samuel saw positive religious
stability, to which he richly contributed. From Joshua to Samuel, the
Israelites repeatedly followed the local idolatrous cults, but the days of
Samuel himself heralded a period where 'all the House of Israel followed
G-d' (7:2). From that time, the Israelites kept on the Torah path until the
division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon.
Secondly, Saul - the first King of Israel. His initially reluctant rise to
power took place because of the popular demand for a monarchy. Despite
his openly being declared king in Mitzpa, his initial support appears to
have been of a more local nature, and opposed to by some 'evil people'
(10:27). Soon afterwards, he defeated the common enemy - the people of
Ammon - with the full participation of soldiers from all twelve tribes
(11:7-8). Having achieved a stunning victory over a common enemy, Saul
was accepted as king by all of Israel.
The fact that Saul as king never challenged Samuel as prophet and as a
judge stood to his credit. However he erred on two occasions in not giving
sufficient weight to Samuel's words. For Samuel - the prophet - had the
most direct link with G-d. In not carrying out Samuel's words to the letter
he - on his spiritual level - was setting himself above the Word of G-d.
Both incidents, paradoxically, involved Saul's zeal to perform offerings to
G-d. On the first occasion, he went ahead before Samuel's late arrival,
despite his instructions to the contrary. On that occasion he was told: "You
have been foolish! You did not keep the command of G-d Now your
kingdom will not last, for G-d wanted a man after his heart!" (13:11-14)
On the second occasion - the subject of this Haftara - he was told by G-d
through Samuel to wage war against the Amalekites: to exterminate the
people and to destroy all their property. Saul assembled a huge army and
routed the enemy, but he did not wipe them out completely. He spared
Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of their animals: the latter,
for an offering to G-d. Once more he was too zealous in making offerings -
once more Samuel was told by G-d to say to Saul that He was more
interested in his loyalty than in his property: "Does G-d desire burnt
offerings and peace offerings as much as the obeying of His voice?
Because you rejected the word of G-d, He has rejected you from being a
king." Previously, he was told that his kingdom would eventually fall.
Now, following this incident, that fall would be swift and immediate: "G-d
has torn His kingdom from you and given it to someone better than you," -
who turned out to be David. Indeed, the text records this second act of
defiance as the reason for the fall of Saul's kingdom. On the night that
turned out to be the one before his death, Saul wanted to consult with
Samuel who was by then dead. With the aid of the sorceress from Ein-Dor,
he raised Samuel's spirit. Samuel replied that Saul and sons would be
killed in battle against the Philistines the very following day: "because you
did not listen to the word of G-d, and did not execute His wrath against
Amalek." (28:18).
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David is the third key personality of the Books of Samuel - whose early
stages in rising to power are interwoven with the accounts of Samuel and
Saul. His initial reign was over what was later the southern kingdom of
Judah - in his day, based in Hebron. Although some seven years later, he
became king over all Israel, it may be argued that the monarchy was not
fully united under King David - but rather that the Holy Land had a
northern and a southern kingdom, each of whom would make their own
arrangements with him. The united monarchy lasted for a brief period
only, namely though the reign of King Solomon.
The theme of the Books of Samuel - exemplified by the narrative forming
the Haftara - is that faithfulness to G-d brings both national and individual
success, and disobedience brings disaster. That is openly stated in the
opening chapters - in G-d's message to Eli the Priest: "Those who honor
Me I will honor, and those who despise Me, will be shown contempt."
D'var Torah
G-d's judgment against Saul appears to be harsh. True, he spared Agag,
King of the Amalekites, and he reserved the best cattle for an offering to
G-d. That meant that he did not totally destroy Amalek, as he was
commanded to through Samuel the Prophet. Nevertheless, his reaction to
Samuel's 'Does G-d desire burnt offerings and peace offerings as much as
the obeying of His voice? Because you rejected the word of G-d, He has
rejected you from being a king,' was true regret. His reply was: 'I have
sinned I did transgress G-d's command.' And, realizing his mistake he
did not protest, when Samuel put Agag to death.
Why was Saul's obviously sincere penitence not accepted? The Torah
attitude to such penitence is represented by the following words, spoken
some six centuries later by the Prophet Ezekiel:
When a wicked person turns from all his previous sins, observes My
statutes, and performs justice and charity, then he shall live, and not die.
None of his previous transgressions shall be held against him 'Do I want
the death of the wicked?' exclaims G-d. 'If only he would turn away from
his ways, then he will live.' (Ez. 18:21-23)
Furthermore, unlike the circumstances of King David's marriage of
Bathsheba, which are described in the text as 'evil in the eyes of G-d'
(Sam. II 11:27), Saul did nothing that could not be put right. David was
not able to correct his sin by bringing Uriah back to life. But Saul could -
and did - take the option of correcting his sin of letting Samuel kill Agag,
and he no doubt disposed of the offending cattle as well.
Why did G-d reject his penitence? Why, instead, did he - the king himself
- have to suffer the further humiliation of having his coat torn with the
words: 'G-d has torn His kingdom from you and given it to someone better
than you?' And if his penitence was real, why did G-d 'regret that He had
made Saul king over Israel?' (15:38)
As an approach to these issues, the text includes details that show basic
flaws in Saul's attitude. Saul admitted that he did sin, but he gave a reason:
namely that he 'feared the people, and listened to their voices' (15:24).
In other words, he knew that he was doing wrong, but in having to resolve
his conflict between public demand on one side, and following G-d's
instructions on the other, he chose public demand. Thus Samuel rejoined
Saul with: "I will not return with you. For you have rejected G-d's Word,
and G-d has rejected you from being king over Israel." (15:26) So his
'putting matters right' to restore his favor with G-d did not improve matters
in his favor. He demonstrated that although he could win battles over his
enemies, he did not have sufficient faith in his position to risk losing
popular support. Thus his lack of faith in G-d's assistance would have put
him amongst 'those who despise Me, will be shown contempt.' (2:30)
That was coupled with the fact that his sparing of Agag and his selecting
the best cattle for an offering were done publicly. The events recorded in
the Haftara took place at a time when 'all the House of Israel followed G-d'
(7:2). A king - especially G-d's anointed (24:6) - who would have been
remembered as having followed the popular mood of the moment rather
than the Word of G-d, would have severely compromised the status of the
very theocratic (G-d orientated) monarchy. He would have sullied the
spiritual status of the monarchy, and especially its harmonious working
together with the prophets as communicators of the Word of G-d. For the
deed - not the apologies afterwards - remain engraved in the memories.
Thus the public impact of Saul's offence put the sin in the 'irreversible'
category. Unlike David's sin, it did not happen behind closed doors, but in
the open, where it was seen and remembered from first hand experience.
This is a sharp lesson to be borne in mind by people who serve the
community as Torah personalities. One gifted young man coming from a
family of rabbis said he would have liked to follow that calling, but he
could not. On being pressed, he said: "I know my weaknesses. I try hard to
keep the Mitzvot, but I do slip up sometimes. If I were, for example, to
suddenly lose my temper over a difference of opinion with a member of
the community. I would not only be compromising myself. I would also be
doing an act that would bring the whole of what I am seen to stand for -
the Torah - into disrepute."
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at
. Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this
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Yisrael Torah Network Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper, provided that this notice is included intact. For information on
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Rabbi Doniel Staum
Stam Torah
Parshas Tetzaveh/Purim 5773
Fragrant Connection
Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, Rabbi of the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center in
Long Island, related the following incredible story: The son of one of his
congregants went to learn in Eretz Yisrael, and decided to enroll in a
Hesder Yeshiva, which combines Torah study with military service. He
joined the Israeli army and achieved a position of leadership in the Israeli
Defense Forces.
In the summer of 2005, during the Gaza Disengagement, the army had to
forcibly remove Jewish settlers who refused to leave. This American
soldier was very distraught about the assignment, but, as a solider he
followed orders and participated in the forced evacuation.
When his unit arrived at one of the settlements, his job was to ensure that
the settlers boarded the buses to be evacuated. He worked in tandem with
the Rabbi of the settlement. The settlers gathered in the town's synagogue
where the Rabbi spoke, followed by the soldier. They all wept together,
and then they all filed out of the shul and boarded the bus.
Before the bus left, this soldier took out a siddur from his backpack, dug a
hole, and buried it there. When the Rabbi asked him why he was doing so,
he replied that perhaps at some point in the future someone will return and
may find the siddur, and will realize that they had left begrudgingly, and
that they left their hearts and prayers behind.
Eleven months later, in the summer of 2006, Gilad Shalit was captured by
Hamas militants in Gaza. When Israel decided to reinvade Gaza in an
attempt to find him, the unit of that American soldier was sent back into
Gaza, to set up a base of operations.
They entered Gaza under the cover of darkness and although they did not
know exactly where they were, they set up camp in a deserted area.
The next morning, the soldier looked around, disoriented, not recognizing
anything. Everything had been destroyed. Still he knelt down on the
ground and started digging. To his shock he found the siddur he had
He was shaken by the experience and called his father in America to
recount to him the uncanny story. He asked his father to ask his Rabbi to
interpret the significance of what had occurred.
Rabbi Ginsberg himself was mystified by the story and arranged for the
soldier to have a private meeting with Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita.
Rav Chaim asked him what he did when he found out that he would have
to evict the settlers. The solder replied that he had begged his commanding
officers to abandon their plans, and he davened fervently that the
evacuation be aborted. Rav Chaim then asked him what he did when he
found out that he would have to proceed with the evacuation. The soldier
replied that once he was told they were going ahead with it, he stopped
davening for it not to happen.
Rav Chaim replied that Hashem was sending him a message that one
should never stop davening! You buried the siddur because you felt it was
futile to continue to pray. G-d returned it to you so you should realize that
its never too late, or too hopeless, to pray.
When the Megillah introduces Mordechai, it relates the names of his
ancestors as well, Mordechai the son of Yair, the son of Shimi, the son of
The gemara(2) explains that each name refers to another facet of the
greatness of Mordechais power of prayer ben Yair he lit up the eyes
of the Jews through his prayers, ben Shimi G-d hearkened to his
petitions, and ben Kish he knocked on the doors of Mercy.
The Vilna Gaon explains that of a persons four primary senses - sight,
hearing, smell, and speech, three of them are necessary for Torah study.
One sees the text, listens to the lessons of his teachers, and uses his power
of speech to teach others.
The sense of smell however, has no connection to Torah study. Rather, it
is related to the Divine Service in the Temple. The Torah continually
refers to the aromatic scent of the offerings as, reiach nichoach
lHashem pleasant smell to G-d. In our time, when we no longer have
that Service, prayer takes its place.
The gemara(3) asks where there is a hint to Mordechai in the Torah. The
gemara answers that he is alluded to in the Torahs listing of the spices
used to create the anointing oil(4). The first of the spices is called mar
deror pure myrrh, which Targum translates into Aramaic as mara
dachya, which sounds like Mordechai.
The Vilna Gaon explains that the Torah is alluding to the fact that, in a
sense, Mordechai is the choicest of all of the spices. Mordechais greatest
strength was his power of prayer which corresponds to the sense of smell.
In fact, the reason the gemara lists three of his ancestors whose names
symbolize his strength of prayer, was to demonstrate his usage of all of his
senses in prayer: He lit up their eyes (giving them, hope and
encouragement) through prayer, G-d heard his prayers, and through
verbalizing his prayers it had the power to knock on the celestial doors.
His very name and essence symbolize that his prayers were the epitome of
a pleasant smell to G-d
Rabbi Moshe Shapiro shlita explains that the word ketores is related to the
Aramaic word kitra - knot. When G-d created Adam HaRishon and
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 35
breathed life into his nostrils, the point of contact - the knot - between
body and life-giving breath was through the source of the sense of
The greatness of Mordechai was his deep inextricable connection with G-
d. He was not daunted or intimidated by social pressure or demands. His
primary concern was always about his responsibility as a Jew. His greatest
fear was jeopardizing that divine-bond.
Esther was also known as Hadassa. The hadas is the myrtle branch taken
with the lulav on Succos. It is known for its pleasant aroma(6).
Rabbi Moshe Shapiro explains that the hadas grows in the shape of a braid.
It is symbolic of the braid, or knot, between G-d and His people. Esther
too was extremely committed above all to maintaining that sense of
connection with G-d, and was therefore a fitting wife for Mordechai(7).
Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense, even though we often
neglect it in comparison with our usage of our other senses, such as sight
and hearing. Dr. Daniel Amen(8) notes that the olfactory system
responsible for our sense of smell is the only one of the five sensory
systems that goes directly from the sensory organ to the place where it is
processed in the brain. The other senses however, travel to a relay station
before they are sent to their distinctive parts in the brain. Because smell
goes directly to the Limbic System where it is sensed, it is
understandable why smells have such a profound impact on our emotional
The Limbic System is also involved in bonding and social connectedness,
as well as motivation and drive.
During the period prior to the miracle of Purim the Jewish nation
underwent national depression. When they were exiled from Eretz Yisroel
and the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, they thought
they had been banished perpetually. They began to view themselves as just
another nation, and no longer saw themselves as special and elite. When
Nebuchadnezzar erected an idol of his likeness the Jews saw no reason
why they shouldnt bow to it with all of the other national representatives.
When Achashveirosh made his feast, the Jews of Shushan saw no reason
not to attend with all of the other citizens of Shushan.
The celebration of Purim is rooted in the realization that our uniqueness
and eliteness as the Jewish people is eternal, and is not endemic to any
particular time or place. Even in the harrowing divine obscurity of exile,
we can rest assured that G-d always maintains a deep vested interest in us,
and is always with us. Our connection is eternal!
Above all, it was that sense of connection that Mordechai and Esther
reawakened within an almost despondent nation. They guided the nation to
cry out to G-d in passionate heartfelt supplication and prayer, successfully
storming the gates of the heavenly Bastille, as it were, annulling the evil
Mordechai and Esther are hinted to in the Torah with references to the
sense of smell, because they were able to awaken the nation to the
profound power of prayer. Prayer is the greatest means of connection, and
that connection is symbolized by the nostalgic power of smell.
In the introduction to his commentary Ohr Chadash, Maharal explains that
the miracle of Purim transpired because G-d hearkened to their prayers. He
adds that there was no other redemption in history where the Jewish people
were in such danger and they cried out to G-d, and He heard their prayers
like at the time of Purim.
This theme is highlighted in Shoshanas Yaakov(10), where we declare that
we read the Megillah to make known that all who hope in You will not
be shamed; nor ever be humiliated, those taking refuge in you.
Chasam Sofer notes that prayers on Purim are so powerful that G-d
answers any heartfelt prayer on this special day, even if one doesnt
deserve it.(11)
In Parshas Terumah the Torah details the construction of the Mishkan and
its vessels. Parshas Tetzaveh then details the intricate manner in which the
Priestly vestments were made, as well as the Kohanims induction
ceremony. There is one exception. At the end of Parshas Tetzaveh, the
Torah details the construction of the inner/golden Altar, upon which the
ketores was offered.
Sforno explains that the purpose of the divine Avodah generally, was to
establish a dwelling place for the shechina in the physical world.
The ketores, however, was offered in honor of the fact that the shechina
rested on the Mishkan. In other words, it was offered solely to give honor
to G-d. Because it served a unique role, it is mentioned separately from all
of the other vessels.
Much of what we do as Torah Jews is to fulfill our responsibilities. But
there is an added level of service wherein we do things beyond the call of
duty, simply to give honor to G-d.
Purim is a celebration of connection. The greatest danger Amalek
proposes is to employ feelings of disconnect, spiritual isolation and
distance. Since prayer is the greatest means of connection, Purim is an
especially propitious time for heartfelt prayer.
Amongst all of our personal prayers, we should pray for the restoration of
G-ds Glory, with the ultimate destruction of Amalek and evil, when we
will merit a time of perpetual joy, when the bliss of Purim will never end.
A pleasant smell to G-d
To make known that all who hope in You will not be shamed
1. Esther 2:5
2. Megillah 12b
3. Chullin 139b
4. At the beginning of parshas Ki Sisa; Shemos 30:23
5. It is for this reason that the distinction between life and death is detected
by the odor that is given off. The aroma of a newborn baby is filled with
life, with freshness, while the odor of a deceased human body is putrid.
6. The gemora (succah 45b) states that one who takes the lulav along with
the hadas on Succos is as if he built an altar and offered upon it a sacrifice.
The gemara succah 35b notes that the hadas is also referred to as a hoshana
7. The Vilna Gaon explains that when Esther approached Achashveirosh to
beseech him for the life of her people, although in a physical sense she was
standing before him, in reality she was far, far away. She was focused on
the place of the Holy of Holies and she stood there, in front of her king,
Hashem, and was speaking only to him. When Achashveirosh queried,
Who is the man who has plotted such despicable evil? She attempted to
point towards Achashveirosh. Miraculously, an angel redirected her hand.
She was so focused on her bond with G-d, that she was not at all cognizant
of where her physical self was situated. She saw with clarity that life lay in
the direction of Hashem, and not in her plea to Achashveirosh. Her bond
with Hashem was total and complete.
8. Change your Brain, Change your Life
9. The multi-billion dollar perfume and deodorant industry is based on the
fact that beautiful smells evoke pleasant feelings, which draw people
towards their source. Unpleasant smells repel people, like almost nothing
10. the classic liturgical song that is recited publicly in the synagogue after
the reading of the Megillah on both Purim night and day
11. He bases this idea on the Ritva in his commentary to Megillah 7a, who
quotes Yerushalmi which explains regarding the fulfillment of the
obligation to give matanos laevyonim, gifts to the poor, on Purim, that
kol haposheit yado leetol yitnu lo - we give to anyone who extends his
hand to receive. On Purim we give to everyone who asks, without first
checking to see if they truly are poor.
The Chasam Sofer writes that just as we are not particular if the people to
whom we give charity on Purim are truly deserving, and whoever extends
his hand gets helped, so, too, does G-d listen to all our prayers on this
special day.
Parsha Growth Spurts
Purim 5773
One is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim until he cannot
differentiate between Cursed is Haman and Blessed is Mordechai
(Megillah 7b)
Rav Nosson Wachtofogel ztl (Leket Reshimos p. 129) explained that when
a young man and woman begin the process of shidduchim, the Shadchan
plays a vital role. He performs shuttle diplomacy, as the intermediary
between the perspective sides. Once they agree to become choson and
kallah however, their relationship is strong enough that they can discuss
things amongst themselves. At that point the Shadchan is no longer
But what if the Shadchan continues to insist that he be involved? The
choson and kallah yearn to speak privately with each other, but they
cannot divest themselves of their Shadchan. What if he shows up to the
chasunah itself? Whats worse is that the Shadchan is acutely familiar with
all of the hesitations and questions that arose along the way.
The choson and kallah have a radical idea. They get the Shadchan drunk
and send him off to dance with everyone else. Then they are finally able to
be alone with each other.
Our relationship with Hashem begins with our thoughts. As we ponder and
contemplate all that transpires around us we begin to ingrain within
ourselves an understanding that Hashem is the only true power in the
world. But the ultimate relationship with Hashem is one that is heartfelt. It
is the level of feeling so close with ones Creator that his soul yearns to
perform mitzvos, study Torah, and daven. There is nothing sweeter to him
than serving Hashem.
When a person reaches such a deep connection with Hashem it is well
beyond mere cognitive understanding. His cognition served as the
Shadchan that originally allowed him to feel that initial connection with
Hashem. But now he pines for a deeper oneness with Hashem, one that
transcends logic and thought.
On Purim a Jew can reach that level expressed by Dovid Hamelech, My
soul thirsts for You, my flesh pines for You. But how can the heart and
the deepest facets of our soul connect with Hashem when our thoughts
which sadly often include sinful and heretical thoughts still gnaw within
us? To solve this problem we drink until we are no longer governed by our
thoughts. At that point we are driven by emotions and our core essence. It
is in that state of intoxication that our true inner spark is able to emerge to
the fore. It is in that state that we are able to celebrate the joy and blissful
pride in being a Torah Jew. And that is the essence of the celebration of
For Haman the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted to destroy the
Jews and had cast a pur that is the lottery to terrify them and to
destroy them. (Esther 9:24)
36 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
It is understandable that Haman, a descendant of Amalek, wanted to
destroy the Jewish people, but what was the point of terrifying them?
Rav Shlomo Brevda ztl explained that Haman was well aware of the
power of tefillah. He understood that if the Jews would gather and daven
passionately they could annul his decrees. Therefore, he wanted to
promote fear and panic among the Jews that they would be unable to
Rav Brevda related that on one occasion during the Six Day War in Eretz
Yisroel in 1967 he was in a miklat (underground shelter) close to where
fierce battles were taking place. The atmosphere in the miklat was
extremely tense and unnerving. When Rav Brevda suggested to the
assemblage that they daven together with him, one man replied Im too
nervous to say Tehillim now! At a time when a person needs to daven
most urgently, the Yetzer Hara seeks to paralyze him with fear so that he
will not daven.
Chazal teach us that the day of Purim has an uncanny power of tefillah.
All of the barriers that seek to deter our prayers are removed on Purim and
our prayers ascend undeterred. Therefore, the Yetzer Hara invests extra
effort to ensure that we do not take advantage of this propitious
opportunity. He distracts us with myriads of thoughts even thoughts
involving fulfillment of the mitzvos of Purim- as long as we dont daven.
Just as our ancestors overturned the evil decrees of Haman in those days,
so do we have the power to effect incredible salvation on Purim through
the power of our prayers.
Rabbis Musings (& Amusings)
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Tetzaveh/Zachor
12 Adar 5773/February 22, 2013
Cleaning ladies dont even get me started! Once, or maybe twice a week
she is welcomed into my house, to decide where everything should go and
how things should be arranged. Invariably, when I come home after shes
cleaned, while the house looks pretty clean, its usually because she
decided to discard half of our stuff.
Later that night, Im sure to find some of my sons clothing in my drawer
(sometimes my daughters stuff too), our dresser has been completely
rearranged, and heaven knows where my clothes are. Magazines Im in the
middle of are discarded, and things left out disappear forever. Our cleaning
lady must have heard me complaining about her last week, because when I
went to turn on the shower it was facing the wrong way, and shpritzed me
right in the face.
For a number of years, on the desk of my Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch office, I
had what looked like a spilled bottle of red nail polish. The applier was
placed strategically atop the fake spill, and it looked real. It was a great
conversation starter which is important for a therapist to have, Umm,
your nail polish (?) spilled
Then, about three years ago, towards the beginning of a new academic
year, I came into my office one morning to find the bottle closed and the
fake spill gone. It took some time before I realized that the yeshiva had
hired a new janitor who apparently cleaned up the mess. Someone
shouldve told him that not all messes are meant to be cleaned up!
So why do we have a cleaning lady, you ask? Thats a silly question. This
is America; its a constitutional obligation. The Bill of Rights dictates that
the military cannot sleep in your home, and you have freedom of speech
and religion, but its contingent on you having a cleaning lady who
rearranges your home consistently.
Each week before she comes, I try to hide everything I want to keep so
that it doesnt get cleaned up. I have even had nightmares about my
cleaning lady chasing me with a vacuum cleaner and Windex, yelling at
me for leaving my pen on the dresser. When I went to call a therapist to
ask for help he told me he couldnt schedule an appointment because his
cleaning lady threw his appointment book in the garbage.
Okay, so Im exaggerating a little. But there was one time when I really
couldnt fault the cleaning lady for throwing something out. Each night of
Chanukah, when I would clean out the used cups of oil and remove the
wicks from the night before, I would place the wicks onto a piece of tin
foil, so I could burn them as halacha dictates. [I usually burn them with my
chometz, and lulav, on Erev Pesach.]
This year, the day after Chanukah ended I came home to find the table and
Menorah cleaned off, and all of the wicks gone. I sadly realized that the
cleaning lady had thrown them away. This time I had no one to blame but
myself. How could I have expected her to think otherwise? Why would
there be any inherent specialness in a pile of used wicks?
As Jews we understand that even after certain things become worn out
they maintain holiness, and must be disposed of properly. Chazal teach us
that because the light of the menorah is symbolic of the eternal light of
Torah, the wicks used to light those candles cannot merely be discarded.
It is intriguing that our enemies often have a better understanding of us
than we do. The Vilna Gaon explains that Haman wanted, not only to
destroy us as a people, but also to destroy our dead bodies, similar to the
Nazi crematoriums. Haman recognized that even the physical shell of a
Jew is contaminated with Jewishness.
