Monthly Archives: February 2014

Parshat פקודי Exodus 38:22 – Doing What Your Teacher Meant

Exodus 38:22 And Bezalel the son of Uri the son of Hur from the tribe of Yehudah made all that God had commanded Moshe.

Gemora Yerushalmi Peah, Perek 1, Halacha 1 – It does not say “According to all that Moshe commended him to do” but rather according to “all that God commanded Moshe”. From this we learn that [Bezalel] set his mind [in agreement] to do even things that he had not heard from the mouth of his teacher, as it says “To Moshe on Mount Sinai”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #4:

This [gemora] hints to the fact that if a person does an action with the intention of fulfilling God’s will and for the sake of heaven, he’ll receive [divine] assistance, because he intended it in a true way.

This principle is also alluded to in the aggada in the Gemora Brachos 55a where it says as follows:

R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Bezalel [the name literally means “in the shadow of God”] was so called on account of his wisdom. At the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses; Go and tell Bezalel to make me a tabernacle, an ark and vessels, Moses went and reversed the order, saying, Make an ark and vessels and a tabernacle. Bezalel said to him: Moses, our Teacher, as a rule a man first builds a house and then brings vessels into it; but you say, Make me an ark and vessels and a tabernacle. Where shall I put the vessels that I am to make? Can it be that the Holy One, blessed be He, said to you, Make a tabernacle, an ark and vessels? Moses replied: Perhaps you were in the shadow of God and knew!

This is also alluded to in the posuk Exodus 31:2. This shows that Bezalel did everything for the sake of heaven and his intention was to fulfill God’s will. In this way, he set his thought to match God’s thoughts even in matters that he did not hear from Moshe.

Also, see what it says similar to this at the end of parshas Haazinu [Deuternomy 32:16] where the Gemora Yerushalmi [Peah Chapter 1, Halacha 1] says as follows:

R. Mana says “It is not something that is far from you”. If you find that it is far, it is from you [because of you.] Why would this be so? Because you did not toil hard enough to understand it. It is from here that we know that any issue that Beis Din [the Court] deliberates intensely over will, in the end, stand.

Editor’s Note: The freedom and encouragement to use one’s own ability to think and to even disagree with one’s teachers is built into the Gemora.


Parshat פקודי Exodus 38:22 – Without the Temple – We Use Prayer

Exodus 38:22 And Bezalel the son of Uri the son of Hur from the tribe of Yehuda made all that God had commanded Moshe.

Gemora Yerushalmi Brachos, Perek 4, Halacha 3 – R. Samuel bar Nahmani in the name of R. Yohanan, “[The eighteen blessings of our thrice daily prayers] correspond to the eighteen commands [i.e. the words, ‘As the Lord had commanded’] in the passage concerning the building of the Tabernacle [Exod. 38:21ff.].” Said R. Hiyya bar Abba, “Only [those commands mentioned] between, ‘And with him was Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan’ [Exod. 38:23] and the end of the book [are counted, excluding the first command in verse 22].”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #3:

In other words there are 18 times that it mentions in this parsha “as God commanded” besides this one time in our posuk. Perhaps our posuk is excluded from the counting because all of the work was done by Bezalel and Ohaliab but the command in our posuk is just to Bezalel.

Note that the reason our section of the chumash is called ‘the second dwelling’ perhaps is because the topic of building the dwelling is written twice in the Torah, once in Parshat Terumah and once here in Parshat Pekudei. The section in Parshat Terumah is called ‘the first dwelling’ and this section is called ‘the second dwelling.’ Perhaps it should have called it the ‘secondary dwelling’ [since this section is secondary to the first section.] The commentaries explain, however, a [somewhat] far-fetched explanation [to the phrase ‘second dwelling’] that fits in well with this being the reason for the association of the 18 blessings of our daily prayers with the 18 commandments in our section. It is possible to explain it according to what it says in Midrash Rabba when it is explaining the first sentence of our parsha which says, “These are the accounts of the dwelling, the dwelling of the Testimony…” The Midrash Rabba explains the use of the word ‘dwelling’ twice as a reference to the dwelling [the temple] that was twice destroyed because of our sins. Similarly it says in Shmos Rabba, Perek 31 on the posuk (Leviticus 26:11) “I will put my dwelling place amongst you” – don’t read it as “dwelling place” read it instead as “my pledge”. [A pledge is something that one gives to another when one borrows money from him. In the case, the “pledge” refers to the temple that was destroyed when God took it back. In Hebrew the word for dwelling place and the word for pledge have the same root.]

