Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) 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 Chasam Sofer does not permit counting by fingers either. Why does he not accept the proof of the Mogein Avrohom?

2) Ch. 30, v. 13: "B'shekel hakodesh" - Of the HOLY shekel - Why is this coin called SHEKEL? Why is the shekel coin HOLY?

3) 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?

4) Ch. 30, v. 23: "Mor drore" - Choice myrrh - The gemara Chulin 139b says that Mordechai is alluded to in the Torah in these words of our verse. Targum translates these 2 words as "meira dachyo," phonetically very close to the name Mordechai. What insight is there in the connection between this spice and Mordechai?

5) Ch. 32, v. 2: "Porku nizmei hazohov asher b'oznei n'sheichem B'NEICHEM uvnoseichem" - Remove the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, sons, and daughters - From the word "b'neichem" we see that wearing earrings was in vogue for males in the desert. Did they also wear nose rings, as we find by Rivkoh, "nezem zohov" (Breishis 24:22)? This is obviously a nose ring and not an earring, as he only gave her one. (I take the liberty to assume that girls didn't wear only one earring.)



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.


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 (Vayikra 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 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)


The Maharsh"o on the gemara explains that just as myrrh was a spice that was chosen for the incense, described as "b'somim ROSH," so too, Mordechai was a leader for the bnei Yisroel, giving them guidance by abstaining from the royal feast, etc. As well, he led them in their fight for freedom against the evil plans of Homon, hence the connection to "drore."

Rabbi Yoseif Chaim Sonnenfeld says that although the gemara brings an allusion for Homon from a verse in parshas Breishis, there is likewise an allusion to him in our parsha of incense spices. One of the 11 spices is "chel'b'noh," the only foul-smelling spice among them. Homon has the same numerical value as "chel'b'noh."


It seems that men don't wear nose rings, as per Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #14. It says that the reason women wear nose rings is that nose rings are a sign of permanent slavery to men as a result of Chavoh's bringing Odom to sin. Just as an indentured slave has his ear lobe bored through as a sign that he is indentured (Shmos 21:6), so too, women wear nose rings, which go through a hole between the nostrils, to show that they serve men.



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

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