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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Parashat T'rumah 5775

Part I: What Kind of Animal?
Among the items used to build the Tabernacle were t’chashim [תחשים] (or tachash in singular), which I remember translated as “dolphin” from a translation I read in my youth (mechon-mamre has “seal”). The Rabbis themselves find this animal to be mysterious, and based on the idea that all animals used in the Tabernacle were kosher (there are some nice commentaries on some of the dyes such as the scarlet which seem to come from particularly non-kosher creatures), I present here some of the ideas of which this animal was.

שמות פרשת תרומה פרק כה
Exodus 25
(3) And this is the donation which you will take from yourselves: gold, silver, and bronze.
(ג) וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת:
(4) And blue, and purple, and scarlet and fine linen and goat’s hair.
(ד) וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים:
(5) And reddened rams’ skins, and the skins of t’chashim and acacia [cedar?]-wood
(ה) וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים:

יחזקאל פרק טז
Ezekiel 16
(10) I dressed you in woven clothing, and I put tachash shoes on you; I bound your [head] in linen, and I covered you with silk.
(י) וָאַלְבִּישֵׁךְ רִקְמָה וָאֶנְעֲלֵךְ תָּחַשׁ וָאֶחְבְּשֵׁךְ בַּשֵּׁשׁ וַאֲכַסֵּךְ מֶשִׁי:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף כח עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, 28a
Said Rav Ada son of Ahava: “Tachash” which was in the days of Moshe, he asked him, “Was it permitted [to eat] or prohibited?”
אמר רב אדא בר אהבה: תחש שהיה בימי משה קמיבעיא ליה, טמא היה או טהור היה?
Said Rav Yosef, “What are you asking? We taught, ‘The only things fit for the work of Heaven were the skins of permitted animals.’”
אמר רב יוסף: מאי תיבעי ליה? תנינא: לא הוכשרו למלאכת שמים אלא עור בהמה טהורה בלבד!
Rebbi Abba challenged, “Rebbi Yehuda says, ‘There were two coverings [for the Tabernacle], one of reddened rams’ skins, and one of the skins of t’chashim.’ Rebbi Nechemiya says, ‘It was one covering, and similar to a species of tree squirrel.’ But the tree squirrel is prohibited!
מתיב רבי אבא, רבי יהודה אומר: שני מכסאות היו, אחד של עורות אילים מאדמים ואחד של עורות תחשים. רבי נחמיה אומר: מכסה אחד היה, ודומה כמין תלא אילן. והא תלא אילן טמא הוא! -
Here is what he is saying: It was like a species of squirrel, in that it had many colors, but not an actual tree squirrel that whereas that is prohibited, this is permitted.
הכי קאמר: כמין תלא אילן הוא, שיש בו גוונין הרבה, ולא תלא אילן, דאילו התם - טמא, והכא - טהור.

תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף כח עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 28b
Rebbi Meir used to say, “The Tachash that was in the days of Moshe was a unique animal, and the Sages could not decide if it was a species of wild animal or a species of domesticated animal. And it had one horn on its forehead, and for the time it was available to Moshe, and he made the Tabernacle from it and it was was hidden [extinct?].
אומר היה רבי מאיר: תחש שהיה בימי משה בריה בפני עצמה היה, ולא הכריעו בה חכמים אם מין חיה הוא אם מין בהמה הוא, וקרן אחת היתה לו במצחו, ולפי שעה נזדמן לו למשה, ועשה ממנו משכן ונגנז.

מדרש תנחומא (ורשא) פרשת תרומה
Midrash Tanchumah, Parashat T’rumah
And Rebbi Nechemya says, “It was an act of miracles, and at the time that it was created, at that time it was hidden.”
ורבי נחמיה אומר מעשה נסים היתה ולשעה שנבראת בו בשעה נגנזה,
And why t’chashim skins? As it is written, “The length of one curtain is thirty cubits,” (Exodus 26:2). Who can bring you a thirty cubit curtain? Rather, it was the act of a miracle: at the time it was created it was hidden.
ועורות תחשים למה דכתיב אורך היריעה האחת שלשים באמה מי מביא לך יריעה של שלשים אמה אלא מעשה נס לשעה שנבראת נגנזה.

