1. At first glance, it would seem that this Shabbos has no special or unique qualities, it is just an ordinary Shabbos. This fact stands out in sharp contrast to last week, which had so many extraordinary aspects, while this week seems to have nothing distinguishing.

Being that this week is referred to as the “intermission Shabbos” of the four special Shabbosim — the preceding Shabbos was Zachor and the following week is Parah — and it has no special Torah reading, if anything the negative aspect is stressed; something is missing.

Yet on the other hand, if we are diligent we will find a unique factor in this week and as “the reward is commensurate with the painstaking effort (Avos 5:21), we should be able to find a lofty quality in the unique aspect of this Shabbos.

The specialness of this Shabbos is that it is associated with Purim in several ways: (A) It follows Purim, and all aspects of Purim are raised and brought to completion on the ensuing Shabbos. (B) Being that Purim was on Thursday and Shushan Purim was Friday, the latter part of the week, there was the additional connection to this Shabbos, being “... ranked as before the Shabbos,” (Pesachim 106a) — a special connection. (C) The fact that Shabbos is the 16th of Adar also adds another relationship to Purim. When the Gemara discusses the days on which the Megillah may be read it brings a Scriptural reference to disqualify the 16th. This would indicate that without the disqualifying verse we would assume that you are allowed to read the Megillah on the 16th of Adar.

Thus, because of its special connection to Purim, this Shabbos really has a unique quality, relative to the rest of the year.

What actually is this association? On this Shabbos, the theme and the context of Purim are uplifted and perfected. Through the influence of “Vayechulu — [and they were] completed ...,” (see Siddur — Friday night Kiddush) all aspects of Purim reach the acme of perfection, which on Shabbos is the quality of pleasure. As we say in the prayer of Shabbos: “You called it the most desirable of days.” “Vayechulu” connotes the pleasure of ne plus ultra.

This, however, is confusing. The Divine service of Purim is the service of self-sacrifice which stands above intellect to the point of “ad d’lo yoda — not knowing”; higher also than desire. then one feels pleasure, is that sacrifice?

Think for a moment about these two concepts: self-sacrifice and pleasure.

When a Jew fulfills Torah and mitzvos in order to be rewarded and to merit the comforts and pleasures of the physical world, he makes no sacrifice. He has the mitzvah, but no sacrifice.

What if his intention is to merit life in the world to come? Let us say he altruistically cedes his desire for worldly comforts in order to receive reward in the afterlife. You might say he has sacrificed something. Is this true martyrdom? Not really. For, clear thinking will compel everyone to agree, that all the pleasures of the physical world do not compare at all with the benefits of life in the paradise of the world to come, where he will inherit “310 worlds” (end of Tractate Uktzin). This concept of “310 worlds” has been explained by the Rambam: “It is as if one were to compress the indulgences, luxuries and gratification [of this world] in all their voluptuous forms, and then multiply it 310 times! This is what one righteous person will attain in the afterlife!”

If so, is this small sacrifice true self-abnegation? Quite to the contrary, it is deal and a profitable exchange.

This thought must be developed further. Let us say one performs Torah and mitzvos not for the pleasures of this world and not even for the rewards of the afterlife — but only because it is the commandment of G‑d! His only motive is to do G‑d’s will! You might say that here he has truly reached the heroic level of self-sacrifice. Nevertheless, since he knows that G‑d has chosen him and placed upon him the mission of fulfilling His will, which will effect a connection between man and the Holy One, Blessed be He, He will ultimately derive the greatest pleasure from his mitzvah act. If so, it is no longer altruistic!

So what is real self-immolation? When the individual has absolutely nothing in return — not physical, not spiritual, not even the satisfaction of doing, not even the intention of “connection.” This is the ultimate “bittul — annulment,” sublimation to the point of, “not knowing — ad d’lo yoda.

