Parsha Shemini

April 22th, 2017

26th of Nisan 5777


And it was on the eighth day

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons” (Vayikra 9:1)

Rashi explains: It was the first of the month of Nissan, the very day on which the Mishkan was erected. Each day of the seven days of the investitures, Moshe erected the Mishkan [temporarily], and only on the eighth day it was erected permanently. It is puzzling why it was not erected permanently on the first day. Why did Moshe have to erect and dismantle the Mishkan each day, and only on the eighth day was it erected permanently?

In order to understand this, we first have to explain the previous pasuk, which discusses the erection of the Mishkan (Shemot 31:4), “To do master weaving [lit. contemplate], to work with gold, with silver, and with copper.” This seems perplexing; what is new here that required contemplation of what to do with the gold, silver, and copper? I would like to suggest, that since the Mishkan alludes to a person himself; a lot of thought and deep contemplation must be invested in order to erect one’s personal Mishkan Hashem within him. One cannot acquire Torah in the same way that one acquires material possessions, since material possessions do not require much contemplation whether to purchase them or not. However, in order to establish the spiritual foundation of a person, it is not enough to just flippantly decide what to do, but one must invest deep thought and weigh things carefully how to proceed advancing spiritually and how to enhance his spiritual achievements. It requires much contemplation and thought to examine if one’s path is truly worthy in Hashem’s Eyes, or perhaps his Torah study is merely lip service and not desirable to Hashem, chalila. Therefore, the Torah specifies, “to contemplate,” since one must delve deeper and deeper in thought, constantly evaluating what more he can do to improve the Mishkan of Hashem within him.

It is stated in the pasuk (Shemot 36:7), “And the work was sufficient for them for all the work, to do it and to leave over.” The Ben Ish Chai asks a question since there seems to be a contradiction here. If Bnei Yisrael donated “sufficient” material, then there would not be any “left over.” And if they brought more than enough, then it should not state “sufficient.” The Rabbi, zy”a answers that really Bnei Yisrael donated “sufficient” material, but they made sure that the material they brought was superior quality. They added to the quality of their donations and gave it with extra grace, as in the example of a diamond whose value goes up when it is embedded in an expensive gold ring, because then it’s beauty is enhanced and more obvious. So too, Am Yisrael brought sufficient donations, but they added grace in a spiritual sense by giving their donations with holy and pure intentions, and their entire purpose was for the sake of Heaven, in order to glorify Hashem, and not for their personal objectives. These altruistic intentions were considered “more” or in addition to the physical contributions, since their intentions added spiritual beauty to the Mishkan, and was greatly treasured by Hashem.

When the work of the Mishkan was completed, the Midrash says that there were people who suspected Moshe and spoke condemningly, accusing him of taking some of the money for himself from their donations to the Mishkan. Moshe said to them: Come and I will give an accounting to you, as it is stated (Shemot 38:21), “These are the numbers of the Mishkan.” Bnei Yisrael sat with him as he made the calculations. But, he forgot about one thousand seven hundred and seventy shekels, which he used to make hooks for the pillars. He sat and wondered, until Hashem enlightened him and he realized that they were used for the hooks for the pillars. Immediately he said to them, “And out of the one thousand seven hundred and seventy five [shekels] he made hooks for the pillars.” At that time, Bnei Yisrael were reconciled about the building of the Mishkan. These are the words of the Midrash.

Those who suspected Moshe, their thoughts were warped and stemmed from a lack of yirat Shamayim. Therefore, they dared to suspect Moshe for taking money for himself, but Moshe Rabbeinu, a”h, had only pure intentions, and he sat and gave them a detailed calculation, as it is stated “These are the numbers of the Mishkan.” Surely he also gave an accounting of the work of Betzalel and Ahaliav to ensure that the work of the Mishkan was done with pure and holy intentions. Through the power of thought, Moshe was able to refine the entire work of the Mishkan and distinguish it from every shred of thought that was not pure, since this was the ways of Moshe at all times – “to contemplate,” and he did not take any step without giving an accounting to himself and to others for every action. Therefore, Hashem was with him in all his ways and succeeded all his endeavors.   

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “David again gathered” (Shmuel II 6:1)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah tells of the death of Uzza stemming from his close interaction with the Ark, which is similar to the parashah, which discusses the death of Nadav and Avihu when they drew near before Hashem.

