CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHIOS BREISHIS 5767 - BS"D
PLEASE NOTE: THIS ISSUE CONTAINS THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS RAISED ON
PARSHAS V'ZOSE HABROCHOH AND ON PARSHAS BREISHIS. COMMENCING THIS ISSUE ANSWERS FOR
THE 5 QUESTIONS WILL BE INCLUDED THE SAME WEEK.
1) Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis" - Why doesn't the verse say "reishis" rather than
1) This would require the verse to follow through with "hoyoh eis hashomayim
v'eis ho'oretz," without mentioning Who created them. Hashem wanted to place
His Name in the first verse. (Rabbeinu Tovioh)
2) To allude to 2 "reishis," the creation of this ephemeral world and the
3) To teach us that we not delve into what took place before the creation,
or above, or below. The letter Beis is closed on all sides, except forward to
the next letter, indicating that we only delve "forward." (Kabalists)
4) So that the Torah begin with the letter Beis, indicative of "brochoh,"
5) All the letters, save Alef, begged Hashem to begin the Torah with them.
Hashem gave each a reason why not, except for the letter Beis. (The letter Alef
was recompensed by being the first letter in the Ten Commandments.) (Holy
Zohar in his preface to Breishis)
2) Ch. 1, v. 11: "Tadshei ho'oretz deshe" - Why do we have these three
differences between Hashem's stating how the vegetation should produce and how it
actually produced? Here it says "tadshei" but in the next verse where it took
place it says "vato'tzei"? Here there is no "l'mi'neihu" but in the next verse
there is "l'mi'neihu." Here "eitz" has no prefix Vov, while in the next verse
"Tadshei" means it should come into being as grass, a green shoot, the very
earliest stage of growth. The next verse tells us "vato'tzei," the earth issued
forth developed vegetation. This also explains "l'mi'neihu." When it is but a
minimal shoot sprouting forth its species is not recognized. A somewhat
developed plant is recognized as a specific species. The letter Vov in the next
verse before "eitz," teaches us that the earth gave forth six (the numerical
value of the letter Vov) species of trees. Although we have many more species,
they are subspecies of the six basic trees. (Tosfos Hasho'leim)
3) Ch. 1, v. 27: "Va'yivra Elokim es ho'odom b'tzalmo" - How can it be that
Hashem created man in His FORM? Hashem has no form (see "Ani maamin #3)?
1) "In His form" means that just as Hashem has no form, so too, mankind has
no form, i.e. each person looks different from the next. (Tzror Hamor)
2) "In His form" means in the form of angels. (Chizkuni)
3) "In His form" means that mankind was given free reign in choosing to do
good or bad. (Haa'meik Dovor)
4) Ch. 1, v. 27: "B'tzelem Elokim" - Starting from the first verse in the
Torah onwards, Targum Onkelos always translates Elokim as "Hashem" (Y-H-V-H).
Here, in 5:1, and in 9:6 he translates Elokim as "Hashem" (In my printed Chumash
in 9:6 I find "Hashem," but "meso'res Targum" says that in these three places
it is Elokim). Why does he deviate in these three places?
1) "The form of Elokim" is such a lofty concept that Targum did not want to
tamper with the exact wordage of the Torah. (Marpei Loshon)
2) This is not to be translated so that the thought of comparability between
Elokim and mankind should not even be considered. (Pas'shegen Ksav)
3) As mentioned earlier, the Chizkuni says that "tzelem Elokim" means the
form of angels. The correct translation for this is indeed Elokim, while
everywhere else it means Hashem.
An interesting question arises: According to those who posit that this word
is not actually translated, is it required to read the verse three times to
fulfill "shtayim Mikra v'echod Targum"?
5) Ch. 2, v. 17: "B'yom acholcho mi'menu mose tomus" - Since Odom lived for
another 930 years how were these words fulfilled?
1) "Mose tomus" means that you will be liable for the death penalty. (Targum
Yonoson ben Uziel, Ramban)
2) Since Odom died within a millennium this is the same day in Hashem's
calculation, as per the verse "Ki elef shonim b'ei'necho k'yom esmol" (T'hilim
90:4 - see Rashi ad. loc.).
Answer to questions on parshas V'zose Habrochoh:
1) Ch. 33, v. 9: "Ho'omeir l'oviv u'l'imo lo r'isiv v'es echov lo hikir v'es
bonov lo yodo" - Rashi (Sifri and Yalkut Shimoni remez #955) says that when
the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf Moshe announced "Mi laShem eiloy"
(Shmos 32:26). The complete tribe of Levi assembled and Moshe told them to kill
the sinners even if they were the person's own father, meaning his mother's
father (one calls his grandfather "father"), his maternal brothers, and his
daughter's sons (one calls his grandchild his child). Rashi adds that it
impossible to explain "father" literally, or "brothers" as paternal brothers, nor
"sons" literally, since the sinners would then be members of the tribe of Levi and
this cannot be since the same verse says "Va'yei'osfu eilov KOL bnei Levi,"
that not even one person of the tribe of Levi sinned.
Why does Rashi not point this out in parshas Ki Siso on the words "v'hirgu
ish es ochiv" (32:27)?
1) The verse in Ki Siso tells us that ALL the men of the tribe of Levi
assembled. However, many others from other tribes rose to Moshe's calling as well,
just not complete tribes. The call to kill even the closest of paternal
relatives could well be only in reference to the other tribes only. (Rabbi Zvi
Pesach Frank in Har Zvi)
2) Those listed as ones to be killed in parshas Ki Siso are: ochiv,
rei'eihu, and krovo. "Rei'eihu" and "krovo" surely do not conclusively include
paternal relatives, i.e. other L'viim. Even "ochiv" can be understood as "ochiv
b'mitzvos," someone connected to him by virtue of being responsible to fulfill the
mitzvos. Our verse clearly mentions "oviv, imo, bonov." There is no way around
this without Rashi's explanation, hence it is only needed here. (Nirreh li)
2) Ch. 33, v. 20: "V'toraf zro'a AF kodkode" - When Gad slew the enemy with
his sword, he not only decapitated him, but also severed the enemy's arm in one
swing of his sword. Why doesn't the verse simply say "kodkode uzroa" leaving
out the word AF and mention "kodkode" first, as one goes after the enemy's
1) When going after the enemy's head, he tried to protect himself by
stretching out his arm. Therefore his arm was cut before his head. (Moshav Z'keinim)
2) Gad's merit to be so successful at war was his fulfillment of the mitzvoh
of tefillin. Indeed, his name alludes to tefillin. Gad is spelled
Gimel-Dalet. Gimel has the numerical value of 3, while Dalet is 4. This alludes to the
three and four-headed letters Shin found on the head tefillin. Arm tefillin are
worn first, hence "zro'a" before "kodkode." The concept of cutting the
enemies' arm and head in one go likewise is symbolic of the connection between the
arm, the organ of action, with the head, the organ of thought. The gemara Sotoh
says that he who is "mafsik" between his arm and head tefillin is not to be a
soldier. This means that he feels that the war is only fought on a physical,
"arm," action level. The tribe of Gad understood the connection, hence not only
the "zro'a," but "AF kodkode." (Nirreh li)
3) Ch. 34, v. 5: "Va'yomos shom Moshe" - And Moshe died there - The gemara
B.B. 15a asks how Moshe was able to write that he died, as at the time of
writing it would not be true. Rabbi Nechemioh answers that until this verse Hashem
would dictate, Moshe would verbalize and write. From this verse on Hashem would
dictate and Moshe would write "b'dema," commonly translated as with tears.
Why did Moshe verbalize before he wrote the previous section of the Torah,
and only write without verbalizing from this verse on, as indicated by the
gemara not mentioning his verbalizing the last eight verses?
The GR"A explains "b'dema" to mean "mixed," as in "d'mai," a status of doubt
as to the mixed status of tithed and untithed produce. This means that Moshe
wrote all the rest of the letters of the Torah until the end, but did not place
them in the order we now have them. He therefore did not verbalize the words,
as it would not match with the final outcome.
4) Ch. 34, v. 12: "Asher ossoh Moshe l'einei kol Yisroel" - By proof of a
cross-reference from our word "L'EINEI" to the term "va'ashabreim L"EINEIchem"
(Dvorim 9:17), Rashi says that this refers to Moshe's shattering the tablets
which contained the Ten Commandments. Considering all the awesome accomplishments
of Moshe that this verse and the previous verse list, why does the Torah
deliver as the grand finale Moshe's shattering the tablets?
