As our verse discusses the use of olive oil for the menorah in the Beis HaMikdash, the Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 36:1) expounds upon a verse in Yirmiyahu (11:16) in which the prophet compares the Jewish people to olives. One explanation of the Medrash is that just as olive oil is unique in that it remains completely separate and rises to the top when combined with any other liquid, similarly the Jews will always remain distinct from their non-Jewish neighbors and will be superior to them as long they perform Hashem’s will.
In his commentary to a very similar Medrash (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:21), the Y’dei Moshe quotes a fascinating legal ruling which he heard from the Rav of Krakow, who was his brother-in-law. The Medrash states that olive oil will rise to the top when mixed with every משקה (liquid) in the world.
However, when he mixed it with whiskey, he found that the olive oil actually settled to the bottom. In order to resolve this scientific challenge to the words of the Medrash, we are forced to conclude that whiskey is not legally considered a liquid, and as a result one shouldn’t use whiskey to make Kiddush on Shabbos day, which must be recited over a “liquid!” (See however Machatzis HaShekel Orach Chaim 272:6 who quotes this opinion and concludes that it is inappropriate to derive legal rulings from Aggadic sources; additionally, highly unscientific tests seem to contradict his claims about the result of mixing whiskey with olive oil.)
ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת (28:2)
Rav Yitzchok Hutner once related that while studying in Slabodka, he often heard America referred to as the “goldeneh medina..” Lliving in the poverty that was rampant in
One day, that all changed. Rav Hutner was walking down a
והיה על אהרן לשרת ונשמע קולו בבאו אל הקדש לפני ד' ובצאתו ולא ימות (28:35)
The Gemora in Pesachim (112a) relates that Rabbi Akiva gave seven commands to his son Rabbi Yehoshua. One of them was that he shouldn’t enter his house suddenly and unexpectedly. In his commentary on the Gemora, the Rashbam quotes a Medrash which relates that whenever he approached his home, Rabbi Yochanan would intentionally make noise so as to alert anybody who may be inside to his imminent arrival.
Rabbi Yochanan explained his actions based on our verse, which states that the Kohen Gadol must have bells on the hem of his Me’il (Robe) in order that the sound announcing his entrance should be heard whenever he entered Hashem’s Sanctuary.
Rav Shmaryahu Arieli questions how an individual person, even one as great as Rabbi Yochanan or Rabbi Akiva, could derive guidelines for proper conduct from the Torah’s rules for the Kohen Gadol, who was subject to special stringencies due to the sanctity of the Temple in which he served?
Rav Arieli quotes the Gemora in Sotah (17a), which teaches that if a husband and wife dwell together in peace and harmony, the Shechina (Divine Presence) will rest between them and fill their house with an atmosphere of Holiness. If so, we can understand that any man with a successful marriage must recognize that the Shechina resides in his house and conduct himself just as the Kohen Gadol did.
Lest one think that these lofty levels were only for previous generations, a modern-day example of such behavior can be found in a beautiful story involving Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Somebody was once discussing an important issue with Rav Shlomo Zalman on his way home. As they walked through the streets of
As his clothing didn’t appear disheveled to begin with, the man inquired as to the cause of the Rav’s actions. The saintly Rav replied that he had been blessed for decades to live in peace and tranquility with his wonderful, loving wife, and they were therefore fortunate to feel Hashem as a regular presence in their home. As they were turning the block to approach his house, he felt compelled to ensure that his appearance would be appropriate for the important Guest he was about to greet!
In light of such daily behavior, it shouldn’t be surprising to conclude by mentioning that at the funeral of his beloved wife and lifelong partner Rebbetzin Chaya Rivkah, the normally humble Rav Shlomo Zalman announced that it is customary that at the funeral of one’s spouse, he should ask forgiveness from the deceased for anything he may have done or said that caused pain in any way.
However, Rav Shlomo Zalman continued, “I have no need to do so, for I can say with complete confidence that in almost 54 years of marriage, I never once upset or hurt her in any way, and there is nothing for which I need to ask her forgiveness.”
Although marriage brings its daily challenges for even the most compatible of spouses, let us learn to overcome them by viewing our efforts to keep the peace as bringing the Divine presence into our homes, thereby turning ourselves into High Priests who serve Hashem every time we enter our homes and instill an atmosphere or happiness and harmony.
