From the Orchards of Jerusalem,
reprinted with kind permission of:
by Daneal Weiner
opens with the zealousness of Pinchas which comes right after the end
of last weeks parsha which was…the zealousness of Pinchas?!? But before we get into that, I must preface this weeks vort with some preface-like words from Rav Wolfson.
Rav Wolfson wants it to be clear that Prince Zimri, whom Pinchas killed, was the very same Prince Shelumiel son of Tsurishadai who merited bringing a sacrifice at the inauguration of the Mishkan. To this day we do not say tachanun on the 5th of Nissan in celebration of his korban. His is certainly not a wicked man! Not even an average man. The point is that we can’t imagine the spiritual level that he was on nor the trials he had to endure. There is no question of what act was taking place, however, G-d forbid we should look at Zimri as just some womanizer.
Rav Wolfson speaks in the name of the Satmar Rav zt’l, Rav Yonatan Eibschitz zt’l, Rav Chaim Vital zt’l and other Torah giants, all who praise Shelumiel/Zimri. He actually had 4 names. Another is Shaul son of the Canaanitess. This means he was one of the 70 who went down to Egypt 250 years earlier! No, no average man. So we know what he did but we don’t know what he was doing. The aforementioned Rabbonim talk about it but, unfortunately, that’s beyond the scope of this paper. (Always wanted to say that.) Either that or I haven’t any of their sforim.
The same idea applies to all Israel of that generation. We know that they failed 10 tests but we won’t understand their actions until after the mashiach comes. I did get a hairs breadth worth of help from Rabbi Tatz who explains the word ‘midbar.’ The definition is desert. ie: sand, barren of life, dry heat. That’s fine for when we were 8 years old but what comes next? Every word in the Torah has 70 facets, even the word ‘midbar’. For kids over 8, Rabbi Tatz explains a ‘midbar’ is a place that is SPIRITUALLY barren of all holiness. There are no vacuums, so when the Kdusha isn’t there, you can bet your radon detector that tuma is. A midbar is a place devoid of all kedusha and filled with every type and force of tumah!
The clouds of glory weren’t just the worlds first sun block. They were like cells of healthy marrow transplanted into a cancerous environment. If we could barely pass a test of giving a begger a dollars with a smile, we are certainly in no position to cast aspersion on our ancestors tests in the ‘midbar’.
We will be talking about what Zimri did wrong but it has to be heard in context of who he was and where and when. With that in mind…
25:11 “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the priest…”
Rashi says this lineage was brought down because the people were taunting him saying, “The grandson of one who fattened pigs for worship had the gall to kill a prince of Israel?!?” Pinchas’ mother was a daughter of Yisro and Yisro was an idolater priest who had another name, Pituel, which means “fattens for god.” After Yisro heard about the Splitting of the Sea and the fight against Amaleik he converted to Judaism. His daughter (or granddaughter, according to some) gave birth to Pinchas!
Rav Shternbach explains that when it comes to newcomers to Judaism the general consensus is that they are religious fanatics. They always want to do those…mitzvah things. Not just what get’s learned through 8th grade. They take on extraneous stringencies. They pray like they’re talking to Someone. Just being plain Jewish isn’t good enough for them. Members of Israel were accusing Pinchas of hot headed zealousness he got from Yisro’s side of the family. Therefore the Torah comes to tells us that Pinchas is the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon! It was dad’s FFB (Frum From Birth) side that took action! A grandson of an ohaiv shalom v’rodaif shalom– a lover and chaser of peace, that was the trait of Pinchas which caused him to act! And we see, measure for measure Hashem rewarded him saying (25:10-12), “Pinchas…turned back My wrath…so I did not consume the Children of Israel in My vengeance…say [to Israel] I give him My covenant of peace.'”
