Starting on the Right Foot by Avi Finkelstein


In both Parashat Tetzaveh and Parashat Pinchas, we are instructed to bring one Keves in the morning and one in the evening, but looking closely at the Pesukim reveals one minor contrast in language – the letter “Hei.” In Tetzaveh, which speaks of the initial consecration of the Mizbei’ach, the Keves is described as “HaKeves HaEchad,” “the one [specific] sheep” (Shemot 29:39). In Pinchas, which speaks of the everyday Avodah, the Torah simply refers to the Keves as “HaKeves Echad” (BeMidbar 28:4), leaving out that all-important “Hei HaYediah,” “the emphasizing Hei.”

Rav Yissocher Frand of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel explains that in order to understand the lesson of this discrepancy in language, we must understand the contexts in which the two phrases appear. Rav Frand quotes the Brisker Rav, who, in his discussion on this topic, points out that the morning Keves can be offered independently of the evening one and the evening Keves independently of the morning in all instances except one: the initial offering described in Parashat Tetzaveh. This Halachah is derived from the Hei HaYediah which describes the Keves described in Tetzaveh. The Sefer Shemen HaTov draws on this point to teach an ethical lesson, namely that when one begins something new, he must do it properly. The initial steps in a process are critical in setting the tone for the entirety of its duration; therefore, it would be inappropriate to consecrate something as important as the Mizbei’ach with a “half-baked” Avodah. In order to properly set the tone for our Korbanot to Hashem, it was critical that both the morning and evening Keves be brought, even if that high standard would not be obligatory forever.

Rav Frand tells over that when the current Beit Midrash in Yeshivas Ner Yisroel was built, the Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Ruderman zt"l, called on everyone to, for at least the first week, refrain from idle talk while inside. Rav Ruderman hoped that if everybody acted properly in the Beit Midrash during its first week, it would hopefully set a tone which would be able to enhance the learning of every Talmid in that Beit Midrash from its initial week of use and on. The Hei HaYediah in Parashat Tetzaveh teaches us to focus on our beginnings and make sure that they are done right.

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