Torah

Parashat Tetzaveh 5768

February 10, 2008

Parashat Tetzaveh 5768


Parashat Tetzaveh: Where are the Vessels of the Beit Ha-Mikdash (Temple) Today?

We do not know exactly where. Some say that they are in the Vatican, other say in other places, but the truth is that they are buried somewhere under the Temple Mount. King Shlomo dug tunnels under the Temple Mount, because he knew through his Divine Spirit that the Beit HaMikdash would be destroyed.

  • QUESTION: Isn’t it written that Nebuchadnezzar took everything (see Megillah 12a)?
  • ANSWER: The vessels which he took were replacement vessels. The original vessels are located under the Temple Mount.
  • QUESTION: Aren’t there vessels in England which are associated with the Temple?
  • ANSWER: Perhaps, but the real ones are under the Temple Mount.
  • QUESTION: The Menorah and the Table of the Show-Bread also?
  • ANSWER: Yes. As is known, Titus stole the Menorah. We see this in the Arch of Titus in Rome. The Jews of Rome have a custom to say Lamentations there on Tisha Be-Av. But those vessels are also replacements. There were ten Menorahs (Menachot 29a, 98b-99a) and many vessels. We do not know if he took the actual Menorah or a fake which was placed in the Beit Ha-Mikdash in order that he would think that he plundered the Temple. Even if he took the actual Menorah, there are nine others. Nonetheless there is no need to search for them today. When the time comes, everything will be found including the Ark of the Covenant and the jar of “man” (manna) as well.
  • QUESTION: Did anyone ever search for the vessels of the Beit Ha-Mikdash?
  • ANSWER: Many certainly searched, but they did not find them. There are different stories and fables.
  • QUESTION: What about those people who claim to have seen the Ark?
  • ANSWER: Anything is possible. Nevertheless, everything that they saw also disappeared. Do not worry, there are others. Incidentally, my daughter who studies art made a relief of the Arch of Titus. She brought to my attention the fact that the direction of those walking is not from Yehudah to Rome, but the opposite, from Rome to the direction of Israel, and this is true today. We are all returning home!
[Commentary to the Book of Esther, pp. 23-24]

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“Who wants to live?”

Would you like a magic potion to live a good, long life? Would you like to add ten years to your life, and increase your quality of life? It’s very simple! Just strengthen the marvelous machine that G-d gave us in His kindness – the body! Obviously, the main thing is the soul, but you need a healthy soul in a healthy body. Besides proper nutrition, one of the prerequisites to achieving health is physical activity. If you are a farmer or a physical laborer, then thank G-d, you are active all day. Otherwise, your body can deteriorate. As our great master, Rambam, writes: “Another major principle of health is this: As long as a person toils and greatly exerts himself… he won’t get sick, and he will get stronger… Yet whoever leads a sedentary life and doesn’t toil… will suffer pain and weakness all his life” (Hilchot De’ot 4:14-15). He further writes: “If someone treated himself the way he treats the beast on which he rides, he would be saved from many pernicious illnesses. This is because you’ll never see anyone over-feed his beast. Rather, he rations its intake so that it never unthinkingly overeats. People likewise make sure that their animal moves around and toils so that it remains healthy and never gets sick. Yet they don’t do the same for themselves. They pay no mind to physical exercise which is the most important element for maintaining good health and in pushing off most illnesses” (Rambam, Medical Writings, Zissman Montner Edition I, page 32).

See the circular of the Director General of the Health Ministry (29 Nissan, 5765) which calls for physical activity and enlists findings from the World Health Organization, stating that a lack of physical activity leads to mortality and illness: Heart attacks; cancer; diabetes; high blood pressure; obesity; etc. Physical activity also decreases stress and depression, prevents tiredness, increases work productivity, improves mental functioning and slows aging.

To summarize: Physical activity adds an average of ten years to one’s life.

It is written about Hezekiah, King of Yehudah, that he repented, and then G-d added fifteen years to his life (Melachin 2 20; see Yevamot 50a). You should repent as well. Obviously, repentance is a spiritual matter, yet there is also “natural, physical repentance”, as our master, Rav Kook, taught us regarding “sins against the laws of nature.” He writes, “All improper behavior leads to sickness and pain. Individuals and societies suffer greatly from this…in terms of their sins that destroy their bodies and sap their strength.” (Orot Ha-Teshuvah, Chapter 1).