The Chanukas HaTorah brings down an incredible medrish that says Hashem is giving Pinchas his eternal reward starting now! How could that be? Our Sages say there is no reward for mitsvos in this world because there CAN’T be. It’s a different currency. Our physical existence limits the soul. Our souls must experience the death of the body, part of the reparation process, before being able to receive true rewards. Granted, the more spirituality a person attains the less he is limited by the physical. Still, to start receiving actual mitsva reward, how is it possible?
There are an elite few who achieve such a state of spiritual perfection that even their physical bodies become spiritual! These people can go straight up to heaven and bypass the death process. The Gemorah lists nine such people (plus one honorable mention.) It would follow that this “by-passing” of death phase means these individuals are already connected to the eternity beyond death, even while alive in this world! Such a person is fit for the eternal rewards even in this world. The medrish Yalkut Shimoni tells us that Pinchas was Eliyahu HaNavi! Eliyahu HaNavi who did not die but road a fiery chariot up to heaven. If that’s who Pinchas was then he would be able to start collecting his rewards right now!
Rav Wolfson asks, how is his reward of peace measure for measure for the deed? We said above that Pinchas was a peace chaser and was rewarded with peace but what he DID was to kill Zimri and Cosby. How does the reward fit wit that action?
Psalm 106 says that it wasn’t the killing of Zimri and Cozbi that stopped the plague but that Pinchas prayed and the plague stopped. What plague? Moshe just told the judges to sentance anyone involved in idolatry. Next thing we know is an Israelite took an Midianitess and Pinchas stopped the plague!? Where did the plague come from?
Psalm 106:30 says, “Vaya’amod Pinchas vayifalel, vatayatsar hamagaifa.” ‘Vayifalel‘ is from tfila. Usually we see it ‘hispalel‘ which is the hispa’el verb form. It indicates an action for ones self. Shaving and showering are words in the hispa’el form. That’s why tfila is too. We are praying for ourselves. So does T’hilim use a simple verb form? Weren’t Pinchas’ prayers for himself as well for Klal Yisrael? Believe it or not, NO!
They ones dying in the plague were members of the tribe of Shimon who wanted to kill Pinchas for killing their Prince! That’s what and who the plague was about. It had nothing with Moshe and the sentencing of the idolators. And now we understand why Pinchas is ‘falel‘ing and not hispalel‘ing. Because he’s praying for people who want to kill him! The most selfless prayer in history. It’s for Pinchas’ selfless praying for the welfare of his fellow Jews at the expense of his own life that Hashem rewarded him, measure for measure, with eternal life.
Hashem gives Pinchas “brisi shalom“- My covenant of peace. Hashem indoctrinated Pinchas into the priesthood. If you look in the Torah, the letter vav in shalom is written broken. The break is a signal to say the vav shouldn’t be there. Shalom minus a vav is ‘shaleim‘- whole or complete. The Sha’arei Aharon brings the Gemorah Keddushin which uses this to learn out the law that a priest can not serve unless he is whole or complete (ie: not cripple nor any broken bones).
So why not leave the vav out all together? Many words are written chaser– missing the vav. The Sha’arei Aharon adds that although we know this letter should be a vav, what we HAVE is a yud with a dash of ink under it. The numeric equivalent for shin, lamed, YUD, mem is 380. Pinchas had 380 descendants serve in the Temples. Oh, they didn’t serve all together. There was a ‘break’ in the middle. 80 in the first Temple and 300 in the second.
25:14,15 “The name of the slain Israelite man who was slain with the Midianitess was Zimri son of Salu, Prince of Shimon. And the name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi, daughter of Tsur…” As we said above, we heard this at the end of last weeks Parsha. Not exactly, though. The first time, all we know is that its a Jewish man, a shiksa and a sin. Now we get names. But it reiterates the event, that he was slain WITH her. Clarification or repetition? Here is how the Arvei Nachal pieces together his explanation:
Anybody ever learn the Gemorah about the beating in the grave? The Gemorah says that an angel comes to us in the grave and asks, “Excuse me ol’ chap, could you tell me your name?” If the deceased was a wicked man then he won’t remember his name and the angel will start beating him. If he is a rasha– wicked then why doesn’t the angel just come down swinging? Why ask for a name? Why doesn’t the rasha know his own name? Are all angels British? All good questions.
