Thursday, April 19, 2018

Acharei - Kedoshim 5778

The Torah Portion of Acharei - Kedoshim 5778


Please note: In Israel the Torah Portion of Acharei - Kedoshim coincides with the 6th of Iyar 5778 (April 21, 2018). Outside of Israel, the Torah Portion of Tazria - Metzora coincides with the 6th of Iyar 5778 (April 21, 2018).  The reason that the Torah Portions for Israel and outside of Israel are not the same, is because Israel has 7 days of Passover but outside of Israel there are 8 days of Passover, the last day of which was a Shabbat this year.  Therefore, Israel started to read the regular Torah Portion of the week while those outside of Israel were reading the Torah Portion for the 8th day of Passover. 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


THE TORAH PORTION OF ACHAREI 


"With this shall Aharon come into the Sanctuary..." (Vayikra 16)


In Hebrew, the first word of this verse is "Bezot", which is composed of the Hebrew prefix "Be" (in English" "with")  in front of the Hebrew word "Zot" (in English, "this").  The Sages say in the Gemara Avodah Zara (2b) that the word "Zot" is a reference to the Torah, as it is said ""V'zot HaTorah..."  (in English: "And this is the Torah...").  Thus the intention of this verse when it states "With this shall Aharon come into the Sanctuary", is to tell us that with the Torah it is possible to go up on on the steps of the Sanctuary, i.e., to increase in our level of holiness.

"With this shall Aharon come into the Sanctuary..." (Vaykira 16:3)


In Hebrew, the first word of this verse is "Bezot", which has a  Gematria (numerical value) of 408.  This is equal to the sum of the Gematrias of the three Hebrew words "Tzom" (in English: "Fasting"), "Kol" (in English: "Voice"),  and "Mamon" (in English: "Money"),  each of which has a Gematria of 136.  These three words are a reference, respectively, to "Teshuvah" (in English: "Repentance"), "Tefillah" (in English: "Prayer") and Tzedakah (in English: "Charity").   And that is why this verse begins with the word "Bezot", because with Repentance, Prayer, and Charity it is possible to nullify bad decrees.  Also, David HaMelech said in Tehillim (27:3), "If a war comes upon me, in this (in Hebrew: "Bezot") I trust".  With Repentance, Prayer, and Charity, it's possible to be victorious in the wars.  

The First Service in the Inner Sanctuary on Yom Kippur


The first service within the inner sanctuary on Yom Kippur is the Ketoret (in English: "the incense offering") which atones for Lashon Hara (in English: "evil speech"). "There should come something which occurs secretly and atone for something which occurs secretly" , and the Chafetz Chaim says that if there wouldn't have been an atonement at the start of the service for Lashon Hara, all the service of the day would not have been effective.

"For on this day He will atone for you to purify, etc...." (Vayikra 16:30)


The verse begins with the a language of atonement and ends with a language of purification, since the sin which a person transgresses, G-d forbid, besides the essence of the sin itself, also defiles and blocks up the heart, and that is why it says that Yom Kippur atones as well as purifies.

"Before Hashem you will become purified" . (Vayikra 16:30)


The teachers of Mussar (ethics) say that before Yom Kippur we need to purify ourselves, and not wait until Yom Kippur.

THE TORAH PORTION OF KEDOSHIM


"...You shall be holy..." (Vayikra 19:2)


Rashi says this means that you should make a fence to separate yourselves from sexual immorality, and he also says that this passage was stated at "Hakhel" -- the assembly of the entire congregation.  If you are present at "Hakhel", that is to say, in the midst of people, then your need to be very careful to guard your mouth and your eyes, and that is what Rashi meant by saying that you should make a fence to separate yourselves from sexual immorality.

"...You shall be holy..." (Vayikra 19:2)


Another explanation about the fact that "You shall be holy", was stated at "Hakhel" -- the assembly of the entire congregation.  If you want to be holy, then you need to act as a unified assembly of the entire congregation -- so that every individual will love his fellow.

"Every man shall fear his mother and father..." (Vayikra 19:3)


Even if he is an adult man, who doesn't need the help of his father and mother, in any event he is obligated to honor them.

"Do not go as a talebearer" . (Vayikra 19:16)


With Lashon Hara (in English: "evil speech") one transgresses 17 negative commandments, 14 positive commandments, and 4 curses. The Sages say that Lashon Hara causes poverty. There is a hint to this in the word "Parnassah" (in English; "a livelihood"), which has the same letters as "Peh Ressen" (in English: "rein in the mouth"), since one who reins in his mouth from speaking Lashon Hara will have an abundant livelihood. The Sages say that the generation of Achav were idol worshipers and yet they went down to war and were victorious since they did not have among them speakers of Lashon Hara (i.e., slanderers). But the generation of Shaul would go down to war and not be victorious, even though there was no idol worship, because they had among them wicked people who spoke Lashon Hara.

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem." (Vayikra 19:18)


There is a story told about two friends, who loved and were faithful to one another. One time false charges were brought up against one of them, and the court system decreed a death penalty on him, and his faithful friend tried with all his strength to do everything in his power to save him from the death sentence, but it was to no avail. And then, at the time that the bitter day arrrived and he (the one sentenced to death) was already being led to the place of the gallows, and his friend saw how they were bringing him chained and with ropes around his neck, G-d forbid, he felt great pain and suffering, and was not able to see that his friend and close companion was being led that way to death. And he wasn't able to hold himself back, and in his agitation he ran to the place of the gallows shouting "Gevalt! Don't kill a man who is innocent of any crime, who didn't do anything! I am the one who did the crime and it wasn't him!" He did that from his great love because he couldn't bear to see the death of his friend and he requested that they would carry out the death sentence on him and not on his friend who was an upright person. And the executioners, who wanted to perform their role in carrying out the death sentence, were agitated and astonished, and they wondered, is such a thing possible that the guilty will be acquitted and the innocent will be found guilty? And then the one who had been sentenced to death himself, courageously raised his voice and declared that his friend had intentionally spoken a lie, in order to save me from your hands and he is prepared to die in my place. And also he (the one who had been sentenced to death), from the great love he felt for his friend, didn't agree that his friend would sacrifice his life for him. While they were still arguing between themselves about which one was telling the truth, a great ruckuss was made around them, until the matter came to the ears of the king. The king was very moved by seeing that a great love like this could exist between two close companions, and he immediately canceled the death sentence, and requested from them to please include him also as a partner in their friendship. Similarly, the Holy One Blessed Be He, when He sees that there is love and friendship between a man and his fellow man, as it were, He also wants to include Himself with them, and that it why it is written in the verse "And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem" ; if you will love one each other, "I am Hashem" , I will be a partner in your love. (from Mayana Shel Torah)

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem" . (Vayikra 19:18)


The Holy One Blessed Be He says that in the way that you behave toward your fellowman, in that way I will behave toward you. (from Otzar HaChaim)

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem" . (Vayikra 19:18)


The Sefat Emet says that this Mitzvah is very difficult to fulfill, and therefore the verse ends with the words "I am Hashem" , that if you truly want to fulfill it, I (Hashem) will help you to do so.

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, this is a great general principle of the Torah." (from Rabbi Akiva) 


To be concerned that your friend will make progress in the Torah (i.e. in his Torah learning and observance), that is a worthwhile way of loving your neighbor.

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am Hashem." (Vayikra 19:18)


In the Aruch HaShulchan Orach Chaim paragraph 215 sub-point 1, it is written that someone who hears that they are making a Mishebairach (i.e.,a blessing at the Torah reading for a sick person to recover from illness) for someone, it is proper to answer Amen and to fulfill by doing that the Mitzvah of loving your neighbor as yourself.

