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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 30, v. 23: "Machatziso chamishim umosoyim" - Half of it IS 250 - This is Rashi's translation, based on the gemara Krisus 16a. Rashi explains why the Torah did not straightforwardly state to bring 500 shekel weights of "kinmone bessem." However, the gemara Yerushalmi Shkolim 6:1 says that 250 is the total weight of "kinmone bessem," understanding that "machatziso" means that the total is half as much as the previous spice component, myrrh. Thus the total weight of all spices is 1,750 according to the gemara Krisus, and 1,500 according to the gemara Yerushalmi Shkolim.

Based on the Yerushalmi, Rabbi Dovid Oppenheim in Yad Dovid writes that when we divide the 1,500 shekel weight of the incense spices by 12, the number of tribes, we have 125 for each tribe. Rashi (32:4) says that the weight of the gold used for the "eigel" was 125, the same as the numerical value of "ma'seichoh." Thus the incense brought atonement for the "eigel."

We might add that the gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:2 states that each tribe had its own "eigel," based on the words "asher yeilchU" (32:23). Thus each tribe needed 125 weights of incense for yearly atonement.

Actually, Rashi says that the weight of the "eigel" was 125 "kantrin." Are "kantrin" the same as shekel weights?

Ch. 32, v. 11: "Lomoh Hashem yechereh apcho" - Why Hashem shall your anger burn - The M.R. 43:5 says that Moshe said the following in defence of those who served the golden calf: "In the Ten Commandments, where You said that You are our G-d and that there shall be no others, You expressed yourself in the singular, "Onochi Hashem ElokechO", and "Lo yi'h'yeh l'chO elohim acheirim." This can be understood as a command only to me and not to all the bnei Yisroel. As mentioned in a previous edition on parshas Ki Siso, in the name of Rabbi Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer, this seems to be a very weak defence, as it was exceedingly obvious that Hashem's intention was to address all the bnei Yisroel. Another answer is now offered: Hashem told Moshe that He was ready to not only destroy those who actually served the golden calf, but all others as well, as comrades in crime, by not stopping the others from sinning. This was understood by Moshe to be the responsibility of "arvus," communal commitment to see to it that everyone fulfill all the mitzvos. Moshe said that "arvus" was not yet in place (see parshas Nitzovim). This is "Li tziviso v'lo lo'hem," - You only commanded me and not them. ME means each person as an individual, and not THEM, communal responsibility one for another. However, since the bnei Yisroel responded with the plural "Naa'seh v'Nishmo" (Shmos 24:7), they took upon themselves the responsibility of "arvus." This is why they needed atonement. (Keren L'Dovid)

The difficulty of the choice of wording "LI," rather than "l'kol echod" or the like is obvious.

Ch. 32, v. 12: "Behorim" - In the mountains -What is the intention? Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that it refers to destroying them among the 4 mountains, Tovore, Chermone, Siryone, and Sinai. This deserves an explanation. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 32, v. 16: "Choroos AL haluchos" - Etched ONTO the tablets. This is problematic. Etching is INTO. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that the "etzba Elokim," the G-dly power that created the etched writing in the tablets, passed upon the surface of the tablets in the forms of the letters. This removed or shrunk the stone in that area, and at the same time brought about the miraculous phenomenon of the letters being properly read on the other side as well, even though the etching went through and through. Thus the "choroos" was ON the tablets only.

Ch. 34, v. 24: "V'lo yachmode ish es artzcho" - - The Meshech Chochmoh asks why there was no such assurance in parshas Mishpotim (23:17). He answers that there, before the sin of the golden calf, the fear of the bnei Yisroel would have been upon the neighbouring nations, and it would have been obvious to them that no harm would befall their possessions, so no assurance was needed.

Ch. 34, v. 26: "Lo s'vasheil g'di bacha'leiv imo" - - This prohibition has already been given in Shmos 23:19, and again in Dvorim 14:21. The Sforno on 23:19 says that the "Tzabo'oh" people (often mentioned by the Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim) had the custom of cooking a goat in its mother's milk and then pouring this liquid over their fields, in the belief that this would appease their gods and bring a bumper crop. Hashem has therefore commanded us to do otherwise. If we want success in agriculture we should follow the advise of our verse, as elucidated in Yechezkeil 44:30, "V'reishis kol bikurei .. l'honiach brochoh el bei'secho," we should bring the first-ripened fruit to Hashem's Sanctuary and give Him thanks. This is the connection between the two statements in the verse, which is verbatim, even to the point of the same cantillation, exactly the same in these two places. (This explains why "bossor b'cholov" has the stringencies of a prohibition to create and to even derive benefit from it is also prohibited. The prohibition is based on this being an "avodoh zoroh" based act.)

In a very concise manner, the Sforno says the same on our verse. However, he adds one thing here. He says that they did this to bring success with LIVESTOCK as well. On Dvorim 14:21 he says that they (He says that the Canaanites did this) do this for success with "miknei'hem v'chol kinyonom uvhemtom," not even mentioning their agricultural produce by name. These differences surely deserve our attention.

It seems that the differences of the items mentioned by the Sforno can be explained by noting the prohibition in context of the previous items. In parshas Mishpotim only agricultural matters are mentioned earlier, in verse 16, while in our parsha a previous verse gives assurance that the neighbouring people will not take our possessions. The medrash says that Hashem wrought a miracle and protected someone's cattle when he was away in Yerusholayim on a pilgrimage. In general, our possessions can be safe-kept even when we are away, under lock and key. However, our cattle must go out to graze, and our crops are standing in the fields. To make our verse relevant to this idea, the Sforno also mentions success with cattle, that they will not be stolen when the first ripened fruits are brought to Yerusholayim. In parshas R'ei, from the beginning of chapter 14 onwards, the verses discuss the prohibition of eating non-kosher species of animals, birds, and fish. Even among the kosher animals, "n'veiloh" is prohibited. All these restrictions seem to limit our opportunity to raise or trap these species and consume them. Hashem tells us to bring the first ripened fruits to His Sanctuary, and we will have success with ALL our possessions. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 34, v. 27: "Ksov l'cho es hadvorim ho'eileh ki al pi hadvorim ho'ei'leh korati itcho bris v'es Yisroel" - Write for yourself these words because according to these words I have struck a covenant with you and with Yisroel - Rashi writes that "these words" comes to exclude writing the oral Torah as a text. This prohibition is strategically placed immediately after the prohibition of "bosor b'cholov." Hashem told Moshe to not write the "Torah sheb'al peh" interpretation of a prohibition to not only not cook them together, but also to not eat, or even derive benefit from this mixture. This is a prime example of "Torah sheb'al peh" giving us a totally new understanding of the actual text. The verse goes on to say that based on these words, to nor write as a text, the Torah sheb'al peh," was the covenant with the bnei Yisroel struck. This is clearly elucidated in the Medrash Tanchuma on parshas Noach #3, where it says that although the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, it was only the written Torah, and they were reluctant to accept the borderless "Torah sheb'al peh." The acceptance for this was coerced, as per the gemara Shabbos 88a. Without accepting "Torah sheb'al peh" the whole deal was off. This is the intention of the words "al PI hadvorim ho'ei'leh korati itcho bris v'es Yisroel." The covenant was based on the ORAL Torah. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 34, v. 27: "PI hadvoriM ho'ei'leH koratI itCHo briS" - Through these matters I have struck a covenant with you - The final letters of these words have the same numerical value as "haTalmud." (Baal Haturim)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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