Lets start with answering another question. What is in a name? Everything is. Our name is our DNA. Everyone on earth has a specific purpose to help perfect the world. Each has his/her job to do. So our name is our G-dly purpose. Our name is why we are alive! Going a step further, our name is also our umbilical cord to Heaven. Since we our here for His purpose, and since our name is that purpose, our name is also our pipeline for sustenance. The more mitsvos a person does, the more he fulfills his purpose, the bigger, wider, greater his cord to heaven. This makes one capable of receiving more Divine providence. But as one sins, the name/cord shrinks, shrivels, dries up. Pretty soon a letter drops off. Then another. Eventually, a rasha kills himself when he erases his own name. He has disconnected his own cord.
There is another Gemorah that says a rasha, even while approaching the gates of Gehenom, doesn’t do tshuva! Those who’ve spent a lifetime rationalizing and justifying their wickedness still can’t see the falsehood. It’s been ingrained even into their very souls. “What’d I do? It’s dog eat dog! Everyone does it! I got him before he got me! It’s just business!!!” The only way to impress upon these poor souls that they are wicked is to let them know they did themselves in. “Excuse me mate, could you tell me your name?” When they can’t, it makes the point. Also, now see that
some angels are from down under.
Another piece of the Arvei Nachal’s answer is to know that atonement from death has two parts. Judgment and mercy. How much judgment was enacted by the death and how much more will Hashem meifully let it atone for. A death sentence by the Beis Din– Jewish court (any sentence for that matter) is an atonement for the sin. Death at the hand of a zealot is equal to death at the hands of Beis Din. Jewish laws of zealousy are very specific. The relevant one is that the zealot has to strike at the very moment of the crime. A second early or late and the zealot is nothing but a murderer who could be sentenced to death himself. Now we have all the pieces of the Arvei Nachal’s answer.
In last weeks parsha, the enormity of the sin of Zimri, even though he lead a righteous life, made it his final sin. It left him and Cosbi nameless in Heaven and, likewise, nameless in the parsha. They were cut off. Their time was up! But they didn’t die ‘naturally’, accidentally or as victims of murder. Along came the zealot Pinchas and, as this weeks parsha points out, “…the slain Israelite man who was slain with the Midianitess…” Pinchas struck at the right moment. His act was zealousy and not murder. He was the hand of the Beis Din. “The name… was Zimri son of Salu, Prince of Shimon. And the name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi…” Along with their execution was a complete atonement for their sins! Their names are reinstated!
GRRRRRRRREAT dvar Torah!!! (The delivery wasn’t too bad either.)
27:17 (Moshe is praying to Hashem for a successor to lead Israel) “…who will go out before them and come in before them, who shall take them out and bring them in.” If the leader is already ‘out before them‘ then why the repetition of ‘taking out and bringing in‘?
The Gemorah Sanhedrin says that in the end of days the leaders of the generation will have the face of a dog. Rabbi Yisroel Salant explains: What happens when you walk a dog? He runs out in front of you to the length of the leash and periodically he will look back to make sure that HE is heading the right way. If he feels the rope tug and looks back and sees you turning he will quickly change direction and again run out in front. So who is doing the leading?
I once called my Jewish State Senator’s office to lodge a complaint. He was written up in an article as trying to do something not Torah sanctioned. The staff member I was speaking to told me that this isn’t the Senator’s official position. He is still waiting to see where public opinion is. I tried to explain that when a society drags itselfdown, I would want a leader who will stand on his own morals. The response was “that may be your opinion but the 10 other voters on your block may think differently.” How wise our Sages are. It wasn’t enough for Moshe to pray that his successor is out in front but that he is, in fact, doing the leading.
