The Midrash Rabbah on this week's parashah opens by citing the verse, "Say
to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon, [and say to them, `Each of you shall not
contaminate himself to a dead person among his people,']" and comments:
Rabbi Tanchum ben Chanilai opened his discourse with the verse
(Tehilim 12:7), "The words of Hashem are pure words; [like purified silver,
clear to the world, refined sevenfold]." The words of G-d are pure words,
but the words of a human being are not pure words. The way of the world is
that a king visits a province and everyone praises him. Pleased with this
praise, the king promises that the next day he will build buildings,
bathhouses and aqueducts. If he goes to sleep and does not wake up the next
day, what will become of his words? Hashem is not like that, for He is
truth. Why is He truth? Rabbi Eliezer says: He is the G-d Who is Life and
He is King of the world. [Until here from the midrash]
R' Shmuel Yafeh Ashkenazi z"l (Turkey; 1525-1595) explains: The opening
verse of our parashah contains a seeming redundancy, for it says, "Emor /
Say to the kohanim, the sons of Aharon, v'amarta / and say to them." Later,
in a passage not quoted here, the midrash will explain that the double
"saying" alludes to two mitzvot given to kohanim that relate to purity--not
to come in contact with corpses and to prepare the parah adumah. However,
the style of the midrash is to comment on tangentially related verses, such
as the quoted verse from Tehilim which also repeats the term "imrot" /
"words." ["Emor" and "imrot" share the same root.]
What is the midrash teaching? That Hashem is the only being whose word
is entirely true, for He is the only one capable of keeping all of His
promises, as He alone exists forever. (Yefeh Toar)
"Command Bnei Yisrael that they take to you clear olive oil, pressed for
lighting, to kindle a continual lamp. Outside the Curtain of the Testimony,
in the Ohel Mo'ed / Tent of Meeting, Aharon shall arrange it . . ."
The Mishkan (and later the Bet Hamikdash) was comprised of three parts.
The innermost section was the Kodesh Ha'kodashim / Holy of Holies, where
the aron with the luchot was stored. The outer part was where the altar was
located and where most of the day-to-day service occurred. The middle part,
the Ohel Mo'ed (separated from the Holy of Holies by a curtain), was where
the menorah was located.
Commentaries note that, in our verse, the menorah is described as being,
first, "Outside the Curtain of the Testimony," and second, "In the Ohel
Mo'ed." In contrast, in Shmot (27:20-21), we read, "Now you shall command
Bnei Yisrael that they shall take to you pure, pressed olive oil for
illumination, to kindle the lamp continually; in the Ohel Mo'ed, outside the
Partition that is near the Testimonial-tablets, Aaron and his sons shall
arrange it"--first, "In the Ohel Mo'ed," and second, "Outside the Partition."
R' Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook z"l (1865-1935; Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi
of Eretz Yisrael) writes: The menorah is the symbol of the flow of sechel /
intellect and understanding to the Jewish People. Thus, the placement of
the menorah teaches us about the role of sechel in our service of Hashem.
One part of our service involves deeds. This does not primarily involve
sechel, for the key is to do the mitzvot whether we understand them or not.
The other part of our service, however, is the chovot ha'levavot / the
intellectual duties. This service primarily uses the sechel. At their
extreme, the chovot ha'levavot include understanding the reasons for the
mitzvot; however, these are very deep secrets which are not for every person.
In Sefer Shmot, the command regarding the menorah is addressed to Moshe
Rabbeinu personally--"Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael." As far as Moshe
was concerned, his intellect could take him even inside the Holy of Holies,
for he understood the deepest secrets of the Torah. Thus he was told to put
the menorah "in the Ohel Mo'ed," not in the section where the day-to-day
physical service occurred. Nevertheless, for the benefit of Bnei Yisrael,
it could only be near, not in, the Holy of Holies-- "outside the Partition."
In our parashah, in contrast, there is not the same emphasis on Moshe
Rabbeinu. From Bnei Yisrael's perspective, the focus of serving Hashem is
on deeds, not deep thoughts. Thus, the menorah's location is described
first as being, "Outside the Curtain of the Testimony," i.e., not in the
Holy of Holies. Even so, the chovot ha'levavot are not entirely discounted;
thus the menorah is described as being "in the Ohel Mo'ed."
