In this week's parashah, we read of the dedication of the
mishkan. It was at this time that Hashem's presence came to rest
on the handiwork of Bnei Yisrael - the Tabernacle.
As a prelude to this event, Moshe instructed the people: "This
is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do; then the glory
of Hashem will appear to you." Based on this verse, R' Yaakov
Moshe Charlap z"l (long-time rabbi of Yerushalayim's Sha'arei
Chessed neighborhood and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz Harav;
died 1952) taught:
Man is born with the drive to attain a lofty level. However,
each person applies this drive where his heart leads him - some
seek wealth, some, honor, etc. In reality, however, the only
thing that can satisfy the soul is spiritual accomplishment. The
soul desires that "the glory of Hashem will appear to [it]."
Many people think that their own need for fulfillment is
sufficient impetus to attain lofty spiritual levels. In fact,
one can reach these levels only if his inspiration is the fact
that Hashem so commanded. Why? Because one who acts out of his
own need for fulfillment also sets his own goals. He is not
reaching for Hashem, but for something he himself has created.
(This is what Chazal meant by the adage, "One who is commanded
and acts is greater than one who is not commanded and acts.")
This is what Moshe told the people! "This is the thing that
Hashem has commanded you to do; then the glory of Hashem will
appear to you." If your acts are based solely on Hashem's
commandments, only then will the glory of Hashem appear to you.
Thus the midrash comments on this verse: "Abolish that evil
inclination and be of one mind and one heart to serve Hashem.
Just as He is One, so your service of Him should be one." (Mei
Marom V p.182)
"Moshe said to Aharon, 'Come near to the altar and perform
the service of your chatat/sin-offering and your
olah/elevation offering and provide atonement for yourself
and for the people; then perform the service of the people's
offering and provide atonement for them, as Hashem has
R' Avraham Zusia Portugal z"l (1898-1982; the "Skulener Rebbe")
asks: We know that a chatat provides atonement, but Chazal teach
that an olah is primarily a gift to Hashem, not a sin offering.
Why, then, does the verse mention the olah between mentioning the
chatat and the reference to atonement?
Moreover, the "people's offering" included several different
sacrifices, including a shelamim, which certainly is not a sin
offering. How then can the Torah say that performing the service
of the people's offering will "provide atonement"?
R' Portugal explains: Chazal teach based on Moshe's call at the
beginning of our verse ("Come near . . .") that Aharon felt
unworthy to serve as the Kohen Gadol. Moshe told him, "Come
near! For this you were chosen," i.e., because of this, your
humility, you were chosen. The gemara (Sanhedrin 43b) also
teaches that humility itself atones for sins just as the
sacrifices do. It follows, then, that every sacrifice that
Aharon brought, whether it was a chatat, an olah, or a shelamim,
atoned for sin, and thus our verse can be understood as written.
"The sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, . . . brought before
Hashem an alien fire that He had not commanded them."
R' Ovadiah Sforno (Italy; 1470-1550) comments: Nadav and Avihu
reasoned that it was appropriate to bring an incense sacrifice on
the inner altar. Even if their logic was correct, they sinned in
that "He had not commanded them."
(Be'ur Ha'Sforno Al Ha'Torah)
"For I am Hashem Who elevates you from the land of Egypt to
be a G-d unto you . . ." (11:45)
With this verse, the Torah closes out the laws of kashrut.
Indeed, the midrash states that if one denies the laws of
kashrut, he also denies the Exodus. What is the relationship of
the Exodus to kashrut?
R' Chaim Yosef David Azulai z"l ("Chida"; died 1806) explains:
There are two types of impurity that can affect a person -
impurity that enters a person and impurity that surrounds a
person. An example of the former is non-kosher food; an example
of the latter is idolatry.
Our sages teach that Hashem hurried Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt
because they were about to become inextricably mired in the
impurity of Egypt. Chida explains that our ancestors had reached
the stage where the external impurity of Egypt was about to
become an inherent part of their beings. Hashem took Bnei
Yisrael out of Egypt before the impurity could enter them.
How then can one allow non-kosher food to enter his body?
This is possible only if one denies the Exodus!
(Quoted in Torat Ha'Chida)
Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to
Yehoshua; Yehoshua to the Elders; the Elders to the Prophets;
and the Prophets to the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah/Men of the
Great Assembly. They [the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah] said
three things: Be deliberate in judgment, develop many
disciples, and make a fence for Torah.