So please! Engage seriously in your favorite physical activity: Aerobic activities that exercise the heart, blood and lungs; running; running in place; fast walking; swimming; bicycle riding; exercise; ball games; dance; etc… It’s important! It’s essential! Rabbi Eliezer Papo warns in his sefer “Pele Yoetz” about “self-love”. Are there people who do not love themselves? Unfortunately there are, due to the “insane spirit” that possesses them, making them “knowingly destroy themselves,” ruining their bodies. Therefore, “whoever has a brain in his head should consider well that a person should love himself, body and soul.” He should “love his body more than his wealth”, and he should “be benevolent to his body and show kindness to his spirit”.

Some say that one should devote between at least 15 minutes and a half hour to physical activity. Some say it should be twice a week, others say three times, or even daily. The more the better, be it an hour or more.

One might say: “It’s bittul Torah – Time that could be spent learning Torah!” Yet is sleeping not bittul Torah? Yet it’s essential, and this is too. Moreover, you’ll get that time back, with high interest, and years will be added to your life, as well as quality of life. You’ll better be able to withstand physical stress, numerous illnesses and psychological pressure. Furthermore, this is itself Torah. Surely Rambam classifies good practices as fulfillment of a mitzvah: “Follow in His pathways” (Devarim 28:9; see Hilchot De’ot 1:5). This includes preserving one’s health (ibid. 4:1).

Obviously, one must do only as much as one needs, and not exaggerate. We certainly are not talking about watching professional sports, which is a big waste of time. Rather, we are talking about the exercise people do themselves: Men and women, boys and girls, young and old.

You will certainly say, “But I am middle-aged…I am old…How can I start now?…Isn’t it dangerous?” Indeed, exaggerated activity is dangerous. One must ask his physician and acquire instructional brochures from a health expert. Certainly one must work gradually as well, moving from the easy to the hard, and slowly increase the difficulty. One must also drink water during the activity. One should also take advantage of every opportunity to work his body: One shouldn’t use an elevator but should climb stairs. One shouldn’t use transportation if one’s destination isn’t far. One should walk. Park far away, or get off the bus a stop early. You make the effort and G-d will send you a blessing. The Prophet Yeshayahu (Chapter 58) enumerates blessings. Of one of them, Rabbi Eliezer said, “This is the most supreme blessing.” He was referring to 58:11: “Hashem L-rd will make your bones strong” (Yevamot 102b).

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Parashat Tazria-Metzora 5767]

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Text Message Responsa
Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets “Ma’ayanei Ha-Yeshu’ah” and “Olam Ha-Katan.” Here’s a sample:

  • Q: I accidentally cooked a milchig food in a fleishig pan. What is the halacha?
  • A: If meat has not been cooked in the pan in the last twenty-four hours – the food is permissible and the pan must be kashered.
  • Q: Do I recite the blessing on seeing a rainbow each time I see a rainbow or only once a day?
    A: It is recited if this is a new rainbow to you.
  • Q: What is the role of the “extra soul” one receives on Shabbat? Do I receive the same soul each Shabbat?
  • A: It adds an exalted spirituality. Yes.
  • Q: What should I do with the dough I take for separating “challah”?
  • A: Put it in two bags and throw it in the garbage.

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Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi: Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

If only my children would be in the Land of Israel

A certain Rav explained the line in the Haggadah, “If we received the Torah, but did not enter the Land of Israel – it would have been enough,” that it would have been better for the non-religious pioneers to have remained outside of Israel rather than to commit sins in the Land of Israel. These words caused much consternation and when the students came to class, they told our Rabbi what they had heard. They thought he would discuss this issue at length, but he responded briefly: “See Yalkut Shimoni #1038” and taught the class as usual (The Yalkut Shimoni says: If only my children, my Nation, would be in the Land of Israel, even though they make it impure) (Iturei Cohanim #181).

Our Rabbi and honoring of the State – Part 1

“…Just as one who vilifies the Army of Israel is like one who vilifies the Armies of the Living God (Shmuel 1 17:26), so too one who vilifies the Kingship (the legal ruling authority) of Israel is like one who vilifies the Kingdom of Hashem. This honor may not be waived (Kiddushin 32b). According to the words of our Sages (Jerusalem Talmud, Yevamot chap. 16), even Aviyah, King of Yehudah, was punished by Hashem on account of his vilifying the Kingship in public – in the military campaign against Yerovam ben Navat, King of Israel. And Eliyahu the Prophet acted in an respectful manner – in the midst of his words of harsh rebuke – to Achav, King of Israel, and based on this our Sages established (Menachot 98a) the obligation for all people throughout the generations to act in this manner…” (Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 2, p. 238 [in the edition of Mei-Avnei Ha-Makom vol. 2, p. 562]).

