Parashat Mishpatim / פרשת משפטים

There is a strange—little spoken about—law that my mind, particularly over the last few months, keeps re-visiting. The Talmud teaches that when one builds a synagogue or house of study the structure should preferably have windows (BT Berakhot 34b). Indeed, this idea is codified as law in the foundational legal code, the Shulhan Arukh (OH 90:2).

The medieval commentaries offer differing reasons for this law. Rashi suggests that the windows expose the sky, drawing our eyes to the heavens; allowing our gaze to be drawn upwards creates the proper humility as we try to relate to the Transcendent. Rabbenu Yonah writes that letting light into a dark space calms the soul and allows one to be more settled and arrive at the appropriate mindset for prayer (see Beit Yosef, O.H. 90:4). For me, windows in the academy and in houses of prayer have always been a precious and needed form of agitation. The light captures my attention and draws me into the world, into the streets. The windows are a reminder that the religious experience I pursue as I try to connect with God through prayer and the study of holy texts must reach beyond the ecclesiastical walls. Judaism demands that there always be a creative dialectic between the world and the beit midrash. For Torah to realize its promise and be all that it is meant to be for the world, its teachings must reverberate in the markets and the streets, in the halls of government and in our homes.

A version of this point is made by the juxtaposition between last week’s parashah of Yitro and this week’s reading of Mishpatim. Last Shabbat, we read about how the Israelites, after three days of preparation, confronted God’s awesome presence at Sinai through a thick cloud. With Parashat Yitro, the people touch lofty heights. Sinai represents a moment of intimacy between the Israelites and their Redeemer. As we move from Yitro to Mishpatim, we might have expected an elaboration of ritual laws that would govern the people’s particular relationship with the Divine. We might have imagined an introduction of the ritual laws of tefillin or tzitzit, Shabbat, festivals or kashrut—laws that give expression to the particularity of the Divine relationship with the Jewish people.

But the first laws that are expounded after this intense and intimate religious moment are the laws detailing behavior among people generally. The first laws of the Covenant given immediately after Sinai are about the rights of servants, the commands not to oppress the stranger, not to mistreat the widow and the orphan, not to speak false rumors about people. We are introduced to the laws governing physical damages, property law, and a vision of how best to adjudicate judgment. That is to say, these are laws that form the basis of our interactions with other human beings (bein adam lehavero). None of these laws are seemingly particular to the Jewish people’s relationship with their God, but rather offer universal moral direction on how to create a just and ethical society.

The meaning behind the juxtaposition between this two parshiyot of Yitro and Mishpatim is echoed in the Ten Commandments themselves. On the first tablet, we find commands that govern our relationship with the Divine. On the second tablet, we have commands that govern our interactions with human beings.

Our reading this Shabbat of Mishpatim—and its almost total focus on the laws that must govern interactions between people—serves as an important corrective to the dangers that inhere in the religious experience. Too often the focus of religious life becomes self-centered, the practitioner prioritizing her individual spiritual world and relationship with God to the exclusion of others and their wellbeing. This inward-looking focus reifies a religiosity in which the pursuit of closeness to God comes to distance us from God’s world. This is not how it should be, the Torah warns. Sinai was a one-time experience, an encounter that must not serve as a paradigm for intimacy with the Divine. Moving forward, the people are implicitly told that their relationship with God is developed and deepened as much through the pursuit of justice between human beings (bein adam lehavero) as it is through ritual behavior (bein adam lamakom). The Talmud has its own language for this idea. “Rav Yehudah said, ‘One who wishes to be devout (hasid) should fulfill the words of the laws of damages’” (BT Bava Kama 30a). One’s relationship with God is deepened when the love of God manifests itself not only in sacrifices or prayers but in also heeding the laws that govern relationships between people. Both in its biblical and Talmudic iterations, the power of the Torah is that it expands the religious life to include civil law and the pursuit of justice generally.

In fact, Rashi makes this point in a gorgeous way in his first comment on Exodus 21. He tells us that the Sanhedrin, the great court of the ancient Jewish people, had to be located in the Temple. This placement should serve as a reminder that the court that heard monetary claims and other civil litigation between people must understand its work of adjudication as a religious activity. Just as the sacrifices that were offered in the Temple constituted a form of worship, so too was the work of the court an expression of Divine service (avodah).

Looking out the windows these days we must be careful not to let ourselves become overwhelmed by the dissonance between what the Torah hopes for the world and the world as it currently is. It would be too easy and so wrong to retreat into the beit midrash and into our prayers. Mishpatim pushes us past this response, reminding us that we are not to stay at Sinai, but instead must move into the enterprise of building a just society. Mishpatim reminds us that this work is essential to the religious life.

The publication and distribution of the JTS Commentary are made possible by a generous grant from Rita Dee (z”l) and Harold Hassenfeld (z”l).