Which leads us right into a the end. Shabbat Shalom.
NOTE: These articles are available as a palm pilot e-book. click here for details.
By Daneal Weiner
Omer Tov! I just made that up and now that I think about it, it’s pretty ‘good’! But more about that later. This past Shabbos, while outside of Israel it was the 8th day of Pesach and a special portion of the Torah was read, pushing off the weekly portion, in Israel the weekly portion was read. This Shabbos, the weekly portion is returned to outside Israel while in Israel the following weekly portion is read which happens to a double parsha, two weeks worth lumped into one! I was deliberating whether to talk about the one for outside or the two for inside. It occurred to me, that since the overwhelming majority of cyberspace exists outside of Israel, most appropriate would be to discuss what would be relevant to the majority. Needless to say, I found a dvar Torah by Rav Wolfson who happens to talk about
Parshas Shmini – Tazria/Metsorah!
Due to my sins, I ended up reading some horrendous dribble passed off as a dvar Torah on Parshas Shmini in which the precious sons of Aaron were defamed and denigrated for the sin they committed. The truth of the Torah and Chazal, our Sages, shows us the human frailty in every one of our holy ancestors. Chazal ALSO teach us that if we are men, our ancestors were angels. If our ancestors were men, then we are animals. We can’t imagine what they were like. But we have to try. Unfortunately, this latter lesson is rarely learned and whenever the Torah does describe a sin of an ancestor, the most animalistic of our generation never miss the opportunity to portray our pious ancestors as soap-opera characters, r’l, in an attempt to vindicate their own vacuity which they undoubtedly consider a Torah lifestyle. (And I’ve calmed down now. You should have heard me when I read it.)
Thank the Almighty for the Rav Wolfson’s of the world! Without them we would be lost in our understanding of Torah and our ancestors, Chazal and their wisdom and what it means to be a Jew. Not only does the Rav discuss all three parshas but he also ties in and gives us a Torah perspective of the sin of Nadav and Avihu.
Rav Wolfson first brings the Magen Avraham from his laws of the Torah reading on Shabbos where he says we should be careful not to mix up the parshas. Not to read them out of order. He bases this on a Zohar which says that each parsha is specifically meant for it’s intended week. Rabbi Chanoch Henech wrote in his sefer “Chashvah L’tova” about a custom to read the upcoming parsha on the Motsai Shabbos, the Saturday night of the concluding week. He writes that since that parsha contains the kedushah- sanctity of that week, we read it at the soonest possible moment to begin to draw it’s influence into the world. He continues that a Shabbos on which two parshas are read, it brings twice the sanctity to the week!
As mentioned above, this week two parshas are being read in Israel while one is being read outside of Israel. We once discussed how Israel (Jerusalem and the Temple mount, more specifically) is the main switching station for all prayers which ascend to heaven. The opposite is also true. Israel is the center of the influence which comes into the world. The first satellite dish for worldwide reception. So the fact that a double parsha is being read in Israel effects the rest of the world and that is on top of the kedushah of the Parshas Shmini being read as well. In other words, in the ‘Diaspora Stadium’ it’s a triple header!
The Zohar also says that there are ‘Gan’ parshas in the Torah paralleling “‘Gan’ Eden”. ‘Gan’ which means ‘garden’ has the numeric value of 53. The lunar calendar does not have 53 weeks in the year so a few of the parshas are doubled up. Had the moon not sinned, as the Gemorah Chullin tells us, then it would not have been diminished and the lunar year would have been 365 days like the solar year and every week would have had it’s own parsha! (Granted, the solar year also does not have 53 weeks, (only 52) but the 53rd parshas is not read on Shabbos, rather on the holiday, Simchas Torah.)
