Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Shemini-Parah 5774

In this week’s parasha we learn about Aharon offering sacrifices to inaugurate the Mishkan, and two of those sacrifices are Aharon’s offering of a calf as a sin offering and the Jewish People’s offering of a he-goat as a sin offering. The commentators (Kli Yakar 9:3 citing Toras Kohanim) write that the calf was to atone for the Golden Calf that the Jewish People worshiped and the he-goat was to atone for the sale of Yosef by his brothers, as they dipped Yosef’s cloak in blood and pretended that he had been killed by an animal. The Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Beshalach 234 ) states that when the Jewish people arrived at the Sea, the angel of the Sea did not wish to split the Sea, claiming that the Jews were idolaters. HaShem responded, “foolish one! Do you think the Jews worshiped idols on their own accord? Rather, they worshiped idols because of טירוף הדעת and the slavery that they were subjected to.” What is this טירוף הדעת that the Medrash refers to?

The Baal HaTurim (Bereishis 37:3) writes that Yaakov gave over to Yosef the orders of the Mishnah, alluded to in the word זקנים, which forms an acrostic for the words זרעים, קדשים , נשים, ישועות, מועד. The obvious questions i , why is טהרות omitted? The answers that טהרות, purity, is not something that one can transmit. Rather, purity is an ideal that one attains on his own. Regarding Yosef it  is said טרף טרף יוסף, Yosef was torn apart. Yaakov, and subsequently Yosef, represented דעת, knowledge,which is a synthesis of חכמה, wisdom, and בינה, understanding The brothers, in their erroneous decision to sentence Yosef to death, essentially “tore apart” the דעת, “knowledge, of the sons of Yaakov. This was HaShem’s response to the angel of the Sea. The Jews worshiped idols because the catalyst for  the slavery of the Nation in Egypt as the sale of Yosef, who was the דעת of the Jewish People. Furthermore, they worshiped idols because of the servitude, i.e the subjugation to the Evil Inclination and to Pharaoh, who reflects the blandishments of that inclination.


Prior to Aharon offering the sacrfices to atone for the sins of Yosef’s sale and for worshiping the Golden Calf, Moshe called to him and his sons. The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 1:15) states HaShem called to Moshe to enter the Tent of Meeting because without being called, Moshe would be lacking דעת, knowledge, and then even an animal carcass is better than him. Nadav and Avihu entered the Holy of Holies without being called, so on their level they lacked דעת. The Mishkan was built with דעת, and דעת reflects טהרה, priority.

We must build our homes with דעת to ensure that they remain pure. Yosef, who remained holy and pure in Egypt, reflected דעת, and HaShem entrusted him with the mission of sustaining Yaakov and his family while in Egypt. The gematria of the word Sעה, knowledge, is equal to the word לחם, bread.

My time is up!

Have a knowledgeable and pure Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler


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