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Vol. 22 No. 20
Binyomin ben Eliezer z"l
Filling their Hands
(Adapted from the Ramban)
"With them you shall dress Aharon your brother and his sons with him, you shall anoint them and consecrate them (u'mileiso es yodom) and sanctify them, and they shall administer to Me" (28:41).
The Ramban queries Rashi's explanation that 'Miluy Yadayim' is an expression of appointment, and his subsequent reference to the universal custom of putting a glove on to a person who was appointed to a position of importance.
That custom he explains, is based on the Pasuk in Megilas Rus, which speaks about the Kinyan which Tov (the redeemer mentioned there in the last Perek) made with Bo'az, in connection with which the Pasuk describes how "he took off his "Na'al" and gave it to the other man". Translating the word "na'alo" as 'his glove', the gentiles explained the Paasuk to mean that Tov (the redeemer mentioned there) took off his glove and gave it to Bo'az (though that conforms, neither with Chazal's translation of the word, nor with their interpretation of the event). But all this has nothing to do with the 'Miluiy Yadayim' in general or with the current Pasuk.
The Ramban therefore translates "Miluy Yadayim" as 'completion'. Presumably, what he means is that - bearing in mind that the Torah has just mentioned dressing Aharon and his sons in the Bigdei Kehunah and anointing them - that this completes the process and renders them ready to perform the holy service. See also the Seforno, who explains the Pasuk in this way.
Of the many examples the Ramban cites where the word "Miluy" means completion, one is in Megilas Esther (1:5) "And when these days were completed, the King made ... a feast for all the people …", and another, in Parshas Tzav (5:33), where the Torah writes "And from the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed you (Aharon and his sons) shall not take leave until your days of consecration are completed".
And it is by the same token, he explains, that the Torah refers to the Shelamim that they brought as the "Korban Milu'im". Indeed, he points out, the Targum Yerushalmi translates "the ram of Milu'im" as 'the ram of completion'. Because, whereas the Chatas and the Olah came to atone, the Shelamim came to complete the Avodah of the Korbonos.
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Remember what Amalek Did
(Adapted from the Alshich)
"Remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you left Egypt … Erase the memory of Amalek. Do not forget!"
In order to fulfil the dual Mitzvah of not forgetting what Amalek did, but of mentioning it verbally, says the Ramban, it is a Mitzvah to read the current Parshah every day.
Why, asks the Alshich, does the Torah issue us such an extreme demand, something that it does not do with any other nation that did bad to us?
Moreover, why will the Mitzvah to eradicate Amalek from the face of the earth not suffice? Why is it necessary to mention daily what he did as well?
And what is even more difficult to understand, if G-d wants Amalek to be destroyed, what's to stop Him from destroying him once and for all. Why does He not simply 'Send forth His anger and burn them up like stubble' (as He did the Egyptians at the Yam-Suf)?
To answer the above questions, the Alshich cites Chazal, who state that G-d does not destroy a nation here on earth before He has destroyed its guardian Angel in Heaven (which every nation possesses). He also refers to another Chazal, which name the Angel of Eisav and Amalek (whom they seem to equate) as Samael, whom, they say, is synonymous with the Satan and the Yeitzer ha'Ra. - 'He entices a person to sin, prosecutes him and takes his Neshamah'. That being the case, Sama'el is unlike any other angel, inasmuch as he cannot be eliminated as long as there are sins in Yisrael. Indeed, each sin that a Jew performs adds strength to Sama'el. That is why, when Amalek attacked Yisrael in the desert, the Torah writes "and you were tired and weary and did not fear G-d" (not in accordance with Rashi, who explains "did not fear G-d" with reference to Amalek).
That explains why, whenever the Torah speaks about the Ge'ulah from the current exile, as we find for example, in Parshas Nitzavim (chapter 30), it always mentions Teshuvah, for as long as we don't do Teshuvah, Sama'el and consequently, Amalek cannot be destroyed, and we cannot be taken out of Galus.
And it is because it is we who keep Amalek in existence with our sins, that it is up to us to remember what he did to us (following our querying G-d's Providence), and do battle, first and foremost with his Angel, by doing Teshuvah and then, in conjunction with G-d (who promised, at the end of Parshas Beshalach, that He will destroy Amalek.
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(Adapted from the Ramban)
The Ner Tomid
"And they shall take for you pure olive-oil … to kindle the everlasting lamp (Ner Tamid)"(27:20).
In this context, Rashi explains, "tamid" means 'every night', much in the same way as "Tamid" that the Torah writes in connection with the Minchas Chavitin that the Kohen Gadol brought each day , half in the morning and half in the afternoon.
But the Ramban disagrees. He quotes a Sifri which interprets 'Tamid" literally as 'continuously'. And he bases this on a Sifri, which confines 'Ner Tamid' to the 'western lamp' (the Ner ha'Ma'aravi), which, he explains, refers to the second lamp from the entrance of the Heichal, according to the generally accepted opinion that the Menorah faced from east to west, whereas according to the opinion that it faced north to south, it refers to the middle one.