For those not familiar with the aforementioned Gemorah in Chullin, a verse in Breishis (1:16) says that “G-d made 2 great luminaries; the big luminary to rule the day and the small luminary to rule the night and the stars.” The problem is that “2 great” doesn’t equal “the big” + “the small”!? So what happened? Rashi says that G-d originally created the sun and moon the same The moon came before the Creator and asked, “Can two kings wear the same crown? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, point point)” G-d responded, “You’re absolutely correct! YOU won’t wear it!”
The Torah is not a book of science even though science was created from it. It is a book of moral instruction. To know that a sun can go nova, super-nova, implode, explode, or upload email may be good for trivial pursuit but doesn’t make us better human beings. As Rabbi Berel Wein puts it, when we hear G-d’s attitude to the moon was “You have a problem with him? You want to change him? YOU change!” now all we have to do is wake up in the morning and walk outside and we have our lesson for the day! And one of the tougher lessons at that!
Chazal tell us at the core of the sin of the moon was jealousy. Both can’t wear one crown. What ‘A’ has isn’t important. What ‘B’ has is! This is like the commandment not to covet the neighbors wife, house, donkey, etc. Some say, “You see! To the Torah women are just like a house or donkey. Just property.” The truth is, the Torah is taking us into the mind of he who covets. He doesn’t see the other mans wife as the perfect wife, great mother and friend for life. HE craves her purely because she is with another. That being the basis of his feelings it’s no different than wanting the house or the donkey!
The next Rashi on the verse is regarding the ‘stars’ mentioned at the end. He brings from the Midrash that as an appeasement, the moon was given a host of stars subservient to it. Meaning, although the moon is smaller than any star, due to the proximity of the moon and the tremendous distance of the other stars our night light is overwhelmingly due to the presence of the moon. So the moon, because of sin, became small and the stars are to make it feel better! So too the Jews, because of sin, ended up outside of Israel and having to keep an extra day of holiday, and are given the appeasement of the doubling up of the parshas which bestows upon them twice and sometimes even three times the divine influence. Rav Wolfson notes that ‘star’ in Hebrew is ‘kochav’. ‘Ko’ has the value 26 and ‘chav’, the value 22. 26 is (the gematria of) Hashem and 22 are the letters in the aleph-beis. Just as the stars appeased the moon ‘ko”chav’, G-d’s letters, the Torah, appeases us.
This Shabbos (Shmini) there is the custom (by women who bake there own challahs) to poke or perforate a challah with a key. (I’ve also seen a key baked onto the surface of a challah. That is ‘seen’ in a kitchen, not seen in writing. I don’t know if it is sourced somewhere or had grown out of the former custom by women in a big hurry!) The sefer Ohev Yisrael explains that on Pesach all the heavenly gates were open but now they’ve closed. He adds in that Shabbos is one of the more precious commandments of Hashem and that the challah represents the Manna our forefathers ate in the desert, i.e., physical sustenance. What does all this mean? Although we anticipate the coming of the Mashiach every day, certainly the days of the redemption from Egypt have the greatest potential for his arrival. To our dismay, he has not yet come. As an appeasement, we combine the key and challah and this first Shabbos after Pesach, the Shabbos on which we welcome in the month of Iyar, when the Manna first fell from heaven, in the hope that we at least merit the resources to amply sustain ourselves, making ourselves available and capable to fulfill the will of Hashem. After all, it says in Devarim 28:12 and Tehillim 78:23,24 state, “[If you observe the commandments] Hashem shall open for you his storehouses of goodness…” “He had instructed the skies above and the doors of heaven He opened, and rained upon them the Manna to eat…”
Along these lines it is no coincidence that the week of Shmini also was the week of the “Bizas Hayam”, the collecting of all the precious gems from the chariots of the Egyptians on the shores of the Red Sea. Again showing this time appropriate for hope and prayer of sustenance. Rav Wolfson points out that “Shabbos seder Shmini”- Shabbos, the portion of Shmini = 1376 = “patach tiftach”- He should surely open (as in the doors of heaven and storehouses of goodness). May it be the will of Hashem! The Grand Rav of Korits said that extending Shabbos, taking time from the mundane and adding it onto the sanctity of Shabbos, also draws a blessing of sustenance. May it be the will of us!