We may understand the sublimity of this degree of bittul from the Rambam’s description of true motivation in chapter 10 of the Laws of Repentance:

Let not man say, “I will observe the precepts of the Torah and occupy myself with its wisdom, in order that I may obtain all the blessings written in the Torah, or to attain life in the world to come”; only ... to do what is right [true] because it is truly right ... out of love ... what is the love of G‑d that is befitting? It is to love the Eternal with a great and exceeding love, so strong that one’s soul shall be knit up with love of G‑d and one should be continually enraptured [shogeh — possessed] by it ...

The Rambam uses the word shogeh [root: shigayon] which means possessed, crazed or illogical — for he speaks of a state which is above intellect to the point of, “not knowing — d’lo yoda.” He wants it not because he loves or delights in it, but rather because for him the only thing important is the object of his love. This is true martyrdom.

Now, what can the Shabbos after Purim, which brings delight, possibly add to Purim which already has the quality of self-sacrifice, which is much higher than pleasure?

To understand this we must realize that the attribute of self-sacrifice can penetrate all the powers and spheres of the person’s being and psyche — his soul garments and soul powers — to the point that there can then be a level of delight which is higher than altruism. When the soul powers — immanent and transcendental — are permeated with martyrdom, which acts as the root and foundation of all his thought, speech and action, as well as the source of all his feelings and desires — to the point of “not knowing — d’lo yoda” — it creates a new, loftier form of pleasure.

Normally, the longing for pleasure is motivated by feeling the importance of one’s own existence; it is egotistic. When something brings pleasure, he wants it. In this case however he has reached the level of true “bittul” — non existence or sublimation — now the pleasure is non egotistical. It is the level of essential pleasure which is not felt.

Chassidus associates this level of pleasure with Rosh HaShanah and especially with Yom Kippur when pleasure is sublimated, by not eating, drinking etc., so that it is not felt; similar to the pleasure of the world to come. This aspect also exists on Shabbos afternoon at the point of the “greatest delight.” When the martyrdom of Purim is drawn into Shabbos, it permeates all aspects of the person to the level of pleasure and reaches the lofty level of essential pleasure which is not felt.

Thus, Purim in association with the Shabbos that succeeds it, contains these two aspects, of self-sacrifice — “ad d’lo yoda — not knowing,” and the pleasure which is permeated with self-sacrifice.

The directive to be taken from this explanation must apply to everyone in his own way. Hence one who occupies a lofty position in Divine service and one who stands at the first stages of devotion to G‑d must both apply this lesson of reaching the level of pleasure through the attribute of self-sacrifice.

It could happen, that a scholar who learns of the quality of Purim to reach the highest levels will decide that his avenue of approach will be through study of Chassidic philosophy. True that one must reach the level of “not knowing” but it may be prefaced by drinking the “wine” of Torah to the state of mental “drunkenness.”

To him we say, “You have a responsibility to spread the wellsprings of Torah and it must be done with genuine self-sacrifice. You must give up and yield all your personal interests — not just physical, but even spiritual. You must close your Chassidus text and go out in the street, to bring a Jew closer to Torah and Yiddishkeit.”

That is what is meant by the “bittul” of self-sacrifice. No understanding! no pleasure — “not knowing.” There will however be a subsequent pleasure which will come as a result of the self-sacrifice.

Conversely, when the simple Jew, for whom altruism is nothing new because he never reaches the pleasure of intellect, is told that true Divine service must be without any motive for reward, neither physical, nor spiritual, not even to rejoice that G‑d chose him, he can easily accept this.

In fact, his usual approach to the Divine service of Torah and mitzvos is in a manner of self-denial. In Tanya, chapter 41, it is explained:

And occupation in the Torah and commandments and prayer is also a matter of actual surrender of the soul, as when it leaves the body at the end of seventy years, for it no longer thinks of bodily needs, etc....

The simple Jew exemplifies this because all day he is involved in matters connected with his physical needs, earning a livelihood and so on, if he must tear himself away from his personal needs to pray, study or do a good deed he must invoke the power of actual “surrender of soul — [self-sacrifice].”

Therefore, to the unlearned, average Jew we say, “You can reach a level where your heroism can bring you to enthusiasm and delight which will infuse all of your powers and attributes.”