“From the first verse of the haftorah (of Parashat Pinchas – Melachim 1 18:46), we learn the value of the Kingship of Israel and our relationship to it. ‘And the hand of Hashem was upon Eliyahu, so he girded his loins and ran before Achav until the approach of Yizre’el.’ Our Sages learned from here: ‘The fear of the Kingship should always be upon you’ (Zevachim 102a and Menachot 98a). It is known to us how strained was the relationship between Eliyahu the Prophet and Achav, to the extent that Achav referred to Eliyahu with the term ‘troublemaker of Israel’ (Melachim 1 18:17), and Eliyahu responded: ‘I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house’ (ibid. 18). Nonetheless, the hand of Hashem was on [Eliyahu] to take him to the King, and [Eliyahu] arranged his clothes and pants in a manner to enable him to run quickly before Achav. Achav was worse than Yerovam ben Navat. Ostensibly, Eliyahu should have purposefully disregarded a horrible and dreadful king like Achav and not come to him. From this, we learn a lesson for all generations regarding the respect due to the Kingship” (Sichot Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah – Bemidbar, p. 390).

Rabbi Yochanan learned from Eliyahu’s relationship with Achav, about whom it was said: “But there was none like Achav, who gave himself over to perform wickedness in the sight of Hashem, because Izevel, his wife, incited him” (Melachim 1 21:25), about the relationship to the Kingship: On the one hand is criticism, even extremely harsh, and on the other hand is granting honor. Our Rabbi acted this way. Our Rabbi spoke at great length about the issue of giving honor to the Kingship, but he did not refrain from sharply criticizing the Government at the required time, regardless of the political spectrum to which it belonged.

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Shut She’eilat Shlomo – Questions of Jewish Law: Dulling of the Heart, Olives and forgetting one’s learning

“Dulling of the heart”

  • Q: If someone eats food with kosher certification which turns out not to be kosher does he have a “dulling of the heart” (dulling of one’s spiritual sense which is often equated with eating non-kosher food)?
  • A: No. Our master, Rav Kook, writes in his book “Musar Avicha” (p. 19) that the dulling of one’s heart comes from one violating a prohibition (Yoma 39a). As a result, there is no difference between whether one eats non-kosher food or violates other prohibitions. Therefore, someone who eats food with kosher certification which turns out not to be kosher does not have a “dulling of the heart,” since his intention is not to violate a prohibition. He thinks that he is eating kosher food.

Olives and forgetting one’s learning

  • Q: I have heard that eating olives causes one to forget his learning. Is this true?
  • A: The Gemara in Horayot (13b) says that one who regularly eats olives will forget his learning.

a. The Rambam does not include this teaching in Hilchot De’ot (chapter 4) where he lists foods about which one should beware.

b. The Yavetz – Rav Yaakov Emdem, on the bottom of the page, has a slightly different version of the Gemara in which the word “regular” is understood to refer to the olives and that this teaching only applies to fresh olives, but there is no problem if the olives are pickled or cooked. The authorities listed below also mention this distinction.

c. The Magen Avraham (170:19) writes that if one eats olives with proper intention then one actually strengthens his memory. The Aruch Ha-Shulchan (ibid. #15) also quotes this view. What is this proper intention? Various authorities explain that one should have in mind these three Names of Hashem: El, Elohim and Metzapetz which have the same gematria (numerical value) as the word “zayit – olive” (417) (see Bnei Yissachar – Maamrei Kislev-Tevet ma’amar 4 and Sivan ma’amar 15; Ben Ish Chai in Ben Yehoyada at the end of Horayot and Kaf Ha-Chaim to Orach Chaim 157:27 and Yoreh Deah 116:168).

d. Based on the above sources, Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld in Shut Shalmat Chaim (vol. 1 #41) writes that there is no issue with olive oil.

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On Air

Every Tuesday and Thursday night Rav Aviner answers questions of Jewish Law and faith on the radio in Israel. On the Air presents a sample of these answers each week.

“May his name be blotted out” for a Jew

  • Q: I have heard that Ha-Rav said that it is forbidden to say “May his name be blotted out” for an evil Jew, even if he opposes the Nation and Land of Israel. Is this correct?
  • A: One must certainly fight against such ideas, but this does not mean that it is permissible to say “May his name and memory be blotted out.” I did not invent this, it is said in the name of the Sochachover Rebbe, the author of “Avnei Nezer.” The proof is quite simple. If a man dies childless, his wife must marry the brother of her deceased husband. This is called “Yibum.” The Torah says that the reason for “Yibum” is so that “his name is not erased from Israel” (Devarim 25:6). But what should I care if his (the evil Jew’s) name is erased? If I say “may his name and memory be blotted out,” what is the problem if his name is erased from Israel? There is no halachah, however, that there is no need to perform “Yibum” for a sinning Jew (Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha-Ezer 157:3). This therefore means that I must be concerned that his name not be erased from Israel. It is true that he is a sinner, but there is a solution: He can repent. This is based on what Beruriah said to Rabbi Meir in the Gemara in Berachot (10a). Rabbi Meir had evil neighbors who had caused him much distress, and he prayed that they should die. His wife said: “Doesn’t it say in Tehillim (104:35), ‘Let sins cease and let the wicked be no more.’ It does not say ‘Let sinner cease,’ but ‘Let sins cease.’ You should pray that they repent, not that they die.” In fact, he prayed for them to repent, and they did. Therefore, we should not say “may their names and memories be blotted out,” but we should pray for them to repent.

