Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Parshas Mishpotim
(Parshas Shekolim)

Vol. 3/No. 18

The Power of Joint Participation Of the three donations that were required for the building of the Mishkon, only one was of a permanent nature - the half-shekel donated annually, from which the Korbenos-tzibbur (the communal offerings) were brought.

The Korbonos, particularly the Korbenos- tzibbur, comprising mainly one lamb in the morning for a burnt-offering and one lamb in the afternoon, were of such vital importance that the world only existed on their merit. Nowadays, when we have no Beis-Ha'mikdosh, our recital of the various sections relevant to the bringing of the Korbonos, and our study of the Korbonos, replaces that merit. Hence it is important that we do indeed recite these paragraphs morning and afternoon and that we make a point of studying the sections of the Mishnah and the Gemoro that deal with the Korbonos. Seen in that light, the annual "half-shekel" that we were obliged to donate when the Beis-Ha'mikdosh stood seems a very insignificant price to pay for so important a commodity as the Korbonos, now that the very world's existence rested upon their implementation - and what would a person not be willing to pay for his very existence - indeed for the very existence of all mankind?

The answer of course, lies in the fact that it was not just one person who donated the half-shekel, but every single Jew (between the ages of 20 and 60).

There is simply no comparison between "a few who perform a mitzvah and many who perform a mitzvah" (see Rashi Vayikro 26:7). It is evident from the halochoh that the Birchas Ha'mozon of three is superior to that of one and even of two, and that when three bench together, it is simply not comparable to when ten bench together, and the same of course is true of davening without a minyan as compared to davening with a minyan. Even Torah-study - it is clear from the Mishnah in Pirkei Ovos (3:5) - is preferable in larger groups. And the same principle applies to all mitzvos, as Chazal have said: "The honour of the King is enhanced by increased numbers" (Mishlei 14:28).

Consequently, it is not the amount of the donation that is of value, but the fact that all of Yisroel participate in honouring their King. Indeed, the whole of Yisroel participate in the acquisition of the Korbonos, which are subsequently offered to G-d in His Holy House, and thereby His Name is duly glorified.

This explains why, when Homon attempted to destroy the whole of Klal Yisroel by giving King Achashveirosh their full value (i.e. 30,000,000 shekel - a hundred times more than the total number of shekolim donated by the whole of Klal Yisroel in the desert), Hashem was impressed neither by his sincerity, nor by his generosity. To judge a person solely by the amount he gives is a non-Jewish philosophy. The more you give, the greater you are, may have been Homon's ideology, and so he believed that, by giving as much as (or even more than) the whole of Yisroel combined, he would equal them, if not better them. It is certainly not ours!

We believe, as we wrote earlier, that the more people that unite to perform a mitzvah, the greater their combined merits will be, even if, as a result, it means that each participant will give a little less. (No-one may give less, but no-one may give more, than a half-shekel.) In the Torah's view, it is the added number of participants, the united power of the Klal, that counts. "The honour of the King is enhanced by increased numbers". As a result, Homon's efforts as an individual could in no way match those of Klal Yisroel as a nation, irrespective of the amounts involved. So it doesn't really matter as to how much, or how little, a half-shekel really is. What is important is the fact that all Jews participated in the joint mitzvah of buying the public offerings. The merit of doing a mitzvah together far outweighs anything that the individual could possibly achieve.


Rashi, commenting on the vov in "Ve'eileh ha'mishpotim", explains the connection between the two Parshiyos like this: Just as the Parshah of Yisro was said at Har Sinai, so too was the Parshah of Mishpotim said at Har Sinai (i.e. for the first time, and not in the Ohel Mo'ed [i.e. the Mishkon] or at Arvos Mo'ov).

I might have thought that the ten commandments, as they appear on the Luchos, without their details (the "klal" without the "Prat"), were said for the first time at Har Sinai. The details were said perhaps, in the Ohel Mo'ed or at Arvos Mo'ov, or even perhaps in both places. Therefore the Torah adds a "vov" to "Eileh ha'mishpotim", to teach us that the details of the Aseres Ha'dibros, as contained in Parshas Mishpotim, were also said at Har Sinai. The Torah Temimah adds that the dinim themselves were given to Yisroel at Moroh, as the Gemoro writes in Sanhedrin (56b). Rashi is informing us here that the details were added at Har Sinai.

Rashi here, is of the opinion that it is only the mitzvos of Mishpotim that were given to us at Har Sinai in detail. The other mitzvos of the Torah it would appear, were said at Har Sinai, but without the details. That is indeed the opinion of R. Yishmoel in the Mechilta. But why, asks the Ohr Ha'chayim, does Rashi contradict himself in the opening possuk of Parshas Behar, where he writes that just as the mitzvah of Shmittah was given to us in all its detail, so too were all the mitzvos. Now that is the opinion of R. Akiva, the disputant of R. Yishmo'el in the Mechilta.

The Seforno explains that Mishpotim is an explanation of the tenth commandment - "Lo sachmod". The mitzvah per se, is very vague, so the Torah chose to spell it out more clearly in Mishpotim.

