סדר תצוה

ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקְחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור

And you shall command the people of Israel, that they bring you pure beaten oil olive.

Exodus 27:20

Rashi comments: Clear — without dregs — as we learn in Menahot (86a) “מגרגרו בראש הזית” (he picks an olive from the top of the olive tree which are the first to ripen)

See the Siphtei Hakhamim who observed that Rashi tried to explain how oil could be found without dregs. Our master suggests that the Siftei Hakhamim was careless in reading Rashi, because, under the interpretation of the Siphtei Hakhamim, Rashi does not answer his own question. Furthermore, the Scripture itself did not write “without dregs,” but instead wrote “זך” (pure). But pure oil is readily available, so what purpose would be served by picking the olives from the top of the olive-tree. Our master explains simply that the word “זך” refers not to the oil, but to the olive. This explanation is confirmed by the cantilation which separates “שמן” (oil) from “זית זך” (pure olive); it is further confirmed by the word “כתית” (beaten), which is written afterwards and certainly refers to the olive and not to the oil. Thus, if “זך” referred to the oil, then the word “כתית” should have preceded “זך”, i.e. “שמן זית כתית זך” (see the Ibn Ezra). Rashi therefore explained that, as we learned in Menahot, there is a pure olive which ripens on top of the tree. (שביבי אש)

להעלת נר תמיד

For the lamp to burn always.

Exodus 27:20

Rashi explains that “להעלת” (to kindle) means that the light should be kindled until the flame rises on its own.

The Siphtei Hakhamim explains that Rashi meant to exclude a possible interpretation that, as soon as the light is kindled, the kindling should cease so that the flame ascends by itself fueled by the oil. Here again, with all due respect, the Siphtei Hakhamim was not precise, for if one looks at the Talmud (Shabbat 20a) it is clear that this verse came to be lenient, not stringent, and that the High Priest is not obligated to continue to kindle the light until the flame has ascended, but need only kindle it until the flame begins to ascend on its own. See Rashi and Tosafot there. The Talmud deduces this because from the word “להעלת” (to cause to ascend) rather than “לעלת” (to raise to its full height). From its derivation concerning how long the High Priest must kindle the light, the Talmud (Shabbat 21a) goes on to deduce a stringency that those wicks and oils that may not be lit on the Sabbath may also not be lit in the Temple, because those wicks and oils, even after having been lit, require adjustment and tilting. This prohibition is inferred from the verb “להעלת” meaning that the flame need be kindled only until it can ascend on its own. In other words, after being kindled, the flame should require no further adjustment, but must then be capable of burning by itself throughout the night. But the idea that High Priest was required not to stop kindling until the flame had ascended has no Scriptural basis, nor can it be inferred from the verb “לְהַעֲלֹת.” On the contrary, the verb “לְהַעֲלֹת” could be understood to mean precisely that the High Priest should rather allow the flame to ascend on its own after being kindled. (שביבי אש)

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