Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d On the Parsha

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By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

Sponsored by Yehuda Shmidman in honor of Rav Mayer Twersky’s inspiring night of learning this past Shavuos in Riverdale

בהעלתך את הנרות   ח:ב           Tosafos (Menachos 86a) brings an argument between Rashi and the Riva regarding how to understand the statement that the middle ner (candle/light) of the menorah was “the one with which the lighting would begin and end”. According to the Riva, the other six neiros were doused and the cups were cleaned out and refilled with new oil and wicks. All this time, the middle light would be left burning in its place. Then, when all the new oil and wicks were in place in the other six branches, they would be lit from the middle ner. After that, the middle ner would be doused, cleaned out, set up with new oil and wick, and lit from the others (this was possible because the wicks were very long).  According to Rashi, though, the wick of the middle ner was removed while it was still burning, and would remain so either in the hand of the kohen or in a different cup while the middle ner was cleaned and set up with new oil and a new wick. Once it was ready, he would use the old wick – which was still burning – that was in his hand to light the new wick, and then he would light the rest from the new middle wick. Tosafos strongly objects to this interpretation of Rashi, and, in the course of explaining his objection, says that once the wick has been removed from the menorah, it no longer has any mitzvah status. It no longer can be considered a menorah light. Apparently, though, Rashi himself holds not like that. Rashi holds, explained Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, that as long as the kohen is holding the burning wick, it still has the full menorah-light status. The hand of the kohen has the equivalent status of the klei shareis (Temple vessels). This may well be what Chazal mean when they say that the reason this topic of the menorah-lighting follows right on the heels of last week’s discussion of the offerings of the nesiim that consecrated the Mishkan, was in order to allay Aharon Ha’Kohen’s dismay at his shevet having been left out of that. The subject of the menorah-lighting is to indicate to Aharon, shelcha gedolah mi’shelahem, yours is greater than theirs. Why is it greater? Because it is not just something that you do, it is who you are. Your very essence is avodah, as evident from the fact that your hand is like an extension of the menorah. (Heard from Reb Yechezkel Lang)

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 למה נגרע   ח:ז           Pesach is the only Yomtov that has a makeup day – Pesach Sheini – and the Torah clearly delineates that the laws thereof came into the world in direct response to the demand of the people that were impure that they not be forced to lose out on the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of bringing a korban Pesach. From here we see what a powerful force spiritual yearning is. In a very real sense, when it comes to spiritual matters, what you want, you get. (Heard from Reb Avraham Twersky and Reb Chaim Rosen).

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 ואין אסור חמץ אלא עמו באכילתו    רש״י ח:י         Rashi seems to be saying that, when it comes to Pesach Sheini, the only prohibition regarding chametz is that one may not eat it while his is eating thematzah. The Minchas Chinuch asks, though, what is the source for such a prohibition? If all we had was this Rashi here in Chumash, one could have posited a different way of reading it. Instead of reading it as saying that the only chametz prohibition on Pesach Sheini is while one is eating the matzah, you could read it as saying, “And there is no chametz prohibition, rather, one can [even] have it with him during his matzah consumption.” However, Rashi in Maseches Sukkah 47b makes it clear that he in fact holds that one is not allowed to eat chametz while eating the matzah on Pesach Sheini. There are Midrashim that were in hand-written form and published by Rav Dovid Hoffman that include a derasha for this statement of Rashi. (From the notes of Reb Daniel Fast)

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 הטוב ההוא   י:לב           Rashi explains that “that good thing” is referring to the choice part of Yericho, an area covering 250,000 square amos, which was left out of the division of Eretz Yisrael to become the property of whichever shevet would have the Beis Ha’Mikdash built in its portion of the land. In parshas Va’eschanan (3:25), Rashi explains the expression “ha’tov ha’zeh” to be referring to Yerushalayim, the place of the Beis Ha’Mikdash. In Maseches Tamid (3:8), we find the following Mishna: “From Yericho, they could hear the great gate [of the Beis Ha’Mikdash] opening. From Yericho, they could hear the sound of the magreifah (a musical instrument). From Yericho, they could hear the sound of the wood of the lowering mechanism that Ben Katin made for the washing basin. From Yericho, they could hear the sound of Gevini the announcer. From Yericho, they could hear the sound of the flute. From Yericho, they could hear the sound of the cymbal. Form Yericho, they could hear the sound of the song (of the Leviyim). From Yericho, they could hear the sound of the shofar. And some say [that from Yericho they could] even [hear] the sound of the voice of the Kohen Gadol uttering the [ineffable] name of Hashem on Yom Kippur. From Yericho, they could smell the ketores.” According to the Raavad, the Mishna is not saying that certain things that went on in the Beis Ha’Mikdash could be detected from vast distances, but that only in Yericho could these things be heard or smelled. The rest of the surrounding areas around Yerushalyim were not able to hear or smell these things. The Raavad elaborates that the reason for this is that, as the first place that the Jews conquered when they entered Eretz Yisrael, Yericho possesses a certain level of kedusha that is akin to that of Yerushalayim.  (From the notes of Reb Daniel Fast)

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אלדד ומידד מתנבאים במחנה   יא:כז           According to Rashi (in Maseches Sanhedrin 17a), really, Eldad and Meidad were supposed to be amongst the chosen seventy elders to comprise the Sanhedrin. Two elders had selected blank cards – thus indicating that they were not to be part of the Sanhedrin – and that meant that the remaining two cards that said “elder” on them were for Eldad and Meidad. Just that they, in their great humility, assumed that they were not worthy of the position, and that is why they did not join the group for the lottery. Other mefarshim, though, say that, really, Eldad and Meidad were not meant to be selected for the Sanhedrin. Nonetheless, the Baal Ha’Turim infers from the specific wording that there was a qualitative difference between the prophecy experienced by Eldad and Meidad and that which was experienced by all the other elders. But, according to the opinion that maintains that they were actually not worthy of being selected as part of the Sanhedrin, why would they experience a greater level of prophecy? The answer that we find in the sefarim is that it was because of the fact that they possessed a lev nishbar (an exceedingly humble spirit). For that reason, they experienced a level of prophecy that exceeded that of the other elders.

The Gemara says that the reason why Yehoshua demanded that Eldad and Meidad be punished is that to prophesy in the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu is akin to violating the prohibition of moreh halacha bifnei rabo (ruling on a matter of halacha in the presence of one’s rebbi). The question is, asked Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, that there is a prohibition against withholding a prophecy that one received. In fact, if a navi withholds a prophecy that he received, he is liable to be punished by dying at the hands of Heaven. So, what could they do? How could they have withheld the prophecy that they received?! The answer that is related in the name of Rav Chaim is that they prophesied in the encampment, and what they should have done is prophesied by the Ohel Moed. A possible alternative answer once could suggest is that, yes, they received a prophesy, but they were not instructed to relay it to anyone. It was a private prophesy meant only for their knowledge. The Rambam says clearly that the only time that there is a prohibition on a navi against withholding his prophesy is if the prophesy was transmitted to him in order to relay it to others.

(From the notes of Reb Daniel Fast)

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Quotables       “When you have plans to do something, don’t needlessly talk about it. Often, if you talk about it, it doesn’t happen. ”

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Vignettes           “At the beginning of a particular zman (learning session), Rav Twersky said to us, ‘There is a special teffilah for successful learning that Chazal instituted for a person to say each day upon entering the Beis Medrash before beginning to learn. It follows, then, that since we’re holding at the beginning of a new zman, it’s a good time for us all to daven together that we should have a productive zman.’ And we proceeded to do just that! Rav Twersky also added, “Of course, this teffilah, and the teffilah that we say each day upon entering the Beis Medrash, these are in addition to all the regular teffilos that we daven for success in learning.’ The Gra on Mishlei – that there is a guarantee when it comes to davening for spiritual matters – is something that Rav Twersky would often make reference to, and he once told us that ‘it only works, though, if you really believe in it!” (Reb Matis Feld)

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