Monday, February 27, 2012

Titzaveh, Shemos 28:29. The Urim Ve'Tumim and the Underpinning of Hashra'as Hashechina.

The Gaon in Aderes Eliahu in Zos Haberacha 8 on the Bracha to Levi תמיך ואוריך לאיש חסידך.

ותומים ואורים הוא נגד ב׳ קדושות שנתן הקב״ה לישראל המשכן והכהנים • המשכן נאמר בפ׳ תרומה ובגדי כהניס נאמר בפ׳ תצוה  • והקב״ה קידש את המשכן שקידש בלוחות שנתן מן השמים • ואת הכהנים קידשן מלמעלה באורים ותומים שהיו ג״כ מעשה שמים.
Hashem gave two kedushos to us, the Mishkan and the Kohanim.  The Mishkan is articulated in Parshas Teruma, and the Garments of the Kohanim in Parshas Tetzaveh.  Hakadosh Baruch Hu made the Mishkan holy by means of the Luchos that were given from Heaven.  He made the Kohanim holy with the Urim ve'Tumim which were also a work of Heaven.

Rav Meir Bergman, in Shaarei Orah, has a beautiful piece on this Gaon.  My presentation is somewhat different than his, but it follows his idea and structure.

The Gemara in Bava Basra 14a associates the words אפריון עשה לו in Shir Hashirim 3:9 אפריון עשה לו with the Aron Kodesh.
צא ופרנס ארון לרחבו כמה לוחות אוגדות בארון ששה טפחים נשתייר שם טפח ומחצה צא מהן חצי טפח אצבע ומחצה לכותל זה ואצבע ומחצה לכותל זה נשתייר שם טפח שבו עמודין עומדין שנאמר (שיר השירים ג) אפריון עשה לו המלך שלמה מעצי הלבנון עמודיו עשה כסף רפידתו זהב מרכבו ארגמן 

The end of that passuk says תוכו רצוף אהבה מבנות ירושלים, its interior is floored with love from the women of Jerusalem.   Reb Meir Simcha in Beshalach says
שאם הצבור נשחתין בעבודת גילולים ועריות, על זה נאמר השוכן אתם בתוך טומאותם. אבל בנמוסיות ומדות לשון הרע ומחלוקת על זה כתוב רומה על השמים אלקים, כביכול סלק שכינתך מהם 
that for Hashra'as Hashechina, the primary and fundamental requirement is that each and every Jew love his fellow Jews.  If the people do not heed Hashem's religious laws, Hashem can still dwell among them.  But if their humanism, their relationships with their fellow Jews degenerate, then Hashem removes His Shechina from the people and withdraws to Heaven.  Rav Bergman uses Reb Meir Simcha's idea to say that when the passuk in Shir Hashirim says תוכו רצוף אהבה מבנות ירושלים in connection with the אפריון, the Aron Kodesh, the message is that while the Luchos brought Hashra'as Hashechina and Kedusha to the Mishkan, the condition precedent, the catalyst that enabled the Luchos to do so, the foundation, the armature, was sincere  and unconditional fraternal amity.  The foundation was the אהבה מבנות ירושלים.

By the Urim Ve'Tumim, the passuk says ונתת אל חושן המשפט את האורים ואת התומים והיו על לב אהרון בבואו לפני ה' ונשא אהרון את משפט בני ישראל על ליבו לפני ה' תמיד.  The Torah describes the Urim Ve'Tumim as placed on the heart of Aharon. This phrase, “ahl leiv Aharon,” does not merely describe the placement of the Urim Vetumim. As we will explain, it describes the condition necessary for the Urim Vetumim to function.

The Yalkut here: R’ Shimon Ben Yochai says, the heart that rejoiced when Moshe was elevated to greatness will wear the Urim Vetumim. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz here in the ma’amar “Sheves Achim Gam Yachad” says that this means that a heart that feels such empathy for others is fit to wear the Urim Vetumim. To understand the messages that come through it, one has to have complete sensitivity and sympathy for Klal Yisroel.

The Choshen only serves to amplify and augment that intrinsic empathy, which enables the wearer to correctly understand its messages, as I've written in a previous post on this parsha, here.

The foundation of the whole Torah and the necessary condition for Hashra'as HaShechina is “ve'ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha.”  זו היא כל התורה כולה ואידך פירושה  That simple passuk in Vayikra 19:18, ואהבת לריעך כמוך אני השם , is telling us a fundamental truth about השראת השכינה.

It is this trait, this Ahava, which Aharon Hakohen personified, that enabled the Urim Ve'Tumim to be mekadeish the Kohanim.  It is this national quality, Klal Yisrael's Ahavas Yisrael, that enabled the Luchos to be mekadeish the Mishkan.

Because this is a blog, and not a sefer, and I can do whatever I want, here's the Yale University seal, and the story behind it.  For those of you that thought I was going to be more circumspect after dropping my anonymity- circumspect, not hidebound.


  1. Or, as Rav Hutner says, the equality in the luchos between bain adam laMokom and bain adam l'chaveiro. Which is underlined by the famous aphorism that the luchos start with אנכי and end with לרעיך

  2. if the Urim ve'Tumim were "a product of Heaven" in that the
    lighting of the letters of the choshen, & the message sent thereby, were min hashamayim, then there must've been use of the device during the investiture of Aharon & his sons, such that they would become at that very time kodesh--

    what question to Heaven, of national import, was asked then?
    (or did Hashem Himself initiate contact with instrumental Greetings/ Congratulations from on High? or play 'birchas kohanim' on the breastplate??)

  3. The Gaon means that the קלף upon which was written the שם המפורש was given by Hashem to Moshe to insert into the Choshen. It is well known that this made the Choshen functional as an instrument of communication with the Ribono shel Olam; the Gaon is teaching that this also was mekadeish the Kohanim.

  4. Here's a suggestion: please avoid the burlesque, such as
    "or did Hashem Himself initiate contact with instrumental Greetings/ Congratulations from on High? or play 'birchas kohanim' on the breastplate?"

  5. "the [klaf]... was given by Hashem"

    in shemos 34:1, Hashem says He will inscribe the second luchos
    (reinforced, if you like, by Avos 5:8, "hamichtav", the tool used)-- we see the Heaven>earth connection;
    there's no such chumashic revelation about His giving the klaf to Moshe, though meanwhile any message/signal min hashamayim
    (bamidbar 27:21) does indicate
    Heavenly delivery...

    "avoid the burlesque"

    sound advice, & fair warning (though maybe incomplete:
    " it for Purim")

  6. In this post, the Gaon is an axiom. In life in general, the Gaon is an axiom.

    1. A statement that is assumed to be true. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted within the particular domain of analysis, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other truths.
    2. A statement that serves as a postulate, a starting point from which other statements are logically derived.