Vol 11.17 - Tetzaveh 2 Spanish French Audio Video
(5733) Rashi (Beg of Parsha Ex. 28:30): "The Urim and Tumim" and Rashi: "The judgment of the Bnei Yisroel" (and the correlation to the previous Rashi in 28:15)
During the era of the second Beis HaMikdash there was a Choshen (breastplate), even though a Kohen Gadol cannot lack any of the priestly garments, and the Urim and the Tumim -the inscription of the Explicit Name was not within it. The Rebbe explains that although the Choshen was complete, nevertheless the aspect of “Mishpat”/judgment was missing and it is our Avodah to restore this level to the world thereby bringing Moshiach
30 Into the Breastplate of Judgment you shall place the urim and tumim: The word urim means “lights,” while the word tumim is related to the word for “sincerity” and “devotion” (temimut).28
In terms of our Divine soul, the urim denotes its brilliant awareness of its Divine source and its fiery yearning to dissolve in it. The tumim denotes its wholehearted sincerity and thorough devotion to fulfill the commandments. This devotion counterbalances the urim experience, dragging it down from its rapture to engage the mundane and elevate it to Divinity.
Thus, the urim and tumim thus express the dynamic of “run and return,”29 the ongoing give and take between ecstatic rapture and humble submission that characterizes the spiritual life.30
The urim and tumim lost their ability to make the Breastplate function as an oracle after the destruction of the First Temple.31 In general, the Second Temple imparted a palpable Divine awareness to those who entered it precisely as the First Temple did. However, unlike the First Temple, the Second Temple was not able to radiate that awareness abroad, to influence the mundane realm. Similarly, the Breastplate remained intact during the Second Temple era, but its ability to render judgment for all mankind through the urim and tumim did not.
In a larger sense, this situation defines the general condition of exile. The Divine consciousness, goodness, and perfection of the messianic era lie dormant, although intact; only the pretentious façade of the supposedly immutable laws of nature is apparent. The two exist within the same reality.
The ineffectuality of the Breastplate is thus a metaphor for the overall condition we know as “exile.” This is alluded to by the fact that the word for “Breastplate” (חשן) shares the same numerical value as the words for “snake” (נחש)32 and “Messiah” (משיח).33 The primordial snake, which brought sin and confusion to the world, and the Messiah, who will bring clarity of purpose, are, of course, diametric opposites. Yet that is the paradox of Exile: the messianic reality is implicit within exile; our job is just to reveal it.
Allegorically, then, our challenge in exile is to restore the urim and tumim to the cosmic Breastplate—to “decode” the implicit messianic perception, goodness, and perfection within the snakeskin of reality—so that it can assume its proper, revealed role.34
30.See Sefer HaArachim – Chabad, vol. 4, p. 264.
32.Sha’ar HaMitzvot and Ta’amei HaMitzvot, both in Tetzaveh.
33.Me’orei Or, s.v. choshen, citing Rabbeinu Ephraim (of the Tosafot); Chomat Anach.
34.Likutei Sichot, vol. 11, pp. 137-138.
1. On the verse (Ex 28:30):
“You shall place the Urim and the Tumim into the Choshen of judgment etc.”
“(the Urim and the Tumim): This is the inscription of the Explicit Name (Shem HaMeforash), which was placed within the folds of the Choshen, by means of which it would light up its words (מֵאִיר) and perfect (מְךְתַּמֵם) its words. In the Second Temple there was the Choshen, because it was impossible for the Kohen Gadol to be missing any of the Priestly garments, but that Name was not inside it. And on account of this inscription, it was called “judgment,” (משפט) as it is said: “and he shall inquire for him through the judgment of the Urim” (Num. 27:21).”
One must understand:
1. The manner of Rashi is to explain the simple understanding of the verse – therefore the explanation here is not understood (and especially the elaboration) regarding the nature of the Choshen in the Second Temple?! In addition he adds a reason for this: “because it was impossible for the Kohen etc.”?
2. The intent of Rashi in many places is to explain the words of the verse that he cites – therefore according to this, what is the relevance here of his explanation:
“And on account of this inscription . . as it is said: “and he shall inquire for him through the judgment of the Urim”
The explanation for that verse should be in its place (in Num. 27:21)”?
3. Not only is it not the place here, but on the contrary, this explanation is a contradiction to what Rashi explains before this (in verse 15): that, if it is called Choshen Mishpat (just) because of that inscription, then if the inscription is missing it should also then, for our purposes, not be considered a ”Choshen Mishpat” – therefore, there is room to say that in the Second Temple, where the inscription was not within the Choshen, that indeed the Kohen Gadol was “missing the Priestly garments” (מחוסר בגדים), the opposite of what Rashi writes before this?