We are in the Sfiras Haomer- counting the Omer. During this time the 24,000 students of Rebbe Akivah died. The Gemorah says their sin was not according each other appropriate honor. Rav Wolfson learned these 24,000 students were reincarnations of the 24,000 members of the tribe of Shimon who died in the plague which Pinchas’ act of Torah endorsed zealousness put an end to. Rather than recognizing the divine retribution and appreciating Pinchas for saving the rest of their tribe, the Shimonites wanted to kill him! This revealed a character flaw of this tribe. The students of Rebbe Akivah knew they were the reincarnations of those Shimonites and INTENTIONALLY did not act with honor to each other in order to break that character flaw! The Gemorah describes these students as living across the globe. So what? What does geographic location have to do with the moral of this story? The Gemorah’s is telling us that the students were not under the direct guidance and watchful eye of their Rabbi, mentor and teacher who could monitor their behavior, assuring it’s proper measure. These great students, with out their greater Rebbe, fell victim when their act of reparation crossed the line into the sin of disrespect.
The first Rashi in Shmini marks the time as Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the new moon and month of Nissan. Rashi says the Mishkan (Sanctuary) was erected and 10 crowns descended into the world. The first new moon had its crown removed and on this new moon it received 10. This was a time of divine reparation for the sin of the moon and it’s lack of respect for the sun. This heightened the sensitivity in the world against the sin. Hashem judges His most righteous, His most precious within a hair’s breadth of justice. During this month the students of Rebbe Akivah were judged. This time of the year is a very important time to work on this trait. But not like the students of Rebbe Akivah who worked on changing each other. Like the moon was taught, to work on changing ones selves.
It was on this same day, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, that Nadav and Avihu entered the Mishkan with their strange fire, as recorder in the Torah. They are recorded by Chazal to have said regarding Moshe and Aaron, “When will these two old men die that we may lead the people.” Chazal certainly seem to paint them lacking much repsect for Moshe and Aaron. But knowing that Nadav and Avihu were hand picked by G-d to be the priests, knowing that Moshe told Aaron his sons were greater than they themselves, knowing this parsha is juxtaposed to its haftorah in which Uzzah showed disrespect regarding the holy ark and it says, “The anger of G-d flared…and [He] struck him for the error,” vernacular we don’t see by Nadav and Avihu, knowing that the death of the righteous are an atonement for their generation and every Yom Kippur- Day of Atonement we read THIS episode of Nadav and Avihu because they atonement for EVERY generation(!!!!!!)- knowing all this- anyone with simplest common sense must say it CAN’T be that we are to think of Nadav and Avihu as unrefined as Chazal chose to describe them. So we must look for the real meaning.
Since Nadav and Avihu were on a higher spiritual plane then Moshe and Aaron and since Moshe was from the 49th level of Sanctity, that would make Nadav and Avihu from the 50th level which is where the potential of full world reparation exists. Also, the Zohar tells us Nadav and Avihu’s souls both entered into Pinchas, who was also Eliyahu the Prophet who went up to heaven alive, who did not need the atonement of death, who was chosen by G-d to herald the coming of the Mashiach, who is also connected to the 50th level of Sanctity. So Nadav and Avihu, who’s perspective of events was from this near perfect state, saw a very different way in which Bnei Yisrael could have been lead. A way they felt would have quickly brought the world to it’s perfected state. We need Chazal to exaggerate the flaw which was so subtle that they did not recognize it in themselves. Compounding the crime, again, was this time sensitive of this particular sin. Hashem judges His most righteous, His most precious within a hair’s breadth of justice.