Assuming the first opinion, the Sifri, commenting on the apparent contradiction between one Pasuk which says "from evening till morning" and another Pasuk which says "before Hashem continuously", explains that whereas all the other lamps only needed to burn from evening until morning, the one that is described as 'before Hashem' (i.e. the second lamp, as we explained) burned continuously.
The ramifications of this statement are twofold: 1). that if they found it extinguished in the morning, they would immediately rekindle it (together with the one before it - without which it would not stand up to its title 'the Ner ha'Ma'aravi'). 2). That it would be the first lamp to be extinguished, replaced and re-kindled each evening, so that all the other lamps would be lit from it.
Incidentally, up until the death of Shimon ha'Tzadik, the Ner ha'Ma'aravi was never found to be extinguished. Although, as we explained earlier, it was the first lamp to be lit each evening, it would continue to burn throughout the day, until the Kohanim extinguished it in the evening (before immediately rekindling it).
Aharon and his Sons
"Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, El'azar and Isamar, the sons of Aharon" (28:1).
In spite of stating "the sons of Aharon", the Ramban explains, the Pasuk names his four sons, to teach us a). that his four sons neeeded to be anointed in order to enter the Kehunah - even though subsequently, it would only be Kohanim Gedolim who would require anointing, and b). to preclude from the Kehunah Pinchas and any other grandchildren of Aharon who may have already been born, but who are not mentioned here.
The Urim ve'Tumim
"… You shall place inside the Choshen Mishpat the Urim and the Tumim" (28:30).
According to the Ib'n Ezra, the Urim ve'Tumim were made of silver and gold. The Ramban defines them as some kind of plate that contained some mystical formula or other, similar to those used by astrologers to answer questions posed to them concerning the future.
The Ramban queries the Ib'n Ezra however, inasmuch as, if that was the case, the Torah ought to have presented details of their shape and size, just as it does with regard to all the other holy vessels in the Mishkan. And even if they had a deep significance, which the Torah was reluctant to publicize, it ought still to have said something to the effect that he should manufacture the Urim and the Tumim out of pure gold or pure silver, as Hashem had shown him on the mountain.
And based on the fact that the Torah declines to make any reference to the manufacture of the Urim ve'Tumim, the Ramban prefers the explanation of Rashi (which the I'bn Ezra specifically rejects) - that they were Names of Hashem which, due to their Kedushah, were secretly handed to Moshe. And these Names were subsequently placed inside the Choshen, which was deliberately made double in order to house them.
"And you shall make the Me'il of the Eifod entirely of Techeiles (dark-blue wool) 28:31.
Both the Me'il and the Kutones, Rashi explains, were a kind of shirt, made with sleeves, only the shirt was worn next to the skin, like a vest, and the Me'il was the outer garment, like a coat.
The Ramban, however, maintains that it was a kind of cape, with flaps in front but without sleeves. And he bases this mainly on two facts; Firstly, he bases it on a number of Pesukim in T'nach, which talk about 'wrapping oneself in a Me'il', a term that is applicable to a cape, but not to a shirt.
Secondly, from Rashi himself, who, in Pasuk 4, equates the Eifod with the Me'il, in that Targum Yonasan translates them both as Kardunin (or Kardutin). Rashi proves from there that the Eifod must be a garment, like the Me'il. The Ramban goes further. Yonasan would not equate them, he claims, unless they had similar features. He therefore concludes that, just as the Eifod wrapped around the body, so too did the Me'il; only whereas the Eifod was wrapped round the lower half of the body, the Me'il was wrapped round the entire body, from the neck down to the feet.
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This issue is sponsored
li"n R' Shlomo ben R' Yaakov Prenzlau z"l
whose fourteenth Yohrzeit will be on 13th Adar,
by his children Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n"y and family
The two heroes of Megilas Esther are Mordechai and Esther, and it is interesting to see the role that each one played in orchestrating the events that led to Haman's downfall.
Pulling One's Weight
Mordechai organized the three-day fast and Tefilos, that in-volved all of K'lal Yisrael, whilst Esther confronted Achash-verosh, and, after creating a rift between him and his prime minister, engineered the latter's downfall.
It is interesting to note that Esther did not fully obey Mor-dechai's instructions to beseech the king on behalf of her people. Instead, in a remarkable display of diplomatic skill, she opted to arouse his ire against his prime minister, to the point that, in a fit of rage, he ordered his execution on the very same gallows that he had just built to hang Mordechai.
As for Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, He did His bit too (kev-ayachol). In keeping with His method of approach, He created the cure in advance of the stroke, a). by placing Esther on the throne of Persia before Haman even came to power, and b). with a little help (kevayachol) from Esther, by ensuring that Mordechai's act of saving the king from the hands of his would-be assassins Bigsan and Teresh, was recorded in the Book of Chronicles.
Why, one may well ask, is it called 'Megilas Esther' and not Megilas Mordechai?
Perhaps it is because, when all's said and done, it was she who risked her life by entering the royal chamber uninvited, as she herself pointed out to Mordechai. And, as the Gemara in B'rachos (20a) teaches us, Mesiras Nefesh carries more weight before G-d that any other Midah.
