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by Daneal Weiner
May the zechus of this Rav Wolfson d’var Torah be merit for the refua shelaima of Tamar Tema bas Leah Devorah, family and friends.
The Midrash Tanchumah on last week’s parsha addresses the materials to be donated for building the Mishkan. “Gold is against the kingship of Babylonian as it says in Daniel (addressing Belteshatsar), ‘You are the head of gold.’ Silver is against the kingdom of Media as it says in the Megillah, ‘10,000 talents of Silver.’ Copper is against the Kingdom Greece because it is the least of all of them. And the red dyed ram skins are against the kingdom of Edom as it says in Breishis, ‘The first one emerged red.’ Says Hashem, ‘Even though you see the four kingdoms exalting themselves over you, I am already causing to grow your salvation from the servitude.’ For what is written after all this? Shemen lama’ore-Oil for illuminating which is the mashiach, as it says in Psalms, ‘I shall cause kingship to sprout for David, I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.’ ”
And so opens this weeks
“Now you shall command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure pressed olive oil for illumination, to kindle the lamp continually.” Hashem commands Israel to bring the oil so they might already start paving the way to bring about the coming of the mashiach.
Every Shabbos afternoon in the Mincha service we say, “Va’ani t’filasi licha Hashem eis ratsone”- As for me, may my prayer to You, Hashem, be at an opportune time. Shabbos afternoon is an eis ratsone- an opportune time, a special time of desire and willingness before Hashem. This parsha is read at this time because the Zohar says that not only Adar but also the three subsequent months, Nissan, Iyar and Sivan are an eis ratsone, times Hashem is most inclined to hear our prayers.
Hashem’s 4 letter Name (the Tetragrameton) has 24 possible letter combinations. Since two letters of this Name are the same, the 24 combinations come out as 12 different combinations in duplicate. Each 4 letter combination, called a tsiruf, is the dna which makes up the character of one of the 12 months. Each tsiruf can be found as the beginning or ending letters of 4 consecutive words found somewhere in the 24 books of the Written Torah. The tsiruf for Adar is from the verse in Breishis (49:11), “Osri lagefen iro v’lasoraikah b’ni asono”- He will tie his donkey to the vine, to the vine branch his donkey’s foal. The last 4 words end with hey, hey, yud, vav, the 4 letters of the Tetragrameton. This verse is from the blessing Yaakov gives Yehudah, the progenitor of the messianic line, and is a glimpse to the days of the mashiach. This tsiruf of Adar, Osri lagefen iro v’lasoraikah b’ni asono = 1879 = Va’ani t’filasi licha Hashem eis ratsone.
The constellation of the month of Adar is Dagim- fish. During this leap year the 12 months become 13. A leap year is a special year because it awakens the 13 channels of mercy from Hashem. The letters which spell Dagim, daled, gimel, yud and mem can be rearranged to make the acronym for yud gimel mechilin d’rachmai-13 channels of mercy.
Mid Chanukah begins the month of Teves. We explained then that the forces of Tuma- impurity are strongest in that month, manifest in Teves being the coldest month with the longest nights. Teves is a time of Din- Judgement. During Chanukah we already began to light the flames of redemption to carry us through the cold, difficult times till we would once again embrace the warmth of Hashem’s Mercy. The reign of Tuma continues on into the month of Shvat. Finally comes the month of Adar, an eis ratsone to Hashem which carries on into the three following months. Teves, Shvat = 722 = Adar, Nissan, Iyar, Sivan. Even greater is the measure of mercy this leap year when the yud gimel mechilin d’rachmai are channeled into the world. And multiply that again by Parshas Tetsaveh which is the conclusion of Shovevim-tot, a period of time special for bringing ones self closer to Hashem. And then, this Shabbos afternoon… which is the eis ratsone itself on top of the Shovevim-tot on top of the yud gimel mechilin d’rachmai on top of the eis ratsone of Adar… hoooo weeee!!! King Solomon wrote in Shir Hashirim, “I have grasped Him and I would not let Him go.” Rashi explains, “I have grasped Him, determined that my deeds would never cause me again to lose hold of Him.” Now is the time to grab on to Hashem!
And it is at this time that the unimaginable greatness of Moshe Rabbeinu is ironically revealed! Ever since we were first introduced to Moshe his name appears in every parsha except for Tetsaveh. The parsha starts out, “V’atah tetsaveh”- And you will command. Moshe is referred to in the second person. The Ba’al Haturim says Moshe’s name was removed because next week, when Hashem threatens to destroy all Israel because of the golden calf Moshe pleads in Israel’s defense, “V’atah im tisah chatasam! V’im ayin, micheini nah misifrecha asher kasavtah.”- And now if You would but forgive their sin! But if not, erase me now from Your book that You have written. What Hashem’s righteous ones decree, He fulfills at least to some extent if not entirely. So Moshe’s name was erased from Parshas Tetsaveh.
The question is asked why Moshe’s name wasn’t erased from the parsha where he said what he did? Or the following one, which makes good sense too. But the preceding parsha? There are many answers. [If you surf on over to Sedra Selections you will get 6 of them.] A popular answer is that since Moshe died on the 7th of Adar, which always comes around the reading of Tetsaveh, so just as his physical presence was taken so was his name removed. Most answers follow this theme that it is a consequence of his words, a ‘discredit’ of sorts, that Moshe’s name was removed.
When lots were drawn before Haman to determine when D-day for the Jews would be, he was glad the day came out in Adar because he knew Adar was when Moshe died, meaning it was a bad time for the Jews. Chazal- our Sages, however, respond that it was also the time of birth of Moshe, making it, in fact, a great time! Lehavdil eleph alaphei havdalos, the afore-non-mentioned commentaries say Moshes name being removed was a discredit. Rav Wolfson brings Chassidic writings to show it was a tremendous credit!
There is a discrepancy between the Gemorah and the Zohar as to what were the 10 utterances by which created the world. Like the periodic table of elements, the 22 letters of the aleph-beis are the elements Hashem used to make the universe. The Ba’al Hatanya, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, while, literally, on his death bed had said, “I no longer see the ceiling. I see the letters that make up the ceiling.” I remember one of the first times I was repeated this to someone and my Rav walked into the room just as I was saying the quote. He asked me, with a tinge of disbelief, “Who said that??” I said the Ba’al Hatanya. His eyebrows jumped up, “Oh, yes. He could have said that.] So 9 times within the story of creation the Torah says, “And Hashem said…” Those are the obvious utterances. The Gemorah says the first one was “Breishis Barah”- In the beginning He created. The Magid of Mezritch, (the Ba’al Tanya’s Rebbe!) explains that the first ‘utterance’ created the periodic table of Hebrew letters! It can’t appear in the form of, “And Hashem said” because it is beyond the realm of expression. It is beyond our human grasp. The 39 melachos- creative actions we are forbidden to do on Shabbos are referred to by Chazal as 40-1. Why not just say 39? Because the 40th was Yaish me’ayin- something from nothing which is beyond human capability. We can’t do it during the week to have to refrain from it on Shabbos. “Breishis Barah” was “Yaish me’ayin”. Rashi, on the word Breishis, says, “Read it b’Reishis- for Reishis. Who is Reishis? Moshe Rabbeinu.” Moshe Rabbeinu has something to do with Yaish me’ayin. When he prayed to Hashem he said, “V’im ayin.” Moshe’s name does not appear in this parsha as an expression of spiritual source which is beyond letters. Beyond expression. We “something from nothing” but it wasn’t nothing. Whatever existed before creation is beyond our grasp and Chazal warn it’s not even something we should try to think about. Moshe was from that ayin. “V’im ayin” = 108 = “micheini”- erase me. The erasing of his name is not a discredit but an ironic revelation of his tremendous credit! And “V’atah tetsaveh” = 913 = “b’Reishis.”
The other opinion of the missing utterances, that of the Zohar, is when Hashem says, “It’s not good that ‘man’ should be alone.” What that does for us is to make the first utterance, “And Hashem said, ‘Let there be light.’ ” The light Hashem created on day one was the original light which Chazal refer to as the Ohr Haganuz- the hidden light. Hidden away, our Sages say, because Hashem saw that it would be used inappropriately by the wicked. We wait for the coming of the Mashiach when the world will be rid of its wickedness and Hashem can again bring out the original light for the world to enjoy.
When Moshe was born the Torah says Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, “Saw he was good.” Most mothers would see ‘cute,’ ‘bald,’ ‘scrunchy’ but ‘good’? Rashi draws from the Midrash and Gemorah to explain what she saw that was good saying, “When he was born the entire house was filled with light.” He wasn’t holding a flashlight. He was too young for a bud light. It was the original light. The first time the word ‘light’ appears in the Torah is 25 words in. An allusion to Chanukah which falls on the 25th day of Kislev. Chazal say the original light was in the world 36 hours before Hashem hid it. Another allusion as we light a total of 36 candles on Chanukah. It is not beyond our grasp when Holy writings say that on Chanukah, when we light the oil of our menorah’s we release into the world some of the Ohr Haganuz. And the sefer Yisode Yoseph says that Purim does the same.
