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Friday, February 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

Tomorrow, 2 Adar, is the yahrtzeit of my Zadie, Rabbi Yaakov Bulka. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak, z"l.

 

In this week's parsha, as part of the description of the construction of the mishkan, the beams are described (36:29) as being paired at the bottom as well as the top. The terminlogoy used  (26:24) is, "and they shall be soamim on the bottom and together they shall be samim on top." The words toamim and tamim mean essentially the same thing. They are to be paired. As Rashi describes, the beams had to be flush with each other from the bottom to the top and were joined together with a ring on top. Why is a different word used for the bottom and the top?

 
When Rivkah gives birth to Yaakov and Eisav, the pasuk (
Bereishis 25:24) states "behold there were somim in her womb." Rashi notes that here the word tomim, which is missing an aleph, is used whereas when Tamar gives birth to Peretz and Zerach (Bereishis 38:27) the word te'omim (with an aleph) is used. The reason given is that Tamar's two children would both grow up to be righteous men whereas one of Rivkah's children would grow up to be an evil man. The word te'omim written in full denotes a greater similarity between the twins. When it is written missing an aleph, it denotes twins which are not so identical.

 
If one were to survey the beams of the mishkan on the bottom and the pegs that held them in place they would see a relatively uniform pattern as they went around. However, they might notice a slight change when they observe the tops of the beams. The rings that held the beams together on top rested in an indentation made in each beam. Joining the corner beams was a little more difficult. Rashi (26:24) describes the process which ultimately required the indentation to be in a different spot in that beam. The picture books on the mishan make this more clear. 
Here is an example. Perhaps this is why the word tamim is used to describe the pairing of the beams on top. The pairing did not appear uniform throughout. But for the pegs that held the beams in place on the bottom, the word toamim is used to denote their uniform appearance.

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Amudei HeChatzeir
Dikdukian: Venahapoch hu
Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

Friday, February 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishpatim

This coming Tuesday, 28 Shevat, marks the yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, R' Yitzchak Yeres, for whom our baby boy is named. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yitzchak Chaim ben Moshe Yosef.

Among the plethora of commandments in this week's parsha (53 to be exact), we are told (23:13) "You shall not mention the names of other gods, they shall not be heard on your mouth." This prohibition is expounded upon in the gemara (Sanhedrin 63b). It is forbidden to say to someone "wait for me beside such-and-such idol." The only exception to this prohibition, as explained in the gemara, is an avodah zarah that is mentioned in Tanach. Therefore, there is no prohibition against saying the name "Ba'al Pe'or," for example.

Hagahos Maimonios (to Rambam Hilchos Avodah Zarah 5:3) writes that this prohibition is also limited to a name used to honour the avodah zarah. But a common name of something or someone which was made into an avodah zarah is not subject to this prohibition. Thus, if a group of people started worshipping some guy named Joe, there would be no prohibition to refer to Joe. This nuance may be relevant to the possible prohibition against reciting the name of the one that most of the Modern World considers, mistakenly, to be the messiah. Hagahos Maimonios actually derives his ruling from the fact that the gemara freely refers to Yeshu. The common English name beginning with a J is possibly an Anglicized version thereof. However, some believe it to be an anglicized version of the word yeshuah, salvation, for obvious misguided reasons. Nevertheless, if this is a name used to refer to the person, it is possible that it would not fall under this category. The two-word name that is used to refer to him, JC, however, is certainly prohibited for the second word means messiah and this is certainly a name used in his honour.

What bothered me, however, is that it seems that many people, based on the aforementioned gemara, specifically abstain from using a church as landmark when giving directions. At first glance, this might seem to be the case discussed in the gemara. However, a more careful analysis of the gemara, and the pesukim involved, show that the prohibition is to say the actual name of an avodah zarah. The word "church," on its own, is not the name of an avodah zarah and the prohibition should not apply to this word. I heard, however, that Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, zt"l, concurred with this very point but added that it seems that Jews have customarily accepted upon themselves to be extra stringent in this matter and that is why they are careful to avoid using a church as a landmark.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup

Dikdukian: Tricky Vowels

Dikdukian: Answer vs. Torture
Dikdukian: Give it to me
Dikdukian: Ha'isha viladeha

Dikdukian: Jewish Milk

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com


Friday, February 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Yisro

In this week's parsha, Yisro advises Moshe that he could not possibly handle the entire nation's legal issues on his own. Rather, he should "discern from among the entire people, anshei chayil, God-fearing people, men of truth, people who despise money..."(18:21) However, when Moshe actually goes about choosing the men to take care of the lower-level cases, he chooses anshei chayil from among all Israel (18:25) The obvious question is, what happened to all those other traits that Yisro advised him to seek out?

 

When translating the pasuk above, I specifically left anshei chayil untranslated. There are varying opinions on the actual meaning of this term and they govern the various approaches to this question. First is the somewhat disheartening opinions of Rashi, Chizkuni and Siforno. Rashi in Devarim (1:15) writes that Yisro instructed Moshe to seek out seven traits and he was only able to find three. Chizkuni interprets anshei chayil as wealthy men. Of the traits recommended by Yisro, only the trait of wealth was one that could be recognized by one's peers. The other three were "traits of the heart" which one could not discern on the surface and therefore, Moshe was only able to be choosy about the anshei chayil. Siforno writes that Moshe could not find men who possessed all the characteristics recommended by Yisro. Therefore, he decided that the most important one was anshei chayil, well versed, deep, sharp men who are determined to get to the bottom of things and willing to fight for the truth. He reasoned that a God-fearing individual who does not possess this attribute is of inferior quality to a less God-fearing individual who does.

 

Ramban and Malbim offer more optimistic views. On pasuk 21, Ramban writes, and Malbim likewise, that anshei chayil simply means men who are fit to lead a large nation, for the word chayil is used to refer to large assembly. The term anshei chayil was used as a general term. The next three attributes were only a description of the three components of anshei chayil. Since anshei chayil was the general and the others the specific, pasuk 25 only refers to the general and we understand from that that all the necessary characteristics were included.

 

Netziv in Ha'amek Davar makes a very astute observation. Yisro's original suggestion was to find these traits among people from kol ha'am, the entire nation. The term, explains Netziv, refers to the masses and includes all. He was worried that because of the sheer number of judges that were necessary, Moshe wouldn't be able to choose only from the upper echelon of Torah scholars. So if he were considering everyone, he would have to be more discerning in who was chosen. However, the pasuk recounts that Moshe indeed chose all the men from B'nei Yisrael, a term that refers to the Torah scholars. Therefore, he could take for granted that these great men would be God-fearing men of truth who despise money for this is the way of the Torah. However, the trait of anshei chayil, which Netziv interprets as leaders who can guide the nation (like Ramban) is not necessarily found in all. Therefore, among the scholars, it was only this trait that he had to seek out but the rest were assumed.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Many Who Fear God
Dikdukian: Letzais
Dikdukian: Ram veNisa by Eliyahu Levin

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com