Words of Our Sages

The best advice is found by our Sages

Let us learn from the pasuk: "And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Vayikra 9:1)

The word “zekainim” alludes to elders who “acquired wisdom,” as it is stated about Avraham Avinu, a”h, “V’Avraham zakain – And Abraham was an elder,” and likewise it is stated about Yitzchak Avinu, a”h, “Vayehi ki zakain Yitzchak – It came to pass when Isaac was an elder,” and Chazal say “Zakain veyoshaiv bayeshiva – Elder engaged in Torah study,” for Rabbi Chama bar Chanina said: Our ancestors were never left without the scholars’ council. In Egypt they had the scholars’ council, as it is said: Go and gather the elders of Israel together; in the Wilderness they had the scholars’ council, as it is said: Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel (Yoma 28b).

Chazal state in the Midrash Rabbah (11:8):

“Rabbi Akiva said that Bnei Yisrael is compared to a bird. Just as the bird cannot fly without wings, so too Yisrael cannot do anything without their elders.”

It is not for nothing that our Sages say, “One who takes advice from the elders does not fail.”

It once happened that a crook swindled a considerable number of grooms and brides by persuading them to invest their money that they had received for the dowry with him in exchange for large profits.

In the end, the crook caused them great misery when it became clear that he spirited all their money away and the investors would never see their money again – not even one penny.

An exception was one of the students of the “Porat Yosef” yeshiva who was also approached by the crook, persuading him to invest his money with him. He sought the advice of the elderly Rabbi Yehudah Tzadka, zt”l, who told him: “My heart tells me that you should not do so…”

The student listened to the advice of his Rabbi and saved himself from a great loss. People were astonished why the Rabbi was advising him to abstain from such a “profitable” investment.

When Rabbi Tzadka was asked about this, he answered with characteristic simplicity: The excessive profits that the crook offered seemed suspicious.”

Guard Your Tongue

Do Not Believe It

If one already heard the slander and believed what he heard, whether it was an issue between man and Hashem or between man and his fellow, he can correct this transgression by eradicating the words from his heart by not believing them.

He should also resolve never to believe slander about any Jew, and he should confess his sin, and in this way he will correct transgressing negative and positive commandments, which he committed by believing the slander.

Walking in Their Ways

Torah Towers Above All Else

The famous Eiffel Tower, standing tall in Paris, draws thousands of tourists daily. They are intrigued by its unique architecture and find pleasure in climbing to its top and surveying the city.

I once asked someone who lives directly opposite this tower, “How do you feel upon awakening each morning to see this massive, impressive structure?”

L’havdil, I asked a man who lives directly across from the Beit Hakeneset how he feels upon arising each day to see it.

The man who faces the Eiffel Tower said the sight fills him with pride in his nation. It is a constant reminder of Napoleon, the great warrior, who represents the victory of French culture.

The Jew who lives across from a Beit Hakeneset stated that his proximity to such a holy place obligates him to be a better person, to wake up on time for tefillah on Shabbat as well as during the week, to pray with concentration, and never to miss a prayer.

These diversely different responses set me thinking. The name Eiffel Tower, named for its architect, Mr. Eiffel ((אייפל, is too similar to אופל (to be darkened) to go unnoticed. It is this darkness, overshadowing the great Eiffel Tower, which obscures one’s vision. The Eiffel Tower impresses mankind with its amazing infrastructure, but eventually allows children to assimilate among the gentiles, rachmana litzlan.

Conversely, a place of Torah and tefillah protects one’s spirituality and brings him closer to Hashem.

The most beautiful scenery one can have outside his window is a landscape of Torah. Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma said in Avot (6:9), “Even if you give me all of the gold and silver and precious jewels in the world, I will live only in a place of Torah.”

Chazak U’Baruch

The month of Nissan, the month of Redemption, is the month in which Bnei Yisrael were informed about their redemption from Egypt. It is stated in Sifrei Chassidut that the month of Nissan has a lasting effect for every Jewish person, enabling him to emerge from his private exile; to leave the “Egyptians” who are harassing him spiritually and physically.

Regarding the pasuk “This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year” (Shemot 12:2), a wonderful insight is presented in the sefer “Torat Emet” (Parashat HaChodesh 631): “Rishon hu lachem – it shall be the first” – the last letters of these words spell Amen. The lasting effect of the blessings of the month of Nissan, which is the first of the months of the year, is conditioned on the fact that Bnei Yisrael would answer Amen to it, meaning that they would anticipate it.

Similarly it is brought in the sefer “Divrei HaTalmud” regarding the pasuk in Zechariah “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, behold! I will come and dwell in your midst, says (נאם) the L-rd” (Zechariah 2:14). The word “נאם – says” has the same letters as Amen. This implies that in the merit of answering Amen, the redemption will come.

While discussing allusions regarding the importance of answering Amen each day, we present the following:

“The L-rd said to Moses, “Pharaoh's heart is heavy; he has refused (מאן) to let the people out.” The word refused (מאן) has the letters Amen. This implies that we do not merit redemption since we are not careful about answering Amen. The sefer “Derech Moshe” (for Day 1) states that the redemption is prolonged because we are not careful about answering Amen; after the blessing “Who restores His Presence to Zion,” because people are hurrying to say Modim of the Rabbis following it, and after the blessing “Who spreads the shelter of peace upon us… and upon Jerusalem” which is said on the eve of Shabbat, since people begin saying “veshamru” immediately following it. (Yoshia Zion)

Miracles and Segulot

In the order of the Hebrew alphabet, the letters following א, מ, ן (Amen) are ב, נ, ס (miraculously). This is a wonderful allusion, as the Maggid of Kuzhnitz says that after answering Amen, it brings miracles. (“Ner Yisrael” Kavanat Chanuka).

The gaon Rabbi Avraham Kessler, zt”l, explains (“Az Yashir Moshe”): There is an allusion in the pasuk “Ana Hashem malta nafshi – Please, O Lord, save my soul!” (Tehillim 116:4). The initials of the words “Ana Malta Nafshi – Please, O Lord, save my soul!” is Amen. This implies that in the merit of answering Amen, one is saved from all troubles.


“Amen” spells the initials of the words “ani moser nefesh – I am sacrificing myself.” A person must sacrifice himself to answer Amen (“Derech Moshe” Day 11). In the sefer “Notrei Amen” it states that also giving up sleep in order to go to pray on time in the morning with a congregation and meriting to answer Amen is considered self-sacrifice.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto


“And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Vayikra 9:1)

Chazal say that it was the eighth day of the investitures. That day he received ten crowns and on that day the Shechinah descended upon the services of Aharon. During all the seven days of investitures, Moshe served in white garments as a Kohen Gadol, and from the eighth day onwards, Aharon came and served in the garments of the Kohen Gadol, and there was blissful elation before Him Above, as on the day that the heavens and earth were created.

We need to clarify, if there was such great elation on that day, why does the pasuk begin with the word “vayehie,” which denotes sorrow. I found the commentaries explain that Moshe Rabbeinu experienced great sorrow on that day, because Hashem commanded him to transfer the priesthood to Aharon his brother. The Midrash states (Yalkut Shimoni 9): Rabbi Chilbo said that during all the seven days of investitures, Moshe served as a Kohen Gadol, thinking that this was his position, and on the seventh day Hashem told him: it is not yours, but it is Aharon’s. This is the Midrash. Because of Moshe’s great sorrow, it is stated “vayehie,” denoting sorrow, but we still need to clarify whether it is relevant to say about Moshe Rabbeinu that he was envious, chalila, of Aharon’s leadership, and for this he was distressed. Had Moshe ever sought for himself greatness, or any position? Of course not! Then why was he distressed about passing the position of the Kohen Gadol to Aharon?

It seems to me that certainly Moshe Rabbeinu did not seek a position of leadership or greatness for himself. After all, Hashem testifies about him (Bamidbar 12:3), “Now this man Moses was exceedingly humble, more so than any person.” Moreover, Chazal relate that Moshe told Aharon in front of all the elders: My brother! Hashem commanded me to appoint you as a Kohen Gadol. Aharon said to him: since you worked so hard on the Mishkan, it is fair that you should serve as the Kohen Gadol and not I. Moshe said: This is the commandment of Hashem, and you should know that I am happy and joyful as if I was the one appointed. Just as you rejoiced for me in my greatness at the time when Hashem sent me to go before Pharaoh, as it is stated, “When he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart,” so, too, I am glad in your greatness.