In both cases with the preface of “bittul” they will reach the lofty level of the essence of pleasure beyond feeling, and also an increase in their inner powers of intellect and knowledge.

This philosophy was emphasized in an epigram that was told by the previous Rebbe, which the Alter Rebbe heard from R. Mordechai the righteous one. who heard it from the Baal Shem Tov:

“A soul descends to this world and lives seventy or eighty years in order to do a favor for a Jew, in material matters and especially in spiritual matters.”

The Baal Shem Tov gave this lesson and advice to a person whose Torah study and observance of mitzvos had reached the apex of distinction [he was called a tzaddik — righteous]. Nevertheless, the Baal Shem Tov said, that the true purpose of a soul’s descent to this world is not necessarily for all the great accomplishments in Torah and mitzvos. When can the soul attain the real level of accomplishment and fulfillment, only when he does a favor for another Jew, in material matters and especially in spiritual matters. Then the soul will reach the level of loftiness that is higher than its previous state, before descending to the physical world.

Since this lesson was transmitted to a saintly disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, how much more so does it apply to us. Certainly, no one today could imagine himself to be on a loftier plane than R. Mordechai the Tzaddik! If he had to show self-denial, leave his Torah and Divine service to go out and help another Jew, in spiritual matters, certainly we must drop our personal self-interests in Torah and our personal Divine service to bring another Jew closer to Torah and Yiddishkeit. Yet, this demands heroic self-sacrifice, but this self-neglect for the sake of another will lead to that often evasive spiritual goal, which is loftier than his original level in the spiritual worlds.

Consequently, one must use every opportunity to help another Jew, because you cannot know which person or which favor your soul was sent down to help! Remember you are expected to proceed altruistically because you are dealing with a life-saving activity — not only of the Jew whom you help, but your own soul — your action will decide the fulfillment of the purpose of your existence in the world!

There is another story told by the previous Rebbe which emphasizes this point.

Rabbi Yosef of Bieshenkovitch was a chassid of the Alter Rebbe. Once, during a “yechidus” [private audience] the Alter Rebbe told him: “For the good of your soul it is better to work as a coachman than to serve as a rabbi.” And so it happened that at the age of seventy, after fifty years of dedicated involvement in Torah and Divine service of G‑d, R. Yosef became a coachman. Years went by in his new vocation and it happened that once, during one of his trips, he met a Jew who had become estranged from Yiddishkeit. Rabbi Yosef was able to motivate that person to become a baal teshuvah [penitent]. Afterwards, the Mitteler Rebbe told him, in the name of his father, the Alter Rebbe, that he had fulfilled his mission and he could give up his work as a coachman.

If you think for a moment about the theme of this story, you begin to wonder, although it is true that he had to leave the study hall and work as a coachman in order to help that lost Jew to repent, why was it necessary for him to work as a coachman for more than ten years till he meet that Jew?! If he had to help a Jew return to G‑d the scenario could have been for him simply to leave his Torah for a short period of time, just prior to the fateful meeting, meet the Jew — help him and then return to his holy occupation. Why did he have to work as a coachman for so many years?

As it later turned out, we learn that he was appointed as a ‘mashpia’ [teacher, mentor, guide] of Chassidus, after concluding his tenure as a coachman. If he had such capabilities all along, why were they wasted on a coach and horses?! He had to hitch the horses to the wagon, feed the horses their fodder, and make sure they ate it and do all sorts of menial work. As a coachman he had to deal with all sorts of people, good and bad, .Jew and non-Jew.

Clearly he suffered terribly during this period. He had to neglect many aspects of Torah study and although he remained as pious and learned as he had been, his inability to study regularly caused him constant grief! Most amazing of all, the Alter Rebbe did not reveal to him the ultimate purpose of this endeavor, he only said that for the good of his soul he should work as a coachman and not as a rabbi!

The answer to this puzzle could possibly be that R. Yosef had to reach the condition of a “broken heart.” Whatever the case, we learn from this that there was the need for a descent from rabbi to coachman, the bittul of “not knowing,” for a long period of time, and then, despite this degradation, he was specifically able to fulfill his purpose and raise his soul to a higher level.

