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- Vol. 4, Issue 23
Compiled by Oizer Alport
V’chol hanashim asher nasah liban osana
b’chochma tavu es ha’izim (35:26)
Rashi writes that the women displayed special skills and wisdom in spinning the goats’ hair while it was still attached to the goats. Why did the women spin the hair in this seemingly awkward and inefficient manner, and what unique intelligence did they display in doing so?
The Ostrovtzer Rebbe explains that the women feared that they would be exempt from the mitzvah to build the Mishkan. As it may not be built on Shabbos (Rashi 35:2), it is considered a positive time-bound commandment, in which women are not obligated. Although a person who is exempt from a mitzvah and nevertheless performs it receives reward for his actions, the Gemora in Kiddushin (31a) teaches that the reward for a person who is obligated in a mitzvah is much greater.
The reason why the Mishkan may not be built on Shabbos is that the creative labors involved in its construction are forbidden on Shabbos. However, it is Biblically permissible to perform the 39 forbidden activities in an unusual way. Therefore, the women specifically spun the goats’ hair in an unconventional fashion which is Biblically permitted on Shabbos in order to demonstrate that it is possible to work on the construction of the Mishkan even on Shabbos. If so, it is no longer considered a time-bound commandment, which would mean that the women were obligated to assist with it, thereby making them eligible for a much larger reward!
Alternatively, Rav Yonason Eibeshutz suggests that among the Jewish women, there were surely some who were ritually impure at the time. Those women feared that they would be left out of the building of the Mishkan, as any item they touched would immediately contract their impurity and be rendered unfit for use in the Mishkan. However, they wisely recognized that live animals don’t become impure through contact. By spinning the hair while it was still attached to the live goats, they were able to have a share in the Mishkan’s construction without rendering it impure!
Finally, Rav Shlomo Kluger and the Imrei Emes explain that the women of the generation desperately wanted to contribute to the building of the Mishkan. However, they recognized that Jewish law views any acquisition of a woman as belonging to her husband (Sanhedrin 71a), apparently leaving them without any possessions of their own to donate.
However, the women realized that the Gemora in Kesuvos explains (47b) that whatever a woman produces, which should rightfully be hers, belongs to her husband as a result of a Rabbinical decree requiring him to provide her with food to eat. Recognizing that in the desert they were miraculously sustained by the Manna which fell daily, the women had no need to receive food from their husbands. Therefore, they wisely chose to keep what they produced – including the goat-hair – for themselves so that they could donate their own possessions to the Mishkan!
V’ham’lacha haysa dayam l’kol ham’lacha la’asos osah v’hosar (36:7)
There seems to be an internal inconsistency in our verse with which a number of commentators grapple. The Torah says simultaneously that the communal work for the Mishkan was both sufficient, which would seem to imply that it was exactly enough, and that there remained leftovers. How can these two apparently contradictory statements be resolved?
Rav Mordechai Kamenetzky relates that a small town once held a tightly-contested election for mayor. After all of the ballots were counted, a victor emerged by a narrow margin of one vote. His initial joy over winning the election quickly dissipated when every person he encountered claimed that the vote which represented the winning margin was his, and demanded that the new mayor remain indebted to him throughout his term in office.
Similarly, the Sichos Tzaddikim suggests that if the donations for the Mishkan had been precisely sufficient, every contributor would claim that the success of the Mishkan was dependent upon his personal contribution, without which the entire project would have failed. This would result in tremendous communal conceit, and the Gemora in Sotah (5a) teaches that arrogant people prevent the presence of the Shechinah. As the entire purpose of the Mishkan was to create a place for Hashem’s Presence to rest, it was necessary that the donations be slightly more than required in order to be considered sufficient!
Alternatively, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh answers that in reality, the Jews enthusiastically donated so much that the total contributions were actually more than was necessary for the building of the Mishkan. Hashem was afraid that if there were leftovers after the Mishkan was complete, some Jews may be saddened at the thought that their donations hadn’t been used. He therefore made a miracle and arranged that everything should be put to use, causing the excessive donations to appear to be just right.
The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva suggests that this lesson applies to all matters of spirituality. Even if a project appears to have yielded no practical results, no pure action performed for Hashem’s sake ever goes to waste. For example, at the time of the sin of the golden calf, Chur attempted to protest the sinful actions of the people and was killed for his zealotry (Rashi 32:5). The Daas Z’keinim writes (35:30) that Betzalel was chosen as the primary builder of the Mishkan specifically in the merit of the actions of his grandfather Chur, as one of the purposes of the Mishkan was to atone for the sin of the golden calf.
Although the society in which we live attempts to convince us that nothing matters but the bottom line, the Torah teaches that Hashem cares about our sincere intentions and efforts to increase His glory, and they will never go to waste.
Ki Anan Hashem al HaMishkan yomam v’aish tihyeh laylah bo l’einei kol Yisroel b’kol mas’eihem (40:38)
The book of Shemos concludes by teaching that the Mishkan was covered by Hashem’s cloud during the day and by fire at night throughout the travels of the Jews in the wilderness. In his commentary on this verse, Rashi curiously adds that even the times of their encampments are also included in the reference to “their journeys.” What lesson is Rashi teaching us?
Rav Moshe Shternbuch suggests that Rashi is symbolically teaching us that there are no interruptions in a person’s service of Hashem. Even at the times when one is forced to take a break, the rest doesn’t constitute a goal unto itself, but rather a means of renewing one’s energy in order to continue with the next journey.
Parshas Pekudei is traditionally read near the end of the yeshiva’s winter zman, as the students prepare to return home for bein hazmanim and the Yom Tov of Pesach. As we conclude the book of Shemos, Rashi teaches us the Torah’s philosophy regarding this intersession. It should not be viewed as an independent break in the yeshiva calendar, but rather as a link in the chain of personal growth and an opportunity to refresh ourselves in order to begin the next zman with a feeling of enthusiasm and renewal.
the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) There are 39 creative labors which a person is forbidden to do on Shabbos. Why does the Torah single out (35:3) and emphasize in our verse the prohibition against kindling a fire more than any of the other 38 labors? (Tiferes Yehonason)
2) The Torah emphasizes (35:21) that the artisans who assisted in the construction of the Mishkan were those whose hearts inspired them. Why was this necessary for their success, and what lesson is it coming to teach us? (Ramban, Daas Torah)
3) Upon examining the last verse in chapter 35 and the first verse in chapter 36 in context, it becomes difficult to understand why the printers began a new chapter at this point. Moshe was in the middle of telling the Jewish people that Hashem had chosen Betzalel and Oholiav to build the Mishkan and had filled them with the necessary wisdom and talents to do so. Why is a new chapter begun in the middle of his address, with no change in topic? (Har Tzvi)
4) Why did Hashem select Oholiav to build the Mishkan with Betzalel? (Shemos Rabbah 40:4)
5) In Parshas HaChodesh, Hashem gave the first mitzvah to the Jewish nation (12:2), that of sanctifying the new moon. Although we are unable to do this mitzvah today, we commemorate it by reciting Kiddush Levana. Why isn’t the ùäçééðå blessing said when performing this mitzvah? (Eliyah Rabbah Orach Chaim 426:1, Shu”t K’sav Sofer Orach Chaim 34)
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