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.
וישא אהרן את ידו אל העם ויברכם
“Aharon lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them.” (9:22)
QUESTION: The plural for “hands” is spelled “ידיו” (with a second yud). Why in our verse is it spelled without a second yud?
ANSWER: When a Kohen recites the priestly blessing, he is required to raise both hands and put them together. Thus, the two hands look like one. The Kohen is also required to place the right hand a bit higher than the left. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 128:12) Without a second yud, the word “yadav” can be read “yado” – “his hand’. The Torah writes it this way to allude that Aharon raised his hand (the right hand) a bit higher, and keeping the two together like one, he blessed the people. (Siftei Kohen)
“And Aharon was silent.” (10:3)
In the entire Tanach there are only two instances where the word וידם is used: In this Parsha where it states: וידם אהרון, and Aharon kept still; and in the Sefer of Yehoshua where it narrates the war of Yehoshua between the Kings of Canaan, וידם השמש, the sun stood still (Yehoshua 10:13). The implication alludes to the fact that to reach the level of וידם אהרון, is an extraordinary feat, just as וידם השמש, stopping the sun, is totally alien to nature. (Ba’al Haturim)
יין ושכר אל תשת אתה ובניך אתך בבאכם אל אהל מועד
“Do not drink intoxicating wine, you and your sons with you, when you enter the Mishkan. (10:9)
QUESTION: Why in all the printed chumashim is there a vertical line (indicating a pause) before and after the word “atah”?
ANSWER: When people gather at a joyous occasion it is customary to have some alcoholic beverages and toast le’chayim – to life. The word “chayim” in “le’chayim” has in it the same vowels as the word “mayim” – water – yet it is spelled with two “yudden” while “mayim” is spelled with only one yud (חיים – מים). This teaches that it is proper for an individual yud (Jew) to drink water/Torah whenever he wishes to quench his thirst. However, liquor should be consumed only when two “yudden” (Jews), get together to celebrate an occasion. (Vedebarta Bam)
ואת שעיר החטאת דרש דרש משה
“And regarding the goat sin-offering, Moshe thoroughly inquired… (10:16)
An ancient transmitted tradition in the Talmud (Kiddushin 30a) states that according to the number of words in the Torah this double expression is located at the middle point of the Torah. However, a counting done by computer shows that it is far from the middle; and this has puzzled many commentators for centuries.
In his slim volume, Dikdukkei Torah, Rav Yaakov Reinitz records a solution found in earlier sources. The Talmud actually meant that this is the central example of all such double expressions in the Torah. All cases where two attached words are written with the same spelling, even if pronounced two different ways (as in the present case), are seen as doubles. A precise count of this phenomenon in the Torah (which is listed in his volume) finds seventy-seven such cases, thirty-eight before, and thirty-eight after, the double expression in our verse!
So too, the word גחון – belly (Vayikra 11:42), which is written in the Sefer Torah with a long vav, is recorded as being the middle letter of the Torah. This is about five thousand away from the middle! Here, too, a similar solution is offered, which Rav Reinitz quotes in the name of a Rav Yitzchak Silver. There are exactly seventeen consonants in the Torah that are traditionally recorded either larger or smaller than the regular text. Eight of them precede our verse, and eight follow it. Thus, this vav is indeed the middle letter of the unusual letters in the Torah! (Dikdukkei Torah)
“The stork…” (11:19)
QUESTION: Rashi quotes that she is called “chasidah” – “kind” – because she shares her food with her friends. The animals and birds that are forbidden to the Jews possess bad character traits. What man eats has an effect on him; therefore, the Torah forbade animals that would badly influence our character. Since the stork is good natured, why should she be forbidden?
ANSWER: A person who is selective and helps only people that she likes, paying no attention to the needs of others, does not have a good character. The Torah forbids us to eat the stork so that we should not acquire her bad habits. (Chidushei HaRim)
וכל כלי חרש אשר יפל מהם אל תוכו כל אשר בתוכו יטמא
“Any earthenware utensil into whose interior one of them will fall, everything in it shall become contaminated…” (11:33)
An earthenware vessel can be rendered tamei, ritually contaminated, only from its inside, even from its air space, without being touched. However, even if it is touched on the outside, it cannot be rendered impure. Commentators explain that it can never become impure by being touched on the outside because it has no value in and of itself. The vessel is only valuable as a container for the objects within it; its sole worth is a receptacle for something else. Along the same lines, the Kotzker Rebbe said, “Man is like an earthenware vessel. His worth lies not in the outer vessel, but in the human qualities developed within. (Something to Say)
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