INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ 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.
Insights to Purim
ויתלו את המן על העץ
“So they hung Haman on the gallows…” (7:10)
QUESTION: How long was Haman in power?
ANSWER: Haman was in power for a total of seventy days. It is interesting to note that from the verse “After these days the King promoted Haman” (3:1) till “They hung Haman on the gallows” (7:10) there are a total of seventy psukim. The word “ha’eitz” – the gallows – has the numerical value of 165, which alludes to the name Haman, numerical value of 95, plus the seventy days of his reign.
The Jew suffered from Haman for seventy days as punishment for attending Achashveirosh’s feast, at which they drank from the “royal wine which was in abundance” (1:7). The word “yayin” – wine – has the numerical value of seventy. Esther rectified this through inviting Achashveirosh and Haman to the mishteh yayin – wine feast (7:2) and thus one is obligated on Purim to achieve a joyful state through drinking wine (see Megillah 7b, Rashi). (Orah V’Simcha)
ליהודים היתה אורה
“For the Jews there was light.” (8:16)
QUESTION: Why does the Megillah use the word “hayetah” – there was – which is past tense?
ANSWER: According to the Sefer Midrash Eliyahu, Haman was happy when the lots he cast fell on Adar because the plague of darkness in Egypt took place in that month. His mistake, however, was failing to realize that the Torah states, “For all the Children of Israel there was light in their dwellings (Shemot 10:23). The Megillah is thus telling us that the foundation upon which Haman built his hopes to annihilate the Jewish people was illusory because he miscalculated and failed to realize that there was was light then for the Jewish people in Egypt. (Nachal Eshkol)
כי תשא את ראש בני ישראל
“When you take a census of the children of Israel…” (30:12)
In the weekly portion of Ki Tisa, the first two aliyot (Kohen & Levi) are uncharacteristically lengthy. In fact, the better part of the entire portion is apportioned to them. This uneven division is in keeping with the statement in Bava Metzia 59b, which states that one should not say “Please hang up this fish for me” to someone whose relative was executed by hanging; any reference to hanging might easily be misconstrued as a hint to “the skeleton in the family closet.” The first two aliyot of Ki Tisa contain the narration of the Cheit Ha’egel, the sin of the golden calf. Therefore, we call up a Kohen and a Levi for the entire reading of this story, because their ancestors, the tribe of Levi, did not take part in its nefarious worship, and they will not be offended by it. (Rabbi Meir of Ostrowtza)
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)
בצלאל בן אורי בן חור
“Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur…” (31:2)
The question arises: Why is Bezalel’s lineage traced to his grandfather, instead of the simpler and more common “Bezalel the son of Uri”?
The answer lies in the fact that the Mishkan was atonement for the worship of the Golden Calf. It also should be recalled that Chur, Bezalel’s grandfather, died a martyr’s death while opposing this act of idolatry. Therefore, for his courageous act, Chur merited that his grandson Bezalel, by building the Mishkan, would be instrumental in bringing the atonement for the very sin which caused his grandfather’s death. Since Bezalel was chosen by virtue of his grandfather, it is understandable that his lineage is traced to his grandfather. (Traditional)
ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת
“The Israelites shall keep Shabbos…” (31:16)
The word “V’shamru” in the context of this verse should be translated as “to look forward to, anticipate eagerly”, similar to Rahsi’s interpretation of “shamar” in the verse in Bereishit (37:11) regarding Yaakov: “V’aviv shamar et hadavar” – “His father was looking forward to the matter.” Accordingly, this should be seen as a command not to behold the Shabbat as a day of massive restrictions and restraint, but to look forward to its coming in eager anticipation as a day of joy and kedusha. (Ohr HaChaim)
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