"And you shall love your neighbor as yourself, this is a great general principle of the Torah." (from Rabbi Akiva) 


It is written in the Gemarrah that one time a non-Jew came to Hillel HaZakein and said to him, Rabbi, convert me to Judaism on the condition that you will teach me all of the Torah on one foot. Hillel said to him, this is a general principle which you should carry in your hands, that which is hateful to you, don't do it to your friend and now go finish it. The explanation is, that which you hate if people do it to you, don't do to your friend, and the rest of the Mitzvot of the Torah you can learn from this general principle. Now, regarding the intellectually logical Mitzvot (i.e., commandments and prohibitions) such as stealing, robbery, extortion, returning a lost object, murder, and the like, it's understandable how they are included in this general principle. But regarding Mitzvot concerning the eating of pork, Sha'atnez (wearing garments of linen mixed with wool), Klai'im (planting crops of different varieties mixed together), and the like, it is not understandable how they are included in this general principle. The Mateh Yosef wrote that he heard from the Chatam Sofer ztzuk"l, a parable about a boy who was an orphan without a father or mother, who didn't have anything. A rich man met him and took him to his house, raised him and taught him and gave him everything that he lacked. When the boy grew up and it became known to him that this man, who wasn't his real father, had given him benefits just as if he were one of his real children, he recognized that he needed to thank the wealthy man beyond all measure. One day the wealthy man went with the orphan to teach him about commercial business methods and they came to a big city and entered a very big store full of expensive merchandise, and the wealthy man said to the orphan, choose for yourself here merchandise for your wardrobe, and even if it is the most expensive clothing in the store I am prepared to pay for you. And the orphan chose for himself a very expensive item, and the wealthy man looked and saw that it was a red colored garment, and he said "It bothers me very much that you chose the color red, which I dislike; choose for yourself from the other colors whichever one you want and at whatever high price, whatever is good in your eyes, but only the color red don't pick for yourself." Now certainly, the orphan is required to nullify his own choice and fulfill with great delight the will of the wealthy benefactor who gave him many great benefits. And if he doesn't do so and rebels against the wealthy man's will and takes the red garment he is despicable and lacks gratitude, and certainly it would be correct for the rich man to get angry at the despicability of this orphan. The lesson to be learned from this parable applies to the people of Israel in relationship to Our Father in Heaven (Hashem). Hashem in His compassion has allowed us to eat various livestock, animals and birds, but has prohibited us from eating pork. He has allowed us to wear clothing from anything that we desire, only that there should not be Sha'atnez (linen and wool mixed together) within it. He has allowed us to plant all the crops in the world and to plant all the vineyards according to what is good in our eyes, only not Klai'im (mixtures of different kinds of plants together in one place). Now certainly we are required to fulfill with great delight the will of our Father, the Compassionate Father, and if we don't fulfill it then we are despicable, we are destructive children. But if we take to heart the idea, "that which is hateful to you, don't do to your friend" , go and consider, if you were to do so many good things for your friend just like the Holy One Blessed Be He does for you, and if he were to do something against your will, wouldn't you be angry and wouldn't you punish him appropriately? Similarly, you should think how you are required to do the will of your Creator who gives you life and health and intelligence and understanding and houses and fields and vineyards, and doesn't request from you anything except to be in awe of Him and to serve Him and to fulfill His will. It is simply apparent that you are required to fulfill His will with a strong desire and it is well understood how all the entire Torah is included in the Mitzvah of "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" . 

The Torah Portion of Acharei has 80 verses, 2 positive commandments, and 26 negative commandments. The Torah Portion of Kedoshim has 54 verses, 13 positive commandments, and 38 negative commandments.Haftorah: "Halo K'vnai Kushiyim" (Amos 9).


Pirkei Avot, Chapter 3.


May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Tazria - Metzora 5778

The Torah Portion of Tazria - Metzora 5778 - Shabbat Mevorchim for Iyar 


Note: Outside of Israel, since the preceding Shabbat was the Eighth day of Passover, the Torah Portion of Sh'mini coincides with Shabbat Mevorchim for Iyar rather than Tazria - Metzora.

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


It is written by Chazal (the Sages) that the Holy One Blessed Be He puts on Tefillin (Note -- this is not to be taken in a literal way but only in a figurative, symbolic way) and it is written within them "Who is like Your people Israel".  Someone who speaks, G-d forbid, Lashon Hara (in English: "Evil Speech"), it is as if he were speaking against the Tefillin of the Holy One Blessed Be He, for within His Tefillin Hashem praises the people of Israel, and this person is speaking Lashon Hara against Israel.   (based on Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev)

Rav Chaim of Volozhin says: why does the declaration of impurity and purification from plagues need to be done specifically by the Kohen who will say "You are pure" or "You are impure"? The reason is that generally the habitual speakers of Lashon Hara (evil speech) speak about the chosen ones of the people and about great Rabbis, and the Kohanim are the chosen ones.

Mussar (ethical teachings) for guarding one's tongue:  


Rabban Gamliel said to his servant Tavi to bring him the most precious meat and he brought him an animal's tongue.  Another time he told him to bring the most simple meat, and he brought him an animal's tongue again.  Rabban Gamliel asked him, if a tongue is the most precious meat and also the most simple meat, isn't that a contradiction?  He answered him, the tongue is able to be used for the good and also for the opposite, and that is why it is written that "Life and death are in the hand of the tongue".

The Tongue doesn't have bones


It's said that the tongue doesn't have within it bones, so that it is possible to turn it in any direction that one wants, and one needs to be concerned and guard it so that it will go in a good direction.

Parnassah (Livelihood)


Parnassah (a livelihood) in Hebrew has the same letters as Peh Resen (reining in the tongue). Someone who want a livelihood should rein in (control) his tongue.

"This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification" (Vayikra 14:2)


It is written in the Chovot HaLevavot (the Gate of Submission, chapter 7): Someone who speaks Lashon Hara (evil speech) about his fellowman, all of his Mitzvot (good deeds) go to his fellowman and he receives all of his fellowman's sins.  The Chatam Sofer (on the Torah portion of Tetzaveh) writes that if he repents, they (his Mitzvot) return to him.  And that is what is meant by "This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification" (Vayikra 14:2), that the Torah that he learned will return to him of the day of his purification, that is to say when he repents.

"This shall be the Torah of the Metzora on the day of his purification, he shall be brought to the Kohen" (Vayikra 14:2)  


The Chafetz Chaim wrote books on the topic of Lashon Hara (evil speech), and there is a hint here:  one who wants to do Teshuva (repent) for the sin of Lashon Hara, "he shall be brought to the Kohen", he should learn the books of Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen (i.e. the Chafetz Chaim), and he will be healed.

The Kli Yakar explains why the Metzora shaves the hair on particular parts of his body


The Kli Yakar explains that the Metzora shaves his beard, because he spoke negatively about others with his mouth. He shaves his eyebrows, because he had "narrow eyes", that is, he was stingy when looking at other people and saw them in a negative light. He shaves his head, because he had a haughty view of himself.  The law is that he needs to shave all the hair on his entire body, but the Torah specifies these particular parts of the body.

It is written in the Holy Books that even though today plagues don't come on the body, they come on the soul.


There are people who think to themselves, what's the big deal if I spoke a few words about so-and-so?  The Masters of Mussar (Ethics) epxlain, that also the Kohen only says two words "You're Pure" or "You're Impure", and that determines if he is pure or not.


The Torah Portion of Tazria has 67 verses, 5 positive commandments, and 5 negative commandments. The Torah Portion of Metzora has 90 verses, and 11 positive commandments.The Haftorah (in Israel) is "Machar Chodesh" (Shmuel Aleph 20)


This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Iyar (in Israel). The Molad is Yom Rishon at the hour 4:37 with 5 Chalakim.  Rosh Chodesh is on Yom Rishon and Yom Shaini.


We read Pirkei Avot Chapter 2.


Shabbat Shalom.
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.



L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach
L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sh'mini 5778

The Torah Portion of "Sh'mini" 

(Isru Chag in Israel - Eruv Tavshilin; outside of Israel read a week later)  

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"And it was on the eighth day..."  (Vayikra 9:1)


The eighth day was the day on which the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) was established (this was after seven days during which Moshe performed the service by himself, including assembling and dis-assembling the Tabernacle each day).  On the eighth day Aharon, his sons, and Moshe performed the service.  The service of Moshe on the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan is written at the end of the Torah Portion of Pekudei.  On that day they brought three goats for sin offerings: 1) The goat of Nachshon, 2) the goat of the people of Israel, 3) the goat of Rosh Chodesh.  They only burned the goat of Rosh Chodesh, since that was not a one-time-only offering, but was a holy offering for future generations as well.

"...Come near to the sacrificial altar..." (Vayikra 9:7)


The Satan showed Aharon the likeness of a calf, in order to interfere with his performance of the Divine service, so Moshe said to him, "Come near to the sacrificial altar" (Vayikra 9:7), don't be afraid. (from the Da'at Z'kainim) From this we learn that when the Satan comes to prevent us from serving Hashem, we need to strengthen ourselves. (from Masters of Mussar, i.e. ethical teachings)


"And Moshe said to Aharon: Of this did Hashem speak, saying: 'I will be sanctified through those who are close to Me'." (Vayikra 10:3)


The death of Nadav and Avihu was by burning of the soul with the physical body remaining intact. Moshe said, that they were greater Tzadikim (more righteous) than himself and Aharon.

"...the sons of Aharon that were left..."  (Vayikra 10:16)


The Sages say that one needs to make oneself like a "leftover", and that is why the verse says "the sons of Aharon that were left", that is to say, that they made themselves like "leftovers", lowly in their own eyes, and because of that they merited to survive.  (from the Evnei Ezer)

"And Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, TO SAY TO THEM: Speak to the children of Israel, saying, these are the living animals..." (Vayikra 11:1-2)


It is written in Trei Eser, "And your sons and daughters will prophesy", that in the future to come Hashem will speak with all of Israel. The Sages say that Moshe Rabeinu did not want to nurse from the Egyptian women because in the future he would speak with the Shechina, and that is what is emphasized in this verse (Vayikra 11:1) by the words "TO SAY TO THEM"; that in the future the Holy One Blessed Be He will speak with all of Israel, and therefore we need to be very careful in the matter of food and to eat only that which is Kosher, so that we will be worthy to have Hashem speak with us.

Mussar (Ethical Teachings) from the Chafetz Chaim


The Chafetz Chaim says: just as we are careful not to put into our mouths forbidden foods, so one also needs to be careful about what he puts out of his mouth, that is to say, forbidden words.

The Differences between the Mishkan and the First Temple, in comparison to the Second Temple


There were five things missing in the Second Temple:  The Aron (Ark), the container of Mannah, the staff of Aharon, the Holy Name which was part of the Urim and Tumim, and the annointing oil.  Also, the fire in the Second Temple was not like the fire in the Mishkan and the First Temple.  In the Mishkan and the First Temple, the fire came down from Heaven and appeared like a lion, and in the Second Temple the fire didn't come down from Heaven and it looked like a dog.  (based on Yoma 21a)

PIRKEI AVOT (Ethics of the Fathers)


We say Pirkei Avot during the summer season, for a total of four cycles. A siman (sign) of when when we usually do that is given by means of Roshei Teivot (initial letters) based on the Hebrew word "Nefesh".  The letters which spell the Hebrew word "Nefesh" (in English: "soul") are  "Nun", "Pey", and "Shin".  "Nun" stands for "Naso", "Pey" stands for "Pinchas", and "Shin" stands for "Shoftim".   Usually, the times when we start to say Pirkei Avot -- besides the first time -- are when we read the Torah Portions of Naso, Pinchas, and Shoftim.   Also, there is another reason why the Hebrew word "Nefesh" ("soul") is connected to Pirkei Avot -- because Pirkei Avot contains teachings which help us to repair the defects of the soul. 

"Moshe received the Torah from Sinai..."  (Pirkei Avot 1:1)


Why is it written "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai"?  Isn't all of the Torah from Sinai?  The reason is that within Pirkei Avot, what is discussed are matters of ethics and proper conduct, and also amongst the other nations of the world there have been people who have published books about proper conduct and ethics.  But those people made up their ethical values on their own, and the ethical values of Israel were given at Sinai.  (from Rav Ovadia M'Bartenura)

"...the Men of the Great Assembly..." (Pirkei Avot 1:1)


There were 120 Men of the Great Assembly, and there are those who say 85.  Amongst them were the prophets Chagai, Zacharia, and Malachi.  The last one of them was Shimon HaTzaddik.  They returned the crown of the Torah to its place, after the Babylonian exile of 70 years.

"He used to say..."  (throughout Pirkei Avot)


It is written in Pirkei Avot a number of times, "he used to say".  What does this expression mean?  On a simple level this means that the Sage being quoted was accustomed to say those words on a regular basis.  And there are those who explain that he himself was an elevated person who lived in accord with the principle that he stated, and not just that he used to say it to other people. 

The Days of Sefirat HaOmer (the counting of the Omer)


It is written by the Ramban (23:36) that the days of the counting of the Omer (the 49 days counted from the second day of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot arrives on the 50th day) are like Chol HaMoed -- the intermediate days of a festival.

The Torah Portion of Sh'mini has 91 verses, 6 positive commandments, and 11 negative commandments.The Haftorah is "V'yosef Od David" (Sh'muel Bait 6)


The 17 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of Sh'mini are as follows:

1. The negative commandment, that the Kohanim should not enter the Mikdash with long hair (Vayikra 10:6)
2. The negative commandment, that the Kohanim should not enter the Mikdash with torn clothes (Vayikra 10:6)
3. The negative commandment, that the Kohanim should not leave the Mikdash during the service (Vayikra 10:7)
4. The negative commandment, that the Kohanim should not enter the Mikdash when under the influence of wine (Vayikra 10:8)
5. The positive commandment, to check the signs of animals to determine their Kashrut status (Vayikra 11:2)
6. The negative commandment, to not eat non-kosher animals (Vayikra 11:4)
7. The positive commandment, to check the signs of fish to determine their Kashrut status (Vayikra 11:9)
8. The negative commandment, to not eat non-kosher fish (Vayikra 11:11)
9. The negative commandment, to not eat non-kosher birds (Vayikra 11:13)
10. The positive commandment, to check the signs of locusts to determine their Kashrut status (Vayikra 11:21)
11. The positive commandment, to observe the laws of impurity caused by the eight sh'ratzim (insects) (Vayikra 11:29)
12. The positive commandment, to observe the laws of impurity caused by liquid and solid foods (Vayikra 11:34)
13. The positive commandment, to observe the laws of impurity caused by an animal carcass (Vayikra 11:39)
14. The negative commandment, to not eat non-kosher creatures that crawl on land (Vayikra 11:41)
15. The negative commandment, to not eat worms and insects that infest fruits and vegetables (Vayikra 11:41)
16. The negative commandment, to not eat creatures that live in water other than kosher fish (Vayikra 11:43)
17. The negative commandment, to not eat maggots that develop in rotting food material (Vayikra 11:44)



We begin to say Pirkei Avot, Chapter One



Shabbat Shalom.
May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach
L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Pesach 5778

Pesach: The Passover Holiday  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov



The Influence of the Seder Night


It is told in the Gemara about Rabbi Yehuda bar Ila'i, that he would have a headache from drinking the four cups of wine on the night of the Seder, from Passover until Shavuot; and this was something to wonder at, that every time he would have a headache, at exactly the same season from Passover until Shavuot.  They explained this from a Mussar (ethical) point of view, that the meaning of this is that the influence of the night of the Seder needs to extend until Shavuout because that is its end-point and purpose, for the main reason that the children of Israel went out from Egypt was so that afterwards they would receive the Torah (from Rabbi Yehuda Tzadka).

