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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 4: "Lo saasun kein laShem Elokeichem" - Rashi (Sifri 12:7) in his final explanation of these words says in the name of Rabbi Yishmo'eil who asked on the simple explanation that one should not destroy the altar, "How could someone even contemplate destroying the altar? Rather, the intention is to warn us to not sin and thus bring about the destruction of the Sanctuary." The Chazon Nochum of Tchebin asks, "Since the gemara Shabbos 120b says that the Torah prohibition is limited to directly destroying and not indirectly causing destruction, "gromo shori," as indicated by the words "lo SAASUN, by sinning we are only CAUSING the Sanctuary's destruction, but not directly destroying, so why is this considered a Torah prohibition? He answers that we must conclude that by our sinning we are considered as if we demolished the Sanctuary with our own hands!

Possibly, this answer is an open M.R. The M.R. Eichoh 1:41 says that the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim by its enemies was like "kimcho tchino tochanto," - grinding already ground flour, meaning that the sins of the bnei Yisroel have already destroyed the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim in a spiritual manner, thus allowing the enemies to destroy it physically.

Ch. 12, v. 4: "Lo saasun kein laShem Elokeichem" - The Rambam in hilchos yesodei haTorah 6:7 says that one who is "soseir," destroys, a stone of the altar or of the Mikdosh building or any other area of the Mikdosh compound, "azoroh," receives lashes, because the Torah says regarding idol worship, "Ki es miz'b'chosom titotzun" (Shmos 34:23) and our verse says "Lo saasun kein laShem Elokeichem." In hilchos Beis Habchiroh 1:17 he says, "And also one who is "noteitz," destroys, a stone of the altar or of the Mikdosh building or from between the building and the altar receives lashes, because the Torah says "V'ni'tatz'tem es miz'b'chosom" (verse 3) and "Lo saasun kein laShem Elokeichem." The Shaa'rei Aharon asks why the Rambam repeats this halacha and why he changes his terminology from "hasoseir" to "hanoteitz." He answers that to be "soseir" means to dismantle a stone from the altar, while to be "noteitz" means to damage even without taking apart. These are two different acts that require two verses.

This answer requires clarification, as both verse use the word form "hatotzoh," "titozun" and "v'nitatz'tem." Perhaps by virtue of the seemingly repetitive verses we derive these two forms of destruction, or by taking note of the order of the word form "hatotzoh" and the word altar. In Shmos 34:23, "Ki es miz'b'chosom titotzun," the altar is mentioned before the destruction, while here in verse 3 it says, "V'ni'tatz'tem es miz'b'chosom," with destruction is mentioned before the altar. Where the altar is mentioned first it indicates the destruction of the altar, by dismantling it, even if its stones are left intact. In our parsha, where destruction is mentioned first, there is an indication of destruction while the altar remains intact, i.e. damaging a stone of the altar, even without dismantling it.

There are still other difficulties in fully understanding the words of the Rambam. In hilchos Beis Habchiroh he starts off his ruling of destructing the altar with the word "v'chein," - and also. There seems to be no continuity with his previous words, which discuss using steps to ascend the altar. This question is raised by the Kesef Mishneh. Although a "docheik," perhaps this is a continuum to his words in hilchos yesodei haTorah. Another difficulty is that the Rambam says that one who destroys from the area between the building and the altar, receives lashes, seeming to limit the area, and in hilchos yesodei haTorah he includes any area of the "azoroh."

Ch. 12, v. 11: "V'chole mivchar nidreichem" - The Sifri 12:19 says that the word "v'chole" comes to include that even the first-born sacrifice, "b'chor," should also be "choice." The Holy Admor of Gur, Rabbi Avrohom Mordechai, in Rosh Gulas Ari'eil answers that this is possible if a lamb gave birth the first time to twin males in a manner that was impossible to know which was born first. The law is that only one is treated as the first-born. The verse tells us that we must choose the better of the two. Alternatively, he offers that "shelo y'vi'eim shelo min hamuvchar" does not refer to choosing an inferior animal, but rather, refers to the MANNER in which the first-born is brought to the Kohein. The gemara B'choros 26b says that the owner must raise a sheep or goat for thirty days and a bovine for fifty days before offering them to the Kohein. Thus bringing them in a "muvchar" manner means to fatten them before offering them to the Kohein.

Ch. 12, v. 13: "Pen taa'leh olo'sechO b'choL mokoMe asheR ti'reH" - Rashi (Sifri 12:23) says that although once the Beis Hamikdosh is established it will always be prohibited to offer sacrifices outside the Mikdosh compound, nevertheless, if a prophecy is given that a sacrifice should be offered outside the Mikdosh, it should be followed, as was the case with the prophecy of Eliyohu on Mount Carmel. It seems that Rashi derives this from the seemingly superfluous words "asher ti'reh," indicating that sacrificing in a location that "you see fit" is prohibited, but not when doing so by way of a prophecy. The Rokei'ach says that the story of Eliyohu on Mount Carmel is actually alluded to in these words. If we take the last letters of the words "olo'sechO b'choL mokoMe asheR ti'reH," they spell HaKaRmeL.