His decree should help us realize us that every Jew is special and
invaluable, just because he/she is a Jew, and there always remains a spark
within. A non-Jew does not have a connection to such an idea. If Menorah
wicks retain holiness, how much more so the physical body of a Jew! On
Purim we celebrate the greatness that resides in every one of us. On Purim
we love each other simply because we are part of the same family!
By the way, if you dont get shalach manos from us, its definitely because
the cleaning lady took apart the baskets we made and put everything away.
Well be sure to have you in mind as we eat it.
Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos ---Freilichen Purim & Purim Sameach
to every Jew, R Dani and Chani Staum
Rabbi Berel Wein
The current spate of anti-Semitic media cartoons, op-eds and boycott
movements serve to remind us that Amalek is alive and thriving as usual.
There was a short period of time a few decades ago when many Jews were
lulled into thinking that all of this baseless hatred and nastiness was a thing
of the past. Even the most naive among us today realize that this is
unfortunately not the case. Therefore, remembering Amalek is a relatively
easy commandment to fulfill today - one need only read the newspaper or
listen to the radio or TV or view the internet to meet Amalek face to face,
live and in person.
How to counteract and deal with Amalek has been a continuing and never
ending problem throughout Jewish history. Apparently, no satisfactory and
permanent solution to the problem has ever been found. Perhaps that in
itself is the basic lesson of the commandment of remembering Amalek.
We have to remember that the problem is constant and continuing and that
it has remained insoluble for millennia.
We should not be surprised or even overly discouraged by its sinister
presence in our lives and world today. We must do everything possible to
combat it but we should always remember that it is not given to pat
solutions or wishful thinking. It is apparently part of the Jewish condition -
our very terms of existence.
The story of Purim is the story of Amalek contained, but not completely
defeated and destroyed. Haman is hydra- headed and has always had
disciples and followers. Haman and his sons were thwarted and hanged but
that did not prove to be much of a deterrent to all of the Hamans that have
followed throughout history.
In terms of the destruction of Jews, Hitler was far more successful than
was Haman having killed six million Jews in five years of hate and terror.
Yet Hitler destroyed Germany completely as well, with far more Germans
than Jews being killed in that terrible and tragic war.
So again, one would think that the lesson of Amalek would have been
learned by now. But the reality of Amalek is that it defies logic, self-
interest and history and its lessons. Purim is our only hope in containing
Amalek. Purim is always hidden, unpredictable, surprising and
unexpected. Yet it is also a constant in Jewish life and history.
The survival of the Jewish people remains as the miracle of all history and
that miracle is omnipresent in our current world. The existence and
accomplishments of the State of Israel is an offshoot of this constant and
continuing miracle. Israel and its achievements give us a sense of Purim
every day of the year. The miracle may not be superficially visible but it is
certainly present and alive.
The Talmud's statement about the inability to distinguish between Haman
and Mordechai is indicative of the mystery of Purim. Purim is not always
what it appears to be at first glance. It is the hidden part of Purim that
fascinates and confuses us. Our salvation is always unexpected and many
times defies any form of human wisdom and expertise.
Purim tells us never to despair or lose hope regarding our current
difficulties and uncertain future. It is easy to fall into a funk when viewing
all of the difficulties that surround us. Purim preaches to us that such a
dark attitude is inconsistent with Jewish faith and Torah values. That is
why the rabbis stated that only Purim is the only eternal holiday on the
Jewish calendar.
We will always need Purim and its message to continue to function and
achieve. For without Purim present and operative, we fall into fearing that
Amalek may yet, God forbid, triumph. So let us rejoice in the knowledge
that Purim is here with us and all will yet be well for the nation and people
of Mordechai and Esther.
Shabat shalom, Purim samech, Berel Wein
U.S. Office 386 Route 59 Monsey, NY 10952 845-368-1425 | 800-499-WEIN (9346) Fax: 845-368-1528 Questions? Israel
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Destiny Foundation

Rabbi Berel Wein
Weekly Parsha
The Torah ordains that the olive oil used to light the eternal menorah -
candelabra - must be of the purest and best available. There is obvious
logic to this requirement. Impure oil will cause the flames to stutter and
flicker. Impure oil also may exude an unpleasant odor and make the task
of the daily cleaning of the oil lamps difficult and inefficient. Yet I feel
that the basic underlying reason for this requirement of purity of the oil
lies in the value that the Torah advances in the performance of all positive
things in life - the necessity to do things correctly, enthusiastically and
with exactitude.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 37
In halachic parlance this is called kavanah - the intent to perform the
commandment and deed properly and in the best possible way. That is the
story of the pure container of oil that is the core of the miraculous story of
Chanuka. The Hasmoneans could have used regular, even impure oil and
still not have violated any strong halachic stricture. Yet the idea of
kavanah, of doing the matter in the best way possible, introduces an
element of special dedication and holiness into what otherwise would be
an event of rote and habit. This is what drives the spirit of holiness and
eternity that accompanies the performance of mitzvoth. So the
requirement of the Torah for the purest possible oil to fuel the holy and
eternal menorah - candelabra is readily understandable when the concept
of kavanah is factored into the value system of the Torah.
The light of the menorah has never been dimmed over the long history of
the Jewish people. Though the menorah itself has long ago disappeared
from the view of the Jewish public - it was no longer present even in
Second Temple times - the idea of its light and influence has continued to
be present in Jewish life. The flame is not a tangible item - it is, in reality,
an item of spirit more than of substance.
It provides light and warmth and psychological support in very difficult
times and circumstances. Yet, its influence and support is somehow
directly connected to the investment into actually kindling it. That is the
import of the words of the rabbis in Avot that according to the effort
invested so is the accomplishment and reward.
All things spiritual are dependent upon the effort invested in creating that
sense of spirit - the purer the oil, the brighter and firmer the flame. This
simple yet profound message forms the heart of this week's parsha. It
also forms the heart of all values and commandments that the Torah
ordains for us.
The parsha of Tetave speaks to all of us in a direct and personal
fashion. It encompasses all of the goals of Judaism and is, in itself the light
of spirituality that lights our souls and lives.
Shabat shalom, Rabbi Berel Wein
U.S. Office 386 Route 59 Monsey, NY 10952 845-368-1425 | 800-499-WEIN (9346) Fax: 845-368-1528 Questions? Israel
Office P.O. Box 23671 Jerusalem, Israel 91236 052-833-9560 Fax: 02-586-8536 Questions? 2009 The
Destiny Foundation

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb-OU
Person in the Parsha
Parshat Tetzaveh "Clothes Make the Man"
Whenever I think of people I knew who dressed impeccably, I recall three
of my favorite people. One was my maternal grandfather, a businessman
who was firmly dedicated to religious observance, but who chose his
clothing carefully and was proud of his collection of cufflinks, tie clips,
and colorful suspenders.
The other was my predecessor in the pulpit of the synagogue I served in
Baltimore. He was known for his elegant demeanor and dress, and I will
always treasure the image of him entering the synagogue on the eve of the
major Jewish festivals. He wore a gray rabbinic frock, a gray Homburg
hat, and a gray tie with a splash of red in it.
I can never forget the 90-year-old woman philanthropist, who single-
handedly financed a summer camp for those who were then called "the
underprivileged," where I served for several years as head counselor. She
visited the camp daily, and walked from table to table making sure that the
children she loved were well fed and happy. She always wore a dark blue
or purple outfit, appropriate to her advanced age, with a fresh flower
pinned to her blouse. The fact that it was an ordinary weekday, and that
she was sure to have the dress soiled during her visit to the camp kitchen,
did not prevent her from always looking her best.
It has been said that "clothes make the man", and in these politically
correct times we must hasten to add, "and clothes make the woman." Our
clothing makes a statement about us, and in the case of my grandfather,
my predecessor, and the elderly philanthropist, that statement was all
about dignity, a sense of self-worth, and, yes, respect for all those with
whom they came into contact.
You may wonder, "What does Judaism have to say about clothing? Is there
any spiritual significance to what a person wears?"
In this week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10), we discover
that Judaism has a lot to say about clothing and that there is indeed great
spiritual significance to what a person wears.
It is in this Parsha that we learn about the special garments which the
Priests were to wear during their service in the Temple, and the very
special garments which were assigned to Aaron, the brother of Moses, and
to all subsequent High Priests throughout the history of the holy Temple.
These are the instructions which Moses received from the Almighty:
"Make sacral vestments for your brother Aaron, for dignity and
adornment These are the vestments they are to make: a breastpiece, an
ephod, a robe, a fringed tunic, a headdress, and a sash..." (Exodus 28:2-4)
The design, the colors, and the materials for these vestments are described
in exquisite detail, and that long description concludes with the verse,
"They shall be worn by Aaron and his sons when they enter the Tent of
Meeting It shall be a law for all time for him and for his offspring to
come." (Exodus 28:43)
The message here is unambiguous: when one is engaged in the service of
the Lord he or she must be dressed in a manner which befits that role, and
which projects, if not the image of Majesty, then surely the image of pride
and dignity. To the extent that all of us are engaged in the service of the
Lord, in one way or another, in much of what we do, we must be mindful
of our physical appearance, and we must dress in a manner which is
dignified, which reinforces our sense of the important tasks that we are
about, and which impresses upon others that we take their opinion of us
into consideration, and care about the impression we make upon them.
It is no wonder then that the Talmud (Sabbath114a) severely condemns
individuals in religious public positions who dress sloppily, and who thus
project a lack of dignity. The "talmid chacham", the rabbi or yeshiva
student, "upon whose clothing a greasy stain is found" is castigated in
extreme terms by our sages.
This year, the Sabbath during which we read the Torah portion of
Tetzaveh is soon followed by the joyous festival of Purim. Immediately
upon the conclusion of Shabbat we read the book of Esther, the Megilah.
Interestingly, we find additional support for the importance of clothing in
that very book.
The hero and heroine of the Megilah are of course Mordechai and Esther,
and whereas we imagine that Esther, as a Queen, was certainly bedecked
with the finest clothing, it is the clothing worn by Mordechai that is
highlighted by the Megilah. We learn that Mordechai wore two starkly
contrasting sets of clothing.
In the early chapters of the narrative, which describe the dire straits in
which the Jews found themselves because of the wicked Haman's
genocidal decree, we read:
"When Mordechai learned all that had happened, Mordechai tore his
clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, until he came in front of the palace
gate; for one could not enter the palace gate wearing sackcloth." (Esther
How significant it is that Mordechai expressed his grief and concern by
changing his clothing. If it is true that "clothes make the man", then it is
equally true that the clothing we wear gives voice to the emotions we feel
and to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Mordechai's clothing
gave voice to his people's pain.
Our sages suggest that it is precisely because he empathized so strongly
with his brothers and sisters that he was ultimately privileged to don a
different sort of clothing altogether. Hence, toward the end of the Megilah,
when the evil decree is revoked and a new decree proclaimed, we read:
"Mordechai left the king's presence in royal robes of blue and white, with a
magnificent crown of gold and a mantle of fine linen and purple wool. The
city of Shushan rang with joyous cries." (Esther 8:15)
When the Jewish people suffer, the very clothing which our leaders wear
expresses our suffering. When the Jewish people celebrate their
redemption, that redemption is embodied in the garments those leaders
choose to wear.
The book of Esther is but one of the five books of the Bible to which the
name Megilah applies. The word Megilah means a scroll, and there are
five such scrolls within our holy Scriptures. Besides the book of Esther,
they are: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, and Kohelet or
Ecclesiastes. In this latter work we find the following "mitzvah":
"Go, eat your bread in gladness, and drink your wine in joy Let your
clothes always be freshly washed, and your head never lack ointment"
(Ecclesiastes 9:7-8)
This verse is especially apt as we celebrate the joyous festival of Purim.
We feast, eat our bread and drink our wine in gladness. But our clothes,
the external manifestation of our human dignity, must always be "freshly
washed" or to translate the Hebrew literally, "always white".
