פ’ כי תשא – פרה תשע”ז
Volume 17, Issue 9
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
נתנו איש כפר נפשו
“Then they shall each give compensation for his soul…” (30:12)
The word ונתנו, then they shall give, is what is known as a palindrome, a word that reads the same backward as forward. This unusual feature is a hint that one who gives today may someday be on the receiving side himself. This idea is expressed by the two cantillation signs on the word ונתנו namely kadma ve’azla, which literally translates to “comes first” and “goes away”. Truly, wealth is like a revolving wheel, it comes and it goes. This conforms to the rabbinic statement: “Be the first to offer bread to the poor, in order that others may someday offer bread to your children.” (Vilna Gaon)
זה יתנו כל העבר על הפקדים מחצית השקל…
“This shall they give – everyone who passes through the census – a half shekel…” (30:13)
QUESTION: Rashi says, “He showed him a kind of coin of fire, the weight of which was a half shekel, and He said to him, ‘Thus shall they give.’” Why a fiery coin?
ANSWER: Hashem demonstrated a fiery coin, to illustrate the positive and negative qualities of money. Fire has both beneficial and destructive effects. On the one hand, it can destroy, but through the smelting of metals, it can also unite and join together. Similarly, money can destroy a relationship or family, or unite and help build a beautiful family. The fiery coin was Hashem’s way to caution the Jewish people to use money properly and reap the marvelous benefits it can produce. (Noam Elimelech)
העשיר לא ירבה
“The rich man shall not give more…” (30:15)
The cantillation signs on the words העשיר לא ירבה, the rich man shall not give more, are called munach revi’I, which literally translates to “leave four.” These signs bring to mind the Gemara in Kesuvos 50a which states, relating to the giving of charity, that one should not give away more than one fifth of his fortune. This concept is implied by the cantillation signs. In other words, “the rich man shall not give more” than one fifth share of a share of his income, so that for each share he donates, he leaves four shares for himself, munach revi’i. (Parsha Anthology)
The rich will not increase their wealth by not giving; whereas the poor will not decrease their wealth by giving… (Imrei Shefer)
לחת כתוכים משני עבריהם מזה ומזה הם כתבים
“Tablets inscribed on both of their sides; they were inscribed on one side and the other.” (32:15)
QUESTION: Rashi says that it was “ma’aseh nisim” – “miraculous work.” What was so miraculous about the writing on the Tablets?
ANSWER: The letters on the Tablets were chiseled out. When a samech (ס) or a final mem (ם) is chiseled through a stone, there is nothing to prevent the center piece from falling out. The miracle of the Tablets was that the center piece of the samach and final mem hung suspended in the air. Though they were not attached, they never fell out.
In addition, there was also a miracle in regard to the words: The letters were chiseled straight through the stone, yet it was possible to read the writing from either side from right to left, though normally all the words on the opposite side should have been backwards. (Me’am Loez)
ומשה לא ידע כי קרן עור פניו
“Moshe was not aware that the skin of his face had become radiant.” (34:29)
G-d Himself chiseled the first set of Tablets out of the rocks on Mount Sinai, whereas the second Tablets were chiseled by Moshe. Nevertheless, it was specifically after receiving the second set of Tablets, rather than the first set, that Moshe’s face shone.
This is because when something is given to us from G-d without our having worked on it, it does not penetrate our very being. It is thus no accident that the first Tablets were broken, whereas the second set never were. When we work for something, it can remain with us permanently, something that is received unearned can be more easily lost.
Because Moshe chiseled the second Tablets himself, their holiness could penetrate his physical body, and therefore his face shone. Similarly, the effort we expend in studying Torah and fulfilling G-d’s commandments refines even our physical bodies. If we exert ourselves to the point that the Torah penetrates us, our faces glow. (Likutei Sichot)
Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan zt”l (Chafetz Chaim) would say: “People think that a bracha from a tzaddik will make their children pious. It requires more than a blessing. It requires effort and dedication!”
A Wise Person once said: “The words ‘silent’ and listen’ have the same letters. A person must be silent in order to listen.” (Torah Tavlin)
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