Ch. 12, v. 14: "Bamokome asher yivchar Hashem b'achad shvo'techo" - In verse 5 it says "mikol shivteichem." Rashi (Sifri 12:9) answers this by saying at the location of the future Beis Hamikdosh was bought from Aravnoh haYevusi with money collected from all the tribes, but the actual location of the future Beis Hamikdosh was in the boundary of the land allotment of the tribe of Binyomin. Why is this expressed as belonging to all tribes in verse 5, and as belonging to one tribe in our verse? Although according to Rashi the following is not an answer, on a simple level following the explanation of Rashi (Sifri 12:18,19) on verse 5, it is discussing the temporary Sanctuary of Shiloh. Verse 11 and our verse discuss the Beis Hamikdosh. The rulings of Shiloh include that of Nov and Givon as well, although there are some minor differences. These three places are located in the land portions of more than one tribe, hence "MIkol shivteichem," from among all your tribes, although not all. Our verse discusses the Beis Hamikdosh, located in the land portion of Binyomin only. (The Mikdosh compound, "azoroh," was partially located on the land apportionment of Yehudoh as well, but the Beis Hamikdosh was totally in the portion of Binyomin.)

Ch. 12, v. 19: "Pen taazove es haLevi kol yo'mecho al admo'secho" - Rashi (Sifri 12:36) says that the bnei Yisroel are not responsible to support L'viim outside Eretz Yisroel unless the L'viim are poor, but then the L'viim are treated the same as any other poor person. Why is there a difference in responsibility towards L'viim outside Eretz Yisroel? The Binyan Shlomo, Rabbi Shlomo haKohein of Vilna, answers that in Eretz Yisroel bnei Yisroel received land portions and L'viim did not. Thus the L'viim were not saddled with agricultural pursuits. This freed them up to study Torah and disseminate it to all, as well as to do service in the Beis Hamikdosh. Since the land portions that the L'viim would have otherwise deserved were given to the bnei Yisroel, they must in turn support the L'viim. However, outside Eretz Yisroel there was no apportionment of land for anyone. There is therefore no reason for the L'viim to receive special treatment above anyone else.

Ch. 13, v. 1: "Es kol hadovor asher onochi m'tza'veh es'chem oso sish'm'ru laasose lo soseif olov v'lo sigra mi'menu" - We find what seems to be the same prohibition in Dvorim 4:2, "Lo sosifu al hadovor asher onochi m'tza'veh es'chem v'lo tig'r'u mi'menu." The GR"A says that these are two distinct prohibitions. Our verse prohibits adding to or diminishing from the proper form of doing a mitzvoh, for example to have five chapters of writing in tefillin. This is indicated by the wording of our verse, "hadovor asher onochi m'tza'veh .. lo soseif OLOV v'lo sigra mi'menu." Don't add to or diminish from the form of the mitzvoh. The verse in Dvorim 4:2 prohibits adding a new mitzvoh or removing a mitzvoh from the 613 mitzvos. The B'eir Yoseif says the same, but adds a few more indications to this answer. It is lengthy, but well worth reading!

It seems that this is clearly the opinion of the Rambam as well. In hilchos mamrim 2:9 he gives examples of adding or detracting that are variations on an existing mitzvoh, and sources the prohibition from our verse, skipping over the earlier verse in Dvorim 4:2.

Ch. 13, v. 14: "Bnei VLI'AAL" - The word BLI'AAL either is a combination of the two words BAL YAAL, he will not ascend (into the inner sanctum of Hashem), or alternatively, it is a combination of the two words BLI OLE, without the yoke (of Heaven) upon him. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

Answer to last week's question:

Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz" - The gemara Brochos 41a says that whichever item is closer to the word "eretz," receives a blessing earlier, meaning that if a number of the items mentioned in this verse are in front of a person and they require the same blessing, if he wishes to partake of each of them, he should make the blessing on the item mentioned closest to the word "eretz" in our verse. How do we know that this is the intention of our verse? Perhaps, all these items are equal, and there is no priority of making a blessing on one over the other, and there is no choice but to list them one after another, even if they are equal.

This question was asked to Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Brisker and he answered that we see that when the Torah wants to equate two items to each other the Torah goes out of its way to show this. We find this (M.R. Shir Hashirim 4:13) when the verse says "hu Aharon uMoshe (Shmos 6:26) and "hu Moshe v'Aharon," (6:27). This teaches that otherwise there is a difference between one and the next, indicated by their order.

It can be added that we find another proof for this from Bmidbar 27:1 and 36:11. Rashi on 27:1 says that the order of the names of the daughters of Tz'lofchod is changed in these two verses to indicate that they were equal.



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

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