Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vayak'heil-Pekudei - Thoughts from Shabbos

1) Why in 37:29 is the Shemen HaMishchah referred to as "kodesh" while the K'tores is referred to as "tahor", as opposed to vice versa? (credit: Sam)

My immediate reaction was to recall a sugya that I saw in Menachos (96b) earlier this week in which the description "tahor" as applied to the shulchan of the Mishkan teaches us that it is m'kabeil tum'a (the gemara's initial thought is that it not be, since it is an immobile wooden object, although it resolves the problem by explaining that they would bring the shulchan out to show the olei r'galim the warm bread on it, so it was not actually immobile). The only way that incense could be m'kabeil tum'a would seem to be through tum'as ochlim, and only a handful of the spices are edible (according to Wikipedia: cassia, saffron, costus and cinnamon - perhaps also spikenard, which apparently has medicinal purposes - does that qualify?), so perhaps one could apply a similar idea to the k'tores, that all of it be m'kabeil tum'a. The shemen ha-mishchah would not need such a d'rasha, since all of the spices are immersed in the olive oil, which is m'kabeil tum'a, so really have no identity on their own (Perhaps one could also attribute it to an issue of rov, where rov of the k'tores is not m'kabeil tum'a while rov of the shemen ha-mishchah is? What would the halacha be for a regular mixture of edible and inedible spices used for fragrance?)

Of course, I don't think that we would be able to make such a drasha on our own, but it would be interesting if such is, indeed, the halacha.

A cursory glance at the m'farshim produced the S'forno, who says that "tahor" means that the spices of the k'tores must be pure from any impurities - and this adjective is also applied to it in P' Ki Tisa. The question would still remain, though: why only the k'tores and not the oil? S'forno also comments that kodesh by the oil means "bilti nifsad", in the sense of "It should be holy to Me for your generations in P' Ki Tisa" - but I don't understand what this means.

Chizkuni explains "tahor" that the incense requires purity, and quotes the passuk of "Dead flies putrify the perfumer's oil" (Koheles 10:2) to prove his point. I am ignorant, also, of how this verse specifically applies to the incense, and not the oil.

Alternatively, one could answer that "tahor" as describing the k'tores is juxtaposed to the oil, so that it applies to both - this would answer the questions on both of the m'farshim's comments, as well as eliminating the need for any explanation of the differentiation between the two. The gemara says in several places that the concept of hekeish is d'oraissa, but I think that we still need a mesorah in order to invoke a hekeish.

The opposite question, regarding why only the oil is called kodesh is not a question, as the incense is also called kodesh, in P' Ki Tisa.

2) Pekudei is one of the 5 parshiyos in the first four chumashim that do not start with a vav ha-chibbur. The others are Bereishis, Noach, and - interestingly - B'chukosai and Mas'ei. The significance to this tidbit is dependent on who is responsible for our system of parsha divisions. It would be interesting if the three aforementioned sets were the most often doubled up, so that we had parshiyos starting without a vav ha-chibbur as seldom as possible, but this is not the case (IIRC, T-M and/or A-K are doubled more frequently that V-P). Perhaps Bereishis and Noach are just too long to double up (they would even dwarf this week's gargantuan leining).

3) Did anyone else think about R' Nosson Kaminetzky and R' Slifkin while listening to today's haftarah reading? Granted, Yechezkeil's (near-)ban was a bit different, in that it was being done over 500 years following his death (as indicated by the fact that Chananya ben Chizkiyah ben Garon, one of the students of Shammai, successfully defended against it). One can ask why specifically the Rabbis of that generation felt the need to put it in genizah when their predecessors did not, but precedents do exist - 2 of them by Chizkiyahu in the 4th perek of Pesachim.

Addendum (transferred from my comments section): R' Moshe Feinstein touches on the issue of the ban on Yechezkeil in one of his pieces about the peirush on chumash attributed to R' Yehuda HaChassid (whose authenticity he speaks out very strongly against), explaining that, despite the prohibition against stifling a nevuah, Chazal saw that there was a good rationale for doing so, in the case of Yechezkeil. I didn't read it so closely, but, IIRC, it's in the 2nd or 3rd volume of Igros Moshe, Yoreh Dei'ah.

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1 Comments:

At 4/09/2006 5:40 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Addendum: R' Moshe Feinstein touches on the issue of the ban on Yechezkeil in one of his pieces about the peirush on chumash attributed to R' Yehuda HaChassid (whose authenticity he speaks out very strongly against), explaining that, despite the prohibition against stifling a nevuah, Chazal saw that there was a good rationale for doing so, in the case of Yechezkeil. I didn't read it so closely, but, IIRC, it's in the 2nd or 3rd volume of Igros Moshe, Yoreh Dei'ah.

 

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