Thus we see that Moshe loved Aharon greatly and rejoiced in his happiness at being appointed as a Kohen Gadol. But, yet, he felt great sorrow because he knew that the service in the Mishkan elevates and raises a person to great spiritual heights, and he ascends greatly in his fear of Heaven, for in seeing the Kohanim at their assigned service and the Levi’im in their platform and Yisrael at their station, one becomes permeated with sanctity and purity and then he ascends in his fear of Heaven. This is what Moshe experienced during the seven days of investiture, how his spiritual status was rising to great heights because of the services that he dealt with in the Mikdash. And from now on, he would be unable to continue, following the command of Hashem to halt his services in the Mishkan and transfer it to his brother. Moshe understood that from this moment on his spiritual ascent would cease, and therefore he was distressed; hence it is stated “vayehie,” which denotes sorrow.   

Food For Thought

 “And it was on the eighth day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Vayikra 9:1)

Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin asked, Chazal stated that wherever it is written “And it was” (Vayehie in Hebrew) it is an expression of sorrow. What sorrow was there on the day of the erection of the Mishkan?

The Admor of Vizhnitz, the author of the work “Imrei Chaim”, resolves the expression of sorrow homiletically; the verse is alluding to the seven days of the week. The holy nation of Israel has seven days of the week; one becomes in the course of the week contaminated with the filth of materialism and sin. The layers of dirt accumulate from day to day; the dirt of Friday is not the same as that of Sunday, but what?

At the end of the week comes the seventh day – The Sabbath. On Shabbat a person cleanses and purifies himself from all the material dirt: he is transformed into a new essence, and begins henceforth a clean slate.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow isn’t the eighth day, tomorrow is the first day.

However when one does not purify himself, then the Sabbath passes by him without leaving any impression whatsoever; the previous layers of dust and filth remain and become added to horrendously; then Sunday is the eighth day, a continuation of the previous week.

Concerning such a situation it is indeed fitting to express in sorrow “And it was on the eighth day.”

Men of Faith

Rabbi Yaakov Ben Shabbat, the student of Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hagadol was called by this name because of an amazing experience he had.

It is told that Rabbi Yaakov once traveled in a convoy of donkeys with a group of Jews. When Erev Shabbat arrived, Rabbi Yaakov turned to the people in his group and informed them, “Soon Shabbat will commence, and we will not be permitted to continue riding. Therefore, we must rest here in the woods until Motza’ei Shabbat. Afterward, we will be able to continue on our journey, with the help of G-d.”

The members of the group opposed his suggestion. It did not seem to be a viable option at all. “The area is very dangerous,” they said. “There are many wild animals roaming around. We must continue traveling.”

Rabbi Yaakov’s pleas to halt fell on deaf ears. In the end, the convoy continued their journey and left him stranded and alone in the vast forest.

Rabbi Yaakov, who possessed strong faith in Hashem, began to prepare for Shabbat Kodesh. He placed a few stones around himself in a circle for protection. Then, he tied his donkey to a tree, lit candles in honor of Shabbat, and began to pray.

Suddenly, he saw an enormous lion in front of him, with its mouth wide open. (Two hundred years ago, lions were found in the plains of Morocco). Rabbi Yaakov was terrified and raised his hands to the heavens, begging Hashem to save him.

As he was praying, an old man appeared before him, and told him, “Do not fear, and do not panic!”

Thus, he calmed down and began to conduct his Shabbat feast with serenity. The entire time, the lion stood guard near the circle of stones, protecting him from other wild animals.

On Motza’ei Shabbat, Rabbi Yaakov saddled his donkey and prepared to continue on his journey. However, the lion approached him and lowered its head as if suggesting to Rabbi Yaakov, “Climb on my back and ride me.”

Rabbi Yaakov climbed up and placed all his belongs on the lion. Then, it galloped away. Within a few minutes he found himself back in the city, far away from the forest.

His acquaintances were startled to see Rabbi Yaakov. They accused him of desecrating Shabbat, because he had returned to the city so soon after the termination of Shabbat. However, Rabbi Yaakov told them of his extraordinary experience, recounting what had transpired from the moment that he had parted from the convoy until he had reached the city, riding on the back of a lion.

The amazing story quickly turned into the talk of the town. Everyone believed its authenticity. It was reinforced when the remains of the members of the convoy that had deserted Rabbi Yaakov were found in the forest. Unfortunately, all the people who had continued on their journey on Shabbat had been attacked by a herd of lions. Only Rabbi Yaakov had survived.

From that day on, people began to call him Rabbi Yaakov Ben Shabbat, in memory of the miracle that was done to him in the merit of Shabbat. Ultimately, Shabbat Kodesh protected him from all harm. So too, will Hashem perform miracles and wonders for all those who observe the Shabbat (Shevach Chaim).


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