The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

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Friday, May 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Beha'alosecha

It is with great joy and gratitude that we welcome our latest addition to the family - an 8 lb baby girl born last night! This week's shtikle is dedicated to our as-yet-unnamed baby girl.
The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.
     As a baby enters this world, one of the life skills that just about every baby clearly lacks is the ability to discern between night and day, usually leading to its parents losing that perception temporarily. It is therefore fitting that I bring up this old question that I had.

    This week's parsha begins with a discussion concerning the lighting of the menorah in the heichal. It is the opinion of most that the menorah was lit only at night. This is certainly the simple understanding of the commandment at the beginning of parshas Tetzaveh (Shemos 27:21) "from the evening until the morning." Rambam (Hilchos Temidim uMusafim 3:10), however, states that the menorah was lit in the morning and the night.
    Meshech Chachmah attempts to explain Rambam's position. Although I have not been able to find the Meshech Chachmah inside, I heard it quoted by Rav Kulefsky, zt"l. The menorah is lit even during the day, according to Rambam, to demonstrate that the candles are not there simply to provide physical light. Rather, as R' Sheishes asserts in the gemara (Shabbos 22b), the candles were meant to symbolize the Divine presence that rested in the Mishkon and among all of Klal Yisroel.
    This approach puzzled me. Even during the day, the inside of the Mishkon would have indeed been in need of light. The architectural specifics of the Mishkon, as delineated in parshas Terumah indicate that it was completely smothered on all sides. There was simply no way for any sunlight to have penetrated the Mishkon. Tosafos on that gemara do quote Beraysa diMleches haMishkon stating that the Ananei HaKavod provided constant light to B'nei Yisroel no matter where they were. If they were locked inside a barrel, they would be able to see inside it. Therefore, the menorah was indeed not needed for its light, as R' Sheishes explained. However, inside the heavily padded walls of the Mishkon, this would have been no more evident during the day than during the night.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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Friday, May 21

The Weekly Shtikle - Naso

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.

    This week's parsha begins with the counting of the descendants of Gershon and the listing of their responsibilities with regard to the carrying of the Mishkan as B'nei Yisroel traveled, followed by the same for Merari. This is in fact a continuation of a process that began in parshas Bemidbar with the counting of the descendants of Kehas. The obvious question is why are the three sons of Levi split up? Why are they not all together in the same parsha?
    I found the identical answer in the Abarbanel and Ta'ama D'kra. First, it should be noted that Gershon is in fact older than Kehas. Nevertheless, since Aharon and Moshe came from Kehas, his descendants were given the honour of handling the holiest of the Mishkan's vessels - the Aron, the Shulchan and the Menorah. Therefore, it was fitting that they be listed before Gershon. However, the Torah did not want to deny Gershon the honour of the first-born.Therefore, instead of being listed first among Levi's three sons Gershon was given the beginning of a parsha. Obviously, the only way to that is to split them up.
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Tuesday, May 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Shavuos

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.

I am always fascinated by the opportunity to perform unique mitzvos for the first time in one's life. Just a couple of years ago, I was able to do kisuy hadam for the first time. My chavrusa recently spotted a bird's nest in his front yard which presented the opportunity to perform shiluach hakein for the first time. So far, I have been unable to be there when the mother is there but it did remind me of this thought which is most apropos for Shavuos:

As we all know, when HaShem came to B'nei Yisroel and offered them the Torah, we collectively answered unequivocally in the affirmative. This response is documented twice: in parshios Yisro (Shemos 19:8) and Mishpatim (Shemos 24:7). (It's actually mentioned twice in Mishpatim so it's three total, technically.) The common text found in both locations is "kol asher diber HaShem na'aseh," we will do all that HaShem has stated. Meshech Chachmah raises a very simple issue with statement. It is impossible for any one person to actually do all 613 mitzvos. Some apply only to Kohanim. Some apply only to men, some only to women. What then is meant by that statement.

This question is answered in two different ways, based on the different variations of the response. In Yisro, it says "the entire nation responded together." Although no one member of Klal Yisroel can perform all 613 mitzvos, together as a unit we can cover the gamut. In Mishpatim, we have the extra word "venishma." We will do and we will listen. The term "shemiyah" is often associated with learning. The mitzvos that we are not able to actually perform, we can supplement with the actual studying of the laws pertaining to those mitzvos. 

This understanding of this fateful moment in our history gives focus to two important aspects that we must keep in mind on Shavuos: the focus on learning the Torah as well as performing it, and the realization that we are all in this together and only if we function as a single unit, "k'ish echad b'leiv echad," can we truly realize the Torah's complete purpose.

Have a Chag Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: Similarities between Midrash and Mythology by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, May 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Bemidbar

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.