(Chapter I, mishnah 1)
R' Yehoshua Heller z"l (Lithuania, early 19th century) writes:
This mishnah describes three stages in the Torah's history. In
the first stage, Moshe transmitted the entire Torah to his
disciple Yehoshua. Indeed, the gemara quotes Yehoshua himself as
stating that there was nothing that Moshe taught that he
(Yehoshua) did not receive. During this period when Moshe was
teaching the Torah, Moshe was permitted to ask Hashem for
clarification of anything that was not clear.
In the second stage, beginning with the death of Moshe, it was
no longer permissible to present halachic queries to G-d. If a
doubt arose regarding the halachah, the Elders could attempt to
reconstruct the law using the principles that Moshe had taught.
In such a case, the ruling of a majority of the Elders became the
In the third stage, Prophets enacted emergency decrees intended
to strengthen a mitzvah that was being neglected. Whereas a
prophet is ignored - indeed he is put to death - if he claims
that Hashem has told him how to rule on a halachic question, a
prophet may, through prophecy, enact a temporary emergency decree
that is contrary to some laws of the Torah. Later sages who are
not prophets also have this authority to a very limited degree.
The three teachings of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah parallel
these three stages in the history of the Torah. First, be
deliberate in judgment, so that the halachah will be as clear to
you as it was to Yehoshua when he heard it from Moshe. Second,
develop many disciples so that if it becomes necessary to
reconstruct a law of the Torah, the combined intellect of all of
the students will meet that challenge. Finally, make a fence for
the Torah, i.e., enact decrees that will protect the laws of the
Torah from neglect.
"Be deliberate in judgment . . ."
R' Yisrael Hager z"l (1860-1936; the Vishnitzer Rebbe")
explains: The gemara (Yevamot 109b) teaches that a judge should
imagine that the gates of gehinom are open beneath him, ready to
swallow him up if he fails to judge properly. To avoid this
fate, a judge must weigh the evidence and the law deliberately.
This is the meaning of the verse (Tehilim 75:3), "When I shall
seize the appointed time, I shall judge with fairness." If a
judge takes his time and does not rush to judgment, he will judge
The mishnah's word for "deliberate" is "matun". This
alludes to the above teaching from the gemara, for the four
letters of "matun" are the initials of the phrase (Tehilim
86:13), "You have rescued my soul from the nethermost depths."
(Quoted in Yalkut Avhan Ila'een p.18)
Letters from Our Sages
This week's letter was written by R' Chaim Friedlander
z"l (died 1986), the mashgiach of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in
Bnei Brak. The letter is reprinted in Siftei Chaim: Pirkei
Emunah V'hashgachah, p. 432. The letter is dated 26
Marcheshvan, 5746 (November 10, 1985). The identity of the
recipient is unknown.
In whatever circumstances one finds oneself, it is possible to
take advantage of the situation to serve Hashem. Even a
condition of sickness, suffering and physical weakness is given
to a person so that he can serve Hashem despite these
Strengthening one's prayer and one's faith and trust even a
small amount in such circumstances is counted in Heaven as an
enormous step, because [we are taught in Avot D'Rabbi Nattan
3:6], "One time with suffering is equivalent to one hundred times
without suffering." My teacher and rabbi, the gaon and tzaddik
R' Eliyahu Dessler zatzal explained in the name of his father
zatzal (see Michtav M'Eliyahu III, p.14), that this is true of
any kind of suffering. After all, our Sages said (Arachin 16a),
"To what extent does suffering go? Even if one reaches into his
pocket to remove three coins and he comes up with only two." In
other words, when one has to reach into his pocket a second time,
that should be viewed as Divinely-imposed suffering [and one is
rewarded by Hashem for accepting this "suffering" and serving
Hashem despite it]. If we add a little more suffering, then the
reward may increase 100-fold. With a little more suffering, the
reward increases another hundred-fold, i.e., to 10,000 times the
original reward; with more suffering, another hundred-fold (i.e.,
1,000,000 times), and so on.
If so, the reward for serving Hashem amidst suffering, when it
requires extra effort, is beyond description. In such
circumstances, the value in Heaven of a small amount of prayer, a
small amount of Torah study, and a small strengthening of one's
faith and trust is enormous. Under such conditions, one can
accomplish in a short time what it ordinarily would take many
years to accomplish.
Manny & Loretta Sadwin and family
in honor of the forthcoming marriage of
Ariel David to Pessi Malin
in gratitude to Hashem,
and in honor of
Alan and Fran Broder,
and most of all, my wife,
on the twelfth birthday of
Hamaayan/The Torah Spring