Touching Holiness

Chazzan Moshe Kraus – Chazzan Efraim Silber

This Thursday evening, June 2, 2014, I drove up to Anshe Sholem,, for Mincha/Maariv.  Chazzan  Moshe Kraus called me.   I mentioned Chazzan Kraus in my post dated January 31, 2013.   I am honored that Chazzan Kraus called me. I asked him for a blessing for my family. He told me that as the Satmer Rov said that if you need a blessing, go to a holocaust survivor with a tattoo on his arm that is observant and ask him for a blessing. Chazzan Kraus was in Bergen -Belsen and I tremble as I write these words.   I received a beautiful blessing for my family. Chazzan Kraus also gave me the blessing of his Rebbe, the Munkatcher, that I should grow older but not old.

Boruch Hashem that I am able to be associated with great people. I spoke to Chazzan Kraus, an angel among us, at the Shul of two Rabbis I admire, Rabbi Asher Lopatin who built a great Synagogue at Anshei Sholem and his worthy successor, Rabbi David  Wolkenfeld*, being blessed by the Satmer Rov and the Munkatcher Rebbe, and talking about being in the presence of Chazzan Silber who had Yahrzeit for the Kiddoshim of Hungary.

 I told Chazzan Kraus the holiness I experienced at Mishne Ugmoro this past Shabbos with Chazzan Silber.  

Shabbos Parshas Beha’alothecha at Mishne Ugmoro –  June 7, 2014

I had a Bar Mitzvah to attend and wanted to leave Shul early. Upon arriving at Shul, I discovered that Chazzan Efraim Silber had Yahrzeit for both sets of grandparents, and other family members who were taken away in 1944 to Auschwitz. I could not leave.   I had to be in Chazzan Silber’s presence.

Chazzan Silber led the Musaf services. He prayed with special emotion. His davening was for his family who were martyred.   At the Kiddush, Chazzan Silber spoke about his family. After he spoke, I asked him to sing the Ani Mamin – I Believe in Perfect Faith – from his CD. He did and Chazzan Silber’s face was that of a Chassidic Master. I was fortunate to be at Synagogue in his presence.   I left at 1:30 PM to go to the Bar Mitzvah and got home at 3:00 PM.

I plan to put Chazzan Silber’s Ani Mamin on this spot, however, at this time I do not have it.  The following recording is appropriate.

Chazzan Moshe Kraus:

Torah Thought on Beha’alothecha:

I woke up at 7:30 AM and went outside to my deck to study this week’s Torah portion. For two hours I worked on the fourth verse on this week’s Torah Portion and made it to Shul at 10:15 AM.

This is the Torah thought I worked on Shabbos morning.   Bamidbar – Numbers Chapter 8, Verse 4 says:

 ד.וְזֶה מַעֲשֵׂההַמְּנֹרָה מִקְשָׁה זָהָב עַד יְרֵכָהּ עַד פִּרְחָהּ מִקְשָׁה הִוא כַּמַּרְאֶהאֲשֶׁר הֶרְאָה יְהֹוָה אֶת משֶׁה כֵּן עָשָׂה אֶת הַמְּנֹרָה:

4. This was the form of the Menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the Lord had shown Moses, so did “he” construct the menorah.

Notice the “h” in Chabad’s English translation is in a small “h”, not a capital H, which would mean God.

The last Rashi of this Verse says

:כן עשה את המנורה:מי שעשאה. ומדרש אגדה ע”י הקב”ה נעשיתמאליה:

“So did he construct the Menorah” – i.e.the one who made it (namely, Betzalal). The Aggadic Midrash    (Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 3) states that it was made by itself through the Holy One , Blessed is he.

Refer to Yonasan ben Uzeil, the Ibn Ezra, and Ramban.

Rashi says that the plain meaning is that Betzalal made the Menorah. Nothing miraculous, “small h”. Rashi than brings down a Midrash and says, by the way there is a Midrash that says that God made the Menorah miraculously,  “Capital H”, Betzalal did not make the menorah.

The Sifsei Chachomin says that the plain meaning listed by Rashi and the Midrash argue on one another.  

However, Exodus – Parshas Truma, Chapter 25 verse 31 says:

לא.וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַתזָהָב טָהוֹר מִקְשָׁה תֵּיעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה יְרֵכָהּ וְקָנָהּ גְּבִיעֶיהָכַּפְתֹּרֶיהָ וּפְרָחֶיהָ מִמֶּנָּה יִהְיוּ                                      

31. And you shall make a menorah of pure gold. The menorahshall be made” of hammered work; its base and its stem, its goblets, its knobs, and its flowers shall [all] be [one piece] with it.

Rashi on the word   תֵּיעָשֶׂה   defines this word based only the Midrash. Rashi is saying that the correct plain explanation is that God made the Menorah himself, miraculously, without Betzalel.   According to Rashi the correct translation should be “shall be made by itself by God”

There contradicts today’s Torah portion. In today’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, Chapter 8, Verse 4, Rashi says the plain meaning is that Betzalal made the Menorah, small “h” and by the way there is a Midrash that disagrees. Here in Exodus, Parshas Truma, Rashi rejects the explanation that Betzalal made the Menorah. Rather Rashi is saying that the correct way to explain the text is that God made the Menorah. Rashi does not even attribute the explanation to a Midrash.

How do you even understand the Midrash, when the Torah clearly states in V’Yakhail that Betzalal made the Menorah and not God.

The Sefsei Chachomin in Truma provides the answer to my question. The Sifsei Chachomin brings down the Midrash that says Moshe did not understand how to make the Menorah, God showed it to Moshe first in fire, then in gold. Moshe explained it to Betzalal, who was a master craftsman. Betzalal started construction, but ultimately could not complete and God had to finish. The Menorah was made both by Betzalal and God.  This is the explanation by Rashi in Bamidbar. The plain meaning and the Midrash do not argue, the complement each other. The Sefsie Chachomin that says that the plain meaning and the Midrash argue with one another is wrong.

*Shabbos,Parshas Shelach:

On the following Shabbos I walked to Anshe Sholem for Mincha/Maariv.  Rabbi David Wolkenfeld gave a Shiur on Pachad Yitzchok from Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner.  Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner thoughts are beautiful, very poetic.  Rabi Hutner is a fitting student of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook.  The influence of Rabbi Kook on Rabbi Hutner is unmistakeneable.