subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to This Week's Parsha Archive of previous issues


FEBRUARY 14-15, 2003 13 ADAR I 5763

Pop Quiz: What was the golden Mizbeah used for?


One of the eight garments that the Kohen Gadol wore was the me'il - the robe which was made of totally blue wool. It also had bells attached to the bottom so that when the Kohen Gadol walked it would be heard that he was approaching. The Torah emphasizes that these sounds should be heard when he enters the Holy Chamber and this way he will merit to live.

The Rabbis learn from here that although there are deep and esoteric reasons for these bells, on a simple level they are there to announce the arrival of the Kohen Gadol. We learn from here the importance of derech eress, common protocol. When we enter a room or a house, even our own, we should always knock so as not to startle others. If there are strangers inside, how much more so should we not enter without permission. Sometimes we think that since we're involved in a misvah it's OK to bypass derech eress. From the Kohen Gadol who is doing the biggest misvah we see otherwise. As the famous statement goes "Derech eress preceeds the Torah." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"They shall take for you pure pressed olive oil for illumination." (Shemot 27:20)

Our perashah begins by teaching that the oil for the menorah must be absolutely pure. It cannot have any admixture of a foreign substance or even olive sediment. Even though such impurities can be filtered out later on, the sense of the verse is that the oil had to be absolutely pure from the start. Therefore the oil was made by pressing each olive gently until only a drop of pure oil emerged. Afterwards, the olives could be crushed, and the remaining oil used to mix into the meal (flour) offerings. We learn from this that the oil used for illumination must be more pure than oil used for meal offerings. Illumination from the menorah represents intellectual nourishment, and the meal offerings represent physical or food nourishment. From this law of the oil, our Sages derive the most important rule. It is more important that our intellectual intake is more pure than our food intake. Many people are careful that their food is kosher but not so careful that their intellectual "food" is "kosher."

The saddik and Gaon, Rabbi Ezra Attiya was born in Allepo, Syria. He became famous for his greatness and depth in Torah. He became the Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef as well as a dayan (judge) on the Bet Din of the Sephardic community in Jerusalem. The Hazon Ish once paid a visit to Yeshivat Porat Yosef and engaged in Torah dialogue with the Rosh Yeshivah. When they concluded, the Hazon Ish left, full of amazement, and said to his assistant that "the Rosh Yeshivah possesses the power of reasoning like one of the Rishonim (early Talmudic commentaries). Rabbi Attiya composed thousands of handwritten responsa which were totally destroyed in the fire of the Porat Yosef building in 1948. This was done by the Arabs when the Old City fell into Jordanian hands.

One of Rabbi Attiya's ongoing vigils was to preserve the holy character of the Yeshivah from any foreign influences and keep the oil of Torah pure. The committee (Vaad) of the Sephardic community was a wealthy and powerful organization. Once, the Vaad asked permission to invite a guest lecturer to upgrade the level of studies. When the Rosh Yeshivah studied his credentials and realized it would not be a positive influence, he diplomatically got them to retract the invitation. On another occasion, they tried to introduce a revolutionary idea. A so-called Rabbi offered to teach the students the art of oration in conjunction with Torah subjects. The idea was to improve the image of the Rabbis. Although the Rosh Yeshivah would not object to this if learned after becoming a great Torah scholar, he would not allow it to be introduced into the curriculum. He gave a parable to the Vaad: Hacham Abraham Bagdadi had a spice shop in the marketplace. All of the spices were contained inside, and not so much as a sign advertised his establishment. In contrast, there was another shop not far away that boasted a huge sign above the doorway but had a very limited selection of wares. Where would you prefer to shop? Certainly in the well-stocked shop of Hacham Abraham Bagdadi! The hint was understood, and the offer rescinded.

Rabbi Attiya produced many of our greatest leaders, among them Rabbi Obadyah Yosef and our own Rabbi, Hacham Baruch Ben-Hayim. I think we can all agree that he knew how to produce great ones - with pure Torah and pure Torah only. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"This is what you should offer upon the Altar, two sheep within their first year, every day, continually" (Shemot 29:38)

The word "tamid - continually" seems superfluous.

The Shulhan Aruch Orah Hayim discusses the proper daily behavior of a Jew, and begins by quoting the pasuk "Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid - I place G-d before me continually" (Tehillim 16:8). At the end of Shulhan Aruch Orah Hayim, there is a discussion about eating a festive meal on Purim Katan (14th day of Adar I), concluding with the pasuk "Vetob leb mishteh tamid - And to the goodhearted, life is a continuous feast" (Mishlei 15:15).