We must never sully our behavior, even in moments of great joy, by
celebrating in an excessive and unbecoming manner. We are entitled, in
celebration of the victories of the Jews in ancient Persia, to wear "royal
robes of blue and white", but we must wear them with the same dignity
and humility with which Aaron and his offspring wore their sacred
Yes, clothes make the man and the woman, but it is they who must make
their clothes, and their demeanor, appropriate expressions of propriety and
modesty. A lesson for Purim, certainly. But a lesson as well for the rest of
the year.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Parshas Tetzaveh - Keeping our Wisdom
Command the Children of Israel to bring clear olive oil, beaten for the
light, so the Menorah can burn continuously. (Shemos 27:20)
I knew someone who met his wife only after 110 shidduchim 110
shidduchim! Even though he was happily married, he complained about
the amount of times that he had to date before finally settling down, and
attributed it to the fact that he had probably met his soul mate early on in
the process, but out of doubt, had passed her up. To teach him a lesson, he
surmised, God didnt bring another one around until 100 shidduchim later!
Maybe yes, and maybe no. One thing is for certain, though, and that is,
that doubt can be very destructiveVERY destructive. It can lead to
relationships that should never have begun, and destroy those that should
never have stopped. It can cause world leaders to trust those who threaten
their lives and those of their countrymen, and not trust those who have
38 >:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc
their best interest at heart. In short, doubt is insidiously dangerous for
In fact, so-much-so, that of all the negative traits that can be associated
with an enemy of God, doubt is the one that is connected to Divine Enemy
#1, Amalek. Even his Name, when the numerical value of each Hebrew
letterAyin-Mem-Lamed-Kufis added up, totals the Hebrew word for
doubt: suffekSamech-Peh-Kuf.
At first, doubt, as troubling as it can be at times, doesnt sound so bad.
This simple example, however, shows why were easily fooled by doubt,
until its too late to do anything about it, and the full depth of its
destructive power becomes known.
Imagine standing on the corner of a busy street, waiting for the light to
change before crossing, when all of a sudden, a news reporter along with
his film crew approach you.
Can you answer a question for us while we record?
Thinking about it for a moment, wondering how bad the situation could
possibly get, you answer, Sure, I can try.
Great, the reporter says. Were part of a survey crew for the Channel 2
News, and we just want to find out how well the man in the street knows
his history.
Recalling that history was one of the subjects to which you barely ever
paid good attention, you shift your position, displaying obvious
nervousness. Picking up on your uneasiness, the reporter says, We just
have one simple question that you probably know the answer for.
You smile uncomfortably, doubting the sincerity of the interviewer.
And, just to make it worth your while, he adds, were going to give you
and your wife an all-expense paid vacation to a resort of your choice if you
get the answer right.
How did I get myself into this? you wonder to yourself, as you break out
into a sweat. If you get the right answer, you can finally take your wife on
a long awaited vacation at no cost to you, but if dont get the answer right,
public humiliation wont be the worst of it!
Whats your name? he asks.
Ah . . . David . . . you answer, hesitatingly.
Well, David, for an all expense paid vacation at the resort of your choice,
tell me, what is the name of the thirtieth President of the United States of
Funny you should ask that question, you tell him, because when I was
in college, my roommate used to memorize the names of all the Presidents
of the United States. I used to make fun of him, telling him, Like thats
ever going to make a difference in your life! but he just kept on doing it.
That is funny, the reporter says. Bet you now wish you memorized
those names right along with him, eh?
You laugh nervously, wondering if your old roommate is going to watch
the interview later on, yelling out the answer, long after you blew the
opportunity to take your wife on her well-deserved vacation.
So, David, do you have the answer? the reporter asks, clearly wanting to
move on already to his next victim.
In a voice that clearly reveals your doubt, you say, Ah . . . Roosevelt?
Wow! he responds, boosting your hopes momentarily, before crashing
them with the words, So close . . . but not exactly. The thirtieth President
of the United States of America was Calvin Coolidge. FDR, he tells you,
as you turn different shades of red, was the thirty-second President, I
Right, you say somewhat sheepishly.
Well, thanks for participating in our survey, he says, getting ready to
move on to the next interviewee, You have a good day now, he adds,
leaving you totally humiliated and deflated, and wondering if your entire
office staff was watching. And all you had wanted to do was cross the
street and get some lunch. What a turn of events.
It is amazing how much doubt we live with on a daily basis, and do little
about, not knowing that much of it is like a time bomb waiting to go off at
some inopportune time in the future, like in the following story.
When I was a buchur back in yeshivah, some where a long time ago in a
distant galaxy, I paid the price for some doubt. I had been learning Hilchos
Shabbos in the Mishnah Berurah, and when I got to the section about how
to deal with a fire that, God forbid, breaks out on Shabbos, I decided to
skip it, save it for a future time, and move on to more practical Shabbos
halachos. The chances that Ill need to know these laws in the next little
while are slim, I rationalized.
To make a long story short, though the details are interesting as well, a fire
broke out in our dorm room. Though there were several of us there
watching the conflagration grow and becoming increasingly panicky, as
we ran from room to room, and halachah sefer to halachah sefer, none of
us knew exactly what to do within the confines of Shabbos halachah.
In the end, we put the fire out, reasoning that it could spread and endanger
the lives of others. Though that was true, halachically, there was a simpler
and more permissible solution: pick up the flame, which had been possible
at first, and put it outside and let it go out by itself. Fire is muktzeh, which
is rabbinical prohibition, but extinguishing a flame on Shabbos can be a
Torah prohibition.
The entire experience burned a lesson into my memory. First of all, never
ever assume that the odds of some halachic situation occurring are few,
and therefore, its laws are unimportant. The odds can be 100 billion to one
that it will happen, but when God is the one, the odds might as well be
reversed. Hell tolerate not learning something for a halachic reason, but
not out of carelessness.
Second of all, I learned how debilitating doubt can be. As the fire burned, I
felt so paralyzed, and angry at myself for being so vulnerable. Since then, I
have made a point, whenever I can, of knowing something about any
situation that might cross my path. Only by ridding ourselves of doubt,
especially philosophical and halachic doubt, can we remain protected
against the wiles of Amalek.
Doubt is to a human mind what germs are to a immune system. While kept
in check, a person can remain healthy and in control. But, should a germ
find a weak spot, it can grow and fester, and, in some cases, even result in
death. Likewise, doubt can eventually result in intellectual and spiritual
death, and has, so many times through history.
This ties in very nicely with the beginning of this weeks parshah, which
begins with the mitzvah of olive oil for the Menorah.
As Rashi explains, the oil, which represents wisdom, that could be used for
the Menorah, also a symbol of wisdom, had to be free of any sediment
from the start. It wasnt enough that it was clear after filtering; it had to be
clear of all extraneous particles from the time of harvest.
Just as the oil for the Menorah, both symbols of wisdom, must be free of
sediment, likewise must our wisdom be free of sediments, that is, doubt.
Only then can we remain strong against the onslaught of Amalek, true to
Torah, and worthy of our eternal portions in the World-to-Come. Purim
Perceptions, Copyright &copy 2013 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Questions or comments? Email Join the Jewish
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HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl
Bais Hamussar
This Dvar Torah is dedicated l'iluy Nishmas Rivka Chana Charlap, a true Eishes Chayil, loved
by all who knew her.
The Mitzvah of shiluach ha'kan (sending away the mother bird before
taking her young) is described by the Torah in Parshas Ki Seitzei: "If a
bird's nest happens to be before you on the way, in a tree or on the ground,
and the mother is sitting on the chicks or eggs, do not take the mother
along with the young. Send away the mother and then take the young"
(Devarim 22, 6-7).
The Gemara (Chullin 139b) asks, since the pasuk stresses that the nest was
found on the ground, if one finds a nest on top of a person's head, is he
also obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of shiluach hakan? The Gemara
answers that he is obligated, since we find another pasuk (Shmuel II 15,
32) which states, "And ground upon his head." Rashi explains that since
the Torah chose the word "ground" as opposed to "dirt", we can deduce
that despite the fact that the dirt was detached from the ground it did not
lose its identity, because while resting upon a person it is still considered
attached to the ground. If so, it must be that the human being himself is
considered ground, and therefore, the dirt upon his head is considered as if
it still lies upon the ground!
This fascinating Gemara gets even more interesting. The very next Gemara
asks, "Where does the Torah allude to Moshe [even before he was born]?
'Since he is but flesh' (in Hashem's declaration that he would destroy the
world with a flood)." Rashi explains that "beshegam" (since he is but) has
the same numerical value as Moshe. Moreover, the generation of the flood
was given 120 years to repent, and Moshe lived to 120.
Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlom Geulah pg. 187) explains the connection
between the two Gemaras. The first Gemara stresses the lowliness of man:
even after being created he still remains "a clump of ground." The second
Gemara stresses the exact opposite: the greatness of man. Despite the fact
that he "is but flesh" he has the ability to rise to the level of the angels as
Moshe accomplished. His origin is lowly, but his potential is unlimited!
This idea sheds light on the subsequent Gemara as well. "Where does the
Torah allude to Haman? Is it from the tree [that I told you not to eat from
that you ate]" (Bereishis 3, 11)? The tree of knowledge was the root of all
evil. However, Haman succeeded in taking evil to a whole different level.
Because a single person failed to bow down to him, he schemed to
annihilate an entire nation! Once again we perceive the unlimited ability of
man - only this time it was harnessed toward evil.
"Where is Mordechai hinted to in the Torah? Mara Dachia" (The Targum's
translation of Mor Dror, the first of the spices used in the incense. Shemos
30, 23). The incense was burned in privacy while no one was watching.
This was the attribute of Mordechai who personified the middah of tznius -
doing what is right without fanfare. Esther also exemplified the middah of
tznius, since after she became queen, she did not reveal her nationality.
Rav Wolbe adds that there is yet another common denominator between
Mordechai and the incense. The smoke caused by the burning of the
incense would rise like a pillar without spreading to the sides. So too,
Mordechai stood ramrod straight and did not bow or bend to Haman and
the evil he espoused. It was these two traits - tznius and an unswerving
adherence to the Torah's standards - that affected the miracle of Purim.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 39
The lesson to be learned is clear: Man's ability is unlimited. Harnessing
our awesome potential toward the service of Hashem, not only brings us
closer to Him; it also has the ability to bring redemption to His entire
Maaseh Rav
A young Iranian immigrant came to learn in Yeshiva Be'er Yaakov in its
first years. Since at the time, the Shiruim were said in Yiddish, this Talmid
couldn't understand any part of the Shiur. The Mashgiach made a
Chavruso with him for 2 hours before Shacharis, from 5-7 AM to help him
acclimate to the Gemara and the new language.
Aish.Com - Rabbi Ken Spiro
Jewish History Crash Course
Crash Course in Jewish History Part 37 - The Bar Kochba Revolt
by Rabbi Ken Spiro
The Temple was no more. Jerusalem had been conquered. Rome had asserted
its might and crushed the Great Revolt of the Jews. Now there could be quiet.
Virulent anti-Semitism continued unabated in the Roman Empire, generated by
the Hellenists who, not happy to leave well enough alone, seemed determined
to pour salt onto Jewish wounds.
(This same need for overkill would be exhibited by later enemies of the Jews,
who, having exterminated entire Jewish communities, and having no more
Jews left to slaughter, would then go on to desecrate Jewish cemeteries and
mutilate Jewish corpses.)
The level of hostility and mistreatment of the Jews escalated throughout the
Roman Empire to the extent of becoming unbearable.
In response, the Jews revolted several times more. Each time thousands of their
number were killed. As a result, the average Roman looked at every Jew as a
person hostile to Rome. Jews were officially designated as having "enemy
status" -- dediticci in Latin.
Of course, the Jews in the Land of Israel had been crushed in the Great Revolt,
and -- at least, right after the destruction of the Temple -- did not have the
strength to fight. But we must remember that at this time, a considerable
number of Jews were living outside Israel. In fact, historians estimate that there
were about 6-7 million Jews living in the Roman Empire and at least 60% of
that number were living outside the land of Israel. Places like Alexandria,
Egypt (one of the most cosmopolitan cities of that era) alone had a Jewish
population of about 250,000 and boasted the largest synagogue in the world.
These Diaspora Jews (and eventually those living in Judah as well) rose in
revolt, encouraged by blows dealt the Romans by the Parthians in 116 CE
during the reign of Trajan.
The Roman response, with the help of anti-Semites of the region, was to
slaughter the Jews. Now it must be noted that while the Romans could be
absolutely vicious and brutal in the heat of battle, they did not embark on any
kind of policy to exterminate the Jewish people. That's something that you only
see with Hitler and the Nazis in the 20th century. (In fact, the term "genocide"
did not enter the English language until 1940-1945.)
