These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: CD #981 – Accepting Shul Donations From Non-Shomrei Shabbos Good Shabbos!
The “Yitzchak Effect” Impacted The Mishkan Service For All Future Generations
The first day of Nisan is a very important date in Jewish history. On that date the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was first set up. In truth, the entire construction of the Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev. Moshe Rabbeinu came down from Mt. Sinai on Yom Kippur and announced that Hashem had forgiven the people for the sin of the Golden Calf. On the day after Yom Kippur — 11 Tishrei — Moshe gave Klal Yisrael the mitzvah to build the Mishkan. The building of the Mishkan was in fact the topic of the last five Parshiyos of Sefer Shmos — Terumah, Tezaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayakhel and Pekudei. The process took place during the end of the month of Tishrei, throughout the month of Cheshvan and was ultimately completed on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.
The Mishkan sat unassembled in its component parts during the end of Kislev, throughout Teves, Shvat, and Adar all the way until Rosh Chodesh Nisan. The Medrash Tanchuma comments on this delay in setting up the Mishkan: Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachman states that the Mishkan was completed in less than 3 months, but sat unassembled for another three months. Why was this so? It is because G-d wanted to mix the simcha (rejoicing) of the day in which the Mishkan would first be set up with the simcha of the day in which Yitzchak Avinu was born. Yitzchak Avinu was born on Rosh Chodesh Nisan!
The Medrash goes on to say that the scoffers of the generation were mocking and saying “Why is there such a delay? Why isn’t the Mishkan being set up right away when it was completed?” (Some things never change — the kibitzers always find something to focus on to express their cynicism.) The Medrash states about these scoffers “But they didn’t know that the Almighty had a Master Plan”. Concerning this plan King David said “For you have gladdened me, Hashem, with Your deeds; at the works of Your hands I sing glad song. How great are Your deeds, Hashem, exceedingly profound are Your thoughts.” [Tehillim 92:5-6].
The Medrash interprets “For you have gladdened me, Hashem, with Your deeds” refers to the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Moed); “at the works of Your hands I sing” refers to the Beis HaMikdash; “How great are Your deeds, Hashem, exceedingly profound are Your thoughts” refers to the fact G-d planned to mix one joy with that of another (i.e. — the setting up of the Tabernacle with the birthdate of Yitzchak). The next verse goes on to say: “A boor cannot know, nor can a fool understand this” [Tehillim 92:7]. The clueless did not get the great significance of the convergence of these two joyful dates. The scoffers who wanted to know why the Mishkan was not set up when it was first completed did not understand the Divine Thought Process which waited until Nisan 1 to first set it up. G-d had a plan — to set up the Mishkan on the very day that the Patriarch Yitzchak was born.
Rav Dovid Kviat raises two difficulties with this Medrash:
1) The rule of thumb normally is that we do not mix one joyous event with another (ayn m’arvin simcha b’simcha).
2) What does the birth of Yitzchak have to do with putting up the Mishkan?
He suggests that Yitzchak is the “pillar of Avodah“. He is the patriarch that represents Divine Service. Yitzchak himself was a “korban” — he was about to be sacrificed. Not only was he “about to be sacrificed” against his will, he did it willingly! He did it joyfully (b’simcha). He set the tone of Divine Service performed with joy. Chazal tell us that he wanted to make sure that he would not be accidentally invalidated and asked his father to bind him tightly to make sure he did move and thereby make the sacrifice pasul (invalid).
When one is contemplating putting up a Mishkan — which is all about korbonos, the Ribono shel Olam wanted the influence of Yitzchak Avinu and his joyful approach to Divine Service to be present as a segulah (fortuitous omen) for the initial erection of the Tabernacle.
In Judaism, as we all know, dates on the calendar are not merely commemorative. What happened on a particular day in history has impact on all future generations. The Yom Tov of Pessach is the Time of Freedom and every single year on Pesach there are emanations of holiness and redemption that we can also take part in. When the Torah was given on Shavuos emanations of Torah learning potential are forever more present on that date which is the reason we make extra efforts to learn on Shavuos — to seize those Heavenly emanations. Likewise, the fact that Yitzchak was born on Rosh Chodesh Nisan and b’simcha went to do the Avodah (Divine Service of Sacrifice) made an effect on the first day of Nisan for all future generations. Therefore when G-d established a Mishkan, he wanted that effect — the “Yitzchak effect” to lend character to the Service that would take place in this Mishkan during all future generations.
So therefore even though the normal rule of thumb is that “ayn m’arvin simcha b’simcha” — here there is no difficulty understanding why G-d decided to set aside this rule. The rule means we do not take two disparate reasons for rejoicing (e.g. — rejoicing on a holiday and rejoicing over taking a new bride) and mix them by, for example, getting married during a Jewish holiday. But here we are talking about the same “simcha” — the “simcha of Avodah” (joy of Divine Service). Here there is no conflict. On the contrary G-d wanted to take this Divine Influence which existed within creation (by virtue of Yitzchak’s birth on Nisan 1) and place it within the Mishkan, so therefore the Mishkan was first erected on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, to mix one joy with another — the joy of the new Tabernacle with the joy of the day in which Yitzchak was born.