The reading of the Megillah on Purim brings this point to light. Halachah rules that: “You desist from the study of Torah in order to come and hear the reading of the Megillah.” Which part of the Megillah must you hear? Not only the part which speaks of the miracle, but also the beginning, which tells of the greatness of Achashverosh. Why? Because first there must be the “bittul” to the degree of “not knowing.” Stop Torah and pay attention to things which seem to be trivial. only then can you come to the miracle.

She details of the early chapter of the Megillah also point out the same idea. The Gemara tells us that Mordechai was a bartender at the feast of Achashverosh. What degradation! Mordechai HaTzaddik, who was a member of the Sanhedrin, had to leave his lofty occupation and serve as a bartender in the feast of the foolish king and pander to desires and caprices of some “drunk” at the feast. But this too, was necessary to bring the miracle of Purim.

In our Torah portion, Ki Sissa, we see the same phenomenon, when you come to count — Ki Sissa [which means to “lift up”] the Jews — don’t think it is done by Torah on the cerebral level of the head — on the contrary it is accomplished by mundane half-shekels. This is a correlation of opposites.

The lesson we must learn from all this: one must be involved in spreading Yiddishkeit, even when it involves sacrifice, to leave his Torah, close his Gemara or Chassidus text. and run out into the street, which is filled with Hamans and Amalekites, there to find a Jew who needs encouragement about Kashrus, reciting a berachah, or other simple matters, not on his level. This is also the theme of the Purim project and all the mivtzoyim [mitvzah projects] to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit.

The promise of the Shabbos after Purim is, that all of his activities done with self-sacrifice will reach the level of delight and he will see results in the recipient and in himself. The essential thing is the action, which will bring the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Mashiach, in a manner of “bringing one period of redemption close to another” (Megillah 6b). Immediately, quickly and truly in our days.

2. Earlier we spoke of the perfection effected in all aspects of Purim on the succeeding Shabbos, as the term “Vayechulu” indicates. Similarly if there was something that was lacking on Purim for any reason — today is the day to make it up. An important aspect of Purim is the Talmudic dictum:

It is the duty of man to mellow himself [with wine] on Purim [Rashi: to get drunk on wine] until he cannot tell [ad d’lo yoda — does not know] the difference ...

Therefore those who did not fulfill this requirement on Purim can make it up now. This is especially relevant to those who are occupied with holy vocations such as a sofer [scribe], who must be careful not to make even the slightest error in his writing. If G‑d forbid he should write a “daled” like a “resh” or vice versa — only a slight difference — he could be the cause of destruction of worlds. Consequently on Purim the scribe was careful not to become inebriated so as to be on guard when he had to write.

On Shabbos, when there is no worry about error in writing, he now has the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah that “it is the duty of a man to mellow himself [drink]....”

May G‑d grant that through this he will be successful in his holy occupation all year long, in relation to the fitness and Kashrus of his Torah scrolls and especially the Torah scrolls which are being written collectively for the unity of the Jewish people.

And may we merit to proceed with all the Torahs, especially the unity-Torahs to greet our righteous Mashiach, and to go with him to our Holy Land — to Yerushalayim the Holy City and to the Temple Mount, as it states: “... the mountain of the L‑rd’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains.” Then to the Third Beis HaMikdash, the place of the Sanhedrin, about which we are studying these days in the Rambam. The true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach. quickly, and truly in our days.

There is another group for whom I wish to emphasize the opportunity of using this day to compensate for what they missed on Purim. They are the rabbis “Moreh Hora’ah” [the authorized instructors of halachic ruling]. They could not drink on Purim for they were concerned that at any moment someone might approach them with a question that demanded a halachic ruling.

Being that he is a rabbi in a large community he cannot allocate certain hours for questions, he must always be available! How does he fulfill — “it is the duty of a man to mellow [and not know the difference],’’ he relies on the interpretation that when he sleeps he does not know. So in order to fulfill: “to mellow himself and not know” ... he now has the opportunity, since on Shabbos he is not involved in halachic rulings.