"And why does the Torah place the Parshah of dinim next to that of the Mizbei'ach? To inform you that you should place the Sanhedrin beside the Mizbei'ach" (Yerushalmi Makos). From here Chazal derived that the Sanhedrin ha'Godol of seventy-one should convene next to the Mizbei'ach. Consequently, a room next to the Azoroh called "Lishkas Ha'gozis" was designated for that purpose, and that is where they would sit daily. The Torah Temimah suggests that the reason for this positioning of the Sanhedrin lies in a possuk in Mishlei (21:3), "He who performs charity and justice, Hashem prefers to a sacrifice." The term "charity and justice" refers to the judges who perform justice to one litigant and charity to the other (Sanhedrin 6b)), so the Torah makes a point of placing them next to the Mizbei'ach, in order to stress the important role that the Sanhedrin plays. One could also explain the placing of the Sanhedrin with the possuk "Because Torah will come out of Tziyon, and the word of G-d from Yerusholayim" (Yesha'yoh 2:3). Tziyon is the spiritual connotation of Yerusholayim, so it is more than likely that the source of "the Torah" and "the word of Hashem" was the Kodesh Kodoshim, the home of the Oron Ha'kodesh and the Luchos. The most logical place therefore, to house the Sanhedrin, was next to the Mizbei'ach, in close proximity to the Kodesh Kodoshim.

Another connection between the two Parshiyos is brought in the Gemoro Sanhedrin (7b) where it says in the name of Bar Kaporo "From where did the Rabbonon learn that one must be deliberate in judgement? From the possuk which writes (at the end of Yisro) "And do not take large steps" and next to it the Torah writes, "And these are the judgements". In other words, do not, when judging, arrive at quick and hasty decisions . Rather take small steps, i.e. be slow and deliberate in judgement - Rashi.

This appears to derive from the expression of taking large steps, "lo sa'alu be'ma'alos". However, it could also be understood to mean "pride", which is also inherent in the word. Do not pride yourself into believing that "you know it all", thus causing you to make snap judgements. Be humble. Think carefully and long before arriving at your decision (Torah Temimah).

FIXING THE LUACH (Part 2) Translated from the Mishnah B'rurah - end of Simon 428
Continued from Parshas Beshalach

4. This discrepancy is caused by the necessity to postpone Rosh Hashonoh in certain cases. One must therefore reckon with a difference of 4 days, 8 hours, 876 chalokim (48 minutes + 12 chalokim) between the molad of one Tishri and the next, or 5 days, 21 hours, 589 chalokim (32 minutes + 13 chalokim) in a leap year. The day on which the molad occurs will be the day on which Rosh Ha'shonoh occurs the following year (if it is not a leap year). However, for any one of four reasons, Rosh Ha'shonoh has to be postponed. (a) Rosh Ha'shonoh may not fall on Sunday, Wednesday or Friday ("Lo a'du Rosh"). As a result, if Rosh Ha'shonoh is due to fall on any of these days, it is postponed until the following day. (b) One does not accept an "old molad", meaning one which falls after 18 hours, so that, in the event of this occurring, Rosh Ha'shonoh is postponed to the following day, and similarly: (c) Should the molad of Tishri fall after 9 hours and 204 chalokim (11 minutes + 6 chalokim) on Tuesday, then Rosh Ha'shonoh is postponed and fixed for Thursday, and finally: (d) If the previous year was a leap year, then one postpones Rosh Ha'shonoh, should the molad fall after 15 hours 589 chalokim (32 minutes, 13 chalokim) on Monday. (These changes are incorporated into our Luach.)

5. Once one knows exactly when Rosh Ha'shonoh of next year will take place, one must then work out the number of days between the two Rosh Ha'shonohs; if there are two full days in between - for example, if this Rosh Ha'shonoh falls on Shabbos and next year's on Tuesday, then it will be "a short year"; if there are three full days in between - for example, if this Rosh Ha'shonoh falls on a Tuesday and the following one on Shabbos, then it will be "a regular year"; and if there will be four full days between one Rosh Ha'shonoh and the next, (for example, should the one Rosh Ha'shonoh fall on Shabbos and the other on Thursday), then it will be "a full year" (refer to pa. 3).

6. In a leap year there are either four, five or six full days between Rosh Ha'shonoh and Rosh Ha'shonoh; if there are four, then it will be "a short year"; if there are five, it will be "a regular year"; and if there are six, then it will be "a full year".

7. One tekufoh (season) lasts 91 days and 71/2 hours. Since 91 days = 13 weeks, the next tekufoh will therefore differ from the last one by 71/2 hours, e.g. if the tekufoh of Tishri (determined by the seasons - i.e. the sun - not by our lunar calendar, with the result that it does not fall on a fixed date of our year) falls on Monday, the 8th Tishri, at 71/2 hours, then the tekufoh of Teves will also fall on a Monday, the Monday after the 8th at 15 hours. The tekufoh of Nissan will subsequently fall on the Monday following the 8th at 221/2 hours, and tekufos Tammuz will fall on the Tueaday after the 8th at 6 hours. (The knowledge of the "tekufoh" is essential to determine when to institute a leap year, because Pesach must always fall in the early part of the tekufoh of Nissan, and Succos in the early part of Tishri).

8. A complete cycle lasts 19 years, in which the leap years occur as follows: 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, 19.

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