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

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Vol. 21   No. 23

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a
Refuah Sheleima
l'tinok ben Yisca Chaya n"y

Parshas Pikudei

The Half-Shekel & Serving in the Army

" All who pass by the counted ones, from the age of twenty and onwards, shall give the donation of Hashem" (30:14).

A good reason for the age of twenty, says the Oznayim la'Torah, would be because a person is only punishable at the hand of Hashem when he reaches twenty. Consequently, he would only need to give a 'Kofer Nefesh' (an atonement for his soul - in this cased, for the sin of the Eigel) from that age on. Rashi however, does not say this. He attributes the age of twenty to the fact that that is when a man is conscripted into the army.

What, asks the author, is the connection between the half-Shekel that was given towards the silver sockets that supported the Mishkan, which is what the current donation was used for?

And he explains how, as far as those who survived the various death sentences following the episode of the Eigel is concerned, their sin was not that of idolatry, but that they did not join the tribe of Levi in taking their swords and killing the perpetrators.

Hence it is only those who were of age to go to war who were counted and who had to donate the half-Shekel.

And this also explains why, even according to the opinions which maintain that the Levi'im and the Kohanim are obligated to donate the half-Shekel for the T'rumas ha'Lishkah (from which they purchased the Korbanos Tzibur), they were not counted on this occasion, as is clear from the numbers of the census. Consequently, they were not obligated to give a half-Shekel on this occasion.

It therefore transpires that the foundation of the Mishkan came to atone for, and was built by those who were lax in fighting the battle of Hashem. Those who fought (i.e. the Levi'im) and those who were not yet of age to fight (i.e. the under-twenties) were exempt from participating.


The Standard Donation

"The rich man shall not give more, and the poor man may not give less, than half a Shekel, to give the donation of Hashem to atone for your souls" (Ibid. 15).

The Oznayim la'Torah asks that if, as Rashi explains, they counted the half-Shekalim to know how many people had donated, then it seems superfluous to mention that nobody may give more or less than half a Shekel?

One answer is that it would have possible to allow every person to give a single coin of any denomination, in which case a rich man could have given more than a half-Shekel and a poor man, less (note, that I have deviated slightly from the author's first answer). Alternatively, he answers, the Torah might be issuing this command, not so much with regard to the current census, but with regard to the half-Shekel that they became Chayav to give each year for the T'rumas ha'Lishkah.


The Rich and the Poor


Besides the fact that the rich man is able to give more, his life trials are greater and, generally, his sins exceed those of a poor man says the Oznayim la'Torah, seeing as he spends far more time and energy than his poor brother amassing wealth. Moreover, he points out, half a Shekel is a paltry sum for him, whereas for the poor man, it is a small fortune. Yet the Torah requires him to give the same half Shekel as the poor man, even if he wants to give more!

And he answers, that the fact that the rich man is forced to give the same amount as the poor one brings him down a peg or two and is in itself, atonement for his sins.


Perhaps one can add that, even though people tend to look up to a wealthy man and down upon a poor one -indeed, a Kohen Gadol and a king are obligated to be wealthy, in order to command the respect that their rank deserves - in the eyes of Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu they are equal. And it is to convey this message that the two must give the same amount.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

On the First of Nisan

"On the first day of the first month you shall set up the Mishkan " (40:2).

The reason that erecting the Mishkan was delayed from Chanukah until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, says the Oznayim la'Torah citing the Medrash Tanchuma, was because the Mishkan (the symbol of Avodah) was built in honour of Yitzchak Avinu, whose Midah was Avodah, and who was born on that day.

The command to build the Mishkan was actually given in Tishri - on Yom Kipur, when Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the second Luchos.

The reason for this, the author explains, is based on the fact that the construction of the Mishkan is compared to the creation of the world, as we have often mentioned. Consequently, bearing in mind that, as Tosfos in Rosh Hashanah (27a) explains to reconcile the opinions of Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua, G-d decided to create the world in Tishri, whereas the actual creation took place in Nisan. The Mishkan too, was 'conceived' in Tishri and 'born' in Nisan.


Taking and Placing the Luchos

"And he took the Luchos and placed them into the Aron" (40:20).

By all the other items listed in this Parshah, the Torah writes only that he placed ("vayiten" or "vayosem"). Why here, the Oznayim la'Torah asks, does the Torah use the double expression - "And he took the Luchos and placed them"?


All the other vessels, he explains, were lying in front of Moshe, ready to be positioned in their respective locations. Not so the Luchos, he explains, which Moshe had placed in the Aron that he had specially constructed to house them until the Aron ha'Kodesh was ready. Consequently, he had first to take them from the one Aron before placing them into the second one. Hence the Pasuk had to write "And he took the Luchos (from the original Aron) and placed them into the Aron (the main Aron that Betzalel had built)".


Taking a Break

" he set up the Chatzer and Moshe completed the work" (40:33).

According to the plan mentioned earlier (See Pasuk 12 and onwards), Moshe should now have anointed the Mishkan and dressed Aharon and his sons. And the reason that the Pasuk changes the subject is because he first needed to teach the Kohanim the Dinim of the Korbanos that they were about to start bringing. This he did in Parshas Vayikra and the beginning of Parshas Tzav, before continuing with the initial program in the latter section of Tzav.


One Kikar per Socket

" a hundred sockets from a hundred Kikar, one Kikar per socket" (38:27).

The Oznayim la'Torah observes that, since the total sum of half-Shekalim amounted to a hundred Kikar (plus slightly more than a half Kikar), even if they had wanted to add one plank (which required two sockets) to the Mishkan, they would not have been able to do so, seeing as there was not sufficient sil-ver left, even to make one socket, let alone two (as we will ex-plain shortly).


With this he answers the Kashya that he asked in Parshas T'rumah (26:36) - Why it is that whereas they made five posts on which to hang the screen of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed, which was ten Amos wide, for the Paroches, which was the same width, they made only four?

According to what we just explained however, the answer is self-evident - They did not have enough silver left to make even one more socket!

How is that? As Rashi explains in Parshas T'rumah, the twenty planks that made up the north side of the Mishkan re-quired forty planks, and the same goes for the twenty planks that made up the south side. That leaves twenty of the hundred Kikar still intact. Sixteen of these were used to house the eight planks on the west side of the Mishkan, and the remaining four for the four posts that held the Paroches.


The truth of the matter is that more silver was available, namely, that which the people donated as a freewill donation, which was used to manufacture K'lei Shareis, as Rashi ex-plains there (in 25:3). Only G-d wanted the sockets to be man-ufactured from the half-Shekel that every person had to give for the census, and of that, nothing remained.


Erecting the Mishkan

"And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe" (39:33).

Rashi explains that nobody was able to erect it due the weight of the planks, so they brought it to Moshe and he erected it.

Why asks the Oznayim, could a few people not group together to erect the Mishkan, like they did whenever they travelled?

And he answers with the Chazal that compares the building of the Mishkan to the Creation of the world. Just as G-d alone created the world, so too, did the Mishkan have to be erected by one individual, who represented G-d. And since nobody else was able to do the job, it was handed over to the one person who was most capable of emulating G-d - Moshe.

* * *

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