תורה תמימה הערות שמות פרק כה
Torah Temimah, Notes, Exodus 25
Barukh HaLevi Epstein, 19th and 20th Century Lithuania
And what was written that for the time it was available, it seems to not only be for the time of building the Tabernacle, but for the entire period of forty years that Israel was in the desert. And this [statement] comes only to exclude that it remained for the [subsequent] generations.
ומ"ש לפי שעה נזדמן נראה דלאו דוקא לשעת בנין המשכן אלא לכל משך הארבעים שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר, ובא לאפוקי רק שלא נשאר לדורות,
And proof for this we see from Ezekiel, “I put tachash shoes on you,” (Ezekiel 16:10). This refers to Israel being in the desert after the making of the Tabenacle.
וראיה לזה דמצינו ביחזקאל (ט"ז) ואנעלך תחש, וזה קאי על היות ישראל במדבר לאחר עשיית המשכן.
And maybe the reason for the necessity of this interpretation, that for the time it was available to him and it was hidden is because the Torah did not account for it in parashat Re’eh in the species of wild or domesticated animals which are permitted [to eat].
ואולי הטעם בהכרח הדרשה דלפי שעה נזדמנה לו ונגנזה הוא משום דלא חשבה הכתוב בפ' ראה במיני החיה או הבהמה הטהורות.

Part II: The Forests of Anticipation
Among the other things needed to build the Tabernacle were long boards of wood made of עצי שטים, which I translated as acacia, but Rashi and the Midrash understand as a type of cedar. Where they got such boards in the desert needs exploring, as is done here by the Midrash Tanchumah and Ibn Ezra. I enjoyed this Ibn Ezra since he lays out some of his thinking as to when he is willing to reject (or at least seek beyond) Rabbinic interpretation and when he is not.

שמות פרשת ויקהל פרק לה
Exodus, Chapter 35
(24) Any donor of  a donation of silver or bronze, brought the donation for Hashem; and all for whom is found with him acacia wood, for all work of the service, brought it.
(כד) כָּל־מֵרִים תְּרוּמַת כֶּסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת הֵבִיאוּ אֵת תְּרוּמַת יְקֹוָק וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר נִמְצָא אִתּוֹ עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים לְכָל־מְלֶאכֶת הָעֲבֹדָה הֵבִיאוּ:

מדרש תנחומא (ורשא) פרשת תרומה
Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat T’rumah
From where were the planks? Jacob our father planted them at the time he went down to Egypt. He said to his children, “My children, in the future you will be redeemed from here. And the Holy One, blessed be He, in the future will say to you, once you are redeemed, that you should build the Tabernacle. Therefore, get up and plant cedars now, for at the time that He will say you to make the Tabernacle for Him, the cedars will be ready for you.” Immediately they got up and planted and did as such.
ומהיכן היו הקרשים יעקב אבינו נטע אותם בשעה שירד למצרים, אמר לבניו בני עתידים אתם להגאל מכאן והקב"ה עתיד לומר לכם משאתם נגאלין שתעשו לו את המשכן אלא עמדו ונטעו ארזים מעכשיו שבשעה שיאמר לכם לעשות לו את המשכן יהיו הארזים מתוקנים לכם, מיד עמדו ונטעו ועשו כן


אבן עזרא שמות (הפירוש הארוך) פרשת תרומה פרק כה
Ibn Ezra, Exodus (The Long Commentary), Chapter 25
Avraham Ibn Ezra, 12th Century Spain (and everywhere else in the world)
And acacia wood - There are those of our predecessors who said that Jacob our father planted them, and Israel took them out from Egypt by commandment of Moshe. And the proof is, “And all for whom is found with him,” (Exodus 35:24), like blue and purple [dyes or thread].
ועצי שטים יש מקדמונינו, שאמר שיעקב אבינו נטעם, וישראל הוציאם ממצרים במצות משה. והראיה וכל אשר נמצא אתו (שמות לה, כד), כמו התכלת והארגמן.
But there is reason to be surprised, for why does it say, “And all for whom is found with him,” [meaning] for one’s needs [ie things people took from Egypt for their personal need]. And if we say as such, there is reason to be surprised: why did they take acacia wood [from Egypt], for what is the need for them?
ויש לתמוה, למה נאמר אשר נמצא אתו, לצרכו. ואם אמרנו כן, יש לתמוה למה הוציאו עצי שטים, כי מה צורך יש להם.
Ibn Ezra points out that everything donated had to be something that was for personal use - not brought with the intent of using it to build a Tabernacle - otherwise, it’s not so much of a donation.

