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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 30, v. 12: "Ki siso" - Those who enumerate the mitzvos of the Torah do not include the prohibition to count the bnei Yisroel. The gemara Yoma 22b seems to indicate that this is only a Rabbinical decree, as the source for the prohibition the gemara brings is from the counting of King Shaul. However, Rashi on Shmuel 1:15:4 says that the source for the prohibition is Breishis 32:12, "asher lo yisofeir meirov."

The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh gives us three rulings:

1) When there is a necessity for atonement, the counting is done through the use of shkolim which are contributed, as in the case of the counting following the sin of the golden calf.

2) When there is a need to count, and no atonement is necessary, as with Shaul for army recruits, it is permitted to count by using other items, i.e. shards or sheep.

3) When there is no need, even with using another item to arrive at the total, it is prohibited, and this was Dovid Hamelech's mistake.

Ch. 30, v. 13: "Esrim geiroh hashekel" - The Meshech Chochmoh points out that every place the Torah tells us how many geiroh make a shekel, there is a need to know this because of a situation that requires splitting the shekel into smaller coinage. In our case it is very obvious, since the mitzvoh is to give a half-shekel. More on this bez"H in parshas Bmidbar.

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh" - The cantillation (trup) on these words is "munach rvii." The GR"A says that from this we have an allusion to what the gemara K'subos 50a says, "Even a rich man shall not be generous with charity beyond a fifth of his possessions." The cantillation "munach rvii" is translated as "four parts shall remain." "HE'oshir," the rich man, shall leave for himself four parts of five.

Ch. 30, v. 18: "V'osiso kior n'choshes" - Why is the command to create this vessel for the Mishkon placed here and not in parshas Trumoh along with the other vessels? The Ramban says that there is no specific need to have a "kior," a laver, for the hand and feet sanctification of the Kohanim. We see from gemara Yoma 43b that any sanctified vessel that can hold water may be used. On Yom Kippur, for the honour of the Kohein Godol, a golden vessel called "kiton" was used. Since the kior is not intrinsic to creating the sanctity of the Mishkon, it is therefore not mentioned together with the other vessels, which were required to create the sanctity of the Mishkan campus. The Rambam in hilchos Bi'as Mikdosh 5:10 makes the same point.

Ch. 30, v. 34: "Notof u'SH'cheiles v'CHelb'noh samim u'Lvonoh" - The gemara Brochos 55a and M'nochos 97a says that the altar brought atonement for the bnei Yisroel. Now that the Beis Hamikdosh is not standing, a person's table brings atonement. The GR"A says that we know that there are eleven spice components in the "k'torres" (gemara Krisus 6a and Yerushalmi Yoma 4:5). However, the Torah only mentions four in our verse. He says that this alludes to the above gemara. "SHULCHON," Shin-Lamed-Ches-Nun, one's table, is spelled out by the first letters of the four spices mentioned.

Ch. 31, v. 13: "Ach es Shabsosei tishmoru" - Rashi says that we derive from the juxtaposition of Shabbos to the building of the Mishkon, that Shabbos takes priority over the building of the Mishkon. See the Ramban. As well, the gemara Shabbos 49b says that we derive the 39 types of forbidden acts, "m'lochos" of Shabbos, from the 39 types of "m'lochos" which were done in creating the Mishkon.

However, the Avnei Neizer in his monumental work on the 39 "m'lochos" of Shabbos, the Iglei Tal, says at the beginning of his prelude, "p'sichoh" to the "m'lochos," that the opinion of the Talmud Yerushalmi is that the 39 "m'lochos" are derived from both the building of the Mishkon and the processing of the "korbonos." This can be seen in Yerushalmi Shabbos 7:2. There are practical differences between these two approaches. For example, according to the Yerushalmi it is prohibited to spit where the wind is blowing strongly, as the wind would atomize the liquid into fine particles and spread them. This is not prohibited according to the Talmud Bavli. The Iglei Tal elaborates on this in "m'leches zoreh" as well.