A Novel Interpretation of the Term “Ray-ach Nichoach L’Hashem“
I saw in the sefer HaKsav V’HaKabbalah a beautiful observation. There is a recurrent theme throughout Sefer Vayikra: When the Torah speaks of the burnt offering, it refers to it quite often as olah, eeshay, ray-ach nichoach l’Hashem — an olah-offering, a fire-offering, a pleasing fragrance to Hashem. Most of us understand that the term ray-ach nichoach (a pleasing fragrance) refers to the sacrifice. For some reason, the Ribono shel Olam gets some type of pleasure from the aroma of Korbonos.
HaKsav V’Hakabbalah brings from a sefer called Ma’aseh HaShem an opinion that this is incorrect. He interprets that the term ray-ach nichoach L’Hashem is not referring to the Korban. It is referring to the person who brings the korban. To what can the matter be compared? Erev Shabbos most of us walk into our homes and we smell something delicious. Maybe it will be the chicken soup coming to a boil, maybe it will be freshly baked Challah, maybe it will be the chicken that is roasting in the oven. Whatever it is going to be, when one walks into the door of a traditional Jewish home on Erev Shabbos — even if one is on a different floor, even if he is 50 feet away from the kitchen — Aaah! It smells so good!
Smell, to use an idiom from the business world can be called “a leading economic indicator.” This means that one does not have to taste the chicken soup, one does not even have to see the chicken soup to know that “tonight I am going to have a delicious meal.” I know I am going to have fresh challah and kugel and chicken soup and it is all going to be geshmak! I know that already without having tasted a morsel, because I smell it. The nature of smell is that it is anticipatory. Our sense of smell allows us to anticipate what it going to be.
HaKsav v’HaKabalah writes that when a person brings a korban he wants to do Teshuva. It is not the korban that the Almighty wants so much — it is what the korban is going to bring out in the person. Korban comes from the word karev — which means coming closer. When a person brings a korban that says he wants to be better. Either it is a sin offering and he wants to bring atonement for what he has done or it is a burn offering (olah) or a peace offering (shelamim). In any event his bringing the Korban is an anticipatory act. He thereby anticipates what is going to happen by virtue of him having brought the sacrifice. The ray-ach nichoach l’Hashem is that now the Ribono shel olam sees — smells, if you will — from this activity of bringing a korban that this person is going to be better in the future.
The Korban is the “smell” that indicates what is going to be. His offering is indicative of what he is going to do and who he is going to be in the future. That which is going to happen in the future is always referred to as smell. One “smells it” before one is actually there. HaKadosh Baruch Hu loves the smell of the person who wants to become better and who wants to become closer to Him. That is why a korban is “ray-ach nichoach l’Hashem” — the person, not the animal.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion.
A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayikra is provided below:
- CD#003 The Korban Pesach Today
- CD #048 Is Shaving Permitted on Chol Ha’Moed?
- CD #091 Americans in Israel: Two-Day Yom Tov or One?
- CD #139 Confidentiality: The Prohibition Against Revealing Secrets
- CD #186 Shalach Manos and Other Purim Issues
- CD #232 Maror: A Bitter Problem?
- CD #276 Is Theft Permitted to Save a Life?
- CD #322 A Unique Erev Pesach & Its Broader Implications
- CD #366 Chametz She’avar Olov HaPesach
- CD #410 The Obligation to Testify
- CD #454 Eruv Tavshilin
- CD #498 Honey–Why Is It Kosher
- CD #542 Selling Chametz
- CD #586 Rabbinic Confidentiality
- CD #630 Gebrokts and Kneidelach
- CD #674 Saying Karbonos
- CD #718 Karbanos: The Basis for Tefillah
- CD #762 Standing During Davening
- CD #806 Voice Recognition – How Reliable?
- CD #850 Taking Medicines on Yom Tov
- CD #894 Pesach-Daled Kosos: Must You Drink All 4? And Other Issues
- CD #938 Davening on an Airplane/Train: Must You Stand?
- CD #981 Aepting Shul Donations from Non-Shomrei Shabbos
- CD#1026 Salt on the Table
- CD#1069 Should Yeshiva Bochrim/Kollel Members Say Karbonos?
- CD#1112 A Rabbi’s Dilemma–Reveal A Confidence and Get Sued or Remain Silent?
- CD#1155 Pesach Issues: Maos Chittin; Ta’anis Bechorim
- CD#1198 Blood On Your Finger/Gums: Is It Permitted To Suck It? And Other Maaris Ayin Issues
A complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511.
Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.