1) MAKING THE LOTS OUT OF GOLD
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason why the box that was used for the lots of the two goats (Se'irim) on Yom Kippur was not made of gold and sanctified as a Kli Shares was because of the principle that "the Torah cares for the money of Yisrael" ("ha'Torah Chasah Al Mamonam Shel Yisrael"). (For a discussion of the source for this principle, see Insights to Menachos 76:2.)
The Mishnah earlier (37a) teaches that Ben Gamla made the lots out of gold in place of wood. Why did he do this if the Torah discourages one from spending money unnecessarily?
ANSWER: The RITVA answers that the use of a box for the lots is not required mid'Oraisa. Even when a box is used, it is used only once a year. In addition, the use of a box for the drawing of the lots is not a real Avodah. Because of these reasons, there is no Mitzvah to beautify the Mitzvah ("Hidur") by making the box out of gold. The lots themselves, however, are part of an Avodah d'Oraisa. Moreover, since the Name of Hash-m is written on one of the lots, it is a Hidur to make them out of gold.
The same applies to the handles of the vessels used on Yom Kippur which Munbaz made out of gold. Even though their use is not mid'Oraisa, it is a Hidur to make them out of gold because they are used for the Avodah.
2) THE REASON FOR DRAWING LOTS ON YOM KIPPUR
QUESTION: The Mishnah and Gemara describe the procedure of the selection of the goats on Yom Kippur as commanded by the Torah (Vayikra 16:8). Lots were drawn to select which goat would be offered as a Korban Chatas (the "Sa'ir la'Shem") and which goat would be dispatched ("Sa'ir ha'Mishtale'ach") to Azazel (a rocky cliff). Two lots were placed in a box. One of the lots was inscribed with the word "la'Shem" and the other with the word "la'Azazel." The Kohen Gadol stood between the two goats and reached into the box and chose the lot for each goat.
No other Korban is chosen in this unusual manner. Why was a lottery used to select the goats on Yom Kippur?
ANSWER: The reason for the unusual manner of choosing the goats on Yom Kippur touches upon basic fundamentals of faith. The basis of Emunah is the belief in Hash-m's personal supervision of and involvement in all activities of mankind, and that nothing in the world occurs outside of Hash-m's will. That knowledge is the basis for the belief in reward and punishment, and for the Jew's obligation to fulfill the Mitzvos.
On Yom Kippur, the entire nation repents and asks Hash-m to forgive the sins of the past year. The most important part of this process of Teshuvah is the strengthening of one's Emunah in Hash-m. One strengthens his Emunah by becoming aware that every act that he performed during the year was seen and scrutinized by Hash-m, and that everything that occurred to him during the year was orchestrated by Hash-m.
It is the Goral, the lottery, that demonstrates most powerfully Hash-m's Hashgachah Pratis in every detail of the world's existence. When a Goral is conducted, one has no input or influence on the outcome of the Goral. When the Kohen Gadol chooses the goats in this manner, he proclaims on behalf of the people the conviction that Hash-m, and not "chance," determines the outcome of all events, even ones that seem random. When the people rely on the outcome of the Goral they show the belief that every experience is a direct result of Hash-m's will. A Goral shows that what seems entirely random actually demonstrates the exclusive involvement of Hash-m.
Moreover, the Goral demonstrated the Hashgachah of Hash-m with particular clarity. As the Beraisa here explains, during the era of Shimon ha'Tzadik when the Jewish people were worthy the Goral la'Shem always came up in the Kohen Gadol's right hand, and during the era when they were unworthy it did not. The people's belief that Hash-m watches over them at all times was strengthened through the Goral.
It is especially appropriate that these particular Korbanos, the Sa'ir la'Shem and the Sa'ir la'Azazel, be selected in a manner which engenders Emunah in Hash-m. These are the Korbanos which effect atonement for the Jewish people on Yom Kippur, and thus it is fitting that they be selected in a manner which engenders Emunah, a primary element of Teshuvah.
The Tikunei Zohar calls "Yom ha'Kippurim" a "day which is like Purim" ("Yom k'Purim"). In what way is Yom Kippur similar to Purim? The common theme of both days is the understanding that everything is determined by Hash-m, even the seemingly random outcome of the drawing of lots.
When the Jews begin to waver in their faith that Hash-m is intimately involved in their every action, Hash-m sends Amalek to "wake them up" (Rashi to Shemos 16:8). The verse describes Amalek's attack on the Jews as they traveled in the desert as "Asher Karcha ba'Derech" (Devarim 25:18). Rashi there explains that "Karcha" means "they chanced upon you" (from the word "Mikreh," or "chance"). Amalek's goal is to convince the world that everything that happens is random and due to chance. They attacked the Jewish nation as they left Egypt in order to show that the nation's good fortune in being freed from bondage was merely happenstance; some nations are enslaved, and some are free, it is all random.
