Chicago Chesed Fund

Friday, March 3, 2023

The Lechem Hapanim and Purim

This is something my grandson, R Yaakov Jofen, is saying to his friends at the seuda at his yeshiva. I like it, (besides the נחת of hearing a good vort from a grandson who is speaking in his yeshiva,) and I think it can be developed nicely.

In the end of Emor, the Torah lists the moadim, which ends with וידבר משה את מעדי יהוה אל בני ישראל. Immediately after, in the beginning of Tzav, the Torah describes the oil that is used for the Menorah and how it is used, and the flour for the Lechem Hapanim and how they are used on the Shulchan.  Is there a connection between the moadim and these two avodos?

(One might say "Of course! סמוכין is one of the yud gimmel middos!" But it is not. Neither is היקש. They are probably subcategories of Gzeira Shava, and as such it is possible that they are darshened only per a specific mesora. But for drush, you don't need a mesora to darshen smuchin.)

Here is what the Sefer HaRokeach says.
ספר הרוקח
בפרשת אמור אל הכהנים התחיל שבת ורגלים פסח עצרת ראש השנה ויום הכפורים סכות. וידבר משה את מועדי ה' אל בני ישראל וסמיך ליה ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור רמז לחנוכה שמן זית זך מן המובחר.

לכך רמז בפרשת אמור אל הכהנים לאחר פרשת מועדות שמן זית זך רמז לחנוכה ואחריו ולקחת סולת ואפית רמז לפורים משתה ושמחה:

My grandson is going with a different mehalach. He is going to say that the remez of the Shulchan to Purim is that Amalek's power, the weakness of Klal Yisrael, it the מפוזר ומפורד. It was the danger brought about by the pirud that awakened us, and the Taaneisim and the conscious decision to stick together was the refuah, evidence of achdus.  The Megilla is progression from מפוזר ומפורד to the ultimate לך כנוס את כל היהודים. (As said in Medrash Shocher Tov 22:5. Unfortunately, its being somewhat platitudinous is a barrier to appreciation.) It was that achdus that replicated, perhaps surpassed, the כאיש אחד בלב אחד that was the essential prerequisite for Kaballas HaTorah of ויחן ישראל נגד ההר. The Shulchan's twelve chalos are a remez to the twelve shvatim, as said by the ibn Ezra and Chizkuni in Vayikra 24:5-6. As such, the Lechem Hapanim represents the joining of the disparate shvatim lifnei Hashem.

(I would add that Purim is the only moeid that involves a mitzva that can only be done with a נותן and a מקבל.) 

He said that in the Megilla the kri/ksiv of Kibeil/Kiblu is a remez to this marvelous achdus, in 9:27.
קימו וקבל [וקבלו] היהודים עליהם ועל זרעם ועל כל הנלוים עליהם ולא יעבור להיות עשים את שני הימים האלה ככתבם וכזמנם בכל שנה ושנה
He said this from the Gaon, but I searched and did not find any such; I don't believe there is such a Gaon. The gaon does say that although all of Klal Yisrael was through kefiyah, Moshe was mekabel willingly.
Here is the Gaon.
בספר קול אליהו (אסתר ט כז) בגמרא מסכת מגילה (ז א) אסתר ברוח הקודש נאמרה וכו' אמר שמואל וכו' שנאמר קימו וקבלו קיימו למעלה מה שקיבלו למטה וכו' ואמרינן שם בגמרא דרבא אמר דדברי שמואל לית להו פירכא וכו' ע"ש, והקשו בתוס' הא במס' שבת (פח א) גבי מכאן מודעה רבה לאורייתא אמר רבא שם דהדר קבלוהו בימי אחשורוש דכתיב קימו וקבלו קיימו מה שקבלו כבר וכו' ע"ש. 
ויש לתרץ דהנה בקרא דקימו וקבלו יש קרי וכתיב, דהקרי הוא וקבלו, והכתיב הוא וקבל, א"כ י"ל דהכא למד שמואל מהקרי קבלו, דקיימו למעלה מה שקבלו למטה, והתם במס' שבת למד רבא מהכתיב, קבל, דקיימו השתא מה שקבל משה רבינו ע"ה מכבר, והראיה דהכא במס' מגילה הגירסא "שנאמר" קימו וקבלו ר"ל הקרי שאומרים אנחנו, ובמסכת שבת הגירסא "דכתיב" קימו וקבלו היינו הכתיב, עכ"ל 

That Gaon is used to explain how Moshe could pasken on Miriam, because he did have a din קטן שנולד. 
I also heard a MASTERPIECE of a vort from Harav Sholom Shpitz on this: In Avos, it says 
משה קבל תורה מסיני, ומסרה ליהושע, ויהושע לזקנים, וזקנים לנביאים, ונביאים מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה. הם אמרו שלשה דברים, הוו מתונים בדין, והעמידו תלמידים הרבה, ועשו סיג לתורה:  
שמעון הצדיק היה משירי כנסת הגדולה. הוא היה אומר, על שלשה דברים העולם עומד, על התורה ועל העבודה ועל גמילות חסדים:  
אנטיגנוס איש סוכו קבל משמעון הצדיק
Why קבל by Moshe, and only appears again by Shimon Hatzadik? Because קבל means willingly, without כפה עליהם, without מודעה רבה לאורייתא. When did that change? When did all of Klal Yisrael get the din of קבלה ברצון? By Purim - after  מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה, which included Mordechai. After Mordechai and the קיימו וקבלו of Purim, it can say קבל by all the ones that follow.