At the time, it wasn't seen as in the Roman interest to attempt a total massacre
of the Jews. It would not have sat well with other conquered peoples, who
might think they were next and who might rebel. The Romans were very
practical people and this is not something they wanted.
When Hadrian took the reigns of power in 117 CE, he inaugurated - at least at
first - an atmosphere of tolerance. He even talked of allowing the Jews to
rebuilt the Temple, a proposal that was met with virulent opposition from the
Why Hadrian changed his attitude to one of outright hostility toward the Jews
remains a puzzle, but historian Paul Johnson in his History of the Jews
speculates that he fell under the influence of the Roman historian Tacitus, who
was then busy disseminating Greek smears against the Jews.
Tacitus and his circle were part of a group of Roman intellectuals who viewed
themselves as inheritors of Greek culture. (Some Roman nobles actually
considered themselves the literal descendants of the Greeks, though there is no
historical basis for this myth.) It was fashionable among this group to take on
all the trappings of Greek culture. Hating the Jews as representing the anti-
thesis of Hellenism went with the territory. (For more on the subject of Judaism
vs. Hellenism, see Part 28 and Part 33.
Thus influenced, Hadrian decided to spin around 180 degrees. Instead of letting
the Jews rebuild, Hadrian formulated a plan to transform Jerusalem into a
pagan city-state on the Greek polis model with a shrine to Jupiter on the site of
the Jewish Temple.
Nothing could be worse in Jewish eyes than to take the holiest spot in the
Jewish world and to put a temple to a Roman god on it. This was the ultimate
Bar Kochba
Jewish outrage at his actions led to one of the single greatest revolts of the
Roman Era. Simon Bar Kosiba led the uprising, which began in full force in
132 CE.
For many years, historians did not write very much about Simon Bar Kosiba.
But then, archeologists discovered some of his letters in Nachal Chever near
the Dead Sea. If you go to the Israel Museum you can see these letters and they
are absolutely fascinating. Some of them pertain to religious observance,
because his army was a totally religious army. But they also contain a
tremendous amount of historical facts. We learn that the Jews participating in
the revolt were hiding out in caves. (These caves have also been found - full of
belongings of Bar Kosiba's people. The belongings - pottery, shoes, etc. - are
on display in the Israel Museum, and the caves, though bare, are open to
From the letters and other historical data, we learn that in 132 CE, Bar Kosiba
organized a large guerilla army and succeeded in actually throwing the Romans
out of Jerusalem and Israel and establishing, albeit for a very brief period, an
independent Jewish state.
Bar Kosiba's success caused many to believe -- among them Rabbi Akiva, one
of the wisest and holiest of Israel's rabbis -- that he was the Messiah. He was
nicknamed "Bar Kochba" or "Son of Star," an allusion to a verse in the Book of
Numbers (24:17): "there shall come a star out of Jacob." This star is understood
to refer to the Messiah.
Bar Kochba did not turn out to be the Messiah, and later the rabbis wrote that
his real name was Bar Kosiva meaning "Son of a Lie" -- highlighting the fact
that he was a false Messiah.
At the time, however, Bar Kochba - who was a man of tremendous leadership
abilities - managed to unite the entire Jewish people around him. Jewish
accounts describe him as a man of tremendous physical strength, who could
uproot a tree while riding on a horse. This is probably an exaggeration, but he
was a very special leader and undoubtedly had messianic potential, which is
what Rabbi Akiva recognized in him.
Jewish sources list Bar Kochba's army at 100,000 men, but even if that is an
overestimate and he had half that number, it was still a huge force (equal to
four Roman legions).
United, the Jews were a force to be reckoned with. They overran the Romans,
threw them out of the land of Israel, declared independence and even minted
coins. That is a pretty unique event in the history of the Roman Empire.
Roman Response
Rome could not let this be. Such boldness had to be crushed and those
responsible punished -- brutally and totally.
But the Jews were not easily overcome. Hadrian poured more and more troops
into Israel to fight the Bar Kochba forces until the Romans had enlisted almost
half of their entire army, a full twelve legions in Israel (three times as many as
they had sent in to crush the Great Revolt 65 years earlier).
Heading this mammoth force was Rome's best general, Julius Severus. But
even with all this might behind him, Julius Severus was afraid to meet the Jews
in open battle. This fact alone is very telling, because the Romans were the
masters of open battle. But they feared the Jews because they saw them as
being willing to die for their faith - a mentality the Romans thought suicidal. So
what happened?
The Roman historian Dio Cassius tells us:
"Severus did not venture to attack his opponents in the open at any one point in
view of their numbers and their desperation, but by intercepting small groups.
Thanks to the numbers of soldiers and his officers, and by depriving them of
food and shutting them up, he was able -- rather slowly to be sure, but with
comparatively little danger -- to crush, exhaust and exterminate them. Very few
of them in fact survived. Fifty of their most important outposts and 985 of their
most famous villages were razed to the ground, and 580,000 men were slain in
various raids and battles, and the number of those who perished by famine,
disease and fire was past finding out.
"Thus nearly the whole of Judea was made desolate, a result of which the
people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which
the Jews regarded as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and
collapsed. And many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into the cities. Many
Romans, however, perished in this war. Therefore, Hadrian, in writing to the
Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by emperors: 'If
you and your children are in health it is well and I and my legions are in
This account of Deo Cassius - even if he is exaggerating the numbers - is very
interesting. He tells us that the revolt was very bloody and very costly.
Indeed, the Romans lost an entire legion in battle. The 22nd Roman legion
walked into an ambush and was slaughtered. By the end of the revolt the
Romans had to bring virtually half the army of the entire Roman Empire into
Israel to crush the Jews.
Why Did The Jews Lose?
Apparently the Jews came very close to winning the war. Indeed, they did win
for a time. Why did they lose in the end? The sages say they lost because they
were too arrogant. Having tasted victory they adopted the attitude of kochi
v'otsem yadea asisi es ha chayal hazeh, "by my strength and my valor I did
Bar Kochba too became arrogant. He saw himself winning. He heard people
calling him the Messiah. Certainly, if Rabbi Akiva thought so, then he had the
potential to be Israel's Ultimate Leader. But all this adulation went to his head,
and he began to lose battles.
In Judaism we are taught that while people must make the effort, it is HaShem
that wins the wars. It is not human strength nor human might that's doing it.
The Fall Of Betar
Bar Kochba made his final stand in the city of Betar, which is to the southwest
of Jerusalem. You can go visit it today, thought ancient Betar has not been
excavated. The Talmud (in Gittin 57a) relates what happened in Betar:
"They had the custom in Betar that when a baby boy was born they planted a
cedar tree and for a baby girl they planted a pine tree, and when they would
marry they would cut them down and make a marriage canopy of the branches.
One day the daughter of Caesar was passing and the shaft of her litter broke.
They cut down a cedar and brought it to her. The Jews of Betar fell upon them
and beat them. They reported to Caesar that the Jews were rebelling and
marched against them ... they killed [Jewish] men, women and children until
their blood flowed into the Mediterranean Sea ... It was taught that for seven
years the gentiles cultivated their vineyards with the blood of Israel without
requiring manure for fertilization."
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The city fell on the saddest day in the Jewish calendar -- the 9th of Av of the
year 135, the same day as both the First and the Second Temple fell.
The Romans, in their fury, did not want to allow the Jewish bodies to be
buried; they wanted to leave them out in the open to rot. According to tradition,
the bodies lay in the open for months but did not rot. Today, when Jews say the
Grace after Meals, Birkas HaMazon, they add a special blessing (ha tov
u'meitiv) as a way of thanking HaShem for this act of mercy in Betar.
Exhausted, the Romans have had enough of the Jews who had caused them
more manpower and material losses than any other people in the history of
Empire. At the end of the Bar Kochba revolt, Hadrian decided that the way not
to have another one is to cut off the Jews from connection to their beloved
Next: Exile
Author Biography: Rabbi Ken Spiro is originally from New Rochelle,NY. He graduated from Vasser College with a BA in Russian Language and
Literature and did graduate studies at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He has Rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and a
Masters Degree in History from The Vermont College of Norwich University. Rabbi Spiro is also a licensed tour guide by the Israel Ministry of
Tourism. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and five children where he works as a senior lecturer and researcher on Aish HaTorah outreach
programs. This article can also be read at:
_The_Bar_Kochba_Revolt.asp Copyright 2001 -

Aish.Com - Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZTL
48 Ways to Wisdom
.Way #20 The Art of Conversation
Joe is walking down a darkened alley, when suddenly a man jumps out,
brandishing a pistol.
"Don't shoot," Joe pleads, "I'll give you all my money."
"I don't want your money," says the man with the gun. "My whole life I've been
trying to get someone to sit down and talk with me. Now I'm going to make you
listen for one hour."
This story reflects a sorry aspect of the human condition. People today are
busier than ever -- commuting, flying, buying. All in all, conversation time is
diminishing. Who has time to talk?
Reflect back to yourself. You want to be understood. But is anyone listening?
B'miyut sichah literally means "minimize conversation." In other words, use
conversation effectively. Conversation is our tool to be in contact with other
human beings. Unless we communicate, we're all alone.
Building Connections
The Torah says that HaShem created man as a "speaking creature" (see Targum
Onkelos -- Bereishis 2:7). Speech is therefore what distinguishes human beings
from other creatures. We can be self-centered and closed up. Conversation is a
way out of that self-absorption.
Too many friendships never get beyond the superficial stage. It's possible to
talk endlessly about recipes, football and fashion. But that's not enough. We
need people with whom we can share our innermost thoughts.
Even family members can live in communicative isolation. Living room
furniture used to be designed so that people sat facing one another. Today,
living rooms are set up so that everyone faces the TV. You watch a football
game and mutter in between munches, "That was a good play." What
conversation can compete with the "raza-a-ma-tazz" of multi-media?!
Today, everyone is in his own little corner and struggles by himself. We need
to be with others, not to watch television, but to be together and communicate.
Without it, you are stifling in your own self-contained envelope. Isolated in
your own opinion. Isolated in your own home.
Set aside time specifically for talking. Schedule a block of time to talk to your
spouse, your child, your parents, your friends. Speech conveys the deepest
soul-thoughts. Words that emit from the heart, enter the heart. Something the
other person says may touch a deep chord in us. Conversations build deep
connections and expand our world. Without it, we emotionally whither and die.
Great conversation is your chance to explore entire worlds. Unlike a movie,
this world is real, not imagined. And the resulting relationship is infinitely
more rewarding.
Practice The Art
As accustomed as people are to "speaking," very few actually "communicate."
Speaking is natural and automatic. But communication is an art which must be
learned and practiced.
Start by changing your attitude. Did you ever sit for hours on an airplane?
You've read all the magazines, and watched the in-flight movie. There is
nothing else to do. Try speaking to the person next to you.
You have to warm up. Begin by asking simple, non-threatening questions:
"Where are you from? What is your name?" This is just credential exchange.
No harm, no weapons. Say "hello."
Yes, it is painful, because you don't know where it will go from there. But what
are you worried about -- that he'll stand up and announce to all the passengers:
"I'm seated next to a boring person!"
It's a shame to sit silently through the entire flight, and then "accidentally" get
into a fascinating conversation just as you're parting ways.
Don't be afraid of being rejected or that you won't have anything intelligent to
say. It won't kill you. You will learn how. Good conversations have to be
cultivated and produced.
Don't Mistake "Discussion" For "Conversation"
A "discussion" is an issue of right or wrong, a cerebral exchange of facts and
A "conversation" is a personal exploration of another person. The point of
conversation is not to impress others or to enhance your popularity, but to learn
about others.
That is our most common mistake. When you talk to the guy in the plane, don't
let him know by the end of the trip how many trophies you won and what
investments you made. You are not interested in information like who won the
ball game and what is the price of gold on the market. That is not conversation.
That is the information shop.
The point of conversation is to connect with someone and explore his
experiences, thoughts, feelings, and inner appreciations. What does he think
about life, about love, about meaning? For example, while a "discussion" might
focus on the question, "Is the president effectively dealing with the economy?",
a "conversation" would ask, "How is the economic situation affecting you
Aim to bring the topic around to a more emotional realm. Ask the other person
how he is dealing with issues that bother him. Just like when you talk to your
spouse after a long day, the conversation should be: "How are you feeling,
what upset you about the day, what gave you joy?"