Regarding "m'leches zoreh" see O. Ch. 319:17, Ramoh, Mishneh Bruroh on the Ramoh, Biur Halochoh who says that the Yerushalmi does not argue with the Bavli in this "m'locho," T'shuvos Rabbi Akiva Eiger mahaduro kamo responsa #20.

Ch. 31, v. 14: "M'chal'lehoh" - We see from this word that Shabbos is in the female form. However, we also find that the Torah uses the male form for Shabbos in Shmos 35:2, "Kol ho'oseh VO m'lochoh." Tosfos on the gemara K'subos 5a d.h. "shemoh" says that Shabbos may be used in either the male or female form. There are numerous other words that have this property. Please send in your list.

Ch. 31, v. 16: "V'shomru vnei Yisroel es haShabbos" - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that the word "v'shomru" should be translated "and they shall AWAIT," as we find in Breishis 37:11, "v'oviv shomar es hadovor." One should not consider the Shabbos ch"v a burden, but rather should eagerly anticipate its arrival. Some very interesting gematrios from Horav Y. Orbach zt"l: Three expressions of Shabbos: Yom Shabbos, Shabboson, Shabbos laShem, each equals 758. The Ten Commandments give us two reasons for hallowing the Shabbos: It is a testimony to Hashem's creating the world in six days and desisting from new creation on the seventh day, and it is a reminder of the exodus from Egypt. "Shovas va'yinofash" and "Zeicher li'tzias Mitzrayim" each equals 1,148.

Ch. 32, v. 1: "Ki VOSHEISH Moshe" - The gemara Shabbos 89a says that according to the calculations of the people, Moshe was delayed in his descent from Har Sinai. They thought he would descend at midday, at the sixth hour from sunrise. This is derived from the word "VOSHEISH" which can be read "bo sheish," the sixth hour has come. This evolved into the making of the golden calf.

Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman zt"l Hy"d says that to atone somewhat for their so stressing punctuality, bnei Yisroel have a tendency to be late for appointments, meetings, chuppos, etc.

Ch. 32, v. 6: "1) Va'yaalu olos, 2) Va'yagishu shlomim, 3) Va'yeishev ho'om le'echol v'shoso, 4) Va'yokumu l'tzacheik" - Those who served the golden calf claimed to have lofty spiritual pursuits, but see how quickly this spiralled downwards. First they said that their ideology was totally for Hashem. This is symbolized by sacrificing "korb'nos oloh" which are totally consumed on the altar. There is no human consumption, only total commitment to Hashem. This deteriorated slighty, as we see that they then offered "korb'nos shlomim." Shlomim have parts offered on the altar, but also require human consumption, hence they are not as lofty as "korb'nos oloh." Then the people sat down to partake in eating and drinking of non-sacrificial food, "chulin," another step down the ladder. Finally they rose to make merry. Rashi says that "l'tzacheik" indicates murder and adultery. (Heard from Rabbi Yaakov Galinski shlit"a)

Ch. 32, v. 7: Leich reid ki shicheis amcho" - The gemara Brochos 32a says, "reid mi'g'dulos'cho," descend from your greatness and high position. The Magid of Dubno explains this with a parable. There was once a highly positioned minister of the king whose son often broke the law. Before the fines and other punishments were carried out, his father intervened and the son was spared. Not having had the taste of the punishments, the son had no deterrent and continued to defy the laws of the land, progressing into perpetrating greater and greater felonies. The minister was at his wit's end and came before the king to seek counsel.

The king suggested that although the minister had executed all his duties faithfully and deserved no demotion, nonetheless, in the interest of his son he should be demoted. The son, upon seeing that his father does not occupy such a great position of authority as before, might be reluctant to break the law, fearing that his father would not be able to wield the power he had when he was in the higher position.

Similarly here, says the Dubno Magid, everytime the bnei Yisroel sinned they had the most powerful vanguard, Moshe Rabbeinu, plead their case successfully. They therefore were not afraid to test Hashem's patience. Hashem advised Moshe to lower himself from his high position, and possibly that might deter the bnei Yisroel from further sin.