Although there were many acts that were surely objectively greater,
nevertheless, on a personal, subjective level, Moshe's breaking the tablets was
arguably his greatest test. The greatest test a person can endure is something that
is totally contrary to his being, his core. For example, Avrohom was the
epitome of kindness and mercy. The most brutal and heartless act one can perpetrate
is the killing of his own child. This was his greatest test. Similarly,
Moshe's whole being was bringing the bnei Yisroel spiritually closer to Hashem. The
destruction of the tablets was totally contrary to this. Nevertheless, when
the situation required it, he rose to the occasion. This was therefore his
greatest accolade. (MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l)
5) Ch. 34, v. 12: "Asher ossoh Moshe l'einei kol Yisroel" - The Holy Zohar is
quoted in the Pnei Yehoshua on the gemara Kedushin 30a as saying that there
are 600,000 letters in the Torah. An early commentator says that this is hinted
at in the first word (BREiSHiS) as well as the last word (YiSRoEL) of the
Torah. Torah Yeish Boh Shishim Ribo Osios - Yeish Shishim Ribo Osios LaTorah.
Rabbi Saadioh Gaon counted and gave us a total of under 800,000. Sefer
Hamesorres written by Rabbi Eliyohu Habochur claims it includes the letters of
Nach. Our text of Nach makes this an impossible answer, as including Nach brings
the total to well over 1,000,000 letters. Our count gives us 304,805 for the
Torah alone. This is about half of the 600,000 mentioned in numerous sources.
How do we answer this discrepancy?
1) The sefer Megaleh Amukos writes that the souls of males and females
emanate from each letter, hence 300,000 become 600,000. Sefer Chesed L'Avrohom in
Maayon 2 Nahor 11 writes we calculate the letters with "milluy." For example,
Alef is 3 letters, Alef -Lamed-Fei, and so on. However, this is problematic
as it brings the total to well over 600,000 letters.
2) MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kaminetzky zt"l answers that the 600,000 are letter
spaces. For example, a Vov or a Yud are one space each and a Shin would be 3
spaces. The total spacing would bring it to 600,000.
3) The sefer Ol'los Efrayim in his writings on Shavuos, column 15, says that
since the Torah was written with black fire on white fire ("Mimino eish dos
lomo," Dvorim 33:2), black indicates the hidden part of the Torah while white
indicates the open part of the Torah. This doubles the number of letters.
4) Rabbi Avrohom Yaffa in Mishnas Avrohom says that most of the letters of
the Alef-Beis are composite letters (a Mem is a Chaf and a Vov joined). Single
components add up to 600,000.
5) The Pnei Yehoshua on Kidushin 30a says this question has perplexed him
for years. He answers that we add the Targum Onkelos to the written Torah since
it was given at Har Sinai as well.
6) Another answer he offers is that we have over 300,000 letters written and
we add to it the sanctity of reading, since when the Torah was given they
were able to see the audible. In the reading we have slightly less than 300,000
letters as numerous letters (such as Vov and Alef) are not heard.
7) The Likutei Torah on Parshas B'har says we have to add extra letters
which aren't even written to make up for the vowels as Rashi explains on the
gemara K'subos 61b.
8) Tosfos in M'nochos 31b, asks about the 2 Shinin on tefillin, why one has
4 strokes rather than the 3 of a normal Shin. He answers that this corresponds
to the Shin of a sefer Torah and the 4 stroke Shin corresponds to the Shin in
the luchos. (This is explained and illustrated in a sefer called Boruch
She'omar, a German Rishon.) Since the luchos embody the 613 mitzvos as stated by
Rav Saadia Gaon and the Baalei Tosfos in parshas Yisro (see gemara Yerushalmi
Shkolim 6:1), we consider the Ten Commandments as if they are the whole Torah in
some aspect (They say that the king's second Torah contains only the Ten
Commandments), perhaps we can say that the 300,000 letters are doubled,
corresponding to the written Torah and the Luchos double it. Possibly this is alluded to
in the fact that tefillin are called the whole Torah at the end of parshas
Bo, and the shel rosh has 2 Shins, each Shin is three hundred (thousand) x two =
600,000. (Nirreh li)
9) A sofer must verbalize each word as he writes, see Sh.O. Y.D. This adds
the verbal to the written. (Nirreh li)
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