Torah Reading for Ki Tisa

Exodus Chapter 30

11The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: יאוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
12“When you take the sum of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted. יבכִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת־רֹ֥אשׁ בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ לִפְקֻֽדֵיהֶם֒ וְנָ֨תְנ֜וּ אִ֣ישׁ כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה בִּפְקֹ֣ד אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹא־יִֽהְיֶ֥ה בָהֶ֛ם נֶ֖גֶף בִּפְקֹ֥ד אֹתָֽם:
When you take: Heb. כִּי תִשָׂא. [This is] an expression of taking, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders. [I.e.,] when you wish to take the sum [total] of their numbers to know how many they are, do not count them by the head, but each one shall give a half-shekel, and you shall count the shekels. [Thereby] you will know their number. כי תשא: לשון קבלה, כתרגומו, כשתחפוץ לקבל סכום מנינם לדעת כמה הם, אל תמנם לגלגולת, אלא יתנו כל אחד מחצית השקל ותמנה את השקלים ותדע מנינם:
then there will be no plague among them: for the evil eye has power over numbered things, and pestilence comes upon them, as we find in David’s time (II Sam. 24). ולא יהיה בהם נגף: שהמנין שולט בו עין הרע והדבר בא עליהם, כמו שמצינו בימי דוד:
13This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of [such] a shekel shall be an offering to the Lord. יגזֶ֣ה | יִתְּנ֗וּ כָּל־הָֽעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מַֽחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִ֤ים גֵּרָה֙ הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל מַֽחֲצִ֣ית הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל תְּרוּמָ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָֽה:
This they shall give: He [God] showed him [Moses] a sort of coin of fire weighing half a shekel, and He said to him, “Like this one they shall give.” -[from Tanchuma 9; Tanchuma Buber, Naso p. 35; Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 19a; Midrash Psalms 91:1; Yerushalmi, Shekalim 1:4] זה יתנו: הראה לו כמין מטבע של אש, ומשקלה מחצית השקל, ואומר לו כזה יתנו:
who goes through the counting: Heb. הָעֹבֵר עַל-הַפְקֻדִים. It is customary for those who count to pass the ones who have been counted one following another, and so [too the word יַעִבֹר in] “each one that passes under the rod” (Lev. 27:32), and so [the word ךְתַּעִבֹרְנָה in] “flocks will again pass under the hands of one who counts them” (Jer. 33:13). העבר על הפקודים: דרך המונין מעבירין את הנמנין זה אחר זה, וכן לשון (ויקרא כז לב) כל אשר יעבור תחת השבט, וכן (ירמיה לג יג) תעבורנה הצאן על ידי מונה:
half a shekel according to the holy shekel: By the weight of the shekel that I fixed for you [against which] to weigh the holy shekels, such as the shekels mentioned in the section dealing with personal evaluations (Lev. 27:1-8) and [in the section concerning] inherited fields (Lev. 27:16-21). מחצית השקל בשקל הקודש: במשקל השקל שקצבתי לך לשקול בו שקלי הקדש, כגון שקלים האמורין בפרשת ערכין ושדה אחוזה:
Twenty gerahs equal one shekel: Now He explains to you how much it is. עשרים גרה השקל: עכשיו פירש לך כמה הוא:
gerahs: Heb. גֵרָה, a word meaning a ma’ah [a small coin]. Likewise, “will come to prostrate himself before him for a silver piece (אִגוֹרַתכֶּסֶף) and a morsel of bread” (I Sam. 2:36). גרה: לשון מעה, וכן בשמואל (בשמואל א’ ב לו) יבוא להשתחות לו לאגורת כסף וככר לחם:
Twenty gerahs equal one shekel: for a whole shekel equals four zuzim, and the zuz was originally five ma’oth, but they came and added a sixth to it and raised it to six ma’oth of silver, and half of this shekel [of] which I have spoken to you [here in this verse], they shall give as an offering to the Lord. עשרים גרה השקל: השקל השלם, שהשקל ארבעה זוזים, והזוז מתחלתו חמש מעות, אלא באו והוסיפו עליו שתות והעלוהו לשש מעה כסף, ומחצית השקל הזה, שאמרתי לך, יתנו תרומה לה’:
14Everyone who goes through the counting, from the age of twenty and upward, shall give an offering to the Lord. ידכֹּ֗ל הָֽעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מִבֶּ֛ן עֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וָמָ֑עְלָה יִתֵּ֖ן תְּרוּמַ֥ת יְהֹוָֽה:
from the age of twenty and upward: [The Torah] teaches you here that no one under twenty years old goes out [to serve] in the army or is counted among men. מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה: למדך כאן, שאין פחות מבן עשרים יוצא לצבא ונמנה בכלל אנשים:
15The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel, with which to give the offering to the Lord, to atone for your souls. טוהֶֽעָשִׁ֣יר לֹֽא־יַרְבֶּ֗ה וְהַדַּל֙ לֹ֣א יַמְעִ֔יט מִמַּֽחֲצִ֖ית הַשָּׁ֑קֶל לָתֵת֙ אֶת־תְּרוּמַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶֽם:
to atone for your souls: That they should not be struck by a plague because of the counting. Another explanation: לכפר על נפשתיכם: שלא תנגפו על ידי המנין. דבר אחר לכפר על נפשותיכם, לפי שרמז להם כאן שלש תרומות, שנכתב כאן תרומת ה’ שלוש פעמים אחת תרומת א-דנים, שמנאן כשהתחילו בנדבת המשכן ונתנו כל אחד ואחד מחצית השקל, ועלה למאת ככר, שנאמר (שמות לח כה) וכסף פקודי העדה מאת ככר, ומהם נעשו הא-דנים, שנאמר (שמות לח כז) ויהי מאת ככר הכסף וגו’. והשנית אף היא על ידי מנין שמנאן, משהוקם המשכן, הוא המנין האמור בתחלת חומש הפקודים (במדבר א א) באחד לחדש השני בשנה השנית, ונתנו כל אחד מחצית השקל, והן לקנות מהן קרבנות צבור של כל שנה ושנה, והושוו בהם עניים ועשירים, ועל אותה תרומה נאמר לכפר על נפשותיכם, שהקרבנות לכפרה הם באים. והשלישית היא תרומת המשכן, כמו שנאמר (שמות לה כד) כל מרים תרומת כסף ונחשת, ולא היתה יד כולם שוה בה, אלא איש איש מה שנדבו לבו:
to atone for your souls: [This was written] because [God] hinted to them [the Israelites] here [about] three offerings, because “an offering to the Lord” is written here three times. The first [represents] the offering [of silver] for the sockets [of the Mishkan], for he [Moses] counted them when they commenced with the donations for the Mishkan. Everyone gave a half-shekel, amounting to one hundred talents, as it is said: “And the silver of the community census was one hundred talents” (Exod. 38:25). The sockets were made from this, as it is said: “One hundred talents of the silver was [used to cast the sockets of the Mishkan and the sockets of the dividing curtain]” (Exod. 38:27). The second [offering mentioned here] was also [collected] through counting, for he [Moses] counted them after the Mishkan was erected. This is the counting mentioned in the beginning of the Book of Numbers: “on the first of the second month in the second year” (Num. 1:1). [For this offering] everyone gave a half-shekel, [the total of] which was [earmarked] for the purchase of communal sacrifices for every year. The rich and poor were equal in them [i.e., they gave equally in these two offerings]. Concerning that [second] offering, it is said: “to atone for your souls,” because the sacrifices are brought for the purpose of atonement. The third one [offering] is the offering for the Mishkan, as it is said: “Whoever set aside an offering of silver or copper” (Exod. 35:24). In this [offering] not everyone gave the same amount, but each one [gave] according to what his heart inspired him to give. -[from Shekalim 2b] :
16You shall take the silver of the atonements from the children of Israel and use it for the work of the Tent of Meeting; it shall be a remembrance for the children of Israel before the Lord, to atone for your souls.” טזוְלָֽקַחְתָּ֞ אֶת־כֶּ֣סֶף הַכִּפֻּרִ֗ים מֵאֵת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְנָֽתַתָּ֣ אֹת֔וֹ עַל־עֲבֹדַ֖ת אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֩ לִבְנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֤ל לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶֽם:
and use it for the work of the Tent of Meeting: [From this] you learn that they were commanded to count them at the beginning of the donation for the Mishkan after the incident of the calf. [They were commanded then] because a plague had befallen them, as it is said: “And the Lord plagued the people” (Exod. 32:35). This can be compared to a flock of sheep, treasured by its owner, which was stricken with pestilence. When it [the pestilence] was over, he [the owner] said to the shepherd, “Please count my sheep to know how many are left,” in order to make it known that he treasured it [the flock] (Tanchuma, Ki Thissa 9). It is, however, impossible to say that this counting [mentioned here] was the [same] one mentioned in the Book of Numbers, for in that one [counting] it says: “on the first of the second month” (Num. 1:1), and the Mishkan was erected on the first [day] of the first month, as it is said: On the day of the first month, on the first of the month, you shall erect, etc. (Exod. 40:2). The sockets were made from shekels realized from that counting, as it is said: “One hundred talents of the silver were used to cast, etc.” (Exod. 38:27). Thus you learn that they [the countings] were two-one at the beginning of their donation [to the Mishkan] after Yom Kippur in the first year [after the Exodus], and one in the second year in Iyar after the Mishkan had been erected. Now if you ask, how is it possible that in both of these countings the Israelites equaled six hundred three thousand, five hundred fifty? In the case of the silver of the community census, it says this number, and also in the Book of Numbers it says the same: “And all the counted ones were six hundred three thousand, five hundred fifty” (Num. 1:46). Were they [the countings] not in two [separate] years? It is impossible that in the first census there were none who were nineteen years old and consequently not counted, and by the second counting became twenty years old [and were counted]. The answer to this matter is that in the context of the ages of people, they were counted in the same year, but in the context of the Exodus they [the two dates] were two [separate] years, since [to figure the time] from the Exodus, we count from [the month of] Nissan, as we learned in [tractate] Rosh Hashanah (2b). In this context, the Mishkan was built in the first year [after the Exodus] and erected in the second year, for the new year started on the first of Nissan. People’s ages, however, are counted according to the number of years of the world, beginning with [the month of] Tishri. Thus, the two countings were [taken] in the same year. The first counting was in Tishri after Yom Kippur, when the Omnipresent was placated toward Israel to forgive them, and they were commanded concerning [building] the Mishkan. The second one [counting] was on the first of Iyar. -[from Num. Rabbah 1:10] ונתת אתו על עבודת אהל מועד: למדת שנצטוה למנותם בתחלת נדבת המשכן אחר מעשה העגל, מפני שנכנס בהם מגפה, כמו שנאמר (שמות לב לה) ויגוף ה’ את העם. משל לצאן החביבה על בעליה, שנפל בה דבר, ומשפסק אמר לו לרועה בבקשה ממך, מנה את צאני ודע כמה נותרו בהם, להודיע שהיא חביבה עליו. ואי אפשר לומר, שהמנין הזה הוא האמור בחומש הפקודים, שהרי נאמר בו (במדבר א א) באחד לחדש השני, והמשכן הוקם באחד לחודש הראשון, שנאמר (שמות מ ב) ביום החודש הראשון באחד לחודש תקים וגו’, ומהמנין הזה נעשו הא-דנים משקלים שלו, שנאמר (שמות לח כז) ויהי מאת ככר הכסף לצקת וגו’, הא למדת שתים היו אחת בתחלת נדבתן אחר יום הכפורים בשנה ראשונה, ואחת בשנה שנייה באייר משהוקם המשכן. ואם תאמר, וכי אפשר שבשניהם היו ישראל שוים שש מאות אלף ושלשת אלפים וחמש מאות וחמישים, שהרי בכסף פקודי העדה נאמר כן, ובחומש הפקודים אף בו נאמר כן (במדבר א מו) ויהיו כל הפקודים שש מאות אלף ושלשת אלפים וחמש מאות וחמשים, והלא בשתי שנים היו, ואי אפשר שלא היו בשעת מנין הראשון בני תשע עשרה שנה שלא נמנו ובשנייה נעשו בני עשרים. תשובה לדבר, אצל שנות האנשים בשנה אחת נמנו, אבל למנין יציאת מצרים היו שתי שנים, לפי שליציאת מצרים מונין מניסן, כמו ששנינו במסכת ראש השנה (ב ב), ונבנה המשכן בראשונה והוקם בשנייה שנתחדשה שנה באחד בניסן, אבל שנות האנשים מנוין למנין שנות עולם המתחילין מתשרי, נמצאו שני המנינים בשנה אחת המנין הראשון היה בתשרי לאחר יום הכפורים, שנתרצה המקום לישראל לסלוח להם, ונצטוו על המשכן, והשני באחד באייר:
for the work of the Tent of Meeting: These are the sockets made from it [i.e., from the silver of the atonements]. על עבודת אהל מועד: הן הא-דנים שנעשו בו:
17The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: יזוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
18“You shall make a washstand of copper and its base of copper for washing, and you shall place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water therein. יחוְעָשִׂ֜יתָ כִּיּ֥וֹר נְח֛שֶׁת וְכַנּ֥וֹ נְח֖שֶׁת לְרָחְצָ֑ה וְנָֽתַתָּ֣ אֹת֗וֹ בֵּֽין־אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ וּבֵ֣ין הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ וְנָֽתַתָּ֥ שָׁ֖מָּה מָֽיִם:
a washstand: Like a sort of large caldron, which has faucets allowing water to pour out through their openings. כיור: כמין דוד גדולה ולה דדים המריקים בפיהם מים:
and its base: Heb. וְכַנּוֹ, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders: וּבְסִיסֵיהּ, a seat prepared for the washstand. וכנו: כתרגומו ובסיסיה, מושב מתוקן לכיור:
for washing: This refers back to the washstand. לרחצה: מוסב על הכיור:
between… the altar: [This refers to] the altar for burnt offerings, about which it is written that it was in front of the entrance of the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting. The washstand was drawn away slightly [from the entrance] and stood opposite the space between the altar and the Mishkan, but it did not intervene at all [between them], because it is said: “And he placed the altar for burnt offerings at the entrance of the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting” (Exod. 40:29), implying that the altar was in front of the Tent of Meeting, but the washstand was not in front of the Tent of Meeting. How is that so? It [the washstand] was drawn away slightly to the south. So it is taught in Zev. (59a). ובין המזבח: מזבח העולה שכתוב בו, שהוא לפני פתח משכן אהל מועד, והיה הכיור משוך קמעא ועומד כנגד אויר שבין המזבח והמשכן, ואינו מפסיק כלל בינתים, משום שנאמר (שמות מ כט) ואת מזבח העולה שם פתח משכן אהל מועד, כלומר מזבח לפני אהל מועד ואין כיור לפני אהל מועד, הא כיצד, משוך קמעא כלפי הדרום, כך שנויה בזבחים (נט א):
19Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet from it. יטוְרָֽחֲצ֛וּ אַֽהֲרֹ֥ן וּבָנָ֖יו מִמֶּ֑נּוּ אֶת־יְדֵיהֶ֖ם וְאֶת־רַגְלֵיהֶֽם:
their hands and feet: He [the kohen] would wash his hands and feet simultaneously. So we learned in Zev. (19b): How was the washing of the hands and the feet [performed]? [The kohen] would lay his right hand on his right foot and his left hand on his left foot and wash [in this manner]. את ידיהם ואת רגליהם: בבת אחת היה מקדש ידיו ורגליו, וכך שנינו בזבחים (יט ב) כיצד קדוש ידים ורגלים, מניח ידו הימנית על גבי רגלו הימנית, וידו השמאלית על גבי רגלו השמאלית, ומקדש:
20When they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to serve, to make a fire offering rise up in smoke to the Lord, כבְּבֹאָ֞ם אֶל־אֹ֧הֶל מוֹעֵ֛ד יִרְחֲצוּ־מַ֖יִם וְלֹ֣א יָמֻ֑תוּ א֣וֹ בְגִשְׁתָּ֤ם אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֨חַ֙ לְשָׁרֵ֔ת לְהַקְטִ֥יר אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָֽה:
When they enter the Tent of Meeting: to bring the incense up in smoke in the morning and in the afternoon, or to sprinkle some of the blood of the bull of the anointed Kohen [Gadol, who erred in his halachic decision and practiced according to that erroneous decision,] (Lev. 4:3-12) and the blood of the kids for [sin offerings for having engaged in] idolatry (Num. 15:22-26). בבאם אל אהל מועד: להקטיר קטרת שחרית ובין הערבים, או להזות מדם פר כהן המשיח ושעירי עבודה זרה:
so that they will not die: This implies that if they do not wash, they will die. For in the Torah [there] are stated implications, and from the negative implication you [can] understand the positive. ולא ימותו: הא אם לא ירחצו ימותו, שבתורה נאמרו כללות, ומכלל לאו אתה שומע הן:
the altar: [I.e.,] the outer [altar], in which no entry to the Tent of Meeting is involved, only [entry] into the courtyard. אל המזבח: החיצון, שאין כאן ביאת אהל מועד אלא בחצר:
21they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die; this shall be for them a perpetual statute, for him and for his descendants, for their generations.” כאוְרָֽחֲצ֛וּ יְדֵיהֶ֥ם וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֖ם וְלֹ֣א יָמֻ֑תוּ וְהָֽיְתָ֨ה לָהֶ֧ם חָק־עוֹלָ֛ם ל֥וֹ וּלְזַרְע֖וֹ לְדֹֽרֹתָֽם:
so that they will not die: [This verse is written] to impose death upon one who serves on the altar when his hands and feet are not washed, for from the first death penalty (verse 20) we understand only [that death is imposed] upon one who enters the Temple. ולא ימותו: לחייב מיתה על המשמש במזבח ואינו רחוץ ידים ורגלים, שהמיתה הראשונה לא שמענו אלא על הנכנס להיכל:
22The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: כבוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
23“And you, take for yourself spices of the finest sort: of pure myrrh five hundred [shekel weights]; of fragrant cinnamon half of it two hundred and fifty [shekel weights]; of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty [shekel weights], כגוְאַתָּ֣ה קַח־לְךָ֘ בְּשָׂמִ֣ים רֹאשׁ֒ מָר־דְּרוֹר֙ חֲמֵ֣שׁ מֵא֔וֹת וְקִנְּמָן־בֶּ֥שֶׂם מַֽחֲצִית֖וֹ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים וּמָאתָ֑יִם וּקְנֵה־בֹ֖שֶׂם חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים וּמָאתָֽיִם:
spices of the finest sort: Heb. בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ, of high quality. בשמים ראש: חשובים:
fragrant cinnamon: Since cinnamon is the bark of a tree, and there is one good type [of cinnamon] that has a fragrant bouquet and a good taste, and there is another that is merely like wood, it was necessary to state “fragrant cinnamon,” [meaning that the incense was to be made] of the good species. וקנמן בשם: לפי שהקנמון קליפת עץ הוא, יש שהוא טוב ויש בו ריח טוב וטעם, ויש שאינו אלא כעץ, לכך הוצרך לומר קנמן בשם, מן הטוב:
half of it two hundred and fifty [shekel weights]: Half of the amount to be brought shall be two hundred and fifty; thus altogether it is five hundred [shekel weights], like the amount of pure myrrh. If so, why was it stated in halves? This is a Scriptural decree to bring it in halves to add to it two overweights, because we do not weigh [the spices] exactly. So it was taught in Kereithoth (5a). מחציתו חמשים ומאתים: מחצית הבאתו תהא חמשים ומאתים, נמצא כולו חמש מאות, כמו שיעור מר דרור, אם כן, למה נאמר בו חצאין, גזירת הכתוב היא להביאו לחצאין, להרבות בו שתי הכרעות, שאין שוקלין עין בעין, וכך שנויה בכריתות (דף ה א):
fragrant cane: Heb. וּקְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם, cane of spice. Since there are canes that are not of spice, it is necessary to specify: בֹשֶׂם וקנה בשם: קנה של בשם לפי שיש קנים שאינן של בשם, הוצרך לומר בשם:
two hundred and fifty [shekel weights]: [This is] its total sum. חמשים ומאתים: סך משקל כולו:
24and of cassia five hundred [shekel weights] according to the holy shekel, and one hin of olive oil. כדוְקִדָּ֕ה חֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וְשֶׁ֥מֶן זַ֖יִת הִֽין:
and of cassia: Heb. וְקִדָּה, the name of the root of an herb, and in the language of the Sages: קְצִיעָה, cassia. -[from Ker. 6a] וקדה: שם שורש עשב, ובלשון חכמים קציעה:
hin: [The equivalent of] twelve logs. The Sages of Israel differ concerning it [i.e., how the oil was made]. Rabbi Meir says: They [whoever made the anointing oil] boiled the roots in it [the oil of the anointment]. Rabbi Judah said to him: But is it not so that it [the anointment oil] did not even suffice to anoint the roots [and thus they certainly couldn’t boil the spices in the oil]? Rather, they soaked them [the spices] in water so that they would not absorb the oil, and then poured the oil on them until they were impregnated with the scent, and [then] they wiped the oil off the roots. -[from Ker. 5a] הין: שנים עשר לוגין, ונחלקו בו חכמי ישראל רבי מאיר אומר בו שלקו את העיקרין. אמר לו רבי יהודה והלא לסוך את העיקרין אינו סיפק, אלא שראום במים, שלא יבלעו את השמן, ואחר כך הציף עליהם השמן עד שקלט הריח וקפחו לשמן מעל העיקרין:
25You shall make this into an oil of holy annoinment, a perfumed compound according to the art of a perfumer; it shall be an oil of holy anointment. כהוְעָשִׂ֣יתָ אֹת֗וֹ שֶׁ֚מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֔דֶשׁ רֹ֥קַח מִרְקַ֖חַת מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה רֹקֵ֑חַ שֶׁ֥מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִֽהְיֶֽה:
a perfumed compound: Heb. רֹקַח מִרְקַחַת. רֹקַח is a noun, and the accent, which is on the first syllable, proves that. It is like רֶקַע רֶגַע, but it is not like “Who wrinkles (רֹגַע) the sea” (Isa. 51:15), or like “Who spread out (רֹקַע) the earth” (Isa. 42:5) [which are both verbs], because [in those instances] the accent is at the end of the word. Any substance mixed with another substance until one becomes impregnated from the other with either scent or taste is called מִרְקַחַת. רקח מרקחת: רקח שם דבר הוא, והטעם מוכיח שהוא למעלה, והרי הוא כמו רקח, רגע, ואינו כמו (ישעיה נא טו) רגע הים, וכמו (ישעיהו מב ה) רקע הארץ, שהטעם למטה, וכל דבר המעורב בחבירו, עד שזה קופח מזה או ריח או טעם קרוי מרקחת:
a perfumed compound: Heb. רֹקַח מִרְקַחַת, a compound made through the skill of mixing. רקח מרקחת: רקח העשוי על ידי אומנות ותערובות:
according to the art of a perfumer: Heb. רֹקֵחַ, the name of the craftsman in this field. מעשה רוקח: שם האומן בדבר:
26And you shall anoint with it the Tent of Meeting and the Ark of Testimony, כווּמָֽשַׁחְתָּ֥ ב֖וֹ אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְאֵ֖ת אֲר֥וֹן הָֽעֵדֻֽת:
And you shall anoint with it: All anointments were in the shape of the Greek [letter] “chaff,” except those of the kings, which were like a sort of crown. -[from Ker. 5b] ומשחת בו: כל המשיחות כמין כי יונית, חוץ משל מלכים שהן כמין נזר:
27the table and all its implements, the menorah and its implements, the altar of incense, כזוְאֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֔יו וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָ֖ה וְאֶת־כֵּלֶ֑יהָ וְאֵ֖ת מִזְבַּ֥ח הַקְּטֹֽרֶת:
28the altar of the burnt offering and all its implements, the washstand and its base. כחוְאֶת־מִזְבַּ֥ח הָֽעֹלָ֖ה וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֑יו וְאֶת־הַכִּיֹּ֖ר וְאֶת־כַּנּֽוֹ:
29And you shall sanctify them so that they become a holy of holies; whatever touches them shall become holy. כטוְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֣ אֹתָ֔ם וְהָי֖וּ קֹ֣דֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁ֑ים כָּל־הַנֹּגֵ֥עַ בָּהֶ֖ם יִקְדָּֽשׁ:
And you shall sanctify them: This anointment sanctifies them to be a holy of holies. And what is their sanctity? Whatever touches them shall become holy. [I.e.,] whatever is fit for [placement in] a service vessel, when it enters them [the vessels], it becomes intrinsically holy so that it becomes unfit [to be an offering] if it goes out [of its designated boundaries], if it stays [out] overnight, or if [it comes in contact with] a person who has immersed himself [from uncleanness] on that day, and it may not be redeemed to become ordinary [unsanctified] food. Something unfit for them [i.e., for the service vessels], however, they [the vessels] do not sanctify (Zev. 87a). This was taught as an explicit Mishnah concerning the altar [i.e., a Baraitha, Zev. 83b]: Since it is stated: “Whatever touches the altar will be holy” (Exod. 29:37), I understand it to mean whether it is fit or unfit. Therefore, [to clarify this,] the Torah states [that] lambs [are to be sacrificed upon the altar]. Because just as lambs are fit, so is anything else that is fit [sanctified if it comes in contact with the altar]. Every anointment of the Mishkan, the kohanim, and the kings is translated [by Onkelos] as an expression of greatness because there is no need to anoint them except in order to proclaim their greatness. So did the King [God] decree, that this [the anointment] is their initiation into greatness. Other anointments, however, such as anointed wafers, “and with the first oils they anoint themselves” (Amos 6:6), their Aramaic [translation] is the same as the Hebrew. וקדשת אותם: משיחה זו מקדשתם להיות קדש קדשים, ומה היא קדושתם, כל הנוגע וגו’, כל הראוי לכלי שרת משנכנס לתוכו קדוש קדושת הגוף ליפסל ביוצא ובלינה ובטבול יום, ואינו נפדה לצאת לחולין, אבל דבר שאינו ראוי להם אין מקדשין. ושנויה היא משנה שלימה אצל מזבח, מתוך שנאמר (שמות כט לז) כל הנוגע במזבח יקדש, שומע אני בין ראוי בין שאינו ראוי, תלמוד לומר כבשים, מה כבשים ראויים אף כל ראוי. כל משיחת משכן וכהנים ומלכים מתורגם לשון רבוי, לפי שאין צורך משיחתן אלא לגדולה, כי כן יסד המלך, שזה חנוך גדולתן, ושאר משיחות כגון (שמות כט ב) רקיקין משוחין, (עמוס ו ו) וראשית שמנים ימשחו, לשון ארמית בהן כלשון עברית:
30And with it you shall anoint Aaron and his sons and sanctify them to serve Me [as kohanim]. לוְאֶת־אַֽהֲרֹ֥ן וְאֶת־בָּנָ֖יו תִּמְשָׁ֑ח וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֥ אֹתָ֖ם לְכַהֵ֥ן לִֽי:
31And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying: ‘This shall be oil of holy anointment to Me for your generations. לאוְאֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תְּדַבֵּ֣ר לֵאמֹ֑ר שֶׁ֠מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֨דֶשׁ יִֽהְיֶ֥ה זֶ֛ה לִ֖י לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶֽם:
for your generations: From here our Rabbis deduced that it [the anointing oil made by Moses] will all remain in existence in the future. -[from Horioth 11b] לדרתיכם: מכאן למדו רבותינו לומר שכולו קיים לעתיד לבא:
This: Heb. זֶה. In gematria, this equals twelve logs. [ ז, ה, totaling 12.] -[from Horioth 11b] זה: בגימטריה תריסר לוגין הוו:
32It shall not be poured upon human flesh, and according to its formula you shall not make anything like it. It is holy; it shall be holy to you. לבעַל־בְּשַׂ֤ר אָדָם֙ לֹ֣א יִיסָ֔ךְ וּבְמַ֨תְכֻּנְתּ֔וֹ לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשׂ֖וּ כָּמֹ֑הוּ קֹ֣דֶשׁ ה֔וּא קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִֽהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם:
It shall not be poured: Heb. לֹא יִיסָ. [This is spelled] with two “yud” s. It is an expression [in the form] of לֹא יִפְעַל, it shall not do, like, “and in order that it be good (יִיטַב) for you” (Deut. 5:16). לא ייסך: בשני יודי”ן, לשון לא יפעל, כמו (דברים ה טו) למען ייטב לך:
It shall not be poured upon human flesh: from this very oil. על בשר אדם לא ייסך: מן השמן הזה עצמו:
and according to its formula you shall not make anything like it: With the amount of its ingredients you shall not make another like it, but if one decreased or increased the ingredients according to the measure of a hin of oil, it is permitted. Also, the [oil] made according to the formula of this [oil]-the one who anoints himself [with it] is not liable, only the one who mixes it. -[from Ker. 5a] ובמתכנתו לא תעשו כמהו: בסכום סמניו לא תעשו אחר כמוהו במשקל סמנין הללו לפי מדת הין שמן, אבל אם פחת או רבה סממנין לפי מדת הין שמן מותר, ואף העשוי במתכונתו של זה, אין הסך ממנו חייב אלא הרוקחו:
according to its formula: Heb. וּבְמַתְכֻּנְךְתּוֹ, a word meaning a number, like “the number of (מַתְכֹּנֶת) bricks” (Exod. 5:8), and so, בְּמַתְכֻּנְךְתָּה, mentioned in reference to the incense (below, verse 37). ובמתכנתו: לשון חשבון, כמו (שמות ה ח) מתכנת הלבנים, וכן במתכונתה של קטורת:
33Any person who compounds anything like it or puts any of it on an alien shall be cut off from his people.’ “ לגאִ֚ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִרְקַ֣ח כָּמֹ֔הוּ וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר יִתֵּ֛ן מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַל־זָ֑ר וְנִכְרַ֖ת מֵֽעַמָּֽיו:
or puts any of it: Of that [oil] of [i.e., made by] Moses. [However, anyone who anoints himself with oil that was made copying the original anointing oil is not liable.] -[from Ker. 5a] ואשר יתן ממנו: מאותו של משה:
on an alien: [I.e.,] which is not needed for the kehunah or the kingship. על זר: שאינו צורך כהונה ומלכות:
34And the Lord said to Moses: “Take for yourself aromatics, [namely] balsam sap, onycha and galbanum, aromatics and pure frankincense; they shall be of equal weight. לדוַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֶל־משֶׁ֜ה קַח־לְךָ֣ סַמִּ֗ים נָטָ֤ף | וּשְׁחֵ֨לֶת֙ וְחֶלְבְּנָ֔ה סַמִּ֖ים וּלְבֹנָ֣ה זַכָּ֑ה בַּ֥ד בְּבַ֖ד יִֽהְיֶֽה:
balsam sap: Heb. נָטָף. This is balm (צֳרִי), but since it is only the sap that drips (נוֹטֵף) from the balsam trees, it is called נָטָף (Ker. 6a), and in French, gomme, gum resin. The balm itself, however, is called triaca [in Old Provencal], theriac. נטף: הוא צרי, ועל שאינו אלא שרף הנוטף מעצי הקטף קרוי נטף ובלעז גומ”א, והצרי קורין לו תירייק”א ושחלת – שורש בשם חלק ומצהיר כצפורן, ובלשון המשנה קרוי צפורן, וזהו שתרגם אונקלוס וטופרא:
onycha: Heb. וּשְׁחֵלֶת, a root of a spice, smooth and shiny as fingernails, and in the language of the Mishnah (Ker. 6a) it is called צִפֹּרֶן. This is what Onkelos renders as וְטוּפְרָא. [Both צִפֹּרֶן and טוּפְרָא mean “fingernail.”] וחלבנה: בשם שריחו רע וקורין לו גלבנא, ומנאה הכתוב בין סמני הקטורת, ללמדנו, שלא יקל בעינינו לצרף עמנו באגודת תעניותינו ותפלותינו את פושעי ישראל שיהיו נמנין עמנו:
and galbanum: A spice with a vile odor, called galbane [in Old French], galbanum. The Scripture counted it among the ingredients of the incense [in order] to teach us that we should not look askance at including Jewish transgressors with us when we assemble for fasting or prayer. [The Torah instructs us] that they should be counted with us. -[from Ker. 6b] סמים: אחרים:
aromatics: Heb. סַמִּים. Other [aromatics]. -[from Ker. 6b] ולבנה זכה: מכאן למדו רבותינו אחד עשר סמנין נאמרו לו למשה בסיני מיעוט סמים שנים, נטף ושחלת וחלבנה שלשה, הרי חמישה, סמים, לרבות עוד כמו אלו, הרי עשרה, ולבונה הרי אחד עשר ואלו הן הצרי והצפורן, החלבנה והלבונה, מור וקציעה, שבולת נרד וכרכם, הרי שמונה, שהשבולת ונרד אחד, שהנרד דומה לשבולת, הקושט והקילופה והקנמון הרי אחד עשר. בורית כרשינה אינו נקטר אלא בו שפין את הצפורן ללבנה שתהא נאה:
and pure frankincense: From here our Rabbis learned that eleven ingredients were told to Moses [when he was] at Sinai: the minimum of aromatics-two [since סַמִּים is written in the plural form]; balsam sap, onycha, and galbanum-three, equaling five; aromatics [written a second time]-to include again the number of these, equaling ten; and frankincense, totaling eleven. They are as follows: (1) balsam sap, (2) onycha, (3) galbanum, (4) frankincense, (5) myrrh, (6) cassia, (7) spikenard נֵרְדְּ) (שִׁבֹּלֶת, and (8) saffron, totaling eight, because שִׁבֹּלֶת and נֵרְדְּ are one, for spikenard נֵרְדְּ is like an ear [of grain] שִׁבֹּלֶת. [To continue:] (9) costus, (10) aromatic bark, and (11) cinnamon, thus totaling eleven. Borith carshina [mentioned further in the Baraitha, is not counted because it] does not go up in smoke, but they rub the onycha with it to whiten it so that it should be beautiful. -[from Ker. 6a] בד בבד יהיה: אלו הארבעה הנזכרים כאן יהיו שוין משקל במשקל, כמשקלו של זה כך משקלו של זה, וכן שנינו (כריתות ו א) הצרי והצפורן, החלבנה והלבונה משקל שבעים שבעים מנה. ולשון בד נראה בעיני שהוא לשון יחיד, אחד באחד, יהיה זה כמו זה:
they shall be of equal weight: Heb. יִהְיֶה בַּד בְּבַד. These four [ingredients] mentioned here [explicitly] shall be equal, a weight for a weight. Like the weight of one, so shall be the weight of the other. So we learned (Ker. 6a): The balsam, the onycha, the galbanum, and the frankincense the weight of each was seventy manehs. The word בַּד appears to me to mean a unit; each one [i. e., the weight] shall be this one like that one. :
35And you shall make it into incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, well blended, pure, holy. להוְעָשִׂ֤יתָ אֹתָהּ֙ קְטֹ֔רֶת רֹ֖קַח מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה רוֹקֵ֑חַ מְמֻלָּ֖ח טָה֥וֹר קֹֽדֶשׁ:
well blended: Heb. מְמֻלָח, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders: מְעָרֵב, mixed. He should mix their [the spices’] powder thoroughly, one with the other. Accordingly, I say that [the following] are similar to this: “And the sailors (הַמַּלָּחִים) were frightened” (Jonah 1:5); “your sailors (מַלָחַיִ) and your mariners” (Ezek. 27:27). [Sailors are given this appellation] because they turn over the water with oars when they propel the ship, like a person who turns over beaten eggs with a spoon to blend them with water. And anything that a person wishes to blend thoroughly, he turns over with his finger or with a spoon. ממלח: כתרגומו מעורב, שיערב שחיקתן יפה יפה זה עם זה. ואומר אני שדומה לו (יונה א ה) וייראו המלחים, (יחזקאל כז כז) מלחיך וחובליך, על שם שמהפכין את המים במשוטות, כשמנהיגים את הספינה, כאדם המהפך בכף ביצים טרופות לערבן עם המים, וכל דבר שהאדם רוצה לערב יפה יפה, מהפכו באצבע או בבזך:
well blended, pure, holy: It shall be well blended; it shall be pure, and it shall be holy. ממלח טהור קדש: ממולח יהיה וטהור יהיה וקדש יהיה:
36And you shall crush some of it very finely, and you shall set some of it before the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will arrange meetings with you; it shall be to you a holy of holies. לווְשָֽׁחַקְתָּ֣ מִמֶּ֘נָּה֘ הָדֵק֒ וְנָֽתַתָּ֨ה מִמֶּ֜נָּה לִפְנֵ֤י הָֽעֵדֻת֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֛ר אִוָּעֵ֥ד לְךָ֖ שָׁ֑מָּה קֹ֥דֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁ֖ים תִּֽהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם:
and you shall set some of it: This is the daily incense, which is on the inner altar, which is in the Tent of Meeting. ונתתה ממנה וגו’: היא קטרת שבכל יום ויום שעל מזבח הפנימי, שהוא באהל מועד:
where I will arrange meetings with you: All appointments to speak that I will set up for you, I will set up for that place. אשר אועד לך שמה: כל מועדי דבור שאקבע לך, אני קובעם לאותו מקום:
37And the incense that you make, you shall not make for yourselves according to its formula; it shall be holy to you for the Lord. לזוְהַקְּטֹ֨רֶת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֔ה בְּמַ֨תְכֻּנְתָּ֔הּ לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶ֑ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ תִּֽהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֖ לַֽיהֹוָֽה:
according to its formula: According to the number of its ingredients. במתכנתה: במנין סממניה:
it shall be holy to you for the Lord: That you shall not make it except for My Name. קדש תהיה לך לה’: שלא תעשנה אלא לשמי:
38Any person who makes anything like it, to smell it[s fragrance], shall be cut off from his people. לחאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה כָמ֖וֹהָ לְהָרִ֣יחַ בָּ֑הּ וְנִכְרַ֖ת מֵֽעַמָּֽיו:
to smell it[s fragrance]: But you may make it according to its formula of your own [ingredients] in order to deliver it to the community. -[from Ker. 5a] להריח בה: אבל עושה אתה במתכונתה משלך כדי למוסרה לצבור:

Exodus Chapter 31

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: אוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
2“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, ברְאֵ֖ה קָרָ֣אתִי בְשֵׁ֑ם בְּצַלְאֵ֛ל בֶּן־אוּרִ֥י בֶן־ח֖וּר לְמַטֵּ֥ה יְהוּדָֽה:
I have called by name: to perform My work Bezalel. קראתי בשם: לעשות מלאכתי, את בצלאל:
3and I have imbued him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, with insight, with knowledge, and with [talent for] all manner of craftsmanship גוָֽאֲמַלֵּ֥א אֹת֖וֹ ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֑ים בְּחָכְמָ֛ה וּבִתְבוּנָ֥ה וּבְדַ֖עַת וּבְכָל־מְלָאכָֽה:
with wisdom: [I.e.,] what a person hears from others and learns. -[from Sifrei Deut. 1:13] בחכמה: מה שאדם שומע מאחרים ולמד:
with insight: With his intellect he understands other things based on what he learned. -[from Sifrei Deut. 1:13] ובתבונה: מבין דבר מלבו, מתוך דברים שלמד:
with knowledge: The holy spirit. ובדעת: רוח הקדש:
4to do master weaving, to work with gold, with silver, and with copper, דלַחְשֹׁ֖ב מַֽחֲשָׁבֹ֑ת לַֽעֲשׂ֛וֹת בַּזָּהָ֥ב וּבַכֶּ֖סֶף וּבַנְּחֽשֶׁת:
to do master weaving: Heb. לַחְשֹׁב מַחִשָׁבֹת, the weaving work of a master weaver. לחשוב מחשבת: אריגת מעשה חושב:
5with the craft of stones for setting and with the craft of wood, to do every [manner of] work. הוּבַֽחֲר֥שֶׁת אֶ֛בֶן לְמַלֹּ֖את וּבַֽחֲר֣שֶׁת עֵ֑ץ לַֽעֲשׂ֖וֹת בְּכָל־מְלָאכָֽה:
with the craft: Heb. וּבַחִרשֶׁת, a term denoting a craft, like “a skilled craftsman (חָרָשׁ) ” (Isa. 40:20). Onkelos, however, explained [this term] but varied [the wording] in their explanation [i.e., in the explanation of the two mentions of חִרשֶׁ. וּבַחִרשֶׁתאֶבֶן he rendered וּבְאוּמָנוּתאִבַן טָבָא, and בַחִרשֶׁתעֵץ he rendered וּבְנַגָּרוּתאָעָא, because a craftsman of stones is called אוּמָן, craftsman, whereas a craftsman of wood is called נַגַָָּר, carpenter. ובחרשת: לשון אומנות, כמו (ישעיה מ כ) חרש חכם, ואונקלוס פירש ושנה בפירושן, שחרש אבנים קרוי אומן, וחרש עץ קרוי נגר:
for setting: Heb. לְמַלֹאת, lit., to fill. To set it [each stone] into its setting in its fullness, [i.e.,] to make the setting equal to the measurement of the bottom of the stone and its thickness. [See commentary on Exod. 25:7.] למלאת: להושיבה במשבצת שלה במלואה, לעשות המשבצת למדת מושב האבן ועוביה:
6And, behold, with him I have placed Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, and all the wise hearted into whose hearts I have instilled wisdom, and they shall make everything I have commanded you: ווַֽאֲנִ֞י הִנֵּ֧ה נָתַ֣תִּי אִתּ֗וֹ אֵ֣ת אָֽהֳלִיאָ֞ב בֶּן־אֲחִֽיסָמָךְ֙ לְמַטֵּה־דָ֔ן וּבְלֵ֥ב כָּל־חֲכַם־לֵ֖ב נָתַ֣תִּי חָכְמָ֑ה וְעָשׂ֕וּ אֵ֖ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתִֽךָ:
and all the wise-hearted into whose hearts I have instilled wisdom:And additionally, other wise-hearted people among you [shall assist], as well as everyone into whom I have instilled wisdom, and [all of them] shall make everything I have commanded you. ובלב כל חכם לב וגו’: ועוד שאר חכמי לב יש בכם, וכל אשר נתתי בו חכמה ועשו את כל אשר צויתיך:
7The Tent of Meeting and the ark for the testimony, as well as the cover that [shall be] upon it, all the implements of the tent, זאֵ֣ת | אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֗ד וְאֶת־הָֽאָרֹן֙ לָֽעֵדֻ֔ת וְאֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֑יו וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־כְּלֵ֥י הָאֹֽהֶל:
and the ark for the testimony: For the purpose of the tablets of the testimony. ואת הארן לעדת: לצורך לוחות העדות:
8the table and its implements, the pure menorah and all its implements, the altar of incense, חוְאֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ וְאֶת־כֵּלָ֔יו וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָ֥ה הַטְּהֹרָ֖ה וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלֶ֑יהָ וְאֵ֖ת מִזְבַּ֥ח הַקְּטֹֽרֶת:
the pure: Heb. הַטְּהֹרָה. [The menorah is described by this adjective] because [it was made] of pure gold. [based on Exod. 25:31] הטהרה: על שם זהב טהור:
9the altar for the burnt offering and all its implements, the washstand and its base, טוְאֶת־מִזְבַּ֥ח הָֽעֹלָ֖ה וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֑יו וְאֶת־הַכִּיּ֖וֹר וְאֶת־כַּנּֽוֹ:
10the meshwork garments, the holy garments for Aaron the kohen, the garments of his sons [in which] to serve [as kohanim], יוְאֵ֖ת בִּגְדֵ֣י הַשְּׂרָ֑ד וְאֶת־בִּגְדֵ֤י הַקֹּ֨דֶשׁ֙ לְאַֽהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן וְאֶת־בִּגְדֵ֥י בָנָ֖יו לְכַהֵֽן:
the meshwork garments: Heb. בִּגְדֵי הַשְְׂרָד In my opinion, according to the simple meaning of the verse, it is impossible to say that the garments of the kehunah are referred to [here], because it says next to them [at the end of the verse], “the holy garments for Aaron the kohen, the garments of his sons [in which] to serve [as kohanim].” But these בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד [referred to here] are the garments of blue, purple, and crimson wool mentioned in the section dealing with the travels (Num. 4:6-13): “and they shall place upon it a garment of blue wool,” “and they shall place upon it a garment of purple wool,” “and they shall place upon them a garment of crimson wool.” My assertion [that בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד refers to the coverings of the vessels] appears correct, since it says: “And from the blue wool, the purple wool, and the crimson they made בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד ” (Exod. 39:1), but linen was not mentioned with them. Now, if it [the text] is speaking of the garments of the kehunah, we do not find in any of them [reference to] purple or crimson wool without [the addition of] linen. בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד Some [commentators] explain בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד as an expression of work and service, like its [Aramaic] translation, לְבוּשֵׁי שִׁמוּשָׁא, and it has no similarity in the Scriptures. But I believe that it is Aramaic, like the [Aramaic] translation of קְלָעִים [hangings, translated סְרָדִין] (Exod. 27:9) and the [Aramaic] translation of מִכְבָּר [grating, translated סְרָדָא] (Exod. 27:4), for they were woven with a needle [and] made of many holes, lazediz in Old French, mesh-work, crochet-work, [or] lace. ואת בגדי השרד: אומר אני לפי פשוטו של מקרא אי אפשר לומר שבבגדי כהונה מדבר, לפי שנאמר אצלם ואת בגדי הקדש לאהרן הכהן ואת בגדי בניו לכהן, אלא אלו בגדי השרד, הם בגדי התכלת והארגמן ותולעת שני, האמורין בפרשת מסעות (במדבר ד יב) ונתנו אל בגד תכלת, (שם יג) ופרשו עליו בגד ארגמן, (שם ח) ופרשו עליהם בגד תולעת שני. ונראין דברי, שנאמר (שמות לט א) ומן התכלת והארגמן ותולעת השני עשו בגדי שרד לשרת בקדש, ולא הוזכר שש עמהם, ואם בבגדי כהונה מדבר, לא מצינו באחד מהם ארגמן או תולעת שני בלא שש:
11the anointing oil and the incense for the Holy; in complete accordance with everything I have commanded you they shall do.” יאוְאֵ֨ת שֶׁ֧מֶן הַמִּשְׁחָ֛ה וְאֶת־קְטֹ֥רֶת הַסַּמִּ֖ים לַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוִּיתִ֖ךָ יַֽעֲשֽׂוּ:
and the incense for the Holy: For the purpose of bringing [incense] up in smoke in the Heichal, which is holy. ואת קטרת הסמים לקדש: לצורך הקטרת ההיכל שהוא קדש:
12The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: יבוַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
13“And you, speak to the children of Israel and say: ‘Only keep My Sabbaths! For it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I, the Lord, make you holy. יגוְאַתָּ֞ה דַּבֵּ֨ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אַ֥ךְ אֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַ֖י תִּשְׁמֹ֑רוּ כִּי֩ א֨וֹת הִ֜וא בֵּינִ֤י וּבֵֽינֵיכֶם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם לָדַ֕עַת כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה מְקַדִּשְׁכֶֽם:
And you, speak to the children of Israel: But [as for] you, although I have mandated you to command them [the Israelites] concerning the work of the Mishkan, do not let it seem to you that you may easily set aside the Sabbath because of that work. ואתה דבר אל בני ישראל: ואתה, אף על פי שהפקדתיך לצוותם על מלאכת המשכן, אל יקל בעיניך לדחות את השבת מפני אותה מלאכה:
Only keep My Sabbaths!: Although you will be rushed to perform the work [of the Mishkan] quickly, the Sabbath shall not be set aside because of it. All instances of אַ and רַק [imply limitations, i.e.,] are exclusive, to exclude the Sabbath from the work of the Mishkan. אך את שבתתי תשמרו: אף על פי שתהיו רדופין וזריזין בזריזות מלאכה שבת אל תדחה מפניה. כל אכין ורקין מיעוטין, למעט שבת ממלאכת המשכן:
For it is a sign between Me and you: It is a sign of distinction between us that I have chosen you, by granting you as an inheritance My day of rest for [your] rest. כי אות הוא ביני וביניכם: אות גדולה היא בינינו שבחרתי בכם, בהנחילי לכם את יום מנוחתי למנוחה:
to know: [So that] the nations [should know] that I, the Lord, sanctify you. לדעת: האומות [בה] כי אני ה’ מקדשכם:
14Therefore, keep the Sabbath, for it is a sacred thing for you. Those who desecrate it shall be put to death, for whoever performs work on it, that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people. ידוּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת כִּ֛י קֹ֥דֶשׁ הִ֖וא לָכֶ֑ם מְחַֽלֲלֶ֨יהָ֙ מ֣וֹת יוּמָ֔ת כִּ֗י כָּל־הָֽעֹשֶׂ֥ה בָהּ֙ מְלָאכָ֔ה וְנִכְרְתָ֛ה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִ֖וא מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמֶּֽיהָ:
shall be put to death: If there are witnesses and a warning. מות יומת: אם יש עדים והתראה:
will be cut off: without warning. -[from Mechilta] ונכרתה: בלא התראה:
Those who desecrate it: Heb. מְחַלְלֶיהָ, [those] who treat its sanctity as profane. מחלליה: הנוהג בה חול בקדושתה:
15Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever performs work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.’ טושֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֘ יֵֽעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י שַׁבַּ֧ת שַׁבָּת֛וֹן קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה כָּל־הָֽעֹשֶׂ֧ה מְלָאכָ֛ה בְּי֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת:
a Sabbath of complete rest: Heb. שַׁבָּתשַׁבָּתוֹן, a reposeful rest, not a casual rest. שבת שבתון: מנוחת מרגוע ולא מנוחת עראי:
(a Sabbath of complete rest: For this reason, Scripture repeated it [the word, שַׁבָּת], to inform [us] that on it all work is prohibited, even what is needed for food. Similarly regarding Yom Kippur, in whose context it says: “It is a Sabbath of complete rest for you” (Lev. 23:32), all work is prohibited. However, concerning festivals it says only: “on the first day is a rest, and on the eighth day is a rest” (Lev. 23:39), [meaning that] on them [i.e., on holidays] only servile work is prohibited, but work needed for food [preparation] is permitted.) שבת שבתון: לכך כפלו הכתוב לומר שאסור בכל מלאכה, אפילו אוכל נפש, וכן יום הכפורים שנאמר בו (ויקרא כג לב) שבת שבתון הוא לכם, אסור בכל מלאכה, אבל יום טוב לא נאמר בו כי אם ביום הראשון שבתון וביום השמיני שבתון (שם) אסורים בכל מלאכת עבודה, ומותרים במלאכת אוכל נפש:
holy to the Lord: The observance of its sanctity shall be for My name and by My commandment. קדש לה’: שמירת קדושתה לשמי ובמצוותי:
16Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. טזוְשָֽׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַֽעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹֽרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם:
17Between Me and the children of Israel, it is forever a sign that [in] six days The Lord created the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested.” יזבֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם כִּי־שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים עָשָׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י שָׁבַ֖ת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ:
and rested: Heb. וַיִּנָפַשׁ. As the Targum [Onkelos] renders: וְנָח, and rested. Now every expression of נוֹפֶשׁ, rest, is an expression of נֶפֶשׁ, soul, for one regains one’s soul and one’s breath when one rests from the toil of work. He about Whom it is written: “He neither tires nor wearies” (Isa. 40:28), and Whose every act is performed by speech [alone, without physical effort], dictated rest in reference to Himself [only] in order to make it understood to the [human] ear with words that it can understand. וינפש: כתרגומו ונח, וכל לשון נופש והוא לשון נפש, שמשיב נפשו ונשימתו בהרגיעו מטורח מהמלאכה. ומי שכתוב בו (ישעיה מ כח) לא ייעף ולא יגע, וכל פעלו במאמר, הכתיב מנוחה לעצמו, לשבר האוזן מה שהיא יכולה לשמוע:
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Challenges, Not Problems

Pirkei Avos

Challenges, Not Problems

Chapter 5, Mishna 14

By Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

“There are four types of temperaments. One who is quick to become angry and quick to calm down — his gain is outweighed by his loss. One who is slow to become angry and slow to calm down — his loss is outweighed by his gain. One who is slow to become angry and quick to calm down is pious. One who is quick to become angry and slow to calm down is wicked.”