The Holy Admor of Kotzk said that although there are many true ways to explain a verse (see Yirmiyohu 23:29), the Dubno Magid had explained our verse according to its main, "emes la'amito" interpretation, with this parable. The Holy Admor said that he had received a heavenly message that the Dubno Magid had done this three times. Bez"H, the other two parables will be brought in parsios Vayikro and Massei.

Ch. 32, v. 26: "Va'yei'osfu eilov kol bnei Levi" - There is a well known story told by Horav Shimon Schwab zt"l about his conversation with the Holy Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim asked him why he wasn't a Kohein as the Chofetz Chaim was. Upon not being satisfied with the response that it was totally due to patrilineal descent, the Chofetz Chaim answered that his forefathers' complete tribe hearkened to the call of Moshe, while those of other tribes did not have a complete turnout. The Chofetz Chaim ended by saying that when Horav Schwab would hear the call of "Mi laShem ei'lai," he should make sure to respond with enthusiasm.

I heard a question on the above story from Horav Y.M.H. The Chofetz Chaim's explanation does not tell us why one is a Kohein, but only explains why he is a Levi. The complete tribe of Levi responded to Moshe's call. Horav Y.M.H. answered that the children of Aharon were given "K'hunoh" because they had an extra challenge beyond the rest of the tribe of Levi. Those loyal to Hashem were told to kill whoever worshipped the golden calf. The bnei Aharon could be challenged with, "YOUR father created the golden calf and YOU want to kill me?" For this extra level of selflessness, they deserved an elevation beyond the rest of the Leviim. Although this answers the basic question of why the bnei Aharon deserved "K'huna," it does not answer the difficulty with the above story.

Ch. 32, v. 32: "M'CHeiNI" - The Zohar Vayiro sec. 3 page 15a says that Moshe was ready to give away his olam ha'zeh and olom habo for the atonement of the bnei Yisroel. Noach, however, did not pray for the forgiveness of the sinners in his generation. The Ari z'l expands on this in Breishis, shaar psukim drush 4, saying that Noach's not beseeching Hashem for forgiveness for the sinners of his generation caused the Prophet Yesha'yohu to attribute the great deluge to Noach, calling it "MEI NOACH" in Yeshayohu 54:9, "Ki MEI NOACH zose li asher nishbati mei'avor MEI NOACH ode al ho'oretz." This seems to be the most denigrating statement made about Noach. On the other hand, Moshe's highest level of self negation was likely his statement of "M'cheini noh." He was ready to have his name erased from the Torah, a collosal spiritual loss, for the purpose of attaining atonement for the bnei Yisroel. His selflessness was a correction for the self concern of Noach, as mentioned in the above Zohar, who says that upon hearing of the great deluge, Noach asked, "What will be of me?" Moshe's "M'CHeiNI" was a tikkun for "Mei Noach," both containing the same letters, Mem-Ches-Yud-Nun.

Ch. 32, v. 34: "U'v'yom pokdi u'fokadti" - The M.R. says that when Moshe heard this verse, he added to his defence of the bnei Yisroel, "Lomoh Hashem yeche'reh apcho."

The Magid of Dubno explains this medrash with a parable. A man had a suit custom- tailored for his young son. He had arranged a Shabbos gathering in his home for some prestigious acquaintances and wanted his son to make a good impression upon them. He sternly warned his son that since he would wear this suit on Shabbos when playing with his friends, he should not engage in any rough play Shabbos afternoon, before coming home and appearing in front of the guests. Boys will be boys, and as expected, his son got into a fight with his friends, and was thrown into a mud puddle. He had no choice but to come home in this dishevelled state. His father's demeanour changed drastically upon seeing his son. It was obvious to the guests that strong punishment awaited the young chap upon their departure. The time came when they had to leave. One by one, they left reluctantly, realizing what was in store for the young chap. One guest spoke up and said, "I happened to notice through the window that your son was coming towards your home, impeccably dressed, when another child came by, and although unprovoked, he pushed your innocent son into a mud puddle." Then this guest left.