This will also affect their congregants. The congregant saw his rabbi on Purim at all the prayers — then he visited him at home to bring “mishloach manos” [food gifts]. At all times he found his rabbi sober. So he figures, “If the rabbi does not do the mitzvah of drinking, I surely don’t have to.”

Therefore, the rabbi must enlighten his congregants that only because of his serious responsibility does he not drink. But, there is no excuse for the congregant. Now on Shabbos, the rabbi can show his congregant that in fact he will drink and follow the ruling. “It is the duty of a man to mellow himself on Purim....”

Actually there is room for justifying the attitudes of those rabbis who did not drink on Purim and connect it with an incident that happened with my father of blessed memory.

When my father was appointed to the position of Rav in the city of Yekatrinislav as successor to Rabbi Dov Zev, there were some people who were upset over the choice of a Chassidic rabbi, especially a “Lubavitcher.” They sought all sorts of ways to “get rid” of him. His being a Lubavitcher made their self-appointed sinister task easy for them; they followed the route of slander.

And so one fine day, the Chief of Police, in all his glory, made us a visit and requested to see my father in absolute privacy.

You can easily imagine the great fear this occurrence caused for all of us. Under the rule of Czar Nicholas the appearance of a police chief was no small matter.

After he left we crowded around my father to hear the explanation. It turned out that there had been a libelous report made against him, which stated that he was not worthy of being the rabbi of so important and illustrious a city, because he had been seen drinking whiskey, and then grabbing the arm of a shoemaker and dancing with him. Outrageous! A drunken rabbi who dances with shoemakers was not worthy to be the spiritual leader of so important a city where the Chief of police resided. The slanderers insinuated that the Police chief should know how to handle such a person and should start by dethroning him.

Now actually this libel had some grain of truth.

For, in fact, there was a learned, pious and devoted chassid who worked as a shoemaker to earn a living in Yekatrinislav. When Purim or Yud-Tes Kislev came around and the Chassidim gathered to farbreng, that shoemaker was also present. During the farbrengen they certainly drank a bit of vodka — as the Chassidic aphorism was to “grease the wheels with Chassidishe lubricant.” It was during the farbrengen that they rose to dance a Chassidic dance. So there you have it: This became the basis of the rumor, turned libel, that my father danced with a shoemaker after drinking.

Therefore we may find some justification for those rabbis who refrained from drinking on Purim. Someone might see them happily dancing with a shoemaker!

Now, on Shabbos after Purim, they have the opportunity to make amends and fulfill the rule: “It is the duty of a man to mellow himself on Purim....

I would like to add something in relation to Sephardic rabbis. The Prophet Ovadiah tells us regarding the redemption: “And this exiled host of the children of Yisrael who are among the Canaanites as far as Tzarfat and the exiles of Yerushalayim who are in Sefard....”

We see that in this last era before the Mashiach problems have been increased in the issue of “Who is a Jew” by Sephardic rabbis.

There is really no need to review in detail the serious and infamous edict “Who is a Jew,” it was elementary and widely known. It behooves us to review only the salient points. This is the only law of the Parliament, known as the Knesset, which embodies an open proclamation against the authority of “Halachah.” The Gemara says “Halachah is the word of G‑d” (Shabbos 138b). There are many laws of the Knesset which may not follow Halachah precisely — but this law flies in the face of the Halachah. Since they have eliminated the word “Halachah” from the Law of Return [which confers immediate citizenship on all Jews arriving in Israel as immigrants] and continue to battle not to allow its reinsertion. This proclaims and announces, openly and clearly, against the authority of Halachah! The resulting desecration of G‑d’s name is obvious!

If there were no immediate practical results the desecration would be bad enough. But in fact thousands of cases of intermarriage have occurred as a result of this wretched edict.

Additionally it is inhumane to fool a non-Jew into thinking that he is Jewish, without at least telling him that there are tens of thousands of Jews who will never consider him Jewish, because the conversion was not done in accordance with Halachah.

The Zohar says the reason that the redemption of Ezra, at the end of Babylonian exile did not have the glory and grandeur of the Exodus from Egypt, was that there was intermarriage. And when Ezra chastised the Jews they repented, and even the gentile women agreed to divorce their Jewish husbands. Nevertheless the Exodus from Babylonia had no miracles and took a long period of time, entailing many difficulties. This, says the Zohar, was because of intermarriage.

Despite this, the “bribery” of money and honor blind their eyes and they are ready to oppose the word of G‑d — Halachah.

Returning to my earlier mention of Sephardic rabbis, being that present today is a rabbi of a Sephardic community; first of all, he should make amends for missing the command to drink on Purim, and now he does not have to worry that someone might see him is a state of “not knowing — ad d’lo yoda” since the members of his community are not here. Mainly he should work for the correction of the edict of “Who is a .Jew.”

I am sure he will not force me to mention his name but will quickly fulfill the matter of “It is the duty of a man to mellow himself on Purim to the point of not knowing ...,” and nothing bad will happen — even if he joins in a Chassidic dance, if it will be possible in the space. At least let him sing a Purim tune with great joy. May G‑d grant that very soon we will all proceed with joy and dancing to greet our righteous Mashiach, quickly and truly in our days.


3. Let us study Rashi’s commentary on the verse: “... and he called by name, O Eternal” (Shmos 34:5). Rashi says: “We render this in the Targum by ‘and he [Moshe] called on the Name of the L‑rd.’”

Now this is not clear. What does Rashi add by quoting the Targum, as the Targum adds no more than just a word by word, literal translation from Hebrew to Aramaic.

[Note: this clause in Hebrew has three words: Vayikra Besheim A-D-Nay (L‑rd). The subject of this clause is understood [not given]. The word Vayikra is the verb, [he] called. The next two words form a prepositional phrase — ‘in the Name of the L‑rd — this phrase is the object of the verb. The question dealt with in this sichah is: who is the “caller” — the subject of the verb. Hebrew syntax is often confusing in the manner.]

Some commentaries of Rashi have proposed that his intention in quoting the Targum was to stress that the Targum adds the prefix, “D” [meaning, “of”] to the word “L‑rd” [which does not appear in the Hebrew]. This clearly indicates that Moshe is the subject of the sentence; he is the caller. For we could assume that the inferred subject — the caller — is G‑d. Thus: “G‑d called out the name — Eternal”: but in that case the Targum would not add ‘D’ — of.

In other words, from the syntax we don’t necessarily know who is the caller, G‑d or Moshe, the last word “L‑rd” can be placed as the subject of the verb thus: “And [the L‑rd] called in the name.” Or does the sentence read simply that Moshe [not written, but understood] called the name of G‑d?

The commentaries say that by quoting the Targum and adding the Hebrew prefix ‘D — of’ Rashi wanted to stress that Moshe was the caller.

But in our classic approach to Rashi — that he always follows the simple, fundamental interpretation of Scripture it is difficult to accept this, because: (A) Although in our version of Targum the prefix (‘D-of’) does appear, there are other versions of the Targum without the prefix ‘D’ — of. Rashi could not have meant to emphasize a thought which would depend on different editions — or versions. The five-year-old Chumash student would have to go to Rashi and ask him which version he meant. Also, since Rashi certainly knew of the different versions — he should have indicated what he had in mind. (B) There are commentaries of Rashi which say that the subject of the sentence is in fact, G‑d, and that the sentence still means: “G‑d called in the name of Eternal,” [to show Moshe how to introduce the 13 attributes of mercy]. Which leaves us with the problem, could Rashi teach the simple meaning of the verse in a way which is still open to two very different explanations; how would the student know Rashi’s intention?

(C) The most perplexing “klotz-kashe” is, if as you say, the purpose of Rashi is to clarify who the caller is, G‑d or Moshe, then Rashi could have simply said: “‘Vayikra’ — Moshe — Moshe called,” as Rashi often does in his commentary. Why would Rashi quote the Targum of which there are two versions and two interpretations — it is more confusing.