The Torah is alluding that on a daily basis, a person should constantly observe the two "tamid's - fear G-d and worship Him with joy. (In a leap year, Purim Katan takes place in the week of Parashat Tesaveh, and the above may be a hint to Purim Katan in the perashah.) (Vedibarta Bam)


"And you shall command B'nei Yisrael" (Shemot 27:20)

Moshe's name is not mentioned in this perashah. The Ba'al Haturim states that Moshe entreated Hashem on behalf of Klal Yisrael after they sinned with the Golden Calf. He pleaded, "Erase me from Your Book." In accordance with Moshe's emphatic statement, Hashem chose one perashah in which Moshe's name would not be recorded. We may wonder why Parashat Tesaveh was chosen to be the perashah from which Moshe's name was excluded.

Rabbi Nissan Alpert suggests that the word "tesaveh," which means "command," alludes to Am Yisrael's leadership. The function of leadership is to command and guide the people. In order that leaders be able to successfully execute their duty, they must realize that they are merely vehicles of Hashem for motivating Am Yisrael. They must transcend their own egotism, so that the people perceive them simply as agents of Hashem.

Rabbi Alpert amends this idea with an emphasis on the word ?ve'atah", "and you." The "you" represents the leader's unique personality. His behavior should serve as a role model for the populace so that they are encouraged to serve Hashem by "your" example. The pasuk would then be defined in the following manner: "ve'atah tesaveh". The "atah", your total demeanor, should be an example to B'nei Yisrael in observing Hashem's misvot.

Modeling by both parents and teachers, is an effective pedagogic tool. Hazal tell us that when Yosef was faced with the most difficult test of moral fortitude to confront a young man, he was saved from downfall by visualizing the image of his father, Ya'akob, before him. This vision brought Yosef back to his senses and made him recoil from the temptation to sin with Potifar's wife. Thus, Yosef was able to regain control over his passions, so that he was saved for the great spiritual destiny that had been intended for him.

Likewise, parents should be cognizant of the moral and spiritual image which they imprint upon the hearts and minds of their children. This image personifies an example of moral and spiritual purity. If a child is imbued with a positive impression, it will reach into the deepest recesses of his or her innermost being.

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch states that parents and teachers are appointed to act as the moral and spiritual guides for their children. Their words and their actions have a powerful effect upon the impressionable souls of their children. Inappropriate behavior performed by parents or teachers can poison the souls of the children entrusted in their custody. To paraphrase Rabbi Hirsch, "To be a father or a teacher means to be above reproach in one's own morals and actions." A child who has just cause to criticize the speech or conduct of his parents or teachers will be less inclined to obey them. The child's obedience will always be in direct proportion to the respect he has for the personality of his parent, teacher or guardian. The moral consistency of a parent or teacher is his key to a child's conformity to the role model's expectations. (Peninim on the Torah)


Question: Why are certain paragraphs deleted in Lecha Dodi?

Answer: These portions contain matters of sadness. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


" kindle the lamp continuously." (Shemot 27:20)

The Gemara states that if a person recited the Shema in the morning and in the evening, he fulfills the misvah that the Torah should always be on one's lips. The Hiddushei HaRim explains this concept based on the above pasuk. The Kohen lit the menorah every morning - an action that probably took only a few moments. However, it produced a light that lasted the entire day. By the same token, if a person recites the Shema with concentration and devotion, the effect will stay with him the entire day.

We tend to view our daily prayers as simply an opportunity to request from Hashem our daily needs. We sometimes fail to realize that our prayers, when given the proper focus and concentration, can also elevate us and bring us closer to Hashem.

Question: Do you consider the requirement to pray 3 times a day a chore or a privilege? If halachah permitted you to skip one day a week, would you do it?


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 43:10-27.

Our perashah discusses the special clothing of the Kohanim and the consecration of the Mishkan. In this haftarah, the prophet Yehezkel sees a vision of the Altar which would be consecrated when the Bet Hamikdash is rebuilt. The haftarah goes on to describe the offerings that would be burned on the Altar, just as our perashah details the sacrifices that would be offered.

Answer to pop quiz: The burning of the Ketoret (incense) twice a day.

Please preserve the sanctity of this bulletin. It contains words of
Torah and should be treated with respect.
Past issues of this bulletin are available on the Internet courtesy of the
Shema Yisrael Torah Network. To view them or to see many other Torah items, please go to their site.
Other Torah e-mail you may enjoy:
send e-mail to and put in the message:
subscribe aram-soba

Please pass this bulletin along to a friend. You may subscribe to
this bulletin by sending e-mail to
and putting in the message: subscribe jersey-shore.
To unsubscribe, send the message 'unsubscribe jersey-shore' to

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