The Yisode Yoseph describes a new, lofty and awesome spiritual world which does not reveal itself but once a year, beginning with the reading of the Megillah on Purim night when a new light shines forth from it. The intentions we should have behind the blessing on the reading of the Megillah should be “to read and to draw out that great light, that it should reveal itself outward.” [I believe we’ve just been introduced to the spiritual counterpart of a black hole!] The Yisode Yoseph says it is from that place that the soul of Mordechai descended into our world. He later brings that Moshe and Mordechai shared the same soul. The Arizal says the same thing differently, that Moshe and Mordechai’s soul are both from a place hidden and beyond our grasp. Two leaders of Israel, both who saved us from a threat of destruction. Both originated from a place beyond expression, beyond recognition. As far as Moshe is concerned, we know how he came into the world is how he left.
At the end of the Torah, in his last moments of life Moshe blesses the tribes and to the tribe of Gad he says (33:21), “He chose the first portion for himself for that is where the lawgiver’s plot is hidden. He came at the head of the nation carrying out Hashem’s justice.” “Where the lawgiver’s plot is hidden” refers to Moshe who was buried in the inheritance of Gad by Hashem, Himself. The Torah testifies about a dozen verses later, “No one knows where he is buried to this day.” Just as Moshe came into this world from somewhere hidden, so too is his eternal resting place hidden. Well, it’s not so eternal. “He came at the head of the nation carrying out Hashem’s justice,” Moshe prophesized that about Gad because they were going to lead the other tribes into battle to win back the Land of Israel. Rashi brings a second interpretation, a self-prophecy that after the resurrection of the dead Moshe will finally lead the Generation of the Desert, who died in the desert, into the Land of Israel.
No doubt it is in that sense and in a greater sense that the Zohar calls Moshe the “future redeemer.” It relates him to the oil Hashem just commanded Israel to gather which the Midrash said was for a light for the mashiach. This is what the Torah intimates when Hashem says, “Command the Children of Israel that they shall take for you pure pressed olive oil for illumination.” “For YOU, Moshe because you are the future redeemer.” Oil for illumination- shemen lama’ore = 667 = ruach melech hamashiach- the spirit of the king, the mashiach. Ruach melech hamashiach is an expression of the Midrash from the second verse in the Torah. “The earth was desolate and void and darkness was over the deep and the spirit of Hashem hovered over the face of the waters.” The Midrash compares desolate, void, darkness and deep to the 4 kingdoms and the spirit is the spirit of the king, the mashiach. [Paralleling the Midrash in our opening paragraph which also mentioned the 4 kingdoms after which it brought in the mashiach.]
In Gematria, adding 1 to a side is called the kollel. Not a foreign concept to Judaism, especially in a year which is 13 months long! Not a foreign concept to a people who pray a Shmoneh Esray- an 18 blessing prayer which is 19 blessing long. Holy writings bring that Moshe +1 = 346 = ratsone. Moshe, the eved Hashem- servant of Hashem, the one whose life exemplified the ratsone Hashem, he came into the world and was taken from it during Adar, the eis ratsone- a special time of before Hashem.
In summation, Adar is Moshe. Adar is Purim. Purim is Mordechai. Mordechai is Moshe. And Parshas Tetsaveh is the shemen lama’ore- oil for illumination. We said shemen lama’ore = 667 = ruach melech hamashiach which we tied into Moshe. Shemen lama’ore = 667 = dorash tov l’amo- he sought the good of his people, the Megillah’s closing praise of Mordechai! And shemen lama’ore written without the letter vav = 661 = Esther.
Beyond the grasp of man, those were the lots drawn before Haman and is why the holiday is named Purim- Lots. To us they are pure chance. Beyond logic or rationale. The reality is that the lot is the ratsone Hashem- as Hashem desires. The Megillah says, “A lot was draw before Haman.” It doesn’t say who drew the lots. The Zohar says Hashem drew them.