This mishna divides people into four categories based on their tempers. Note that our mishna does not measure anger using a simple linear scale. There are two primary determining factors according to the Sages — quickness to become angry, and length of time to calm down. These are quite distinct — stemming from entirely different parts of a person’s psyche. There are those who are edgy and excitable by nature, and who are easily roused to emotional outburst. Such people may by the same token forget just as quickly what it was they became excited about.

On the other hand, a person might generally be levelheaded, but be the sort to take abuse and offenses much more seriously. When threatened or insulted, he will withdraw and sulk for long periods of time — while exhibiting little or no emotion on the outside — bearing a grudge till his dying days. (Now, when the wife is the first type and the husband is the second (or vice versa of course), things could get hairy… 😉 )

The commentator Rashi adds a short comment to our mishna which I personally found eye-opening. Why is someone who is quick to anger and slow to calm down deemed wicked? Rashi inserts a few words: “Because through the anger he will come to sin, as it is stated, ‘Do not become angry and you will not sin’ (Talmud Brachos 29b).”

Rashi, in a few words, makes one thing clear: anger per se is not evil. You are not “evil” because you have a temper — or (theoretically at least) even because you exercise it. The concern is simply what it will lead to.

For that matter, the Pentateuch nowhere states “And the L-rd said unto Moses saying, speak unto the Children of Israel saying, thou shalt not get angry” — though we might almost expect to find such warm, fuzzy, feel-good imperatives in the Torah. And the Torah does not “forbid” anger for a very simple reason: for some people, that is their nature — and the Torah does not ask us to change nature. Just as we must not tamper with the nature of physical world by damaging the environment, we are not expected to alter the inherent nature of our souls. If a person has a temper, he is not supposed to freeze himself and cut out a part of his essence. He must accept himself for whom he is and work *with* his anger.

The Talmud writes that if someone was born under the planet Mars (which astrologically signifies a thirst for bloodshed, Mars being the red planet), he can be a bandit, a doctor, a shochet (one who ritually slaughters animals, making them kosher), or a mohel (one who performs circumcisions) (Shabbos 156a). Such a person has a predilection towards blood. He will not be happy as an accountant. What should he do with himself? Find a positive outlet for his drives. Violent tendencies are not “bad” per se (we would call them “challenges” nowadays). They certainly harbor dangerous manifestations, but they are a part of the G-d-given natures of certain people, and G-d, as we know, makes no mistakes.

Thus, if a person’s tendency leans towards aggressive and physical behavior, he must recognize his nature and *use* it. If he fails, he will satisfy his lust with crime and violence (or at best, boxing). If he succeeds, he will use the same very hands to heal others or prepare kosher meat, performing an admirable, respectable service to society.

(The Sages likewise point out that both Esau and David were of red complexion, signifying blood. The difference, say the Sages, is that Esau killed in war and conquest while David killed justly, and ultimately his battles were acts of peace and G-dly service. (See Bereishis Rabbah 63.))

Anger is no different. It is not a “bad” trait — though it certainly is a dangerous one. Someone who is just not easygoing, who takes insubordination and discord seriously — and there are many things in life which *should* be taken seriously — is never going to be a pushover. He has a nature he will never fully keep under lock and key. How is he to positively channel it?

First of all, we must distinguish clearly between anger and rage. Anger is — or can be — a controlled, deliberate, and directed response to sin and injustice. Rage is blind and mindless. A person who loses control of himself sheds his godly image altogether: he is no longer a human being in the eyes of the Sages. The Talmud writes that one who tears his clothes and destroys his property in his fury is as one who worships idols (Shabbos 105b). Rage is destructive and animalistic. Everything must be just his way or he’ll “lose it.” That is self-worship tantamount to idolatry, wholly missing the point that G-d and not we runs the world, and that our greatness stems from our resemblance to G-d alone.

Anger, to the extent that it is human nature, is something quite different. There are those who are fighters and zealots — many of Israel’s greatest leaders have been. But they must know what to fight for and why. And they must see it as G-d’s battle rather than their personal vendetta. Anger and fierceness can be used in many contexts — in determined and relentless pursuit of one’s own mastery of the Torah, in stubbornly upholding Jewish values in the presence of apathy and agnosticism, and in battle against falsifiers of Torah tradition. The key is sublimation — in consciously deciding *what* to be stubborn about and in focusing one’s fervor on what truly counts. Ultimately, such a person will not be “angry” at all. His anger will not be his own; it will be none other than a reflection of G-d’s anger — and of G-d’s will.

The Torah (Numbers 25) describes to us how Pinchas (Phinehas), for zealously murdering perpetrators of an immoral act, received a personal greeting from G-d. How did G-d greet this man of blood and vengeance? “Behold I extend to him My covenant of peace” (v. 12). G-d saw Pinchas not as a man of violence but a man of peace — a fighter for peace to be sure, but a man of peace nonetheless.

People with tempers have a much greater obligation than the rest of us. They possess iron wills and furious passions. If misused they are capable of terrible acts of physical and verbal abuse. If used properly they will use their very same nature in fierce and valiant struggle for Torah — and ultimately they will be numbered among the pious of Israel.

Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld and

Daf Notes

Daf Notes is currently being dedicated to the neshamah of

Tzvi Gershon Ben Yoel (Harvey Felsen) o”h

May the studying of the Daf Notes be a zechus for his neshamah
and may his soul find peace in Gan Eden and be bound up in the Bond of life.

The Mishna had stated: Which minor is exempt from the mitzvah of re’iyah (they are not included even in the Rabbinical mitzvah on the parents to train them)? Beis Shammai says: A minor who cannot ride on the shoulders of his father and ascend from Yerushalayim to the Temple Mount is excluded. Beis Hillel maintains: A minor who cannot hold onto his father’s hand and ascend from Yerushalayim to the Temple Mount is excluded.


Rabbi Zeira asks: Who brought this minor from his house to Yerushalayim (if he was capable of being away from his mother during the journey from his house to Yerushalayim, he is probably capable of ascending to the Temple Mount by riding on the shoulders of his father or walking while holding his hand)?


Abaye answers: The mother brought the minor until Yerushalayim. The mother came to Yerushalayim because she is included in the mitzvah of simchah (rejoicing during the festival). (6a)


Rebbe objected on behalf of Beis Hillel to the view of Beis Shammai: It is written: But Chanah didn’t ascend (to Shiloh for the festival), for she said to her husband: Until the child will be weaned, then I will bring him up. Now Shmuel (Chanah’s son) was already able to ride on his father’s shoulders!


His (Rebbe’s) father said to him: But according to your own reasoning, there is a difficulty: Wasn’t Chanah herself obligated in simchah (so why didn’t she go)? The explanation, therefore, must be that Chanah saw that Shmuel was exceptionally delicate, and she feared that the exhaustion from the journey might unduly harm Shmuel. (6a)


Rabbi Shimon presented the following inquiry: What would be the halachah regarding a lame minor according to Beis Shammai (He cannot walk to The Beis Hamikdosh, so Beis Hillel would certainly exempt him from the mitzvah.), and what would the halachah be regarding a blind minor according to both opinions? Is the father obligated to bring them to the Beis Hamikdosh with him?


The Gemora explains the case: If we are referring to a case where the lame child or the blind one cannot be healed; it is obvious that there is no obligation, for even an adult in such a situation has no obligation. Rabbi Shimon’s inquiry must be referring to a case where they can be healed before they become an adult.


Abaye rules: Wherever an adult would have an obligation to fulfill the mitzvah, there is also an obligation to train the minor; wherever the adult would be exempt from the obligation (if he was lame or blind), there is no obligation to train the minor, as well. (6a)


The Mishna had stated: Beis Shammai said: The olas re’iyah offering (which the pilgrim is obligated to bring upon entering the Beis Hamikdosh during the festival) must be worth at least two silver maos and the shalmei chagigah sacrifice (a peace offering, which the pilgrim must also bring during the festival) must be worth at least one silver ma’ah. Beis Hillel disagrees: The olas re’iyah offering must be worth at least one silver ma’ah and the shalmei chagigah must be worth at least two silver maos.


The Gemora cites a braisa, which elaborates on their respective opinions: Beis Shammai maintains that the minimum requirement is greater for the olas re’iyahbecause it is an offering which is completely burned on the altar, whereas a shalmei chagigah is not (the Kohanim and the owner eat various portions from the korban). Furthermore, we find during Shavuos that there are more olos offered than shelamim (indicating that olos are more important). Beis Hillel holds that the minimum requirement is greater for the shalmei chagigah because we find in the Torah that this sacrifice was offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai. Furthermore, we find that the Nesiim (the prince of each tribe) brought more shelamim offerings than olos.


The Gemora proceeds to analyze why each opinion does not hold of the other’s logic.


Beis Hillel does not agree to Beis Shammai because they can say as follows: As for your saying that the olah offering is more important because it is entirely offered to the Most High; on the contrary, the shalmei chagigah is more important, because in it there are two consumptions (for it is consumed by the altar and by man). And as for your saying that we should learn by analogy from Shavuos, I contend that we should form an analogy between the offering of an individual (shalmei chagigah or olas re’iyah) from the offering of an individual (of the Nesi’im), but we should not form an analogy between the offering of an individual (shalmei chagigah or olas re’iyah) and an offering of the community (the sacrifices offered on Shavuos).


Beis Shammai does not agree with Beis Hillel, for they can say as follows: As for your saying that the shalmei chagigah is more important because this sacrifice was offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai, I can contend that the olas re’iyah was also offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai. And as for your saying that we should learn by analogy from the Nesi’im, I contend that we have to form an analogy between something that will be practiced for generations (shalmei chagigah or olas re’iyah) from something else that will be practiced for generations (the sacrifices offered on Shavuos), but we should not form an analogy between something that will be practiced for generations (shalmei chagigah or olas re’iyah) from something that will be practiced for generations (the offerings of the Nesi’im).


The Gemora asks: Now, according to Beis Hillel, why is the shalmei chagigah singled out as being offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai? It is because it is written: And they sacrificed shelamim. Surely the olas re’iyah must also have been offered up then, for behold, it is written: And they offered up olos?


The Gemora answers: Beis Hillel are of the opinion that the olah offering which the Israelites offered in the Wilderness was the olah of the tamid (and not the olas re’iyah).


The Gemora explains that Beis Shammai is of the opinion that the olah offering that the Israelites offered in the Wilderness was the olas re’iyah. (6a)


In the course of the discussion, it emerges that there is a dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel regarding the olah which was offered in the Wilderness (before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai); Beis Hillel maintains that this was the olah of the tamid (a communal korban brought twice daily – and therefore it has no bearing on the olah offered during the festival), and Beis Shammai holds that this was an olas re’iyah.


Abaye notes that this is actually a matter which other Tannaim have argued about, as well.


Abaye illustrates how it is evident that Beis Shammai, Rabbi Elozar and Rabbi Yishmael hold that the olah which was offered in the Wilderness was in fact an olas re’iyah (following Beis Shammai’s opinion), and Beis Hillel, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yosi Hagelili maintain that it was the olah of the tamid.