(Me'orot Ha'Rayah: Chanukah p.64)
Ben Zoma says, "Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his portion."
R' Yoel Sirkes z"l (the Bach; 1561-1640) explains: Every person's
earnings are made up of two parts - the portion that a person is obligated
to gives as terumah, ma'aser, and charity, and the portion that is his to
enjoy. Some people are not happy unless they keep both shares for
themselves, but a truly wealthy person is the one who is content with
keeping his own portion and giving the other portion to its rightful
recipients. (Meishiv Nefesh: Introduction)
R' Yose says, "Whoever honors the Torah will himself be honored by people."
Rashi z"l explains: This refers to a person who does not put a sefer
[e.g., a chumash or siddur] on a bench on which someone is sitting.
Rabbi Elazar Hakappar says, "Kinah (usually translated `jealousy'), lust and
honor remove a man from the world."
Rabbeinu Yonah z"l (Spain; died 1263) writes: The term "kinah" covers a
number of different attitudes. The worst kinah is that of a person who
hates those who love Hashem and do His will. This is the kinah that
"removes a man from the world." The second type of kinah is that of a
person who does not hate the ways of Hashem, per se. However, he is
uncomfortable around those who are more religious than he because they are
different than he is, so he wants them to be like him. After all, if his
way is good enough for him, it should be good enough for everyone else. Such
a person, writes R' Yonah, also deserves the title, "One who hates Hashem."
There is also a good form of kinah, i.e., the feeling of one who sees
holy people and wise men and is moved by jealousy to be like them. About
this attitude, our Sages say (Bava Batra 21a), "Jealousy among scholars
increases wisdom." (Even so, writes R' Yonah, this is not the ideal
motivation for serving Hashem. Rather, one should learn Torah and perform
mitzvot because that is G-d's will. Indeed, one who goes in the right path
voluntarily will serve Hashem more perfectly than one who does so because of
R' Yonah continues: There also are different levels among those whose
kinah focuses on wealth. The worst is a person who cannot stand to see the
success of others. Not as bad, is one who does not resent others' wealth,
but who compares himself to them and feels that he deserves at least as much
or more. The least bad is one who does not look at what others have, but
who is not happy with what he has. (Commentary to Avot)
The Gemara (Sukkah 45b, as explained by Rashi z"l) states: "If one
observes the day after yom tov with food and drink, the Torah views it as if
he built an altar and offered a sacrifice."
Why is it praiseworthy to make a feast on the day after yom tov? And, why
is this likened to bringing a sacrifice?
R' Avigdor Nebenzahl shlita (rabbi of the Old City of Yerushalayim)
explains: One of the mitzvot that was fulfilled in the Bet Hamikdash was
bringing a korban chagigah / a festival offering. Because a chagigah is a
korban shelamim, the law is that it may be eaten for two days. But, one
might be reluctant to bring such a sacrifice when there is only one day
remaining in the holiday (for example, on the last day of Pesach). In order
to encourage the bringing of sacrifices even on the last day of yom tov, our
Sages taught that it is meritorious to eat a festive meal on the day after
yom tov. Such a meal honors the holiday by giving people a reason to bring
Today, too, in the absence of the Bet Hamikdash, a person will cook more
in honor of yom tov knowing that he will have a use for the leftovers.
Thus, eating a meal after yom tov honors the holiday even today.
R' Nebenzahl continues: This may also be a reason for the obligation to
eat a melaveh malkah meal after Shabbat. If one knows that he will have a
use for any leftovers after Shabbat, he will cook more in honor of Shabbat.
This also may explain an enigmatic passage in Tanach, writes R'
Nebenzahl. In Shmuel I (20:5-just prior to the haftarah for Shabbat which is
Erev Rosh Chodesh), David and Yehonatan plan to meet on the second day of
the Rosh Chodesh feast. But how did they know in advance that there would
be a second day of Rosh Chodesh, when there was not yet a fixed calendar and
Rosh Chodesh would be only one day if the new moon was spotted when it first
appeared? R' Nebenzahl explains that the two days referred to are not two
days of Rosh Chodesh but rather two days of a Rosh Chodesh feast, i.e., two
days of eating the korban shelamim brought in honor of Rosh Chodesh.
(Yerushalayim B'moadehah: Shabbat p.65)
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
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