2. Further on, in his explanation of: “the judgment of the children of Israel” (in this verse, 30) Rashi writes:
“Matters that they are judging and debating (דבר שהם נשפטים ונוכחים), through it, whether or not to do something. According to the Aggadic Midrash, that the Choshen atoned for the miscarriages of justice - it was called “judgment” on account of its pardoning (sins dealing with) judgment”.
Even this explanation is difficult to understand:
1. These two explanations have already been stated by Rashi before this (in this selfsame Parsha in verse (30:15) :”(Choshen) Mishpat”). Why does he repeat it here?
2. In the previous explanation, the two explanations are stated in the opposite order (from what is stated further on)
a. “It atones for the perversion of justice”( שמכפר על קלקול הדין) – and afterwards
b. “Another interpretation: (The Choshen is referred to as) Mishpat/judgment (מִֹשְפָט) because it clarifies its words, and its promise comes true . . an expression of the clarification of words, (meaning) that it explains and clarifies its words.” (וזה משמש לשון בירור דברים, שמפרש ומברר דבריו).
Therefore, in addition to the difficulty because of the difference in the order of his words (which are precise in every detail), there is a puzzlement regarding the contradiction that comes as a result of this change:
The explanation that Rashi presents first – is considered his primary explanation. Therefore, the reversal of the order – switches the establishment of the primary explanation. And this is emphasized even more so, for in his next commentary, he cites the second explanation as an ”Aggadic Midrash”. This means that this explanation is not completely according to the simple understanding (Pshat), but rather it is in the manner of ”An Aggadah that resolves the words of the verse”
(for because of the difficulty of the first explanation (which is entirely according to Pshat) one is forced to bring a ”Midrash Aggadah” which is not entirely according to Pshat).
And in his previous commentary, on ”Choshen Mishpat”, he cites the first explanation (and the primary one)!?
3. The explanation in all of this is:
After all the particulars and manners of the making of the Choshen are explained in the beginning and continuation of the Parsha, it states as a conclusion (verse 29):
“Thus shall Aaron carry . . In the Choshen of judgment over his heart etc.” –
which completes, seemingly, the entire aspect of the Choshen. Yet afterwards, the verse continues:
“You shall place the Urim and the Tumim into the Choshen of judgment . . and Aaron will carry the judgment of the children of Israel etc.,“
Since the aspect of the Urim and Tumim is not included in all its specifics, but comes after it, as an independent thing, it is understood from the simple order of the verses that the Urim and Tumim are not a part of the (making) of the Choshen itself but that it is an additional aspect of the essential Choshen.
Therefore, after Rashi explains that the Urim and Tumim is:
“The inscription of the Shem HaMeforash, which was placed within the folds of the Choshen, by means of which it would light up its words”
which implies that the Urim and Tumim are a part of the Choshen itself – namely, that the completeness of the Choshen is connected to the placing the Urim and Tumim within it – this is a contradiction to the understanding of the order of the aforementioned verses.
Therefore Rashi continues (in order to resolve this question) and states:
“In the Second Temple there was the Choshen, because it was impossible for the Kohen Gadol to be missing any of the Priestly garments, but that Name was not inside it”.
From this it is proof that the Urim and Tumim are not a part of the Choshen – for the Kohen Gadol was not “missing any of the Priestly garments” even when the Choshen was without them.
However, this itself requires explanation:
Since Rashi states that:
“by means of which (the Urim and Tumim) it would light up its words”,
why, truthfully, were they not something that, if missing, obstructed (מעכב) the completeness of the Choshen, just like its other parts (for each one of them was a part that, if missing, obstructed the general aspect of the Choshen). And specifically since the Urim and Tumim were, apparently a critical aspect of the Choshen?
Therefore Rashi explains in the continuation of his commentary:
“And on account of this inscription, it was called “judgment,” (משפט) etc.”
In other words, just the aspect of ”Mishpat”, which is an additional aspect of the essence of the Choshen, is dependent on the “inscription” of the Urim and Tumim. However the actual and essential aspect of the Choshen, the garment, is complete even without the Urim and Tumim, and the Kohen Gadol is not “missing any of the Priestly garments”.
And this is also the reason that, in the beginning, the verses explain the command concerning the making of the Choshen itself and all of its particulars, to show that with this, the section of the Choshen itself is complete, and the verse concludes and explains the purpose and aspect of the Choshen:
“Thus shall Aaron carry the names of the sons of Israel . . as a remembrance before the Lord at all times.”
And only afterwards comes the command for the Urim and Tumim which is the ”(Choshen) HaMishpat” (a thing that is additional to the essence of the Choshen) – for its aspect is:
“so that they will be over Aaron's heart . . and Aaron will carry the Mishpat of the children of Israel etc.”
4. In conjunction and in continuation to his aforementioned commentary in the beginning of the verse (which proves that because of the inscription of the Urim and Tumim it is called ”Mishpat”) Rashi also explains – in his first explanation – what he writes later in the verse: “the judgment of the children of Israel” that it is
“matters that they are judging (נשפטים) and debating etc.”
In other words, the ”Mishpat” refers to the Urim and Tumim, as he explains in the beginning of the verse. And Rashi‘s reason is explained since he concludes here that this explanation is the primary one, for only according to this explanation can one understand, in order to resolve the flow of the verses, that the Urim and Tumim are not an essential part of the Choshen, as aforementioned.
However, in Rashi’s previous commentary on the ”Choshen Mishpat” (verse 15), where there is not yet a necessity to explain that the aspect of the “Mishpat” refers to the Urim and Tumim – it is simpler to explain that the aspect of the “Mishpat” – is literally - from the word ‘judgment/Din” – rather than explain that it is “an expression of the clarification of words (בירור דברים)” which is not the simple meaning of the word ”Mishpat”.
Therefore Rashi prefaces the explanation that “it atones for the perversion of justice” (שמכפר על קלקול הדין) for that is the main explanation in the simple understanding of the verse on its place, and just afterwards adds (as a second explanation):
”Another interpretation: (The Choshen is referred to as) Mishpat/judgment (מִֹשְפָט) because it clarifies its words etc.”
However, from this very reason itself –
that it is difficult to say that ”Mishpat” refers to a ”clarification of words” and that “matters that they are judging and debating, through it (דבר שהם נשפטים ונוכחים)”. And since the Choshen is called ”Choshen Mishpat” even before they placed the Urim and Tumim within it –
Rashi does not suffice with his first explanation (in our verse – 30) that “the judgment of the children of Israel” refers to the Urim and Tumim, but he adds a second explanation that the Choshen is called “Mishpat” because it “atoned for the miscarriages of justice”, for according to this the explanation of “Mishpat” is more understandable – literally.
However since this explanation is difficult to envision (להולמו) in the simple flow of the verses-
as aforementioned (for if so, why didn’t the verse include the aspect of the Urim and Tumim between the other aspects of the Choshen) –
therefore Rashi writes, that this second explanation is ”Aggadic Midrash”.
For even though in one detail it is closer to the simple understanding of the verse – on the other hand it does not agree with the general import of the verses and the entire Parsha. Therefore Rashi cites it as a second explanation of the verse.
According to Rashi’s opinion, it is understood also according to Halacha, how the Kohen Gadol was able to serve in the Second Temple, while the Urim and Tumim were missing – since seemingly, he was missing the Priestly garments? For according to Rashi’s view the lack of the Urim and Tumim did not affect the essential aspect of the Choshen, except in the aspect of the “Mishpat”. Therefore the Kohen Gadol was not missing the Priestly garments, with their absence, as Rashi himself writes in his commentary.
5. From the homiletic style of Torah in Rashi‘s commentary here (Yayina shel Torah):
It is explained in Chassidut that the main difference between the First Beis HaMikdash and the Second Beis HaMikdash (because of which five things were missing in the Second Beis HaMikdash) was not so much in the area of the level of G-d’s revelation in the actual Mikdash – for even in the Second Temple there was a revelation of the level of Bina (understanding) just as in the first Temple. But rather the main difference was in the drawing down of the revelation of the level of Bina in the other areas (בגבולין). For in the second Temple, there was no ability to draw down the level of Bina, except with regards to itself, but not to the outside areas.
According to Rashi, this aspect also related to the Choshen:
The Choshen itself was also in the second Temple, but the aspect of the “Mishpat”
(through which Bnei Yisroel and the world was judged), in other words, the influence of the Choshen in the world – this aspect
was missing at that time, (even though) the actual Choshen existed in completeness even in the second Temple.
The same thing occurs in the time of Galut:
The Sages state that ”Choshen” (״חשן״) are the letters “snake” (״נחש״) – the original Serpent.
On the other hand, it is explained in the name of R’ Efrayim (from the Baalei HaTosfot) that “Choshen” is the gematria of ”Moshiach” (״משיח״).
In the time of Galut (which comes as a result of our sins – because of which there is a strengthening of the ”Mishcha d'Chivya” (clothing of the Snake/המשכא דחויא) over the G-dly soul (נפה״א).
(Note: the skin we have now is also called Mishcha d'Chivya because of Adam HaRishon's and Chava's role in eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and the courseness that ensued.)
The aspect of the “serpent” is revealed, and the Choshen (the gematria of “Moshiach”) is hidden (בהעלם).
In other words, the “Choshen” exists even in the time of Galut, but it is hidden – and our Avodah in the time of Galut – is to restore (לפענח) and reveal the Choshen (the gematria of “Moshiach”) from its hiddenness, so much so that it becomes a “Choshen Mishpat” – that its aspect and effect on the world is revealed.
And through this the “Choshen“ is the gematria of “Moshiach” – that the revelation of the Choshen (in the level of the “Choshen Mishpat”) brings the revelation of Moshiach – b'karov mamosh” (really soon).
m’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Tetzaveh 5726
|Date Modified:||Date Reviewed:|