We know Beis Shammai’s opinion from the discussion above. Rabbi Yishmael’s opinion is known from the following braisa: Rabbi Yishmael says that the general rules were taught at Mount Sinai, but the full details were only taught in the Mishkan, while Rabbi Akiva says that the general rules and the details were taught at Mount Sinai, repeated in the Mishkan, and repeated again in the plains of Moav before entering Eretz Yisroel. Now, if it should enter your mind that the olah which was offered in the Wilderness was the tamid offering, can there be such a thing that the tamid (initially) did not require skinning and slicing (into pieces), and later it did require skinning and slicing (for these laws were not taught until the Mishkan was built, which was many months after Sinai)?

Rabbi Elozar’s opinion is known from the following braisa: The olah of the tamid that was offered at Mount Sinai. Rabbi Elozar said: The process of its offering was instructed at Sinai, but it was not actually offered up (for the tamid was not offered then; rather, it was the olas re’iyah). Rabbi Akiva said: It was offered up and was never discontinued. But how am I to explain the verse: Did you bring to Me sacrifices and Minchah offerings in the Wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? The tribe of Levi, who were not guilty of idol worship, offered them (the tamid) up (in the Wilderness).


We know Beis Hillel’s opinion from the discussion above. We know Rabbi Akiva’s opinion from the braisa cited above.


We know Rabbi Yosi HaGelili’s opinion from the following braisa: Rabbi Yosi Hagelili said: There are three mitzvos that a Jewish person is obligated to perform when he ascends to Yerushalayim during the festival: The olas re’iyah,  shalmei chagigah and the shalmei simchahh (a peace offering brought for the purpose of eating the meat in Yerushalayim during the festival). There is an element found in the olas re’iyah that is not found in the other two, namely, that it is an offering which is completely burned on the altar. There is an element found in the shalmei chagigah that is not found in the other two, namely, that this sacrifice was offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai. There is an element found in the shalmei simchahh that is not found in the other two, namely, that this is a korban which men and women are both obligated to participate in.


The Gemora asks: Why did you represent Rabbi Yishmael as agreeing with Beis Shammai? It is because you argued as follows: If it should enter your mind that the olah which was offered in the Wilderness was the tamid offering, can there be such a thing that the tamid (initially) did not require skinning and slicing (into pieces), and later it did require skinning and slicing (for these laws were not taught until the Mishkan was built, which was many months after Sinai)? But behold Rabbi Yosi HaGelili said explicitly that the olah offering which the Israelites offered in the Wilderness was the tamid, and yet he held that at first it did not require skinning and slicing (into pieces), and later it did require skinning and slicing; for it was taught in a braisa: Rabbi Yosi HaGelili says that the olah brought by Bnei Yisroel in the Wilderness (before the Mishkan was established) did not need to be skinned and sliced, as this only applied from the time that the Tent of Meeting was erected and onwards?


The Gemora answers: Delete Rabbi Yishmael from here. (6a – 6b)


Rav Chisda inquired: Does the verse mean: And he sent the young men of the Children of Israel, who brought up burnt-offerings, which consisted of lambs; and they slaughtered feast shelamim offerings to Hashem, namely of bulls; or does the word ‘bulls’ refer to both the olah and the shelamim offerings?


The Gemora asks: What difference does it make?


Mar Zutra said: In regard to the cantillation notes. Rav Acha, the son of Rava, said: In regard to one who says: I vow to offer an olah offering like the olah offering which the Israelites offered in the Wilderness. What must he offer? Were they oxen or lambs?


The Gemora lets the inquiry stand (unresolved). (6b)





Beis Hillel holds that the minimum requirement is greater for the shalmei chagigah than it is for the olas re’iyah. The olas re’iyah offering must be worth at least one silver ma’ah and the shalmei chagigah must be worth at least two silver maos.


The Aruch Hashulchan (199:3) wonders if this applies specifically to the amount that one should spend on this particular korban or perhaps it is broader than that and the halachah would be that the shalmei chagigah must be superior to the olas re’iyah in all facets.


He cites a Gemora below (8b) that states: If a person has many dependents, but a minimal amount of money, he can bring many shelamim and a few olos, but if he has an abundance of money and few dependents, he may bring more olos than shelamim. This would indicate that the olas re’iyah may be superior in general; Beis Hillel is only particular that the shelamim should be worth at least two silver maos.


It would appear from the Aruch Hashulchan that he holds that one must spend more on the shalmei chagigah than he does for the olas re’iyah.


The Zecher L’Chagigah inquires: What is the halachah if one can only afford to purchase one korban; which would take precedence? He states that this would be dependent on the dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel.



Beis Hillel holds that the minimum requirement is greater for the shalmei chagigah because we find in the Torah that this sacrifice was offered even before Hashem’s Words were spoken at Sinai.


Although the verses describing this offering are written after the giving of the Torah, the Gemora in Shabbos (88a) states that they were actually brought beforehand. The Torah does not always write in the chronological order that the events transpired in.


Pinchas Chalk discusses this at length.


The parsha (Mishpatim) is split into three sections. The first part of the parshah, from the beginning of of the parsha until perek 23, passuk 19, discusses the laws that were given after Har Sinai. From possuk 20 until the end of perek 23, the Torah describes various berachos that Hashem will give to the Benei Yisroel [if they keep the Aseret haDibrot (Daas Zekeinim mi’Baalei HaTosafos)].

Then, from the beginning of perek 24, the pessukim continues with the description of Matan Torah.


Hashem said to Moshe, “Go up to Hashem, you and Aharon and Nadav and Avihu and seventy of the elders of the Benei Yisroel and you should bow down from a distance.” And Moshe alone drew close to Hashem and they did not draw near and the people did not go up with him. And Moshe came and he spoke to the people all the words of Hashem and all of the laws. And all of the people answered with one voice and they said, “All of the words that Hashem has spoken we will do.”

And Moshe wrote all of the words of Hashem and he got up early in the morning and he built a mizbeach (alter) at the foot of the mountain and twelve pillars (alters made from single stones) for the twelve tribes of Yisroel. And he sent the lads (this refers to the bechorot – firstborn (Rashi)) of the Benei Yisroel and they broughtolot (burnt sacrifices)[on the mizbeach and on the matzevot (pillars) that Moshe had built. And they slaughtered peace offerings (shelamim) to Hashem – cows.

And he took the sefer habris (the book of the covenant) and he read it in the ears of the people and they said: ‘Everything that Hashem has spoken we will do and we will listen [to].”

When did this Parsha occur? It is not at all obvious when these events happened. The Ramban says that all of these events took place after Matan Torah. According to the Ramban immediately after Matan Torah, on the 6th of Sivan, Hashem said to Moshe the pessukim at the end of Parshat Yitro, all of the halachot that form the first half of Parshat Mishpatim and also the passuk of  ????? ???-? – “Go up to Hashem.” On the next day Moshe went up to the top of Har Sinai for fourty days and nights.


Rashi explains that the pessukim beginning  – “Go up to Hashem” were actually said before Matan Torah on the 4th of Sivan. Both Rashi and the Ramban agree, however, that from passuk 12 and onwards is talking about what happened after Matan Torah: And Hashem said to Moshe, “Come up the mountain to me and remain there and I will give to you the Tablets of stone and the Torah and the Mitzvah that I have written to instruct them.” And Moshe got up and Yehoshua his assistant and Moshe went up to the mountain of Hashem. He said to the elders, “Stay here until we return to you. Look, Aharon and Chur are with you, whoever has a need for litigation should go to them.” Moshe went up to the mountain and the cloud covered the mountain.

These pessukim describe Moshe’s ascent to Har Sinai for fourty days and nights and are obviously referring to what happened after Matan Torah. Why then does Rashi explain that the beginning of the perek is referring to what happened before Matan Torah? Why does he not explain simply like the Ramban that the whole perek is written in chronological order?


Why Rashi explains that the Parsha is not in chronological order

There are many explanations and considerations regarding Rashi’s peshat:


The Maharal points out that the machloket between Rashi and the Ramban is in fact a machloket in the mechilta that the Ramban quotes and that the mechilta says initially like Rashi. Rabbi Yehudah who argues in the mechilta and who says like the Ramban is a da’as yochid – an individual who argues against many. (In halachahh if one individual argues against many the halachahh is like the majority. The general principles of deciding who the halachah is like are not binding with regards to derush (Rabbi Moshe Aharon Stern z”l), nevertheless the majority explanation still carries more weight.)

The gemara says that the benei yisrael entered into a bris (covenant) with Hashem through milah, dam (blood) and tevillah. Rashi is of the opinion that all of these must have been performed before Matan Torah, therefore he explains that these pessukim that describe the korbanot (whose dam was the dam bris) brought by thebechorot (first born) must have occurred before Matan Torah. According to the Ramban the dam bris was brought after Matan Torah.

The He’emek Davar asks on the Ramban from the gemara says in Masechet Shabbat (88a) that Moshe built a mizbeach on the fifth of Sivan. According to Rashi this fits perfectly into the pessukim. The parshah starts on the 4th of Sivan, then on the next day which is the fifth, ???????????? ?????????, ???????? ????????? ?????? ?????. – “Moshe got up early and built a mizbeach at the foot of the mountain.” According to the Ramban there is no mention in the Torah that Moshe built amizbeach before Matan Torah! (see He’emek Davar for a further discussion of this point.)

– The He’emek Davar asks another question on the Ramban from the gemara in Masechet Chagigah (6a) that says that the Korban Chagigah (the korban shelamimthat is brought on the sholosh regalim) and the Korban Tamid (the daily olah that was brought in the morning and in the evening) were brought ???? ??????. Rashi there explains that this means that they were brought before the Aseret Hadibrot were given. According to the Ramban these korbanot were brought after Matan Torah?

The Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim, 225:5) asks the same question and explains (see the sefer Shaarei Aharon) that according to the Ramban when the gemara says that these korbanot were brought ???? ??????, it does not mean that they were brought before Matan Torah, rather it means that they were brought even before the primary instruction to bring them daily at the beginning of Parshas Tzav.

All this explains why Rashi explained that the pessukim are not in chronological order, but why did the Torah put the pessukim in this order?

The Maharal explains intriguingly as follows:

“The reason that these pessukim were not written in order before Matan Torah is because all of this was the bris (the covenant) on the Torah that they would accept the next day. Because all of these actions related to the Torah, scripture ordered it in the place that is fitting for it, for they did these deeds concerning the acceptance of the Torah. and if it was possible to perform these actions and to accept the Torah simultaeneously they would have done that and because this is impossible they peformed the actions first. Nevertheless the pessukim are stated in their place after Matan Torah.”

The Maharal requires clarification. Tentatively we can explain as follows:


1) The first part of Mishpatim as well as the last pessukim in Parshas Yisro are all a continuation of Kabbalat Ha’Torah and ma’amad Har Sinai. Although it is written afterwards, the account of the bris is at least juxtaposed to Matan Torah.

2) There is a difference between writing something and between the event actually occuring. That means that when you write something you may order the events differently than the order in which they occurred in order to convey the inner meaning of the events. (The stress in the Maharal is on the word ketivah: “Umah shelonichtav kodem matan torah”, “si’der osoi ha’kosuv bi’mekomo haro’u lo”, “u’mikol mokom ha’kosuv ne’emar bi’mekomo“) The Torah is a written document and the Torah wishes to emphases the close unity between the bris, which is the bond of love between Hashem and Klal Yisrael, and between the mitzvos that we were commanded at ma’amad Har Sinai which give concrete expression to that love.

3) The fact that the bris occurred physically before Matan Torah does not obligate the Torah to write the bris beforehand. The bris and Kabbalat ha’Torah are one and should have occurred together, however in olam hazeh we have time constraints so incidentally the events were sequential.


