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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 30, v. 12: "Lifku'dei'hem v'nosnu" - To their count and they shall give - The gemara Yoma 22b says that it is a sin (Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchok says two sins) to tally people. Our verse tells us that instead of directly counting people, they should give coins and by counting the coins we will know their numbers. Even using another medium is not permitted if the count is not for a mitzvoh or a great need (responsa Chasam Sofer O.Ch. #156). The Mo'gein Avrohom O.Ch. 156:2 writes that to directly count people even for a "dvar mitzvoh" is prohibited. He says that counting of fingers rather than bodies should be done. He derives this from the mishnoh Yoma 22a. To decide which Kohein would do certain services, the Kohanim stood in a circle and each one would extend a finger. A random number would be chosen and a finger count would begin, going round and round until the number was reached. That Kohein would do the service. The above-mentioned Chasam Sofer does not permit using fingers. He says to use another medium, such as coins. He explains that the reason fingers were permitted in Yoma is because there was no total count of the Kohanim present, as the count went round and round. It was only a system to pick out one person among many. When one will conclude with a total number of people even a finger count is not permitted.

To ascertain that there is a quorom, a "minyan," we count people by words, one word per person, using the verse "Hoshioh es a'mecho .." (T'hilim 28:9), which has ten words (Kitzur Shulchan Oruch 15:3). Sefer Ho'oroh (1:56), attributed to Rashi, says to have each person present say one word of the verse "Va'ani b'rov chasdecho .." (T'hilim 5:8). (Medrash Halacha)

Ch. 30, v. 13: "B'shekel hakodesh" - Of the HOLY shekel - Why is this coin called SHEKEL? Why is the shekel coin HOLY? It is called SHEKEL because it is the unit that Moshe coined, and has no impurities in it. Thus the weight of the coin is the full weight, "mishkal," of silver. It is HOLY because it is the unit used in multiples for the redemption of "arochin," sanctified values of people (Vayikroh 27:1-8), and redemption of a firstborn, both sanctified objects. Likewise, the silver weight of this coin is the unit for weights of some Mishkon components, again holy objects. Since it is used for holy objects, it is also called HOLY.

This is also the reason our Rabbis call the language of the Torah "loshon haKODESH," the holy tongue. The Torah itself, the writings of the prophets, and all holy messages transmitted by Hashem are in this language. Since all of these are holy, the language in which they are transmitted is holy, and is therefore called "loshon haKODESH."

The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim (3:8) writes that the Torah language is called "loshon haKODESH" because it does not contain even one word that is foul. Even the most intimate organs of the human body are referred to by description or function only. Human waste is likewise referred to by inference only, that which the body expels, etc. He explains certain words that seem to be blatantly coarse concepts, but again explains that they are only indirect inference. There are two problems with his approach. Firstly, he has not explained a word in Dvorim 28:10 properly, as it is a direct word. Likewise, he has not dealt with a word in 2:18:27, where again we find a direct word. Secondly, according to the Rambam's explanation the term for the language should be "loshon N'KIOH," a CLEAN language, not a HOLY language, as we find in the gemara Sanhedrin 68b. (Ramban)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "V'hadal lo yamit mimachatzis hashekel" - And the poor man shall not give less than the half-shekel - Verse 13 has already mentioned the amount to give. Why does our verse have to repeat the amount that is not to be exceeded nor reduced? This teaches us that even when a person plans to give the complete half-shekel he may not give it piece-meal (see Rambam hilchos shkolim 5:1). (Chid"o in Nachal K'dumim in the name of Mahar"i Malko)

Ch. 30, v. 16: "Kesef hakipurim" - The silver of redemption - This alludes to the custom of pledging money for charity on Yom Kippur. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 30, v. 17: "L'rochtzoh" - For washing - This was done by opening taps on the laver. The water then free-flowed upon the Kohanim's hands and feet. Rabbi Avrohom the son of the Rambam therefore asks why our Rabbis required washing of hands before partaking of bread specifically through human power, as it was surely fashioned after the washing from the "kior." He offers no answer.

Ch. 30, v. 23: "B'somim rosh" - Spices of "rosh" - A number of explanations of the word "rosh" has been offered in a previous edition. The Ibn Ezra says that this means that the top part of the plant should be used and not the stalk or root. The Chizkuni differentiates between "b'somim" and "samim"(verse 34).

"B'somim" are the actual plant, while "samim" can be the extract of an animal, plant, or a mineral.

Ch. 30, v. 23: "Mor dror" - Free myrrh - This is the translation according to the Ramban. He explains that this anointing-oil component is taken from a deer. However, it is only produced by a deer that is FREE, that has grown up in the wild. However, one that has grown up in captivity will not produce "mor."

Ch. 30, v. 32: "Uvmaskunto lo saasu komohu" - And in its measured quantities you shall not make like it - This is a prohibition against compounding spiced oil that has the same components and proportions as the oil used for anointing the Mishkon vessels. There is a similar prohibition for compounding incense similar to that used in the Mishkon/Mikdosh, "b'maskuntoh lo saasu lochem" (verse 37). Daas Z'keinim says that to make either of these two items exactly as that which was used for the Mikdosh is making use of the sceptre of the King. Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid has a most novel approach to explain this prohibition. He writes that besides these two restrictions, our Rabbis have taught that we should likewise not create a candelabrum similar to that in the Mikdosh, or a similar table, etc. All of these prohibitions are based on the fact that when we make an item that is quite similar to another, the powers invested in the original are drawn into the second item, and of course it would be wrong for us to have a secular item that has some sanctity of a Mikdosh item. He says that this is the reason that the power inherent in a stone called "evven t'kumoh" (see gemara Shabbos 66b and Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 303:24), literally a "holding stone," (geologically a geode according to the Shiltei Hagiborim or a carnelian agate according to the Ta"z, both stones in the agate family) can also be invested into another item that is weighed against it on a balance scale and found to have the exact same weight. (Its power is to maintain a pregnancy. This is not hocus pocus, as it is brought in the Shulchan Oruch cited above and overrides the prohibition of "hotzo'oh" on Shabbos. See the parameters of who may carry it on Shabbos in/into the public domain in the above-mentioned Sh.O. If you know of someone who would like to have this stone, it is available for no charge. Kindly contact me at my email address.)

Ch. 31, v. 15: "Sheishes yomim yei'o'seh m'lochoh uva'yom hashvii Shabbas Shabbosone" - Six days work shall be done and on the seventh day there shall be total rest - If one is on the level of "yei'o'seh m'lochoh," that his work is done by others, even the six days of the week are somewhat a Shabbos. On the seventh day he is further elevated to "Shabbos Shabbosone," a double portion of Shabbos. (Nirreh li)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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