The Torah also says about Nadav and Avihu, “each took his fire pan…” Chazal say this describes another shortcoming, that they acted individually, even while together. Had they discussed it with one another, played devil’s advocate to each other, they would have realized their slightly less than 100% pure intentions which would have stopped them immediately. When Moshe tells the two surviving brothers to enter the Mishkan to remove the bodies he commands them saying ‘kirvu’, from the root ‘karev’ which means ‘come close’. A strange verb to use. Moshe is warning them to be unified. The opposite of the sin.
Although they were not able to rectify this flaw in their life time, it was rectified by their death. And Nadav and Avihu soon entered into Pinchas with whom G-d then made a Bris Shalom- a covenant of peace! And, again, Pinchas was Eliyahu the Prophet about whom it is written, “He will return the hearts of the fathers upon the sons and the hearts of the sons upon the fathers.” Another indication of a time peace. Between father and son, between big and the small, between the sun and the moon.
And speaking of hearts, the plague attacking the students of Rebbe Akivah stopped on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. The 32 days prior are the gematria ‘lamed, veis’ which is ‘lev’ which means ‘heart’. 32 is also the numeric value of ‘Kavode’ which means ‘honor’! During this time period we have a custom of learning Pirkai Avos, Ethics of the Fathers. An excellent tool for working on improving ones character. And if we work at it these 32 days then we have a good chance for success the remaining 17 days of the count which is the numeric value of ‘Tov’- Good! Omer Tov!!! Our counting and our efforts of refinement eventually lead us to the 50th day, the symbol of the ultimate level of Sanctity!!! May we all get there this year!
For further support in our quest for perfection, Parshas Shmini tells us what foods are not kosher. Who ever coined the phrase, “You are what you eat” heard it here first! Refraining from non-kosher foods is refraining from spiritually clogged arteries. If any Jew on the road of return asks you what should be the first mitzvah to take on, the answer is keeping kosher. Clear arteries allows the blood, which carries the soul, to move freely about, elevating every cell of the individual, heightening their spiritual sensitivity and giving them a desire to do more to connect more to their Creator. On a deeper level, the four non-kosher animals listed symbolize the four nations which put us into exile. Just as we avoid these animals so too must we avoid the customs and ways of these nations.
Chazal say there are 600,000 Jewish souls corresponding to the 600,000 letters of the Torah. During this same time of atonement, of working on honor and unity, we find the letters of two and sometimes even three parshas come together, expressive of that unity between the souls of the Nation of Israel!
By the Ashkenazic Jews, the Rabbi gets the 3rd aliyah to the Torah because it’s the most honored aliyah. According to the Chassidim, the Rebbe gets the 6th aliyah because it’s the most honored aliyah. When we double up two parshas the 3rd aliyah called to the Torah falls on the 6th aliyah of the first parsha! It’s ‘kirvu’ every where you look!!! That word ‘kirvu’ has 2 cantillation marks over it! 2 on one word!! In Hebrew, the word for these notes is ‘ta’am.’ ‘Ta’am’ also means ‘reason’ as in the Gemorah, when asking for the reason between two differing opinions. Both reasons co-exist even on one word. Not only that, the Ba’al Koreh- the reader of the Torah sings the second cantillation first! How’s that for giving honor!
[Which aliyah is more honorable is a time/honored dispute. The Midrash says that when Moshe raised his hands asking the sea to split, the sea didn’t want to! He said, “I was created on the 3rd day and Man on the 6th! First in time, first in line! Why should I split for you?” Moshe said, “Creation was uphill! The later the better!” (shhh! don’t tell the women) Hashem made peace between them and HE split the sea. (shhhh! don’t tell the ashkenazim!)]
Have a wonderful, respectful, no-fighting-over-the-biggest-cholent-potatoe, time-honored Shabbot Shalom!
From the Orchards of Jerusalem is reprinted with kind permission of Daf Yomi Review.