The Four Questions  (from the Passover Haggadah)


In asking "Mah Nishtana" (the four questions), the main point of the son's question is -- why we do acts which are diametrically opposed to one another?  We eat Matzah, which is a reminder of slavery (as the Ibn Ezra wrote that one time he was held captive in the land of India, and they gave him to eat Matzah, and said to him that Matzah is satisfying even if one eats only a little bit), and also Maror (bitter herbs) is also a symbol of slavery.  On the other hand, we perform the act of dipping some foods, and also we recline while eating, and these are symbolic of freedom.  And upon this the father answers, "We were slaves, etc.", for on this very night we were also slaves and also freed.  Until midnight we were still slaves, and from midnight  and onwards we were free people, and therefore on the night of the Seder we do things which are diametrically opposed like that.

"How many levels of goodness TO the Omnipresent  are upon us." (from the Passover Haggadah) 


It should have been written, "FROM the Omnipresent are upon us", and not "TO the Omnipresent", as if the intention was that He received a benefit.  And the explanation is, that everything that the Holy One Blessed Be He does for the people of Israel, He is also doing it for Himself, and if there is something which is good for the children of Israel, it is also good for Him.  This is similar to what we find by Rabbi Yishmael who entered within (the Sanctuary of the Temple) and the Holy One Blessed Be He requested "Bless me", and Rabbi Yishmael said to Him, "May Your Mercy overcome Your anger at us".  Wasn't that a blessing to Israel and not to the Holy One Blessed Be He?  However, the explanation is that a blessing to Israel is in its very essence a blessing to the Holy One Blessed Be He.

"Matzot shall be eaten in a holy place"  (Vayikra 6:9)


It is written in the Torah Portion of Tzav, "Matzot shall be eaten in a holy place" (Vayikra 6:9)  This is a hint to the Matzot that are eaten on the night of Passover, that they should be in a holy place.  That is to say, that one should sanctify his mouth, for that is the place of eating the Matzot.  This is also hinted at by the word "Pharoah", which in Hebrew has the same letters as Peh-Ra (an evil mouth), and the rectification for this is Pesach, which in Hebrew is similar to the Hebrew words Peh-Sach (a mouth which speaks).  One should speak only words which are good and holy, for everyone who increases speaking about them (i.e., the miracles of Passover) is praiseworthy.  And the opposite is also the case; someone who doesn't speak good words, G-d forbid, is not praiseworthy.

Food of Healing and Food of Faith


In the Holy Zohar, Matzah is called a "Food of Healing".  The explanation is that this food is a healing for the soul and for the body.  It is also called a "Food of Faith", because it brings one to faith. 


Why are we stringent on Pesach about the slightest bit of Chametz?


Why are we stringent on Pesach about the slightest bit (of Chametz)?  To hint that if the congregation of Israel had remained in Egypt the slightest bit more time, they would have entered the 50th gate of impurity.

Everyone who is careful about avoiding the slightest bit of Chametz on Pesach is promised that he won't sin all year.  (Ba'er Heitev Siman 447)

"In the beginning our forefathers were idol worshipers" (from the Passover Haggadah) 


Why does the Haggadah begin with a disgrace and end with praise?  To show us that even if a person is found at the lowest level, G-d forbid, he is still able to elevate himself to high levels.

"For His kindness overcame us"  (from the Hallel in the Passover Haggadah)


At times a person doesn't know that what that happens to him is really a kindness for him, but rather he just thinks that it is detrimental for him.  And that is the meaning of saying that His kindness "overcame" us, that is to say,  the person receives the kindnesses of the Holy One Blessed Be He with self-restraint and effort, even though he doesn't want to.  And also, it is necessary to interpret what we mean when we say in the first blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, that Hashem is "a giver of good kindnesses" -- is there such a thing as kindnesses which are not good?  No, it is just that there are kindnesses that appear to a person as if they are not kindnesses, and for that reason we request that it should also be recognizable by us that the kindnesses are good.

May we merit to eat from the Zevachim and the Pesachim  (the Passover offerings) speedily in our days.


Two Torah scrolls are taken out:1) Moshchu V'kchu (from the Torah Portion of "Bo")2) for the Maftir, "Uv'chodesh  Harishon (from the Torah Portion of "Pinchas")The Haftorah is "B'ait Hahi" (Yehoshua 5)



Chag Sameach.
May you have a light-filled, happy and Kosher Shabbat and Yom Tov. 
In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we are to be redeemed in the future. (Rosh Hashanah 11a)

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tzav & Shabbat HaGadol 5778

The Torah Portion of "Tzav - Shabbat HaGadol " 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"Command Aharon.." (Vayikra 6:2)


Rashi says that the term "Tzav" (in English: "Command") is always denotes urging or encouragement...; said Rebbe Shimon, it is especially necessary for the Torah text to urge or encourage when there is a "Chesron Kees" (in English: "lack of pocket", i.e., a monetary loss). There are those who explain this as an ethical teaching.  The Hebrew word for "Pocket" is "Kees", which is linguistically related to the Hebrew word "Keesui", which means "Covering" in English. All the limbs of a person have the possibility of being covered. For example, in the case of the eyes, ears, and also the mouth, it's possible to close them, so that one will not stumble by means of these organs in forbidden matters.  Only the brain of a person which is where the person thinks, doesn't have any possibility of being covered or closed.  And one needs to invest a lot of effort because of that, in order to not come to bad thoughts, G-d forbid.  And that is the explanation, that it is especially necessary to urge or encourage in the place where there is "lack of pocket", that is to say, where there is no possibility of covering or closing (i.e., in the brain).  And that is also the connection between the language of urging or encouraging, specifically in the case of the elevation offering, as it explains in the verse "Command Aharon and his sons saying, this is the law of the elevation offering..." (Vayikra 6:2).  This is because the elevation offering come to atone for thoughts -- which are in the brain which can't be covered or closed -- and therefore it is especially necessary urge or encourage about this.

"And he shall remove his garments and he shall put on other garments" (Vayikra 6:4) 


Rashi explains, garments in which he was dressed when he cooked a pot of food for his master, he should not pour while dressed in them, a cup of wine for his master.  The Maharsha brings from this a proof, that a person should change his clothes in the honor of Shabbat to garments which are appropriate and clean, just as the Kohen would change his clothes at the time of his service, and would not use the same clothes that he wore when he was removing the ashes from the altar.  Thus it is necessary to change clothes for Shabbat, and not use the same clothes that one wore on Erev Shabbat while preparing for Shabbat.

"Matzot shall be eaten in a holy place" (Vayikra 6:9)  


This is a hint to the Matzot that are eaten on the night of Passover, that they should be in a holy place.  That is to say, that one should sanctify his mouth, for that is the place of eating the Matzot.  This is also hinted at by the word "Pharoah", which in Hebrew has the same letters as Peh-Ra (an evil mouth), and the rectification for this is Pesach, which in Hebrew is similar to the Hebrew words Peh-Sach (a mouth which speaks).  One should speak only words which are good and holy, for everyone who increases speaking about them (i.e., the miracles of Passover) is praiseworthy.  And the opposite is also the case; someone who doesn't speak good words, G-d forbid, is not praiseworthy.

