Wednesday, March 09, 2016

who gave our kings their names? a chiddush of the Tiferes Yisrael

Last week I quoted the Seforno’s explanation of the double-language in language in the pasuk, “K’chu mei’itchem terumah la’Hashem kol nediv libo y’vi’eha es terumas Hashem…” (35:5) “Terumah la’Hashem,” explains the Seforno, was a voluntary donation; “terumas Hashem” was the required half shekel each individual had to bring.   The pasuk is telling us that both of these donations were brought together. Why should that be?

Rashi comments on “V’yikchu li terumah” that terumah has to be “li=lishmi,” given without ulterior motives, completely l’shem shamayim. R’ Shimon Sofer explains that this is why the two donations had to be given together. This can cut one of two ways: 1) When it comes to giving a voluntary amount, there is always the danger that someone is giving a lot just to show off. Therefore, the Torah says to bundle the voluntary donation with the required machtzis ha’shekel, where everyone gave the same amount, as a reminder to give for the right reason. 2) Since the machtzis ha’shekel was a requirement and not voluntary, there was the danger that people would be less motivated to give and not give with as full a heart. Therefore, the Torah says to bundle it with the voluntary donations.

2) Regarding the question I raised on the Netziv, pellehDin pointed out in the comments that the Netziv elsewhere identifies chochmah with yirah and inspiration, not just smarts. The Torah repeatedly refers in the parshiyos of the Mishkan to those who are “chachmei lev” – not chachmei mo’ach.  The artisans did not have a greater IQ or a bigger brain – what they had is a bigger heart. Or, as my son put it when I mentioned this topic to him, “Hein yiras Hashem hi chochmah.” The biggest chochma is to have yirah. That’s why the Netziv raised the question of how G-d can give such chochma/ inspiration when “
hakol b’ydei shamayim chutz m’yiras shamayim.”  Apologies for not noticing the other Netziv until it was too late to change the post.

3) Shabbos Shekalim was a chance to review shekalim, and a Tiferes Yisrael in ch 6 caught my eye.  He elaborates on a point not directly connected to the Mishna there because, he writes, it is a peleh, something amazing, i.e. something we should take note of.  The peleh is:  the name of each king in Nach corresponds to a central theme or central event of that individual’s life.  For example, to take an easy one, Shaul – Bnei Yisrael asked, were sho’el, a king in his lifetime. Also, the monarchy was borrowed, sha’ul, from Yehudah, during his reign. David comes from the same word as “ani l’dodi,” beloved. The Tif Yisrael goes right down the list of kings until Tzidkiyahu, who was a tzadik and was matzdik the din against him. Was this just a remarkable coincidence that the names matched the events?  He suggests that there must have been nevi’im present at the royal births who suggested the names that were given. This makes sense when speaking of later kings who were part of a royal dynasty, but I don’t see how it works when comes to Shaul or David. No one knew they would be king – even Shmuel haNavi didn't suspect it.  Is it just coincidence that their names fit? My wife suggested that perhaps it was not a navi who chose the names, but it was the parents who are blessed with the special gift of ruach hakodesh when it comes to choosing names for their children.

In the same perek the Mishna refers to two gates on the western side of the azarah “she’lo haya lahem shem,” which were unnamed. The Tosfos Yom Tov points out that in fact Josephus tells us that there were no gates in the west, and there is no mention of these gates in Yechezkel.  The Tos Y”T is troubled by the discrepancy, and concludes that we have to side with Chazal’s mesorah. The Tiferes Yisrael quotes his father who read the Mishna in a way that avoids the problem. It’s not that the gates had no name, “shem,” but rather “she’lo haya lahem sham,” they were not there. As opposed to bayis rishon, where such gates might have existed, they were not present in bayis sheni. (I checked Kahati and his nikud follows the standard reading.) 

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