If you're having difficulty getting the other person to talk, build trust by talking
about your own experiences and feelings. Don't be "Mr. Know-It-All." When
presenting an idea, say, "Balancing career and family has been difficult for me.
I look at the situation this way. I would really like to know your experience and
how you feel about it." When you report your reaction, he will report his
The Fascinating World Of A Human Being
How do you maintain an interesting conversation? Be fascinated. If you have
an eager curiosity about life and people, you'll be an excellent
conversationalist. People will talk to you freely, because your interest will draw
them like a magnet.
If you find that "fascination" does not come easily to you, do some self-
analysis. Figure out why. Often the problem is basic indifference -- i.e. "Why
should I care about this person?"
To get focused, realize that every human being is a wonderful mystery, created
in the image of HaShem. We might make mistakes, but each person is unique
and holy, full of ideas, experiences, and special wisdom.
Don't be misled. Most people don't immediately reveal what is especially
interesting and significant about themselves.
To discover the wonderful person behind the facade, try interviewing them as a
journalist pursuing an important story. "Wow! You're from Buffalo? How do
you deal with all that snow?!"
Everybody wants to get to know themselves, but introspection is too painful.
So realize when you ask questions, you are helping the other person learn about
himself. Imagine someone asking you, "What do you think about life? Is life
beautiful? Is it boring, a struggle?" The conversation prompts you to reach
inside, examine, and engage in self-discovery. The same questions you'd like to
be asked about yourself, ask someone else.
Especially when planning a major step in life -- like marriage, career,
spirituality -- use conversation as a tool. Interview others: What was your
experience? Was it interesting? What are the problems? What are the
pleasures? How did you overcome your fears? What did you gain? What are
the possibilities?
When you are fascinated, people will start talking and they won't stop. Explore
life. Talk! See this is a tool for living -- it is ridiculous not to use it!
What's Your Name?
A primary way to connect with someone's uniqueness is to learn his name. A
name is an intrinsic aspect of human identity. By using his name, you establish
a connection and communicate an interest in who he is. And you can't have a
good conversation with someone to whom you are indifferent.
A human being is only real when you know his name. Frequently we lose a
name in the introduction and then we are talking to someone faceless. We feel
uncomfortable. The vibes are no good and it ruins the whole conversation.
Do you tend to forget names? The key is to pay attention at the time of the
introduction, and repeat the name to yourself a few times after. One memory
technique is to conjure up a mental association. For instance, if the person's
name is George Brown, imagine George Washington wearing a big brown suit.
(The more silly the image, the easier it is to remember.)
Be A Good Listener
A good friend is a good listener.
In dealing with others, the Torah says: "Do not harden your heart or close your
hand" (Dev. 15:7). "Closing your hand" refers to be being generous with
money, while "harden your heart" refers to giving to others emotionally. Don't
underestimate the value of this. Patiently listening to someone tell his troubles
is often worth more than giving money.
In conversation, never interrupt. Don't anxiously anticipate the end of a
sentence so you can jump back with your own opinion. If someone makes a
statement you disagree with, bite your tongue and keep on listening. A sharp
reply is likely to make the other person defensive, in which case he'll either get
angry or end the conversation completely. Just calm down and give your
undivided attention. Don't look around. Don't think of other things. Pay
Ask for points of clarification. Really try to understand. You will build an
atmosphere of trust -- which will enable you to voice your own opinion later.
Don't fight with people. No criticism. No confrontation. Just discuss. Exchange
feelings. That's conversation.
Constantly emit "listening signals" to demonstrate interest. Use eye contact or
add a nod of acknowledgement. Use simple words of feedback, like, "Yes,
interesting," or "That must have felt incredible." A skilled conversationalist can
say few words ... and build a deep bond.
Make Your Words Count
Sometimes we get bored with living. So we make a phone call and chatter to
pass the time.
Don't use conversation as an escape from reality. It's a waste of energy and
words. And when the conversation is over, we feel empty.
Make every word count. Consider your words as precious jewels, to be used
sparingly. Speak to the point, with clarity and purpose. Think before you speak.
Make sure to say what you intended to say, in the best way you could say it.
Frame your words. Connect your words with your mind rather than let your
mouth run away and then try to catch up with your mouth.
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Unnecessary talk dulls your mind. Efficient use of words puts you in control of
your mind.
There's an old saying: "Small people speak about people. Medium people speak
about places and things. Big people speak about ideas." The words you choose
determine the type of person you'll be.
Don't talk without a purpose. In any conversation, ask yourself: "Is there a
point to this conversation? Am I learning anything about life? Am I growing?
Are we making contact?" If you can't identify the point, there probably is none.
There is an ancient Jewish tradition called ta'anis dibur -- a "speech fast."
When people find themselves talking too much, they refrain from all
conversation except for Torah study. Likewise, in the House of Prayer, there
should be no outside conversations -- just HaShem and yourself.
Try experimenting for one hour without talking. It's a healthy exercise in self-
control, and can help you focus on your inner self. Don't worry, people will just
figure you've got laryngitis.
Avoid Negative Talk
The Torah says that HaShem used the medium of speech to create the world.
("And HaShem said: Let there be light.")
For us as well, speech is a tool of creation -- through it we can build the world,
or destroy it. A word of praise will encourage others and build confidence.
Making someone feel important is to say, "Your existence is necessary." This is
life-giving and life-affirming.
On the other hand, speech can also be used to destroy. Words like "You're
worthless, that's terrible," wipe out a person's self-esteem. It is untrue to believe
that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Did you ever find yourself in the middle of gossip or a distasteful joke? It's
insidious. All of a sudden you find yourself dragged into a discussion that's
taken a turn for the worse.
Never say anything negative or derogatory about another person -- even if it's
true. Gossip causes quarrel and tears apart relationships, families, even entire
communities. As Shlomo HaMelech said: "Life and death are in the hands of
the tongue" (Mishlei 18:21).
Learn to switch tracks. Monitor your conversation, and when you notice it
slipping off track, pull it back, gently and subtly.
If this doesn't work, bow out of the conversation. Have some graceful exit lines
ready to go. Of course, don't ever embarrass another person ... but don't hang
around and sully yourself either!
Why Is "Artful Conversation" A Way To Wisdom?
Be fascinated with human beings and you'll be an excellent
Talk to people in the office, neighbors, even strangers.
Human beings have wisdom. Get them to share it.
Negative speech will make you a negative person.
Use speech wisely. It's one of the greatest gifts we have.
Have a conversation, not a confrontation.
Conversation is a tool of creation; it pulls us out of isolation, builds
connections and expands our world.
Fulfilling our needs depends on how well we communicate those needs to
Author Biography: Rabbi Noach Weinberg was the dean and founder of Aish HaTorah International. Over the last 40 years, his visionary educational
programs have brought hundreds of thousands of Jews closer to their heritage. Copyright 2002 - "The 48 Ways to Wisdom" is culled
from the Talmud (Pirkei Avos 6:6), which states that "the crown of Torah is acquired by 48 Ways." Each of these is a special tool to help us sharpen
our personal skills and get the most out of life.

The following columns on last weeks parsha were received after publication
1. Chicago Kollel Parsha Encounters page 41
2. Chicago Kollel Halacha Encounters page 41
3. Rabbi Shlomo Katz Hamayan page 42
4. Rabbi Label Lam Dvar Torah page 43
5. HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl Bais Hamussar page 43

Community Kollel
Parsha Encounters
Parshas Terumah: The Ultimate Redemption
By Rabbi Asher Weiss
The Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Shemos writes that Sefer Bereishis is
known as the Book of Yetzira (Genesis) because it discusses both the
creation of the universe and the creation of the Jewish nation through the
Patriarchs. All that happened to the Patriarchs would eventually be
experienced by their children.
Sefer Shemos focuses on the exile and the redemption. The complete
redemption would be marked by the return of the Jews to the accomplishments
and eminence of their forefathers. This goal was achieved with the acceptance
of the Torah at Har Sinai and the building of the Tabernacle. Hashem then
restored his Divine Presence and dwelled in their tents, as He had in the tents
of their forefathers. These avos are described by the Ramban: Heim heim
hamerkavah - They were the chariot. (Bereishis Rabbah 48:8). At first glance,
the words of the Ramban are puzzling. Was not the redemption from slavery
and the drowning of the Egyptians the ultimate redemption? Furthermore,
didnt Rashi tell us that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of
their eventual receiving of the Torah at Har Sinai?
It would seem that the purpose of redemption was the receiving of the Torah
and keeping the commandments, not the building of the Tabernacle. We will
elaborate on the concept of returning to the eminence of the avos in order to
answer these questions. What exactly did they pass on to Klal Yisrael? Why
are the avos referred to as the chariot?
We will begin with a discussion of the purpose of creation. The pasuk states,
Everything is called in my name and for my glory; I created it, I fashioned it,
and put it into motion (Isaiah 43:7). However the Sefarim (see Derech
Hashem, Chapter 2, part 1) tell us that the purpose of creation was to enable
Hashem to be meitiv to us. Hashem is the only complete and true shaleim.
Hence, true goodness can only be had through an attachment to Hashem.
Hashem created the world to provide the opportunity for his creations to
acquire their attachment to this ultimate good. This attachment would not
develop freely, but would have to be earned through our actions. (See
explanation as to why this is the ultimate goodness.) By refraining from eating
from the Eitz Hadaas and by choosing good over evil, Adam HaRishon would
have merited this closeness. (He failed this test, however, destroying his status
and the worlds; mankind is still dealing with the effects of this sin.) In
summary, the purpose of creation is to receive Hashems goodness. This is
seemingly a contradiction to the possuk mentioned above. The Nigas Hashem
(p.76) answers that the revelation of Hashems glory in the world leads to
attachment to Him; we then benefit from the ultimate pleasure of basking in
the radiance of the Divine.
Adam HaRishons failure caused a shift in the challenge of developing the
attachment to Hashem. Hashem, in His abundant kindness, still provided an
opportunity to achieve the ultimate purpose. The only person who could
successfully avail himself of this chance, however, was Avraham Avinu,
through the creation of Klal Yisrael. As the Chosen Nation, they accepted this
task when they received the Torah. This mission defines the essence of Klal
Yisrael (Derech Hashem: Chapter 4, paragraph 2).
A chariot has no personal atzmius identification. Its whole purpose is to
convey its rider to a desired destination. On the other hand, the rider cant
travel without his chariot. Similarly, Hashem allowed for His glory to be
revealed through the actions of mankind (so mankind could merit deveikus).
Through the nullification of their own identities and desires, the forefathers
and particularly Avraham Avinu introduced the concepts of Hashems oneness
and perfection to the world. They were completely nitfal to Hashem and
reflected only His glory. Klal Yisrael exists to carry on these ideals through the
keeping of the Torah, until we return to the stature of Adam HaRishon.
This process of attachment to Hashem began with the building of the Mishkan.
When Hashem descended to the Mishkan to dwell among Klal Yisrael, their
stature resembled that of the Avos. In the Mishkan, the showbread (lechem
haponim) remained fresh, the menorah stayed lit, a cloud descended, and the
doorway fit more people than its physical capacity. These miraculous realities
were also present in the tents of our forefathers (see Medrash Rabbah 24:6;
Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim, Chapter 45, part 3). Reaching this level meant
Klal Yisrael had returned to the achievements of their forefathers.
Returning to our original question, we can now define true exile. Exile means
disconnection from Hashem, the source of all good and light. Therefore, until
we accepted the Torah and built the Mishkan, we were still in exile. Through
the keeping and learning of Torah, we reveal Hashems glory in the world and
attach ourselves to Him. We are wedded to Hashem with the Torah, like the
kesubah which binds a husband and wife. This bond is the essence of Judaism
and the purpose of creation. May the strengthening of our learning and keeping
of the Torah, to our fullest potential, enable us to merit the ultimate
redemption, the coming of Moshiach, bemehairah. Amen.
Rabbi Weiss is full-time member of the kollel.
Chicago Community Kollel
Halacha Encounters
Gambling and Lotteries
By Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib
All you need is a dollar and a dream. How does Halacha view the spending
of that dollar and the dreams that follow? Is there any Halachic issue regarding
the purchase of a lottery ticket? What is ones obligation regarding separating
Maaser (tithes) from his winnings?
