Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Parshas Shemini (5776)

Why did Nadab and Abihu Die?

The Torah writes (Leviticus 10:1):
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.
Rashi (ibid):
Rabbi Eleizer said: the sons of Aaron died only because they gave decisions on religious matters in the presence of their teacher, Moses (Sifra; Eruvin 63a)
Rabbi Ishmael said: they died because they entered the Sanctuary intoxicated by wine.
Vayikra Rabbah (20:9):
Because they did not wear the proper garments for it says (Exodus 28): "and it should be on Aaron and his sons", and what were they missing? The robe (מעיל)
And because they entered without washing their hands and feet, for it says (Exodus 30): "and they should wash their hands and feet, and not die", and it says: "when they come to the Tent of Meeting, they should wash with water"
And because they did not have children
Aba Hanin says: because they did not have wives for it says: "He should atone for himself and his household", household means "wife"
The Midrash adds (ibid 20:10):
Rabbi Levi said: they were arrogant, for many women sat unmarried because they wanted to marry them. What did they say? Our paternal uncle is king, our maternal uncle is a prince, our father is the High Priest, and we are two deputy High Priests, where would there be a woman that is fit for us!
Another reason (ibid, Talmud Sanhedrin 52a):
Moses and Aaron were walking, Nadab and Abihu were walking behind them, and all the Jews behind them. They said to each other: "When these two elders will die, then we will rule over everyone". G-d said back to them:  "Let's see who buries who"
Another reason (ibid):
"And to the nobles of the Children of Israel He did not lay His hand" (Exodus 24:10) ... for they looked at G-d like someone who looks at his friend while eating and drinking
Another reason (ibid 20:8):
For coming close, for they entered inside and inside [i.e. into the Holy of Holies]
And for bringing, for they brought a sacrifice that was not commanded
And for strange fire, for they brought it from a stove [i.e. not from the outer Altar]
And because they did not seek advice
(see the Sifra that explains that they did not seek advice from Moses or from each other)
Another answer (cited by Kli Yakar ibid):
And some say for the sin of the Golden Calf that Aaron made caused this to happen to them
Another answer (Meshach Chochmah 19):
The simple explanation is that they brought incense on the outer Altar
Another answer (Rashbam ibid):
Even though on ordinary days the rule of “the sons of Aaron will place in these pans fire on the altar” (Leviticus 1:7) was in effect, this rule did not apply to the day of inauguration, and Moses had not wanted any man made fire to be introduced into the Tabernacle. This was because he expected heavenly fire to manifest itself so that the addition of man made fire would have completely ruined the impact of the miracle.
Another answer (Shadal 10:1):
They did not intend to bring the morning incense for if so there would be not need for two pans, only they brought incense not commanded by G-d and they sinned because of arrogance: It was not enough for them to help their father serve ... they also wanted to show that they were also priests like Aaron, and since Moses did not assign any specific service for them to do they chose a service for themselves and brought in front of G-d a foreign fire...
Another answer (Abarbanel ibid):
the two of them sacrificed together and that was a great sin for incense is a service done by one person only, and not two people together
On the eighth day Moses served as the High Priest and only he was allowed to bring incense

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Parshas Tzav (5776)

Moses, the High Priest

The Torah writes (Leviticus 8:28):
And Moses took them from off their hands, and made them smoke on the altar upon the burnt-offering; they were a consecration-offering for a sweet savour; it was an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Rashi (ibid) explains:
Moses (though a non-priest) was officiating during the seven days of installation
We also find in Psalms (99:6):
Moses and Aaron among His priests, And Samuel among them that call upon His name, Did call upon the LORD, and He answered them.
Rashi's source is the Talmud (Zevachim 102b):
The Sages maintain: Moses was invested with priesthood only for the seven days of consecration. Some maintain: Only Moses’ descendants were deprived of priesthood, for it is said, "But as for Moses the man of God, his sons are named among the tribe of Levi"; and it says, "Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name"
Sefer Keren Orah (ibid) explains that Moses retained his status as the High Priest for the rest of his life but because he was busy with other matters, he let his brother Aaron serve as the High Priest

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Parshas Vayikra (5776)

Who is the Anointed Priest?

The Torah writes (Leviticus 4:3):
if the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin-offering.
Targum Onkelos (ibid) explains that this is the Kohen Gadol

Mishnah (Horyaot 3:4) explains further:
Who is the anointed? The one anointed with the oil of anointing, not the one with many clothes. There is no difference between the priest anointed with the oil of anointing and the one with many clothes except for the bull offered for [the violation of] any of the commandments.
(Barternura explains that after the flask of oil was hidden, Kohen Gadol was appointed by wearing his garments. Rambam explains that this was the case in the Second Temple.)

The Talmud (Horayos 12a) cites an opposing view:
We learned: [Kohen Gadol] who wears extra garments brings a bullock over sinning, these are the words of Rabbi Meir
The Talmud (ibid) also excludes another case:
If anointed, maybe this refers to the one anointed for war? No, for it says "and the priest that was anointed", referring one who has no other anointed one above him

Who is the Ruler?

The Torah writes (Leviticus 4:22):
When a ruler sinneth, and doeth through error any one of all the things which the LORD his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty
The Mishna (Horyaot 3:3) explains this is a king:
Who is the prince? This is the king, as it says (Leviticus 4:22): "And he did one of the commandments of Hashem his God," [this refers to] a prince, because there is no one above him besides Hashem his God.
The Talmud (Horayos 10a) excludes a ruler with leprosy:
Our Rabbis taught: When in ruler sinneth excludes a sick man. Should he, because he is, sick, be removed from his rank? — R. Abdimi b. Hama replied: The exclusion refers to a ruler who became leprous; as it is said, And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in the house of freedom,' and Jotham the king's son wins over the household.
The Tamud later on (ibid 11b) includes the kings of both Israel and Judah, and excludes the princes of tribes

(There is uncertainty regarding the Nasi at the time of the Mishnah and the exliarch in Babylon, whether they would have been included in this)

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Parshas Pekudei (5776)

Lineage of Oholiab

The Torah writes (Exodus 38:23):
And with him was Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, a craftsman, and a skilful workman, and a weaver in colours, in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (Sefer Lemakesi Atik) cites in the name of Eldad haDani that Oholiab was the son of Ahisamach, son of Hushim, son of Dan

Kli Yakar (Exodus 35:30) explains that the meaning of this name meant that he build the house of the Heavenly Father (אהלי אב). His father's name (Ahisamach) alluded to the story of the two brothers who owned the location where the Temple would be built.

The Talmud (Arachin 16b) states that Oholiab's descendent was Hiram, who was hired by King Solomon to the built the Temple [i.e. the same job was passed down in his family]
Yalkut Shemoni (Nach 185) says that just like the Tabernacle was built by a partnership between the tribes of Judah (Betzalel) and Dan (Oholiab), the Temple was built via a partnership between Judah (King Solomon) and Dan (Hiram)

How Many Tents?

The Torah writes (Exodus 40:1-2):
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ’On the first day of the first month shalt thou rear up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.
However, earlier we find the following (Exodus 33:7):
Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it without the camp, afar off from the camp; and he called it The tent of meeting. And it came to pass, that every one that sought the LORD went out unto the tent of meeting, which was without the camp.
There seem to have been two tents, one used by Moses before the Tabernacle was built and the Tabernacle itself.

Rashi (ibid) explains that this continued only until the Tabernacle was built:
After God had conversed with him, Moses used to return to the camp and teach the elders what he had learned. This Moses practised from the day of Atonement until the Tabernacle was set up, but no longer
The Midrash (Sifri Zutah Numbers 18:4) disagrees:
Rabbi Shimon said: we learn that there were two tents: a tent for serving and a tent for speaking
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Parshas Vayakhel (5776)

The Lineage of Bezalel

The Torah writes (Exodus 35:30):
And Moses said unto the children of Israel: ‘See, the LORD hath called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.
Rashi (ibid) adds:
Hur was the son of Miriam
Rashi's source is the Talmud (Sanhedrin 69b) which also adds several facts:
  • Bezalel was 13 at the time he was picked
  • His father was Caleb son of Jephunneh
  • His mother is Miriam, thus making him Moses's great-nephew
  • Caleb was 26 at the time Bezalel was born
The Talmud (Sotah 11b) also adds:
  • Caleb was the son of Hezron, son of Peretz, son of Judah (son of Jacob) [see Ibn Ezra (Exodus 31:2) who disagrees, see also Josh Waxman's parshablog here and here]
  • Caleb was the stepson of Kenaz, whom Caleb's mother married after Caleb was born to Hezron
The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 40:4) writes that he had six names:
  • Bezalel
  • Re'ei
  • Shuval
  • Yachas
  • Achumi
  • Lachad
Midrash haGadol (Numbers 11:26) states that Bezalel was the one who suggested to Moses the idea of picking the Sanhedrin through a lottery

Daas Zkenim (Exodus 31:2) explains why his grandfather, Hur, is mentioned:
The reason why the Torah mentions also the grandfather of Betzalel, whereas in the case of his assistant, Oholiov, it mentions only his father, (verse 6) is that Chur had died a martyr’s death in opposing the Israelites‘ dancing around the golden calf. The major function of the Tabernacle was to atone for that sin. This is why his name is mentioned here in connection with the Tabernacle.
(Incidentally one of the kings of Midian was also called Hur, see Numbers 31:8 and Joshua 13:21)

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