Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


1) Ch. 6, v. 5: "V'ho'aish al hamizbei'ach tukad BO" - Should the verse not have said "tukad OLOV," - burn ON it, rather than "tukad BO" - burn in it?

2) Ch. 6, v. 6: "Aish tomid ...... lo sichbeh" - Rashi on Shmos 30:3 "V'tzipiso oso zohov tohore es GAGO" says that only the golden incense altar had a roof, but not the copper clad altar which was in the Mishkon courtyard. Rather, it was hollow and was filled with sand, which was the surface upon which the sacrifices were burned.

The gemara Chagigoh 27a says that although the top surface of the golden altar was quite thin, the fire did not burn through it. From this the gemara extrapolates that a sinner will surely be protected from the fire of Gehinom in the merit of any mitzvos he has. This point can only be derived if the resistance to fire by the surface of the golden altar is a supernatural event, as explained by Rashi and others. The gemara does not say this regarding the copper clad altar. It is therefore most puzzling that the Sforno on Shmos 30:3 says that the top surface of the golden altar remained intact in spite of the fire on its surface which consumed the daily incense by natural means. He writes that since the amount of incense to be burned was small and the fire did not have to burn constantly, the integrity and durability of the top surface of this altar should come as no surprise. This seems to contradict the gemara Chagigoh.

Rabbeinu Bachyei in our parsha (6:3 and 6:21) and the Paa'nei'ach Rozo on 1:7 both say that the copper clad altar had a top surface of copper as well. Our verse says that there must be a permanent fire, always burning on the copper altar. Since the copper altar was ten cubits high and five cubits wide, it is obvious that the Kohanim must process the burning of the sacrifices while standing on the top surface of the altar. Since a fire was permanently burning it must have heated the complete copper top of the altar as copper is an excellent heat conductor. (See Sh.O. Y.D. #121.) If so, how could the Kohanim stand on the top surface with their bare feet?

3) Ch. 6, v. 18: "Zose toras hachatos" - In parshas Vayikra, where the Torah introduces us to the different types of offerings, the order is "oloh, minchoh, shlomim, chatos, oshom." The offerings that are voluntary are listed first, and then the obligatory offerings. In our parsha, where the details of the service of the offerings are related, the order is "oloh, minchoh, chatos, oshom, shlomim." Why the change?

4) Ch. 7, v. 2: "Yish'chatu es ho'oshom" - They shall slaughter the guilt-offering - Rashi says that this refers to a guilt-offering of the "tzibur." This is most puzzling, as the gemara T'muroh 14a says that we find no "oshom shel tzibur."

5)Ch. 7, v. 37: "Zose haTorah lo'oloh laminchoh v'lachatos v'lo'oshom v'lamilu'im ulzevach hashlomim" - This is the law of the elevated, meal, atonement, guilt, initiation, and peace offerings - The gemara M'nochos 110a derives from these words that whoever learns the laws of the "oloh," etc. offering, it is considered as if he has brought it.

The gemara Yoma 71a says that if one yearns to pour a wine libation upon the altar he should fill the throat of a Torah scholar with wine. Why doesn't the gemara give a simple solution, to study the laws of libation offerings?



The Imrei Emes answers that this phraseology alludes to the emotions the Kohein should have when doing the Mikdosh service. The fire of excitement and zeal shall burn IN HIM. (Pardes Yoseif)


Rabbeinu Bachyei and the Paa'nei'ach Rozo ask this question and they answer that since the fire on the altar came from heaven, it had the unusual property of only heating the surface space on which it was burning. Although there was a requirement to also add man-made fire, the heavenly fire's nature of not spreading heat by conduction spread into the man-made fire. (This might be the intention of the gemara Yoma 21b, which says that the heavenly fire consumes man-made fire.) Please note that the gemara Chagigoh only mentions the miracle regarding the golden altar.

Although Rashi seems to be in disagreement with Rabbeinu Bachyei and the Paa'nei'ach Rozo, according to the Chizkuni on parshas Korach both opinions can be true. There was no roof on the copper clad altar when it was originally crafted. However, after the rebellion of Korach and his 250 followers, a test of offering incense took place (Bmidbar 16:17). The result was the death of Korach's 250 followers. In Bmidbar 17:2 Hashem commanded Moshe to have Elozor collect the 250 pans that were used to hold and burn the incense and have them flattened and used as a cladding for the outer altar. He says that these were not used as an extra layer where there already was copper cladding, but rather as a roof for the altar.


The Ramban explains that in our parsha the offerings that are "kodoshei kodoshim" are listed first, as their laws are similar, and then the laws of "kodoshim kalim."


Because of this difficulty the Maharsha"l says that our text of Rashi is incorrect, and it should say "l'fi SHELO motzinu." However, the Avnei Neizer says that in the days of Ezra the "eil tzone al ashmosOM" (Ezra 10:19) was brought for many people sinning (commentators say that they sinned with a "shifchoh charufoh"), a special ruling called "horo'as sho'oh." This explains why Rashi expresses himself with "l'fi shemotzinu," - because we FIND, and not "l'fi she'yeish," - because there is. This actually took place. (Chayei Yitzchok)


Rabbi Mayer Arik asked the Imrei Emes this question. The Imrei Emes answered on the spot, "Because it is not clearly stated." Rabbi Mayer Arik told his escorts that he had asked this question to numerous people and had received many answers, some entailing lengthy erudite calculations, but nothing topped this terse answer of the Imrei Emes.

If you pay attention to the verse and in turn to the resulting extrapolation of the gemara you will note that libations are not included in the verse and likewise not in the gemara. Thus we are left with offering wine to a Torah scholar as the only replacement for a libation offering. He adds that this seems to be indicated by the terminology, "One who yearns to " Why doesn't the gemara say the same as in M'nochos, "He who pours it is as if etc."? We see from this that the person wants to learn the laws of libation and equate this to actually offering a libation, but it isn't acceptable. He is left with the only acceptable alternative of wining a Torah scholar.

Perhaps an insight can be given into the "learning in place of" concept not applying to libations. All other offerings have a portion burned on the altar and they increase the fire. However a libation that is poured onto the altar is drizzled onto the fire to not totally extinguish it, a Torah prohibition (Vayikra 6:6). If we equate Torah study with fire, we can thus say that libations are not equated to increasing the fire, i.e. direct Torah study, as they diminish the fire. Rather, in the majority of cases they come to accompany and enhance the sacrificial offering. Their replacement must likewise serve as an accompaniment to the Torah study of a scholar, i.e. offering him drink so that he may better study. Alternatively, just as libations decrease the fire, but enhance the offering, so too, the replacement is offering of one's goods to the Torah scholar. Although one has to take off time from his own Torah study to earn money to pay for wine for the Torah scholar, nevertheless, by honouring and nourishing him the stature of Torah is elevated. This is conceptually the same as libations. They decrease the fire, as stated earlier, but enhance the offering they accompany.



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

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel