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Explanation of Rashi (Ex.25:5): And acacia wood - The necessity according to Pshat to bring the commentary of Tanchuma: "Where did they get these trees in the desert?" and the connection (according to Pnimiyut) to Rabbi "Tanchuma"; Explanation of Rashi (Ex.25:4):  תְכֵלֶת (blue wool) and אַרְגָּמָן (purple wool)


1. On the verse (Ex.25:5) “and acacia wood” (וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים) Rashi states:

And acacia wood: Where did they get these (trees) in the desert? Rabbi Tanchuma explained that our father Yaakov foresaw with the holy spirit that the Israelites were destined to build a Mishkan in the desert, so he brought cedars to Egypt and planted them. He commanded his sons to take them with them when they left Egypt.”

One must understand:

This explanation of Rabbi Tanchuma, seemingly, is the words of the Aggadah without a source in the literal text of the verse (P’shuto Shel Mikra). What forced Rashi, therefore, to take this explanation when one could explain, simply, that Bnei Yisroel bought these trees from the gentile traders, or as the Ibn Ezra explains (and so too in the Baalei HaTosafot on Torah) that there was a forest of acacia wood close to Mount Sinai from where they cut the wood.

The commentators answer that the necessity is from what is written, further on, in Parshat Vayakhel:

“and everyone who had with him acacia wood”

For it states explicitly in that verse that the wood was already in the possession of Bnei Yisroel (as is also cited in Ibn Ezra).

But it is difficult to say that this is the necessity of Rashi - for Rashi does not mention that verse. And it is understood that it is very problematic to say that Rashi relies, here, on a verse that is further on (in Parshat Vayakhel).

2. One could say the explanation is - in simplicity:

The Command for the offering of the Mishkan are with the words:

·         "(have them) take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה) (25:2)

·         “From every person . . you shall take My offering (תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי) (25:2)

·         “And this is the offering that you shall take from them” (וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ) (25:3)

Seemingly it should have stated in a language of “giving” (״נתינה״) (or contribution etc.) which is the deed of Bnei Yisroel contributing to give the offering to G-d.

Why is it stated in a language of “Taking” (״קיחה״) (which refers to the treasurers who take the offering from Bnei Yisroel?)

(Regarding the givers (contributors), it is mentioned in the Parshah just the, separation as Rashi explains the word “Terumah” -

“They shall set apart from their property an offering for Me.” (תרומה: הפרשה, יפרישו לי מממונם נדבה)

For this is not an act of donating (giving) to G-d, but just the separation of the Terumah from (the rest of ) their money for sake of a donation (and the taking by the treasurers - "take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי ) is after there has already been action of the provision)).

Therefore it appears from the verses, that the things that are mentioned in the verses (which are the offerings for the Tabernacle) were already in their possession, and in the hands of Bnei Yisroel, prior to this, and the only thing lacking was just the act of taking them.

In a somewhat different manner:

If the verse would have written a language of giving, which means that there is an obligation on the donors to give - this would include, that they do everything in their power in order that there be a contribution, including even cutting down trees or purchasing them etc. But the language “Taking” (קיחה) implies that from the perspective of the donor, everything is prepared and the only thing missing is the treasurer’s act of taking”.

(and one could say that this is why Rashi explains and is precise in stating that "Take for Me an offering” does not mean giving an offering to G-d, but rather just “separating” - “They shall set apart from their property an offering for Me.” For this emphasizes much more, that the thing that they are donating is already in their possession, and their deed is just to “separate” - to set aside these things from the rest of their money).

And this is the explanation of Rashi’s question (on “and acacia wood") –

“Where did they have these (trees) in the desert?”

In other words, where was acacia wood prepared in their possession, in the desert, that nothing was lacking save the taking from them?

(In other words, Rashi’s emphasis in writing “the desert” is not because trees do not grow in the desert, but rather that it is not the manner of people to deal with trees (especially trees like this) while travelling in the desert).

Therefore one can also explain Rashi’s precise answer:

“Rabbi Tanchuma explains” –

for this is an unusual expression in Rashi. Moreover – the words of the Tanchuma, seemingly, are not an explanation of the words of verse, but rather an Aggadah/homily that answers a question that arises in the story of the making of the Mishkan. Therefore how is the phrase: “Rabbi Tanchuma explains” fitting?

Rashi should have stated: “It states in the Midrash Tanchuma"

 (Or - as usual in many places in Rashi – to write the commentary (of the Midrash) and conclude (his own commentary) by citing the source: “Tanchuma”)

But by writing “Rabbi Tanchuma explains”, Rashi stresses, that the necessity to cite the words of the Tanchuma is not from the question that arises from the general story,

(for the question “From where did they have these trees” could have been answered in other ways, as above),

but because of the explanation of the language of the verse, which highlights that the things that they donated for the construction of the Mishkan, were prepared in their hands and only lacked taking, as aforementioned.

3. One could say, that this is also the intent of Rashi in his commentary on the verse: “blue, purple (, and crimson wool; linen and goat hair)” (וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים) that:

·         Blue…wool: “Techailes” (תְכֵלֶת )- wool dyed with the blood of the Chilazon , whose dye is blue

·         purple…wool: “Argamon” ( וְאַרְגָּמָן ) - wool dyed with a kind of dye whose name is Argamon

·         Linen: “Shais” ( שֵׁשׁ ) - This is linen

At a cursory glance it appears that Rashi is coming to explain what these three things are.

However, it is not understood:

1. At the end of it all, Rashi does not explain what “Argamon“ is (and he just writes that it is a dye “whose name is Argamon”)!

(One could add: There is a controversy between Rambam and Ra’avad where Rambam explains that, “it is wool which is dyed red”,

(The same is also explained by the Ibn Ezra here that it is "like the color of red” (״כדמות אדום״)

and Ra’avad explains that “ ‘Argamon‘ is woven from two kinds or three dyes – therefore it is called ‘Argamon‘” –

However, it is plain that Rashi does not hold like the Ra’avad, for he writes that it is “a kind of dye whose name is Argamon“ – implying that is the name of a single color (and not - some colors mixed together)". Also since Rashi plainly writes “a kind of dye whose name is Argamon“– it proves that he does not hold that the color is “red” - for if so, he should have stated this plainly

(like he explains that “’Techailes’ . . whose dye is blue

Therefore one must say that Rashi’s opinion is a third approach – that “Argamon“ is a unique color. If so the main thing is missing – for he should have clarified what the color of “Argamon“ is).

2. Furthermore, why does Rashi need to explain that “Shais” ( שֵׁשׁ ) – “is linen” – for we have already encountered the word “Shais”, previously in Parshat Miketz, as it states: “He clothed him in garments of linen (Shais)” and there Rashi does not explain anything at all.

Therefore one must conclude that it is because the meaning of the word “Shais “is known even to 'five year old Bible student” (״בן חמש למקרא״), (who understands in simplicity the Holy tongue) and there is no need to explain it. Therefore why is it necessary to explain it here?

4. Therefore, it appears that Rashi's main intention here is not to explain what these three things are, but to answer the general question, asked above, that arises in the verses here – “From where did they get”, these things, “in the desert”.

From the wording of the verses here, it is understood that, as aforementioned, these things were already in the possession of the Israelites and was there was nothing lacking but the taking by the treasurers.

However, one can understand this, regarding their possessing of gold and silver and copper – for we already previously learned that Bnei Yisroel asked the Egyptians to borrow “articles of gold and silver etc."

(and after this was the spoils of the Sea , as is explained in Rashi that Bnei Yisroel found in the Sea "ornaments of gold and silver and precious stones” of the Egyptians)

and it is understood that this was available to Bnei Yisroel.

But “where did they get in the desert” “Techailes” (which was from blood of the Chilazon) or Argamon/purple dye?

(And in general, it is not logical to think that Bnei Yisroel should take with them, when they left Egypt, vials of dye for their needs in the desert).

Therefore Rashi explains that “Techailes” is “wool dyed with the blood of the Chilazon”. And so too “Argamon” - “wool dyed with a kind of dye whose name is Argamon”. Therefore there is no question at all where they had all these things in the wilderness, for it states explicitly in the verse that they had many sheep while they were still in Egypt.

(Like the words of Moshe to Pharaoh "We will leave with our flocks and cattle” and when they left Egypt it states clearly that they took with them “flocks and cattle, very much livestock”) –

Therefore, it is understood and not surprising that Bnei Yisroel had much wool – including wool dyed in different colors.

And in order that it be clear and simple to understand that “Shais” was available to Bnei Yisroel - Rashi adds and emphasizes that "Shais is linen”. For Rashi already cited in his commentary that Flax grew in Egypt, and therefore it is understood that when they “emptied Egypt” that they also took with them – linen/flax.

Accordingly - even in his previous commentaries, Rashi comes to explain “And from where did they get in the desert” the things that are listed in the verse –

This is supported simply, by the Taz’s notice of the precise wording of Rashi - for in the original version of this Rashi, Rashi begins his commentary with the addition of a “Vav“: “And where did they get these (trees) in the desert” – and not “Where etc.” without the “And” (as is in our versions).

 (The Taz answers that:

“it is problematic why he writes (in the heading) “and acacia wood” (וַעֲצֵי) . . for it would have been sufficient to just say “acacia” . . therefore he (Rashi) writes: “And where did they get these” meaning that there is a further question, namely: “Where did they get these” etc. Therefore the verse must refer to the trees which Yaakov planted in Egypt. And this is why he writes: “trees” (וַעֲצֵי) (to answer that it is) from those cedars that already existed from Yaakov’s planting.”

But one must examine his answer, for we find many places in Rashi

(where he begins his commentary with a question, such as (such as 'Why is juxtaposed etc.', and so forth). And the commentators explain that the main question that Rashi comes to answer in his commentary is not this question, but rather that there is a “outward feeling” (״הרגש מבחוץ״) that is resolved by the answer that Rashi brings in his commentary), and nevertheless Rashi does not begin the question with an additional Vav)

Therefore according what has been explained previously, it is understood simply that even in his preceding commentaries Rashi deals with the answer to this question. But here, regarding the acacia wood, since there is, seemingly, no answer, in the simple understanding of the verses - Rashi diverges and asks: "And where did they get these in the desert’. And in order to emphasize that this question comes in conjunction to his previous commentaries - Rashi begins

and acacia wood: And where did they get these (trees) in the desert?

5. However the matter is still not completely settled:

For although it is true that from the verses it is proven that even the Atzei Shittim were in the possession of Bnei Yisroel, and therefore one is forced to say that they were prepared earlier (by Yaakov's command etc.) – nevertheless, this itself requires a reason:

Since they were able to obtain the acacia wood from the gentiles or from the surrounding forests - why did Yaakov Avinu have to endeavor more than two hundred years before the command to make the Mishkan - to bring and plant cedars in Egypt?

Seemingly one could say, that Yaakov knew that G-d’s command for the making of the Mishkan would be with the manner (and language) of “take" as above (בתוכן (בלשון) ״תקחו״). For from this it is understood that G-d’s will was that the things necessary for the making of the Mishkan would be prepared by Yisroel, and since, according to nature, there is no reason and cause for Yisroel to bring acacia wood from Egypt, therefore Yaakov had to command them regarding this and to prepare the Cedars.

But this increases the question –

for according to this we find that the command, using the word "take" (״קחו״), forced an act on Yaakov’s part to prepare the Cedars more than two hundred years before the command. In other words, because of this (שלפיכך) the command was with the wording “Take” (״תקחו״) in order that Yaakov plant the cedars in Egypt – Yet what was the reason?

The explanation in this, is alluded to by Rashi, by mentioning the name of the author of the statement – “Rabbi Tanchuma".

Tanchuma" is the from the word “condolences“(תנחומין). Therefore he states: “Rabbi Tanchuma explained” that “our father Yaakov foresaw with the holy spirit “- for this aspect is the comforting (נחמתן) of Yisroel.

When Bnei Yisroel were in exile in Egypt,

in a situation of the hardship of subjugation, so much so that “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river” etc. -

in addition to the promise that “I will also bring you up”, they “drew” (״שואבים״) comfort and consolation, the entire time of Galut, through actually seeing with their eyes the Atzei Shittim that Yaakov brought and planted in Egypt. The reason for this great bother was because “our father Yaakov foresaw with the holy spirit . . that they were destined to build a Mishkan in the desert”, “so he commanded his sons (and their sons and grandsons after them) to “take them with them when they left Egypt.”

In other words, Atzei Shittim for the actual needs for the Tabernacle - were able, as above, to be obtained in a number of ways. But in order that there be a consolation of Yisroel (the aspect of Rabbi Tanchuma) - Yaakov brought cedars and planted them in Egypt (and commanded his sons to take them with them when they left Egypt), in order that, during the entire time of exile and bondage of Egypt – these trees would be before their eyes - that were planted for the express purpose that they be taken when they went out of Egypt. In other words (by seeing) these Cedar trees were a remembrance and emphasis for Geulat Yisroel.

And this is also the hint in the words of Rashi and in the beginning of his commentary (the preface to the subject) that : “Rabbi Tanchuma explained” - In other words, the aspect of consolation (״תנחומא״) is in a manner that it is “explained” (פירש ) (an aspect of Pshat, simple understanding, and not an allusion or homily) – for this consolation was not just a verbal promise etc., but rather it was a consolation in a physical thing, which was visible with their physical eyes , a literal comfort.

And this also answers a precise wording in Rashi:

Rashi does not suffice to say that Yaakov planted cedars in Egypt, but he adds and delineates that “He brought Cedars to Egypt” - for, seemingly, what difference would there have been if he brought the Cedars from somewhere else?

And more puzzling is:

Further on in the Parsha, on the verse: “And you shall make the beams (Kerashim)” (וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת הַקְּרָשִׁים לַמִּשְׁכָּן עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים עֹמְדִים), Rashi repeats the gist of this commentary concerning how Yaakov Avinu prepared cedars etc., with all the details of the aspect (and he also adds new details) – Yet he omits there, the detail that Yaakov brought the cedars to Egypt.

However, according to the above , one could say that this detail concerns the aspect of condolence (התנחומין) – that Bnei Yisroel see with their physical eyes the Cedars that were brought from another place (From Eretz Yisroel which depicts the condition of Geulah). For this emphasizes, even more, that they were not completely given over, to the rulership of the Egyptians, but rather that “I will also bring you up” – that they would arise and go out to Eretz Yisroel (and take those cedars with them).

6. One could add, according to the “Yayina shel Torah” (יינה של תורה) (lit. 'Wine of Torah' - the homiletic style of Torah alluded in the commentary of Rashi) - that this explanation of “Rabbi Tanchuma” is not just a condolence (״תנחומין״) on Galut of Mitzrayim, but additionally, it is a condolence for all the Exiles and on the lengthy duration of Galut (for all the kingdoms (and exiles) are called after the name Mitzrayim).

For it is mentioned in Sefarim (Bechaye etc.) that the travels of Bnei Yisroel in the wilderness (the wilderness of the nations (״מדבר העמים״)) - are a metaphor for Galut. And the purpose of this travel is – “to build a Mishkan in the desert”. In other words to make in the desert and from the existence of the “desert”

(which is the place of the Klipot of snakes, serpents, scorpions and thirst etc. - a place desolate from any aspect of holiness)

a Mishkan and Mikdash for G-d - an abode for G-d in this world, in the lower realms, where there is no other lower (place) than it.

And when this Avodah is complete we will merit to literally fulfill the command “Make for Me a Mikdash” - in the third Beis HaMikdash “, where the Mishkan that Moshe built will also be revealed - the “Sanctuary of the desert” (״מקדש המדבר״).

And the power to overcome the darkness of Galut,

and especially this doubled and redoubled darkness (חשך כפול ומכופל) of the “footsteps of Moshiach“ (דעקבתא דמשיחא), and on the contrary, in order “to build a Mishkan in the desert” –

is from the deeds of Yaakov who “brought cedars to Egypt and planted them”

One could say that the explanation of this is:

“Cedars (Arazim)” (from which “and you shall make” i.e. they made the cedar beams for the Mishkan) are also an allusion to the Tzaddikim who are called “Cedars (Arazim)” as the verse states:

“The Tzaddik flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows” (צַדִּיק כַּתָּמָר יִפְרָח כְּאֶרֶז בַּלְּבָנוֹן יִשְׂגֶּה)

as is explained in the Kli Yakar. And more specifically, they are an allusion to the princes (Nasi) of Yisroel (נשיאי ישראל), (which is from the wording leader (לשון התנשאות)) - for they stand in a manner of leadership (growth – יִשְׂגֶּה) like cedars.

And this is the connection specifically to Yaakov Avinu- for "Nasi/נשיא״” is an acronym “A spark of Yaakov Avinu” (“ניצוצו של יעקב אבינו”).

For just as Yaakov Avinu “united all Yisroel”

(as it is stated in the Gur Aryeh here). And as the Alter Rebbe states: that in the “soul of Yaakov all the souls of Yisroel, were incorporated, for all time” (״כלולה מכל הנשמות שבישראל מעולם ועד עולם״) –

this is also exists in each Nasi/leader of Yisroel – for the Nasi’s soul is a general soul (נשמה כללית) that is incorporated from all the souls of the people of his generation. Therefore he unifies them all.

And this is why Rashi writes and explains that our father Yaakov brought “cedars” to Egypt. For all the leaders are a spark of Yaakov Avinu, and their source is from Eretz Yisroel, for, in truth, they are above the aspect of Galut. But in order to implant in Bnei Yisroel the power to overcome the darkness of Galut and to build a Mishkan in the desert, He “planted them” in Egypt, in the time of Galut.

And this is the comfort of Yisroel while they are in the wilderness of the nations (״מדבר העמים״) that they have “cedars” that Yaakov Avinu planted in each generation, that are above Galut, and that are visible to Bnei Yisroel and impart power in each Yisroel not to be affected from the darkness of Galut, but rather to overcome it, so much so that they build and make a Mishkan in the desert.

And through this we will merit the complete consolation – a literal consolation mamosh, in actual deed (בפועל ממש) - for the single most possible consolation from the lengthiness of this last Galut is the true and complete Geulah, through our righteous Moshiach, literally mamosh, below ten handbreadths mamosh, speedily and in our time, mamosh.

m’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Terumah 5747


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