The unity of kabbalat hatorah and the bris on the Torah is made clear by writing the bris after Matan Torah. The Torah is not a history book, rather the Torah relays the inner content of events that transpired which affected klal yisrael and which continue to affect klal yisrael. The Torah here is telling you, “This is the bris of the Torah! This is the emotional core of the love between Hashem and klal yisrael which is made permanent by our observance of the mitzvot.” As the medrash says “Araissa v’Yisrael v’Kudsha Brich Hu chad hu” – “The Torah and Yisrael and Hashem are all one” (Zohar, Acharei Mos). This point is made clearer by relating thebris after the mitzvot given at Sinai. After we have something concrete to understand and we gain a tephisa (a grasp) of the Torah, then the Torah says, “And this is the bris that is the inner life of that instruction!”

May we become one with our friends and with the Torah and through this become closer to Hashem.




 L’zecher Nishmas HaRav Raphael Dov ben HaRav Yosef Yechezkel Marcus O”H

Well Clarified In 70 languages

Hashem has Moshe make an unusual demand of the people:

“2 It shall be on the day that you cross the Jordan to the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall set up great stones and you shall cover them with plaster.
3 You shall write on them all the words of this Torah, when you cross over, so that you may enter the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, a Land flowing with milk and honey, as Hashem, the G-d of your forefathers, spoke about you.
4 It shall be that when you cross the Jordan, you shall erect these stones, of which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall coat them with plaster.
5 There you shall build an altar for Hashem, your G-d, an altar of stones; you shall not raise iron upon them. 6 Of whole stones shall you build the altar of Hashem, your G-d, and you shall bring upon it elevation-offerings to Hashem, your G-d.
7 You shall slaughter peace offerings and eat there, and you shall be glad before Hashem, your G-d.
8 On the stones, you shall write the words of the Torah well clarified.”

(Devarim, Deuteronomy 27:2-8).

“Well Clarified: In seventy languages.” (Rashi – See Talmud Tractate Sotah 36a)

What’s going on here?

The commandment to carve the Torah onto stones is written twice, first in verse 27:2-3, and then repeated in verse 27:4-8.

According to the Talmud – Tractate Sotah (34a), there were three sets of stones, not just one or two, each set consisting of twelve stones.

1. Before his death, Moshe wrote the Torah on one group of stones and erected them in Arvot Moav (the Plains of Moav).

2. Yehoshua (Joshua) ordered a second group of stones placed in the Jordan River.

3. The final group of stones were taken from the Jordan River, carried to Har Eival (Mt. Ebal) and used to build a Mizbayach (altar) there. Subsequently, the stones were carried to Gilgal and permanently implanted there. More details below.

The locations of these stones were known until the time of theTalmud, but archeologists have never found them.

How many stones?

12 in each group. (One stone corresponding to each Shevet [tribe]).

How big were the stones?

The Talmud, Tractace Sotah (34a) gives the volume of each stone as forty Se’ah (one Amah* by one Amah by three Amot – the measurement of a minimum size Mikvah). This means each stone weighed several hundred pounds.

*How big is an amah? Anywhere between one and a half and two feet (that’s somewhere between 48 and 57.6 centimetres for those of you who care).

What was the purpose of the stones?

The first set of stones, (which also contained the words of the Torahin all languages), erected by Moshe in Arvot Moav (on the eastern side of the Jordan River), served as a monument reestablishing the covenant with Hashem that the Bnei Yisroel had nullified when they worshipped the Eigel Hazahav (Golden Calf).

The second set, Yehoshua placed in the Jordan River itself as they crossed. According to Rabbeinu Bachaye, the function of these stones, was for the Kohanim to stand on, to avoid having to stand in the mud. The Kohanim stood their ground holding the Aron (Ark) while the people crossed, until the water returned to its original course.

The third set of stones were taken from the Jordan River, erected onHar Eival in the form of a Mizbayach, and covered with lime (plaster). On the Mizbayach they wrote the entire Torah (in Lashon Hakodesh(Hebrew) as well as in the seventy universal languages, after which, they sacrificed Korbanot on the Mizbayach. They then took it apart and carried the stones to Gilgal, where they spent their first night inEretz Yisroel, and where they re-erected them.

“….When your children will ask their fathers in the future: ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ You will inform your children: ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry land.’ For HaShem your G-d dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you crossed, as Hashem your G-d did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us, until we crossed. So that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of Hashem, that it is mighty; so that you will fear Hashem your G-d all the days.’ “

(Yehoshua, Joshua 4: 21-24.)

This was to arouse the curiosity of the descendents of those who entered Eretz Yisroel, whereupon they would relate to them how their ancestors crossed the Jordan River (which is where the stones were taken from).

The Oznayim La’Torah, in addition to the above reason, cites two other reasons for the Mitzvah of the stones (all the reasons seem to pertain to the third set).

Both reasons are mentioned in the Torah; one of them, which describes it as a means or as a prelude to capturing Eretz Yisroel.And the other one is written by way of a hint, by virtue of the fact that the Torah was to be translated in all the languages, whose purpose it was to grant the gentile nations access to the Torah. It was to drive home the lesson that Hashem created the world and that it therefore belongs to Him. This in turn, will help to reinforce the lesson that it was Hashem who gave the Jewish people Eretz Yisroel and that it is rightfully theirs (as the first Rashi in the Torah teaches us).

A Mezuza for Eretz Yisroel?

The Abarbanel writes that the writing of the Torah upon stones at the time of entry into Eretz Yisroel is similar to the writing of a Mezuza for the doorposts of one’s home. Just as the Mezuza contains the text of acceptance of the Heavenly yoke, so too the Bnei Yisroel were required to have the complete Torah written upon stones at the “gateway” to Eretz Yisroel. Thus when they will be victorious in their battles and vanquish the inhabitants of the land, they will remember that the success is not theirs, but rather, the hand of Hashem. “Hashem ish milchamah” – “Hashem is Master of war.” (Shmot, Exodus 15:3).

Seventy languages? Why?

In addition to transcribing the Torah into Hebrew, the Jews were commanded to translate it into all languages of the civilized world.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the gentile nations needed an opportunity to learn it. Had they read the inscription and observed the Seven Noahide Laws, they would have been able to stay in Eretz Yisroel. They refused to learn from it.

Additionally, these stones were to show everyone that the Jews had come to Eretz Yisroel not as foreign conquerors but as commanded by Hashem. They also signified that one is about to enter the land of the Torah. Just as a Jewish home has a Mezuza, so these stones were to remind the traveler that the purpose of living in Eretz Yisroelis to keep the Torah. (If only everyone would realize this).

Which came first – the plaster or the writing?

The Sages (Talmud Tractate Sotah 35b) debated the purpose of plastering the stones with lime.

Rabbi Shimon maintained that the stones were covered with plaster in order to provide Moshe and Yehoshua a surface to write on. (Devarim, 27:2-4).

Rabbi Yehuda, however, points out that a few passages later (Ibid 27:8) the Torah explicitly commanded to write upon the stones. He therefore concludes that the Torah was engraved into the stones and they were later covered with lime in order to protect the script.

“According to your approach,” Rabbi Shimon challenged Rabbi Yehuda, “if it was covered with lime, how was it possible for the nations of the world at that time to learn the Torah?”

Rashi explains the question:
The Torah was written on the stones in 70 languages to make it available for anyone who wished to study it. This was done so that no nation should have an excuse that they had no opportunity to learn the Torah. If it was covered in lime, how could the nations study the Torah?

Rabbi Yehuda answered:
“Hashem endowed those nations with a special intelligence, and they sent their scribes to scrape off the plaster, decipher and copy the Torah and bring back to them its contents. Their failure to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and live by that Torah, sealed the decree against them, for they should have learned, but didn’t.”

The obvious question that arises in regard to Rabbi Yehuda’s response to Rabbi Shimon’s challenge is: Why was it necessary to conceal the words of the Torah with plaster and then only be revealed through the efforts of the scribes?

On a simple level, it may be suggested that this was done in accordance with the ruling that it is disrespectful to leave a Torahscroll or any book of Torah learning open when not in use.

A more profound explanation may be that this was intended as a lesson that one can only truly acquire Torah knowledge if he is ready to invest serious effort in studying and understanding the words of the Torah. There are people who may have a curiosity about Torahbut want its contents handed to them on a silver platter, like the person who came before the Sages Hillel and Shammai requesting that they convert him to Judaism on the condition that they teach him the entire Torah while he stands on one leg (Talmud TractateShabbat 31a). To dispel any notion that Torah can be acquired without hard work, our ancestors were commanded to cover the multilingual recording of the Torah with lime so that the nations who really wished to learn would first have to sweat a little along with their study.

Why on stone and not on any other material?

The great sage, Rabbi Akiva, was an illiterate shepherd up to the age of forty. He once came across a stone and was fascinated by the water that dripped constantly, boring a hole in the stone. From this he concluded that if water can penetrate a hard stone, surely Torahcan penetrate his heart of flesh and blood. (Avot D’Rab Natan 6)

By instructing Moshe and Yehoshua to write the Torah on hard stone, Hashem implied that even if a person possesses the poorest faculties (a head as hard as a rock), if he learns Torah diligently it will definitely have an indelible effect on him and will improve him physically and spiritually.

What was actually inscribed on the stones?

What was actually inscribed is the subject of discussion amongst various commentaries.

Abarbanel suggests that only a synopsis, or selected passages ofDevarim, were transcribed.

Ibn Ezra, recognizing the difficulty in copying the entire Torah onto these stones, adopts the approach of Rav Saadia Gaon and suggests that only the 613 mitzvot were written.

The Ramban, on the other hand, accepts the verses at face value, and quotes an ancient text which states that the entire Torah was in fact written on these stones from beginning to end, including all the Tagin (three small upward strokes resembling crowns) and calligraphy. This was the “official” transcription of the Torah, and afterwards, the stones were available for consultation and reference on how to write a Sefer Torah.

How could the entire Torah be written on these stones? The difficulty presented in writing such a massive document on the stones is dismissed by the Ramban, who says, that the stones were either massive in size or that the inscription was a miraculous process which allowed for the inclusion of the entire Torah on a relatively small area (and in 70 languages).

(It seems strange that the Ramban has doubts about the size of these stones, seeing as the Talmud, Tractate Sotah (34a) specifically gives the volume of the stones).

Speaking about miracles, here’s another one: Har Gerizim and HarEival were a distance of sixty Mil* (more than forty miles – one and a half days walking distance). Yet they traveled there, set up the stones, wrote the entire Torah on them in all seventy-one languages and went through the entire ceremony described in this Parsha and returned, all before nightfall.

*How big is a Mil? A Mil is 2000 Amot. How big is an Amah? See note above.

How is it that just for writing the Torah on large stones and bringing them across the Jordan, the Bnei Yisroel will merit entry into Eretz Yisroel?

Writing the Torah on stones and carrying these stones across the Jordan River would indelibly impress upon the minds of the Jewish people that only by virtue of the Torah do they merit to live in Eretz Yisroel. Recognition of this fact was the essential point, and this was the absolute prerequisite of their entry into their land. – Alshich

The Ramban similarly suggests that the entire basis of entering and holding Eretz Yisroel is the Torah. Only by keeping the mitzvot of theTorah does Bnei Yisroel merit entering the land. Thus, it is entirely appropriate that Bnei Yisroel immediately erect these monuments upon crossing into the land.

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch notes that the stones taken for the monument were removed from the bed of the Jordan River at the time that it split in order to allow Bnei Yisroel to enter the land. RavHirsch points out that the waters parted for the Aron carrying theLuchot (Tablets), and not for the people. It is only the total and unwavering dedication to the Torah through which we merit possession of Eretz Yisroel.