In this week's parsha, the twelve tribes are divided up into four camps, each camp being comprised of three tribes. The camp of Yehudah consisted of Yehudah, Yissochor and Zevulun. Reuvein, Shimon and Gad constituted the camp of Reuvein. The camp of Efrayim was comprised of Efrayim, Menasheh and Binyomin. Finally, Dan, Asher and Naphtali formed the camp of Dan.

The sefer Midreshei Torah, quoted in Sha'arei Aharon, makes an interesting observation. The four tribes that were the middle tribe of each camp were Yissochor, Shimon, Menasheh and Asher. The nesi'im, leaders of the tribe, as mentioned at the beginning of the parshah, were Nesanel, Shelumiel, Gamliel and Pagiel respectively. Each of these four names ends with aleph-lamed, one of the Divine names. These four names being the names of the leaders of the middle tribe of each camp is a reflection of the pasuk (35:34) "For I am HaShem, who dwells in the midst of B'nei Yisroel.

This idea is furthered in the next parshah, when the nesi'im bring the sacrifices for the consecration of the Mishkon. These four nesi'im bring their respective offerings on days 2, 5, 8 and 11. The sum of those numbers is 26 which is the gematria of the Divine name, yud-heh-vuv-heh.


A question that has vexed me for many years: At the beginning of this week's parsha, B'nei Yisroel are split into camps. One of Rashi's explanations of "ish al diglo le'osos" (2:2) is that each tribe's camp had a flag which bore the colour of the stone of that tribe's stone on the Choshen. The purpose of this, Rashi explains, was so that everyone would know which camp was theirs. What bothered me about this was that Efrayim and Menasheh, who had separate camps, did not have their own stones on the Choshen. What then would be the colour of their flag?  Even if you say that they both had Yosef's colours, the objective of this plan is not achieved. What I found even more intriguing is the explanation of Targum Yonasan here. He explains that each large camp of three had a flag bearing three colours corresponding to a row of stones on the Choshen. For instance, the camp of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun had a flag with the colours of Odem Pitda and Barekes on them. While this would take care of the problem with Efrayim and Menasheh, the difficulty is that those stones are the stones of Reuven, Shimon and Levi (according to all opinions). What is their connection to that camp?

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Tens and Ones by Ari Brodsky
Al Pi Cheshbon: Rounded Numbers
Al Pi Cheshbon: Pidyon HaBen Probability
AstroTorah: A Lifetime of Space and Travel by R' Ari Storch
Dikdukian: Be or Ba?
Dikdukian: Discussions on Bemidbar by Eliyahu Levin

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,

Friday, May 7

The Weekly Shtikle - Behar / Bechukosai

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.
This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my mother, Tzirel Nechama bas Tovia Yehudah, a"h, whose yahrtzeit is this coming Sunday.

    This week's shtikle also comes with some unfortunate news. Lady Amélie Jakobovits, the wife of former Chief Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, z"l. and my great aunt, was nifteres today in England at the age of 81. She was also the daughter of R' Eliyahu Munk, the well-known author. I am not sure I am able to find the words to adequately describe what an amazing woman she was. She was respected and revered not only at home in England but all over the world. I saw this for myself when she would visit Baltimore and the rabbanim of the Yeshivah would come to greet her. Certainly, being the wife of the Chief Rabbi demanded respect of its own. But she earned her own respect as well. I am reminded of something the Rosh HaYeshivah in Ottawa, R' Eliezer Ben-Porat, shlit"a, would often say: "I am a rabbi because my wife is a rebbetzin." I would say the same was true to some extent in the case of my great aunt and uncle. They were a team. Together, they served as the leaders of the British Jewish Community for so many years and after Lord Immanuel's passing, Lady Amélie carried the torch of his legacy.

    My great aunt would travel far and wide to attend family semachos all around the globe. And there was always a noticeable difference in the atmosphere when she was in attendance. I don't think I have ever met a funnier woman in my life. I would always make an extra effort to attend family affairs when she was there for the sheer entertainment value. She could put a smile on anyone's face. That was one of her many specialties. She was well known for delivering challos for Shabbos to anyone in the community who was in need for one reason or another.

    At the end of this week's parshios, we discuss arachin, a unique form of donation whereby a monetary value is assigned to a person based on their gender and age. But while our designated monetary value may vary, the true value of each and every Jew is equally immeasurable. Lady Amélie lived by that very idea. She was a very opinionated woman, yet she had nothing but the utmost respect for each and every member of Klal Yisroel. She will be sorely missed by her family, by the British Jewish Community and Klal Yisroel at large. Yehi zichrah baruch.

    I am not sure as to the exact sheim neshamah. I believe it is Malia bas Eliyahu.

Have a good Shabbos. May we hear only of semachos!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Ironic Observation
AstroTorah: Determining the Identity of the Unicorn by R' Ari Storch

Pertaining to last week:
Dikdukian: Ner Tamid
AstroTorah: Blasphemous Bread of Permanence by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,