Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 9, v. 2: "Eigel ben bokor l'chatos" - This is the sacrifice that atones for Aharon. For the bnei Yisroel the Torah prescribes "V'eigel vo'che'ves bnei shonoh l'oloh." Why isn't the bnei Yisroel's calf also a chatos offering?

2) Ch. 10, v. 2: "Va'teitzei aish milifnei HASHEM vatochal osom" - One of the reasons for the death of Nodov and Avihu that is offered by the gemara Eiruvin 63a is that they entered the Mishkon after having drunk intoxicating beverage. From where did they get the wine?

3) Ch. 10, v. 3: "Va'yidom Aharon" - Why is the word "va'yidom" used instead of "va'yishtoke" or "va'yecherash?"

4) Ch. 10, v. 20: "Va'yishma Moshe va'yi'tav b'einov" - Rashi (T.K. 10:60) says "Hodeh v'lo bosh lomar lo shomati," Moshe admitted that he was mistaken and was not embarrassed. Had he been embarrassed he would have said that he never heard this ruling. The gemara Z'vochim 101b adds "ela shomati v'shochachti," but rather, he admitted that he heard the ruling but forgot it. We see from this that it is a greater shame to say, "I heard but forgot" than to say, "I never heard." However, from the gemara Yerushalmi Chagigoh 1:8 it seems that the opposite is true. The gemara relates that a message was sent from one community to another regarding a great Torah scholar who was sent to the second community. The message was, "We have sent you a 'great personage.' His greatness lies in his willingness to admit that he has not heard a Torah ruling." We see from this that it is harder for a person to admit that he has not learned a point of information than to admit that he has learned it but forgot it.

5) Ch. 11, v. 42: "Kol ho'leich al gochon" - Rashi says that this refers to a snake (Toras Kohanim 11:163), which is "ho'leich shoch v'no'feil al MAYOV." Why did Rashi leave the explanation of "GOCHON" for here and did not explain it earlier in Breishis 3:14 on the words "al G'CHONCHO seileich." Also, why didn't Rashi use a more accurate word, "BITNO," which means belly, rather than "MAYOV," which literally means intestines and not belly.



The Kli Yokor answers that Aharon did not actually sin in the realm of thought when creating the golden calf. His intention was to attempt to stall the bnei Yisroel. His only sin was in the ACTION of creating a golden calf. Hence he required a chatos offering, which atones for unintentional sins of ACTION. The bnei Yisroel, however, did not create the golden calf, but did mentally sin by accepting it as a deity. They therefore required an oloh offering, which atones for improper thoughts as per Toras Kohanim 3:7. For their ACTION of serving the golden calf they brought a goat, as mentioned in the next verse.


1) Some commentators offer that they consumed manna with the thought that it should taste like wine, quite a "chidush!"

2) On a simple level we can say that they purchased wine from merchants who they chanced upon in the desert. Indeed, the Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Matos (30:1) brings a Medrash Shir Hashirim (4:26), which says that the wine for libations was purchased from merchants. Rabbi Yishmo'eil says that the Rabbinical prohibition against wine of an idol worshipper was not yet instituted.


The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze zt"l says that just as an inanimate object shows no change when it is insulted or hit, so also Aharon showed absolutely no change, besides remaining quiet. This is why "va'yidom" is used. He reacted as if he were a "domeim," an inanimate object.


1) The Tzion vIrusholayim answers that specifically for Moshe it was a greater embarrassment to say "I learned it, but forgot," because if he had not learn something yet, he would surely learn it from Hashem later, as he was to transmit the Torah in its entirety to the bnei Yisroel. For Moshe to have learned and forgotten something that he was required to transmit to the bnei Yisroel is a greater embarrassment. For others who already have the Torah available, written and oral, it is a greater shame to have to admit that they have not yet learned.

2) The Shiu'rei Korbon answers that although it is a greater shame to admit to not having learned a Torah ruling, in the case of Moshe the opposite is true. Aharon responded to Moshe that it was correct to burn the sacrifice. He came to this conclusion through the logic of "kal vocho'mer," one of the 13 exegetical manners of understanding the intention of the Torah (see gemara Z'vochim 101b). This logic can be refuted by counter-logic. Had Moshe said that he never was taught this ruling from Hashem it would have indicated that this was an incorrect ruling, as he was taught the complete Torah and was not taught this point. This would have been a face saving response. In spite of this he readily admitted that he did learn the ruling but forgot it.


A student of the GR"A asked the GR"A these questions. The GR"A answered with a gemara Shabbos 104a which says that the letters of the word "SHEKER" are right next to each other in the order of the Aleph Beis. This indicates that a lie is short lived, as the truth will surely and shortly come out and refute the lie. The letters of the word "EMES" are the first, middle, and last letters of the Aleph Beis, to indicate that the truth endures permanently.

Really Rashi felt no need to translate the word "GOCHON" at all, and therefore left it out in Breishis 3:14. The word "GOCHON" contains the middle letter of the Torah. Rashi on the first word of the Torah begins with, "Omar Rebbi Yitzchok." The first letter of his commentary is an Aleph. The last word of Rashi on the Torah, "asher shibarTo," ends with the letter Tof. Rashi wanted his commentary to begin with an Aleph, have a Mem in the middle, hence he used the word "Mayov" rather than "Bitno," and end with a Tof, to spell out EMES in the beginning, middle, and end of his Torah commentary, to emulate the idea mentioned in the above gemara.



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

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