Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tetzaveh & Zachor 5778

The Torah Portion of "Tetzaveh & Parshat Zachor"  


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

"And you will command..."  (Shemot 27:20)


The word "command" linguistically indicates encouragement, and apparently this presents a difficulty.  Why is this language of encouragement used in the Torah Portion of Tetzaveh, whereas in the Torah Portion of T'rumah in which the main donations for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were discussed, this language of encouragement was not used at all?  The explanation is that it is easier to give a lot at one time, than to give even a little bit but on a regular, daily basis.  Therefore, the lighting of the Menorah which was done on a regular, daily basis, requires encouragement.  (from the Gaon HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz) 

"...crushed for illumination..." (Shemot 27:20) 


Rashi explains, that the olives are crushed for illumination but not crushed for "Menachot" (meal-offerings).  A person needs to be "crushed", that is broken in his own eyes, but only on condition that this will be for the purpose of "illumination", and that he doesn't come because of that to sadness and bitterness, G-d forbid.  That is to say, that he does not come because of this to "Menachot" (meal offerings), which in Hebrew is linguistically related to weakness.

"Tarshish and Shoham and Yashfeh" (Shemot 28:20)  [Translator's note: These are names in Hebrew of three of the precious stones on the Choshen (breastplate) of the Kohen HaGadol.]  


The Yashfeh was the stone of the tribe of Benyamin, and the Ba'al HaTurim says this is hinted at by the Gematria (numerical value of the Hebrew letters of the words).  The Gematria  of Yashfeh with the Kollel (one more for the word itself) is equal to the Gematria of Benyamin son of Yaakov. In the Gemara there is a story told about Dama Ben Netina. The Jews came to buy from him a Yashfeh stone for the Choshen (breastplate), but since his father was sleeping at that time on top of the chest in which the Yashfeh was stored, he didn't want to wake him up.  He honored his father, even though he lost a lot of money because of it.  In reward for this, he received a reward from Heaven that made him wealthy after that.  His cow gave birth to a Para Adumah (Red Heifer), and the children of Israel bought it from him for a great amount of money.  The Meshech Chachma clarifies why the stone from Benyamin had been lost.  All of the tribes caused sorrow to their father in the sale of Yosef, and even Yosef caused him sorrow about it because he didn't notify his father that he was in Egypt because he was afraid of the Cherem.  (His brothers had imposed a condition of Cherem, ex-communication, on anyone who told their father about the sale.)  But Benyamin honored his father (since he didn't participate in causing him sorrow through the sale of Yosef), and therefore the Shechina dwelled in his portion.  Therefore when the stone of Benyamin was lost, the Holy One Blessed Be He showed them the greatness of the Mitzvah of honoring one's father through Dama Ben Netina, and this was precisely with the stone of Benyamin, because Binyamin had honored his father. 

"... and the Choshen (breastplate) will not be loosened from upon the Ephod."  (Shemot 28:28)


Why did the Torah emphasize the importance of the attachment of the Choshen and the Ephod to each other at all times?  The "Chatam Sofer" says that the Sages said that the Choshen atones for the perversion of justice and the Ephod atones for idolatry.  And these transgressions are connected to one another, for behold, the Sages said (in Sanhedrin) that anyone who appoints a judge who is not appropriate, it is as if he planted an Asheira (a tree which was worshipped as an idol) next the the Mizbeach (the sacrificial altar).  Therefore, the Torah said to join the Choshen to the Ephod in order to teach us that these transgressions are equivalent to one another.

"And you shall make the Me'il...the opening of its head shall be folded over within it, its opening shall have a border all around...a golden bell and a pomegranate" (Shemot 28:31-34) 


The Sages say that the Me'il (the robe of the Kohen HaGadol) atones for the sin of Lashon Hara (evil speech).  The reason is, that there ought to be something that has a sound in order to atone for Lashon Hara, which occurs through sound, and the Me'il has a sound emanating from its bells. In addition, the Me'il was folded over at its top opening, to hint that one needs to greatly guard himself in order to keep his mouth closed.  And also "a golden bell and a pomegranate" comes to hint to us that on the one hand, one needs to keep his mouth closed like a pomegranate and not speak forbidden speech, for the pomegranate is like an egg which is sealed and doesn't have a mouth.  And on the other hand, when one's speech is for a holy purpose he shouldn't keep quiet but rather open his mouth, like the bells that made a sound for the purpose of holiness, as it is written "its sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary" (Shemot 28:35), meaning that when it comes to a matter of holiness the sound of one's voice should be heard (for example, when praying or learning Torah).  In addition the Chafetz Chaim writes that if one does so (that is, closes his mouth to avoid forbidden speech, but makes his voice heard  for the purpose of holiness), "his voice will be heard when he enters the Sanctuary", that is to say, that his prayers will be accepted.

All the Clothing of the Kohen HaGadol serves as an Atonement


These are the things that the clothing of the Kohen HaGadol atones for: The Mitznefet (mitre) atones for having a coarse spirit.  The Tzitz (golden plate on the mitre) atones for brazenness, and for blood that was dashed or fat that was burned (in the Temple) in a state of impurity.  The Choshen (breastplate) atones for the perversion of justice.  The Me'il (robe) atones for Lashon Hara (evil speech).  The Ephod (apron) atones for idolatry.  The Avnet (girdle) atones for improper thoughts.  The K'tonet (tunic) atones for bloodshed.  The Michnesayim (breeches) atones for immorality.

"And I will dwell among the children of Israel" (Shemot 29:45) 


It is told about one of the early Tzadikim (Righteous Men), that when he was still a little boy,  his father said to him: "If you tell me where the Holy One Blessed Be He is, I will give you one gold coin".  The little one answered: "If you tell me where he can't be found, I will give you two gold coins, because the Holy One Blessed Be He fills the whole world with His Glory".

The Mitzvah of Reading "Zachor"


The Rambam writes in the Sefer HaMitzvot, that we were commanded to remember what the Amalek did to us, that he hurried up to do evil to us, and that this will be stated year after year, so that we arouse our souls by means of the words in these passages to fight him and the people are encouraged to hate him until the Mitzvah will not ever be forgotten and and the hatred of Amalek will not be removed from the souls of the people with the passage of time...Behold, you see that Shmuel HaNavi, when he began to do this Mitzvah, how he did it.  First he remembered Amalek's evil deeds, and then he commanded to kill them.  And thus, it is brought that the Chafetz Chaim, ztzk"l would fill himself with hatred and anger against Amalek at the time when he heard the reading of "Zachor".

The Fast of Esther, Purim, and the Remembrance of the Half Shekel


On Wednesday, the 13th of Adar, is the Fast of Esther.  After Mincha, the unwalled cities give a remembrance for the half shekel.  On Thursday, the 14th of Adar, is Purim in the unwalled cities, and the walled cities give a remembrance for the half shekel after Mincha. Friday the 15th of Adar is Purim in the walled cities. One needs to be careful, at the time when he gives the remembrance for the half shekel, that he shouldn't say "this is for the half a shekel", because it is not appropriate at this time (since we don't have the Temple).   Rather, he should say it's a "Zacher l'mechatzit hashekel" (remembrance for the half shekel). 

The Torah Portion of "Tetzaveh" has 101 verses, 4 positive commandments and 4 negative commandments.  