Perhaps it is also because, even though Mordechai was the one to organize the three-day fast and the Tefilos, it was Es-ther who initiated them, in which case Esther initiated all the events that led to the downfall of Haman. It is not therefore surprising that the Megilah is called 'Megilas Esther' and not 'Megilas Mordechai'.
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The Green Queen
When G-d Favours the Ugly Duckling
"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she found favour and kindness before him …" (Esther, 2:17).
According to Rebbi Yehosua ben Korchah, Esther was actually green (as ugly as they come), only 'a thread of kindness was drawn over her' (she looked beautiful in the eyes of the beholder - or at least in the eyes of Achashverosh & Heigai [See Pasuk 9]).
This in itself, is a miracle, particularly since all the beautiful girls in the kingdom (in the world, according to Chazal, who say that Achashverosh ruled over the entire world) were available to him. Yet he chose the ugliest of them all, because that is what G-d wanted.
Chazal inform us that Haman's daughter was a likely candidate for the throne, and we discussed her elimination in last year's edition - in what was another miracle in the chain of miracles that is Megilas Esther.
The Torah Temimah remarks that Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah says in Bava Basra (Daf 14a) that Iyov lived in the time of Achashverosh, and the Pasuk in Iyov testifies that there were no women in the world who were more beautiful than they.
And it is the same author who tells us here that, not only was Esther not intrinsically beautiful, but that she was downright ugly. Yet Achashverosh picked her and not one of Iyov's daughters - because that is what G-d had decided!
The Torah Temimah compares the current Chazal to the custom (based on the Gemara in Kusubos, Daf 17a) to refer to a bride as 'kaloh no'oh ve'chasudoh', irrespective of her real looks, And he quotes the Shitah Mekubetzes there, who explains that this is not really a lie, since when a kalah goes to the chupah, she is indeed enveloped in a 'thread of kindness' with which G-d blesses her - and that is certainly true as far as the choson is concerned.
Out of the Frying-Pan …
When a Dog became a Lion
At the end of the first chapter of Megilas Esther, the Pasuk describes the reaction of the king and the bureaucrats of Persia. Acting upon the advice of Memuchan (alias Haman), Achashverosh (with the blessing of the bureaucrats) got rid of Queen Vashti and initiated a new edict that the man should rule supreme in his home.
And whom did they get in place of Vashti? - Esther, who is recorded (See Tehilim, 22, 21 and Megilah, 15b) as having referred to her 'beloved husband' the king, as a dog. Oy vay!
The Gemara in Megilah [Ibid.]) however, explains that when, on her way to plead with Achashverosh, Esther walked past the room that housed his idols, the Shechinah left her. Not knowing why, she asked G-d whether it was not perhaps because she had called the king a dog. So, in the next Pasuk, she referred to him as a lion.
No doubt, she had in mind, what Chazal say, that a king sits on the throne by the grace of G-d, and that one is therefore obligated to accord him honour, in the way that Moshe honoured Par'oh, and Eliyahu, Ach'av, despite their evil ways.
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(Based on the Torah Temimah)
The Cure before the Stroke
"After these things (Esther's appointment to the throne and the episode with Bigsan and Teresh), King Achashverosh promoted Homon …" (Esther, 3:1).
There is no connection between the two incidents, says the Torah Temimah. That explains why the Gemara in Megilah (Daf 13b) learns from here that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu creates the cure before the stroke - that is the connection!
Up and Down
" … and elevated him …" (Ibid.)
The Medrash cites the Pasuk in Tehilim that we recite in the Shir shel Yom for Shabbos "When the wicked sprout like grass and all the sinners grow shoots, it is to destroy them forever". And it also cites the Pasuk in Iyov (12) "He exalts the nations and destroys them".
And this is precisely what happened to Haman, says the Medrash. He rose to power only so that he could fall - and the higher one is, the harder the fall.
The Torah Temimah explains that this is in order to create a greater Kidush Hashem, when the fall ultimately occurs.
I Won't Bow Down to You!
"But Mordechai would not bend and would not bow down!" (Ibid. 3:2).
Why did Mordechai ask for trouble by refusing to carry out the royal edict, asks the Medrash?
It was because Haman carved out an image in the area of his heart, with the express intention that the people should prostrate themselves before it. The Gemara in Megilah and in Sanhedrin maintain that he made himself into a god.
Either way, it would then have been forbidden to bow down to him, royal edict notwithstanding.
See next Pearl.
I'm from Binyamin!
"And they told Haman (about Mordechai's refusal to bow down before him)" (Ibid. 3:4).
The Medrash informs us that Haman told them to remind Mordechai how his grandfather Ya'akov had prostrated himself before his own grandfather Eisav, to which Mordechai replied 'But that was before Binyamin was born - and I am a descendent of Binyamin!'
This Medrash clearly disagrees with the Medrash cited in the previous Pearl, in that it maintains that Mordechai's refusal to bow down before Haman was due not to the fact that he would be transgressing the second of the Ten Commandments, but to the point that Binyamin and his descendants never bowed down to a human being, even though per se, it is permitted to do so.
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