Parshas Tetzave 5757 - 1996
Outline # 24
Chodshei Hashanah Following the Weekly Parsha
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Bigdei Kehunah -- The Kohein's Garments
Parshas Tetzave describes the special clothes of the Kohanim. Why were
external entities, such as the clothes of the Kohanim, necessary?
Purim began with fear, and ended with joy. The Talmud states that G-d
wanted to frighten the Jews because of their errors; the people's
acceptance of Mordechai's words was considered the culmination of accepting
the Torah at Mount Sinai. (Tractate Megilah and Tractate Shabbos.)
Our celebration of Purim is similar, beginning with fast and repentance --
but ending with joy and thanks. On the other hand, Yom Kippur is the
reverse: It begins with feasting and celebration (Erev Yom Kippur), but
culminates with the fast and repentance.
The following story is related in Kedushas Hayehudi:
The Magid of Koznitz visited his partner, the Chozeh of Lublin. The Magid
asked the Chozeh if he had outstanding students with whom he could discuss
difficult ideas. The Chozeh answered that he had such disciples, and
agreed to send them to the Magid.
The chosen students were: the prodigy forever known as Hayehudi Hakodesh
(The Holy Jew) and Reb Dovid of Lelav.
The Magid asked Hayehudi Hakodesh: "Do you know how to learn Torah?"
"Yes," he answered. The student then discussed intricate subjects at
length. Afterwards, the Magid mentioned his own studies. The student
shattered the Magid's discussion a with brilliant, deep analysis. While
everyone witnessed in shock, he quickly answered every difficulty he had
raised, and fully justified the Magid's statements.
Now came Reb Dovid's turn. The Magid asked him: "Do you know how to learn
Torah?" "No!" he answered. "Surely you've studied something... Mishnah,
Gemoroh, Zohar?" Reb Dovid was silent. "At least tell us a ma'aseh
tzaddikim (story of great leaders)..." Reb Dovid told a certain ma'aseh.
The Magid was overjoyed, and described a problem he had been having -- the
difficulty was completely solved by the ma'aseh Reb Dovid had related! The
Magid was surprised by the different personalities of his guests, to which
Hayehudi Hakodesh answered: "Reb Dovid begins with fear, and comes to
Torah; I begin with Torah and come to fear."
Some people are impressed by the magnificent garments, and then come to
learn their deeper meanings. Others begin with study and knowledge, and
afterwards turn to awe and respect.
(A different discussion of the Bigdei Kehunah can be found in the work Shem
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Thirteen) The Dilemma of the Magen Avraham Commentary
We once discussed the issue: if a person missed the festival prayers at the
closing of the first day of the holiday, does he say the prayer twice at
the beginning of the second day? See Outline # 19 (Parshas Bo of this
year). The Magen Avraham (108:16) declared that the person should indeed
say the prayer twice; all the other commentaries disagreed. They debated
regarding Rosh Chodesh, but not Yom Tov. Two days of Yom Tov are observed
because of doubt, but it is clear that there are not actually two days of
Yom Tov. Therefore, if the second day is now treated as Yom Tov, it would
no longer be appropriate to call the first day Yom Tov (at the same time,
by making up missed davening for the first day).
The solution to the Magen Avraham's words can be found in the laws of Purim.
There are two distinct days of Purim, the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar.
These two days are mentioned in Megilas Esther (the Scroll of Esther) and
Megilas Taanis (the oldest written record of Torah Sh'ba'al Peh -- the Oral
Tradition). Purim is unique in that different places observe separate
days. Cities that were extant, and surrounded with walls during the times
of Yehoshua (Joshua) observe the fifteenth day, while other cities observe
the fourteenth (The Talmud, Tractate Megilah).
Already in the days of the Talmud, there existed certain old cities with a
real doubt concerning their status. There was reason to believe that walls
had surrounded these cities in ancient days, but it was not known for certain.
The halacha states that such cities should celebrate Purim twice; the first
day, with brochos (the appropriate blessings over the Megilah reading), the
second day without the brochos. The thinking behind this law is highly
complex and controversial, only one aspect will be discussed now.
Purim Versus Yom Tov
The Maharshal (referred to by commentaries to Shulchan Oruch, Orech Chayim
288) asked why this law is different from the ordinary laws of Yom Tov.
Two days of Yom Tov are observed in the Diaspora, due to doubt; yet the
brochos of Kiddush are recited on both days!
The reason for the difference was described in the following manner: In
regard to Yom Tov, each of the two days are holy; therefore, Kiddush must
be recited. If Kiddush were not recited, each day would become a weekday!
This doesn't apply to Purim...
The Maharshal's words were cryptic. Magen Avraham explains: Due to an
original doubt, the Rabbis decreed two days of Yom Tov. In regard to
Purim, two days were never decreed. Even if we keep two days of Purim in
certain places, this is due to our personal doubt, but not because of the
decree of the Rabbis. (This is further understood according to Ran, who
believes that two days of Purim in the doubtful places is not obligatory,
but only a stringency).
We know understand what the Magen Avraham himself wrote earlier. Even
though there had been some doubt regarding Yom Tov, our laws today have
nothing to do with "doubt." The decree of the Rabbis was a definite decree
that each of the two days of Yom Tov in the Diaspora be regarded fully as
Yom Tov. (A similar response can be found in the supercommentary Machtzis
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
1 Babbin Court
Text Copyright © 1997
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
and Project Genesis, Inc.