Book 2: Exodus


Chapter 30 - Rashi

Verse 12: When you take the count.

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] has the meaning of "taking,"1 as Onkelos translates it [ {Hebrew Ref} ]---"you will take." [I.e.] "When you will wish to take the sum total of their numbers, do not take a head count, but, rather, let each give a half-shekel then count the shekalim and you will know [their number]."

Thus there will be no plague among them---

for things that are counted are subject to the evil eye and as a result a plague befalls them like the one which occurred in the days of David.2

Verse 13: Must give this.3

He (G-d) showed him the likeness of a coin made of fire whose weight was half a shekel4 and said to him, "Like this shall they give."5

Passing by to be counted.

It is the way of those who take a count to make that which is to be counted pass one after the other. Similarly: "Whoever passes under the rod"6 and similarly: "the sheep shall pass by the counter."7

Half a shekel based on the shekel of the holy [Sanctuary].

I.e., based on the weight of the shekel which I (G-d) set aside for you with which to weigh the shekels to be used for sacred things. For example, the shekels mentioned in the section dealing with evaluating things vowed to the Sanctuary and possessed fields vowed to the Sanctuary.8

Where a shekel is twenty geirah.

It now clarifies for you how much it is.


[Geirah in Hebrew is] the word for {Hebrew Ref} [in Aramaic]. The same applies to: ". . . will come to bow down for an {Hebrew Ref} of silver and a piece of bread."9

Where a shekel is twenty geirah.

I.e., a whole shekel. For a shekel is four zuz and a zuz at first was five {Hebrew Ref} .10 But then one sixth11 was added and its value was raised to six silver {Hebrew Ref} .12 "It is half of this [original] shekel, which I described to you, that they shall give as a terumah-offering to G-d.

Verse 14: From [age] twenty years and older.

Here it teaches you that no one below twenty years of age goes into the army nor is he counted among the men.

Verse 15: To atone for your souls.13

[Meaning:] so that you not be struck by a plague as a result of being counted.14 An alternate explanation of {Hebrew Ref} : Because it alludes here to three terumah-offerings, for {Hebrew Ref} is written three times here.15 The first represents the terumah-offering for the sockets16 for he (Moshe) counted them when they began contributing to the mishkon and each person gave half a shekel, and it totalled 100 kikar, as it states: "And the silver of the counted of the congregation totalled one hundred kikar,"17 and from these the sockets were made as it states: "The one hundred kikar of silver, etc."18 The second [ {Hebrew Ref} ], it, too, [was contributed] through counting for they were counted after the mishkon was erected. It is the counting that is spoken of at the start of the book of Numbers (Bamidbar): "[G-d spoke to Moshe] on the first day of the second month, in the second year,"19 [at which time] each one gave half a shekel. They were for buying the communal korbonos for each year. Both were considered alike regarding them---20 the poor and the rich. It is regarding this [last] terumah-offering21 that it is said: "to atone for your souls," because the [purpose of the] korbonos is atonement. And the third [ {Hebrew Ref} ] is the terumah-offering for the mishkon, as it is said: "everyone who set aside a terumah-offering of silver and copper."22 Not everyone participated alike in this case, rather, each person contributed as his heart moved him.23

Verse 16: And donate it for the work of the Tent of Meeting.

From this you may learn that he (Moshe) was commanded to count them when they began to contribute to the mishkon, after the occurrence of the [golden] calf because a plague had come upon them, as it states: "And G-d plagued the people."24 A parable [to which this can be compared]: to a flock of sheep that is dear to its owner that was struck by a plague. Once it (the plague) ceased, he said to the shepherd, "I ask of you, count my sheep so that you know how many of them are left." [He did this] in order to make it known that it (i.e., the flock) was dear to him.25 [However,] it is impossible to say that this count is the same one spoken of in the book of Numbers (i.e., Bamidbar), for regarding that one it says: "on the first day of the second month,"26 whereas the mishkon was erected on the first day of the first month, as it is said: "On the first day of the first month you shall erect, etc. [the mishkon]"27 and from this count [in this section] the sockets were made from its shekalim,28 as it states: "the one hundred kikar [of silver] were used to cast, etc."29: Thus you learn that they were two [separate countings], one at the start of their contribution after Yom Kippur of the first year,30 and one in the second year in Iyar after the mishkon was already erected. Should you ask: but is it possible that at both [countings] the [number of Israelites] were exactly the same, viz., 603,550?! For in relating the use of the silver [which was collected] at the counting of the congregation31 it is so stated (i.e., it gives the above number). And in the Book of Numbers (i.e., Bamidbar) there, too, it states: "And the total of all who were counted was 603,550."32 Were not [these countings] in two [different] years and it would have been impossible that there would not have been at the first counting some nineteen year olds who were not counted33 and turned twenty by the second year.34 The solution to this problem is: As regards to the age of the people [it is considered that] they were counted in the same year, whereas as pertaining to the exodus from Egypt they are [considered] as two years. This is because the exodus from Egypt is calculated from Nissan, as we have learned in Tractate Rosh Hashanah35 [and we therefore speak of] the mishkon being built in the first year and erected in the second, for the new year begins on the first of Nissan, whereas the ages of the people are calculated according to the years [since the creation] of the world which begin with [the month of] Tishri.36 Consequently both countings [took place, in effect,] in the same year. The first counting was in Tishri, after Yom Kippur, when G-d became reconciled with the Israelites to forgive them [for the sin of the golden calf], and they were given the command regarding [the construction] of the mishkon while the second [counting] took place on the first of Iyar.37

For the work of the Tent of Meeting.

This refers to the sockets which were made of it.38

Verse 18: A wash basin---

like a large pot which had spigots which poured out water through their openings.

And its base.

As Onkelos translates it: "and its base," a stand set up [to hold] the wash basin.

For washing.39

This refers back to the wash basin.

And the altar---

the altar of the burnt-offering, about which it is written that it is "in front of the entrance way of the mishkon of the Tent of Meeting."40 The wash basin was slightly pulled to the side41 and stood in the space between the altar and the mishkon and did not obstruct at all between them, for it is stated: "And the altar of the burnt-offering he placed at the entrance of the mishkon of the Tent of Meeting,"42 [indicating that] the altar was in front of the Tent of Meeting but the wash basin was not in front of the Tent of Meeting. Then where was it? It was slightly pulled back southward. So it is taught in Tractate Zevachim.43

Verse 19: Their hands and their feet.

He (the kohein) simultaneously washed his hands and feet.44 Thus did we learn in Tractate Zevachim:45 How was the washing of the hands and feet done? He placed his right hand on his right foot, and his left hand on his left foot and washed [them].

Verse 20: Before entering the Tent of Meeting---46

to burn the incense, morning and afternoon, or to sprinkle from the blood of the bull brought by the anointed kohein [godol] and of the goats brought for the sin of idolatry.47

And they will not die.

But, if they do not wash, they will die, for in the Torah there were said things intended to be understood by inference. Hence from the inference of the negative you may derive the positive.48

The altar.

[I.e.,] the outer [altar] for in this case there is no entering into the Tent of Meeting, but only into the courtyard.

Verse 21: And they will not die.49

This intends to make liable to the death penalty someone who performs a korbon service on the [outer] altar without having washed his hands and feet; for from the earlier mention of the death penalty we can derive only that it applies to someone who enters the Sanctuary.50

Verse 23: The finest spices.

[Meaning:] the finest.