We take our two Torah Scrolls.  In the first we read the weekly Torah Portion, and in the second we read for the Maftir in the Torah Portion of Ki Teitze, "Zachor".  The Haftorah is: "Ko Amar Hashem Pakaditi" (Sh'muel Aleph 15)


The 8 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of Tetzaveh are:

1. The positive commandment, to tend and kindle the lights of the Menorah in the Temple. (Shemot 27:21)
2. The positive commandment, that the Kohen Gadol and other Kohanim should wear special garments (Shemot 28:2)
3. The negative commandment, that the Choshen should not be detached from the Ephod (Shemot 28:28)
4. The negative commandment, that the Me'il (Robe) of the Kohanim should not be torn (Shemot 28:32)
5. The positive commandment, that the Kohanim should eat the meat of the Chatat and Asham offerings (Shemot 29:33)
6. The negative commandment, that a non-Kohen must not eat the sacrificial meat (Shemot 29:33) 
7. The positive commandment, to offer the Ketoret (Incense Offering) on the Mizbeach Hazahav (Golden Altar) (Shemot 30:7)
8. The negative commandment, not to offer any other offering on the Mizbeach Hazahav (Golden Offering)  (Shemot 30:9)

We say Borchi Nafshi.

"M'shenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha"
"When Adar begins Happiness Increases"
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, February 13, 2018

T'rumah 5778

The Torah Portion of "T'rumah" 


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


Why does Torah Portion of T'rumah (in English: an offering or donation), immediately follow the Torah Portion of Mishpatim (in English: judicial laws and ordinances)?  


The Beit Levi explains that in the beginning before a man does the Mitzvah of giving Tzedaka (charity) wiith his money, he needs to see to it that his money was earned lawfully without the slightest dishonesty.  For if he doesn't do that, the Tzedaka that he gives will not be effective for him at all.  Similarly a Lulav which is stolen is disqualified, because it would be a Mitzvah which comes about by means of doing an Aveirah (transgression).  Therefore the Torah told them first about"Mishpatim" (judicial laws and ordinances) and afterwards about the donation for the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

"And they shall take (to) Me an offering". (Shemot 25:2)   


The commentators ask, shouldn't it have been written "And they shall give"?  The Sages say that more than the rich person gives to the poor person, the poor person gives to the rich person.  By virtue of the poor person's acceptance of a donation from the rich person,  the rich person is able to fulfill the great Mitzvah of Tzedaka.  This is the explanation of "And they shall take" -- that the act of giving is in its very essence an act of taking.

"And they shall take (to) Me an offering". (Shemot 25:2)  


It is written in the Tanach that "Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold" (Chaggai 2:8).  It would therefore seem that it is not appropriate to speak of giving an offering to the Holy One Blessed Be He, since all the money really belongs to Him.  But the explanation is that the main thing that the Holy One Blessed Be He requests from the Children of Israel is that when we give an offering to Hashem, we should give it with a full heart.  That is why it is written "whose heart makes him willing" (Shemot 25:2).  The physical act of donating  is in itself not doing anything, since "Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold", but the act of giving with a full heart is the main point of the donation.

"From every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering." (Shemot 25:2)


The Zohar explains, that the intention of "from every man"  in this verse is that it they could also take an offering from the "Eruv Rav" (the mixed multitude of people that went out from Egypt during the Exodus together with the Jewish people).  And the Beit HaLevi adds to this explanation by referring to the Gemara in Bava Batra (Daf 10), where it is explained that someone who doesn't believe in Hashem and in reward and punishment, occasionally the kindness that he does is a transgression because the only reason he is doing it is for his own self-aggrandizement.  For a Jew who believes, even if his intention is that in the merit of giving he will receive some benefit, it is considered a complete Mitzvah and the Gemara calls him a completely righteous person.  But for someone who doesn't believe, it is necessary to accompany his giving with a good intention. And that is why it is written "Speak to the Children of Israel and they shall take (to) Me an offering" (Shemot 25:2); for the Jews who believe, there is no condition, but rather they will accept an offering from everyone, whoever gives.  But "from every man", that is, from the "Eruv Rav", from someone "whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering"; there is placed a condition on them, that only if someone intends to give for the sake of Heaven, then they can take the offering, but if he intends to do it for his own benefit, they should not take it because it won't be considered as "Tzedakah" (a righteous act of charitable giving).

"From every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering."  (Shemot 25:2)


At the time when the Chafetz Chaim was about to construct the building for his Yeshiva, a Jew came to him and said "Rabbi!  Hashem graced me with wealth and I want to merit the great Mitzvah of constructing the Yeshiva  entirely from my funds."   The Chafetz Chaim answered him: "Your intention is praiseworthy, and Hashem should reward you for your good thoughts, but I cannot accept your offer.  The building of a Yeshiva, a place of Torah, is a Mitzvah, and it is necessary to give every Jew the possibility of participating.  Thus we find in the case of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  The Holy One Blessed Be He said 'From every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering'.(Shemot 25:2)  According to the Sages, every single person in Israel had the financial capability to build the Mishkan all by himself.  Nonetheless, the Torah commanded: 'From every man', so that every person in Israel would have a portion in the construction of the Mishkan."

"...gold, silver, and copper"  (Shemot 25:3)


There are 3 levels in those that give Tzedakah (charity): 1) the one who gives when he is healthy, 2) the one who gives in order to be saved from danger, G-d forbid, and 3) the one who is very sick, the Mitzvah is to give Tzedakah before his death, and these three categories are hinted at in the letters that spell "gold, silver, and copper".  The word for gold in Hebrew is "Zehav", spelled with the Hebrew letters "Zayin", "Hey", "Bait".    These are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters of the words of in the Hebrew phrase) "Z'eh H'anotain B'arie", which in English means, "This is the one who gives when he is healthy".  The word for silver in Hebrew is "Kesef", spelled with the Hebrew letters "Kaf", "Samech", "Pey".  These are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters of the words in the Hebrew phrase) "K'sheyaish S'akana P'otaiyach", which in English means, "When there is danger, open", that is open your hand to give Tzedakah, when there is a dangerous situation.  The word for copper in Hebrew is "Nechoshet", spelled with the Hebrew letters "Nun" "Chet", "Shin", "Tav".  These are the Roshei Teivot (initial letters of the words in the Hebrew phrase) "N'etinat Ch'oleh Sh'eamar T'nu", which in English means "the giving of a sick person who said to give".

"Shoham stones and stones for the settings, for the Ephod and the Breastplate." (Shemot 25:7)


On the surface of things, these stones are the most precious, so why are they written last after the gold and the silver and the copper?  The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains this in accordance with what is written in Yoma, that the clouds brought the Shoham stones, etc., and if so, they didn't have to make an effort to bring them, and they didn't have any financial loss because of them. And this was not the case for the other items that Israel brought; they brought them from their own resources and made an effort to bring them, and therefore those other items are listed first.

"And they shall make Me a Mikdash (Sanctuary), so that I may dwell among them". (Shemot 25:8) 


Why was it written "among them"? Shouldn't it  have said "within it", that is to say, within the Mikdash?  The Alshich Hakodesh explained that the intention of this verse is that each one of us needs to make a Sanctuary within his own heart, so that it should be a dwelling place for the Shechina (Divine Presence).  Thus, when the verse says "so that I may dwell among them", it  means "within the heart of every single person".



"And they shall make an Aron (in English: Ark)" (Shemot 25:10) 


Regarding the ark it is written "And they shall make", in the plural.  Regarding all the other vessels, it is written "And you shall make", in the singular.  The reason the Ark is different is because the Torah was within the Ark, and the intention of this verse is to show us that all of us are equals when it comes to the Torah, since every single person has a portion in it. (from the Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh)

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood;  two and a half Amot (in English, cubits) shall be its length, and one and a half Amot shall be its width, and  and one and a half Amot shall be its height." (Shemot 25:10)  


All the measurements of the Ark are not whole numbers: two and a half Amot, one and half Amot,  and one and a half Amot.  This is to hint that someone who learns Torah needs to regard his position as being at only  the half-way point in his journey, and that he has not yet reached wholeness and completion. 