An Ethical Teaching


There is a story told about Sh'muel HaNagid, zya"a (may his memory protect us, Amen), who was close to the king.  One time the king was traveling together with R' Shmuel and they encountered a bad person, a non-Jewish musician who was jealous of R' Shmuel.  The musician composed derogatory songs about the Jews and about R' Shmuel, and when the the carriage of the king passed by he sang the derogatory songs.  The king got very angry about that, and told R' Sh'muel: "For such brazenness, I command you to cut out his tongue".  What did R' Sh'muel do?  He composed a song with words of praise about the non-Jew, and also gave the non-Jew a significant gift.  The non-Jew was very amazed by that, and in response made a song about R' Sh'muel that contained words of praise and thanks for the gift.  The king passed by and heard that the non-Jew was still singing, and said to R' Sh'muel: "Didn't I command you to cut out his tongue?"  R' Sh'muel answered:  "That is what I did.  I cut out his bad tongue and changed it into a good tongue."  He explained to the king: "If I would have cut out his tongue, there would have sprouted in its place many bad tongues from his family and the people of his city", and his wisdom was very good in the eyes of the king.


Shabbat HaGadol


The Shabbat before Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat, because of the miracle which occurred on it: the children of Israel took sheep, and tied them to their beds, in preparation for slaughter.  Even though the Egyptians were very angry that the Jews were going to slaughter sheep, since they worshiped the sheep as idols, they didn't say anything about it to the Jews because they had developed a great fear of the Jewish people.

Another reason that it is called Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat, is because then a Gadol (great person) speaks before the people about matters pertaining to the holiday, and therefore it is called "Shabbat HaGadol".

Another reason it is called "Shabbat HaGadol" is because the Haftara of this Shabbat ends with the words "Yom Hashem Hagadol..." (the Great day of Hashem).

Why do we have this remembrance precisely on Shabbat?  Even if the Jews had done so  (taken the sheep) on one of the days of the week, it would also have been a miracle.  Therefore the remembrance should have been set for the 10th day of Nissan, when they were commanded about it.  However, because Miriam passed away on the 10th day of Nissan, as is explained in Shulchan Aruch Siman 580, they didn't want to set the remembrance for that day, but rather on the day of Shabbat, for in that year the 10th of Nissan was on Shabbat.  (Shulchan Aruch HaRav)

Everyone who is careful about avoiding the slightest bit of Chametz on Pesach is promised that he won't sin all year.  (Ba'er Heitev Siman 447)

Why are we stringent on Pesach about the slightest bit?  To hint that if the congregation of Israel had remained in Egypt the slightest bit more time, they would have entered the 50th gate of impurity.

In the Haftorah for Shabbat HaGadol it is written "Behold, I am sending you Elijah the Prophet" and take notice -- it should have been written "I will send", in the future tense, and not "I am sending", in the present tense.  And the Chafetz Chaim explains, that the reason it says "sending", in the present tense, is that there is nothing holding back the Holy One Blessed Be He and that He would send Eliyahu HaNavi immediately.  But the matter is only dependent upon us, and at the moment that there will not be any delays caused by us, the Children of Israel, Hashem would immediately send us Eliyahu HaNavi to announce the arrival of the redemption.

The Torah Portion of "Tzav" has 97 verses.  There are 9 positive commandments and 9 negative commandments.The Haftorah, for Shabbat HaGadol, is "V'arvah L'Hashem" (Malachi 3)


The 18 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of Tzav are as follows:

1. The positive commandment, to remove the ashes from the altar  every day(Vayikra 6:3)
2. The positive commandment, to light a fire on the altar every day (Vayikra 6:6)
3. The negative commandment, to not extinguish the fire on the altar (Vayikra 6:6)
4. The positive commandment, that the Kohanim  must eat the remains of the meal offerings (Vayikra 6:9)
5. The negative commandment, to not bake a meal offering as leavened bread (Vayikra 6:10)
6. The positive commandment, for the Kohen Gadol to bring a meal offering every day (Vayikra 6:13)
7. The negative commandment, that the meal offering of the Kohen Gadol should not be eaten (Vayikra 6:16)
8. The positive commandment, to carry out the procedure of the sin offering (Vayikra 6:18)
9. The negative commandment, to not eat the meat of a sin offering which was brought into the inner sanctuary (Vayikra 6:23)
10. The positive commandment, to carry out the procedure of the guilt offering (Vayikra 7:1)
11. The positive commandment, to carry out the procedure of the peace offering (Vayikra 7:11)
12. The negative commandment, to not leave over the meat of the thanks offering (Vayikra 7:15)
13. The positive commandment, to burn the leftovers of holy offerings (Vayikra 7:17)
14. The negative commandment, to not eat from sacrifices offered with improper intentions (Vayikra 7:18)
15. The negative commandment, to not from sacrifices which have become impure (Vayikra 7:19)
16. The positive commandment, to burn all impure sacrifices (Vayikra 7:19)
17. The negative commandment, to not eat certain fats from kosher animals (Vayikra 7:23)
18. The negative commandment, to not eat the blood of mammals and birds (Vayikra 7:26)

We stop saying Borchi Nafshi

In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we are to be redeemed in the future. (Rosh Hashanah 11a)May we merit to eat from the Zevachim and from the Pesachim (the Passover sacrificial offerings)



May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Vayikra - HaChodesh 5778

The Torah Portion of "Vayikra - HaChodesh" 


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Shlomo Ben Chaim z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


"Vayikra el Moshe..." (in English: "And He called to Moshe") (Vayikra 1:1)


The word "Vayikra" (in English: "And He called") is written with a small letter Aleph at the end of the word.  And it is written in the Ba'al HaTurim that the reason was because Moshe Rabeinu wanted that it should be written "Vayikar el Moshe" (in English: "And He chanced upon Moshe"), similarly to how it was written regarding Bilaam [in Bamidbar (23:4), "Vayikar Elokim el Bilaam"  which in English is translated as: "And G-d chanced upon Bilaam"].  For the Holy One Blessed Be He revealed Himself to Bilaam only as if by chance, and Moshe Rabeinu in his great humility didn't want it to be written "Vayikra", "And He called", which has the implication that He appeared to Moshe always (but that it should be written "Vayikar" - "And He chanced", without the letter Aleph at the end of the word).  And the Holy One Blessed Be He said to also write the Aleph,  and Moshe because of his great humility, responded again that it should not be written unless it is smaller than the other letter "Alephs" that are written in the Torah, and he wrote it small. And in the commentary of the R"osh on the Torah, it is written that Moshe said before the Holy One Blessed Be He, please, I have a request from You, that You should do something so that the generations to come will recognize and know that it is difficult for me this "Calling".  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, I will make the "Aleph" small, because you have made yourself small (because of Moshe's great 
humility).

Why is it customary for young children to begin their learning with the Torah Portion of Vayikra?


The Kli Yakar brings in the name of the Midrash, the reason that the young children begin their learning with the Torah Portion of Vayikra, is because the Book of Vayikra speaks about the topic of Korbanot (sacrifices).  Just like Korbanot are pure, so too are the Tinokot Shel Beit Rabban (young children who are learning in the house of their Rebbes) pure.  And this is hinted at by the small letter Aleph (at the end of the word Vayikra), to hint that the little ones should begin their learning here.  And also, the letter Aleph is the first of all the letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and from this letter they start in the beginning.  Another reason which the Kli Yakar wrote, is because the letter Aleph is linguistically related to the Hebrew word a'alephecha (in English: "I will teach you") as in the verse "V'a'ALEPHecha Chachma" which means in English: "And I will teach you  wisdom" (Iyov (33:33). This is to hint that learning will not be effective except for someone who makes himself small, that is to say, that he isn't conceited.  And also Moshe merited that the Holy One Blessed Be He revealed Himself to him, because he made himself small and fled from being a dominating person, as he said "I am not a man of words" (Shemot 4:10).

"And He called to Moshe..." (Vayikra 1:1)


Rashi says that this (the use of the term "calling") is a language of love, the language which the angels of service use, as it is said "And one (angel) will call  to the other and say" (Yeshayahu 6:3).  It can be asked, what kind of a proof is this, that since the angels of service use the term "calling" that this is a language of love?  But the explanation is, as the Chatam Sofer says: behold the verse "And one (angel) will call to the other" is translated (to Aramaic) in the Tirgum Yonatan by "And they receive one from another".  And on the face of things, what is the connection between a language of "receiving" to a language of "calling"?  But we see that by means of the angel calling to the angel who is smaller than he is, the smaller angel is given additional strength so that he can sanctify Hashem and say "Holy holy holy..."  (Yeshayahu 6:3).   And we thus find that the "calling" of the angels causes "receiving".  And that is why the Torah specifies also regarding the speech of Hashem to Moshe the language of "calling", to teach us that by means of this "calling", Moshe was given additional strength to receive the flow of prophesy and holiness,  and if so, it's simple that this is a language of love.  


"A man if he offers from you an offering to Hashem" (Vayikra 1:2) 


The Holy books write that there is a hint here, that if a man wants to bring himself close to the Divine service of Hashem, he needs to negate all of his identity, to submit himself to Hashem entirely, and to negate his "I", his ego. And that is the intention of saying "A man if he offers 'from you'"; that is to say, if he is prepared to sacrifice "from you", his identity, then he is worthy to be an offering to Hashem.

"A man if he offers from you an offering to Hashem, from the cattle" (Vayikra 1:2) 


The Holy Alshich wrote, that the main point of the service of bringing an offering to Hashem is, that he should think in his heart, that according strict justice, it would be appropriate to have done to himself that which is done to the cattle, to burn his limbs and dash his blood on the altar, G-d forbid, because of the sins which he has committed. And it is only because of the great mercy and kindness of Hashem, that the animal has exchanged places with the man.  And this is the intention of saying "A man if he offers from you", that is, the man needs to offer himself, but the sacrifice to Hashem is from the cattle, since the animal is in place of him.

"...from the animals -- from the cattle and from the flocks... (Vayikra 1:2)


Rashi says, one might be able to think wild animals are also included; to teach otherwise  the Torah says "cattle and flocks".  In the book "Eidut B'yosef" it is brought in the name of the Gaon Rav Ziskind M'Rotenberg z"l that behold, the early scholars found three reasons why we don't bring sacrifices from wild animals: 1) The Holy One Blessed Be He said not to bother you to go out to forests.  The explanation of this is that domestic animals are found amongst people but wild animals are found only in forests and places which are distant so that the hand of man cannot easily obtain them.  2) Hashem requests the pursued and the domestic animals are always pursued by the wild animals that want to tear them apart.  3) The wild animal has pride and a conceited spirit, but the domestic animal is humble and its spirit is as low as the earth, and the Holy One Blessed Be He hates pride and a conceited spirit.  According to this, in the future to come, when it will be as it is written (Yeshayahu 11:7) "A lion like cattle will eat straw together in one trough and a small lad will lead them", it will be found then that wild animals will be easy to obtain, and also there will be peace between the domestic animal and the wild animal so the domestic animal will no longer be pursued.  Thus, it will only because of the third reason, a conceited spirit (that we would bring only domestic animals for an offering).  And this is the explanation of the verse in Tehillim (51:19), "The offerings to G-d are a broken spirit", that the sacrifices are only from domestic animals who have a broken spirit.  And it is thereby demonstrated that "a broken and humble heart, G-d, You will not despise" (Tehillim 51:19).  But if you will say that this is not important but rather the first two reasons given above, on this the verse says "Do good as You see fit to Tzion...Then You will desire the sacrifices of righteousness" (Tehillim 51:20-21).  That is to say, that then in the future to come, there will not be domestic animals who are pursued and also wild animals will be easily obtained, but even so, only "bulls will then be offered  on Your altar" (Tehillim 51:21).  And it is thereby demonstrated that the main reason is because "a broken heart You will not despise".  (Tehillim 51:21).

"...to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting he shall bring it, in accordance with his will..." (Vayikra 1:3)


The Torah hints to us, that when a person brings a sacrificial offering to Hashem, it's possible that he might have a thought that he has already reached perfection and rectified everything, and has arrived at very highly elevated state.  Therefore the Torah says "to the entrance of the tent of meeting..." -- he needs to know that he is still standing at the entrance, at the beginning of serving Hashem, and is still far from perfection.  And also it is brought in the Gemara,  someone who has a broken heart, is regarded in the holy texts as if he has brought all of the sacrificial offerings, as it says "the sacrifices to G-d are a broken spirit..." (Tehillim 51:19). The main point of bringing a sacrificial offering is that one's heart should be broken within him, as he thinks to himself about far away he is from serving the Creator.  In addition, the continuation of the verse  states "in accordance with his will" (Vayikra 1:3); this shows us that the most important aspect of bringing a sacrificial offering is that one should bring his will closer to the true service of Hashem.

"...and he shall perform Melika (in English: pinching off its head) ..." (Vayikra 1:15)


It is written in the Sefer HaChinuch, what is the reason that when an "olah" (burnt-offering) of a bird is brought, they perform Melika (pinching off its head), and not like the rest of the sacrificial offerings which require Shechita (ritual slaughtering)?  The reason is that the children of Israel are compared to a dove, and the children of Israel are referred to in the Torah as a stiff-necked (i.e. stubborn) people.  Therefore they perform Melika (pinching off the bird's head), which entails cutting at the neck, to hint that it is necessary to remove the stiff-necked stubbornness from the  children of Israel (who are symbolized by the dove).  In addition, there are those who explain that the reason that an "olah" (burnt-offering) of a bird is Kosher even if it has a defect, is because it is written about the children of Israel "He perceived no iniquity in Yaakov" (Bamidbar 23:21) -- the Holy One Blessed Be He disregards the lacks and defects of the children of Israel.  And therefore, also the dove whom the children of Israel are compared to, is Kosher even if it has a defect.  Only if it has a great defect, such as if it is lacking a limb, is it considered invalid.

"...for any leaven, nor any honey, you shall not burn of it an offering made by fire to Hashem" (Vayikra  2:11)


The Baal HaTurim  says the reason for this is that leaven is symbolic of the Evil Inclination, and therefore the verse also warns about honey to hint to us that the Evil Inclination seems as sweet to a person as honey. 

Why are the Chatat (sin offering), the Asham (guilt offering), and also the Minchah (meal offering) considered to be Kodshei Kodashim (the most holy kinds of offerings)?


The Abarbanel wrote that the reason that the Chatat (sin offering) and Asham (guilt offering) are considered to be the most holy kinds of offerings, is that they come from a man who wants to repent and return to Hashem.   And that is very dear to Hashem, and therefore they are entirely holy to Hashem. And also, the Minchah (meal offering) is an offering made by a poor person, who has a lowly soul, and also he is very dear to Hashem, and therefore his offering is considered to be one of the most holy kinds of offerings.

The Torah Portion of HaChodesh:


The reason for this reading is to sanctify and declare the month of Nissan, because of the importance of this month, for so it is written in the Torah: "This month will be to you the head of the months; it is the first for you of the months of the year". (Shemot 12:2) It is the head of the months and of the festivals. (Practically speaking, this is not the actual sanctification of the month but rather just an addition of holiness.)

