פ’ כי תשא – תשע”ה
Volume 7, 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.
זה יתנו…מחצית השקל
“This shall they give…a half shekel.” (30:13)
This Parsha speaks of the contributions that were made to the Mishkan. The use of the word זה, this, implies that something was actually shown to the listener. Rabbi Meir explained that G-d removed a coin of fire from beneath His holy throne and said to Moses, “Let the people give a coin such as this.” It is interesting that the metaphoric coin was made of fire. The Noam Eliezer comments that one must realize that money is like fire. If fire is misused, it can destroy, but it can also be used constructively, to prepare food or to provide warmth. Money also has the double potential: If used for mitzvot, it can be a conduit of great blessings. But if a person keeps his money exclusively for himself and spends it foolishly and wrongly, it can cause great destruction. (Something to Say)
ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת לעשות את השבת לדרתם ברית עולם
“The Israelites shall keep Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations.” (31:16)
QUESTION: Why is the word “ledorotam” (לדרתם) – “for their generations – written without a “ו”?
ANSWER: A person arrives home Friday night accompanied by angels who bless the family. The word “ledorotam” (לדרתם) without the “ו” can be read “ledirotam” – meaning “their dwelling places.” The Torah is teaching that “la’asot et ha’Shabbat” – the Jewish people should strive to make the Shabbat beautiful and majestic, “ledirotam” – in their dwelling places. In this way they will receive blessings from angels. (Iturei Torah)
וראית את אחרי ופני לא יראו
“You will see My back, however, My face will not be seen.” (33:23)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that Hashem showed Moshe the “kesher shel tefillin” – the knot of the tefillin. There are different customs concerning how to make the knot of the tefillin worn on the head. (See Magen Avraham, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 32:52) What kind of knot was on Hashem’s tefillin?
ANSWER: The tefillin consist of two parts. One is placed on the hand and the other, on the head. The hand represents inter-human relationships. With our hands we extend aid and assistance to our friends. The head is the seat of the human intellect by which we perform mitzvoth between man and Hashem.
There are people who excel in their inter-human relationships but who are lacking in their connection with Hashem. On the other hand, there are people who study Torah diligently and consider themselves close to Hashem, but unfortunately their behavior leaves much to be desired in their inter-human relationships. The proper thing for a Jew is to excel in both.
Moshe asked Hashem to show him His glory so that he would have a better understanding of what Hashem wants of the Jewish people. The showing of the “kesher she l tefillin” was an allegory. The message was that it is a Divine wish that each Jew bind together the significance of the two tefillin. A person should do his utmost to help a fellow Jew and to serve Hashem. (Ha’drash Vha’iyun)
אלהי מסכה לא תעשה לך את חג המצות תשמר שבעת ימים תאכל מצות
“Do not make any idols…Keep the festival of matzot; eat matzot for seven days.” (34:17-18)
QUESTION: What is the connection between idol worship and eating matzot?
ANSWER: Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people was a punishment for worshipping idols in the days of Achashveirosh (Megillah 12a). Before Esther went before Achashveirosh to plead for the Jewish people, she told Mordechai to declare a three-day period of fasting. Since the fast day took place on Pesach (ibid. 15a), the Jews were unable to properly observe Pesach that year by eating matzah for seven days. The Torah is hinting to this event by telling us “Elohei maseicha lo ta’aseh” – “Do not worship any idols” and consequently you will be able to eat matzah seven days during Pesach. (Yalkut Ha’urim)
פסל לך שני לחת אבנים
“Carve for yourself two Tablets of stone…” (34:1)
Why did Moshe have to hew the second Tablets himself before Hashem wrote on them, while the first Tablets were made completely by Hashem, both the carving and the inscription?
To answer this, we must first understand exactly why the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf, causing the destruction of the first Tablets and necessitating new ones. They believed that since the first Tablets, which contained the essence of the Torah they had been given at Mount Sinai, were totally Hashem’s work, it would be impossible for humans by themselves to understand the depths of Torah without the help of supernatural powers. Therefore, they made the image of an ox, as it is engraved on the Heavenly Chariot, in the belief that by serving it, they could come closer to Hashem and achieve a deeper understanding of His Torah. As long as Moshe was with them, they relied on him to teach them Torah and bring them closer to Hashem. Now that they thought that he was dead, however, they felt driven to look for other forces to fill the void he left, and so they made the Calf.
The truth is, however, that the Torah was intended for mortals to understand directly with their own powers, without resorting to supernatural intermediaries, and it is in our hands to achieve the most lofty levels of Torah solely with our own powers. Thus, Hashem wanted the second Tablets to be as much as possible the work of the mortal Moshe, to show the people that they too could achieve everything that was in their own power to achieve.
If we would only make the effort, Hashem will help us understand His holy Torah and to reach the highest levels it holds for us. In Malachi (3:22), the prophet called the Torah, Torat Moshe, the Torah of Moshe, the Torah that was given through a human and intended for humans to fathom through their own resources. (Drash Moshe)
ויהי שם עם ה’ ארבעים יום וארבעים לילה…ויכתב על הלחת
“He remained there with Hashem for forty days and forty nights…and He wrote on the Tablets.” (34:28)
Why did Moshe have to spend an additional forty days on the Mount just to receive the second Tablets? He already learned the entire Torah the first forty days.
The reason, we suggest, is that although he had learned the entire Torah once, that was before the sin of the Golden Calf, when the people were still in a state of purity and holiness after receiving the Torah. Now, however, as a result of their fall from that lofty level, their leader needed not only to review everything he had learned, but to relearn it with greater intensity and force in order to have the power to lead a generation that had sinned. Perhaps this is the Torah’s intent in saying that Noah was a tzaddik in his lowly generations, since it requires much more effort to be a leader and an influence in a generation of sinners. (Drash Moshe)
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