Further, here the Egyptians think they went for their sacrifices, and would return afterwards, and for this borrowed [supplies] from them. But how would they go out with big planks, each of a twenty cubit length, and also bars of wood? And they pass through Egypt - the seat of kingship - and what answer did they have to their question, “Why are you taking acacia wood,” when they were going a three days’ distance to sacrifice.
ועוד, הנה המצרים חושבים כי לזבוחהם הולכים, ואחר כך ישובו, ועל כן השאילום. ואיך יוציאו קרשים רבים אורך כל אחד מהם עשר אמות, גם בריחים, והם עברו על מצרים מקום המלוכה, ומה היתה תשובה לשואליהם, למה יוליכו עצי שטים, והם הולכים לזבוח דרך שלשת ימים.
Ibn Erza points out that that the Egyptians, thinking the Israelites were going for three days, could not have borrowed such large planks without questions.

And here we do not know, if it was received tradition among our ancestors that we took [the wood] out of Egypt, and [if so] we too should turn to their teaching. But if it is [based on logic], there is need to search for another explanation.
והנה לא ידענו, אם קבלה היתה ביד אבותינו שממצרים הוציאום, גם אנחנו נסור אל משמעתם. ואם סברא היא, יש לבקש דרך אחרת,
He seems to suggest that we should accept our oral traditions, but those Rabbinic pieces based on human logic, if we are skeptical, we should search for better answers.

And we should say that near Mount Sinai is a forest of acacia trees. And when they arrived there, he [Moshe] said to them that they would be held up for a while, and there was no cloud above them as I explained. Then each one made a sukkah, and the chieftains made a form of courtyards. Each one according to his level. And they cut down the entire forest, for they were a large nation, and they made sukkot.
ונאמר כי היה סמוך אל הר סיני יער עצי שטים, ובבואם שם, אמר להם ששם יתעכבו הרבה, ואין עליהם ענן כאשר פירשתי. אז עשה כל אחד סוכה, והנשיאים עשו כדמות חצרות. כל אחד כפי מעלתו, וכרתו כל היער, כי עם רב היו, ועשו סוכות.
And Moshe did not tell them about the Tabernacle until after Yom Kippur. And this is the reason [it says], “All that was found with him.”
ומשה לא דבר להם דבר המשכן, רק אחר יום הכפורים. וזה טעם וכל אשר נמצא אתו:

Part III: The Intimate Night of Garlic Breath
Here the Arukh Hashulchan summarizes the rules that a Torah scholar should have sex with his wife [this is written completely from a male perspective] on Shabbat as part of the delight of Shabbat. The Arukh Hashulchan then deals with some foods the Talmud suggests one eats on Shabbat to “increase seed,” echoes of which still exist in modern culture around certain aphrodisiacs.

As well, his mention of a Torah scholar who failed to follow this frequency of sexual relations with his wife was part of the Talmud taught by Ruth Calderon in her incipient speech to the Knesset. I included that piece of Talmud at the end.
ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן רפ
Arukh Hashulchan, OC 280
Article 2:
It is in tractate K’tubot , “Whose fruit gives at its [proper] time,” (Psalms 1:3), this is a Torah scholar who has sex from Shabbat eve to Shabbat eve [ie every Shabbat eve]. For it is a night of delight, rest, and bodily pleasure. And the period of sex of a Torah scholar is from Shabbat to Shabbat.  And it is brought there that one of the Sages was punished for [not doing] this.
סעיף ב
איתא בכתובות [ס"ב:] אשר פריו יתן בעתו זה ת"ח המשמש מטתו מע"ש לע"ש שהוא ליל תענוג ושביתה והנאת הגוף [רש"י ד"ה מע"ש] ועונה של ת"ח משבת לשבת [שם] ומביא שם שאחד מן החכמים נענש על זה
And the words of the Rambam in chapter 30, “Having sex is among the delights of Shabbat. Therefore, the period of sex of  Torah scholars who are healthy is from night of Shabbat to night of Shabbat.” And he comes to exclude one who is sick, for he is not obligated in this.
ולשון הרמב"ם בפ"ל [הל' י"ד] תשמיש המטה מתענוגי שבת הוא לפיכך עונת ת"ח הבריאים לשמש מטותיהם מליל שבת לליל שבת ע"ש. ובא למעט מי שהוא חלוש בבריאותו דאינו מחוייב בזה
And so it is explained above [OC 240] that the period of having sex for a Torah scholar is from Shabbat to Shabbat since during all of the week he is engaged in Torah. And about them it was said, “So said Hashem to the eunuchs who keep My Shabbatot,” (Isaiah 56:4). And there is a hint to this in the Torah from the first letters of the words in the verse, “Then the children of Israel will keep Shabbat,” (Exodus 31:16) [Starting from the second word it spells ביאה, meaning “sex” in Aramaic].
וכן נתבאר לעיל סי' ר"מ דעונת ת"ח משבת לשבת לפי שכל השבוע הוא עוסק בתורה ע"ש ועליהם נאמר[ישעיה נו, ד] כה אמר ד' לסריסים אשר ישמרו את שבתתי ויש רמז לזה בתורה בראשי תיבות מן תיבות של פסוקי ושמרו "בני "ישראל "את "השבת [רא"ש ס"פ מרובה]
And it is a mitzvah to eat garlic on the eve of Shabbat, or the evenings of Shabbat, for it increases seed. But we do not practice as such, and perhaps it is because it is found in the Sefer Ha’Chasidim that garlic negates desire, and only roasted garlic increases seed. And we are not experts to roast them [correctly].
ומצוה לאכול שום בע"ש או בלילי שבת שמרבים זרע [שם בגמ'] ואין אנו נוהגים בזה ואולי מפני שנמצא בספר חסידים [סי' ש"צ] דשומים מבטלים תאוה רק שומים צלוים מרבים זרע ע"ש ואין אנו בקיאים לצלותן
It wrote further, that all salty things decrease seed, but boiled legumes and lentils, when unsalted, increase seed.
עוד כתב דכל דברים מלוחים ממעטין את הזרע וקטניות ועדשים מבושלים כשאינן מלוחים מרבים את הזרע
And in the first chapter of tractate Yoma it says that milk, cheese, eggs, wine, meat, fat, and garlic increas see. And they further mention things there on which we are not experts.
ובפ"ק דיומא [י"ח.]אומר דחלב וגבינה וביצה ויין ובשר שמן ושום מרבין את הזרע ועוד חשיב שם דברים שאין אנו בקיאין בהם ע"ש:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת כתובות דף סב עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot, 62b
Thus Rav Rachumei was frequently [found] in front of Rava in Machuza, but regularly went to his wife every Yom Kippur eve. One day, his learning drew him in. His wife was expecting him, “Now he comes, now he comes.” He did not come. Her mind weakened and tears fell from her eyes.  He was sitting on the roof. The roof collapsed from under him and he died.
כי הא דרב רחומי הוה שכיח קמיה דרבא במחוזא, הוה רגיל דהוה אתי לביתיה כל מעלי יומא דכיפורי. יומא חד משכתיה שמעתא, הוה מסכיא דביתהו השתא אתי השתא אתי, לא אתא, חלש דעתה אחית דמעתא מעינה, הוה יתיב באיגרא, אפחית איגרא מתותיה ונח נפשיה.
The period or sex for Torah scholars is when? Said Rav Yehuda said Shmuel, “From eve of Shabbat to eve of Shabbat.” “Whose fruit gives at its [proper] time,” (Psalms 1:3), this is a Torah scholar who has sex from Shabbat eve to Shabbat eve. Said Rav Yehuda, and some say Rav Huna, and some say Rav Nachman, “This is one who has sex from eve of Shabbat to eve of Shabbat.
עונה של תלמידי חכמים אימת? אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: מע"ש לע"ש. אשר פריו יתן בעתו - אמר רב יהודה, ואיתימא רב הונא,ואיתימא רב נחמן: זה המשמש מטתו מע"ש לע"ש.
Yehuda son of Rebbi Chiyya was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yannai. He went and sat [studied] in the house of Rav, and every twilight [of Shabbat] he went to his wife. When he would go, people would see a pillar of fire in front of him. One day, his learning drew him in. Since he did not see that sign, Rebbi Yannai said to them, “Turn over his bed [a sign of mourning], for were Yehuda still alive, he would not have neglected his period of sexual intimacy.”
יהודה בריה דר' חייא חתניה דר' ינאי הוה, אזיל ויתיב בבי רב, וכל בי שמשי הוה אתי לביתיה, וכי הוה אתי הוה קא חזי קמיה עמודא דנורא. יומא חד משכתיה שמעתא, כיון דלא חזי ההוא סימנא, אמר להו רבי ינאי: כפו מטתו, שאילמלי יהודה קיים לא ביטל עונתו.
Here we see Yehuda’s father assume he must have died since he did not fulfill his marital duties, but instead was held up studying.


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