The only way the Jewish people are able to defeat Amalek is by directing their attention to Hash-m and strengthening their belief that He, and only He, controls everything in the world. This is the meaning of the verse that describes Moshe Rabeinu's actions during the war against Amalek: "And his [raised] hands were Emunah" (Shemos 17:12). When the Jewish people saw Moshe Rabeinu's arms raised towards the heavens in prayer, they understood that salvation comes only from Hash-m (see Rosh Hashanah 29a). When the Jews realize that everything is directed by Hash-m, they successfully defeat the forces of Amalek.
Amalek is the leading descendant of Esav, whose spiritual counterpart is none other than "Sama'el," who is identified as the Satan (Rashi to Sukah 29a and Sotah 10b, based on the Tanchuma, Parshas Vayishlach 8; the Midrash Rabah (end of Devarim) identifies Sama'el with the Satan and the Mal'ach ha'Maves). The Midrash (cited by the Ramban to Vayikra 16:8) says that the Sa'ir la'Azazel is offered to "appease the Satan," to silence him from his accusations against the Jewish people. The Jews silence the Satan the same way they silence Amalek (the people of Sama'el) by showing that there is no coincidence and that everything is directed by the hand of Hash-m. The Sa'ir la'Azazel is chosen specifically by way of a Goral in order to show that "chance" is orchestrated by the active guidance of Hash-m.
The Chachamim teach that Haman is descended from Amalek (see Rabeinu Bachye to Shemos 16:17). Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people with the same strategy that Amalek used centuries earlier. He conducted a lottery, or a "Pur," to choose a day on which to attack the Jews. He chose to use a lottery in order to show that the forces of nature, of chance, are powerful enough to destroy the Jewish people.
Mordechai recognized Haman's intentions. He told Esther, "Kol Asher Karahu" (Esther 4:7). The Midrash says that Mordechai told Esther, "The one about whom it is written 'Ashar Karcha ba'Derech' is plotting to attack us!" Mordechai described Haman this way to show that Haman's strategy was the same as Amalek's. Haman, like his predecessor Amalek, intended to take advantage of the Jews' vulnerability as a result of their weakened Emunah in the Hashgachah of Hash-m.
The appropriate response to such a threat is to regain the realization that Hash-m guides every detail of the world, and to recognize the hidden hand of Hash-m even in a time of "Hester Panim," when Hash-m "hides His face" as it were, as the verse says, "Haster Astir Panai ba'Yom ha'Hu" -- "I will hide My face on that day" (Devarim 31:18; Chulin 139b).
This is alluded to in Megilas Esther, in which the Name of Hash-m does not appear. Even when we do not openly see Hash-m's involvement in the world, He still is the One behind everything that happens.
The festival is named "Purim" in recognition of the "Pur" which Haman conducted (Esther 9:26). The Jews realized that the real cause of their troubles was their lack of Emunah and their mistaken belief that things happen as a result of Mikreh, chance, as represented by a Pur or Goral. Their victory was assured when they did Teshuvah and came to the realization that even a Goral is directed by Hash-m. In that sense, "the Pur of Haman was turned into our Pur" (as we recite in the prayer after the reading of the Megilah). The force of randomness was shown to be non-existent, and the Jewish people saw that everything indeed is guided by Hash-m. (M. Kornfeld)
3) "BEN CHAMTZAN" (OR "BEN CHIMTZAN")
QUESTION: The Beraisa relates many of the miracles that occurred in the Beis ha'Mikdash during the forty years that Shimon ha'Tzadik served as Kohen Gadol and the significant changes that occurred after his passing. The Beraisa relates that "the Lechem ha'Panim and Shtei ha'Lechem were blessed and each Kohen received a k'Zayis. Some ate and were satisfied, others even left some over." When Shimon ha'Tzadik passed away, this blessing came to an end, and "each Kohen received only the size of a bean" of the Lechem ha'Panim. "The modest Kohanim refrained from taking at all, while the gluttonous ones would grab and eat. It happened once that a Kohen grabbed his portion and his friend's portion. From then on they called him 'Ben Chamtzan.'"
The term "Chamtzan" does not appear anywhere else in the Gemara. What is the implication of this appellation?
(a) RASHI, based on the continuation of the Gemara here, explains that the root of this word is "Chamotz," which he relates to "Chamas" or "thievery." (In fact, the Girsa of the text of RABEINU CHANANEL seems to have been "Chamsan.")
(b) RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in CHEKER SHEMOS V'KINUYIM B'TALMUD) points out that there may be another meaning to the word "Chamtzan." The Yerushalmi (Yoma 6:3) relates a similar incident, but it concludes that the Kohen who grabbed was called thereafter "Ben ha'Afun" ("son of the bean"). The Gemara in Yevamos (63a) refers to a bean as a "Chimtzah," which is related to the word "Chamtzan." Thus, it is likely that the Yerushalmi and the Gemara here refer to the same incident and to the same appellation. That appellation alluded to the size of the portions of Lechem ha'Panim which each Kohen was supposed to take (the size of a "Pul," or bean).
The Latin term for bean is "faba." The Gemara in Pesachim (57a) relates that Aba Shaul ben Botnis, in the name of Aba Yosef ben Chanin, prayed that he not come in contact with certain people who had certain undesirable characteristics. He said about the children of Yishmael ben Fi'abi, "Woe unto me from the family of Yishmael ben Fi'abi, woe unto me from their fists, for they are Kohanim Gedolim, their sons are treasurers [of the Beis ha'Mikdash], their sons-in-law are the ones who give all the orders, and their servants smite the people with their clubs!" Perhaps the Kohen who grabbed his portion and his friend's portion was a descendant of Yishmael ben Fi'abi (or, as Josephus writes the name, "Fabi"), whose descendants ruled with arrogance and took what was not theirs. In a play on words, the Kohanim called the person who grabbed his bean-size portion and his friend's bean-size portion "Ben Faba" ("Ben ha'Afun," or "Ben Chimtzah," all of which refer to "bean") to allude to his improper conduct with regard to the Lechem ha'Panim. (Although the Gemara indicates that the name comes from the root "Chamotz," that is part of the allusion of the word "Chamtzan.")
Rav Reuven Margoliyos adds that the Tosefta (Kelim Kama 1:6) relates that "the Ba'al ha'Pul would club to death any Kohen who walked between the Mizbe'ach and the Ulam without performing Kidush Yadayim v'Raglayim (washing of the hands and feet)." Who was this unidentified "Ba'al ha'Pul"? Perhaps he was a descendant of Yishmael ben Fi'abi who was known as "Ben ha'Afun," since "Ba'al ha'Pul" literally means "master of the bean." Despite the fact that he sometimes expressed his zealousness in terms of greed, nevertheless -- like his grandfather -- he zealously guarded the sanctity of the Beis ha'Mikdash. (See also Insights to Pesachim 57:2 and Kerisus 28:2.)
4) HEARD AS FAR AS YERICHO
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rabah bar bar Chanah who says that the sound of the hinges of the door of the Heichal was heard for a distance of eight Techumei Shabbos. Since each Techum Shabbos is 2000 Amos, the sound of the hinges was heard for a distance of two Parsa'os (16,000 Amos).
However, the Mishnah in Tamid (30b) seems to contradict Rabah bar bar Chanah's statement. The Mishnah there gives a list of sounds and scents that reached Yericho from the Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim. Among the sounds that reached Yericho was the sound of the hinges of the door of the Heichal as it opened. However, the distance from Yerushalayim to Yericho is far more than two Parsa'os.
Similarly, the Gemara earlier in Yoma (20b) quotes a Beraisa that says that the voice of Gevini, who heralded the start of the day's Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash, was heard for a distance of three Parsa'os. However, the Mishnah there in Tamid says that his voice was heard even in Yericho. How are these contradictions to be reconciled?
(a) The ROSH in Tamid (cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes of Rav Yakov David Ilan) answers that the tunnel dug by Chizkiyahu extended from Yerushalayim until Yericho. The sounds traveled through the tunnel of Chizkiyahu until Yericho, while in other directions they traveled a much shorter distance as described by the Gemara here.
(b) The RA'AVAD explains that the terrain between Yerushalayim and Yericho was much less mountainous than the terrain in other directions around Yerushalayim, and thus sound traveled farther in that direction.
(c) The Ra'avad cites his Rebbi who suggests that it was through a miracle that these sounds were heard in Yericho. Yericho was singled out for this miracle because it was the first place the Jews conquered upon their arrival in Eretz Yisrael, and its conquest eventually led to the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim. The capture of Yericho, therefore, is considered to be the beginning of Kedushas Yerushalayim. This is why Yehoshua prohibited the people from taking the spoils of Yericho. He wanted to sanctify them and give them a special status in the same way that one sanctifies his first fruits as Bikurim and the first part of his produce as Terumah. Hash-m caused the sounds and scents of Yerushalayim to be perceived in Yericho to show that Yericho had a certain degree of Kedushah. (See also Insights to Tamid 30:5.)