Parshas Shemini:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon

Parshas Shemini:

Pasuk: (11:33)

"Any earthenware utensil into whose interior one of them will fall, everything in it shall become contaminated."

Earthenware vessel:


Earthenware vessels are unique in three respects.

These vessels only become contaminated through their interior, if Tumah (impurity) touches the outside of these vessels, they are not contaminated.

The vessels become contaminated even if the Tumah does not touch the inside walls, rather it just enters the interior air space of the vessel.

Finally, an earthenware vessel that becomes impure, cannot be purified through immersion in a Mikvah.

When impurity touches the outside of an earthenware vessel, it does not become Tamei because the outside of the vessel has no value in and of its self. The vessel's value is only valuable as a vessel which is made to contain objects within it. Thus its value is only in the ability that it can hold something else in its self.

However, when dealing with a metal vessel, which in and of its self does have a value, it becomes Tamei even when an impurity touches the outside walls of the vessel.

The Rebbi from Kotz said, "Man is like an earthenware vessel, his worth lies not in the outer vessel, but in the human qualities developed within.

And just like an earthenware vessel is of value, only when it is used as a vessel, same with us, we must make ourselves into vessels worthy of receiving.

And it was:


The first Pasuk in this weeks Parsha, starts off with the word, "Vayehi" (And it was).

The Sages teach that, this term is usually used when it is brought on a sad note. One may right away ask, what sadness is there in the building of the Mishkan? For this Pasuk is dealing with the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Rav Yisroel Rizhin notes the Sforno's comment that until the sin of the Golden Calf, there was no need for a center of holiness, every Jew was worthy of the Divine Presence. After the downfall that came upon the making of the Golden Calf, it became necessary to build a Mishkan as a resting place for the Shechina.

Thus there was some sadness in the inauguration of the Mishkan, for the joy of the dedicating of the Mishkan was mixed with the realization that the people had forfeited their opportunity for a chance to have achieved even a greater level of holiness.

Some calculations:


To finish off, Rav D. Goldwasser writes that there is still reason to hope, for every Jewish house still has the power to become a holy sanctuary.

The Gematriah of "Bayis" (house) equals 412.

The Gematriah of "Leiv" (heart) equals 32.

The Gematriah of "Mikdash" (Sanctuary) equals 444.

When we add the "house" and the "heart" together, we get 444, a Sanctuary.

The message that he brings out is that when we infuse in ourselves the proper emotions, when we really have inside us a "Jewish Heart", and we bring this into our own home and surroundings, a vessel for receiving, we have the ability to transform it into a Mikdash where Hashem chooses to settle.

(Adapted from the Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser and the Artscroll Chumash)

Haircuts during the Sefiras Ha-Omer:


Pasuk (10:6):

"Moshe said to Ahron and to his sons Elazar and Itamar, 'Do not leave your heads unshorn..."

Rashi on the Pasuk comes and explains that we learn from this that when one is (G-d forbid) an Avayl (in a state of mourning over the loss of a close family member) he is not to have his hair cut, unlike the case by Ahron and his sons, where Hashem permitted them. For Hashem didn't want their mourning to interfere with the joy of the inauguration of the Mishkan.

During the days of the Sefiras Ha-Omer, a very great tragedy befell the Jewish nation. For during this period, 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva perished, between Pesach and Shavuous.

Therefore there is the Minhag to observe some of the aspects found during Avalus (period of mourning).

One of these aspects is that of not taking haircuts or shaving during this period. There are various customs about when this period (of not shaving/haircuts) applies.

Many Poskim hold that a person who usually shaves daily and is required to do so also for reasons of business or financial loss, may shave during this period. Also when ones mustache interferes with ones eating, one may trim it. One is also permitted to comb his hair. (Rav Shimon Eider)

Of course, for each case one should ask his LROR (Local Reliable Orthodox Rabbi).