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Friday, February 22

The Weekly Shtikle - Tetzaveh / Purim


In general, of the two parshios that deal in depth with various technical details, parshas Terumah is dedicated to the architectural detail of the Mishkon and related structures whereas parshas Tetzaveh deals primarily with details relating to the Kohanim. This exception that proves this rule is found at the end of this week's parsha. After all the procedures pertaining to the Kohanim have been discussed, the Torah details the golden altar that was placed inside the Mishkon. One would have expected this to be dealt with in parshas Terumah, when the Torah dealt with the Menorah and Shulchan. Instead, it is mentioned here.

Meshech Chachmah offers an explanation for the placement of the instructions for the golden altar. Every one of the structures and utensils had a specific purpose. If any of the structures were missing, their purpose could not be performed. If the Menorah was not present, the lighting could not take place. In the absence of the outer altar, the sacrifices could not be slaughtered and offered. A Kohein certainly could not perform any service without the proper garments. In this, the golden altar differed. The principal function of the golden altar was for the "ketores," incense. The gemara (Zevachim 59) teaches that if the altar is not present, one may still offer the incense in its proper place. The golden altar is excluded from all the other components to show its uniqueness in this respect.

The GR"A offers an insight into this issue which may shed some light on the reasoning behind the above law. The primary purpose of the entire Mishkon undertaking was for HaShem's Divine Presence to rest on the nation. This is stated clearly at the very beginning (25:8) of the instruction and stated once again at the end (29:45) "And I will dwell amongst B'nei Yisroel..." Everything within these two statements shared the same purpose. However, the golden altar, which is mentioned afterward, was not for the purpose of affecting the Divine Presence. The principal role of the golden altar was atonement. The daily incense was an atonement offering. The incense was also used in emergency situations to halt the breakout of a plague. Indeed, it is here that we learn that the Kohein Gadol was to sprinkle blood on the golden altar once a year on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Since the golden altar served a different purpose than the rest of the components of the Mishkon, it is separated and dealt with on its own.

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A few weeks ago, the Daf Yomi passes the famous gemara in Shabbos (88a) detailing the coercive nature of Matan Torah. It was as if the mountain was inverted over our heads and we would either accept the Torah or be buried on the spot. Rava adds, though, that although the original acceptance was under duress, we "re-accepted" the Torah in the days of Achashveirosh. (Interesting to note that this re-acceptance is attributed to the days of Achashveirosh, not the days of Mordechai.) We know this from the famous words of the Megillah - "kiyemu vekibelu," we upheld what he had previously accepted. 

To this day, we are constantly being urged by our leaders to strengthen our observances in various areas. For example, the Chofetz Chaim led the charge to increase observance of the grave sins of Lashon Hara. We were never directed to "re-accept" the mitzvos pertaining to Lashon Hara. Yet, in the days of Achashveirosh we didn't simply strengthen our Torah observance or Torah study. It was something different.

A more recent passage from Daf Yom shed some light on what the significance of this re-acceptance might be. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaches (Shabbos 130a) that any mitzvah which B'nei Yisrael accepted happily, such as Bris Milah, they still perform happily to this day. A mitzvah which was accepted with a quarrel, such as those of illicit relations, are still problematic to this day. We see that the very nature of our forefathers' acceptance of each mitzvah has an everlasting effect on the manner in which we perform these mitzvos to this day. Therefore, we may suggest that the coercive nature of the original Matan Torah made it difficult for the following generations to study and uphold the Torah with wholehearted joy. The re-accpetance after the miracle of Purim out of love from the HaShem's miracles (as Rashi writes) was a reset, a start from scratch. From that moment forward, the generation of Mordechai and Esther instilled in us the strength and the drive to study and keep the Torah with true happiness and joy. 


Have a good Shabbos and a Great Purim! Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimcah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Megillah:

Dikdukian: Zachar Amaleik? What was he smoking?
Dikdukian: Ner Tamid
Dikdukian: Tarshsih veShoham
Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah

AstroTorah: What's that in the West? by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: Invisible Signs from Heaven by R' Ari Storch

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