Points to Ponder

Tetzaveh 5777

(Rav Moshe Feinstein’s Yartzeit is this Shabbos. His impact on Klal Yisrael is immense and most of the ideas in this week’s points will feature Torah from Rav Moshe and his Talmidim)

V’Ata – It is well known that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name does not appear in this week’s Parsha. The Baal HaTurim explains that this is based on Moshe’s request of Micheinee Nah and  the fact that when a Tzaddik is Goizer, Hakadosh Baruch Hu fulfills even if the Gezaira was on condition. Rav Michel Barenbaum ztl. offered an additional level of interpretation: He explained that since the majority of the Parsha deals with Bigdei Kehuna and that Aharon was challenged by Korach with the charge of nepotism, Hashem actually removed Moshe’s name from the command to elevate Aharon and his family and make them Kohanim – to demonstrate that Moshe’s status had nothing to do with it – this was Hashem’s choice.

Rav Schachter Shlita would often add in the name of Rav Soloveitchik ztl. that Yiddish folklore suggested they would always read this Parsha on Zayin Adar so it would be a reference to his death. Rav Soloveitchik explained that this was not a guarantee – rather, that Moshe was never Zoche to wear the Bigdei Kehunah. Even when he served as a Kohein, he wore a Chaluk Lavan. Ergo, his name does not appear in the Parsha commanding the making of these garments.

Pure olive oil (27:20) – Rashi notes that the oil for the menorah had to be pure – without sediment while that which was used for Menachos was a bit more flexible. Why the difference? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. suggested that when we look to illuminating individuals, the leadership needs to be pure. People cannot look to leadership thinking that they had ulterior, impure intentions in their presentation to the people. Their intention needs to be Zach from the start.

And they shall take the gold and Techeiles (28:5) – Rashi explains that those who will make the clothes will take the gold and Techeiles to make the clothes. But why must the Chochmei Lev take the donations directly? Why not from someone else? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explained that this teaches us a valuable lesson – that when we start a Mitzva, we must do it fully. Although by other things, division of labor builds a more efficient product, by spiritual matters, the complete action is ideal. (Additionally, Rav Moshe noted that when it comes to donations, they should be given to the Gedolim who could tell you which projects were worth supporting.)

And they shall make the Eifod (28:6) – Why is the language used in the plural neutral instead of the objective singular (V’Asisa)? Rav Nissan Alpert ztl. suggested that the Eifod is Michaper for Avodah Zara. When it comes to Emunah (the opposite of Avodah Zara) everyone is equally responsible. Hence,  the stress on the plural.

And the Mizbeiach shall be Kodesh Kodashim (29:37) – Why is the Mizbeiach HaNechoshes called Kodesh Kodashim while the Mizbach HaZahav was called Kodesh? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. offered 2 possibilities:  1)When one’s actions are Kodesh when he is closer to the Aron (trans. In the Beis HaMedrash) then he needs to make sure that his actions are Kodesh Kodashim when he is further away.  2) Rav Moshe also suggested that he who is in the Beis HaMedrash is already thought of as Kodesh Kodashim and therefore the people outside learn from his actions and assume that they are the actions of the Kodesh Kodashim. Hence, a Talmid Chacham must make sure his actions are proper.

Each day when he cleans the candles he shall offer the Ketores (30:7) – Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explained that the connection between the timing of the Ketores and the cleaning of the Menorah is based on the idea that although the action is done internally and privately, the results are felt well beyond the action. The Ketores was offered in private but the Talmud (Yoma 39b) explains that its scent was so powerful that women didn’t have to wear perfume in Yirushalayim. Similarly, one who is spreading the light of Torah by being a Torah based image, needs to know that his actions are felt well beyond the corners of his home. The illumination carries far and wide.

Remember what Amalek did (Devarim 25:17) – Chazal remind us that Zechira is done verbally while not forgetting is in the heart. However, the cognitive processes of recall and forgetting are in the brain not the heart? Why the stress on the heart? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explained that Hashem wanted us to remember the evil of Amalek and feel that evil in our hearts – to know how a person can sink to such a deep, dark level and to make sure never to get there.

Haftorah: Shmuel told Shaul that I have been sent to anoint you as king (I Shmuel: 15) – Why does Shmuel begin his challenge to Shaul’s  inaction with Aggag by noting that he was the one who anointed Shaul? Rav Rivlin Shlita cited Rav Goren ztl. who pointed out that whenever there is a battle with Amalek that is to be successful it must involve the children of Leah and the children of Rachel. Moshe fought the spiritual battle while Yehoshua fought the physical one. The same was the case with Shaul here. Shmuel told him that he (Shmuel) was a partner here and this type of twinship does not happen easily. If so, how could Shaul not hold his piece up? Rav Rivlin added that this necessary twinning may explain why Mordechai is referred to --  both as Ish Yehudi and Ish Yemini.