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood...And you shall overlay it with pure gold". (Shemot 25:10-11)  


Wood is a plant substance which continually grows; it develops without stopping and it also bears fruit.  In contrast, gold is the substance which is most stable; it doesn't rot or get rusty, and it preserves its qualities against every external influence.  The ark hints at the Torah, which has both the qualities of gold, in that it is eternal, and as well as the qualities of wood, in that it grows and causes others to grow.  The person that occupies himself with Torah renews himself and grows without stopping because he finds within it an infinite depth.

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood...And you shall overlay it with pure gold". (Shemot 25:10-11)  


They made the ark of wood and gold.  This is a hint that the Torah belongs to everyone equally, whether we are poor or rich.  The wood hints at poor people and the gold hints at rich people.

"...from inside and from outside you shall cover it..." (Shemot 25:11)


The Ark hints at Talmidei Chachamim (Torah Scholars). Thus, what is meant by the phrase "from inside and from outside you shall cover it" is that a Torah Scholar needs to be the same on the inside as he is on the outside, as is discussed in the Gemara.  Also on the outside and also on the inside it needs to be recognizable that he is a Torah Scholar.  In addition the Beit Halevi explains, that one should not say, it's sufficient for the Torah Scholar if I provide him with essentials such as food so that his heart can be turn towards his Torah studies, but why does the Torah Scholar need to be glorified, and why should I increase my spending for him so that he should be dignified?  On this, a hint comes to us from the verse "from inside and from outside you shall cover it...".  That is to say, he should also look nice on the outside, for when one supports a Torah Scholar, he should financially cover both the "inside" and the "outside"; he should have inside his house what to eat, and also on the outside, he should look nice in the eyes of people in his clothing, and his apartment, and in all his matters.

"The staves shall remain in the rings of the Ark; they shall not be removed from it." (Shemot 25:15)


The Ramban wrote that the reason it is forbidden to remove the staves is because of the great holiness of the Ark, so that one should not carry the staves when it is not necessary.  And there are those who say that the Ark hints at those who learn Torah, and the staves hint at those who support the learning of Torah (such as by financial means, emotional encouragement, etc.).  And this is the intention of this verse, that it is necessary to continue to support the learning of Torah without any interruption.

"And the cherubim shall be spreading out wings above, screening with their wings over the ark-cover..." (Shemot 25:20)


The cherubim had the appearance of young children, and this is a hint to the Tinokot Shel Beit Raban (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers), who learn Torah.  And that is the explanation of "screening with their wings", that they (the young children) are defending all of Israel and all of the world by means of their Torah learning, as the Sages stated: "The world would not exist except for the merit of the breath of the mouths of the young children learning Torah."

"...their faces one towards another..." (Shemot 25:20)


In the Gemara it is clarified that if Israel does the will of Hashem, then the faces of the cherubim are towards one another, but if G-d forbid they don't, then their faces are not pointed that way.  And there is a hint in this verse that the intention of "doing the will of Hashem" is precisely "their faces one towards the other"; that each of us needs to worry not only about himself, but also about other people.  But if he worries only about himself, then that is called "not doing the will of Hashem", G-d forbid.

"...and He placed  at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim..." (Breisheet 3:24)


Rashi says that the cherubim in this verse in the Torah Portion of Breisheet are angels of destruction, and in connection with the Aron the cherubim are a hint to Tinokot Shel Beit Raban (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers). This is because if the child is outside, we have  "angels of destruction", and if he is inside the Mishkan (Tabernacle) he is holy, and we have "Tinokot Shel Beit Raban" (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers).


"On three things does the world stand, on Torah, on Avodah, and on Gemilut Chasadim." (Avot 1:2)


In the Mishkan we find  hints to the three things which the world stands upon: Torah, Avodah (Divine Service), and  Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Kindness).  There were 48 boards within the Mishkan, in parallel  to the 48 ways of acquiring the Torah.  The sacrifices represent Divine Service.  And the middle bar (in Hebrew: Briach HaTikon) hints to Acts of Kindness.  The Sages explain that the middle bar was made from the Eshel  (tree) of Avraham Avinu a"h, where he received guests.  It is written in the Targum of Yonatan Ben Uziel that the angels cut down the Eshel of Avraham and threw it into the sea, where it floated on the face of the waters.  The angels shouted that the wood was from the Eshel of Avraham, so the Children of Israel took it and made the middle bar from it.  There were many miracles associated with the middle bar; its measure was 70 Amot and it entered into the walls of the Mishkan from its three sides completely, like a snake.  All this comes to hint to us that if we do these three things (Torah, Divine Service, and Acts of Kindness), this will bring about the revelation of the Shechina (Divine Presence), just like in the Mishkan.

The Mishkan vs. The Second Temple


The Sages say that within the Mishkan which was in the Wilderness, the revelation of  Shechina occurred on a daily basis,  just like on the day of Yom Kippur.  Aharon the Kohen HaGadol was able to enter the Holy of Holies every day just like on Yom Kippur, and so was Moshe Rabeinu.  But in the Temple of Hordus (in English: Herod), even though the Sages said that someone who did not see the building of Hordus never saw a beautiful building all his life, nonetheless  the Kohen HaGadol was only able to enter within the Holy of Holies on the day of Yom Kippur.  The revelation of the Shechina which occurred on Yom Kippur, did not occur every day.  We see from this that even though from an external viewpoint the Temple  was much more beautiful than the Mishkan (which was built from wooden boards and curtains); nonetheless, the main point is the internal aspect and not the external aspect.

The Three "Crowns" in the Mishkan


There were three Crowns in the Mishkan: the Golden Crown of the Ark which represents the Crown of Torah, the Golden Crown of the sacrificial Altar which represents the Crown of the Kehuna (i.e., the Kohen or Priestly class), and the Golden Crown of the Table which represents the Crown of Kingship.  (from Rashi)  Similarly, there are 3 times that the word "V'Nishma" (in English: "And we will hear") occurs in the Torah, in parallel to these three Crowns.  "Naaseh V'Nishma" ("We will do and we will hear") - this corresponds to the Crown of Torah (regarding the acceptance of the Torah in the Portion of Yitro and the Portion of Mishpatim, Shemot 24:7).  "Y'Nishma Kolo" ("And its voice will be heard") - this corresponds to the Crown of the Kohen (in the Torah Portion of Tetzaveh, Shemot 28:35, regarding the M'eil, the Robe of Aharon HaKohen HaGadol).  "V'Nishma Pitgam HaMelech" ("And the king's saying will be heard") - this corresponds to the Crown of Kingship (from Megillat Esther 1:20).

"And you shall make it a border" (Shemot 25:25)


Regarding the Table, it is written: "And you shall make it a border" (Shemot 25:25).  This comes to hint to us that at the table of a person during his meal, he needs to make a border around it, so that he doesn't fulfill all of his physical desires.  (from Kli Yakar)

"And the Menorah opposite the Table" (Shemot 26:35)


"And the Menorah opposite the Table" (Shemot 26:35) The Menorah hints to Torah, as it written, "A Candle is a Mitzvah and a Torah is Light".  The Table hints to Parnassah, a Livelihood.  And this is the intention of "And the Menorah opposite the Table", one thing faces the other.  For if there is no flour (Parnassah) there is no Torah, and if there is no Torah there is no Parnassah. (from Meforshim)

"And the Menorah opposite the Table." (Shemot 26:35) 


It is written by the Ramban, that by virtue of the Menorah there is an emanation of blessing and satisfaction to all of Israel, just as in the story about the prophet Elisha (Melachim II:4) -- by virtue of the cruze of oil, all of the vessels were filled with oil.

The Torah Portion of "T'rumah" has 96 verses, 2 positive commandments and 1 negative commandment. The Haftorah is "V'Hashem Natan Chachmah" (Melachim Aleph 5) 

[There is a one week break in the four special Torah Portions that we read for Maftir (last Shabbat we read Shekalim and the Shabbat after this one we read Zachor).]

The 3 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of T'rumah are:

1. The positive commandment, to build a Sanctuary (Shemot 25:8)
2. The negative commandment, to not remove the staves from the Ark (Shemot 25:15)
3. The positive commandment, to place the Showbread on the Table (Shemot 25:30)


"M'shenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha"
"When Adar begins Happiness Increases"
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, February 8, 2018

Mishpatim & Shekalim 5778

The Torah Portion of Mishpatim - Shabbat Shekalim


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

"And these are the judgments (or ordinances) which you shall set before them." (Shemot 21:1)  


In Hebrew this verse reads: "V'aileh hamishpatim asher tasim lifnaihem", and the Hebrew letters of each word in this verse form the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase which teaches us something about the judicial process.  From  the letters of "V'aileh", we get: "A person is required to investigate the legal decision".  From "hamishpatim", we get: ""The judge is commanded to make a compromise before holding a trial";  from "asher": "if both sides want".  From "tasim": "Listen to both of them speaking, together (that is, don't hear one side of the case without the other side being present)". From "lifnaihem": "Don't favor the person who is a wealthy philanthropist; act as a stranger to him".  (from Baal Haturim)

"And these are the judgments..." (Shemot 21:1) 


Rashi says, just as the preceding (laws were given) at Sinai, so these (were given) at Sinai. The Chidushai Harim explains that these legal ordinances make logical sense, and we could have arrived at them from our own understanding (even if they hadn't been given at Sinai).  Therefore, the Torah tells us that all the laws were given at Sinai, because we need to focus on the fact that we are following these laws because they are the will of Hashem, even though we could have arrived at them from our own understanding.

"And these are the judgments..." (Shemot 21:1) 


It is written in the Zohar that this refers to the arrangement of reincarnations (Gilgulim).  The explanation is that when one person owes a debt to another person and doesn't return it, when he dies he is reincarnated as a horse or donkey, and the other person purchases him. In that way the person returns the debt to the other person.  There was a story in Jerusalem that there was a man who had a donkey that worked for him much more than was usual.  He went and asked a Tzaddik (highly righteous man) about it. The Tzaddik told him that someone remained financially indebted to him and the donkey was his reincarnation, and if he would say to him "You are pardoned", the donkey would stop doing that.  And so it was; he told the donkey "You are pardoned",  and the donkey died immediately.  There is also a hint about this in the verse "For the horse of Pharaoh came..." Shemot (15:19), that he becomes reincarnated as a horse in order to pay off a debt.  The word Pharoah in Hebrew is similar to the word for repayment.

"...which you shall set before them." (Shemot 21:1) 


Rashi says, like a table which is set and prepared for eating before a person -- the meaning of this is that one should explain matters clearly to a student.. HaRav HaGaon R' Chaim Yehuda Yakovzon ztz"l explained this by way of analogy to a pharmacy.  In truth, the shelves of a pharmacy are full of medications, but the medicines are not given out without a reason.  They are only given to patients who need the medications.  Similarly, Hashem told Moshe, until now we learned all kinds of essential Mitzvot, such as circumcision, Shabbat, and other similar Mitzvot.  But this section of the Torah you only need to set before them, so that they will be prepared if occasionally it is necessary to administer a punishment.  But it would be better if they didn't need to use these remedies at all.

"...and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl."  (Shemot 21:5)


Why does he bore him through his ear with an awl?  The word for awl in Hebrew is "Martzeiya" and this has the Gematria (numerical value of the letters) of 400.  The Holy One Blessed Be He said, I took you out from a slavery of 400 years and I said that "For to Me are the children of Israel servants" (Vayikra 25:55), and this person went and acquired a master for himself; therefore he will be struck with an awl. The reason that the servant doesn't have his ear bored through when he begins his servitude, and only when he has served for six years, can be explained by way a parable which is brought in the beginning of Shaarei Teshuva by Rabeinu Yonah: There were two men who were in prison, and one of them made an underground tunnel and escaped while the second one remained behind.  They began to punish the one who didn't flee with a severe beating, and he said to them, "Because I behaved nicely and didn't flee, do I deserve to be punished?"  They answered him, "Here this is a prison and not a health spa, and therefore your friend who felt the suffering and punishment searched for strategies in order to escape.  But since you don't feel any suffering in being here,  it's appropriate that we should now give you suffering and punishment."  Similarly, when the servant begins his servitude, there is no reason to bore his ear, but when he wants to remain after six years it's a sign that he doesn't feel the suffering of being a servant, and because of this he deserves to have his ear bored.

"...and  he shall cause him to be completely healed." (Shemot 21:19)  


In Hebrew this is written as "V'rapo  yirapeh"; the root of the word for "heal" is repeated (twice).  This is a hint that when one goes to a doctor, it is sometimes necessary to go repeatedly until one becomes healthy.  But the Holy One Blessed Be He says, "I am Hashem Your Healer (or Doctor)" (Shemot 15:26), and here the root for the word "heal" is only written once.  Hashem can heal us all at once.

"...and he shall cause him to be completely healed."  (Shemot 21:19) 


There is a dot in the Hebrew letter "Pay" within the Hebrew words "V'rapo yirapeh", which is a hint that sometimes when we go to a doctor for healing, there is still some remnant of the illness which continues to leave its mark upon us.  But regarding the Holy One Blessed Be He, it is written "Rofecha" (without a dot, so the Hebrew letter is "Fay" instead of "Pay").  When He heals us, no remnant of the illness remains.

"...and he shall cause him to be completely healed." (Shemot 21:19)  


From this verse, permission is given to the doctor to heal.  Someone once came to a Tzaddik and told him that he had a sick person in his household and that the doctors had despaired of the possibility of healing him.  The Tzaddik answered him that the Sages say that the doctor has permission to heal but not to despair (or cause others to despair).  The Admor of Kotzk ztz"l added, that there is a hint to this in the phrase "despair without knowledge" (in Hebrew "Ye'ush shelo m'da'at", referring to a discussion in Baba Metzia about whether one is required to return a lost object if the person doesn't yet know he lost it, but would have despaired of finding it if he knew he lost it). If someone has despaired, it's a sign that he doesn't have knowledge. 

"Ayin Tachat Ayin" (In English: "An eye in place of an eye...") (Shemot 21:24)


Rashi explains that this means money, that is: "if one blinded the eye of his fellow he pays him the value of his eye". The Gr"a says that this is hinted by the words  "Tachat Ayin" in this verse, which literally translated into English means "underneath an eye".  The word for eye in Hebrew is "Ayin", which is spelled with the Hebrew letters "Ayin", "Yud", and  "Nun".  If all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are written vertically from the first to the last one, the letter in the Hebrew alphabet which comes under the Hebrew letter "Ayin" is "Pey", the letter which comes under the Hebrew letter "Yud" is "Kaf", and the letter which comes under the Hebrew letter "Nun" is "Samech".  Together these three letters "Kaf", "Samech", and "Pey" spell the Hebrew word "Kesef", which means "money" in English.  And there are those who explain that in this entire section of the Torah, first the deed is written and then afterwards the punishment, for example, "One who strikes a man so that he dies, shall surely be put to death." (Shemot 21:12), etc.  But in this verse "An eye in place of eye..." (Shemot 21:24), first the punishment is written and then afterwards the deed.  However, it is possible to say that also in this case the deed is first.  And thus would be its explanation: "An eye", if you take out the eye of your fellow, then "in place of an eye" -- you need to pay him something in place of the eye, and what would be the thing "in place of an eye"?  Money.  

"If you will persecute him -- for if he will cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry"  (Shemot 22:22)


The Gr"a asks why is it written "for if he will cry out", and it's not written " and he will cry out"?  And he explains that if one person caused suffering to his friend, such as in the case of  what Penina did to Chana -- and her intention was for the sake of Heaven because she wanted Chana to pray and cry out to Hashem -- also this is not a good thing.  And that is the meaning of "for if he will cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry".  (That is, if you are persecuting him in order to get him to pray, even though your intention is good like Penina's was when she persecuted Chana, that's still not a good thing to do.)

"If you will lend money to My people, to the poor person who is with you..." (Shemot 22:24)


One explanation is that even if the "poor person is with you", that is, even if you are also poor, in spite of that, help him. And there are those who explain the phrase "to the poor person who is with you", that you should not lend to the poor person publicly but only privately, and that is the meaning of "with you" -- privately, so that he won't be embarassed.  And there are those who explain that the  Hebrew word for "lend" (Talveh) is related linguistically to the Hebrew word "Levaya" (which means "accompany", and also refers to the funeral procession in which people accompany the deceased to his burial plot).  What are the things which accompany a person to the Next World?  The answer is -- money, that is to say, the Mitzvot such as Tzedakah (charity) that the person does with the money; that accompanies the person to the Next World.  And that is the explanation of the words "with you" -- that the money  which you lend "accompanies" you in the Future.

"....and flesh in the field that has been torn you shall not eat; you shall throw it to the dog." (Shemot 22:30)


Rashi says that the dog receives a reward because he fulfilled the verse "...a dog will not sharpen its tongue..." (Shemot 11:7) at the time of the Jewish people leaving Egypt.  The Da'at Zekainim says an additional explanation, that since the dog guards your flocks and your house, and is even willing to give up his life for your sake, if so, out of gratitude you should give him to eat the flesh which has been torn.  And there are those who explain why the dog is called "Kelev" in Hebrew.  The Hebrew word "Kelev" can be thought of as a compound word made up of two other Hebrew words, "Kol"  (which means "all") and "Lev" (which means "heart"). The dog is "all heart" and totally dedicates himself to the master of the house.

"People of holiness shall you be unto Me; and flesh in the field that has been torn you shall not eat..."  (Shemot 22:30


If you will behave in a holy way, then Hashem will guard you from forbidden foods.

"...and you shall not respond over a dispute..." (Shemot 23:2) 


Rashi says that you should not disagree with the head of the Sanhedrin.  And in the explanation of Rabenu Yonah it is written that you shouldn't answer during a disagreement when others are quarreling with you, but you should just keep quiet.

"If you see your enemy's donkey lying under his burden..." (Shemot 23:5)


The simple explanation is that the donkey is lying under the burden, and the teachers of Mussar (Ethics) explain that this is hinting at the burden of the donkey's owner.  That is to say, even if this man causes you suffering and is always burdensome to you, even so, ignore that and help him.

"From a false matter you shall distance yourself..." (Shemot 23:7)  


We find the language of "distance yourself" only in regards to falsehood, because we need to be especially careful about falsehood.

"From a false matter you shall distance yourself..." (Shemot 23:7)  


It is written that "A speaker of falsehoods will not be established before Hashem".  A Tzaddik  explained, that from one statement of falsehood one becomes distanced from the Holy One Blessed Be He, and that is the explanation of  "distance yourself" -- that is, you will distance yourself from the Holy One Blessed Be He.

"From a false matter you shall distance yourself; and one who is innocent and righteous, do not kill, for I shall not exonerate a wicked person."  (Shemot 23:7)


On the surface of things, the ending of the verse is incomprehensible, for behold, the verse is speaking of someone who is innocent and righteous.  And there are those who explain, behold, there is a Halacha (Jewish law) that says that if all of the judges find the accused person guilty then he is spared.  And therefore, if the last judge reasons that the accused person is guilty but he sees that all the other judges besides him found him guilty, and in that case, if he also finds him guilty they will spare him,  and therefore he wants to say that the accused person is innocent in order so that the judgment will come out that the person is guilty, on this the Torah says: "From a false mattter you shall distance yourself, and one who is innocent and righteous, do not kill".  That is to say, don't say that he is innocent if you think that he is guilty; don't say that he is innocent and righteous in order to kill him.  The Torah tells you, don't worry, "for I shall not exonerate a wicked person", I will already punish him in a different manner, for Hashem has many agents.  (from the grandson of Rashi HaKodesh)

"And these are the judgments..." (Shemot 21:1).  


The first word of this verse in Hebrew is V'aileh, and the Hebrew letters of this word form the initial letters of the words "La'yehudim Hayta Ora V'Simcha" (in English -- "And the Jews had light and joy") from Megillat Esther 8:16.  This is a hint to the beginning of the month of Adar.

"We will do and we will hear"  (In Hebrew: "Na'aseh V'Nishmah)  (Shemot 24:7)


In the Torah there are two portions, the portion that we learn and the portion that we perform.  The people of Israel accepts both the "Naaseh", that is the portion of the commandments that we perform, and also the "Nishma", that is the portion that we learn.   And in truth there are Mitzvot for agricultural workers, and that is in the category of "Naaseh" for those agricultural workers, since it depends on their activity and work, and there are Mitzvot that the Kohanim do (which are in the category of Naaseh for them) and that is the service in the Temple. And these Mitzvot are not within the capability of everyone to perform, such as those who are not Kohanim; and the people who can't fulfill these Mitzvot by doing ("Naaseh"), fulfill these Mitzvot by means of learning, which is called "Nishmah".

Parshat Shekalim - The Torah Portion about Shekalim (Shekels)


It is written in the Mishna that on the first of Adar they announce about the Shekalim.  In the time of the Temple it was a Torah Mitzvah that everyone would donate a half shekel to the office of donations in the Temple, in order to purchase with that money all of the public sacrificial offerings.

The Sages established during the time when the Temple existed, that on the Shabbat right before the month of Adar (or on the Shabbat which fell on Rosh Chodesh Adar) they would read Parshat Shekalim, because on Shabbat all the people would gather in the synagogues and study halls.  When they would hear about the obligation to donate the half shekel, they would be reminded and encouraged to fulfill that Mitzvah.  In our times when the Temple doesn't exist, and we don't have the sacrificial altar and sacrifices for our atonement, the Mitzvah of collecting the half shekel cannot be fulfilled.  Nonetheless, we read this portion from the Torah on the Shabbat right before Adar, since "we compensate for the bulls with our lips" (Hoshea 14:3).  May the reading be considered as if we fulfilled the Mitzvah in actuality.

The Sages say that it was revealed and known before the Holy One Blessed Be He that in the future Haman would weigh out Shekalim to the King Ahashvairosh against Israel, and therefore Hashem commanded us to donate Shekalim so that our Shekalim would precede the Shekalim of Haman.

The four Parshiot, special Torah portions which are read  at this time of year before Passover, are: Shekalim (about the shekels), Zachor (about remembering Amalek), Parah (about the red cow) , and Hachodesh (about the month of Nisan).  The names of the four portions give us hints about improving ourselves from an ethical  (Mussar) point of view.  1.  Shekalim - one needs to weigh his deeds  (since the word for weighing has the same Hebrew root letters as Shekalim). 2. Zachor - one needs to remember Hashem (since the Hebrew word Zachor refers to remembering).  3. Para - one needs to purify himself (since the Parah Adumah, the red cow, was used for purification).  4. Hachodesh - one needs to renew himself (since the word for renewal has the same Hebrew root letters as Hachodesh, the month). 


M'shenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha (When Adar enters, we increase in happiness)


The Torah Portion of "Mishpatim" has 118 verses, 23 positive commandments and 30 negative commandments, for a total of 53 Mitzvot.  Two Torah Scrolls are taken out.  In the first we read the weekly Torah Portion.  In the second we read the Maftir, the Torah Portion of Shekalim from the beginning of the Torah Portion of Ki Tisa until "Al Nafshoteichem".   

The Haftorah is "Ben Sheva Shanim" (Malachim Beit 12)


This is Shabbat Shekalim and Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Adar.  Rosh Chodesh Adar is on Thursday and Friday.  The Molad: Yom Chamishi at the hour 3:09, with 3 Chalakim.


The 53 Mitzvot in the Torah Portion of Mishpatim:

1. The positive commandment, of carrying out the laws of an Eved Ivri (Jewish indentured servant) (Shemot 21:1)
2. The positive commandment, of designating a Jewish maidservant as a wife (Shemot 21:8)
3. The positive commandment, of redeeming a Jewish maidservant (Shemot 21:8)
4. The negative commandment, to not sell a Jewish maidservant to someone else (Shemot 21:8)
5. The negative commandment, to not diminish a wife's marital rights (Shemot 21:10)
6. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to carry out the capital punishment of strangulation(Shemot 21:12)
7. The negative commandment, to not strike one's parents (Shemot 21:15)
8. The positive commandment, to pay full compensation for a non-fatal injury (Shemot 21:18)
9. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to carry out the capital punishment of beheading (Shemot 21:20)
10. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about injury caused by an animal (Shemot 21:28)
11. The negative commandment, to not eat the flesh of a ox which has been stoned (Shemot 21:29)
12. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about damage caused by an open pit (Shemot 21:33)
13. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about a thief (Shemot 22:2)
14. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about damage caused by an animal grazing (Shemot 22:4)
15. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about damage caused by fire (Shemot 22:5)
16. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about responsibilities of guardianship of an unpaid guardian (Shemot 22:6)
17. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to be careful to judge the claims made by the diffferent parties involved, in all the kinds of cases of guardianship (Shemot 22:8)
18. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about responsibilities of guardianship of paid guardians, and of renters (Shemot 22:9)
19. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment about responsibilities of guardianship of borrowers (Shemot 22:13)
20. The positive commandment, for a Beit Din to give judgment in cases of seduction (Shemot 22:15)
21. The negative commandment, to not allow a practitioner of sorcery to live (Shemot 22:17)
22. The negative commandment, to not embarrass or take advantage of a convert with words (Shemot 22:20)
23. The negative commandment, to not take advantage of a convert financially (Shemot 22:20)
24. The negative commandment, to not oppress an orphan or widow (Shemot 22:21)
25. The positive commandment, to lend money to a poor person (Shemot 22:24)
26. The negative commandment, to not demand repayment of a debt from a poor person who doesn't have what to pay (Shemot 22:24)
27. The negative commandment, that the lender should not accept interest and the borrower should not pay interest on any loan (Shemot 22:24)
28. The negative commandment, to not curse a judge (Shemot  22:27)
29. The negative commandment, to not blaspheme (Shemot 22:27)
30. The negative commandment, to not curse a ruler (Shemot 22:27)
31. The negative commandment, to not withhold the gifts from the produce (such as Ma'aer, T'rumah, etc.) and not to confuse their order (Shemot 22:28)
32. The negative commandment, to not eat animals which are Treif because of being torn or having certain defects (Shemot 22:30)
33. The negative commandment, for a Beit Din to not hear the claims of one side of a dispute without the other side being present (Shemot 23:1)
34. The negative commandment, that judges may not accept testimony from unworthy witnesses (Shemot 23:1)
35. The negative commandment, that a majority of one is not sufficient to convict in capital or corporal cases (Shemot 23:2)
36. The negative commandment, that judges should not do anything to pervert justice or unfairly shift the feelings of the court against the accused (Shemot 23:2)
37. The positive commandment, that rules of law are determined by majority vote of the judges (Shemot 23:2)
38. The negative commandment, that judges may not show favoritism, even towards the poor (Shemot 23:3)
39. The positive commandment, to help unload a beast of burden (Shemot 23:5)
40. The negative commandment, to not pervert justice by even slanting a case against a wicked person (Shemot 23:6)
41. The negative commandment, to distance oneself from falsehood and not build a case on circumstantial evidence and supposition (Shemot 23:7)
42. The negative commandment, to not take a bribe (Shemot 23:8)
43. The positive commandment, to rest one's fields during the seventh year (Shemot 23:11)
44. The positive commandment, to abstain from all manner of creative work on Shabbat (Shemot 23:12)
45. The negative commandment, to not swear in the name of false gods (Shemot 23:13)
46. The negative commandment, to not incite others to idolatry (Shemot 23:13)
47. The positive commandment, to bring a Chagiga offering to the Beit Hamikdash on the Festivals (Shemot 23:14)
48. The negative commandment, that the Korban Pesach cannot be brought on the 14th of Nisan while we are still in possession of Chametz (Shemot 23:18)
49. The negative commandment, that we should cause the Korban Pesach offering to become invalidated by leaving over its fats till the morning (Shemot 23:18)
50. The positive commandment, to bring the first fruits to the Beit Hamikdash (Shemot 23:19)
51. The negative commandment, to not cook meat with milk (Shemot 23:19)
52. The negative commandment, to not make treaties with any of the 7 Canaanite nations or with idolaters (Shemot 23:32)
53. The negative commandment, to not permit idolaters a foothold in our land (Shemot 23:33)


We say Borchi Nafshi.

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, January 30, 2018

Yitro 5778

Appetizers for the Torah Portion of "Yitro"  


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



"And Yitro heard..." (Shemot 18:1)


Rashi says that Yitro was called by seven names, and tells us that the reason why he was called by the name "Yeter" (which is word which implies something additional) is because one section of the Torah was added because of him: "And you shall see..." (Shemot 18:21).  It has been asked, why does Rashi cite only "And you shall see..." (Shemot 18:21); aren't the words of Yitro also recorded in several verses prior to that?  And the explanation is that the main point is the advice that Yitro gave to Moshe (to appoint judges to assist him), and what that was written before that were only questions to Moshe, such as (Shemot 18:14): "Why are you sitting alone?"

"And Yitro heard..." (Shemot 18:1) (in Hebrew: "Vayishma Yitro")


Rashi explains, and what was the report that he heard and came?  The splitting of the Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf) and the war against Amalek.  The Hebrew word "Vayishma" (which means "And he heard")  is spelled with the letters: Vuv Yud Shin Mem Ayin.  These letters are Roshei Teivot (initial letters) for the words: "Sh'ma M'ilchemet A'malek V'kriat Y'am Suf, which means "He heard the war of Amalek and the splitting of the Sea (of Reeds).  And it is necessary to explain, why was it precisely these two miracles which caused Yitro to come?  But the answer is, that after there were so many miracles for Israel and the whole world knew about it, like what the Sages said on the verse "and the waters split" (Shemot 14:21), that all the waters in the world split (and not just Yam Suf), and in spite of all that, Amalek had the brazenness to come and wage war with Israel.  Therefore, Yitro said, if there is so much evil in the nations (such as Amalek that still wanted to wage war against Israel after all those miracles), it is necessary to separate from them, and that is the explanation of "he heard and came".

"And her two sons, of whom the name of one was Gershom, for he had said, 'I was a sojourner in a strange land'. and the name of  (the other) one was Eliezer, 'for the G-d of my father came to my aid and saved me from the sword of Pharoah'" (Shemot 18:3-4)


Apparently, it would have been appropriate for the first son to be called Eliezer, because the miracle of the sword of Pharoah had already happened before Moshe came to Midian, so why did he give the name "Eliezer" only when he had his second son? And in addition, what kind of benefit was it to give a name to a son based on the concept that "I was a sojourner in a strange land"?  In answer to these questions, the Chofetz Chaim says that at the time that Moshe came to Yitro, Yitro had not yet converted to Judaism, and Moshe was afraid that they (he and his family) might learn from Yitro's deeds.  Therefore Moshe made haste to call his first son Gershom, for he said "I was a sojourner", for by means of this Moshe requested to establish that here in the land (of Midian) he is only in situation of being a sojourner in a strange land, and that it is not a place which is appropriate for serving Hashem.  And there are those that say that behold, it is written in the Mechilta that Yitro said to Moshe that he is giving him his daughter Tzippora on condition that his first son participate in Avodah Zara (idol worship), and that was before Yitro converted to Judaism, and Moshe agreed with him.  And there are those that question this, because how is it possible that he agreed?  And the Baal HaTurim gives an explanation that Moshe knew that in the end he would certainly cause Yitro to return to the proper path and he would change his opinion.  And since Moshe had agreed with Yitro (about the condition that this son would participate in idol worship), he didn't want to give the name "Eliezer" (which has a reference to  one of the names of Hashem) to the first son. 

"...the name of one was Gershom...and the name of one was Eliezer..." (Shemot 18:3-4)


It has been asked, why is it written the second time also "and the name of one", rather than saying "and the name of the second"?   And the explanation that the Sages say it that when Moshe went up to the Heavens he heard the Holy One Blessed Be He say "Rabbi Eliezer My son says that the Red Heifer is at the age of two years", and Moshe said -- if only that would be a descendent of mine!  And that was Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol who descended from Eliezer (Moshe's son).  And that was the meaning of the verse saying "and the name of one was Eliezer", that is, it was a reference to the one that was special, and this is Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol who was the teacher of Rebbe Akiva.

"And Yitro rejoiced..." (Shemot 18:9) 


The explanation is that he was happy, and according to the Midrash the explanation is that his flesh became prickly and he developed gooseflesh, because he was aggrieved over the destruction of Egypt. (from Rashi)  [Translator's Note: The basis of Rashi's explanation is that the word in Hebrew  "Vayichad" can be simply translated as "rejoiced", but it also has the same root letters as the Hebrew word for "prickly".] The Mashgiach HaRav HaTzaddik R' Yechezkel Levenshtein said to the students at the Mir Yeshiva in Shanghai during the frightful days of the Holocaust, that we see from this verse that it is natural that when someone hears of the sufferings of his people, even if he is disconnected from them for ten generations, he will nevetheless have his flesh become prickly.  And if we currently hear about the sufferings of our fellow Jews and we don't feel anything and our flesh does not become prickly, this must only be because our sins and transgressions have caused our hearts to become stupid and our nature has changed (for the worse).  Another explanation is that Yitro thought he was coming to the desert to live a life of sorrow and suffering in order to bring himself to the acceptance of the Torah.  Now that he came to the desert and saw that they had everything good, he was aggrieved because the Torah was not being received in suffering, because the Sages say that we are given reward for one Mitzvah done in suffering more than for a hundred Mitzvot that are done easily. 

"And Yitro took ... and Aharon came and all the elders of Israel to eat bread with the father-in-law of Moshe before G-d" (Shemot 18:12)


The Ramban say that this was a festive meal for the celebration of a Brit (circumcision), because Yitro became a convert and was circumcised on that day.

Yitro's Advice


Yitro's advice was that there would be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. There were 600 rulers of thousands, 6,000 rulers of hundreds, 12,000 rulers of fifties and 60,000 rulers of tens.   The sum total of all the judges was 78,600.  The judges needed to have four qualities: that they would be men of strength (that is, they needed to be wealthy), men with fear of Heaven, men of truth, and that they would hate financial gain (that is, that they would find bribery repugnant).

"...every great matter they shall bring to you..." (Shemot 18:22)


Why was it stated in the advice of Yitro to Moshe that "every great matter they shall bring to you..." (Shemot 18:22), and afterwards when Moshe chose the judges it was stated: "the difficult matter they will bring to Moshe" (Shemot 18:26)?    And the explanation is that Yitro who was a convert to Judaism thought that a legal Torah case involving a lot of money needed to be brought to a greater judge, which is how it is done by the other nations.  Moshe said to him that for Israel, that is not the case; a judgement involving a small amount is the same as a judgment involving a larger amount. If a case is complicated and difficult, even if it only involves a small amount, it needs to be brought before a greater judge; and a judgment of a simple case, even if it involves a lot of money, the smaller judges can decide it. 

"In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt), on this day they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai. (Shemot 19:1)


On this day -- refers to Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month of Sivan), and Moshe did not go up on this day to the heights, since all of his ascendings at Mount Sinai were early in the morning.  Therefore it is not possible to say that on the day that they came, he went up on Mount Sinai. On the second of Sivan, Moshe went up to the heights. Hashem said to him that if they would accept the Torah they would become "a kingdom of priests (that is to say rulers), and a holy people" (Shemot 19:6); and the congregation of Israel answered "we will do it" (Shemot 19:8). On the third of Sivan, Moshe said to Hashem that the congregration of Israel said  "we will do it", and Hashem said to him that he would speak only with Moshe, and the rest of the people would hear in their homes.  On the fourth of Sivan, Moshe went up to the heights and said to Hashem that they say that our will is to see our King, because there is a big difference between someone who hears from the mouth of a messenger and someone who hears directly from the mouth of the King.  Hashem said to him, if so, they need to prepare themselves  for three days, separating from their wives and setting boundaries around the mountain.  

"They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the desert of Sinai and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness); and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2)  


There are 3 preparations for receiving the Torah: 1) "They journeyed from Rephidim...",  means that they left the trait of having weakness of hands, which is laziness. [Translator's Note: The basis for this interpretation is that although the word Rephidim is a place name, it is also similar to the Hebrew word "Refayon", which means weakness.] 2) "...and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness)", each one needs to regard himself as if he is a desert (or wilderness) in order to abandon his physical lusts and to humble himself. 3) "...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain", means that all of Israel were together in unity. (from the Ohr HaChaim)

"They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the desert of Sinai and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness); and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2)  


The Hebrew word for "encamped" is not written in the plural, as are the other verbs in this verse, to say that they came to Mount Sinai "as one man, with one heart", for the Torah cannot be acquired unless there is unity.

"...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2) 


The word for encamped  in Hebrew ["vayichan"] is similar to the word for "grace" or "favor" in Hebrew ["chein"].  And "opposite the mountain" is a hint about opposing the Evil Inclination.  The Sages say that the Evil Inclination is similar to a mountain, and if everyone will find favor (or grace) in the eyes of his fellow, that is the greatest weapon we can have against the mountain which is the Evil Inclination.  

"So shall you say to the house of Yaakov and tell to the children of Israel" (Shemot 19:3)


The "house of Yaakov" refers to the women, and the "children of Israel" refers to the men.  It is written in the Midrash, why did the giving of the Torah begin with the women?  Because the commandment about the Tree of Knowledge was said by Hashem to Adam, so that he would tell Chava, and that commandment ended up being broken.  Therefore in the giving of the Torah Hashem said "I will start to tell the women first" and that will be successful.

"So shall you say to the house of Yaakov and tell to the children of Israel" (Shemot 19:3)


The Maharsha explains, that "So shall you say to the house of Yaakov" refers to the women, "and tell to the children of Israel" -- they, the women, will tell to the children of Israel who are the males, because it is the way of the woman to be present all day in the home and she educates the children of Israel when they are little.

"...Go to the people and you will sanctify them today and tomorrow" (Shemot 19:10)


The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), when he sees that someone is beginning to serve Hashem, he tells him to begin from tomorrow.  And the advice for dealing with this is to answer the Yetzer Hara that you agree with him, on the condition that "you will sanctify ... today and tomorrow", also today and also tomorrow.  And regarding Amalek, it is written, "go out to fight with Amalek, tomorrow" (Shemot 17:9), for it is known that Amalek represents the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination); you should fight with him on what that he tells you all the time to begin tomorrow.

"All of Israel are guarantors [in Hebrew "aravin"] one for another".  (Masechet Shavuot 39a)


There is an explanation that each one needs to be sweet to the other one, because although the Hebrew word "aravin" means guarantors (of loans) it is also is similar to a word in Hebrew which means sweetness.

"...when the ram's horn sounds a long, drawn out blast, they may ascend the mountain." (Shemot 19:13)


When was that?  According to Rashi, that was at the time of the construction of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, and according to Tosefot it was on the day of Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah).  (Masechet Beitza 5b)

The Shofar at Matan Torah (the Ram's Horn at the Giving of the Torah)


The Shofar at Matan Torah was from the ram of Yitzchak, from the left side, and also that was the Shofar in the Battle of Yericho.  And the Shofar from the right side of the ram will be in the future to come (i.e., at the Geula HaShleima, the complete redemption).

"And G-d spoke all these words, saying" (Shemot 20:1)


Rashi explains that the word "saying" means that on every single one of the statements of the Ten Commandments, Israel said "yes" to a positive commandment and "no" to a negative commandment.  But, "I am Hashem your G-d ..." and "You shall have no other gods..." (Shemot 20:2-3) were said simultaneously (according to the Zohar Chadash at the end of the Torah Portion of Yitro).  This is what is meant when it says in the Tehillim (62:12): "G-d spoke one thing, I heard  two (Gematriot of Rav Y. HaChassid on the Torah Portion of Va'etchanan). And behold, at the time that the children of Israel heard the first two Commandments simultaneously, they were frightened and confused and didn't know what to answer.  For if they would say "yes", it would be possible to misunderstand their words and think that G-d forbid they were saying "yes" on the prohibition of "You shall have no other gods before Me", and if they would say "no" it would be possible to misunderstand their words and think that they said "no" to the statement "I am Hashem your G-d...", and that they don't want to accept the Kingship and Oneness of His Blessed Name, G-d forbid.  And regarding this problem they took advice from within their inner souls, and they all shouted as one voice "Hashem is Our G-d Hashem is One", and this statement was a good answer for both of the Commandments.  For as is known, one needs to have intention at the time of reading the first verse of Sh'ma, "Sh'ma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad"  (Hear Oh Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One).   When one says "Hashem Elokeinu" ("Hashem is Our G-d"), that is a reference to the first  of the Ten Commandments, "I am Hashem your G-d".  When one says "Hashem Echad" ("Hashem is One"), that is a reference to the Second of the Ten Commandments, "You shall have no other gods...".  And this is what is hinted at when we say in the Zemirot (Songs) for Shabbat, "And everyone came in a covenant together, we will do and we will hear, were said in unity and they began and answered "Hashem is One".  (from the Rav Sholom of Belz, may his memory protect us)

"Do not take the name of Hashem your G-d in vain.." (Shemot 20:7)


It is appropriate to avoid swearing even about something that is true. The Hebrew word for "in vain" is L''shav, which is spelled Lamed Shin Vuv Aleph.  These letters are the Roshei Teivot (first letters) of the words in the Hebrew phrase "L'o Sh'eker V'lo E'met", which means "Not Falsehood and Not Truth".

"You shall not covet your fellow man's house...nor anything that belongs to your fellow man" (Shemot 20:14) 


It can be asked, why was it stated "your fellow man's house", isn't that included in "anything that belongs to your fellow man?"  And the answer that is given (tongue in cheek) is that if a person covets what another has because he has a nice house or other nice things,  he is told to take into account that it's a package deal and if you get everything that belongs to your fellow man that also includes all the sorrows, obligations, and other difficulties.

The Seven Mitzvot D'Rabanan (Rabbinic Mitzvot)


There are seven Rabbinic Mitzvot, as follows: 1) Chanukah, 2) Purim, 3) Eruvin, 4) Hallel, 5) Blessings over things we enjoy, 6) Lighting Shabbat candles, 7) Ritual handwashing.

"The Torah that Moshe commanded us..." (Devorim 33:4)


There are 613 Mitzvot written in the Torah. The word Torah has the Gematria of 611, which are the number of Mitzvot that Israel heard from the mouth of Moshe, and there are two other Mitzvot, "Anochi..." (the positive commandment to believe in Hashem, in Shemot 20:2) and "Lo Yehye L'cha..." (the negative commandment, to not believe in any other gods, in Shemot 20:3) which were heard directly from Hashem.  (from Makot 24)

The Torah Portion  of Yitro has 72 verses. The Haftorah is "B'sh'nat Mot Hamelech Uziahu" (Yeshayahu 6)


The Torah Portion of Yitro has within it 3 positive commandments, 14 negative commandments, for a total of 17 commandments as follows:


1.   The positive commandment to believe in Hashem (Shemot 20:2)
2.   The negative commandment, to not believe in any god besides Hashem (Shemot 20:3)
3.   The negative commandment, to not make idols (Shemot 20:4)
4.   The negative commandment, to not bow to idols (Shemot 20:5)
5.   The negative commandment, to not worship idols in any manner (Shemot 20:5)
6.   The negative commandment, to not swear in vain (Shemot 20:7)
7.   The positive commandment, to sanctify the Shabbat in words, i.e., Kiddush (Shemot 20:8)
8.   The negative commandment, to not do work on Shabbat (Shemot 20:10)
9.   The positive commandment, to honor father and mother (Sheomot 20:12)
10. The negative commandment, to not kill an innocent person (Shemot 20:13)
11. The negative commandment, to not have relations with another man's wife (Shemot 20:13)
12. The negative commandment, to not kidnap any Jewish person (Shemot 20:13)
13. The negative commandment, to not bear false witness (Shemot 20:13)
14. The negative commandment, to not covet what belongs to someone else (Shemot 20:14)
15. The negative commandment, to not make carved human images even for art (Shemot 20:20)
16. The negative commandment, to not build an altar of hewn stones (Shemot 20:22)
17. The negative commandment, to not stride by steps to the altar (Shemot 20:23)

We say Borchi Nafshi.

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