Another reason for this reading: to announce to the people that Passover is coming soon, so that they should prepare themselves to come up to Jerusalem for the festival. The Mitzvah of coming up to Jerusalem for Passover is more stringent than for the the other festivals, because of the "Korban Pesach" (Passover offering), which is a positive commandment that has the punishment of
Korait (cutting off) if not fulfilled.  And they established that they would announce about this on Shabbat, which is a day on which many people would be gathered together in the synagogues, and this announcement would therefore become widely publicized.

10 Crowns that were taken by Rosh Chodesh Nissan:


1) The first for the act of creation
2) The first for the princes; the princes began to bring sacrificial offerings
3) The first for the priests (the Kohanim); the priests began to do their service
4) The first for the service; the sacrifices of the community began to be offered
5) The first for the coming down of fire upon the sacrificial altar
6) The first for eating of the holy offerings, according to their statutory laws
7) The first for the indwelling of the Divine Presence
8) The first time for the Kohanim to bless the people of Israel
9) The first time when it became forbidden to offer sacrifices on Bamot, so that they would be offered only in the Mishkan
10) The first of the months of the year

On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Moshe blessed Israel, May it be His will that the Divine Presence will dwell in the acts of your hands.

It is customary from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the 13th of the month to say each day the Torah verses about one of the princes from the dedication of the sacrificial altar. On the the first day, we begin with "Vayihi Biyom Kalot Moshe"; on the 12th day we complete the Torah portion of Naso; and on the 13th day we say the Torah portion of Baaloticha until "Et Hamenorah". (A Kohen or Levi should not say the Yehi Ratzon.) (from Mishna Berura, Siman 429)

The Torah Portion of "Vayikra" has 111 verses. There are 11 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments.

Three Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion 2) the reading for Rosh Chodesh 3) for the Torah Portion of "Bo", from "Vyomar Hashem... HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem" until "Tochlu Matzot". The Haftorah is "Kol HaAm HaAretz" (Yechezkel 45)


The 16 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of Vayikra are as follows:

1. The positive commandment, the act of bringing an Olah (elevation offering).  (Vayikra 1:3)
2. The positive commandment, the act of bringing a Minchah (meal offering) (Vayikra 2:1)
3. The negative commandment, to not burn honey or yeast on the altar (Vayikra 2:11)
4. The negative commandment, to not bring any offering without salt (Vayikra 2:13)
5. The positive commandment, to bring salt with every offering (Vayikra 2:13)
6. The positive commandment, that the Sanhedrin Beit Din must bring an offering when it rules in error (Vayikra 4:13)
7. The positive commandment, that an individual must bring a sin offering if he inadvertently violated certain prohibitions (Vayikra 4:27)
8. The positive commandment, to give testimony as a witness (Vayikra 5:1)
9. The positive commandment, to bring a korban oleh v'yored (variable type of elevation offering) (Vayika 5:1)
10. The negative commandment, to not sever the head of a bird brought as a sin offering (Vayikra 5:5)
11. The negative commandment, to not put olive oil on a meal offering brought as a Chatat (sin offering) (Vayikra 5:11)
12. The negative commandment, to not put frankincense on a meal offering brought as a Chatat (sin offering) (Vayikra 5:11)
13. The positive commandment, that one who profaned property must make restitution plus add  one fifth of the value, in addition to bringing an Asham (guilt offering) (Vayikra 5:16)
14. The positive commandment, to bring an Asham Tolui (conditional guilt offering) if one is not sure whether he violated a particular kind of prohibition or not (Vayikra 5:17)
15. The positive commandment, to bring an Asham Vadai (guilt offering) when guilt is ascertained (Vayikra 5:21)
16. The positive commandment, that a thief must return that which he stole or its equivalent value (Vayikra 5:23)

We say Borchi Nafshi

In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we are to be redeemed in the future.


May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Vayakheil - Pekudei & Para 5778


The Torah Portion of "Vayakheil Pekudei Para"  


Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Michael Ben Nachman z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Zehava Bat Shlomo z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Bat Natan z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Malka Bat Rivkah Zlata
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Ahuva Nechama Bat Simcha Pearl
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Fruma Freidel Bat Esther  
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rav Daniel Reuven Ben Esther 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Alice Allegra Bat Miriam 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Nachum Natan Ben Chana and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov


The Torah Portion of Vayahkeil


"And Moshe assembled... and on the seventh day it shall be to you holy..." (Shemot 35:1-2)


Our Rabbis who were learned in Aggadatta have said, that from the beginning of the Torah until its end, there is not within it a portion that states at its beginning "Yayahkeil" ("and he assembled") except for this one.  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, make for yourself large assemblies of people and explain before them in public the halachic laws of Shabbat, so that they will learn from you in future generations to gather together assemblies of people every Shabbat and to meet in the Batei Midrash to learn and instruct Israel about words of Torah regarding what is forbidden and what is permitted, in order for my great name to be glorified among my children. (from Yalkut)

"And Moshe assembled... and on the seventh day it shall be to you holy...(Shemot 35:1-2)


In addition, there is a Midrash: the Torah said before the Holy One Blessed Be He, "Master of the Universe, when Israel enters into the Land, this one will run to his vineyard and that one will run to his field, and I, what will happen to me?" He (the Holy One Blessed Be He) said to her (i.e., the Torah), I have a marriage-partner that I will marry you to and Shabbat is her name; when they will be resting from their work and able to occupy themselves with you.

"And Moshe assembled..." (Shemot 35:1) 


Rashi says that this occurred on the day after Yom Kippur.  It is customary for people to appease their friends on the day before Yom Kippur, but also on the day after Yom Kippur we should take care to continue to assemble together and to live in peace and brotherhood. And that was the intention of what Rashi says "And Moshe assembled - on the day after Yom Kippur".

"You shall not light fire in any of your dwellings on the day of Shabbat" (Shemot 35:3) 


It is brought in the holy books that even though the fire of Gehinnom is extinguished on Shabbat, for someone who desecrates Shabbat the fires of Gehinnom are kindled especially for him to punish him.  And this is what the Torah is warning us, that one should be careful not to desecrate Shabbat since that would cause the fires of Gehinnom to be lit up for him.  Also, the Sages said that the sin of desecrating Shabbat causes fires, G-d forbid.  And this is what the Torah is hinting to us, that you shouldn't cause fires to flare up in your dwelling places, because of desecration of  Shabbat, G-d forbid.  Similarly, if we are careful not to  desecrate Shabbat, then as a result there will not be any fires in our houses.   In addition, it is hinted in the holy books, that on the holy Sabbath,  one needs to be especially careful to prevent the kindling of the fire of divisive argumentation (Machloket).  On Shabbat people are present in the Bait Knesset and are not busy with their weekday work, so the evil inclination finds an opportunity precisely on this holy day to incite people to have disagreements and arguments.  And that is why the Torah says "You shall not light fire...on the day of Shabbat".

"Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur" (Shemot 35:30)


Why does the Torah, when it is telling the ancestry of Betzalel, also mention his connection to his grandfather Chur?  Rashi explains, because Chur was the son of Miriam the Prophetess, and therefore Betzalel merited to make the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  And there are those that say, that the reason Betzalel merited to do this, was because of his grandfather Chur who gave up his life during the episode of the Golden Calf, when he refused to make the Golden Calf, and they (the rabble-rousers) killed him. And also, this is to teach us, that by means of the act of the setting up of the Mishkan which was made by the grandson of Chur, that was a sign that Israel was granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.  For if that was not the case, Betzalel could not have made the Mishkan, since he was the grandson of Chur who was killed in the episode of the Golden Calf, and someone who is a Katigor (acting, as it were, as attorney on the side of the prosecution in the Heavenly Courts) cannot be a Sanigor (an attorney of the side of the defense in the Heavenly Courts).  And also, Mesirut Nefesh (the devotion of one's soul) needs to be done without investigations and over-intellectualization, since the hesitance involved in such investigations will delay one's internal will to give up his life for the sanctification of Hashem Yitbarach, as the Chassid Yavetz states, and Nachshon Ben Aminadav who was the Prince of the tribe of Yehudah, devoted himself at the Sea with Mesirut Nefesh, and also Chur devoted himself at the episode of the Golden Calf.  And therefore, he (the Chassid Yavetz) said that since they didn't investigate or over-intellectualize too much, therefore Betzalel was filled with the spirit of G-d with wisdom and knowledge, etc., and that is why it is written "son of Chur of the tribe of Yehuda" (Shemot 35:30)  (from the Meshech Chachma) 

The Torah Portion of Pekudei 


"These are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe."  (Shemot 38:21)


The Holy Zohar asks, isn't it so that the blessing is not to be found except in something which is hidden from the eye, so why did they count all the silver?  And the answer is that regarding the silver which was counted by Moshe Rabbeinu, that the blessing rests upon it even if it is counted and not hidden from the eye.  And that is the explanation of the verse "these are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe" --  because they were counted by Moshe there was no damage or lack caused by the counting of the sum of the donations for the Mishkan, and on the contrary because of the power of Moshe's greatness and righteousness, there was no reason to prevent the blessing.

"...a hundred sockets (in Hebrew: "Adanim") for a hundred kikar..."  (Shemot 38:27)


The Baal HaTurim wrote that in parallel to the hundred sockets they established to say a hundred blessings every day.  And the Chidushei HaRim says that just as the sockets are the basis of the Mishkan, so also the blessings are the basis of the holiness of every man of Israel, and by means of the blessings he testifies that Hashem, may He be blessed, is the Master of all of Creation.    The Kli Yakar says that a Socket (in Hebrew: Aden) is from the same root as Master  (in Hebrew: Adon), and he says that someone holds himself to be lowly like a Socket, is a  Master, and as in the language of the Zohar, someone who regards himself as lowly, is great.

"...and Moshe blessed them." (Shemot 39:43)


Rashi states that Moshe said to them "May it be Hashem's will that the Shechina (the Divine Presence) should dwell within the work of your hands".  And the explanation of this is, that in all the activities that a person is occupied with, also in matters of physicality and earning a livelihood, it needs to be recognizable within that activity that he is serving the Creator and that the Shechina is present.  And that is the meaning of saying that "the Shechina should dwell within the work of your hands."

"...as Hashem had commanded Moshe."  (Shemot 40:19 and other places)


There are 18 times in this Torah Portion that it is mentioned "as Hashem had commanded Moshe", and it is brought in the Talmud Yerushalmi that in parallel to this there were 18 blessings established in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer.  And this is also to show us that in every act that a person does, he needs to know if that is in accord with the commandment of Hashem.

Why is the Torah repetitive?


Why did the Torah repeat separately the service in the Mishkan, and the commandments about the Mishkan, and the making of the Mishkan, and the setting up of the Mishkan, with all the details each and every time?  It is because the Holy One Blessed Be He desires very much to have His Shechina dwell within Israel.

The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev.


The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev, but Hashem said to set it up on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, since that is the month in which Yitzchak Avinu was born, and he was a Korban (sacrificial offering), and the Mishkan was the place to bring sacrificial offerings.  The month of Kislev came with a complaint, "why are they waiting till the month of Nissan?" So Hashem said, it is incumbent upon me to "pay" Kislev with the holiday of Chanukah.  (from the Sages)


The Siman (Mnemonic Sign) at the end of every Torah Portion.


At the end of every Torah Portion appears the sum of the number of verses in the Torah Portion, together with a corresponding mnemonic sign, except for the Torah Portion of Pekudei.  There is no mnemonic sign for the sum of the number of verses.  And it has been explained in the name of one of the Tzaddikim (Righteous Men), that in his opinion, that was just an omission of the printer.  And it is possible that it was written "Bli Kol Siman" (In English: "without any mnemonic sign") --- that is to say, the "Siman" (in Engish: "mnemomic sign" ) was "Bli Kol" (in English: "without any")  which has the Gematia (numerical value of the letters) of 92, which is the number of verses in the Torah Portion.   And the printer came and understood it in a simple manner, that there was no mnemomic sign, and therefore left it out...(from Otzar HaChaim, as brought in the book "Torat HaParshah"). )

We bless "Chazak" at the end of the Torah Portion of Pekudei, which is the end of the book of Shemot.


THE TORAH PORTION OF PARA 


The reason for the reading of the Torah Portion of Para (the Red Heifer) is that at the time when the Temple existed and they could sacrifice the Passover offering, someone who was impure because of contact with a dead person was not able to bring the offering unless he became purified beforehand by means of the ashes of the red heifer.  It was necessary to remind and announce to everyone who had become impure from contact with a dead person to purify himself from that impurity, so that he could bring the Passover offering at the right time. 

Therefore  they began early to encourage people about it before the month of Nissan, so that those who lived far away from Jerusalem would already start to leave their cities on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in order to go up to Jerusalem, and while the people were still at home in their cities, they would remind them that if someone had become impure from contact with a dead person, he first needed to purify himself.  And even though, in our many sins, the Temple has been destroyed and we don't have the bringing of the Passover offering and don't have impurity from a dead person which we need to be purified from beforehand, in any event we learn about these commandments and laws and pray before Hashem, may His name be blessed, that also upon us will be cast the purifying waters, in the near future.  And by means of learning these laws may it be considered as if we have purified ourselves from our impurity.

There are those that say that also the reading of the Torah Portion of Para is a Mitzvah D'Oraita (a commandment from the Torah), but the opinion of most of the Halachic authorities is that this reading is a Mitzvah D'Rabanan (a commandment from the Rabbis).  In the Sefer Aruch HaShulchan, and in the Sefer Dovev Meisharim, there are sources brought about this.  And it is written in the Mishna Brura (Section 685, small section 15) that even for a Mitzvah D'Rabanan (a commandment from the Rabbis), it is also necessary to have intention to fulfill the Mitzvah.

"...And they shall take to you..." (Bamidbar 19:2)


The Holy One Blessed Be He said to Moshe that only "to you" I am revealing the reason for the Para Adumah (Red Heifer), and not to anyone else.  And even Shlomo HaMelech that Scriptures says about him that he was wiser than all the people, and he was expert in all kinds of wisdom, did not grasp the secret of the Para Adumah, and that is why he said: "I said that I would become wise, but it is distant from me" (Kohelet Chapter 7).  That is to say, I thought in my heart that I would become wise and succeed to understand the secret of the Para Adumah, and behold, it is distant from me.  The words "it is distant" in Hebrew have the same Gematria (numerical value) as "Para Adumah".

The Torah Portion of "Vayakheil" has 122 verses. It has 1 negative commandment.  The Torah Portion of "Pekudei" has 92 verses. 


Two Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion and 2)  the Torah portion of Para, from the beginning of the Torah Portion of Chukat until the words "ad haerev" (in English: until the evening).The Haftorah is "Vayehi Devar Hashem" (Yechezkel 36)


This week is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Nissan.  Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Shabbat Kodesh.  The Molad is Lail Shabbat Kodesh at the hour 3:53 with 4 Chalakim.


The 1 Mitzvah in the Torah Portion of Vayakheil is:

The negative commandment, that the Beit Din should not carry out the death penalty on Shabbat. (Shemot 35:3)

We say Borchi Nafshi



May you have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom