Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 10   No. 23

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Parshas Pikudei

Tainted Money
(Based on the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

"And Shlomoh brought the silver, the gold and the vessels which his father David had sanctified, and placed them in the treasuries in the house of G-d" (Melachim 1 7:51).

David Hamelech, bothered by the fact that 'he was living in a house of cedars, whilst G-d was dwelling behind a curtain', was the first person in the more than four hundred years since Yisrael arrived in Eretz Yisrael, to raise the question of building a Beis-Hamikdash for Hashem. Prevented from putting his plans into action only because he was a man of war (he fought the battles of Hashem on behalf of His people), he set about doing whatever he could in order to prepare for the work that, he was promised, would be carried out by his son. He, together with Shmuel ha'Navi, worked out the exact location of the Beis-Hamikdash and they were the ones to chart out its exact architectural plans. Not satisfied with these preparations, David initiated a building fund. The entire project was dear to his heart, and he worked on it with selfless dedication. As he himself writes in Tehilim (132), he tormented himself, swearing not to allow sleep to his eyes until he had located the place where the Beis-Hamikdash was to stand.

That being the case, the question arises; if David went out of his way to prepare the materials for the construction of the Beis-Hamikdash, why did Shlomoh place it in the treasuries of the Beis-Hamikdash? Why did he not use it for its intended purpose?


Rashi explains that Shlomoh chose not to use the money that his father had designated, because when, towards the end of David's life, Yisrael was stricken with famine that lasted for three years, he should have opened the Temple treasury and used the funds to provide for the starving people. But he did not do that. He refused to use sacred money for a profane purpose. Consequently, Shlomoh considered the money to be tainted. He wanted only pure money to be used for the construction of the House of G-d. Money that was impure would have to be returned to the treasury.


At the beginning of Maseches B'rachos, the Gemara describes how each morning, the Chachmei Yisrael would tell David Hamelech that his people Yisrael required Parnasah, and how each morning, he would instruct them to go out to battle and to use the war spoils to feed the people.

The difficulty with this is why the Sages needed to repeat the performance each day, as if they not know what the King would answer? Surely they knew that what he answered yesterday he would answer today.

It seems, the Ma'ayanah shel Torah explains, quoting an ancient work, that this took place during those three years of famine, and the sages were hoping that David would take the hint and take out his Hekdesh funds and use them to feed the people. But their hopes were in vain. David was convinced that money that was designated for Hekdesh could not be used for mundane purposes.

The Chachmei Yisrael, it seems, were right, and because David did not relent, Shlomoh his son, declined to use that money.


This teaches us that feeding a hungry Jew is more important than building the Beis-Hamikdash. Perhaps we can even go so far as to say that feeding a hungry Jew is not considered a mundane purpose. The Soul of a Jew is after all, a part of G-d, in which case, alleviating its suffering and certainly saving it from death, is no less a holy task than building the Beis-Hamikdash.

In any event, we have a precedent for this in the Torah, where Avraham Avinu asked G-d to wait whilst he went to greet his guests. Clearly then, looking after a Jew (before the Torah was given, the distinction between Jew and gentile did not exist) takes precedence over giving honour to the Shechinah - even when the Jew's life is not in danger; how much more so when it is!


Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah
and the Ma'yanah shel Torah)

Warped Priorities

Moshe had to account to the people and explain what he had done with the silver, say Chazal, because the people suspected him of having taken some of it for himself.

Remarkable, comments Rebbi Meir Shapiro! When Yisrael donated vast quantities of gold, all of which produced no more than one golden calf, nobody asked Aharon to account for what had happened to all the gold. Yet when the stakes were a Mishkan for G-d, after a beautiful structure had already been built, and all that could not be accounted for was a little more than half a Kikar of silver, they demanded a Din ve'Cheshbon from Moshe.

It seems says Rebbi Meir Shapiro, that people are happy to donate generously and trustingly towards the construction of a 'Golden Calf'; yet when it comes to building a Mishkan, they demand a 'Din ve'Cheshbon', they want to know exactly what happened to every penny.


Keep Going, Full Steam Ahead

"And all the work of the Mishkan ... was completed, And the B'nei Yisrael did all that Hashem had commanded Moshe" (39:32).

Yisrael might have argued that, now that they had a Mishkan to atone for all their sins, they could take it easy, because, even if they didn't perform all the Mitzvos, the Korbanos would atone for them.

The Torah here attests to the fact that even though the Mishkan was completed and ready to function, Yisrael continued to do everything that Hashem commanded them, without let-up. They did not rely on their easy recourse to atonement (R. Shlomoh Kluger).

It seems to me that it is just as well that they did. For Chazal have said that Yom Kipur does not atone for someone who sins on the understanding that Yom Kipur will atone for his sins.


Retroactive Perception

"Like all that Hashem had commanded Moshe, so B'nei Yisrael did all the work ("Avodah"). And when Moshe saw all the work ("Melachah"), and behold they had done it as Hashem had commanded, he blessed them" (39:42/43).

To explain the apparent repetition here, we must first understand the difference between "Melachah" and "Avodah", says the Toras Moshe. 'Avodah' generally has more spiritual connotations than 'Melachah'. In this instance, he explains, "Melachah" refers to the actual work, whereas "Avodah" refers to the 'Kavanah' (the devotion that accompanied it (as we find with regard to Tefilah, which is called 'Avodah she'be'Leiv').

Consequently, the Pasuk first teaches us that Yisrael constructed the Mishkan with all their hearts. That was a fact, which Hashem, before whom all our thoughts are revealed, knew. Moshe Rabeinu however, bound by human limitations, saw only the Melachah, Yisrael's external actions. Nonetheless, when he saw how they had completed the work down to the last detail, without a single mistake, with not as much as one single hook missing, he too understood what Hashem had seen immediately. Such Divine Inspiration could only come as a result of a perfect heart. And so he blessed them.


Planning and Constructing

It is not surprising that although the Mishkan was completed in Kislev, G-d ordered Moshe to wait until Nisan before erecting it. The commentaries compare the work of the Mishkan to the work of the creation (see Rabeinu Bachye, Parshas Pikudei), and in that connection, Hashem planned to create the world in Tishri, even though the actual creation only took place in Nisan (as Tosfos explains in Rosh Hashanah (27a).

And that is why the Mishkan too, was planned in Tishri, but only set up in Nisan.


First Things First

"On the first day of the first month you shall set up the Mishkan" (49:2).

In actual fact, Rebbi Noson Adler explains, when Moshe instructed Betzalel to construct the Holy vessels before the Mishkan, where to put them posed no problem. As long as they had not yet been anointed, they had no Kedushah, and anywhere would do.

Betzalel's query (see Rashi 38:22), was based on the assumption that if he were to construct the Holy vessels first, he would automatically be required to anoint them first. It was from that moment that the problem would arise where to house them in the interim, until the Mishkan was anointed.


The Two Exceptions

"And you shall sanctify it (the Mishkan) and all its vessels, and it will be holy" (40:9).

The Torah adds the phrase "and it will be holy" regarding all the vessels exception two - the 'Kiyor' (the Basin) and the Bigdei Kehunah (the Priestly Garments), observes the Meshech Chochmah.

This is because these words indicate that whatever would be placed inside them (provided it was fit to be sanctified), would become holy too, and would be subject to Me'ilah (misappropriation of Hekdesh). This was true of all other vessels, but not of the water in the Kiyor or of the Bigdei Kehunah, both of which were subject to private use, the former for the Kohanim to wash; the latter, because 'the Torah was not given to Angels' (i.e. the Kohanim cannot be expected to remove the Bigdei Kehunah a split second after completing the Avodah). Consequently, Me'ilah did not pertain to them.