Fragrant cinnamon.51

Since cinnamon is the bark of a tree, there are some that are good and have a good fragrance and flavor, and there are some that are merely like wood, it was therefore necessary to say: {Hebrew Ref} ---i.e., of the fragrant one.

Half a portion being two hundred fifty.

I.e., half of what is brought shall be two hundred fifty. Consequently the total was five hundred, equal to the amount of pure myrrh. If that is the case, why is it expressed in terms of halves? It is a scriptural decree that it be brought as two halves so that it be increased by two tippings of the scale for things cannot be weighed to their absolute exactness.52 So this is taught in Tractate Kerisos.53

Calamus spices.

[Meaning:] cane containing spices. Because there are canes that contain no spices it was necessary to say: {Hebrew Ref} ---"containing spices."

Two hundred fifty---

the amount of the total weight.54

Verse 24: Cassia.

It is the name of a root of an herb which, in the language of the Sages, is ketzia55


The equivalent of twelve logs. The Sages of Yisrael disputed [the oil's purpose]: Rabbi Meir said that the roots were boiled in it. Whereupon Rabbi Yehuda said to him: [But it is not so] for even to coat the roots this amount [of oil] would be insufficient! But [its purpose was this:] they soaked them (the roots) in water [so that being saturated with water] they would not absorb the oil, after which he poured the oil upon them [and kept it there] until it absorbed the aroma and then skimmed the oil off the roots.56

Verse 25: A blend made by a [perfume] blender.

{Hebrew Ref} is a noun [and not a verb], and the accent's being on the first syllable indicates this. It is the same as {Hebrew Ref} ---"blended," or {Hebrew Ref} ---"a moment."57 It is not the same as: {Hebrew Ref} 58---"he stirs up the sea;" or the same as: {Hebrew Ref} 59---"who spreads out the land," 60 where the accent is on the last syllable.61 Anything mixed with another thing to the degree that one absorbs from the other either smell or taste is called {Hebrew Ref} .

{Hebrew Ref}

[therefore means] a blend made through skilled craftsmanship and mixing.

The work of a {Hebrew Ref} ---

the name of the craftsman in this field.

Verse 26: Anoint with it.

All anointings were done in the form of the Greek chi62 except those of kings which are done in the form of a crown.63

Verse 29: Sanctify them.64

It is this anointing which sanctifies them to become holy of holies. And what is the manifestation of their holiness? It is: "Anything that touches them, etc." [This means:] anything that is fit for a sacred vessel,65 once it comes into it (i.e., the vessel) it becomes intrinsically holy,66 so that it will become unfit though {Hebrew Ref} , [i.e., if taken out of the courtyard of the mishkon] or {Hebrew Ref} , [i.e., being left overnight of the altar], or [by coming in contact with] a {Hebrew Ref} 67 and cannot be redeemed so as to become secular. However, anything that is not fit for them68 they do not sanctify. This is stated as an undisputed Mishnah (i.e., a beraisa) concerning the altar. From that which is stated: "Whatever touches the altar becomes sanctified,"69 I might infer that this applies whether it is fit [for the altar] or whether it is not fit. The Torah, therefore, says [in the next verse]: "sheep"---just as sheep are fit [for the altar], so must everything be fit [to be sanctified by the altar]. Every anointing of the mishkon, kohanim and kings is translated by Onkelos as {Hebrew Ref} ---"elevating to a higher status" because the only purpose of anointing is to elevate to a higher status, for so did the King (G-d) establish that this [shall be the method] of installation to a higher status. However, other anointings, for example, {Hebrew Ref} (anointed wafers),70 or: "With the important oils shall they anoint ( {Hebrew Ref} )," 71 their Aramaic version is the same as the Hebrew.72

Verse 31: For all your generations.

From this our Sages deduced that one can state that the entire [ {Hebrew Ref} ] will be preserved for the time yet to come (i.e., after Moshiach comes).73


The numerical value [of {Hebrew Ref} ] [ {Hebrew Ref} =7, {Hebrew Ref} =5] corresponds to the twelve logs [of the {Hebrew Ref} ]. 74

Verse 32: {Hebrew Ref} ---

spelled with two letters {Hebrew Ref} which takes the form: he (or, it) shall not be done, as in: "so that ( {Hebrew Ref} ) it will be well with you."75

It must not be poured on the flesh of any man---

from this oil itself.76

{Hebrew Ref} .

[Meaning:] with the quantity of each of its spices make no other like it, i.e., with the weight of these spices in proportion to the measure of a hin of oil. But if he decreased or increased the spices in proportion to the measure of a hin of oil, then it is permissible. However, even if it were made in the proportions of this one (i.e., the {Hebrew Ref} ), there is no transgression for one who applies it to himself, only for one who blends it [transgresses].77

And its formula.

A term meaning: "a particular quantity," as in: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) the quantity of bricks."78 Similarly: {Hebrew Ref} ---"in its particular quantity," of the incense.79

Verse 33: Or if he places from it.

[I.e.,] from the one which Moshe [blended].80

Upon an unauthorized person.

[I.e.,] when it is not for the need of the priesthood or kingdom (i.e., anointing a king).81 82

Verse 34: {Hebrew Ref} .

{Hebrew Ref} is balsam, but since it is only the sap that drips from the balsam trees it is called {Hebrew Ref} (from {Hebrew Ref} --- "drips").83 In Old French it is called gome (tree sap) and the balsam is called theriake.


It is a smooth fragrant root, translucent like a fingernail. In mishnaic Hebrew it is called {Hebrew Ref} .84 And that is the intent of Onkelos when he translates it: {Hebrew Ref} ( {Hebrew Ref} being Aramaic for {Hebrew Ref} ).


A spice with a bad odor, which is called galbanum. Scripture counts it among the spices of the incense to teach us not to look with contempt at including in our gatherings for fasts and prayers the sinners among the Israelites, that they should be counted (i.e., united) with us.85


[I.e.,] other spices.

And pure frankincense.

From here our Sages derived that Moshe was told of eleven spices at Sinai:86 the minumum amount indicated by {Hebrew Ref} ---"spices," is two (for the least of any plural is two); stacte, onycha, and galbanum are three; so you have five; {Hebrew Ref} [is repeated at this point] so as to add an amount equal to the above;87 so now you have ten; and frankincense makes it eleven. They are as follows: 1. stacte, 2. onycha, 3. galbanum 4. frankincense, 5. myrrh, 6. cassia, 7. spikenard, 8. saffron; this gives you eight, because {Hebrew Ref} and {Hebrew Ref} are one, for {Hebrew Ref} is similar to {Hebrew Ref} ; 9. costus, 10. aromatic bark, 11. cinnamon, giving you the total of eleven. Boris karshina88 is not burnt but it is used to smooth the onycha in order to whiten it so as to make it pleasing to the eye.89

They shall be of equal weight.

The four explicitly mentioned here shall be equal---weight for weight. The weight of one should be the same weight as the other, and so we learned:90 the balsam, the onycha, the galbanum, and the frankincense each had a weight of seventy manehs. The word {Hebrew Ref} , it seems to me, is a term for "a single one" [ {Hebrew Ref} ---therefore has the meaning:] "they shall be one for one" i.e., one like the other.

Verse 35: Thoroughly blended.

As Onkelos translates it: "mixed," [i.e.] the particles must be mixed thoroughly with one another. It is my opinion that similar to this (i.e., {Hebrew Ref} ) is: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) the sailors were frightened"91 [or:] "( {Hebrew Ref} ) your sailors and your pilots."92 [They are so called] because they keep turning the water over (mixing) with oars when they move the ship, similar to a person who stirs beaten eggs with a spoon in order to mix them with water. Anything that a person wants to mix thoroughly he turns over (stirs up) with a finger or a spoon.