Moving a tree during the Shemittah year

  • Q: Is it permissible to move a tree from one place to another during the Shemittah year?
  • A: This is a big problem (since planting is forbidden), but some permit it if you move the tree together with the clump on dirt which sustains it, which is not so simple from a technical point of view. In the book “Hilchot Mitzvot Ha-Teluyot Ba-Aretz” (Laws of mitzvot dependent of the Land) of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Yosef with the rulings of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef, he permits this moving the tree in this fashion, since in truth one is not planting anything. The tree is already planted. What is the difference if the tree is planted here or there? One uproots the tree with the clump of dirt and it can live in the dirt. As a result, he is simply putting it somewhere else. This is a powerful explanation, but I am not sure if others agree. Therefore, if it is not a pressing situation, it is preferable to choose another year to do it.

Drinking from cups of the non-observant

  • Q: I work for non-religious Jews. Is it permissible for me to drink from their cups or do I have to refraining from drinking for eight hours until I return home?
  • A: There is a question whether the cups are kosher and whether they have been immersed in the mikveh. A person is sometimes invited by his parents or by relatives and he has to search for certain leniencies. These people, however, are not your relatives. I recommend that you do what I do. In order to drink during the broadcast, I have my own small bottle. I fill it and I do not need to worry at all.

Cutting down a tree on which a myriad of birds hang out

  • Q: Is it permissible to cut down a (non-fruit bearing) tree on which birds congregate and make a lot of noise and leave droppings?
  • A: It would even be permissible to cut down a fruit bearing tree if it causes damage. Therefore, it is certainly permissible to cut down a non-fruit bearing tree. We love trees very much and we also love birds very much, but we love people even more – as strange as we may be.

Yahrzeit for someone who died during twilight

  • Q: When is the yahrzeit for someone who died during twilight?
  • A: There are two issues: The memorial and reciting kaddish. The memorial is visiting the grave, having a meal or learning Torah. It is possible to perform these acts another day. If the yahrzeit fell on Shabbat, these acts would be on a different day regardless. The memorials are based on the convenience of the family, and they are not even obligatory. Regarding kaddish, there is no need to be strict and recite it on two days. It can be recited the day before or after. It does not matter, either option is good.

Cooking non-kosher food for a non-religious Jew

  • Q: Is it permissible to cook non-kosher food for a non-religious Jew if I am caring for him and he is unable to cook?
  • A: This is impossible. First of all, cooking meat and milk together is forbidden. It is forbidden to cook meat and milk even if one does not plan to eat it. It is forbidden to eat it, cook it and benefit from it. Secondly, even cooking other non-kosher foods is forbidden on account of the prohibition of “do not place a stumbling block before the blind,” since I am preparing non-kosher food for a Jew. Even if one claims that if I do not cook the food someone else will, it is still forbidden on account of “aiding someone who is transgressing.” It is therefore forbidden to cook non–kosher food. If the food is kosher, but the vessels are not, there is what to discuss, since we can argue that the vessels have not been used in the last twenty-four hours, which is a rabbinic prohibition, etc… There may therefore be something to discuss in this case, but cooking non-kosher food is certainly forbidden.

Nursery school teacher reciting blessings for the children

  • Q: Can a nursery school recite a blessing with the children even though she is not obligated to say the blessing?
  • A: It is permissible to recite Hashem’s Name in vain for the purpose of education, since if it is to educate, it is not in vain. A child at the age of two to four, however, has not yet reached the age of education. It is therefore difficult to recite Hashem’s Name in vain for nursery school aged children. What you should do is to obligate yourself in the same blessing as the children and recite the blessing at the same time as they recite the blessing. If they want to drink, you should drink. If they need to do “netilat yadayim” (ritually washing hands), you should do “netilat yadayim.” After all, part of education is that they see you reciting the blessings, and not just telling them to do so.

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Special thank you to Fred Casden for editing the Ateret Yerushalayim Parshah Sheet

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner is Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim. All material translated by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig. For more Torah: RavAviner@yahoogroups.com

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.