A Student Publication of the Isaac
and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Tetzave-Purim 11-14 Adar 5762 February 23-26, 2002 Vol.11 No.20
This week's issue has been sponsored by Dr. Richard and Ellen Gertler in honor of the first Yahrtzeit of Ellen's father, Dr. Ashur Massarsky, on 15 Adar,
and in honor of the TABC boys who helped with the Shiva Minyan last year in Fort Lee.
Dilemma of September 11th
by Rabbi Hershel Solnica
Our patriotic and sincere leadership
plead with us saying, "let's get back to normal," in light
of the tragedy on September 11th. They urge us to resume our daily lives, and to go back to the
way it was. They also urge us to memorialize the victims who perished, and to aid the wounded
and their families.
Harav Matisyahu Solomon Shlita, Mashgiach Ruchni of the
famous Lakewood Yeshiva, gave me, and
hundreds of listeners a more thoughtful and sobering approach to this tragedy.
One finds in the Torah, different forms of Hashem's name. Hashem is referred to in thirteen
ways. However, there is another word that is often use to describe Hashem. That word is Tzoor
(The Rock), as in "the Rock of Israel," "the Rock's deed's are wholesome," "the Rock of our
lives," "Hashem is my Rock and my savior."
Rav Solomon pointed out that the 13 attributes of Hashem
only describe the essence of Hashem as
he relates to, and is in contact with us. He may be merciful or judgmental or patient or
charitable, etc. However, the word ins, Rock, is the lowest form of Hashem's creation, which
emphasizes and underscores a concept of confidence in Hashem. It is imperative that we realize
that after all our effort, strengths, donations, military prowess, etc., we can only succeed by
the grace of Hashem and by His will. This is the true definition of awe of heaven. The sooner
we realize that Hashem is the Rock of our salvation, our successes, and our failures, the better
off we will be.
In Tehillim it says, "Yerushalayim is surrounded by
mountains" (Psalms). The fact that
Yerushalayim is surrounded by Rocks calls out to us that we must realize that there is no other
helper but Hashem. This confidence is fundamental, before we can even try our feeble but
Ray Matisyahu's call is not "let's get back to normal,"
but rather "let's go forward, to change
our ways." Repentance, is not just a word to be used in the spiritual sense. It is a commitment
to change our ways we act in business, in school, with our friends, and to our community. The
the destruction of the Temples, came upon us not because we were not religious enough, but
because we did not act properly towards every human that Hashem created.
It is time for Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka. Then maybe
the catastrophes of 9/11 and the
17-month Intifada in Israel will go away.
by Sam Wiseman
In this week's Parsha, the Torah
discusses the things that must be done by the Kohanim and to
the Kohanim in order for them to become sanctified to Hashem. Some of the things they must do
include bringing sacrifices, bathing ritually, and wearing the clothes described earlier in the
Parsha. In addition to the previously mentioned rituals, one specific practice seems to stick
out. This ritual, recorded in 29:20, is for Moshe to take the blood of the second of two rams
that have been slaughtered and to place its blood on Aharon's ear. He is then to place it on
Aharon's sons' ears. Next, Moshe is commanded to put the blood on all three of their right
thumbs collectively, and then on all three of their right toes collectively. This practice
seems perplexing at the very least, and although we don't necessarily need reasons for Mitzvot,
some symbolism can been suggested for these rituals.
The Midrash Tanchuma suggests that
this ritual is in anticipation of Aharon's fear that Hashem
is angry with him for his participation in the Cheit Haegel. The Tanchuma further suggests that
the cow to be sacrificed in Pasuk 11 represents the Egel, and the two rams represent the two
other sons of Aharon who should have died as well. Therefore, as a Midrash brought by the Torah
Shlema explains, the blood on the ear is to atone for the fact that Aharon did not listen to the
commandment of "Lo Yihye Lcha " and the blood on the thumb and big toe is to atone for his help
in making the calf, and his running to do so respectively.
A discrepancy is pointed out by the
Netziv in terms of the relationship between the commandment
for this ritual in this week's Parsha, and the fulfillment of it in Parshas Tzav. In this
week's Parsha the blood is put on the ear of Aharon first and then on the ears of his sons.
Then the rest of the blood is put on the toes and thumbs of all three Kohanim in unison. In
Parshas Tzav however, all the requisite blood is placed on Aharon first, and then his two sons.
The Netziv explains that when the command was issued in Tetzaveh, the only reason Aharon was a
Kohen Gadol was because of his age, since there was nothing qualitative to distinguish him from
his sons. However, between the command and its realization, the Cheit Haegel occurred, which
brought Aharon to a new level. Although this sin is often construed as a negative time for
Aharon, the Netziv claims that it was actually Aharon's Mesirat Nefesh, in his attempt to
regulate the making of the Egel, which raised him to a new level. This in turn demanded a
separate placement of blood altogether because of Aharon's new special status that Moshe wished
Until the last point, all the suggestions
have focused on the redemptive value for the Kohanim
themselves and their happiness and well-being. However, there are other suggestions that seem
to point to a more utilitarian purpose for these rituals. The Meshech Chochma explains the same
discrepancy by pointing out that the command deals with the blood as sanctification for the body
parts that would be doing the Avoda. Therefore all Kohanim were put together since they are
equal in that respect. However, since Aharon was on a higher level because he had more Mitzvot
and was closer to Sinai at the giving of the Torah, he was done first and separately.
The Yalkut Meam Loez mentions a similar idea to that of the Meshech Chochma - that the purpose
of the placing of blood is to remind the Kohanim to be careful to listen well to the
commandments regarding the Avoda (blood on ear), and to do the Avoda in an efficient and careful
manner (blood on hand and leg).
In a similar vein, R' Bachay explains
that the Mishkan reflects the three parts of the world:
the world of "Melachim," the world of "Gilgalim," and the world of "Shafel." The Kohen Gadol
too must reflect these three parts both in his capacity as the highest position in the temple,
and in his capacity as a mini-world unto himself (See R' Bachay in Bereishit 1:27). Therefore,
these placements of blood must reflect the three parts of man in order to purify him enough to
give the Korbanot by which the world stands (Taanit 27b). The placement of blood on the ear
(head) reflects the world of angels and upper aspirations, while the placement of blood on the
hand signifies the middle section of the body, which houses the heart and reflects the world of
Gilgalim. The lower section of the body embodies the baser aspirations, where the blood is
placed on the foot.
Lastly, a Midrash Hagadol quoted by
the Torah Shlema seems to point to the idea that the
sanctification of the Kohanim has utilitarian purposes for the rest of the nation. It says that
the purpose of these rituals is to teach the Kohanim the proper procedure for purifying a
Metzora, which has an identical purification ceremony.
Therefore, it is possible to see that even dating back to the Midrash there was a fundamental
Machloket as to whether these rituals
were designed to help the Kohanim do the Avoda for Bnei
Yisrael, or simply to sanctify the Kohanim for their own sake. This Machloket has extreme
ramifications in terms of how to understand the place of the Kohanim within Bnei Yisrael. Are
they simply the agents of Bnei Yisrael in the Temple, or are they a separate entity altogether,
which demands its own redemptive value?
by Zack Rosenberg
In the Keriah which we read on Purim,
the Torah states, "Hashem said to Moshe, 'Write this as a
remembrance in the book that I shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens'
What horrible thing did Amalek, do
that a nation like Midyan did not? If anything, Midyan
deserves a harsher punishment, as they were the ones who tried to get Bnai Yisrael to do Avoda
Zara. The real difference, however, is the manner in which they went about attacking Bnai
Yisrael. Midyan, recognizing the power of Hashem, first asked Bilam to curse Bnai Yisrael so
that they would have a chance at winning against them. However, after failing, Bilam suggested
that they should try to cause Bnai Yisrael to sin. In both situations, Midyan understood that
Bnai Yisrael was strong since Hashem was with them. Amalek, on the other hand, attacked us with
full disbelief in Hashem, right after the Ten Plagues and splitting of the sea. Therefore, such
a nation, as the Pasuk says, should be expunged from the world.
We see this at the end of the reading
for Purim where it says, "Hashem fights a war against
Amalek, from generation to generation" (Shemot 17:16). One of the three commandments regarding
Amalek, is to annihilate their remembrance from the Earth. In order to accomplish this, we need
to look for Amalek in our day. This generation's Amalek is probably the easiest to recognize.
Terrorists, no matter who they are, attack us with full disbelief in the true Hashem. They do
not try to cause Bnai Yisrael to sin, but instead they attack for no real purpose at all.