This is similar to what Bilam says when he curses [and is forced to bless] the Jewish people. “How goodly are your tents, your dwelling places Israel.” The word “tent” is a reference to the temple when it is standing and the word “dwelling place” refers to the temple when it has been destroyed.

After the temple was destroyed and the sacrifices which served as an atonement for our sins were no longer brought, all we are left with is our prayers to replace the sacrifices in the temple. This is alluded to in the correspondence of the number of commands given to Bezalel and Ohaliab being exactly equal to the number of blessings in our thrice daily prayers.

This is similar to the prayers for Rosh Hashanah which have ten posukim to reference the ten utterances with which God created the world. There are other similar examples.

Editor’s Note: This note has no Talmudic arguments. It is just a beautiful homily on prayer and how prayer is all we have left now that the temple has been destroyed.


Parshat כי תשא Shmos 30:19 – Impeccable Logic

Exodus 30: 19  And Aharon and his sons will wash their hands and feet from it.

Gemora Zvevachim (21a) From it and not “in it”.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #33:

If the Cohanim [priests] were to place their hands inside the laver and [wash their hands by] shaking them, this would be unacceptable. Read the Tosafot in Gemora Chullin 107a  where Tosafot quote the Baal Halachos Gedolos as saying that if one were to wash one’s hands for eating in this manner [inserting your hands in the washing cup and shaking them], that would be acceptable. The reason for the difference between the Cohen’s washing [kiddush yadaim] and washing for eating is due to our posuk explicitly saying “from it” meaning absolutely not “in it”. However, regarding the washing for eating there is no posuk and therefore no exclusion regarding “in it”.

However, Tosafot argue with the Baal Halachos Gedolos and say that he is wrong. They say this because, in their opinion, the reason why “in it” is not acceptable for the Cohanim is because washing must be done intentionally by a person’s actions (koach gavra). Further Tosafot state that shaking one’s hands within the laver would not constitute “person’s actions.”  Tosafot state that perhaps the Baal Halachos Gedolos is of the opinion that the Cohanim’s washing does not require “person’s actions”.  This issue of whether the Cohanim’s washing must be done by a person’s actions is the discussion [argument] between Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbanim in the Gemora. The Rabbanim think that “person’s actions” is not required; and Tosafot say that the Baal Halachos Gedolos must agree with the Rabbanim. However, the understanding of this section of the Gemora is that the halacha is according to Rabbi Yehuda.

Note that in the Orach Hachim Section 159, subsection 7[VALIDATE THIS] the decision is that in the case of a dire need it would be allowable to rely on the Baal Halachos Gedolos. Look also in the Taz and the Magen Avraham.

It seems to me [however] that the Baal Halachos Gedolos thinks that in this case [of shaking one’s hands within the vessel] is also called “person’s actions”. [Really], what difference would it make if he pours the water over his hands or puts his hands into the vessel and shakes them? Isn’t it so that in either case the washing that results is from a person’s actions?

However, when water flows of its own without any action by anyone at the time of the pouring such as from a drainpipe or a faucet[it would not be called ‘washing as a result of a person’s actions.] The proof [that putting your hands and shaking them in a vessel] and shaking them is called “person’s actions” is from the fact that if the washing for the Cohanim absolutely requires “person’s actions” why would I need the posuk to explicitly say “from it” when I would have known logically [that putting one’s hands in the laver and shaking them is unacceptable.] Therefore, we have to conclude that certainly putting one’s hands in the laver and shaking them is called “person’s actions” according to the rationale that we described above. Therefore, you need the posuk to explicitly teach us that nevertheless, this method is unacceptable for the Cohanim.

Please note that the Beis Yosef in his Orach Chaim Section 4 mentions that the Rashba also agreed with the Baal Halachos Gedolos.

The Rashba says as follows, “shaking one’s hands inside of a vessel whether for morning [prayers] or for eating is acceptable as we see from the posuk that says that for the Cohanim they must wash ‘from it’ and not ‘in it.’ Hence we can conclude that in general [not relating to the Cohanim in the temple] it is acceptable to shake one’s hands inside a vessel. “

Regarding this Rashba, the Beis Yosef comments that from the fact that he explicitly mentions morning prayers, we see that the Rashba would not find this method acceptable for the initial washing that a person does in the morning upon waking to remove the bad spirit. In fact, for the initial washing it is only acceptable to pour water on one’s hands three times [each.] The Shulchan Aruch also agrees with this.

