Pesach 5778

The Four Children[1]

1) והיה כי-תבואו אל-הארץ וגו’ ושמרתם את העבודה-הזאת, והיה כי-יאמרו אליכם בניכם מה העבודה הזאת לכם 2) והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמר בעבור זה עשה יקוק לי בצאתי ממצרים 3) והיה כי-ישאלך בנך מחר לאמר מה-זאת וגו’ 4) כי ישאלך בנך וגו’ מה העדות והחוקים וגו’‏
1) When you will come to the land…you shall observe this [Passover] service, and your sons will say to you: “What is this service to you?” 2) You shall tell your son on that day saying: “Hashem acted for me when I left Egypt because of this” 3) It shall be when your son will ask you tomorrow saying: “What’s this?” … 4) When your son will ask you… “What are the testimonies and statutes” …[2]

כנגד ארבעה בנים דברה תורה: אחד חכם, ואחד רשע, ואחד תם, ואחד שאינו יודע לשאול…רשע מה הוא אומר? מה העבודה הזאת לכם. לכם ולא לו. ולפי שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל כפר בעיקר, ואף אתה הקהה את שניו ואמור לו, בעבור זה עשה יקוק לי בצאתי ממצרים. לי ולא לו. אלו היה שם לא היה נגאל

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Tzav 5778

The undisturbed student[1]

צו את-אהרן ואת-בניו לאמר זאת תורת העלה היא העלה על מוקדה על-המזבח כל-הלילה עד-הבקר ואש המזבח תוקד בו: ולבש הכהן מדו בד ומכנסי-בד ילבש על-בשרו והרים את-הדשן אשר תאכל האש את-העלה על-המזבח ושמו אצל המזבח
Command Aharon and his children, saying: “This is the law of the elevation offering. It is the elevation offering that remains[2] on the altar pyre[3] the entire night, until morning. The fire of the inner altar should be ignited from the outer one[4]. The Kohen will don his linen tunic and linen pants against his body. He will then raise up the ashes from the fire that consumed the elevation offering on the altar and place them next to the altar”[5]

This week’s parsha begins with a command to Aharon and his sons, the Kohanim. It is interesting to note that in the entire previous parsha, Aharon isn’t mentioned once[6]. Every command so far regarding the Temple offerings mentions only Aharon’s sons. For example, with regards to the elevation offering (which is the subject of our verse), the previous parsha said: “…the sons of Aharon, the Kohanim, will offer…”[7]. It later says: “The sons of Aharon will place a fire on the altar”[8]. Or with the flour offering, it says: “He will bring it to the sons of Aharon, the Kohanim…”[9]. Why is here where Aharon is specifically mentioned and not earlier?

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Vayikra 5778

In the merit of the children[1]

ויקרא אל-משה וידבר יקוק אליו מאהל מועד לאמר

[Hashem] called to out to Moshe; Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying[2]

The first verse in the book of Leviticus tells us that Hashem called out to Moshe from the Tent of meeting. He was going to teach him the laws of the Temple offerings. Hashem’s voice emanated from between the Keruvim, the Angel-like statues on top of the Aron HaKodesh, the Holy Ark[3]. Only Moshe could hear the voice of Hashem, and only until the entrance of the Tent of Meeting[4]. The verse which introduces this idea is written unusually: the א of ויקרא is written small, making it look like the word ויקר. This implies Hashem happened upon Moshe; it indicates a lack of intent. There are many suggestions given as to why the Torah wrote this word this way[5]. The following is a unique approach.

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Vayakhel – Pekudei 5778

The power of scoffing[1]

אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדת אשר פקד על-פי משה וגו’‏
These are the accountings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony, which was commanded by Moshe…[2]

The Midrash asks[3]: why was there a need for Moshe to make an accounting of the materials of the Mishkan? Moshe is described by Hashem[4] as “trustworthy in my entire house”. Surely there couldn’t be any suspicion that he had taken anything for himself. Unfortunately, there was. Moshe overheard some scoffers speaking badly about him[5]. One was saying: “look how fat his neck is”[6]. His friend responded: “what else do you expect from the one who was in charge of the Mishkan?” They were suspicious of Moshe’s wealth, and inferred he had stolen from the donations to the Mishkan. When Moshe heard this, he immediately made an accounting of the materials, to show that nothing was missing.

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Ki Sisa 5778

The foremost spice[1]

ואתה קח-לך בשמים ראש מר-דרור וגו’‏
You should take for yourself prominent spices: mor-dror[2]

There were many ingredients used in the making of the anointing oil and the incense offering, both used in the Temple. One of the spices is known as מר-דרור, mor-dror. What is this spice? The Rambam[3], among others[4], say it is “musk”, the congealed blood found in the throat of a well-known animal in India. It’s similar to a deer, one of its characteristics being that it’s free-roaming[5]. However, the Raavad argues and says[6] that it is “myrrh”, a type of gum resin produced by trees and shrubs[7]. He says that it is unreasonable to suggest that the blood of any animal, let alone of a non-kosher species, would be used in the Temple. How would the Rambam respond to such a claim?

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