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Friday, April 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

 

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

The beginning of this week's parsha recounts the proceedings on the eighth day of the consecration of the mishkan. After preparing a series of korbanos, Aharon raises his hands, blesses the nation and then steps down from preparing the chatasolah and shelamim sacrifices (9:22). Rashi writes that the blessing that Aharon gave to the nation was the traditional birkas kohanim (Bemidbar 6:24-26).

Ba'al HaTurim offers a concise, yet interesting insight into the relevance of birkas kohanim to this specific occasion. Aharon HaKohein had just completed the preparation of three korbanos and the three blessings of birkas kohanim each correspond to one of the sacrifices. The first blessing, "Yevarechecha HaShem veyishmerecha," is the berachah of shemirah, watching over. We find the theme of watching over in connection with prevention of sin, as in the song of Chanah (Shemuel I 2:9) "Raglei chasidav yishmor," He guards the ways of the pious. This is traditionally interpreted as HaShem guarding the righteous from unintentional sin. This blessing, therefore, corresponds to the korban chatas, brought for inadvertent transgressions.

The second blessing is connected to the korban olah by means of the pasuk referring to the trek to Yerushalayim for the shalosh regalim, (Shemos 34:24) "Ba'alosecha leiraos," when you go up to be seen. The going up to Yerushalayim facilitates our "being seen" before HaShem. The olah, all of which goes up to the Heavens, warrants the second blessing that HaShem will illuminate His countenance towards us.

The final blessing of birkas kohanim, "veyaseim lecha shalom," is the bestowing of peace. The root of the word shelamim is shalom, peace, as Rashi (3:1) explains. The shelamim brings peace to the world and peace to all the parties involved in the korban because each one gets a portion. This establishes the most obvious connection of the three between the shelamim and the final blessing. Aharon invoked birkas kohanim not as an arbitrary series of blessings but one that was specifically related to the service he was performing.

Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Lehavdil

Al Pi Cheshbon: Omer Counting in Different Bases

 

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, April 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Shevi'i shel Pesach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

 

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

On the seventh day of Pesach, we commemorate the great miracles that HaShem performed at Yam Suf. Although the festival of Pesach in general seems more centered around the actual exodus which occurred six days prior, the splitting of the sea is the center of attention as Pesach draws to a close. As we relive this momentous time in our history, a few fundamental questions come to mind. How does keriyas Yam Suf fit into the grand scheme of yetzias Mitzrayim? Why was it necessary? Why couldn't B'nei Yisrael simply have left Mitzrayim, never to hear from those wretched Egyptians again?

 

One thing seems relatively certain: B'nei Yisrael did not need the Egyptian army to be decimated in order for their freedom to be complete. It would seem, therefore, that the main purpose of keriyas Yam Suf was not as much the saving of the Jews as it was the destruction of the Egyptians. And surely there is a lesson we must take from it as well.

 

To delve further into the matter, we need to rewind to the very beginning of sefer Shemos. Rashi (1:10) explains the strategy behind Paroah's master plan. He was aware that HaShem had sworn never to bring destruction through water again. By orchestrating his semi-genocide through water, Paroah believed he was handcuffing the Almighty, so to speak, into being unable to exact revenge. This is a very extreme level of blasphemy - perhaps even worse than the denial of HaShem's existence - the recognition of HaShem and the assertion of some degree of inferiority.

 

Perhaps the 10 plagues were a direct punishment for the enslavement and treatment of B'nei Yisrael. The crimes committed against man were accounted for. However, the crimes against God had heretofore gone unpunished. Keriyas Yam Suf and the subsequent demise of a significant contingent of the Egyptian nation therefore represents the Divine retribution meted out against the Egyptians coming full circle. At the same time, it teaches us a very valuable lesson. We are constantly given little hints as to HaShem's ways and how He runs the world. But we must realize that these are nothing more than hints and what lies beneath is a design far too complex for human understanding. We find a similar theme in the story of Purim  (see Megillah 11b regarding Belshatzar and Achashveirosh's erroneous calculations as to the supposed end of the Babylonian exile) and now we find it again in the story of Pesach. These lessons and ideas provide insight into how the events at Yam Suf fit into the story of yetzias Mitzrayim and as well, our observance of the chag of Pesach.

 

Have a good Shabbos and chag samei'ach.

 

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Omer Counting in Different Bases

Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy!


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