The Dubno Magid says that the defence created by the guests was limited. As long as they were in the home, the father would not vent his wrath upon his son. However, they would eventually have to leave. The guest who spoke up and explained why the son was totally guiltless gave a permanent defence. Similarly, once Moshe heard that Hashem would visit punishment upon later generations for the sin of the golden calf, it was insufficient to only say, "Lomo yomru Mitzrayim" (32:12). The nation of Mitzrayim would lose its identity in a number of generations. This would only be a good defence if the punisment would be limited to that generation. Moshe therefore added, "Lomo Hashem yeche'reh apcho" (32:11), to provide a permanent defence.

Ch. 33, v. 12: SHLISHI - "Va'yomer Moshe" - Our parshas contains 139 verses. The first two "aliyos" contain 92 verses, two-thirds of the parsha's total number of verses. Why is this so misproportionate? The GR"A answers that until this point we have the story of the sin of the golden calf. The only tribe that was totally untainted by this sin was Levi. We don't want to embarrass the "oleh laTorah" by reading the golden calf episode during his "aliyoh." We therefore lengthen the first two "aliyos" which are given to a Kohein and a Levi, whose ancestors did not serve the golden calf.

Ch. 34, v. 28: "Arbo'im yom v'arbo'im leilo lechem lo ochal umayim lo shosoh" - The Dubno Magid often travelled to many towns to deliver his famous lectures. As expected, he often had to lodge at inns and the like. He once entered an inn and asked for room and board. The proprietor advised that although many rooms were available, there was simply no food to be had, as he was quite poor and business had been very slow as of late. Since it was in the depths of the winter, and the rooms had no heating, the Magid asked for permission to sleep in the public dining area where a small stove radiated a bit of heat. The proprietor agreed.

In the middle of the night the Magid heard hushed footsteps making their way into the dining area. He opened his eyes just a crack and saw the owner's family members entering while clad in their night garments. Quietly, a child pushed a section of a wall panel, which turned out to be a hidden turn-table which contained much food. After partaking of a hushed and hasty meal, the participants retreated quietly to their sleeping quarters. They were unaware of the Magid's witnessing this, as his eyes were open just a bit and the lighting they brought with them was minimal.

The next morning the Magid came to pay for his night's lodging. The owner asked the Magid about his travels and their purpose. Upon hearing that his overnight guest was a Magid, he requested a taste of "magidus." The Dubno Magid responded that instead of a short lecture, he would instead offer a Torah insight. The Magid said that the insight was an answer to a question which had perplexed him for many years, and for which he had VERY recently found an answer. He proceeded to discuss a medrash which says that during the forty days that Moshe was in the heavens, he spent the complete time learning Torah from Hashem and reviewing it. This is to be taken literally. It would seem that he did not sleep at all during the forty day period. The gemara Sukkoh 53a says that if one makes a vow to not sleep for three consecutive days and nights, since he cannot physically fulfill the vow, he receives lashes for transgressing the vow, and may go to sleep immediately. However, if one vows to not eat or drink for three days, he receives no immediate punishment, because he is capable of surviving for three days without food or drink.

We see from here that to refrain from sleeping is more difficult than to refrain from eating and drinking. "If so," asked the Magid, "why does the Torah tell us that Moshe refrained from eating and drinking for forty days? Since he also did not sleep, a more difficult challenge was met, that of not sleeping. Why doesn't the Torah mention this?"

The Magid continued with a slight smile. The medrash says that Moshe refrained from food and drink since the angels do not eat, so also a visitor to the heavens should follow the local customs and not eat. A question can be raised. How, indeed, did Moshe know that the angels didn't eat? Even if he never saw an angel eat, possibly while he was asleep, the angels might have had a sumptuous meal. The only way to answer this is by saying that Moshe never slept while in the heavens. This way he was sure that the angels didn't eat or drink, and he in turn followed their custom.

The original question is now easily resolved. The Torah, by stating that Moshe didn't eat or drink, this because he followed the custom prevalent in the heavens, precludes his sleeping, so his not sleeping need not be mentioned. No doubt, the hotel owner got the subtle message.


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