Maybe, if we help in this war on Amalek
that we are engaged in right now, we will be able to
finish that promise of Hashem; to expunge Amalek Mitachat Hashamayim.
The Mitzvot of Purim
by Effie Richmond
There are four Mitzvot that must
be done during the day of Purim. The primary reading of the
Megila is during the day and it is possible that during the time of the Mishna there was no
reading of the Megila at night. The origin of reading the Megila at night is in the Gemara
(Megila 4a) where it is asked why this is the only Mitzva which is done twice. Rabbi Yehoshua
ben Levi quotes a Pasuk in Tehillim that says, "my God I will call you during the day and shall
you not answer and at night you shall not be silent."
There is a Pasuk in Yirmiyahu (31:30)
which refers to a time in history where there will be a
reawakening among the people and a new desire to make a close bond with Hashem. A Pasuk in
Esther (8:17) says, "there was a sudden awakening during the time of Esther to convert to
Judaism." Later in the Megila, (9:27) it says Kiyemu Vekibelu about the Jews. The Gemara
(Shabbat 78b) learns "they accepted what they had already accepted earlier." According to this
Gemara they accepted the Torah at Har Sinai without any choice and then accepted it again here.
According to Yirushalmi therefore,
you are allowed to learn Esther with 13 Midot just like the
Torah. However, all of the other books of Nach are not allowed to be learned, in order to add
anything to the Torah. From this we see that there is a connection between receiving Torah and
In Shemot (24:11) the Torah describes
the scene after Maamad Har Sinai. It says that were
drinking and eating. Rashi believes it was a very inappropriate response to Maamad Har Sinai
and that Hashem wanted to kill them. However, He did not kill them until Rosh Chodesh Nissan
which was the first day of the Mishkan. The Ramban says there must be joy when receiving the
Torah and the appropriate way for a person to be happy is to eat and drink. Therefore the
Ramban says that when the Pasuk said that they ate and drank it, it was appropriate, and that it
is this Pasuk which is our source for making a Siyum. Additional support is gathered from the
Gemara (Pesachim 68b) where there is a dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. Rabbi
Eliezer says that on a holiday you should devote all of your time to God (by Davening or
learning) or spend all of your time for yourself (by feasting and relaxing). Rabbi Yehoshua
says that half of the time should be devoted to God and the other half should be devoted to
yourself. The Gemara says that everyone agrees that on Shavuot you have to eat something
because it was the day, on which the Torah was given. Therefore, we can establish that there is
a connection between the Torah and having a feast.
Another connection between food and
torah is brought by the Bait Halevi with respect to eating
on Erev Yom Kippur, because we received the Oral Torah on Yom Kippur. Therefore, we celebrate
receiving the Oral torah on Yom Kippur by eating on Erev Yom Kippur, since eating is forbidden
on Yom Kippur itself. The same thing can be learned by Purim, because on Purim the Jews
reaccepted the Torah. The reading of the Megila on Purim represents the Oral Torah, because it
is the only thing that can be read by heart. As a result, the Megila is read twice to
demonstrate this idea that they fullfilled what they accepted before and twice for the Oral
Torah and the Written Torah.
Another explanation is one given by
Rav Soloveitchik zt"l, who says that reading the Megila at
night is not related to Purim, and is related to the previous day of Taanit Esther. He says,
that each of the other fast days which are observed throughout the year have an aspect of
mourning, since in some way people died. However, Taanit Esther is an exception, because
nothing terrible happened on that day. As such, the fast has a totally different purpose, which
is why there are so many leniencies on that day. There are some opinions that say that if you
miss one of the other fasts because of sickness, or because you forgot that there was a fast,
that you should make up the fast on a later date. However, there is no opinion that says that,
this rule applies to Taanit Esther. Therefore, the reading of the Megila on Purim day is
related to publicizing the miracle, and the reading of the Megila at night is to reminding us
that Hashem listens to our prayers. That is why the Shulchan Aruch holds that it is preferable
that you fast when reading the Megila at night.
-Adapted from a Shiur given by Rabbi
Yosef Adler at TABC.
Halacha of the Week
Ashkenazim do not send Mishloach Manot to an Avel throughout the twelve months of morning (Rama
696:6). Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 695:23) notes that Sephardim do
not follow this ruling.
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