The Shabbos Table – Tetzaveh: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: The Choshen Mishpat & the Urim V’Tumim

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam) and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

-The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.







Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)







“The Choshen Mishpat & the Urim V’Tumim”



Based on:

Sicha – Tetzaveh: Urim V’Tumim’tumim

“Choshen Mishpat V’Urim V’Tumim” (Yomim MiKedem – Shemos, Page 402)



Urim V’Tumim – Missing from Bayis Sheini


The Gemara in Yoma (21B) explains that even though we were Zocheh to a second Beis HaMikdash, many elements and dimensions of Mikdash Rishon were not present during the time of Bayis Sheini. One of those was the Urim V’Tumim. What exactly that means is a fundamental Machlokes between Rambam and the Ra’avid.


Rambam: Present, but Defunct

The Rambam (Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 4:1) asks how it is possible to argue that in Bayis Sheini, there was no Urim V’Tumim. If that was true, then how could the Kohein Gadol have performed any type of Avodah? After all, in order to perform Avodah, it is necessary for the Kohein Gadol to don all of the Bigdei Kehunah. The Gemara in Zevachim (17B) states that “B’Z’man SheBigdeihem Aleihem, Kehunasam Aleihem”-“At the time when their garments are upon them, their priesthood is upon them.” If he was Mechusar Bigadim (lacking his clothing), the Avodah is Mechuleles (profaned). How could you argue that during Bayis Sheini, there was no Urim V’Tumim?

The Rambam therefore suggests that it must be that the Gemara means that Urim V’Tumim was present, but it did not function. The Kohein Gadol had the Urim V’Tumim, so he was not Mechusar Bigadim. Physically, it was there, but the ability to consult the Urim V’Tumim and receive a divine response was only available during Bayis Rishon, not so during Bayis Sheini.


Ra’avid: Not Part of Bigdei Kehunah

The Ra’avid is Masig (makes a note) and questions the entire premise; from where do we see that the Urim V’Tumim was even part of the Bigdei Kehunah? There are eight Bigadim of the Kohein Gadol, and Urim V’Tumim was not one of them. When the Gemara states that the Urim V’Tumim was not present during Bayis Sheini, it means that K’P’shuto (like its simple meaning). The Urim V’Tumim was simply not present.


The question is the what the basis is of this Machlokes. Moreover, how is it that the Rambam understands the essential role of the Urim V’Tumim. How is it that the Rambam views the Urim V’Tumim as part of the Bigdei Kehunah?


Urim V’Tumim as a Component of the Choshen


The view of the Rambam is as follows: It is not that the Urim V’Tumim is an independent article of the Bigdei Kehunah, but that it is part of the Choshen. And the purpose of the Choshen was to house the Urim V’Tumim. Therefore, without the Urim V’Tumim, you don’t have a Choshen, which of course was one of the Bigdei Kohein Gadol.

The Ra’avid obviously assumes otherwise that the Urim V’Tumim was not in fact an essential component of the Choshen, so that absence of the Urim V’Tumim would not constitute as a Chisaron in the Choshen or the Bigdei Kehunah.


Drashos HaRan – Urim V’Tumim as an Independent Mitzvah


The opinion of the Ra’avid appears to be supported by some beautiful comments in the Drashos HaRan (Drush #3).

The Ran puts forth two arguments:


(1) No Mention of Urim V’Tumim


When you look at the Pesukim in Parshas Pekudei, when the Torah discusses the manufacturing of the Bigdei Kehunah, it makes no reference to the Urim V’Tumim, as it is a separate, independent Halacha, apart from that of the Bigdei Kehunah.


(2) The Zechus of Aharon


There is a known Midrash that teaches that when Moshe Rabbeinu was chosen to be the Adon HaNevi’im (master of prophets), he was concerned as he was the younger brother. How would his older brother Aharon respond to Moshe’s appointment?

And yet, the Torah assures us of Aharon, that “V’Ra’acha V’Samach B’Libo” (“and he will see you [Moshe] and he will rejoice in his heart” -Shemos 4:14). When Aharon sees that Moshe was tapped for the position, he responded with a great and genuine sense of Simcha.

The Midrash (Shabbos 139A) writes that because of the Simchas HaLeiv that Aharon felt, he was Zocheh to wear the Choshen Mishpat, the Urim V’Tumim, “Al Libo” (over his heart). The Ran picks up on the fact that the Midrash does not state that in that Zechus, Aharon became the Kohein Gadol, but that he was Zocheh to wear the Choshen.

This would seem to suggest and one could now conceive of such a possibility that otherwise, Aharon might have been the Kohein Gadol, but without the Urim V’Tumim. Perhaps Moshe Rabbeinu would have had the Urim V’Tumim.


(*Although the Midrash specifies that Aharon was Zocheh to wear the “Choshen Mishpat” and does not explicitly mention “Urim V’Tumim,” it is inconceivable that Aharon could have been the Kohein Gadol without the Choshen altogether, because the Choshen is certainly one of the Shmonah Bigdei Kohein Gadol).


The Luchos to the Aron 


Of course, according to the Rambam, Urim V’Tumim is in fact an integral component MiDinei HaChoshen. And perhaps, within the opinion of the Rambam, one could create the following analogy:

Just as the Aron requires the Luchos and dies not have Kedushas HaAron without the Luchos themselves as the whole purpose of the Aron is to house and safeguard the Luchos, the whole purpose of the Choshen is to house and safeguard the Urim V’Tumim. Just as there is no Aron without the Luchos, there is no Choshen with the Urim V’Tumim. (Ra’avid would not draw the same analogy.)


(*Meshech Chochmah – The Weightlessness of the Luchos / Urim V’Tumim

The Meshech Chochmah [to Shemos 28:30] draws his own analogy between the Urim V’Tumim and Luchos. He notes that the Luchos which contained the Sheim HaMefurash [explicit Name] did not weigh down its bearers, but rather the entire Aron carried its own bearers. He adds that Moshe Rabbeinu only dropped the Luchos due to their when, the Midrash tells us, the letters disappeared.

In the same vein, the Chumash does NOT state that the Kohein Gadol would “bear” the Choshen and Urim V’Tumim, but that they merely that they were “upon his heart,” because indeed they did not weigh him down, but they lifted themselves.)


*We should be Zocheh to host the Sheim Hashem and house His Torah, to become living vessels and expressions of the Toras Hashem, and He should host and house us in the Beis HaMikdash with the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu!