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Friday, February 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayakheil

This week's shtikle comes with very special Mazal Tov wishes to my sister Yocheved, her husband Moshe and the entire Shonek and Bulka clans on the birth of a little baby girl this past Sunday.
The baby was named .... drumroll .... Tzirel Nechama after my mother, ע"ה.
    In the beginning of parshas Vayakheil Moshe begins to instruct the nation on how they are to proceed with the building of the Mishkan. At the conclusion of Moshe's assembly, the pasuk recounts (35:20) that the congregation of B'nei Yisroel exited from the presence of Moshe Rabbeinu. R' Lopian, in Lev Eliyahu, comments that it would have been sufficient for the pasuk to say that B'nei Yisroel exited. We knew where they were. Why is it necessary for the pasuk to say that they exited from Moshe's presence?
    Imagine a street in a city that contained both a bar and a library. If you were to see a man walking crooked down the street, barely able to stand on his own two feet, explains R' Lopian, you need only take one look at him and you know exactly from which of the two he has just emerged. Likewise, the pasuk here is telling us that when B'nei Yisroel left Moshe's presence, they were fundamentally changed people. They were not simply B'nei Yisroel. They were a nation who had just left the presence of their great leader, Moshe Rabbeinu. Merely being in his midst left its mark on them.
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Pi in the Torah
Dikdukian: Ve'asa Vetzalel
AstroTorah: Night Light by R' Ari Storch

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

Friday, February 18

The Weekly Shtikle - Ki Sisa

   When Moshe returns to HaShem to begin his defence of B'nei Yisroel, he opens by stating (32:31) "The nation has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves a god of gold." Rashi, quoting the gemara (Berachos 32a, Yoma 86:) writes that Moshe's intention with this opening argument was, in fact, to place the blame on HaShem, so to speak, for having showered so much gold upon B'nei Yisroel. Rashi adds a parable that illustrates Moshe's argument. It is assumed that Moshe is referring to the loot that B'nei Yisroel were commanded to collect before leaving Egypt.

    My father once asked me that Rashi writes (15:22) that the spoils collected at Yam Suf when they Egyptian soldiers were washed onto the shore along with their horses and chariots was far greater than that which was collected before B'nei Yisroel left Egypt. If so, Moshe's point is no longer valid. HaShem may have commanded B'nei Yisroel to collect the gold from the Egyptians in Egypt. But they were never commanded to loot the soldiers after they were washed on the shore of Yam Suf. How, then, can Moshe claim that HaShem was solely responsible for their wealth?

    I believe the answer lies in the GR"A's understanding of the two episodes which I will summarize briefly. The gemara (Berachos 9a) relates that HaShem asked in the form of a request that B'nei Yisroel collect the silver and gold from the Egyptians. This was done in order to appease Avraham Avinu, so that he does not claim that the promise that his descendants would be subjugated was kept but the promise that they leave with a large bounty was not.

    The GR"A asks that if this was in fact the proper fulfilment of the promise to Avraham, why was it done to "appease" him so that he does not raise a complaint? Avraham Avinu's reaction should not be the issue. It should be a matter of whether or not it is time to fulfill the promise. He answers that in truth, the exodus from Egypt was only ultimately complete at Yam Suf where the Egyptians truly got their deserved punishment for subjugating B'nei Yisroel. It was only then that HaShem's promise to Avraham that his descendants shall leave with a great bounty needed to be fulfilled. However, in case Avraham mistakenly viewed the leaving of Egypt as the ultimate redemption, HaShem had B'nei Yisroel collect a great bounty there before leaving to avoid any possible objections from Avraham.

    According to this, although B'nei Yisroel were never commanded to collect the adornments from the horses of the Egyptians at Yam Suf, this too was part the fulfilment of the promise that HaShem made to Avraham Avinu 400 years prior. Therefore, Moshe Rabbeinu's defence was still valid.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Kol Anos
Dikdukian: Yeiaseh vs.Taaseh by Ephraim Stulberg
AstroTorah: Starbooks by R' Ari Storch

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

Friday, February 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Tetzaveh update: Dikdukian is now featured in Baltimore Jewish Life as well!

Much of this week's parsha deals with the vestments that the Kohein Gadol and regular Kohein wore when they performed the service. Although their wardrobe seems to be discussed in its entirety, there is no mention of any tzitzis. It isn't completely clear which of the vestments actually had four corners. According to the Rambam, it seems that at least the me'il, worn by the Kohein Gadol, had four corners. Why then is there no mention of the Kohein Gadol putting tzitzis on the me'il?

The gemara (Erchin 3b) mentions a number of mitzvos that apply equally to Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisraeilim and discusses them in depth. One such mitzvah is tzitzis. The gemara, as it does in the other instances as well, questions that it is obvious that everyone is obligated in the mitzvah of tzitzis. Why would one even have thought that a Kohein or Levi would be excluded? The gemara answers based on the juxtaposition of the mitzvos of sha'ateneiz and tzitzis (Devarim 22). The vestments of the Kohanim are exempt from the prohibition of sha'atneiz, the combination of wool and linen as the linen belt is placed tightly over the woolen tunic. One might have thought that since they are exempt from sha'atneiz, they are exempt from tzitzis as well. The gemara, therefore, needs to confirm that they are not, for they are only exempt from sha'atneiz while they are performing the service in their garments but not otherwise. Beis Yitzchak comments on this gemara that it seems that nevertheless, since the Kohanim are, in fact, exempt from sha'atneiz while they are performing the service, they are also exempt from tzitzis while they are performing the service. This would explain why tzitzis were not placed on the me'il.

Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 99, Siman 4) discusses this issue and rejects the notion that the exemption from tzitzis has to do with being worn while performing the service. Rather, he contends that the reason why tzitzis were not placed on the me'il is because we are taught in the gemara (Chulin 136a) that there is only an obligation of tzitzis on a garment that belongs to you. A borrowed garment, for instance, is not obligated to have tzitzis. The vestments of the Kohein Gadol were "hekdeish," consecrated, and did not belong to the Kohein Gadol himself. Therefore, he was not obligated to put tzitzis on them.

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah! (Application to Adar I subject to discussion)

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Ner Tamid
Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah
AstroTorah: Was the Ner Maaravi a Planet? by R' Ari Storch

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

Friday, February 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

    After detailing the structure of each component of the Mishkan, the Torah explains their arrangement. When dealing with the placement of the Shulchan and the Menorah, the pasuk says (26:35) "And you shall place the Shulchan outside of the curtain and the Menorah opposite the Shulchan, on the southern side of the Mishkan. And the Shulchan shall be placed on the northern side." This pasuk could easily have been condensed to only mention the Shulchan once. Why was the placement of the Shulchan mentioned before and after the placement of the Menorah?

    The Menorah traditionally represents Torah and spirituality while the Shulchan represents wealth and sustenance. The Sifsei Kohein bases his explanation on the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:17) "Im ein kemach, ein Torah. Im ein Torah, ein kemach." Without flour (sustenance), there can be no Torah and without Torah, there is no flour. The Shulchan was brought into the Mishkon first and placed in front of the curtain as a reflection of the first phrase, that there can be no Torah without sustenance first. However, its position on the northern side was not fixed until after the Menorah was placed in its spot on the southern side, this to reflect the second phrase, that without Torah there is no sustenance.

    Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, explained the Sifsei Kohein based on the GR"A's explanation of the Mishnah. When the Mishnah tells us that without sustenance there can be no Torah, it means that we need sustenance in order to achieve Torah. However, when the Mishnah says that without Torah, there is no sustenance, it means without Torah as the ultimate goal, the sustenance is futile and purposeless. That is why although the Shulchan is brought into the Mishkan first, it is only placed in position after the Menorah is first placed in its position, to show that in the end, the Torah must be the central focus with the sustenance only a means to that end.

    Netziv in Hemek Davar also deals with this issue and offers an alternate explanation. The Shulchan has, in fact, a two-tiered symbolism. On one level, it represents sustenance and blessing in so much as is needed for everyday livelihood. This is represented by the Lechem HaPanim, the bread that was placed on the Shulchan. The structure itself, however, represents wealth and majesty. It is for this reason that it is placed in the north. In order to facilitate the efficient emersion in Torah, one needs only achieve the first level of sufficient sustenance. The next level of wealth and majesty can only reached through the merit of Torah. Therefore, the Shulchan is brought into the Mishkan first but is put in its place after the Menorah and that is why the pasuk must mention it twice.

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah! (Application to Adar I subject to discussion)

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Amudei HeChatzeir
Dikdukian: Venahapoch hu
Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav
Dikdukian: The Lord and the Rings

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