Thoroughly blended, pure and holy.

Thoroughly blended shall it be, pure shall it be, and holy shall it be.

Verse 36: And place it, etc.

This refers to the daily incense burning which [was done] on the inner altar which is inside the Tent of Meeting.

Where I will meet with you.

"All appointments that I will set up to speak with you I shall set up in that place."

Verse 37: Its formula.

[Meaning:] according to the quantity of its spices.

It shall be sacred to you for Ad-noy.93

[Meaning:] that you shall do it only for My Name.94

Verse 38: To enjoy its fragrance.

But, you may make it on your own in its proper proportions for the purpose of selling it to the community.95 96

Chapter 31 - Rashi

Verse 2: I have called by name---97

to do my work---Betzalel.

Verse 3: With wisdom.

["Wisdom" refers to] that which a person hears from others, and learns.98

With understanding.

[ {Hebrew Ref} is what] he understands on his own from things that he has learned [from others].99

With knowledge.

[ {Hebrew Ref} refers to] Divine Inspiration.

Verse 4: To devise plans---

[refers to] the weaving of a master craftsman.

Verse 5: {Hebrew Ref} .

Meaning: a craft as in: {Hebrew Ref} ---"a wise craftsman."100 However, Onkelos explains it more specifically and varies their explanation [in each instance], for a stone craftsman is called {Hebrew Ref} and a wood craftsman is called {Hebrew Ref} .

For setting (lit. to fill).

[I.e] to place it into its setting in its entirety [i.e.] to make the setting [corresponding] to the measurement of the bottom of the stone and its thickness.

Verse 6: In the heart of every wise-hearted person, etc.101

[Meaning:] and the other wise-hearted among you,102 and anyone to whom I have given wisdom,103 all these shall do all that I have commanded you.

Verse 7: The ark for the Testimony.

[I.e.] for the purpose of the Tablets of Testimony.104

Verse 8: The pure Menorah.

So called on account of [its] pure gold.105

Verse 10: Garments of crochet-work.106

It is my opinion [that] according to the plain meaning of the verse it is impossible to say that it speaks here of the priestly garments for [immediately thereafter] it states: "and the sacred garments of Aharon the kohein and the garments of his sons to serve."107 But, [you must say] that these {Hebrew Ref} are the "garments" [made of] the greenish-blue wool, and the dark red wool, and the crimson wool which are mentioned in the section of the travels:108 "They shall spread over it a 'garment' of greenish-blue wool"109 "and spread over it a 'garment' of dark red wool,"110 "they shall place over them a garment of crimson."111 It seems that my opinion is correct, for it is said: "And from the greenish-blue wool, the dark red wool, and the crimson wool they made {Hebrew Ref} to serve in the Sanctuary,"112 and linen is not mentioned among them. Now, if [it were speaking] of the priestly garments---113 we do not find in a single one of them [mention of] dark red wool or crimson wool without linen [as well].

Garments of crochet-work.

Some explain it as garments of work and service as Onkelos translates it: "garments of service." Nothing like {Hebrew Ref} appears in Scripture. It is my opinion that it is from Aramaic similar to the Targum of the word {Hebrew Ref} 114 and the Targum of {Hebrew Ref} ,115 both of which were woven by needle (crocheted) forming intermittent holes lacediz (net-work) in Old French.

Verse 11: And the incense of spices for the Holy.

For the purpose116 of bringing up smoke in the {Hebrew Ref} which is [the] {Hebrew Ref} [referred to here].

Verse 13: And you, speak to the B'nei Yisrael.117

"And you, though I have charged you to command them concerning the work of the mishkon, let it not be an easy matter for you to set the Shabbos aside on account of that work."118

You must still preserve My Shabbos.

Though you may be preoccupied in the rush of the work [of the mishkon], nevertheless Shabbos should not be set aside on account of it. [This is indicated by the fact that] every time the {Hebrew Ref} or {Hebrew Ref} appear [they convey the idea of] limiting or excluding.119 [Here {Hebrew Ref} appears so as] to exclude Shabbos from any work of the mishkon.120

For it is a sign between Me and yourselves.

It is a sign of the esteem between us that I have chosen you, [as is indicated] by My giving to you as a legacy My day of rest, for rest.

To know.

[So that] the nations [know] through it "that I, G-d, make you holy."

Verse 14: Shall be put to death---121

provided there are witnesses and a warning.

Shall be cut off [shall suffer the punishment of kares]---

if there was no warning.122

Anyone who profanes it.123

[I.e.,] one who treats it in a profane matter despite its holiness.124

Verse 15: A Shabbos of complete rest.

[Means:] a restful rest and not a haphazard rest.125

( {Hebrew Ref} .

The reason the verse doubles the word {Hebrew Ref} is to tell you that all "work" is prohibited, even that which is for preparation of food. So, too, regarding Yom Kippur, where it states: "It is for you {Hebrew Ref} ,"126 all "work" is prohibited. Whereas regarding Yom Tov, it states only:127 "On the first day it shall be {Hebrew Ref} and on the eighth day it shall be {Hebrew Ref} 128 they (i.e., these days) are prohibited from all "work" of toil but are permitted in work that is for the preparation of food.)

It is sacred to Ad-noy.

The observance of its sacredness shall be for My Name and to obey My commandments.129

Verse 17: And He rested.

As Onkelos translates it: {Hebrew Ref} ---"and He rested." All forms of {Hebrew Ref} are from {Hebrew Ref} --- "soul," i.e., he retrieves his soul and breath130 by his resting from the toil of his work. Now He, about Whom it is written: "He does not become faint, nor weary,"131 and all His "work" is accomplished merely by command132 attributes "rest" to Himself only to accustom the ear to what it can possibly hear.133

Verse 18: And He gave to Moshe, etc.134

There is no "earlier" or "later" in the Torah.135 [Here, too], the event of the Calf preceded the command regarding the work of the mishkon by many days. For on the seventeenth of Tammuz the tablets were broken136 and on Yom Kippur G-d was reconciled to the Israelites.137 On the following day they began contributing towards the mishkon which was erected on the first of Nissan.138

When He finished.

It is written {Hebrew Ref} (with no {Hebrew Ref} after the {Hebrew Ref} ) [suggesting] that the Torah was given to him as a gift, as a bride [is given] to a groom139 because [otherwise] he could not have learned it all in such a short time.140 An alternate explanation [of {Hebrew Ref} ]: just as a bride adorns herself with 24 adornments--- those enumerated in the book of Yeshaiyahu---141 so, too, must a Torah scholar be knowledgeable in the twenty-four books.142 143

Speaking to him.

The statutes and laws in (parshas) Mishpatim.

Speaking to him.144

This teaches that Moshe would hear from G-d then they both reviewed and studied the halachah together.145


It is written {Hebrew Ref} (without a {Hebrew Ref} after the {Hebrew Ref} )146 to indicate that they were both of equal [dimensions].147

Chapter 32 - Rashi

Verse 1: That Moshe was late.

As Onkelos translates it---a term for lateness. Similarly: "[Why] is the rider ( {Hebrew Ref} ) late?"148 [or:] "They waited until ( {Hebrew Ref} ) it was late."149 For when Moshe ascended the mountain he had told them: "At the end of forty days150 I will return within [the first] six hours."151 They thought that the day that he ascended152 is included [in the forty days]153 but, actually, he had told them "full [days]" [i.e.] forty days, each day with its preceding night. But the day that he ascended, its night was not part of it for he ascended on the seventh of Sivan.154 Consequently the actual 40th day was the seventeenth of Tammuz. On the sixteenth (of Tammuz) the Satan came and caused disorder in the world by creating the appearance of darkness, deep gloom and confusion [so as to lead people] to say: "Moshe has certainly died and therefore the world has been thrown into disorder. He said to them: "Moshe has died, for six hours have already come155 and he still has not come, etc."156 as is related in Tractate Shabbos.157 It is impossible to say that their mistake was due only to a cloudy day whether it was before or after noon,158 for Moshe did not descend until the following day, as it is said: "They arose early the next morning159 and offered burnt-offerings."160

That will lead us.161

They yearned to have many gods.162

For this Moshe, the man.163

The Satan showed them a likeness of Moshe being carried in the air high in the sky.164 165

Who brought us up from the land of Egypt---166

and taught us the way to go; now we need gods who will go before us.167

Verse 2: On the ears of your wives.168

Aharon thought to himself: the women and children fancy their jewelry, perhaps, [as a result], the thing will be delayed and in the meantime Moshe will arrive. But they did not wait [for the women and children] and took off [their own jewelry] from themselves.169


{Hebrew Ref} is a plural imperative (a command) derived from {Hebrew Ref} in the singular as in {Hebrew Ref} derived from {Hebrew Ref} .

Verse 3: They removed.

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] has the meaning of unloading a burden, for when they removed them from their ears they became "unloaded" of their rings, descharjier in Old French.

{Hebrew Ref} .

As if it were: {Hebrew Ref} ---"of the rings," as in: "As soon as I go out ( {Hebrew Ref} )"170 [meaning:] (from) of the city.

Verse 4: And formed it with an engraving tool.171

This can be translated two ways: The first: {Hebrew Ref} as a term for tying and {Hebrew Ref} as a term for a cloth,172 as in: "the shawls ( {Hebrew Ref} ) and the cloths,"173 [or:] "He tied two kikar of silver in two ( {Hebrew Ref} ) cloths."174 The second: {Hebrew Ref} as a term for forming images; {Hebrew Ref} , a tool used by goldsmiths with which they scrape and engrave images into gold, like the stylus of a scribe who engraves letters onto tablets and ledgers, as in: "And write on it with a man's ( {Hebrew Ref} ) stylus." 175 This was Onkelos' intent when he translated it: "He engraved it with a {Hebrew Ref} , from the word {Hebrew Ref} ---"forgery." It is a tool for engraving letters and designs in gold, referred to in Old French as neel, and through it seals can be forged.

A molten calf.

As soon as he threw it into the fire, in a melting pot, the magicians, of the riffraff came--- those who went up with them from Egypt--- and made it (the Calf) by means of magic.176 Some say that Michah177 was there for he had come out of the foundations of a building into which he had been crushed178 in Egypt.179 He had in his hand an amulet and a plate onto which Moshe had written: "Arise ox! Arise ox!," with which to bring up Yoseif's bier180 from the Nile, and he (Michah) threw into the melting pot and out came the Calf.181 182


[ {Hebrew Ref} is] a word that relates to metal. An alternate explanation [of {Hebrew Ref} ]: There were 125 kikars of gold in it (the Calf), equal to the gematria (the numerical value) of {Hebrew Ref} . 183

These are your G-ds.184

It does not say: These are our gods. From this [we derive] that the riffraff that came up from Egypt were the ones that gathered against Aharon and were the ones that made it (the Calf), and afterwards misled the Israelites to follow it.185

Verse 5: Aharon saw---186

that it was alive as it is said [of the Golden Calf]: "in the form of an ox eating grass,"187 and he thereby saw that the Satan's act188 succeeded and therefore had no excuse to put them off completely.

He built an altar---

so as to stall them.189

And he said, tomorrow190 will be a festival to Ad-noy.

But [he did not say] "today," in case Moshe would return before they worship it. That is its plain meaning. But its midrashic explanation is in Vayikra Rabbah:191 [ {Hebrew Ref} ] Aharon saw many things: he saw that when his nephew, Chur, reprimanded them,192 they killed him [and accordingly] {Hebrew Ref} [should be understood as:] {Hebrew Ref} ---"He understood from the one slaughtered before him." He also saw [the situation] and he said: Better the blame be put on me and not on them.193 He saw yet another thing and he said: "If they build the alter, themselves, one will bring a chip of wood and another will bring a stone, resulting in their work being completed all at once. But through my building it and procrastinating in my work, in the meantime Moshe will come."

A festival to Ad-noy.194

In his heart it was to G-d.195 He was confident that Moshe would arrive and that they would worship G-d.196

Verse 6: They arose early.197

The Satan hurried them for the purpose of sinning.

To amuse themselves.

There is the implication [in {Hebrew Ref} ] of sexual immorality, as it is said: "to mock me"198 (Potiphar's wife's accusation against Yosef) and of bloodshed, as it is said: "Let the lads arise and 'play' before us."199 200 Here, too, [ {Hebrew Ref} alludes to] Chur's being killed. 201

Verse 7: [Ad-noy] spoke.202

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] is a term of harshness as in: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) He spoke with them harshly."203

"Go down."204

I.e., "Descend from your exalted position. I did not give you your high position except for their sake." At that moment Moshe was ostracized by the Heavenly Court.205

Your people have become corrupt.

It is not said: "the people have become corrupt," but, rather: "your people"--- the riffraff whom you accepted, on your own accord, and you accepted as proselytes without consulting Me, and you thought it good that proselytes be joined to the Shechinah--- they have become corrupt and have corrupted others.206

Verse 9: Stiff-necked.

So-called because they turn their stiff necks towards those who reprimand them and refuse to listen.

Verse 10: Leave Me alone.

We have not yet heard of Moshe praying for them and already He has said, "Leave me alone"?!207 But He thereby gave him an opening and let him know that the matter depends on him, that if he will pray for them He will not destroy them.

Verse 11: "Ad-noy! Why," etc.208

Can there be a thought of jealousy, unless it is a wise man of a wise man or a powerful man of a powerful man.209

Verse 12: And reconsider.

I.e., formulate another plan to do good to them.

The evil---

that You had planned for them.

Verse 13: Remember Avraham.210

If they transgressed the Ten Commandments, their father Avraham was tested through ten tests, and has not yet received his reward, give it to him [now] and let the "ten" offset the "ten."

Avraham, Yitzchok and Yisrael.

If [their punishment is to be] by burning then remember Avraham who offered himself to be burnt for Your sake in Ur Kasdim. If [it is to be] by the sword, then remember Yitzchok who stretched forth his neck at the "binding." If [it is to be] through exile, then remember Yaakov who went into exile to Charan.211 212 And if they cannot be saved by their [forefathers'] merit, then what is this that You tell me: "I will make you into a great nation"?213 If a chair with three legs214 cannot stand before You at the time of Your anger [then this is] certainly [true] of a chair with one leg.215 216

To whom You swore by Your self.

You did not swear to them by something that is finite--- neither by the heavens, nor by the earth, neither by the mountains, nor the hills, but only by Your Self. Who is eternal, and Your oath remains forever, as it is said: " 'By My Self I have sworn,' says G-d."217 To Yitzchok it was said: "I will establish the [same] oath that I swore to Avraham, your father."218 And to Yaakov it was said: "I am G-d Almighty, be fruitful and multiply."219 Thus He swore to him by "G-d Almighty."220

Verse 15: On both sides---

were the letters readable, and it was a work of miracles.221

Verse 16: They were the work of G-d.

As it implies: He (G-d) Himself in His Glory made them. An alternate explanation: It is analogous to a person who tells his friend, "All the occupation of so-and-so is with that particular work." So too is all the preoccupation of G-d with the Torah.222


The words {Hebrew Ref} and {Hebrew Ref} are the same, both being terms for engraving, enteillier in Old French.

Verse 17: Rejoicing.

[Meaning:] trumpeting--- for they were blowing horns, rejoicing and laughing.

Verse 18: It is not the sound of strength.

This sound seems neither the shout of the mighty, who cry out, "Victory!" nor the sound of the weak who cry out, "Woe!" or, "Let us flee!" [but, rather---]

A sound of song.

I.e., a sound of defamations and blasphemies ( {Hebrew Ref} ) which torment the soul of those who hear them when they are related to him.

Verse 19: And he threw down, from his hands, etc.

He thought to himself: Just as the korbon Pesach, which is just one of the mitzvos [of the Torah], yet the Torah says: "No stranger may eat from it;"223 but the entire Torah is here [on the Tablets]224 how can I conceivably give it to them?!

Beneath the mountain.

[I.e.,] at the foot of the mountain.

Verse 20: He scattered it.

A term meaning scattering. Similarly "( {Hebrew Ref} ) there shall be scattered on his dwelling place, brimstone."225 And similarly: "For naught ( {Hebrew Ref} ) is the net spread out"226 [so called] because grain and beans are scattered in it.

And made the B'nei Yisrael drink it.

He intended to test them [in the same manner] as are women suspected of adultery.227 228 Three different death penalties were inflicted there: [1.] if there were witnesses and a warning [to the sinner]--- by the sword,229 the same as an idolatrous city,230 when there are many involved.231 [2.] If there were witnesses but no warning--- by the plague, as it is said: "G-d struck the people with a plague."232 [3.] If there were no witnesses and no warning--- by swelling up, for the water tested them and their stomachs swelled up.233

Verse 21: What did this people do to you.

How much pain did you endure that they tortured you before you brought this sin on them?234

Verse 22: That [the people] are set on evil.

They are always going on an evil way with temptations before G-d.

Verse 24: I said to them.

I said one thing to them--- only: "Who has gold?"235 and they hurriedly removed it and gave it to me.

I threw it into the fire---

and I did not know that this calf would come out and it did come out.

Verse 25: Exposed.

[Meaning:] exposed--- its shame and disgrace were exposed, as in: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) He shall expose the head of the woman."236

Disgraced among their adversaries.

[Meaning:] that this matter shall be a disgrace for them before all who rise up against them.

Verse 26: "Whoever is for Ad-noy, to me!"

I.e., "Come to me."

All the sons of Leivi.

From here it is derived that the entire Tribe was righteous.237

Verse 27: This is what Ad-noy said, etc.

Where [did G-d tell him] this? "He who sacrifices to a god must be condemned to die."238 This is how this is presented in Mechilta.

His brother---239

having a common mother,240 and he (the brother) is a Israelite.241

Verse 29: Consecrate yourselves---

you who kill them, by this act you will install yourselves as kohanim to G-d.242

For each man---

Amongst you will be installed [as a result of what each did] to his son and brother.

Verse 30: I will gain atonement for your sin.243

[I.e.] "I shall put a cleansing, wiping away and a covering in front of your sins,244 to separate between you and the sin.

Verse 31: A god of gold.245

"You (G-d) are the One who caused this to happen to them for You gave them an abundance of gold and anything they desired. How could they not sin?" A parable comparable to a king, who fed and gave drink to his son and adorned him and hung a bag [full of money] from his neck and stands him in the doorway of a house of ill-repute; how could the son possibly not sin?246

Verse 32: Now, if you would bear their sin---

then well and good--- I will not say to You, "Erase me," but if not, erase me [from Your Book.] This is an eliptical verse247 and there are many such cases.

From Your Book.

[I.e.] from the entire Torah, so that it should not be said of me that I was not worthy enough to ask for mercy on their behalf.

Verse 34: To [the place] of which I have spoken to you.

Here is an instance where {Hebrew Ref} is used connected with the verb {Hebrew Ref} in the place of {Hebrew Ref} . A similar instance: "to speak to him concerning Adoniyohu."248

Behold, My Angel---249

but not I.250

On the day that I take account, etc.

As for now I shall listen to you [and refrain] from destroying them all at once; but always and consistently, whenever I will take an accounting of their sins, I will also account for a little of this sin along with their other sins.251 And, indeed, no punishment is meted out to Yisrael that does not have along with it some of the punishment for the sin of the Calf.252

Verse 35: Ad-noy struck the people with a plague.

[I.e.,] death at the hands of the Heavenly King, [for those who sinned] before witnesses without having received a warning.253

Chapter 33 - Rashi

Verse 1: Leave, go up from this.

Eretz Yisrael is the highest of all the lands.254 Therefore it says: "Go up." An alternate explanation [for the expression: "Go up"]: as opposed to what He said to him in time of anger: "Go down,"255 He said to him in time of good-will "Go up."256

You and the people.

Here he did not say: "and your people."257

Verse 2: And I will drive out the Canaanites, etc.

These are [only] six nations.258 [This is because] the Girgashite nation got up and cleared out on their own from before them.259

Verse 3: To a land flowing with milk and honey---

do I tell you to bring them up.260

For I will not go up among you.

It is for this reason that I say to you "I will send an angel before you."261

For you are a stiff-necked people---

and when My Shechinah is among you and you are rebellious against Me it causes Me to increase My anger against you.262

Destroy you.

{Hebrew Ref} comes from {Hebrew Ref} --- "destruction."

Verse 4: This bad news---

that the Shechinah will not reside or go with them.

[No] man [wore] his ornament.

[This refers to] the crowns given to them at Chorev when they responded, "We shall do and we shall listen."263

Verse 5: Were I to go up among you for one moment. I would destroy you.

"Were I to go up among you, and you would be rebellious against me--- in your stubbornness, I would be angry with you for [only] one moment which is the length of time that my anger lasts, as it is said: "Hide for almost a moment, until the anger passes,"264 and I would destroy you. It is therefore better for you that I send an angel.265

And now---

this is the punishment that you will receive immediately, that you will remove your ornaments from yourselves.266

And I know what to do with you.

Insofar as the accounting for the rest of the sin I know what I have in My heart to do to you.267

Verse 6: Their ornaments from Mount Chorev.

Their ornaments which they possessed from Mount Chorev.

Verse 7: And Moshe---

from the time of the sin and on---

would take the tent.268

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] is an ongoing action (present tense): he would take his tent and pitch it outside the encampment. He thought: one who is ostracized by the master ought to be ostracized by the disciple as well.269 270

A distance---

of two thousand amohs, similar to what is said: "Only let there be a distance between you (the B'nei Yisrael) and it (the Ark) of about two thousand amohs by measure."271

And he called it.

He would refer to it as Tent of Meeting--- a gathering place for those who seek knowledge of Torah.

Everyone who sought Ad-noy.272

From here [we derive] that one who seeks to be in the presence of an "elder" (a Torah scholar) is as if he is in the presence of the Shechinah.273

Would go out to the Tent of Meeting.274

[ {Hebrew Ref} here is] the same [tense] as {Hebrew Ref} (i.e., present tense). An alternate explanation of {Hebrew Ref} .275 Even the ministering angels, when they would inquire as to the place of the Shechinah their fellow-angels would say to them: "But He is there in Moshe's tent!"276

Verse 8: Whenever.

[ {Hebrew Ref} is] in the present tense.

Moshe went out---

from the encampment to go to the tent---

all the people would rise.277

They would stand up before him and would not sit until he disappeared from view.

And they would gaze after Moshe---278

in an admiring way, [saying, in effect:] "Fortunate is one born of woman who is assured that the Shechinah will follow him into the entranceway of his tent."279

Verse 9: And would speak with Moshe

--- the same as {Hebrew Ref} (present tense). Onkelos translates it {Hebrew Ref} 280 which is respect for the Shechinah, as in: "He heard the voice {Hebrew Ref} 281 to him" and it does not read {Hebrew Ref} . Because when it reads {Hebrew Ref} its interpretation is: the Voice speaking to itself which the ordinary person happens to overhear, but when it reads {Hebrew Ref} it implies that the king is speaking with the ordinary person.282

Verse 10: Prostrated themselves---

to the Shechinah.283

Verse 11: Ad-noy spoke to Moshe face to face.

The correct reading of Onkelos is {Hebrew Ref} .284

He returned to the camp---

after [G-d's] conversing with him Moshe would return to the encampment and teach the elders what he had learned. Moshe acted in this way from Yom Kippur until the mishkon was erected285 but not longer. For on the 17th of Tammuz the tablets were broken and on the 18th he burned the Calf and judged the sinners and on the nineteenth he went up [the mountain], as it says: "The next day Moshe said to the people, etc."286 and spent forty days there and asked for mercy [for the B'nei Yisrael], as it is said: "And I threw myself before G-d, etc."287 And on Rosh Chodesh Elul he was told: "and in the morning go up to Mount Sinai"288 to receive the Second Tablets, and [again] spend forty days there, about which it is said: "I stayed on the mountain the same as the first days, etc."289 [signifying:] just as the first days were with good will290 so were the last days with good will.291 Derive from this that the middle ones were with anger.292 On the 10th of Tishri (Yom Kippur) G-d became reconciled with the Israelites joyfully and whole heartedly and said to Moshe, "I have forgiven, as you ask, and gave him the Second Tablets and he (Moshe) came down. He began instructing him regarding the works of the mishkon and they constructed it until the 1st of Nissan. Once it was erected He never spoke again with him, except from the Tent of Meeting.293 "and he would return to the encampment," because it is in the present (ongoing) tense. The same applies to this whole section:294 {Hebrew Ref} (v. 10) is {Hebrew Ref} ---"would see," {Hebrew Ref} (v. 8) is {Hebrew Ref} ---"they would rise," {Hebrew Ref} (ibid.) is {Hebrew Ref} ---"they would gaze," {Hebrew Ref} (v. 10) is {Hebrew Ref} ---"they would bow." But its midrashic explanation is:295

G-d spoke to Moshe

that he must return to the encampment; he said to him: "I am angry and you are angry; if so, who will again bring them near to me."296 297

Verse 12: Behold You say to me.

{Hebrew Ref} (lit. "see") means: Set Your "eyes" and Your "heart" on Your words.298 You say to me, etc. ["lead this people up"] but You did not let me know, etc. [whom You would send with me]. And this that You said to me: "Behold, I am sending an angel" is not considered letting me know for I do not wish it [to happen].299

You [also] said, "I know you by name."

[Saying to me, in effect:] "I have recognized you from among other people 'by name'---i.e., to recognize your importance," for You said to me [to indicate this importance]: "Behold I come to you in the thickness of the cloud, etc. and also in you will they believe forever."300

Verse 13: Now---

if it is so that I have found favor in Your eyes please let me know Your ways--- i.e., what reward do You give to those who find favor in Your eyes---

so that I will know You that I may find favor in Your eyes.

And through this (i.e., knowing Your ways) the degree to which You give reward--- what is this "finding of favor' which I have found in Your eyes.301 Hence the interpretation of {Hebrew Ref} is: so that I may appreciate the extent of the reward for "finding favor."

And consider that this nation is Your people---

so that You not say: "And I will make you into a great nation," while You abandon these [the people]; consider that they are Your people of yore, and if You become contemptous of them I could not be certain that those who descend from me will endure.302 [I would rather] have as my reward that You make known to me through this people.303 Our Sages, however, give midrashic interpretations of it in Tractate Berachos,304 but my purpose is to explain the verses in their context and order.

Verse 14: He [G-d] said, "My Presence will go [with you].

It is as Onkelos translates it: [ {Hebrew Ref} ---"My Shechinah will go," meaning:] "I will no longer send an angel, I, Myself, will go,"305 as in: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) You, yourself, will go into battle."306

Verse 15: He (Moshe) said to him---

"that is exactly what I wish that You not bring us up from here through an angel."307

Verse 16: And how will it be known.

The finding of favor will be known only by Your Self going with us. But I ask one more thing of You that You no longer allow Your Shechinah to rest on the nations of the world.308

So that I and your people will be distinguished.

I.e., through this309 we will be set apart from all every other people, etc., as in: "G-d ( {Hebrew Ref} ) distinguished between the cattle, etc. [of Israel and the cattle of] the Egyptians, etc."310

Verse 17: Also this thing---

that My Shechinah will no longer rest upon the nations of the world---I will do.311 But the [prophetical] words of Bilaam were not by means of the resting of the Shechinah [on him], but, rather, "when fallen (i.e., asleep) but with the eyes uncovered."312 For example:313 "To me a word was stolen"314--- they (the prophets of the other nations) heard through an intermediary.

Verse 18: He (Moshe) then said "Please grant me a vision of Your Glory."315

Moshe saw that it was a favorable moment and that his words were finding acceptance. So he made an additional request to be shown a vision of His Glory.

Verse 19: He (G-d) said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass, etc."

I.e., "The time has come for you to see of My Glory, that which I will allow you to see, because I want and need to teach you the order of prayer. For, when you needed to ask for mercy for the Israelites, You reminded Me of the merit of the Patriarchs. You thought that were the merit of the Patriarchs to be exhausted there would no longer be any hope. I will, therefore, cause to pass all the attributes of My goodness before you on the rock while you are concealed in the cave.316

And will proclaim the Name, Ad-noy, in your presence---

so as to teach you the order of asking for mercy even if the merit of the Patriarchs is exhausted. And in this order that you see Me, "wrapped [in a tallis]" while proclaiming "the thirteen attributes,"317 teach Yisrael to do likewise. And by mentioning before Me [My attributes] "Merciful One! Gracious One" they will be answered, for My mercies are never exhausted.318 319

I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.

[I.e.,] those times that I will wish to be gracious.

And I will be compassionate---

those times that I will wish to be compassionate. Up to this point He only promised him that "at times I will respond, at times I will not respond." But at that time [when He actually proclaimed His attributes,] He said to him: "Behold, I establish a covenant,"320 thus promising him [that once the Attributes are invoked] they will never return unanswered (lit. empty).321

Verse 20: And He said, "You cannot," etc.

Even when I cause all My goodness to pass before you, I shall not permit you to see My Presence.

Verse 21: "Behold, there is a place with Me."

In the mountain, where I constantly speak with you, I have a place prepared for your needs, where I will conceal you so that you will not be hurt, and from there you will see what you may see. That is the plain explanation. However, its midrashic explanation is that ["a place"] refers to the place where the Shechinah is and He, therefore, says: "The place is with Me" and He does not say: "I am in the place," for G-d is "the place of the world" but the world is not "His place."322 323

Verse 22: When My Glory passes by.

[Meaning:] When I pass by you.

In a cleft of the rock.

[The word {Hebrew Ref} expresses the idea of a hole] as in: "Will you ( {Hebrew Ref} ) bore out the eyes of those men?"324 [or:] "The ravens of the valley ( {Hebrew Ref} ) will bore it out"325 [or:] "I have dug and drunk water;"326 They all have a common root. Therefore {Hebrew Ref} means "a place dug out in the rock."

And I will cover you with My Hand.

From here it may be derived permission is given to destroyers327 to destroy.328 Onkelos translates it (i.e., {Hebrew Ref} ) {Hebrew Ref} ---"I will protect you with My word." This is a euphemism as a way [of explaining] respectfulness towards the One on High, Who, [obviously] does not need to cover him actually, with His Hand.

Verse 23: Then I will remove My Hand.

[Onkelos translates it:] {Hebrew Ref} --- "I shall remove the guidance of My Glory," [Meaning:] "When I remove the guidance of My Glory from before your face"--- to go away from there [then---]

you will see My Back.

He showed him the tephillin-knot [behind the Head].329 330

Chapter 34 - Rashi

Verse 1: Carve out for yourself.


He (G-d) showed him a quarry of precious stone from within his tent and said to him: The [ {Hebrew Ref} ---from {Hebrew Ref} ] chips shall be [ {Hebrew Ref} ---from {Hebrew Ref} ] yours. From there Moshe became extremely wealthy.332

Carve out for yourself.333

You broke the First [Tablets], you carve out others for yourself. A parable: [this is comparable] to a king who went off to a faraway land and left his betrothed with the maidservants. As a result of the immoral behavior of the maidservants her (the betrothed's) reputation was besmirched. Her bridesman arose and tore up her marriage contract, saying: "If the king will decide to kill her I will tell him: 'She is not yet your wife'." [Consequently] the king investigated and found that the immoral behavior was only on the part of the maidservants. He was reconciled with her, whereupon the bridesman said to him (the king): "Write her another marriage contract for the first one was torn up." The king replied to him: "You are the one who tore it up. You buy other paper for yourself and I will write it for her in my handwriting." Here, too, the king is G-d, the maidservants are the riffraff, the bridesman is Moshe, G-d's betrothed is Yisrael. Therefore it says: "Carve out for yourself."334 335

Verse 2: Be ready.

[Meaning:] prepared.

Verse 3: No man shall go up with you.

Because the first ones (i.e., the First Tablets) were [given] with great uproar and sounds and great throngs, they were affected by the evil eye.336 There is nothing better for you than being reserved.337

Verse 5: And he called out the Name, Ad-noy.338

It is translated by Onkelos: "He called out in the Name of G-d."339

Verse 6: Ad-noy, Ad-noy.340

This Name signifies the Attribute of Mercy, the first [ {Hebrew Ref} represents mercy] before [man] sins and the second, after he sins and repents.341


This [Name], too, represents the Attribute of Mercy.342 Similarly, it says: "My G-d, My G-d, why have You forsaken me?"343 and it is not appropriate to say to the Attribute of Retribution, "Why have You forsaken me?" Thus I have found in Mechilta (15, 2).

Slow to anger.

He puts off His anger and does not rush to exact punishment in case he (the sinner) will repent.344 345

And abounding in kindness---

to those who require kindness, for they do not have sufficient merits.346

And truth.

[Meaning: He can be depended upon] to reward those who do his will.

Verse 7: He preserves kindness.

[I.e., the kindness] which the person does before Him.347

For thousands.

[Meaning:] for two thousand generations.

[Iniquity, transgression.]

{Hebrew Ref} are sins committed knowingly; {Hebrew Ref} are sins committed for the sake of rebellion, which a person does out of spite.348

He clears and He does not clear.

According to its plain meaning it conveys that He does not completely indulge any sin but exacts retribution for it bit by bit.349 But our Sages explained it: He clears those who repent and He does not clear those who do not repent.350

Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.351

When they retain the deeds of their fathers in their hands (i.e., follow in their footsteps), as was already made clear in another verse "of those who hate Me."352 353

And fourth.

[Meaning:] the fourth generation. Consequently it follows that the Attribute of Good (i.e., reward) is greater than the Attribute of Retribution five hundred fold for regarding the Attribute of Good it states: "He preserves kindness for [two] thousand generations."354 355

Verse 8: Moshe hastened.

When Moshe saw the Shechinah passing by and heard the voice of the Proclamation, he immediately prostrated himself.

Verse 9: Let My Master go among us---356

as You promised us. Since You bear iniquity," and, therefore, if357 they will be a stiff-necked people and rebel against You--- about which You said: "I may destroy you along the way"358--- You will [nevertheless] forgive our iniquity, etc. There are places where {Hebrew Ref} is used in place of {Hebrew Ref} .359

And take us as Your own possession.

Take us to Yourself as a special possession.360 This is the same request as: "so that I and Your people will be distinguished,"361 that You not rest Your Shechinah on the nations of the world.

I hereby make a covenant---

on this [request of {Hebrew Ref} ].362

I will perform wonders.

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] has a common derivation with {Hebrew Ref} ,363 that is: that you will be set apart in this respect from all the nations of the world ---that I will not rest My Shechinah on them.

Verse 11: The Emorites, etc.364

There are six nations enumerated here because the Girgashites arose and cleared out from before them.365

Verse 13: Their asherah-trees.

[ {Hebrew Ref} ] is a tree that is worshipped.

Verse 14: Jealous366 is His Name.

He is jealous to exact punishment and He is not indulgent. And this is the idea conveyed by "Jealously"367--- He is steadfast in His ascendancy368 and exacts punishment from His enemies.

Verse 15: And you will eat of his sacrifice.

You might think that there is no punishment for eating it. Yet I will consider it for you as if you concur in his [idol] worship. For as a result of this (i.e., your participation in his feast) you will come to take of his daughters for your sons.

Verse 18: The month of ripening [grain].

[Meaning:] the month of ripening, when the grain first begins to ripen.369

Verse 19: All that opens the womb is Mine---

among human beings.

And all of your livestock that is male, etc.

[Meaning:] and all of your livestock that is male370 of the first-born of the cattle and sheep [ {Hebrew Ref} ---"opens," meaning:] that a male opens its womb.

That opens.

A term meaning "opening." Similarly: "As water ( {Hebrew Ref} ) is opened so is the start of conflict."371 The letter {Hebrew Ref} of {Hebrew Ref} denotes the feminine referring to the birthing animal.372

Verse 20: The donkey that opens the womb.

But not of any other unclean animal.373 374

You shall redeem with a sheep.

He must give a sheep to the kohein and it remains non-sacred in the hands of the kohein.375 The first-born of the donkey then is permitted to be used for work by the owner.376

You must break its neck.

He breaks its neck with a large knife.377 He caused the kohein a monetary loss,378 therefore, he shall suffer a monetary loss.379

All the first-born among your sons you must redeem.