With a Pure Heart

"And you shall anoint them (Aharon's sons) in the same way as you anointed their father" (40:15).

This phrase appears somewhat superfluous. Surely it would have sufficed to have written 'And you shall anoint them too'! The Meshech Chochmah explains that when Moshe anointed Aharon, he was not jealous of his appointment. After all, he was a king, a Navi and even a Kohen Gadol (during the seven days of inauguration of the Mishkan, it was he who had served in that capacity), When it came to anointing Aharon's sons however, it was a different matter. His request that his own sons should succeed him as leaders of K'lal Yisrael had been turned down, and here he saw Aharon's sons being placed on a par with their father.

That is why G-d told him to overcome his natural emotions, and to anoint Aharon's sons in the same selfless way as he had anointed Aharon - with the same purity of heart. It is doubtful whether anyone but Moshe would have been able to cope with such a command.


Being Carried Away

"And he placed the poles on the Aron ... " (40:20).

Chazal have taught that the Aron carried those who carried it. This must be understood figuratively as well as literally. People who support Torah may think that Torah needs them; The opposite is true. They need the Torah, as we say in 'u've'Nuchoh Yomar' - 'It is a tree of life to those who support it'.

R. Shlomoh Kluger goes one step further. He explains that someone who carries something, takes it wherever he wants. He fixes the object's destination, and that is where it will go. Torah is different. Not only does Torah support us, but it fixes our destination, too. Rather than trying to guide it our way, we must allow it to guide us (and that too, applies figuratively as well as literally).

(Translated from the Dinim Of Eretz Yisrael
and its customs by Rav Kalman Kahana )

The Dinim of Someone Who Travels from an Open Town to a Walled One and Vice-versa

1. A resident of an open town who is visiting a walled town and who intends to leave before daybreak of the fourteenth of Adar, is obligated to read the Megilah on the fourteenth (even though he is still in the walled town on the night of the fourteenth).

But if he intends to remain until after daybreak, then he is not obligated to hear the Megilah on the fourteenth, even if he changes his mind and returns home earlier. In fact, he is then obligated to return to the walled town to hear the Megilah on the fifteenth.

In the event that he did not do so, but remained in the open town up to the night of the fifteenth, with the intention of remaining there until the morning, he is exempt from reading the Megilah, even on the day of the fifteenth.

If however, he had the intention of returning to the walled town before daybreak, then he is obligated to read the Megilah both at night and in the morning of the fifteenth, irrespective of whether he actually returned of not.


2. A resident of an open town who arrives in a walled town on the fourteenth of Adar, becomes a 'Mukaf' for a day', and is obligated to read the Megilah again on the fifteenth (with a B'rachah if he intends to remain permanently, without a Br'achah if he intended to leave after Purim), provided he intends to remain at least until daybreak of the fifteenth. Otherwise, he remains a 'P'razi' and does not need to read the Megilah again (and the same will apply to someone who arrives in a walled town only after nightfall of the fifteenth).


3. The resident of a walled town who is visiting an open town, and who intends to leave before daybreak of the fourteenth; reads on the fifteenth, even if he changes his mind and remains for the entire day.

But if he initially intended to remain until daybreak of the fourteenth, then he becomes a 'P'ruz for a day', and is obligated to read on the fourteenth, even if he changed his mind and decided to return home during the night.

Note that in all the above cases, we go after the initial intention of the traveler, and not what he ultimately does.


4. In the event that the 'P'ruz for a day' then returns to the walled town, he is obligated to read again both in the night and by day. And this applies even if he intended to leave the walled town again before daybreak, or if he intended to return home only after nightfall but before daybreak.


5. A resident of a walled town who left before the night of the fifteenth with the intention of not returning before daybreak is exempt from reading the Megilah on the fifteenth.

If on the other hand, he intended to return before daybreak, then he is obligated to read again both by night and in the day of the fifteenth, as he will if he leaves only after nightfall.


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