Moshe’s name in Tetsaveh is beyond our grasp and the essential miracle behind Purim is beyond our grasp. So what could be more appropriate than the mitsvah on Purim to drink till sitting up straight is beyond our grasp? And this is why we find a discussion in the Gemorah Megillah as to whether one has fulfilled their obligation if they heard the Megillah in a language they don’t understand! The Gemorah asks how could one possibly be exempted by not understanding? Ravina retorts, “The Megillah says (8:10), ‘ha-achashteranim bnei haramachim’ and who knows what that means?!?” Could it be that our Sages did not know the meaning of some simple words? It could very easily be now that we realize the power of the salvation of Purim comes from a place that is beyond the grasp of man. A place the Yisode Yoseph described as a new world with a new light and the meaning of the blessing for reading the Megillah is asking for that hidden light to be revealed. We say every morning in prayer, “You will shine a new light upon Zion, may me speedily merit it’s light.” “A new light”- ohr chadash = 519 = al mikrah megillah- [the blessing] on the reading of the Megillah. “You will shine a new light upon Zion”- ohr chadash al Tsion ta’ir = 1386 = ha-achashteranim bnei haramachim.
The hidden light is from the 50th gate of wisdom and it defeated Haman who tried to attack us at our source, having wanted to hang Mordechai from a gallows 50 amos high. But Haman, like his predecessors Amaleik, who attack those Jews expelled from the back of the camp, they thought that expelled meant expelled for good. But at the level of the 50th Gate hides the essence of Israel which can never be tainted by sin and will always be a source of our ultimate salvation. Moshe told Yehoshua to form an army and fight Amaleik. Vayachalosh Yehoshua es Amaleik- And Yehoshua weakened Amaleik = 1386 = ohr chadash al Tsion ta’ir = ha-achashteranim bnei haramachim. A further allusion is that the root of the word Vayachalosh ain Gemorah Shabbos “matilin chalashin al hakodshin”- they drew lots over the kodshin!
This coming week, on the date that Purim would have been were it not a leap year, will be Purim Katan- [lit.] Small Purim. Just as the holiday Purim is a time of the light of the Mashiach, so is Purim Katan and as a Mishna in Megillah says, there is no difference between the first Adar and the second. It says in the Megillah itself, “Migadol v’ad katan”- From the big until the small. What is in the big Purim goes for the little Purim as well. The reason we celebrate Purim in the second month rather than the first is to keep the redemptions close together. The redemption from Persia/Media and the redemption from Egypt which comes in the following month of Nissan. The double header for redemption is telling us we have to prepare ourselves for the coming of the mashiach. And the more prepared we are, the more potential he has to come!
Shlomo Hamelech wrote in Koheles, “Let your garments always be white and your head never lack oil.” When we die we are buried in white shrouds. The Gemorah Shabbos explains King Solomon is advising us to repent the day before we die. Since we don’t know when that is, if we repent today, lest we die tomorrow, then we will spend every day in repentance. We will always be ready to stand and be judged. Our garments will always be white and this time it can mean white as in sin free! Interesting that the Gemorah doesn’t offer any insight into the second half of the verse, about the oil.
Rav Wolfson draws on a story of a great Tsaddik as a possible explanation. This great man once stopped at an inn for the night. There was a timepiece ticking on the counter. As it ticked and tocked, it stirred the Tsaddik more and more. He had to find out what the story was behind that clock! Upon investigation he discovered that someone had stopped at the inn and since he did not have money to pay he offered to leave his time piece. The Tsaddik said the owner of that clock was a man who did not have a bitter bone in his body. Whereas every other clock he’s heard has ticked away the seconds, counting down till the inevitable day of reckoning, this clock is ticking counting in anticipation the coming of the mashiach. So goes the verse in Koheles. “Let your garments always be white” and you’ll certainly get through life with tremendous merit. But there is a much better way to live. “Let your head never lack oil.”
Although Hashem gives us this great gift of salvation, even with all our sins, even from our lowest levels, the idea is to elevate ourselves, ourselves! Not to wait for Hashem to do it. In our time the yetser horah knows no bounds! It reaches from one end of the universe to the other. Hashem said, “I created the yetser Horah and I created the Torah as the antidote.” Torah is the only way. Torah is the only way! And within the framework of Torah, mussar is the quickest way to extract ourselves from our complacency and put awaken in ourselves a desire to do the ratsone Hashem. The eis ratsone of Adar, in a leap year, at the end of Shovevim-tot is the time to start. Find a mussar book that inspires you, put it where it’s accessible, and give it even just 15 minutes a day. You’re not afraid to commit to eating everyday, don’t be afraid to feed your soul everyday.
May it be our merits which brings the next redemption. May we soon see that new light shine on Zion, even this coming Purim Katan, if not sooner.
Have an eis ratsone Shabbat Shalom.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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