In my opinion, however, this requires further investigation. If the Rashba meant that shaking one’s hands in a vessel is acceptable for prayer, and the source for washing for prayer is from the Cohanim and yet the Rashba permits shaking one’s hands in a vessel for prayer since the comparison with the Cohanim is only a hint and a general sign [I cannot understand why it would not also be acceptable for the initial washing in the morning.] This requires further investigation.


Editor’s Note: It seems to me that the Torah Temimah’s logic in this note is crystal clear and disagrees with the logic of the Tosafot. To me this illustrates how it is that Talmudic learning continues to excite and motivate students even after thousands of years.


Parshat כי תשא Shmos 34:27 – Writing Down the Unwriteable

Exodus 34: 27  The Lord said to Moses: “Write these words for yourself, for according [literally by the mouth of] to these words I have formed a covenant with you and with Israel.”

Gemora Gittin (60a) Rabbi Yehuda Bar Nahmani said ‘One half of the posuk says “Write it for yourself” and the other half says “according to these words” [literally ‘by the mouth.’] How can these both be possible? The answer is: Written things [teachings] are not appropriate to be said aloud and Oral things [teachings} should not be said through writing’[1]

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #40:

In other words, both are true and the fact that the two phrases are attached as one teaches that this principle should never be overturned. The part that was given in writing is not appropriate to be said orally. And this that was given orally, it is not appropriate to write it.

It is not clear to me what Rashi means when he writes, “The teachings that I told to you in writing, it is not appropriate for you to give them to the Israel orally”. Why does Rashi explicitly mention not being permitted to give to Israel orally? Doesn’t this prohibition apply to each individual? Perhaps the explanation is related to the statement of God to Moshe that the purpose of saying the Torah is to teach it to Israel. This issue requires further study.

Many reasons have been suggested regarding this prohibition of not writing the oral teaching. The Rambam writes in the Guide for the Perplexed in the beginning of chapter 71, Part 1 as follows:

Even the traditional Law, as you are well aware, was not originally committed to writing, in conformity with the rule to which our nation generally adhered, “Things which I have communicated to you orally, you must not communicate to others in writing.” With reference to the Law, this rule was very opportune; for while it remained in force it averted the evils which happened subsequently, viz., great diversity of opinion, doubts as to the meaning of written words, slips of the pen, dissensions among the people, formation of new sects, and confused notions about practical subjects. The traditional teaching was in fact, according to the words of the Law, entrusted to the Great Tribunal, as we have already stated in our works on the Talmud. (Introd. to Mishneh Torah and Introd. to Commen. on the Mishnah).

 According to the logic of the Rambam, this would also be good reasons for conforming to the second principle of not saying that which has been written. That which is set and fixed and written down should not be taught orally.

However, in our day, due to the diminution of intellect, it has been permitted to learn both orally and by writing. This is due to the principle of “When it is time to do for God, it is permitted to nullify His Torah”[2] In other words, because of the diminution of intellect [in our times] there was a concern that all of Torah would be forgotten [and therefore writing down the oral law became permitted.] This is the conclusion of the Gemora Temurah 14b.

You should also be aware that we find in the Talmud and the Braitot a variety of Rabbinic teachings that seem to take the words of the chumash out of their normal, simple understanding. For example in the Gemora Brachos 32a it says as follows:

What is ‘ And Di-Zahab’? They said in the school of R. Jannai: Thus spoke Moses before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, the silver and gold [zahab] which Thou didst shower on Israel until they said, Enough [dai], that it was which led to their making the Calf. [3]

 In all of these examples [see footnote below], our Sages’ intent is not, God forbid, to actually say that these explanations are the express meaning of the words. Rather, because of the principle of not writing down the oral teachings, it was difficult for students to remember all the oral teachings and even more difficult to remember aggadic teachings. Therefore, our Sages had the idea to pin/attach to a scriptural verse all the sayings that they had been taught in order to make them easier to remember. This works because it is human nature to remember something better if it has a tangible sign that can be seen and felt [like a posuk in the Torah].

Further, we also find that even for laws that were “halacha Moshe m’Sinai” [biblical laws that Moshe received on Mt. Sinai], our Sages also endeavored to find attachments in the text of the Chumash itself. For example, the measurements of separations and partitions mentioned in Eruvin 4b and the details of the knot the tefillin mentioned in Berakot 7a and the issue of pouring of the water libation on Succos mentioned in Rosh Hashana 7a, and many similar examples.

