"They shall confess the sin that they committed; he shall make restitution for his guilt in its principal amount and add its fifth to it, and give it to the one to whom he is indebted." (5:7)
QUESTION: Since only one person dealt dishonestly, why does the pasuk say, "vehitvadu" — "they shall confess" — in the plural, and not "vehitvadah" — "he shall confess" — in the singular?
concerns someone who unlawfully holds the money of a fellow Jew, and includes the situation where a borrower denies the receipt of a loan, compounding the iniquity by swearing falsely that he owes nothing. Obviously, if there are witnesses, he is unable to deny it or swear to that effect.
The Gemara (Bava Metzia 75b) says that one should extend a loan in the presence of witnesses to avoid violating the Torah law "do not put a stumbling block before the blind" (Vayikra 19:14), for without witnesses, the borrower may be tempted to deny the loan entirely.
Consequently, both the borrower who denies the loan and the lender who gave it without witness sin. Therefore, "vehitvadu" — "they shall both confess" — and resolve not to repeat their sin in the future.
"They shall confess the sin that they committed." (5:7)
QUESTION: The commandment to confess one's sins is the cornerstone of the mitzvah of repentance (see Rambam, Teshuvah 1:1). Why does the Torah choose to mention it here in connection with the sin of stealing?
Every sin that a person commits is partially an act of theft: Hashem gives the person energy and strength and wants him to utilize it for Torah study and fulfilling mitzvot
. Thus, when a person uses his energy for committing sins, he is "stealing" from Hashem. Therefore the mitzvah
of confession is mentioned in connection with stealing.
"And every portion from any of the holies that the Children of Israel bring to the Kohen shall be his" (5:9)
QUESTION: The words "lo yiheyeh" — "will be his" — appear superfluous. Since the "portion" is given to the Kohen, then it is obviously his?
In nineteenth century England there lived the famous Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore. Queen Victoria once asked him, "What is the extent of your wealth? How much do you own?"
Sir Moses told her it would take him a few days to do some accounting, then, he would reply.
When Sir Moses told her his wealth she became upset saying, "This is offensive: Everyone knows that you have far greater wealth."
Sir Moses explained that he considered his true wealth to be whatever money he had given to tzedakah. Anything else that he possessed was only temporary and could be confiscated or lost.
With the phrase, "Lo yiheyeh" — "shall be his" — the Torah is emphasizing that people should always consider their monetary wealth as temporary, and whatever one gives to charity "shall be his" — his real wealth which remains with him forever.
"A man whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him." (5:12)
QUESTION: Why is the word "ish" — "a man" — repeated twice?
Marriage should be regarded as a holy union. Until marriage, the man and woman were lacking something important, now they have become a complete entity. For a marriage to be happy and long-lasting, each partner must recognize the other's rights and respect the other's opinions. For the home to be harmonious both man and wife must be equally involved in it.
If a man seeks to overdo his "manliness" and attempts to be the autocratic ruler of his home, demanding that his decisions be enacted, or if he becomes oblivious to the needs of his household and is egoistically concerned only with "ish" — himself — the marriage is doomed to failure. The Torah warns us that the behavior of ish — a man — who is ish — totally concerned with himself — will spoil his family life, and ultimately destroy his own existence as well.
"And commit treachery against [lit. 'in'] him." (5:12)
QUESTION: In the phrase "uma'alah bo ma'al" the word "bo" — "in him" — seems extra. Could the text not have simply said "uma'alah ma'al."
No one is perfect; everyone possesses some failings. However, the happily married wife admires her husband and "sees" only good in him, as King Shlomo says, "Love covers all offenses" (Proverbs 10:12).
Unfortunately, when the husband does not behave properly strife may invade the relationship and sometimes the wife may act improperly. To justify her conduct, she rationalizes that uma'alah — her improper behavior — is because of "bo ma'al" — she found in him a betrayal of her.
"From new or aged wine shall he abstain." (6:3)
QUESTION: The laws of a nazir apply only to the nazir himself. Why did the angel tell Shimshon's mother that she should not drink wine? (See Judges 13:2-25)
Many parents set ambitious goals for their children and expect them to live by lofty standards. Unfortunately, they fail to realize their own need to live in accordance with the same standards they set for their children. Parents must conduct themselves the way they want their children to behave.
The angel was giving Shimshon's mother an important lesson in raising children. He told her that the son she would bear was destined to be a nazir. In order for him to properly observe his restrictions, it was necessary that she, too, take on the restrictions of a Nazirite, and thus be a living example for him.
"To his father or to his mother, to his brother or to his sister — he shall not contaminate himself to them upon their death, for the crown of his G-d is upon his head." (6:7)
QUESTION: Why is a Kohen, who is also considered holy, permitted to participate in the funeral of his parents and close relatives (Vayikra 21:2) while a nazir is not?
receives his holiness from his family, more specifically, inheriting it from his father. On the other hand, the nazir
attains his holiness on his own, and it has no connection to his family. Therefore, the Kohen
, whose holiness derives from his family, may participate in the funeral of a family member whereas the nazir
A Kohen Gadol, however, is not permitted to participate in the funeral of a family member. Although he obtains his Kohen status through his family, he becomes Kohen Gadol as a result of his own efforts and greatness. He does not become a Kohen Gadol because his father was a Kohen Gadol but because he excels over all other Kohanim, as it is written: "Vehakohein hagadol mei'echav" — "The Kohen who is exalted above his brethren" (Vayikra 21:10).
"And he shall provide him atonement for having sinned regarding the person." (6:11)
QUESTION: Rashi comments that his sin was that he abstained from drinking wine while he was a nazir.
Every nazir abstains from wine and is considered holy (6:8); why is a nazir who becomes impure considered a "sinner" for the same reason?
who keeps himself pure throughout the term of his vow and abstains from wine is considered holy. However, a nazir
who is not careful and becomes impure must begin a new period of nezirut
for thirty days so that his previous days of nezirut
are canceled. Thus, his previous days of nezirut
, during which he abstained from wine, were days of needless self-imposed deprivation. A person who has caused himself needless pain has sinned and requires forgiveness.
"This shall be the law of the Nazirite: On the day his abstinence is complete... He shall bring his offering to G-d... one unblemished sheep in its first year as a sin-offering." (6:13-14)
QUESTION: What sin did the nazir commit so that he needs to bring a sin-offering?
takes upon himself three things: 1) not to drink wine, 2) not to come in contact with a corpse, 3) to let his hair grow wild.
Wine is a sign of simchah — happiness — and it is customary to drink wine on joyous occasions. By refraining from drinking wine, the nazir declares that he has no desire to participate in the joy of others.
By avoiding contact with a corpse, he is failing to sympathize with others' sufferings and shunning sad occasions.
Letting his hair grow wild implies that he does not care if people stay away from him, because they do not want to be involved with a strange looking person. Thus, all three restrictions involve withdrawal from society.
Such a lifestyle is considered sinful and requires forgiveness.
"So shall you bless the Children of Israel, saying to them: 'May G-d bless you.' " (6:23-24)
QUESTION: Before the Kohanim administer the Priestly Blessing, they recite the blessing, "Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to bless His nation of Israel 'be'ahavah' — 'with love.' " (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 128:11, and Magen Avraham 18.)
Where were the Kohanim commanded to bless with love?
The Priestly Blessing starts with the phrase "Yevarechecha Hashem veyishmerecha"
— "May G-d bless you and safeguard you." Since Hashem told the Kohanim
"So you shall bless the Children of Israel,"
should not the blessing be in plural — "yevarechechem"
— "Hashem should bless you (plural)?"
Although the Kohanim are indeed blessing the entire congregation, they do so in the singular in order to indicate that G-d desires to bless the Jews with the unity that results when love prevails. Thus, in the berachah, the Kohen is announcing his fulfillment of Hashem's command to bless K'lal Yisrael "be'ahavah" — "with love."
The word "ahavah" has the numerical value of thirteen, which is also the numerical value of "echad" — "one." The Kohanim were commanded to bless the Jewish people "be'ahavah" that they be united as one.
Alternatively, the word "be'ahava" has the numerical value of fifteen. In the Priestly Blessing, from the word "yevarechecha" until the word "shalom," there are a total of fifteen words. Thus, the Kohanim are referring to the command to bless the Jewish people "be'ahavah" — with the fifteen-word Priestly Blessing which Hashem lovingly gives his people Israel.
"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: 'So you shall bless the Children of Israel; saying to them...' " (6:23)
QUESTION: Does not the word "koh" appear superfluous? The text could have said Barechu et B'nei Yisrael, emor lahem" — "Bless the Children of Israel, saying to them."
The Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit
43:11) states three opinions regarding our meriting of the Priestly Blessing, all based on the word "koh."
- It was merited through the Patriarch Avraham, to whom Hashem said, "Koh yiheyeh zarecha" — "So will be your children" (Bereishit 15:5).
- It was merited through the patriarch Yitzchak, of whom it is said, "Ve'ani vehana'ar neilchah ad koh" — "I and the lad will go yonder" (Bereishit 22:5).
- It was merited through Yaakov, as the pasuk says, "Koh tomar leveit Ya'akov" — "So shall you say to the house of Yaakov" (Shemot 19:3).
QUESTION: What attribute must one emulate to be worthy of receiving this blessing in contemporary times?
Each of the aforementioned views emphasizes a unique aspect of Jewish identity and all three express the different qualities necessary to be worthy of the Priestly Blessing.
- When Avraham complained that he was childless, Hashem told him, "Gaze toward the heavens and count the stars.... koh yiheyeh zarecha — so shall be your children." By comparing the Jewish people to the stars of heaven, Hashem was conveying a lesson in Ahavat Yisrael.
A star looks tiny from the earth, but only because it is far away. If it were possible to get close enough, one would see its immense size. Likewise, no Jew should ever be rejected; though he may appear to be insignificant, when one comes "closer" to him, that is, knows him better, one recognizes his true potential and stature.
- Regarding the Akeidah, the pasuk: "Ve'ani vehana'ar neilchah ad koh" — "And I and the lad will go yonder" — conveys the dedication of our forefathers. Not only was the aged Avraham prepared to prove his devotion to Hashem, but he also trained his child to do the same. They both went happily to the Akeidah because it would be an opportunity to accomplish a Kiddush Hashem — sanctification of Hashem's name.
- The pasuk "Koh tomar leveit Ya'akov" — "So shall you say to the house of Yaakov" (Shemot 19:3) — is Hashem's instruction to Moshe prior to the giving of the Torah. It is a message to the women to set the atmosphere in their homes so that their husbands and children dedicate their time to Torah study and see that a Torah atmosphere prevails.
Thus, when a Jew practices Ahavat Yisrael, conducts himself so that his behavior results in a Kiddush Hashem, and studies Torah while conducting his home life in the spirit of Torah, he will merit the Priestly Blessing to the fullest measure.
"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: 'So shall you bless the Children of Israel.' " (6:23)
QUESTION: According to halachah (Orach Chaim 128:5), when the Kohen recites the Priestly Blessing he must remove his shoes. Why?
At the time of the miracle of the burning bush, Hashem commanded Moshe, "Do not approach here; remove your shoes from your feet, for the place upon which you stand is holy ground" (Shemot
3:5). The ground on which the Kohanim
stand when they bless the Jewish people is also holy and thus they must remove their shoes.
When Hashem instructed Moshe to remove his shoes, he prefaced the command with the words, "Al tikrav halom" — "Do not approach here." The word "halom" — "to here" — has the numerical value of 75, which is the same numerical value as the word "Kohen." Thus, the pasuk is a message to the Kohanim: "Al tikrav" — "do not approach" — "halom, shal ne'alecha" — "Kohen, remove your shoes."
Alternatively, according to the Gemara (Sotah 40a) if a Kohen's shoelace breaks and he sits down in the middle of the blessing to fix it, people may suspect him of stopping in the middle of the blessing because he is a disqualified Kohen, i.e. the son of a woman forbidden to marry a Kohen. Therefore, the Rabbis forbade Kohanim to wear shoes during the priestly blessing (even without laces).
"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: 'So shall you bless the Children of Israel.' " (6:23)
QUESTION: According to halachah (Orach Chaim 128:5) when the Kohen recites the Priestly Blessing he must raise his hands and stretch them out. What is the significance of this?
Many people are accustomed to give blessings generously, and it is indeed a benevolent practice. For example, we bless a sick person, "May you have a speedy recovery," and we bless a person in financial straits with hatzlachah
in his livelihood.
With this halachah our Sages are imparting a very important lesson; while giving blessings is laudable, it is extremely important that we also "raise our hands" and "stretch them out" — that we actually do something materialistic to help the person in need.
"May G-d bless you and safeguard you." (6:24)
QUESTION: According to the Midrash Rabbah (11:13) "May G-d bless you," means, with affluence, "and safeguard you" means from mazikim — destructive people.
What is the connection between these two blessings?
The Gemara (Sotah
38a) says that the Kohanim
must deliver the Priestly Blessing in a loud voice. This seems to contradict King Shlomo's statement, "He that blesses his friend with a loud voice...it shall be counted a curse to him" (Proverbs 27:14). Offering excessive praise may tempt thieves or government agencies to confiscate a person's wealth. As a matter of fact, according to the Midrash Rabbah
(20:21), Bilaam, who hated the Jewish people, blessed them in a loud voice. As the pasuk
says, "vayisa meshalo vayomar"
— "he declaimed his parable and said" (23:18).
How can the words of the wisest of all men be reconciled with the halachic requirement that the Kohanim give the blessing with a loud voice?
A person cannot control the actions of another. Therefore, one who blesses another in a loud voice cannot predict the consequences. The blessing may evoke the evil eye (ayin hara) of others or tempt them to steal. Hence, King Shlomo advises that a good friend should give his blessing in a quiet tone of voice.
When the Kohanim delivered the Priestly Blessing, it was not they who were actually blessing, but "ve'Ani avaracheim" — "I [i.e., Hashem] will bless them" (see Rashi). Therefore, despite the requirement to give the blessing with a loud voice, they assured the Jewish people that there was no need to fear the problem identified by King Shlomo. When Hashem blesses one with affluence, as Ruler of the entire world, He can assure us that no mazikim — destructive people — will cause any damage.
"May G-d lift His countenance to you." (6:26)
QUESTION: The Gemara (Berachot 20b) informs us that the angels said to Hashem, "Isn't it written in Your Torah, '[G-d] does not lift His countenance' [i.e., show favoritism] (Devarim 10:17). So why do You lift Your countenance to the Jews?" Hashem answered, "I wrote in the Torah 've'achalta vesavata u'veirachta' — 'and you shall eat and be satisfied [i.e., eat a significant amount] and bless your G-d' (ibid. 8:10). Nevertheless, the Jews are strict with themselves to bless Me even for only the volume of an olive or an egg. Therefore, they deserve the lifting of My countenance to them."
The words of the Gemara, "they are strict with themselves" seem superfluous. Could it not have just said, "How can I not lift My countenance to them if they bless me even after eating a small amount of food?"
Since, in regard, to ma'asar ani
— the tithe given to the poor — the Torah says, "ve'achlu bisharecha vesavei'u"
— "they shall eat in your cities and be satisfied
26:12), the Mishnah
8:5) declares, "You should give a poor man at least half a kav
(approximately two-thirds of a quart) of wheat, and one kav
(approximately one and one-third quart) of barley."
Therefore, Hashem says, "The concept of being 'sava' — 'satisfied' — is emphasized both in regard to blessing Me after eating, and in regard to tithing. However, 'on themselves' they are very stringent and bless Me even when they only have eaten a portion the size of an olive or an egg, although they generously give enough tithe to make the poor satisfied. Thus they deserve the lifting of My countenance to them."
"And establish peace for you." (6:26)
QUESTION: When the Kohanim conclude their blessing, it is customary for people to thank them by saying "yasher ko'ach."
It is a mitzvah for them to bless the people. Why do we say to them "yasher ko'ach" when they are commanded to do so?
When a Kohen
extends the blessings, he is indeed fulfilling a mitzvah
. However, he is at liberty to go to any shul
he wants and recite the blessing there. The people of the shul
which he selected are grateful to him for coming, and for this they say "yasher ko'ach."
"Let them place My name upon the Children of Israel." (6:27)
QUESTION: How do the Kohanim place Hashem's name upon the Jewish people?
The holy name of Hashem, the Tetragrammaton, is spelled yud-hei-vav-hei
. The Kohanim
stretch out their hands fully and recite the Priestly Blessing consisting of 15 words. The numerical equivalent of yud-hei
is 15. A fully stretched out hand looks like a vav
and the five openings between the ten fingers of both hands (see Shulchan Aruch Harav
128:20) represent the hei
, whose numerical value is 5.
Thus, by reciting the fifteen (yud-hei) words of the Priestly Blessing with outstretched hands (vav) and five openings between the fingers (hei), the Kohanim are placing Hashem's holy name on the people of Israel.
"They brought their offering... six covered wagons...a wagon for each two leaders." (7:3)
QUESTION: Everyone contributed generously for the Mishkan (see Shemot 36:7); why did the nesi'im pay for the wagons in pairs, instead of each donating one?
The fact that each nasi
brought his own offering was likely to make them appear disunited, so to avoid a false appearance they shared the expense of the wagons.
With this act they thus hoped to merit Hashem's Divine presence in their midst, as the pasuk states, "He [Hashem] became King of Yeshurin [Israel] when the leaders were united" (Devarim 33:5).
Alternatively, it is very important to use everything to its fullest potential, and if six wagons sufficed to do the work, extra wagons would have been a waste. Not fully utilizing something is equivalent to waste, and even for holy purposes, overspending is prohibited.
This applies to all facets of one's life. For example, Hashem has given man a day consisting of twenty-four hours. Even when one properly utilizes twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes for "good purposes," he must take care that the final minute of the day should also not go to waste.
"And to the sons of Kehat he did not give; since the sacred service was upon them, they carried on their shoulder." (7:9)
QUESTION: What would have been so terrible if wagons had been given to the sons of Kehat to facilitate carrying the holy Ark?
35a) says that it only appeared that the Kohatites were carrying the Ark, but in reality the Ark "nosei et nosav"
— "carried its bearers." Consequently, while it may have been proper for the Ark to carry the prominent members of the Kohatite family, to carry the wagons and the animals which pulled them would not have been dignified.
"One leader each day, one leader each day shall they bring their offering." (7:11)
QUESTION: There is a Midrash pli'ah (wondrous Midrash), which says that "from here it is derived that the offerings of the nesi'im were also brought on Shabbat." What in this pasuk indicates that?
The dedication of the altar started on the first day of the month of Nissan
, which that year happened to be a Sunday (see Shabbat
87b). In all, there were a total of twelve nesi'im
bringing offerings. Should they not have been permitted to bring their offerings on Shabbat
, then the twelve offerings would have extended over two weeks, and on every weekday of the first week there would be a different nasi
offering for a total of six, and the same for every weekday of the following week. Thus, over the two-week period, two nesi'im
would bring offerings on the two Sundays, two on the two Mondays etc.
However, with offerings occurring on Shabbat, the dedication would be completed in twelve days. Thus, in the first week seven nesi'im would bring their offerings with the remaining five offering on the first five days of the second week, and Friday and Shabbat would be the only days to fall once during this period and thus only one nasi would bring an offering on these days.
Carefully analyzing our pasuk, the Midrash finds a difficulty in the fact that the words "nasi echad layom" — "one nasi per day" — are repeated. Therefore, the Midrash concludes that it is not a redundancy, but intentionally phrased to teach us that on two of the days (Friday and Shabbat) only one nasi offered, while two nesi'im offered on all the other days which all fell twice during the 12-day period. Hence, we can conclude that the offerings were also brought on Shabbat, since one Shabbat occurred during the twelve-day period.
"The one who brought his offering on the first day... on the second day...on the third day...." (7:12, 18, 24)
QUESTION: Every day from Rosh Chodesh through the twelfth of Nissan, the section is read describing the offering brought by the nasi on that day (see Ba'eir Heitav, Orach Chaim 629:6), followed by a mystical prayer, "Yehi Ratzon" — "May it be Your will...." In it we say, "If I, Your servant, am of the tribe of (name of the tribe of that day) the Torah section of whose nasi I have recited today, then may all the 'holy sparks' and all the 'holy lights' which are contained in this tribe shine upon me."
How is it possible that this "Yehi Ratzon" is said every day, even by a Kohen or a Levi or one who can trace his genealogy to a particular tribe?
The uniqueness of a Jewish person is reflected in his neshamah
— soul — which is truly a part of Hashem above (see Tanya
ch. 2). Hashem sent down 600,000 souls to this world (ibid. ch. 37), and each one has a mission to accomplish. Until the soul completely accomplishes its task, sparks of the soul are reincarnated in newly born people.
Moreover, in addition to gilgul — transmigration — in which the soul is attached to a body and dominated by it, there is also ibur neshamot — impregnation of souls — in which a spark of the soul of a tzaddik is "impregnated" in another soul and serves as an additional spiritual charge for the soul of the recipient (see Tanya 14).
Consequently, although the soul originated in a person who was a member of a particular tribe, it is possible that now this soul is in a person of another tribe, or has the soul of another person "impregnated" in it. Hence, this prayer, which is on behalf of the soul of the Jew, can be said by every individual, even a Kohen or Levi, or anyone who knows his tribal affiliation.
"The one who brought his offering on the first day was Nachshon son of Aminadav... and his offering...." (7:12-13)
QUESTION: Why is it written "vekarbano" — "and his offering" — regarding Nachshon ben Aminadav?
According to the Midrash
(see Rashi 7:19), it was Netaneil ben Tzu'ar who suggested that all the nesi'im
bring offerings. Anyone who encourages others to do good deeds receives a reward for the encouragement and also shares the merit of the deeds themselves.
Therefore, although Nachshon ben Aminadav brought his offering first, it is written "and his offering" to indicate that the merit was not entirely his, but shared with Netanel.
Alternatively, to be the first to bring an offering was a great honor which might have made him conceited. The Torah wrote the extra (vav) — "and his offering" — to indicate that being first had no ill effect on him; on the contrary, he considered himself as someone who followed others.
"On the second day Nethaneil son of Tzuar offered ... he brought his offering." (7:18-19)
QUESTION: Why are the words "hikriv et karbano" — "he brought his offering" — said only for Netaneil ben Tzu'ar?
It was Netaneil ben Tzu'ar who suggested that all the nesi'im
bring offerings. Since he was the one who proposed it, he shared in the merit of the offerings brought each day. However, on the second day, when Netaneil ben Tzu'ar brought his own offering, the Torah stresses that "he brought his
offering" — he received full credit for the offering and the idea.
"On the seventh day, the leader of the children of Ephraim..." (7:48)
QUESTION: Why did the leader of the tribe of Ephraim bring his offering on the seventh day — Shabbat?
When Yosef came to Egypt he was sold as a slave into the house of Potifar. The Torah relates that one day he came home to do his work, and Potifar's wife urged him to commit a transgression. Yosef became very frightened and ran away. According to the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni
146), it was Shabbat
and he came home to do "his work," which was to study and review the Torah his father taught him.
According to the Gemara (Sanhedrin 43b) when one resists and overpowers evil, it is equivalent to offering a sacrifice. Since Yosef "offered" a sacrifice on Shabbat, Hashem rewarded him that his descendent — the head of his son's tribe — would bring sacrifices for the dedication of the altar on Shabbat.
Alternatively, according to Midrash Rabbah (14:2), Yosef observed the Shabbat [in Egypt] before it was given. This is inferred from the pasuk, "Have the meat slaughtered vehachein — and prepare it" (Bereishit 43:16). The word "hachein" is primarily used to express preparation for Shabbat, as may be inferred from the pasuk, "It shall be on that the sixth day, veheichinu — when they prepare" (Shemot 16:5). Hashem, therefore, said to him, "Yosef, you observed the Shabbat before the Torah was given; I promise I shall repay your grandson by allowing him to present his offering on Shabbat. Although an individual is otherwise forbidden to do so, I will accept his offering favorably."
Is it not puzzling that the reward for Yosef's Shabbat observance would be his son's desecration of the Shabbat?
Hashem gave us the Shabbat and commanded us to sanctify it. This is accomplished by refraining from all the forbidden labors, including bringing an offering. On the other hand, there are sacrifices which we are commanded to offer specifically on Shabbat. Obviously, an offering prescribed by Hashem is no Shabbat desecration, but a means to enhance the holiness of Shabbat.
Yosef's reward was that, inspite of the usually forbidden status of individual sacrifices offered on Shabbat, by Divine provision, his grandson's offering on Shabbat would not be treated as a usual individual sacrifice, but as a required Shabbat sacrifice through which the holiness of that Shabbat would be elevated and enhanced.
"On the tenth day, the leader of the children of Dan...." (7:66)
QUESTION: Why was the tenth day of Nissan set aside for the tribe of Dan?
When Yaakov blessed his children, he associated the power of earthly judgment with the tribe of Dan saying, "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" (Bereishit
The tenth of Nissan always occurs on the same day of the week as the first day of Rosh Hashanah, when Hashem judges his people. Therefore the prince of the tribe associated with earthly judgment brings his offering on a day which is associated with Divine judgment.
"This was the dedication of the altar on the day it was anointed from the princes of Israel: twelve silver bowls, twelve silver basins. Twelve gold ladles, filled with incense." (7:84,86)
QUESTION: Each nasi brought a gold ladle filled with incense and a silver bowl and basin, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil (7:13). Why does the verse giving the tallies of bowls, basins, and ladles state that the ladles were full of incense while it omits that the bowls and basins were filled with flour and oil?
According to the Midrash Rabbah
(12:21), all the nesi'im
came to the Mishkan
with their offerings on Rosh Chodesh Nissan
, the first day of the dedication. Afterwards, they were told that "nasi echad layom"
per day should present his offering.
When a meal-offering or incense is put into a holy utensil, it must be offered on that day. If it is left in the utensil overnight, it becomes disqualified for further use (see Me'ilah 9a, Shavuot 11a, Tosafot). If so, how was it possible for the nesi'im to bring the incense and flour mixed with oil on Rosh Chodesh and yet offer it on a subsequent day?
We answer this question by citing two rules:
- The different spices of the incense needed to be ground and then mixed together within the Sanctuary (Rambam, K'lei Hamikdash 2:6).
- Only if the flour is together with the oil in the same utensil must it be offered immediately and not left overnight.
Hence, on Rosh Chodesh
brought a gold ladle filled with unground and unmixed incense. Consequently, although it was in the ladle, it did not become disqualified by staying overnight. However, the flour and oil were not brought together in the bowl because the mixture would become disqualified if not offered on the same day. Therefore, they were brought separately and only on the day which was designated for the nasi
to bring his offering did he bring the flour mixed with oil for a meal-offering in the silver bowls and basins.
The tally in the Torah is for all the offerings which were brought on Rosh Chodesh "on the day it was anointed." On that day they all brought ladles containing unground incense, and silver bowls and basins which were not filled at that time with fine flour mixed with oil.
"This was the dedication of the altar, on the day it was anointed... This was the dedication of the altar after it was anointed." (7:84, 88)
QUESTION: Why does it say "on the day it was anointed" in the first pasuk and "after it was anointed" four pesukim later?
It is common for people to cherish something new. As time passes, however, the novelty often proves short-lived. For example, a boy preparing for his Bar Mitzvah
often begins putting on his tefillin
with excitement and lofty intentions. As he grows older, unfortunately, it becomes a daily routine, and even while wearing his tefillin
he gives them little attention.
On the day the altar was anointed, everybody was in high spirits. The Torah is telling us that not only were they in great spirits "on the day the altar was anointed," but that even "after it was anointed," it did not lose its newness, but was cherished with the same love and awe as on the first day.