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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל... ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרן אחיך... ונשא אהרן את משפט בני ישראל על לבו

Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael… bring near to yourself Aharon your brother… and Aharon shall bear the judgment of Bnei Yisrael on his heart. (27:20; 28:1,30)

In his commentary to the beginning of this parshah, the Baal HaTurim notes that this parshah is the only one since Moshe Rabbeinu’s birth in which his name is not mentioned. He attributes this to Moshe’s declaration (following the sin of the Golden Calf) to Hashem, “If You will not forgive the people in their indiscretion, then Micheini na miSifrecha, “Erase me (my name) from Your Book.” The power of Moshe’s demand that his name be removed from the Torah was so strong that, regardless of the stipulation, his words had an indelible impact: his name was omitted from one…

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור להעלת נר תמיד

Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael that they shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed, for illumination, to kindle a lamp continually. (27:20)

Two people of similar backgrounds attended the same schools and were mentored by the same rebbeim. Nonetheless, the level of fear of Heaven of one is far stronger and more committed than the other. One is more meticulous concerning his mitzvah observance than the other. How did this happen? In a powerful and enlightening essay, Horav Shlomo Wolbe, zl, sheds light on this disparity. He begins with a simple analogy to a clothing purchase. While most of us purchase our suits off the rack, those who can afford it – and who are fastidious about fit and appearance –custom-tailor their…

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ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרן אחיך

Now you bring near to yourself Aharon your brother. (28:1)

Chazal (Shemos Rabbah, Tetzaveh 37:4) teach that Moshe Rabbeinu was not overjoyed that Hashem endowed the Kehunah, priesthood, to Aharon and his descendants. It is not that Moshe begrudged Aharon. On the contrary, he was happy that his older brother was granted such an exalted mission. He just wanted to serve Hashem in every possible manner. Hashem assuaged Moshe’s feelings. He said, “I had the Torah, which I gave to you (to give to Klal Yisrael). If not for the Torah, I would have lost My world.” Hashem told Moshe that the Torah was His most precious possession, because of…

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ואתה תדבר אל כל חכמי לב אשר מלאתיו רוח חכמה ועשו את בגדי אהרן לקדשו לכהנו לי

And you shall speak to every wise-hearted person whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, and they shall make the vestments of Aharon, to sanctify him to minister to Me. (28:3)

The Torah refers to the craftsmen who fashioned the various vessels used in the Mishkan and the priestly vestments which the Kohanim were enjoined to wear when performing the avodah, service, as chachmei lev, wise-hearted people. The pasuk states that Hashem filled these men with chochmah, wisdom. Why was it necessary for these men to be invested with Heavenly wisdom? Ramban explains that the Bigdei Kehunah, priestly vestments, require that its manufacture be lishmah, for its purpose, and it is possible that it even required kavanah, intent, as well. In order that they understand what they are doing, Hashem infused…

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ונתת אל חשן המשפט את האורים ואת התמים והיו על לב אהרן

You shall place the Urim and the Tumim into the Choshen HaMishpat, so that they will be over Aharon’s heart. (28:30)

When Hashem revealed Himself to Moshe Rabbeinu in the burning bush, instructing him to go to Egypt and serve as the medium for redeeming the Jewish People – Moshe did not respond with an outright “no.” Rather, he said, “Send whom You are accustomed to send” – Aharon HaKohen. Moshe feared overshadowing Aharon, his older brother, who had until now been the preeminent leader of the Jewish People. He refused to dethrone him out of his overwhelming sensitivity for his brother’s feelings. It was only after Hashem told Moshe that Aharon was on his way to greet him and V’ra’acha…

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וצפית אותו זהב טהור מבית ומבחוץ תצפנו

You shall cover it with pure gold, from within and from without shall you cover it. (25:11)

Chazal (Yoma 72b) derive from here that a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, should be consistent; in other words, his inner character must correspond with his public demeanor: Tocho k’baro; his internal rectitude should coincide with his outward conduct. The Torah does not brook hypocrisy. The Aron HaKodesh, which is the repository of the Torah scroll, symbolizes the crown of Torah. As it is covered with gold both within and without, it alludes to the requisite character of a Torah scholar. Horav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, relates a shailah, halachic query, that was posed to him by an individual who thought that…

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ונתת את הכפרת על הארן מלמעלה ואל הארן תתן את העדת

You shall place the lid on the Aron from above, and into the Aron you shall put the Testimony. (25:21)

Rashi notes that the Torah previously mentioned (Ibid. 25:16), “And you shall put into the Aron the Testimony.” He explains that it is teaching us that, while it is an Aron alone without the Kapores, lid, on it, he shall place the Eidus, Testimony (Torah) into it, and afterwards he should place the lid on it. Ramban argues, claiming that the pasuk indicates the sequence to be Kapores – then Eidus. Rashi clearly is of the opinion that when the Aron was brought into the Mishkan, the Eidus was already inside of it, and the Kapores was above. Once it…

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ועשית את הקרשים למשכן עצי שטים

You shall make the planks of the Mishkan of shittim (acacia) wood. (26:15)

Rashi comments that Yaakov Avinu anticipated the need for lumber for the building of the Mishkan. Aware that wood was not a commodity one found in the barren wilderness, he planted these trees in Egypt upon his arrival. He instructed his children that when they would eventually leave Egypt – at the end of their exile – they should take the wood with them. Horav Doniel Alter, Shlita (son of the Pinchas Menachem), adds that immediately upon his arrival in what was to be galus Mitzrayim, the Egyptian exile, Yaakov sought to imbue his children and all his future descendants…

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ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the judgments that you shall place before them. (21:1)

The previous parshah (Yisro) concluded with the laws of the Mizbayach, Altar. Rashi asks why the law of judicial cases are juxtaposed upon the laws of the Mizbayach. He explains this teaches that the Sanhedrin, supreme court, should have its place near to the Bais Hamikdash. [Commentators posit that the reference to the Mikdash, Temple, is an error. Rashi actually means Mizbayach. In any event, the message is clear: The Temple environs are where the Sanhedrin is to be placed. Mizbayach symbolizes sacrifice, which was a primary function of the Sanctuary.] The Mizbayach represents mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice. Horav Nosson Gestetner,…

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כי תקנה עבד עברי

If you buy a Jewish bondsman. (21:2)

The Torah begins Parashas Mishpatim presenting the many mitzvos that cover the gamut from social/welfare relationships to the appropriate manner of service to Hashem, including the laws of the eved Ivri, Jewish bondsman. One would think a number of other mitzvos would also serve as an appropriate opening to Parashas Mishpatim. The various commentators address this question by offering explanations for what seems to be an anomaly, but we know that no anomalies exist in the Torah. Everything is sorted out and presented by Heavenly design. Horav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, zl, comments that the very foundation of the laws concerning…

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