The explanation is as follows:

In studying the words: “Vayikra Besheim A-DNay,” we realize that the subject of the verb is missing [or understood]. We therefore look to the preceding sentence and subsequent sentence to find the “doer” of the action. In the previous sentence we find: “... and placed Himself with him [Moshe] there.” Now if our verse is connected to the previous one, then the understood subject could be Moshe, who is mentioned at the end of the previous sentence.

On the other hand, the following sentence says: “G‑d passed before Moshe and proclaimed....” If the verb of our sentence is connected with the action of the following sentence, then here too, it is G‑d who called.

Rashi, however, does not tell us to look to either sentence, instead he chooses to quote the Targum, who translates this clause as an independent clause, not relating to the previous or subsequent sentence. So the Targum says “... and [He] called the name of the Eternal”; do not connect this to any other verse! If so, the meaning has to be that it was G‑d who called, since Moshe is not mentioned in this verse at all!

To elaborate a bit. Targum generally gives us more than simple translation, as Rashi himself often cites proof to his commentary from the Targum rendition, which illuminates the meaning of the context of Scripture, not just the words.

An example of this may be drawn from another verse in this week’s portion. On the sentence: “Make a laver of copper, along with a copper base” (Shmos 30:18), Rashi states:

Understand this as the Targum renders it: Its base, i.e., a stand specially made for the laver.

In other words, Rashi quotes the Targum and tells us that it teaches us the general contextual definition of the word “kano” in Hebrew to be from the root “kein” which means to verify something as if you place something in a firm foundation and make it strong.

Thus, in our case also the Targum’s rendition gives us a contextual reference, that these words, l... called the name of the Eternal” are independent and have no connection with the earlier verse. Therefore we cannot say that the subject of the verb is Moshe, for his name is not mentioned at. all ! And so in this verse G‑d is the One who called.

[Note: This also would not be affected by the different version or interpretation.]

What reason motivated Rashi to accept the Targum’s commentary as simple and fundamental?

In the earlier verses the Torah says:

“I will make My good pass ... and I will call by Name. O Eternal. before You....”

There, it is certainly G‑d who is calling and since the context is similar and the language is the same as this verse it makes more sense to say that in this case too it is G‑d who is calling.

You might now ask why bring a proof from the Targum if the sentence context is so clear. The answer is, that from the verse alone I might say that if the meaning were exactly the same it would not have to repeat; there must be a difference; say Moshe called?

Rashi however holds that the simple meaning is clear, and G‑d called, so he quotes the Targum as a supporting commentary who agrees with his interpretation.

4. As we left a question unanswered in the last farbrengen — we will now take the opportunity to present the answers.

On the verse, “Clothe Aharon your brother with these [vestments] ...” (Shmos 28:41), Rashi comments,

Those which are mentioned in connection with Aharon, the-breast plate, the-ephod, the robe, ... and the pants (breeches) which are prescribed later for all of them.

Thus, according to Rashi it would seem that the pants were included among the garments in which Moshe dressed Aharon.

Our question was: Being that the command to make the breeches (verse 42) came after the command to dress Aharon (verse 41), what convinces Rashi, in the fundamental interpretation, to say that the pants were included among the garments Moshe dressed Aharon with?

Our query is strengthened by the fact that after commanding Moshe to make the pants, the Torah again tells him to dress Aharon, and there again all the other garments are listed but the breeches are not mentioned!

This question was left unanswered so that those who attended that farbrengen would study and search for a solution as it says in Mishlei: “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser” (9:9). A flood of answers has resulted but from the ones that I have seen it would seem that there is yet a need for “... be yet wiser.”

Several approaches to the solution were presented from the Talmudic or Midrashic interpretation of the same story in the portion of Tzav, which indicates that Moshe in fact did include the pants when dressing Aharon. But these would not fit in with Rashi’s declared purpose of always following the simple approach, so that even the five-year-old Chumash student will be able to understand. This would preclude using the Talmud or Midrash as a basis for explanation.

It would seem that Rashi must have an a priori reason, from the context of these verses, which convinces him that the breeches were included.