I happened to see someone quote the Baal HaTanya as saying pshat that when the Gemara in Shabbos 88a says that הדר קבלוה refers to the קימו וקבלו,  it's not the pshat they were mekabeil after the victory: They were mekabeil during the eleven months between the evil decree on Pesach and its nullification on Purim. Not only could individual Jews have become collaborators, they simply could have rejected their identity and escaped the gzeira - and not one single Jew did that. They chose to remain true to their identity at the price of their lives. That is an unbelievable, miraculous, level of achdus.

Here is another idea that connects Purim to the Lechem Hapanim, which will become obvious as soon as I begin.
Rashi in Devarimn 25:18 brings the Tanchuma on אשר קרך 
אשר קרך בדרך. לְשׁוֹן מִקְרֶה; דָּבָר אַחֵר — לְשׁוֹן קֶרִי וְטֻמְאָה שֶׁהָיָה מְטַמְּאָן בְּמִשְׁכַּב זְכוּר; דָּ"אַ — לְשׁוֹן קֹר וְחֹם, צִנֶּנְךָ וְהִפְשִׁירְךָ מֵרְתִיחָתְךָ, שֶׁהָיוּ כָל הָאֻמּוֹת יְרֵאִים לְהִלָּחֵם בָּכֶם וּבָא זֶה וְהִתְחִיל וְהֶרְאָה מָקוֹם לַאֲחֵרִים; מָשָׁל לְאַמְבָּטִי רוֹתַחַת שֶׁאֵין כָּל בְּרִיָּה יְכוֹלָה לֵירֵד בְּתוֹכָהּ, בָּא בֶן בְּלִיַּעַל אֶחָד קָפַץ וְיָרַד לְתוֹכָהּ, אַעַ"פִּ שֶׁנִּכְוָה הֵקֵרָהּ אוֹתָהּ בִּפְנֵי אֲחֵרִים (תנחומא):
The Lechem HaPanim represented the opposite - it was a symbol of Chamimus.
Chagiga 26b:
מלמד שמגביהין אותו ומראין בו לעולי רגלים לחם הפנים, ואומרים להם: ראו חיבתכם לפני המקום, סילוקו כסידורו. דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי: נס גדול נעשה בלחם הפנים, כסידורו כך סילוקו, שנאמר: ״לשום לחם חום ביום הלקחו״.
The Lechem HaPanim remained oven-hot for the entire week, its chamimus did not flag with the passage of time.  The chill of Amaleik is precisely the quality that the Lechem HaPanim negates. Is this not a good reason for the Lechem HaPanim to represent Purim?


  1. Beyond Lechem Hapanim relating to achdus which was essential to overcome the מפוזר ומפורד, there is another avodah which ties in very well. It also explains the famous purim = yom kipurim association.

    The earliest source is Tikkunei Zohar (tikkun 21:57b) who writes that Purim is named after Yom HaKippurim, because l`atid Yom Kippur will be enjoyed and will be changed from a day of affliction to one of pleasure.
    Furthermore, the Zohar understands that Esther’s action, when she voluntarily entered the king’s inner throne room to intercede on behalf of her people, was akin to the Kohen Gadol entering Hashem’s Holy of Holies on Yom HaKippurim with the ketores, incense, to petition and intercede on behalf of his people. Just as the Kohen Gadol puts on special clothing on Yom Kippur, Esther donned royal clothing before approaching Achashveirosh. And just as the Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies wearing his special garments, Esther entered the inner sanctum of King Achashveirosh. And just as Esther found favor in the eyes of the king, so, too, we hope to find favor in the eyes of Hashem and to achieve forgiveness.
    What comparison is there between the avodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur and the actions taken by Esther at that critical juncture of the story of Purim? His entering the holiest place in the world – with the ketores to effect forgiveness for Yisrael – is the holiest of actions. Her entering and offering herself to the king was arguably one of tumah and defilement.
    Given the Old but Good schmooze (see Alshich and Binah L`Itim) about machtzis hashekel way back in the midbar teaching us the lesson 'No man is an island....the whole' and with this and the other mitzvas hayom we regained the K`Ish Echad and overcame the Mefuzar U`Mefurad..., the same can be said regarding a highlighted Avodah on Yom Hakipurim, the offering of the Ketores.

    Old question; how can we stand before the RBSO on Yom Kippur, professing that we will be good boys and girls doing all the mitzvos, when no one person is obligated in them all. We all have 613 body-parts, but no one has 613 mitzvos with which to nourish them. One answer is through Limud Hatorah ala U’neshalmah farim sefaseinu (perhaps why TT is k`neged kulam).

    The other way is by truly personifying the full extent of “Ve’ahavta le’rei’acha kamocha – Love your fellow as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18), where my success is your success and my suffering is your suffering, then Hashem will consider us as one united people and treat us accordingly. True, no individual can keep all the mitzvos, but as a unified group, we can share the merit for the mitzvos done by others in the group. (See also Ohr HaChaim on Parashas Pekudei 39:32.)

    We can now explain a highlight of the avodah on Yom Kippur, which is when the Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies with the incense. Incense is made by grinding down spices. It is the pulverizing and grinding that releases the aroma; the finer the grind, the more potent the scent. All year long, the daily incense is finely ground. On Yom Kippur, however, it is processed even further, making it a powdery product with no identifiable parts (Rashi, Vayikra 16:12).
    Perhaps the Kohen Gadol who enters the Kodesh HaKodashim with the fine powder of the ketores is symbolic of the united Klal Yisrael, in which there are no distinguishable parts. He is representing a people who has bowed down in tolerance, just like the finely ground powder of the incense, in an indivisible group. If we stand united, viewing ourselves as one, Hashem, in His compassion, will treat us as such.
    Now we can explain the Zohar, which compares the Kohen Gadol entering the Kodesh HaKodashim to Esther, who entered the inner chamber of Achashveirosh. Just as the Kohen Gadol enters with the strength of a united Klal Yisrael behind him – as symbolized by the ketores – so did Esther enter with the strength of a united Klal Yisrael behind her. That is why Purim is named after Yom Kippurim; they both represent a victory predicated on the unity and indivisibility of Klal Yisrael.

    1. Yasher kochacha. Certainly Yom Kippur requires achdus, as shown by the specific need davka at that time to publicly be מתיר להתפלל עם ....

  2. Chasam Sofer explains the Rokeiach based on Megillah 12b, where the Gemara expounds the names of Achashveirosh's advisors as hinting to different merits of the Jewish people, and it says that "Memuchan" is an allusion to the Lechem Hapanim (כלום הכינו שלחן לפניך). Since it was through Memuchan that Vashti was killed, thereby laying the foundation for the entire miracle of Purim, we see that it was only with the zechus attached to his name - the Lechem Hapanim - that the Jews were saved.

    1. Thank you.
      When I saw that, I felt it was just missing something. Why davka the Lechem Hapanim? In other words, he is not explaining the connection, he is not making it less tzorich iyun, he is just giving another example of the connection. So good, now we have another association of the Lechem with Purim. But what's the lomdus? I think that using the idea of Lechem as a symbol of Achdus, it explains both the Rokei'ach's smichus and the Gemara on 12b.
      But after combining the pshatim, there is still a lot to explain, because it's not just the Lechem. The Lechem is one of seven.
      כרשנא כרים בני שנה
      שתר שתי תורין
      אדמתא מזבח אדמה
      תרשיש שימשו לפניך בבגדי כהונה
      מרס מירסו בדם
      מרסנא מירסו במנחות
      ממוכן הכינו שלחן לפניך

    2. Suggested link: Chasam Sofer says that the "ikkur nes" of the Megillah was not the nahapoch hu, nor was it that Hashem accepted our teshuva. The biggest nes was how Achashveirosh went meshuga after 186 days of being normal at his party, and killed his wife, thereby setting up Esther to become queen. This biggest nes happened during Acheshveirosh's seuda, when the Jewish people were rebelling against Hashem! To teach us for always, that 'אפילו בשעה שמשחיתים בנים חביבים הם לה.

      So the basis for the biggest nes of the Purim story was Hashem's permanent endearment for his children. And we find that the vehicle through which the Jewish people saw חיבתכם לפני המקום in the Beis Hamikdash was when they were shown the Lechem Hapanim; how they always stayed fresh and warm. So the zechus of Lechem Hapanim, the vehicle of showing this endearment (requires biur why), manifested itself in this greatest miracle of the Purim story.

    3. I see that you took the Chasam Sofer's idea of the ikker nes being the sudden and unnatural alienation, and you contrasted that with the inseverable love of the Ribono shel Olam and Klal Yisrael, and you used the Lechem Hapanim as the symbol of that relationship.
      Interesting thought, though - the expression ואומרים להן ראו חבתכם לפני המקום is found in Chagiga 26b on the hot Lechem Hapanim, and in Yoma 54a on the intimacy of the Kruvim. But in BB 99a it says that the איש אל אחיו was only בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום. We do not find any such chiluk by the Lechem. So it could very well be that the חבתכם לפני המקום symbolized davka by the Lechem was a deeper one than the one symbolized by the Keruvim.