His redemption is set at five sela'im, as it is said: "Those that are to be redeemed you shall redeem from a month old."380

And you must not appear before Me empty-handed.381

According to the plain meaning of the verse this is independent [of the first part of the verse] and does not refer back to the first-born, for there is no requirement in the mitzvah of {Hebrew Ref} to appear before G-d, but, rather, it is an admonition concerning something else: "And when you go up for the festival to appear [before G-d], you shall not appear before Me empty-handed; [but] it is a mitzvah upon you to bring the burnt-offering designated when appearing before G-d."382 According to the midrashic explanation in the Beraisa it is a redundant verse383 and is "free"384 to be used in a gezeirah shavah,385 to teach about the severance pay to a Hebrew slave386 that it must be five sela'im worth of each kind,387 as is [the amount for] the redemption of a first-born.388 (This is found) in meseches Kiddushin.

Verse 21: You must cease plowing and harvesting.389

Why are plowing and harvesting [the only ones] mentioned? Some of our Sages say [that this refers] to the plowing of the year before the sheviis year which leads into the sheviis year,390 and the harvest of the sheviis year which extends into the post-sheviis year,391 so as to teach you that a part of the secular [year] must be added to the holy [year] (i.e., the sheviis year).392 Accordingly this is the meaning of the verse: "Six days you shall work but on the Seventh Day you must cease. But, of the six days' work which I permitted to you there is a year in which plowing and harvesting are prohibited. There is no need to state [the prohibition of] plowing and harvesting of the Seventh Year for it has already been stated: "Your field you may not sow, etc."393 However others [of the Sages] say that this [verse] speaks only of Shabbos, and [the fact that only] plowing and harvesting are mentioned394 [is] to teach you that just as the [prohibited] plowing is optional plowing395 so too is the [prohibited] harvesting optional harvesting, which excludes the harvesting of the omer which is obligatory396 and takes precedence over Shabbos.397

Verse 22: The first crops of the wheat harvest.

When you bring the "two breads" made from the wheat.

The first crops.

So-called because it is the first minchah---"meal offering" which is brought to the sanctuary from the new wheat for the omer-minchah which is brought on Pesach [comes] from the barley.398

The Festival of the Harvest---

which falls at the time that you gather in your crop from the field into the house. The term {Hebrew Ref} here denotes bringing it into the house,399

as in: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) bring it into your house."400

At the turn of the year---

which is when the year "returns," [i.e.] at the beginning of the following year.401

At the turn.

A term meaning going around and making a circuit

Verse 23: All your males.

[Meaning:] all the males among you. [Some of the mitzvos mentioned here appear elsewhere!] Many of the mitzvos in the Torah are said and repeated. There are even some mentioned three or four times. This is to hold responsible and to punish [the transgressors] according to the number of negative precepts that they contain and according to the number of positive precepts which they contain.

Verse 24: I will drive out.

As Onkelos translates it: "I will drive out."

Similarly: "Begin ( {Hebrew Ref} ) to drive out,"402 and similarly: "( {Hebrew Ref} ) He drove out the Emorites." 403 All these being terms for "driving out."

I will expand your boundaries---

and, consequently, you will be far from the Temple and will be unable to appear before Me constantly. Therefore I establish for you these three festivals.

Verse 25: Do not slaughter, etc.

Do not slaughter the korban Pesach while chometz still remains [in your possession]. This is an admonition to one who slaughters or to one who sprinkles [the blood] or to any member of the group.404 405 406

Do not allow to remain overnight.

As Onkelos translates: [ {Hebrew Ref} ---Do not allow it to remain overnight until morning. --- {Hebrew Ref} ---away from the altar --- {Hebrew Ref} ---the fat of the korbon Pesach]. Remaining overnight does not render it unfit if it has been on top of the altar,407 408 and the infringement of {Hebrew Ref} ---"remaining overnight" applies only [if left off the altar] till dawn.409

The offering of the Pesach festival.

[This refers to] the intestines [that are offered on the altar].410 From here you may learn the laws of all fats and limbs that require burning.411

Verse 26: The first fruits of your land---

of the seven species which are listed in praise of your land, "a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pommegranates, etc."412 the "honey" [in the list] referring to date-honey.413

You must not cook a kid.

This is an admonition against mixing meat with milk. It is repeated three times in the Torah: once regarding eating, once regarding benefit from it, and once prohibiting the cooking of it.414 415

A kid.

Any tender young animal is included, even a calf or a sheep. From that which it is necessary [for the Torah] to explain in many places: "a goat's kid" you may derive that a {Hebrew Ref} by itself includes all sucklings (i.e., any animal).416

In its mother's milk---

to the exclusion of a fowl that has no mother's milk, whose prohibition [against cooking it or eating it with milk] is not a Scriptural prohibition, but rather a Rabbinic decree.417

Verse 27: Write these words down for yourself.418

But you are not permitted to write down the oral Torah.419

Verse 29: And when Moshe came down.

When he brought the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur.

That . . . had become radiant.

{Hebrew Ref} is a term having a common root with {Hebrew Ref} (horns) because light shines out and projects as a sort of "horn." From where was Moshe privileged to these rays of splendor?420 Our Sages say [that it was] from the cave where G-d put His Hand on his face, as it states: "And I will cover with My Hand."421 422

Verse 30: They were afraid to come close to him.

Come and see how great is the effect of sin! For before they stretched out their hands to commit sin (i.e., the Golden Calf) what is stated? "And the vision of the Glory of G-d was like a consuming fire at the top of the mountain before the eyes of the B'nei Yisrael,"423 and they had no fear nor trepidation. But once they made the Calf, even from the rays of Moshe they trembled and were frightened.424

Verse 31: Leaders of the congregation---425

is the same as {Hebrew Ref} ---"the leaders of the Congregation."

And Moshe spoke to them---426

the message of G-d.427 Thus this entire subject is in the present (ongoing) tense.428

Verse 32: After that, they came close.

[I.e.], after he taught the elders he would again teach that section or that law to all Yisrael. The Sages have taught: What was the order of the teaching of the Torah? Moshe would learn from the Almighty. Then Aharon would enter and Moshe would teach him his chapter. Aharon moved away and sat on Moshe's left. Whereupon his (Aharon's) sons would enter and Moshe would teach them their chapter. They then moved away and Elazar sat on Moshe's right and Isamar on Aharon's left. Whereupon the elders would enter and Moshe would teach them their chapter. The elders moved away and sat on the sides. Whereupon the entire people would enter and Moshe taught them their chapter. Consequently the lesson came into the possession of the people once into the possession of the elders, twice, into the possession of Aharon's sons, thrice, and into the hands of Aharon, four times, etc., as it is all cited in Maseches Eiruvin.429

Verse 33: He placed a cover over his face.

[ {Hebrew Ref} is] as Onkelos translates it: "a face cover;" it ( {Hebrew Ref} ) is an Aramaic word [meaning "to look"]. It is found in the Gemara: "Her heart ( {Hebrew Ref} ) saw."430 Also in Kesuvos (60a): {Hebrew Ref} where it has the meaning of "looking," i.e., he gazed at her. Here, too, {Hebrew Ref} refers to a cloth placed in front of the face and the area of the eyes. And out of respect to the "rays of splendor" so that they should not all become satiated by the sight, he would place the cover in front of them (his eyes). He would remove it when speaking to the Israelites and when G-d was speaking with him until he went out. And when he went out [to teach G-d's words] he would go out without the cover---

Verse 34: and he would speak to the B'nei Yisrael---

and they would see the "rays of splendor" in his face. And when he would leave them---

Verse 35: Moshe would replace the cover over his face until he would come to speak to Him.

And when he came to speak with Him he would remove it from his face.431

Return to Main Search Form