Another suggestion was presented, that the word “osom” — with these [vestments]” is redundant, it would have sufficed to say “Dress Aharon ...”; the extra word now teaches us to include also the pants, which were not yet listed. This cannot be, because even if the word “osom — these” is redundant, it still cannot refer to something which did not yet exist! Normally the word “these” refers to items mentioned or dealt with earlier.

[At this point in the farbrengen, the Rebbe said, that although earlier he had asked a Sephardic rav to say LeChaim, why should not all the Sephardim present do likewise, especially the representatives from France.]

To understand Rashi’s view let us look to the first verse in Chapter 28 of Tetzaveh:

And you shall separate [bring close to you] your brother Aharon and his sons with him from among the Jews, so that they can become Kohanim to Me.

There are two points emphasized here: (1) Moshe’s actions, and (2) The separation must be similar to the bringing of a sacrifice — the animal does nothing, the Kohen does everything. Here too, only Moshe’s actions were counted.

The idea of Moshe’s complete action is further stressed in the next chapter, 29:

This is what you, [Moshe], must do to consecrate [Aharon and his sons] as Kohanim to Me. Take a young bull ... loaves of unleavened bread-.... Place all the cakes in the basket along with the young bull.... Bring Aharon and his sons to the door of the Communion Tent and immerse them in a mikveh ... and clothe Aharon....

Here again the two points are emphasized: (1) Moshe must do every detail (2) Aharon and his sons do nothing — like a “korban” (sacrifice) — which is passive and is acted upon.

Now, when we understand this section in an elementary fashion — the simple meaning of the Scripture — we must say that it would be illogical for Aharon to put on the pants by himself, for all the details connected with separation and consecration must be effected by Moshe. Not even the slightest act should be done without Moshe. If we realize that even the immersion in the mikveh had to be done to them by Moshe, then certainly the dressing in the Holy Garments had to be done by Moshe. And if you think that it would be more modest for Aharon to don the pants by himself than what about the bathing?!

For this reason Rashi was convinced that from the simple inference of these two chapters it is clear that the pants, also, were among the garments in which Moshe clothed Aharon.

Once Rashi has established that all the garments were included in the commandment to Moshe about the dressing of Aharon, then the question arises why were the pants not included in the lists of the garments when they were enumerated. To this question we have already presented explanations, that there was a difference between the seven garments, which were made “for honor and beauty” and the pants, the simple purpose of which was, to cover them from waist to knees.

This exposition brings us to a profound lesson from Torah for a person’s Divine service to his Master. The Talmud relates: “If the Torah had not been given we would learn modesty from a cat etc....” For example, in our case we would learn that a person must wear breeches which cover the body from the waist to the knees. This is of course self-evident, not only to Jews, but to all civilized people.

However, once Torah did teach us the laws of modesty, we conduct ourselves by those laws not because of the logical force and reason or because we learn it from a cat, but because it is the will and command of G‑d of which it says:

Satisfaction for G‑d that He commanded and we fulfill His will.

So, although the breeches of the Kohanic garments would appear to be necessary for mundane [not holy] modesty they are however an inseparable part of the Kohanic garments which separated and consecrated Aharon and his sons to be holy, and serve as G‑d’s Kohanim. Consequently it was necessary that they be placed on Aharon by Moshe — with the power of Torah.

This teaches us a rule for all commandments of Torah which are seemingly mundane, reasonable and logically motivated.

Once Torah commands us to do these things, their essence is transformed to be the commandment of G‑d, not mere social mores, and our observance is no longer by force of reason or convention but with the power of accepting the yoke of Heaven.

The Rambam in his commentary on the Mishnah in Sanhedrin refers to this when he speaks of the unity of Torah and states:

There is no difference between “The children of Cham were Kush and Mitzrayim,” “His wife’s name was M’heitavel,” “Timna was his concubine” and the verses: “I am the Eternal your L‑rd,” “Hear O Israel,” All these words come from G‑d.

May G‑d grant that through our fulfillment of all these aspects we will merit very soon to the fulfillment of “Vayakhel — and Moshe gathered” — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach “the first redeemer is the last redeemer.