The Background
The Mishna in Sandhedrin [3,3] tells us that those who play dice (i.e.
gamblers) are disqualified from serving as judges or witnesses in the Jewish
court. There is a disagreement in the Gemorah [24b] as to the reason. Rabi bar
Chamas opinion is that dice playing involves an Asmachta. Asmachta is a
conditional offer to pay money, made with the conviction that the condition
will not come to pass. When one bets money on the dice he genuinely believes
he will win. Hence if he loses, he gives up money he never intended to part
with. Therefore the winner of the bet is taking money not rightfully his and
that money is considered Gezel Middirabanan [though not considered stealing
according to Torah law nonetheless classified as stealing by Rabbinic law]. R
Shaishes in the Gemorah argues that this is not classified as Asmachta. His
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reasoning is that since when one gambles he realizes there is a chance that he
will lose, and chooses to gamble anyway, from the onset hes aware he might
have to part with his money and he assumes that risk. For what reason, then, is
he disqualified from serving in the courts? He explains that one who engages
in such activity is disqualified from serving in the courts because he is not
involved in Yeshuro Shel Olam i.e. a profession making a constructive
contribution to society. However, the Gemorah adds that according to this
opinion it would only apply to a full time gambler.
The Halacha
The Shulchan Aruch [C.M. 370:3] rules that dice playing is forbidden and [one
who takes payment] is considered gezel midirabanan. However the Rema
states that the prevalent custom has been to permit this and only one who is a
full time gambler would be disqualified. [As an aside the Revush [Teshuvos
Revush 432] discourages gambling in very strong terms, even when permitted
halachically. Regarding gambling, he cites the passuk in Mishlei [7:24] For
she has felled many victims and the number of her slain is huge. Regarding
gambling in a casino, because of the obvious pritzus [immodestly clad patrons
and workers] and similar concerns, entering such a place would involve many
other serious halachic issues. See Bava Basra 57b and Mishna Berura 75:7]
Lottery Tickets
Seemingly, lottery tickets should be dependent on this argument between the
Shulchan Aruch and Rema. However Dayan Spitz in Mishpitei Hatorah
[Volume I Siman 28] maintains that a lottery does not involve any issues of
Asmachta. The reasoning is twofold. From the perspective of the sellers of the
lottery tickets, they obviously intend and want to pay the winner of the lottery.
Failure on their part to pay the winner would make that lottery the last one of
their career. No one would purchase a ticket where payment of the winnings is
in doubt. Therefore to keep their business alive they intend and want to pay the
full amount. From the side or the buyer there is a different reason the issue of
Asmachta is avoided. When one purchases a commodity that has a market
value, it is considered a sale; as opposed to a wager. There is no claim on a
sale that I didnt really mean to buy it. Therefore when one purchases a lottery
ticket which has a fair market value, the issue of Asmachta is avoided. [This
reason would apply from the side of the seller as well.] To extend this point
even further, R Spitz poses the following question: If one would rip up the
ticket of his friend, how much would he be obligated to pay? What if the ticket
turned out to be the winning ticket? R Spitz rules that based on the rule that
all damages are evaluated based on their value at the time of damage, if one
would rip the ticket before the drawing he would only be obligated one dollar.
This would be true even if the ticket turned out to be the winning one, since at
the point of damage its market value was only one dollar. In conclusion, based
upon the above, that a lottery ticket is not a gamble or wager but rather a sale
of an item with a market value, in addition to the fact that the seller intends
and wants to pay the winner, it would be Halachically permissible to purchase
a lottery ticket. Good Luck!
Maaser from Winnings
One has an obligation to separate Maaser from winnings from a lottery as he
would from any other profit [Igros Moshe O.H. 4-76]. However one is only
obligated to separate Maaser on the amount he actually receives after taxes
[Sefer Maaser Kesafim quoting Teshuvos Afakasta Vanya Siman 88].
Rabbi Weinrib, an alumnus of the kollel, is the rav of Zichron Eliezer in
Rabbi Shlomo Katz
Parshas Terumah - A Place for Holiness
Volume 27, No. 19 6 Adar 5773 February 16, 2013
Sponsored by Mrs. Rochelle Dimont and family on the yahrzeits of father-
in-law and grandfather Rabbi Shmuel Elchanan Dimont ah (2 Adar) and
mother and grandmother Mrs. Chaya Tarshish ah (7 Adar)
Todays Learning: Daf Yomi (Bavli): Shabbat 136
R Meir Simcha Hakohen zl (1843-1926; rabbi of Dvinsk, Latvia; author
of Ohr Sameach) notes that the prohibition against working on Shabbat is
mentioned several times in the Torah. In some verses (for example Shmot
20:9), the Torah uses the active voice, Six days you shall work. In other
verses (for example, Shmot 31:15: For six days, work may be done, and
Shmot 35:2: On six days, work may be done), the Torah uses the
passive voice. Why?
He answers: Where the Torah uses the passive voice, the Torah also refers
to the holiness of Shabbat. For example (31:14-15), You shall observe
the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. . . For six days, work may be done.
Similarly (35:2), On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day
shall be holy for you. In contrast, the verses that use the active voice do
not refer to the holiness of Shabbat.
What does this teach? R Meir Simcha explains: Our Sages teach, When
you do the Will of Hashem, your work will be done by others. When you
do not do the Will of Hashem, you will have to do your own work. If we
infuse the Shabbat with holiness, that holiness will rub-off on us, helping
us do the Will of Hashem all week long. Then our work will be done
passively, i.e., by others. However, when our Shabbat is not infused with
holiness, then we will have to do our own work actively. (Meshech
Speak to Bnei Yisrael and they shall take for Me a donation, from
every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion. (25:2)
R Elazar Lew (1758-1837; rabbi of several towns in Poland) writes:
Many commentaries have asked why the verse says they shall take for
Me a donation rather than they shall give for Me a donation. Moreover,
he asks: Why does the first part of the verse say they shall take, while
the second part says, you shall take?
He explains: The famous answer to the first question is that giving charity
really is taking, because G-d repays generously those who give charity.
Therefore, if you give Hashem a donation, you also are taking from Him a
However, this is true only if one gives magnanimously, but not if one
gives begrudgingly. And, since Hashem does not want there to be a
desecration of His Name if someone gives and is not compensated, He
commanded in the second half of the verse, [Only] from every man
whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion. (Sama Dchayei:
Drush 11)
They shall make a Sanctuary for Me -- so that I may dwell among
them. (25:8)
R Yisrael Meir Hakohen zl (the Chafetz Chaim; died 1933) quotes a
midrash: When Hashem showed the prophet Yechezkel the structure of
the future Bet Hamikdash and commanded him to describe it to Bnei
Yisrael, the prophet replied, Master of the Universe! As of now, we are
in exile in the lands of our enemies. Yet, You are telling me to inform
Bnei Yisrael about the structure of the Temple and to write it before them
so that they may guard it and its laws! What are they able to do [with this
information]? Let them be until they leave the exile, and then I will tell
The midrash continues: Hashem replied, Just because they are in exile,
My Temple should be nullified? Their study of its laws are as great as
building it! Go tell them that they should study the laws of building the
Temple, and, in that merit, I will view it as if they built it. (Torah Or
Like everything that I show you, the form of the Mishkan / Tabernacle
and the form of all its vessels; and so shall you do. (25:9)
Rashi comments: And so shall you dofor future generations.
R Eliezer Zusia Portugal zl (1898-1982; the Skulener Rebbe) asks: How
can building a Temple be a mitzvah for future generations when, at least
according to some opinions, the Third Temple will descend from Heaven
as a building of fire?
He answers: The Temple that will descend is being constructed all the
time from our mitzvot. Every good deed adds a course of bricks to that
Temple. This verse is commanding us to do those good deeds. (Noam
You shall place in (literally: give to) the aron / ark the Testimonial-
tablets that I shall give you. (25:16)
R Moshe Alshich zl (Turkey and Israel; 1508-1593; known as the
Alshich Hakadosh) asks: Why did the Torah use a word that literally
means, You shall give to the aron? He explains:
The aron was made of wood plated with gold. As pretty as it was, it was
hardly a fitting receptacle for the holy and priceless Torah! Therefore
Hashem said to Moshe, Give the Torah to the aron as a gift. Likewise, I
will give the Torah to man as a gift, although he is not worthy of it.
Indeed, notes R Alshich, the Gemara (Shabbat 89a) applies to Moshe
Rabbeinus sojourn on Har Sinai the verse (Tehilim 68:19), You
ascended on high . . . you took gifts. (Torat Moshe)
You shall make a Menorah of pure gold . . . (25:31)
Rashi zl writes: The menorah will be made on its own, for Moshe
Rabbeinu had difficulty with it. Hashem said to him, Throw the block of
gold into the fire and it will be made on its own.
R Yerucham Levovitz zl (mashgiach ruchani of the Radin and Mir
yeshivot; died 1936) asks: What was so difficult about making the
menorah? He explains:
Clearly, the act of making the menorah would not have been difficult for
Moshe Rabbeinu. However, everything has its essence--the soul of the
matter, so-to-speak. Moshe Rabbeinu had difficulty with that, i.e., with
understanding the essence of the menorah, which prevented him from
making the physical menorah. (Daat Torah)
The following is an excerpt from the introduction of R Avraham Danzig zl
(1748-1820) to his halachic work Chochmat Adam. R Danzig also wrote the
popular halachic work Chayei Adam.
Now, I know that people will whisper about me and will say, Is Shaul also
among the prophets? [See Shmuel I 10:11-12.] Surely we know that this man
[R Danzig] was a merchant in the markets of Frankfurt and Leipzig for more
than 15 years; if so, when was his Torah study accomplished? The Torah
testifies (Devarim 30:13), It is not across the sea, i.e., that Torah is not found
among [traveling] peddlers and merchants. Know, my brother, that when I
traveled long distances, it was not to amass wealth, G-d forbid. Rather, the
Master of all will testify that it was only to support my family. My business
dealings were an inheritance from my holy ancestors, my grandfather, the
great rabbi, famous in his generation, R Shmuel, author of Nechamot Zion . . .
I followed in his footsteps; I have been actively involved in halachic decision-
making for more than 20 years now, and nothing significant has been done in
our town without my agreement, though without my receiving any payment.
However, two years ago, my business took a downturn and I have been forced
to enter the rabbinate [as a dayan in Vilna] and to be paid, as is permitted for
an elderly Torah scholar. Blessed is G-d, Who gave me this soul which has
never loved money.
>:\D J\n3D trcdk trcd ihc 43
*No subscribers in Antartica yet
Know, my brother that Torah study is the main activity of the soul . . . If a Jew
abandons the Torah and removes his thoughts from it, it will distance itself
from him, and his soul will lose the ability to be productive in Torah study.
But, if his intention is not to abandon it--rather, for reasons beyond his control,
he is unable to study it and to attach himself to it--G-d forbid that it should
leave him. I can say about myself that, though I have traveled great distances
and was a merchant, my Torah wisdom has stood by me. This is because,
when I travel on the road, I am thinking about it [the Torah] and when I sit in
the store, I am thinking about it.
I even can say about myself that many times, in the middle of a business
transaction, I was thinking about some commentary or a difficult question--in
particular, about the six constant mitzvot which I list in Chayei Adam, chapter
1 [see below]. I fulfilled through myself (paraphrasing Mishlei 4:6), Do not
abandon her and she will protect you.
There are six mitzvot that a Jew is obligated to fulfill at all times.
Every moment that a person thinks about them, he fulfills a positive
They are:
(1) To believe that there is one G-d that created everything, and that
everything that occurred in the past, that occurs in the present and that will
occur in the future is in accordance with His will, and that He took us out of
(2) To not believe in any false gods--rather, to believe that Hashem rules over
everything. Also, to believe that He is the All-Powerful and that nothing else
has strength to do anything against His will.
(3) To believe that G-d, the Ruler of all, is One, without any partner.
(4) To love G-d, which includes contemplating His commandments and His
handiwork until one comes to feel joy when coming close to Him.
(5) To fear G-d, so that one does not sin, if only out of fear of punishment.
(6) Not to stray after what the heart thinks or what the eyes see, but to think
only about truth and the ways of the Torah, which are good. (Chayei Adam
Copyright &copy 2013 by Shlomo Katz and The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study and discussion of Torah
topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and your letters are appreciated. Web archives at start with 5758 (1997) and may be retrieved from
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Site Project Genesis, Inc. 122 Slade Avenue, Suite 250 Baltimore, MD 21208 (410) 602-1350 FAX: (410)

Rabbi Label Lam
Dvar Torah
Parshas Terumah - Giving is Like Taking
G-d spoke to Moshe saying; "Speak to the Children of I srael and let them
take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him, shall you
take My portion. (Shemos 25:1-2)
Take for Me...: For Me, for My sake. (Rashi)
Is this a commandment, to take for Me a portion? Why then is it to be taken
fromevery man whose heart motivates him? Why are the Jewish People
referred to as the Children of Israel? Then theres the famous question. Why is
the verb takeemployed instead of giving in this instance?
Theres a condition that I came to label in a parenting course called The
Citizen Kane Syndrome. Whats it about? Well, its based on the story line of
a 1941 movie. The play begins with an old time movie reel, a sort of post
mortem biography in praise of an extraordinarily successful and a wealthy man
known as Citizen Kane. After giving an overview of the magnitude of his
estate and the reach of his power, the camera zooms in on the last moments of
his life. There he lay breathing his last and as he expires he utters, Rosebud
and then a crystal filled with fake snowflakes falls from his limp hand and
shatters on the floor.
The next segment of the story begins with a few curious reporters who are
determined to find out who was this mysterious woman in his life named
Rosebud. The film then flashes retrospectively to a young boy and his mom
living in a little shanty of a home. The poverty of their existence and the
struggle of this single mom to provide even basics is abundantly clear.
In one critical scene the boy is out on his sled enjoying the thick snow, when
two men show up and quietly explain something to the mother. She reluctantly
grants them permission to something. Then the two men approach the boy and
in the struggle for control they take his sled and throw it forcefully to the
Apparently his rich uncle had died leaving him the sole heir and controller of a
huge industry. The mother could not resist the temptation to send him, even
against his will, to have the opportunity for a better life. Narrative follows
him through the vicissitudes of his business and personal life. As time goes on
his financial success and influence expand beyond imagination, while his
private life is a series of broken relationships and failures. In the end he dies a
lonely man with a snowy glass ball clutched tightly in his hand and Rosebud
on his lips.
In the final scene these two fatigued reporters standing there in the mansion,
after having thoroughly reviewed all his lifes papers and artifacts presumably,
express their frustration and despair at ever finding out about Rosebud. The
camera is now trained on group of workers who are busy throwing items of
little value from the estate into a large bon fire. As the reporter had just
finished stating, Well, I guess well never know who that woman Rosebud
really was! a sled is tossed into the inferno and there painted is bright red
letters is the word Rosebud. As the sled burns the letters curdle and are
consumed. The credits roll!
Whats the lesson? Heres a guy that made it to the top but inwardly there
was a little child that just wanted to sled. Sometimes you see an MD license
plate with a bumper sticker, Id rather be fishing! or something like that.
When the Jewish People were in Egypt they were presumably not masters of
the destiny. Even after the giving of the Torah some part relapsed into making
a golden calf. They spent years doing what they did not want to do. They even
became corrupted by the gold and silver afterwards, a sort of sudden wealth
syndrome. Now, when it comes to making a sanctuary for Hashem Moshe is
told to appeal to the essential child of Israel to reach that heart of generosity
that feels giving is like taking!
DvarTorah, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Questions or comments? Email Join the Jewish Learning
Revolution! The Judaism Site brings this and a host of other classes to you every week. Visit or email to
get your own free copy of this mailing. Need to change or stop your subscription? Please visit our subscription center, --
see the links on that page. Permission is granted to redistribute, but please give proper attribution and copyright to the author and Both the
author and reserve certain rights. Email for full information. The Judaism Site Project Genesis, Inc. 122
Slade Avenue, Suite 250 Baltimore, MD 21208 (410) 602-1350 FAX: (410) 510-1053

HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl
Bais Hamussar
This week's Dvar Torah is sponsored in honor of the upcoming Bar Mitzva of
Moshe Ahron ben Rochel Basya.
May he grow to be a continued source of Nachas for his Mishpacha and the
entire Klal Yisroel.
The second half of Sefer Shemos, from Terumah onward, describes the
building of the Mishkan. The placement of this portion of the Torah is
described by the Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Shemos wherein he
outlines the contents of the Sefer:
"The Torah finished Sefer Bereishis which described the creation of the world
and the events of the forefathers . . .and Sefer Shemos was designated to
describe the first exile and the ensuing redemption . . . and the redemption
wasn't complete until they returned to their proper place and to the level of
their forefathers. When they left Mitzrayim, even though they had left the
house of bondage, they were still considered in exile since they were not in
their homeland, but wanderers in the desert. When they came to Har Sinai and
built the Mishkan and Hashem rested His Shechina upon them, they finally
returned once again to the level of their forefathers who were the "throne" of
Hashem and then they were considered redeemed."
Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlomo Geulah pg. 30) comments that we might have
understood from the Ramban's words, "and the redemption wasn't complete
until they returned to their proper place" that in order to be considered
redeemed, they would have to enter Eretz Yisrael. However, it is clear from
his subsequent words that this is not the case. The point of redemption did not
occur when they left the home of bondage since they were still in exile, nor did
it occur when they entered Eretz Yisrael for at that point they had already been
redeemed. Rather, the redemption occurred when Hashem placed of His
Shechina upon Bnei Yisrael.
Chazal say (Avos 6, 6) "Whoever repeats something in the name of the one
who originally said it brings redemption to the world as it is written, 'And
Esther repeated it to the king in the name of Mordechai.'" Repeating something
in the name of someone else is an attribute which demonstrates one's ability
not to disconnect something from its source. This is the characteristic which
defines redemption. Our world is disconnected from the Creator. Redemption
is what reunites the world to The Creator - its original source. When Hashem
placed His Shechina on Bnei Yisrael they experienced true redemption since
the world was reconnected to its source.
The Ramban describes Hashem resting upon Bnei Yisrael as, "returning to
their place." In other words, the very nature of Klal Yisrael is one that includes
Hashem's Shechina in their midst. Every person has the ability to become an
abode for the Shechina, as Chazal tell us, Hashem said, "Make for Me a
Mikdash and I will dwell amongst you." Every person has the ability to take
his body and turn it into an abode for the Creator Himself!
Maaseh Rav
Shabbos by the Mashgiach was a day full of searching for greater meaning and
He told his Talmidim of a lofty Rosh Yeshiva who for 17 years spoke publicly
every Shabbos about the greatness of Shabbos. Every week, this Rosh Yeshiva
would touch on another angle and facet of the immensity of Shabbos. The
Mashgiach said, "I'm jealous of him that he has such an understanding and
depth of this holy day of Shabbos that he can speak about it for 17 years!"

dga, A Kehilas Prozdor Publication
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The Terumas HaDeshen (108) replied to residents of a settlement
who did not have enough people for a minyan, and could travel to
a nearby village to hear either Parshas Zachor or Megilah rucmc
(but not both), that it was more important to hear Parshas Zachor
with a minyan than Megilah, because Zachor is DOraisa and
Megilah can even be read by an individual alone. The Magen
Avrohom (585) explains that people generally behave exactly the
opposite, because although Zachor is DOraisa, the Torah does
not mandate that it be read on the Shabbos before Purim, and
when one hears ekng tchu read on Purim morning, one can
technically be tmuh with that. The Gemara (Megilah 6b) states that
if the 4 Parshios (Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, Chodesh) were each
read on their designated Shabbos, and then a second month of
Adar was declared, they all have to be re-read in the second Adar.
Why should Parshas Zachor be re-read ? Wasnt the DOraisa
fulfilled with the first reading ? It would seem that the reading of
Parshas Zachor thus fulfills two purposes: 1) the DOraisa
obligation to remember what Amalek did and to destroy him; and
2) the Rabbinic obligation to read each of the 4 Parshios in their
designated time. This is further borne out by the Gemara (ibid
30a) which states that if Parshas Shekalim falls on the Shabbos
whose Parsha is Ki Sisa (which contains Parshas Shekalim), one
nevertheless repeats Parshas Shekalim at the end. The Knesses
Avrohom (15) suggests that this is behind the ruling of the
Terumas HaDeshen, that although the mitzvah of ekng ,rhfz can
be performed anytime throughout the year, Chazal established that
it be done as part of Parshas Zachor, whose designated time is
the Shabbos before Purim, rucmc, and the pseudo-DOraisa status
of that time for the reading would take precedence over Megilah.
If one sends Mishloach Manos and/or Matanos LaEvyonim to one
who is in a different time zone, when must it be delivered ?
(When must one repeat Shemona Esrei only if in doubt whether he said it ?)
The Mishna Berurah (107:7) explains that if one mistakenly
thought that he had not davened Musaf on Shabbos or Yom Tov,
and after beginning to say it he realized that he had in fact
davened Musaf already, he may not complete it, even as a
Nedavah, because when he started it, he intended it as a Chovah.
However, if he was in doubt whether he had davened Musaf, and
he began it with the possibility that it could be a Nedavah (if he
had already davened), then he may complete it as a Nedavah.
One whose Seudah Shlishis extends beyond the end of Shabbos
into the night, where Sunday will be Purim, should say vmr during
Birchas HaMazon, but not ohxbv kg. This is because one is
obligated to eat Seudah Shlishis on Shabbos, but the obligation to
eat a Seudah on Purim cannot be fulfilled with a Seudah on Purim
eve. Therefore, only Shabbos is mentioned. (ShuT Rema 132)
The Mishna (Yoma 26a) states that when selecting a Kohen by
lottery to perform the Ketores, only those Kohanim who have
never performed it may join in the lottery. The Gemara states that
no Kohen ever did it twice, explaining that the Ketores brings
wealth to the Kohen who performs it, and no Kohen should repeat
it as long as there are others who have not yet had the opportunity.
The Sfas Emes notes that the Kohen Gadol offered the Ketores
every year on Yom Kippur, and suggests that the Kohen Gadol
was supposed to be wealthy, which may be why the Posuk says:
recc recc ohnx ,rye irvt uhkg rhyevu that Aharon offered the
Ketores each morning (and afternoon). Why mention Aharon if
any Kohen could do it ? Because only Aharon (i.e. the Kohen
Gadol) could perform it more than once. The Maharil (vkhn)
states that the mitzvah of Sandek is greater than that of a Mohel,
because the Sandeks legs are likened to the golden Mizbeyach
and his role, to offering the Ketores. As such, Rabbeinu Peretz
states that one should not offer the Kavod of being Sandek to the
same person more than once, just as the Ketores was not awarded
to the same Kohen more than once. The Noda BiYehuda (suh
1:86) finds the whole idea unsupportable, for several reasons,
conceding that perhaps Rabbeinu Peretz was relying on the
Gemara (Eruvin 63a) which states that if one gives all of his
Matnos Kehunah to one Kohen, he causes famine. Thus, one is
encouraged to spread Kibudim around, but that would not prevent
several people from selecting the same Sandek. The Chasam Sofer
(jut 158) wonders why Chazal were so concerned over the
possibility of double-wealth, that they would deprive Kohanim of
the mitzvah inherent in performing Ketores. Since a lottery was
clearly in Hashems hands, why not rely that Hashem will decide
who deserves the Ketores, even if he did it before ? He answers
that wealth depends on Mazel, not Zechus (Moed Katan 28a),
unless one has a significant Zechus. Therefore, it is entirely
possible that someone with a strong Mazel who may have won the
lottery previously, could win it again, even against Hashems
choice kufhcf, unless excluded from the lottery. Others, whose
Mazel would normally not win the lottery for them, would now be
in a position where one of them had to be chosen, and after he
would perform the Ketores, that Zechus would be sufficient to
overcome his Mazel, and make him wealthy.
A Lesson Can Be Learned From:
R Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld was always the Baal Tefilah for Mincha on
Purim afternoon, until one year, he appeared so cheery that he was
persuaded to give up the Amud. The only man who appeared to be
entirely sober went up to daven, but during Chazoras HaShatz, he forgot
to say jurv chan, and only R Yosef Chaim noticed ! Afterwards, R
Yosef Chaim commented that it was no wonder that he had forgotten to
say it, since the Gematria of oadv shrunu jurv chan is equal to that of
hnuxck ahbht chhj, so one who doesnt even try to fulfill Chazals
directive may find he is missing more than he imagines.
P.S. Sholosh Seudos sponsored by the Miller family. Matanos
L'Evyonim for Gomlei Chesed may be given to me before/on Purim.