Regarding all of these we find in many places in the Talmud that our Sages praise this ability to find attachments, links and signs [in the text of the Chumash.] As it says in Gemora Shabbos 104a “devise mnemonics in the Torah and thus acquire [memorize] it.” Additionally it says in Gemora Erubin 21a “Besides that Kehelet [King Solomon] was wise, he also taught the people knowledge through affixing signs.” Rashi explains that he established signs whether with the letters of the text [of the Chumash] or with the text of the Mishnah. See also Erubin 54a regarding making signs. In the Yerushalmi Shabbos Chapter 19, Halacha 1, it says, “All Torah that doesn’t have a ‘beit av’ isn’t real Torah.” The commentaries there explain that this means it doesn’t have an example from another place to help one grasp and learn it. Because without this, it will end up being forgotten. This is precisely what we find in many places [in the Talmud] where the Sages attached laws or various conclusions onto the words of some posuk or single word that is only tangentially or even totally unrelated to the topic that is being discussed. For examples, see Shabbos 90b and Ketubot 72b, and Baba Metizah 86a and Baba Metziah 106a and Avodah Zara 8a and Avoda Zara 9a and b and 29a and Chullin 47b and Niddah 45b. The intent in all of these is to make these matters easy to remember as I said above. In this method did they also explain the posuk regarding the butler who “did not remember Yosef and forgot him” which seems redundant. The commentaries explain that the butler did not make a zecher [both remembrance and sign] in order to remember and that precisely therefore he forgot. This similarly is the explanation for the verse “remember what Amalek did to you” which I will explain in its place, God willing. Further, Tosafot write at the end of Gemora Megilla 32a that they were accustomed to learn Mishnayot to a tune since they were learning it orally. With the tune they were able to remember it better. Examine that Tosafot. We already mentioned and we will mention again God willing this general topic with further explanations in various places in our book. For now, we’ve said enough here.

Editor’s Note: This note is simply amazing. His incredible knowledge of the Talmud (Babylonian and Jerusalem) as well his humanity shine through and the way he addresses the reader of his book expresses both.

Further, I think that the Torah Temimah spends so much effort in this note and throughout his book on this topic because he feels this is a very important issue. He is bringing many proofs to show that the rabbis are not explaining these posukim as much as leveraging them as a method to remember received rabbinic and even biblical laws that were taught as “halacha Moshe m’Sinai”. These explanations must not be taken as the pshat or actual meaning of the text.


[1] This translator cannot find this exact text in the Gemora

[2] This topic is huge and beyond the scope of this translation.

[3] The Torah Temimah actually lists 5 other examples from all over the Talmud. They are in Baba Kama 60b, Baba Basra 75a, Eruvin 54a and Chullin 5a.

Parshat משפטים Shmos 21:35 – Non-Jewish Property

Exodus 21:35 If one man’s ox hurt his neighbor’s ox so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox, divide the money of it; and the dead ox they shall also divide.

Bava Kama (37b): [the words] “his neighbor’s” teaches us that if one’s ox gored another ox belonging to the temple or to a non-Jew he would be exempt from payment. But an ox of a non-Jew gored a Jew’s ox, the non-Jew would be liable to pay.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #177:

Behold regarding this principle that a Jew is not liable for damage to a non-Jew’s property has been the cause for much opportunity for haters of Jews to complain about our ancient scriptures saying that this law shows the low value that the Jewish law places on people who are not Jewish. The haters say that Jewish law not only thinks less of non-Jews but also shows that the property of a non-Jew is valued less than the property of a Jew.

This harsh reasoning resurfaces anew like sharp spurs on the lips of those who oppress Jews in every generation. Jewish scholars of every generation have endeavored to explain that certainly the Gemora is referring to non-Jews of early times who lived in wild, lawless countries. It does not refer to non-Jews in our times and in our countries. The result of this fact is that this law is no longer applicable.

What can we say and how can we express if our pain is so great that jealousy or hate corrupt rational thought. We are doubly troubled by our scholars who have tried to offer incomplete/inadequate explanations. Further in this section of the Talmud where the adversaries try make us regretful and lowly of spirit[1]. Because exactly in this place in the Talmud,  this topic explained in such a way that a truly objective reader could see it. Not only does this topic not bring disgrace on the wonderful Talmud, rather it uplifts it to show that all its laws are just and straight. The laws are built on a foundation of humanity and fundamental principles of life in all countries and places and times.

 Here is the exact language of the Talmud on this topic: If the word “neighbor” is to be taken literally, then a non-Jew’s ox should also not have to pay if it gores a Jew’s ox. On the other hand, if the word “neighbor” is not to be taken literally then a Jew’s ox that gores a non-Jew’s ox should also have to pay.  Rabbi Abahu says (Habbakuk 3:6): “He stands and shakes the earth, He beholds and causes the nations to tremble, and the everlasting mountains are dashed to pieces, the eternal hills bow.” Rabbi Abahu says that this posuk alludes to the fact that HaShem saw the seven mitzvot that the nations took upon themselves and since they did not fulfill them, He then made their property hefker for the Jews”.

Everyone knows the content of the Seven Mitzvot: 1. System of Laws 2. Acknowledging God 3. Not serving idols 4. No illicit sexual relations 5. Don’t murder 6. Don’t steal 7. Don’t eat the limb of a live animal. All these commandments are fundamental and essential for the establishment and continuation of human civilization, living in security, and feelings of tranquility and mercy on others.

So, now consider, that people who do not follow these laws but rather do the opposite. They don’t have laws and judgments. They murder and commit sexual immorality. They steal and rob and eat the limb of a live animal. They curse HaShem and they worship trees and stones. How should laws be regarding these types of people? If not like wild animals who destroy civilization and punish civilized people. Behold it is total appropriate for people of character who are concerned with promoting civilization to treat these wild populations in this manner. In fact this is how established kingdoms treat such populations, by denying them their “rights” and keeping them away from civilized locations.

Behold, this just and righteous ruling of the Talmud should be publicized.  Furthermore, we should take pride, knowing that 2,000 years ago when the world was primitive[2], there already existed amongst us righteous laws and just ways to strengthen human society and establish the world.

Refer to Rambam’s commentary on the Mishnah here[3]: “Do not wonder about this [he means to says that an ox of a Jew that gores an ox of an idol worshipper is exempt from damages[ just as you should not be troubled by ritual slaughter of animals, even though the animals did not sin.  For one who does not possess complete human qualities, is not truly considered a person [adam].  His existence is for the benefit of other humans.  Together with that was said above his words are elucidated.

Thus we learn that the Talmud itself, excludes from this ruling all the nations that observe the 7 Noahide laws, which include most of the nations today.  Behold, all of their judgments with us are considered judgments between Jewish parties.  There is no more elucidate.  Also refer to Parashat Kedoshim[4]regarding standing for an elder and Parashat Behar regarding the laws of overcharging[5]regarding the honor that Chazal accorded to all upstanding nations.  As for our discussion here, enough said.

We now return to explain the other half of this exegesis.  Behold it is simply clear that this same ruling apply to temple property.  That is, if an ox of an idol worshiper gores an ox that is temple property the idol worshiper is liable for damages while, if the reverse happens, the temple is exempt from damages.  Because this law is not just coming solely from an exemption based on “his fellow”[6], but also on the status of other nations.  Based on this one can see how precise the Mishnah is regarding this matter (as we cited in short above).

“An ox of an Israelite that gores an ox of temple property and an ox of temple property that gores an ox of an ordinary person[7] is exempt from damages.   The Mishnah first refers to an Israelite and later refers to an ordinary person, which, at first glance, appears inconsistent, however, what was said before, enlightens the language of the Mishnah.  The opening of the Mishnah refers to an Israelite specifically to exclude the case when an ox of an idol worshiper gores an ox of temple property from being exempt from damages.  Therefore the Mishnah did not refer to an ordinary person, which would include an idol worshiper being exempt from damages.  This is not the case in the end of the Mishnah.  By referring to an ordinary person, the Mishnah includes an idol worshiper.  Take note: Thus the ruling is that an ox of temple property that gores an ox of an idol worshiper is exempt from damages.

Based on this one can see that the emendation of the Bach to this Mishnah, replacing Israelite with ordinary person is unnecessary.  Moreover, the language of the Mishnah shows how great and precise are the words of Chazal.


Editor’s Note: This is a very tough but important topic. The Torah Temimah does not avoid difficult topics. The short explanation of this Torah Temimah note is that he proves that, in the Gemora itself, the making exempt of a Jew for damaging a non-Jew’s property is limited to non-Jewish nations that don’t observe the 7 Noachide laws, which are the basic laws that form the fundamentals of every society. Based on this fact, the Torah Temimah states that the law does not refer to non-Jews in our times and in our countries. This law is no longer applicable because we live in a time of countries governed by the rule of law, unlike the time of the Gemora. In our day, all judgments between Jew and non-Jew are considered the same as judgments between two Jewish parties.


[1] Literally: sadden the heart and destroy the soul

[2] Literally: when darkness covered the world and gross darkness the peoples (Isaiah 60:2 JPS translation from

[3] Bava Kama chapter 4 Mishnah 3

[4] Leviticus 19:32 Torah Temimah there

[5] Leviticus 25:14 Torah Temimah there

[6] רעיהו

[7] i.e. non temple property – הדיוט

Parshat תצוה Shmos 28:38 – Concentration

Exodus 28:38 – It shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things that the children of Israel sanctify, for all their holy gifts. It shall be upon his forehead constantly to make them favorable before the Lord.

Gemora Menachos 7b – “It should be on his forehead constantly” – From this phrase we see [that one who is wearing it] should not remove his concentration from it.


Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #26:

From here the rabbis learn [in a variety of places in the Gemora] that one who is wearing tefillin should not remove his concentration from them and is obligated to touch them constantly. This is learned from an “a fortiori” deduction from the ceremonial miter [that is the subject of our posuk]. The a fortiori deduction is as follows:

Just like the miter which only has God’s name written on it once, one is required to concentrate on it constantly, certainly this law applies to tefillin that has God’s name mentioned many times.

Tosafot comment in the Gemora noted above that this a fortiori deduction is not a full deduction. The [flaw] with the deduction is that the name of God written on the miter  used is the [full] revealed name while in the tefillin the name of God that is used is the [lesser] covered name.  Therefore, Tosafot conclude, that the prohibition of losing concentration while wearing tefillin is not biblical [ie, not fully based on this posuk above] but rather is from a rabbinic decree [that is loosely based on the above posuk.]

However, many others disagree with this observation of the Tosafot. These other rabbis conclude that it is, in fact, a full a fortiori deduction and that therefore the prohibition of not concentrating on one’s tefillin is biblical in nature and solidly based on our posuk. These dissenting rabbis wonder what practical halachic difference would there be in whether the full name or the covered name of God is used.

My opinion is that the words of Tosafot are correct. We do, in fact, find that many halachic stringencies apply to the miter but don’t apply to the tefellin. [Therefore, this law about concentration would logically only apply to the miter but not the tefillin.] It is logical to conclude that these stringencies that apply to the miter but not to the tefillin are there precisely because the full, revealed name of God is written on the miter.

For example, in the Gemora Kedushin 66a, King Yannai tests the Sages of Israel by wearing the miter. Rashi explains there that the test is to see whether the Sages stand up in honor the miter, since the name of God is written on it.

Notice that we do not find this stringency of needing to stand up for tefillin. One has to conclude that this stringency for the miter is due to the fact that the full, revealed name of God is written on the miter [but not on the tefillin.] Due to this full revealed name of God being there, the miter is due this additional honor.

 Another example is in the Gemora Sota 38a. There is mentions that the priests when they bless the people are supposed to raise their hands above their heads, except for the high priest who is wearing the miter. He is not supposed to raise his hands above the miter. Rashi there explains that the reason for not raising his hands above the miter is because the name of God is written on the miter. Behold, this stringency of not raising one’s hands above one’s head also does not apply to tefillin. Again, one would have to conclude that this stringency is precisely because the miter has the full revealed name of God written on it.

Therefore, it appears obvious that the explanation of the Rosh and the Tur on Or Hachaim Section 28 and also the explanation of the תר’י is correct; that the main fulfillment of the requirement to concentrate on one’s tefillin is done by avoiding idle chatter and frivolity while wearing one’s tefillin. Even though normally the term for concentration should be taken literally, but in this case since the halacha is only rabbinic in nature the rabbis only legislated laws that would lead to a desecration of God’s name if not followed.

The halachic difference between ruling that concentration is biblical versus rabbinic is precisely in this issue of whether one needs to touch them constantly. If, in fact, the requirement of concentration is biblical in nature, then one would need to touch one’s tefillin constantly so that one is constantly mindful of wearing tefillin. But if the requirement of concentration is only rabbinic, then the requirement of touching them is only general in nature. And there are other halachic distinctions that arise from this difference of opinion regarding the exact source of the requirement of concentration, but here is not the place for extending the topic.

 DBS Note: First of all, the Torah Temimah’s knowledge of the entire Talmud shines through in this note. Secondly, this note is a very good introduction to the concept of “a fortiori argument”. I am cutting and pasting a Wikipedia definition of this important concept. If you are new to the concept, read the note above again to see precisely how it applies. Thirdly, this note shows clearly the hierarchy of traditional Judaism in tiers of obligations. Biblical obligations are more important and stringent than rabbinic obligations. Much effort is put into ensuring that we delve into which obligations are of what type and what the resulting halachic ramifications are.

Lastly, it is wonderful how the Torah Temimah weighs in on the arguments of approximately 1,000 years earlier and clearly expresses his opinion of who was right.


An a fortiori argument /ˈɑː fɔːrtɪˈr/[1] is an “argument from a yet stronger reason.” For example, if it has been established that a person is dead (the stronger reason), then one can with equal or greater certainty argue that the person is not breathing. “Being dead” trumps other arguments that might be made to show that the person is not breathing, such as for instance, not seeing any sign of breathing.

An a fortiori argument draws upon existing confidence in a proposition to argue in favor of a second proposition that is held to be implicit in the first. The second proposition may be considered “weaker,” and therefore the arguer adduces a “stronger” proposition to support it.

Also, here is the link to a Wikipedia article on miter/mitre:

Parshat תצוה Shmos 28:40 – Talmudic Logic and a Lesson for the Deaf

Exodus 28:40 – And for the sons of Aaron you should make coats and you should make belts and turbans shalt thou make for them, for honor and for beauty.

Jerusalem Talmud Yoma Chapter 3 Halacha 6 – The Rabbis [Rabbi Yosi?] taught an explanation of the phrase “for the sons of Aaron you should make coats.” From this wording they learned that it is required to have two coats for each cohen.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #30:

Rabbi Yosi thinks that this statement apply to general ‘coats’. In other words, since it says ‘for the sons of Aaron’ that is the reason why it writes ‘coats’ in the plural. Certainly, the intent of the rabbis was not that each cohen should wear two coats. We know that it says in Gemora Zevachim 18a that a cohen who wears two garments of the same type while he’s doing the service in the temple, that service is invalid.

Rather, the intent is that each cohen should have an extra coat in reserve in case he needs it. Further, it is entirely possible that it need not be limited to two, but rather a cohen could have more in reserve if he wanted. The Talmud teaches “two” as the minimal obligation based on the use of the plural form.

Also, it does make sense [ניחה] that the same deduction is not made about belts and turbans that are also written in the plural. Only the coat is worn close to the body and likely to absorb bodily foulness.

Truly though it is not clear to me why the rabbis interpreted this posuk in this way. Certainly the words of Rabbi Yosi are based on logical reasoning rather than on a textural deduction. It does seem that the reason why it writes “coats” in the plural is because the subject is also in the plural (the sons of Aaron); just like belts and turbans are also in the plural. Additionally a similar phrase is using in the Gemora Megilla 7a  where it discusses the requirement to send “gifts to the poor”. [Gifts is written in plural as is the word ‘poor people’.] There, even though the Gemora says it means at least two gifts to at least two poor people, Rashi says that one gift to one poor person would be sufficient for the minimum requirement. He bases this on the fact that even though it does use the plural form for ‘gifts’; nevertheless since it says ‘poor people’ [also in the plural] we can conclude that the minimum requirement is one gift for one poor person.

Take note also that the Rambam in Chapter 8 of the section “Vessels of the Temple” does not mention at all this requirement of having two coats for each cohen.  Even though, as we mention above, it is not clear from the language of the posuk how the deduction is made that one must have two coats, nevertheless, it is clear that this is a deduction that the rabbis have made from the language of the posuk. It certainly has a valid reason and logic to it, even if we don’t understand it. If that is the case, how is it possible for the Rambam just to omit this law entirely? To compound the difficulty, look in the Gemora Chaggigah 3a where it concludes that a person who is deaf in only one ear is exempt from the obligation to go up to Jerusalem during the three pilgrimage festivals. The Gemora there concludes this from the words of the posuk (Parshat Vayelekh) where it says “Read the Torah in their ears”. From the fact that it says “ears” in the plural, the Gemora concludes that if one is deaf in one ear, he is excluded from this command. And the Rambam does include this law! Also, the Gemora Yerushalmi there actually attaches the law about being deaf in one ear to our posuk here about each cohen needing two coats.

Since this is the case, it really makes no sense for the Rambam to omit the law requiring two coats yet include the law exempting a person who is deaf in one ear. This issue requires much further study.  


DBS Note: I appreciate the intense insistence on consistency.  Also, being that I am deaf in one ear, this note has a personal relevancy to me.



Parshat תרומה Shmos 25:10 – Work is Praiseworthy – Part 2

Exodus 25:10 – And they shall make for me an ark of shittim wood; two cubits and a half shall be its length and a cubit and a half its breadth and a cubit and half its height.

Gemora Yoma 72b: Rabbi Yochanan contrasted two biblical posukim as follows: in one posuk (Devarim/Deuteronomy 10:1) “you (Moshe) will make for yourself an ark” yet another posuk says (Shmos/Exodus 25:10) “and they shall make for Me an ark.” From here we see that it is fitting for a Torah scholar, that the people of his city do his work for him.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #12:

In other words, the principal commandment to build the ark was commanded to Moshe. The Jewish people actually, therefore, built the ark on his behalf. Additionally even though really only Betzalel and Ahaliav and other wise craftsman were really the only ones who made it, but since (perhaps) due to the fact that they were paid from the communal money that was raised by all the Jews to build the temple, therefore it is considered as if all the Jews, themselves, actually made it.  See also the Gemora Temura 31b.

Also, see what is written in the Gemora Shabbos 114a where it relates as follows: Rabbi Yochanan said “which type of Torah scholar is it for whom the people of his city are commanded to do work for him? One who abandons all his interests and occupies himself with the interests of heaven (G-d).”  

It is not clear what the source is of Rabbi Yochanan’s ruling. However in the previous note [where it explains that when Jews do G-d’s work, their own work gets done for them, while when they are not doing G-d’s work, then they must do their own work. This is seen exactly from this posuk where Moshe’s work is being done by others exactly because he is exclusively involved in G-d’s work.] We see that this principle is learned from Moshe. Therefore, Rabbi Yochanan concludes that it is only for a Torah scholar who acts like Moshe that the city is required to do work on his behalf.

A further explanation is appropriate also on Rabbi Yohanan’s question itself. According to the context in the Gemora’s discussion here there are three categories/levels [zirim]. The category of Altar, of Ark and of Table. Aaron [Moshe’s brother] merited the level of Altar and he took it;  [King] David merited the level of Table and he took it; the level of the Ark,  however, is still open and available for anyone who wants to come and take it. The explanation of this is just as it says in [Pirkei] Avot, that the Crown of Torah is available to all of Israel equally. Therefore it is extremely appropriate that it be about the Ark that the posuk should say in the plural “and they made it.” This was precisely to show this point that the Crown of Torah is available for all of Israel. The point of the explanation in the Gemora would be to explain why it doesn’t also say “and they made” [in the plural] in Devarim/Deuteronomy. Further investigation is needed.

Translator Note: In other notes also, the Torah Temimah stresses the value of work.  Specifically, a Torah scholar is not worthy of having others do work for him, unless he has reached the spiritual level of Moshe. The Torah Temimah means by this, I think, that it is never appropriate. We all know at the end of Devarim/Deuteronomy that the Torah itself states that there never will arise anyone of the same level as Moshe.

The Torah Temimah is stressing that everyone should earn a living and that it is not appropriate, as an optimal state, for the congregation to support Wise Sages through community funds. He ends the note with a teaching that stresses the egalitarian vision of learning Torah; it is not reserved for the chosen few, but is available to all who desire to learn.

Parshat תרומה Shmos 25:8 – Work is Praiseworthy

Exodus 25:8 – And they shall make for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell amongst them.

Avot d’Rabbi Natan: We learn in a braitha: Rabbi Tarfon says, “Great is work as we see that even G-d did not allow His divine presence to dwell on the Jewish people until they did work.” We see this from the posuk: Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #9:

It is probable that the Avot d’Rabbi Natan is deducing this lesson from the exact wording of the posuk. The posuk should have said “make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell in it” rather than “I will dwell in them.”  Therefore, Avot d’Rabbi Natan concludes that the concept of a building is not for G-d and it does not pertain to him. This is shown by the posuk in Isaiah Chapter 66:1 “The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool, where is the house that you would build for Me?”

From here we see that the reason why G-d wanted the Jews to be involved in the work of the temple for His Name’s sake and He commanded them to build the temple as a way to endear them to Him through their efforts. After this, He caused His divine presence to dwell amongst them, wherever they may be.

It is clear from this that work itself is so great that it can cause G-d’s grace to be shown to the Jewish people through causing his divine presence to dwell amongst them.

DBS Note: In other notes also, the Torah Temimah stresses the value of work.