שבעת ימים ילבשם הכהן תחתיו מבניו אשר יבא אל אהל מועד לשרת בקדש (29:30)
A controversy once broke out when the Rav of a small town in
The Chofetz Chaim began by agreeing that Jewish law recognizes that all religious positions, including Rabbinical appointments, are subject to be inherited by the offspring of the deceased. However, the Gemora in Yoma (72b) distinguishes between the son of the Kohen Gadol, who may inherit his father’s purely religious position, and the son of the Kohen Meshuach Milchama (the Kohen who leads the Jews to battle), who may not. Because the latter position is uniquely intended for a man of war and is not purely a religious function, the fact that somebody was suited to the role is irrelevant to his son’s capacity to inherit and fill the role.
Similarly, it was once true that the function of the Rav of a community was purely religious in nature – to render legal rulings and to teach the people – and his children were legally entitled to be offered the position before other candidates were considered.
However, the Chofetz Chaim continued, this has unfortunately changed due to the assault of the reform and communist movements on traditional religious standards and values. As a result, the role of the Rav has been transformed into that of a general leading his troops into a fierce battle, regarding which the Gemora rules that the children are not entitled to automatic precedence in inheriting and filling the position of the deceased Rav!
זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים (דברים 25:17)
The Kli Yakar writes (Shemos 17:8) that in relating that Amalek attacked the Jewish people in Refidim, the Torah is hinting to the source of their ability to have any power over the Jews. As long as the Jewish nation is in a state of internal unity, Amalek has no ability to harm them. Refidim (רפידם) contains within it the letters which form the root of the word פירוד – separation – hinting to the fact that when the Jews encamped there, they were stricken by strife and discord (see Rashi Shemos 19:2).
The Chiddushei HaRim suggests that this is alluded to by the Torah’s emphasis on remembering what Hashem did לך – to (the singular) you, as Amalek holds no sway over a united Jewish nation. Rashi writes (Devorim 25:18) that Amalek struck at those who had been expelled by the Clouds of Glory from the Jewish camp as a result of their sins. Those individuals didn’t enjoy the merit of being part of the community, and they were therefore susceptible to Amalek’s attacks.
Haman, who was descended from Amalek, learned this lesson from his ancestors. The Sfas Emes notes that Haman described to Achashverosh (Esther 3:8) his desire to eradicate an עם מפוזר ומפורד. Literally, he described the Jews as a people who are scattered and dispersed around the world, but this may also be understood as a nation of people are who separated from one another and lacking in unity.
The Shelah HaKadosh writes that recognizing the true source of Haman’s power, Esther immediately began efforts to unify the nation, instructing Mordechai (Esther 4:16) go gather together all of the Jews, not just physically but also symbolically. Not surprisingly, it was this national togetherness which prevailed, as is memorialized in the well-known song Shoshanas Yaakov צהלה ושמחה בראותם יחד תכלת מרדכי – the Jewish nation was cheerful and glad when they saw together that Mordechai was robed in royal blue – a lesson which should inspire us to new levels of feeling a sense of community and togetherness with our fellow Jews in these difficult times for our people.
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Hashem told Moshe (27:20) to command the Jewish people to take pure olive oil in order to light the menorah. Is it also preferable to use olive oil instead of candles to light one’s Shabbos candles? (Mishnah Berurah 264:23, Pri Megodim Aishel Avrohom 264:12, Aruch HaShulchan Orach Chaim 264, Dibros Moshe Shabbos Chapter 2 Ha’arah 23, Shu”t Az Nidb’ru 3:4)
2) Hashem told Moshe (28:3) to instruct the “wise of heart” to make garments for Aharon. Hashem later added (31:6) that He had placed wisdom into the hearts of those are wise to allow them to do so. From this latter verse the Gemora in Berachos (55a) derives that Hashem only gives wisdom to one who already possesses it. How did these wise-hearted individuals escape the apparent catch-22, and from where did they attain their initial wisdom? (Baal HaTurim 28:3, Nefesh HaChaim 4:5, Sichos Mussar 5733:2, Shiras Dovid)
3) The Gemora in Yoma (9b) states that the first
4) As the Me’il was a four-cornered garment, why wasn’t the Kohen Gadol required to place tzitzis on its corners? (Minchas Chinuch 99:4, Shu”t Doveiv Meishorim 3:16, Chavatzeles HaSharon)
5) Why was there a need for two different altars in the Mishkan? (Kli Yakar, Taam V’Daas)
6) Rashi writes (Devorim 25:19) that in order to completely blot out the memory of Amalek, a person must also destroy the possessions of the Amalekites so that their name shouldn’t be mentioned in conjunction with the item. How was Esther permitted to accept the house of Haman (Esther 8:1), who was descended from Amalek (Targum Sheini Esther 3:1), instead of insisting upon its destruction? (Rav Yerucham Perlow on Smag Aseh 59, Chavatzeles HaSharon)
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