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

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Vol. 4 No. 23

Parshas Pikudei

Beauty is Futile

In a former edition, we quoted the Seforno's explanation of the opening possuk of the Parshah, in which he contrasts the Mishkon and the two Botei-Mikdosh, explaining how the spiritual intensity seemed to progressively decrease, in stark contrast to the physical beauty of the three structures, which progressively increased.

The Seforno also points out how the spirituality of the House of G-d is in no way connected to its magnificence, but rather it is a question of "who are the builders"?

The Chofetz Chayim gives a striking moshol to illustrate: There were once two sisters (whom we shall call Rochel and Le'ah) who had been very close in their youth. They married, and Le'ah moved to a distant land. Many years passed and Rochel felt a strong desire to see her sister again, so, in spite of her poor financial situation, she made plans for the long and arduous journey. Arriving at her destination, imagine her surprise to discover that Le'ah lived in a veritable palace and that she was exceedingly wealthy. The chandeliers, the plush carpets, the tapestries and the exquisite furniture all reflected unbelievable affluence, the likes of which Rochel had never seen.

The two sisters were overjoyed at the reunion, and, unable to contain their excitement, spent many happy hours filling in all their experiences over the years.

But, during the course of their conversation, Rochel noticed that something was wrong, and she remarked to her sister. "Tell me, Le'ah dear, something troubles me. Your husband is obviously a very rich man, probably even a millionaire. It is clear that you lack nothing materially. How is it that an aura of sadness surrounds you, instead of the joie de vivre that one would expect?"

"You are right, Rochel," replied Le'ah. "I could ask my husband for a fur coat or for a priceless jewel, and he would not hesitate to provide me with it. Many people would consider me the luckiest woman in the world. But that is simply not the case. It is a fallacy; for of what use is money and wealth, when my husband neither respects nor honours me? How can money replace dignity? He runs our home single-handedly, without ever consulting me or even considering my opinion. How can any woman feel truly happy, when she is treated like that?

But tell me, Rochel, I notice that with you it is exactly the reverse. You radiate contentment and happiness, despite the evidence that you are anything but wealthy."

"You certainly hit the nail on the head," said Rochel. "My husband is indeed a very poor man. He does not often buy me new clothes or ornaments, because he cannot afford to, but that does not cause me any discontent, because he treats me with the deepest respect. In fact, he will not make any important decisions before consulting me. In that way, he makes me feel important too."

There are many beautiful shuls with magnificent chandeliers, plush carpets and tapestries, and which are beautifully and tastefully furnished, explains the Chofetz Chayim. The Sifrei-Torah are adorned with rich velvet covers and intricate silver ornaments. Yet the Torah is not happy. The people are willing to spend fortunes to adorn the Torah, but they have no respect for its sovereignty. They go their own way, without ever consulting it and the Torah is sad.

How different is the scenario in the little shtieblech. The furniture may be wooden and falling apart, the lights are plain and there are no carpets, let alone plush ones. Even the Sifrei Torah are unadorned - the mantles are threadbare and there is no silver to be seen. But the Torah is aglow with happiness because there is honour and respect. The people cherish the Torah and will not make a move without consulting her. They may not have much money to give her, but they give her their hearts, and that, when all's said and done, is what the Torah really asks of us! It is very much like Sh'lomoh Ha'melech wrote in Mishlei - "Chein is false, and beauty is futile, it is a woman who fears G-d who is praiseworthy". Chein and beauty on their own, explains the Gro, are meaningless. It is only when they are coupled with the fear of G-d that they become praiseworthy.

Adapted from the Ma'yonoh shel Torah

Sheva Yipol Tzadik Ve'kom

The Ba'al ha'Turim writes that "Va'teichel kol avodas ha'Mishkon" is the equivalent geymatriya to "be'esrim va'chamishoh be'Kislev nigmar". The Mishkon may have been completed on the 25th Kislev, but it was not finally erected until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, as the Torah expressly writes (40:2).

In fact, the 25th Kislev was compensated with the Chanukah of the Chashmono'im (which even became an annual event).

Moshe Rabeinu actually erected the Mishkon for the first time on the 23rd Adar, but he dismantled it again on the same day, after the conclusion of the avodah. He did this for the seven consecutive days leading up to Rosh Chodesh Nisan.

The Ma'yonoh shel Torah, quoting one of the Gerrer Rebbes, explains that this was a Tikun for the seven destructions (i.e. the five Mishkonos - one in the desert, Givon, Shiloh, Nov and Giv'on, and the two Botei Mikdosh). By taking down the Mishkon seven times and erecting it, Moshe Rabeinu was not only hinting that there would be seven destructions, but he was also ensuring that after each destruction, there would be a reconstruction.

The eighth construction (on Rosh Chodesh Nisan) remained standing - a sure hint that the third Beis-Ha'mikdosh would not be destroyed.

The Poor are More Important than the Beit Ha'mikdosh

The Gemoro in B'rochos relates how the Chachomim would enter Dovid ha'Melech's presence each morning, to tell him that Yisroel needed parnosoh. And the Gemoro quotes Dovid's reply.

It is not at first clear as to why the Chachomim repeated this performance every single day, and what they hoped to achieve with their constant repetition of the request.

It appears, the Ma'yonoh shel Torah quotes an ancient Seifer, that these dialogues took place during the period of the three years' famine, and that the Chachmei Yisroel were hinting to the king to take out the money that he designated for the building of the Beis Ha'mikdosh, to feed the hungry people.

Dovid Ha'melech, it seems, did not get the hint - but his son Sh'lomoh ruled that the Chochmei Yisroel were right (refer to "The Haftorah", p. 4).

History of the World ( Part 30)
(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)

Par'oh realises that his time has come, and so, prompted by his wife Alpranis and his officers, he sets about appointing his successor. He has three sons, Asro, Adikom and Muryon, and two daughters, Bisyo and Apuzi. His eldest son, Asro, is an impetuous idiot, and unfit to rule. So he chooses his second son Adikom, who is a wise and cunning man, though ugly, obese and a dwarf of only one and a half amos tall, with his beard reaching down to his ankles.

When he is only ten years old, his father finds him a wife - Gedudah the daughter of Avital, and they bear ten sons. He later marries three more wives, and they bear him another ten sons and three daughters. Par'oh dies and because of the unbearable odour, resulting from his badly infested boils, he cannot be embalmed. He is hurriedly buried. G-d has paid him back for all the evil that he perpetrated.

Betzalel is born.

Rochov ha'Zonoh is born.

Adikom is twenty years old when he is crowned king, but he will only rule for four years.

Moshe is the shepherd of Re'uel (Yisro or Yisro's father). One day, a kid-goat runs away from the flocks and Moshe gives chase, and he catches up with it at Har Chorev - where he comes upon a burning bush - this takes place on Shabbos. Hashem speaks to Moshe for seven consecutive days... Moshe and Aharon come to Par'oh. They arrive at the palace gate where they find two lion-cubs who allow no-one to enter. Moshe waves his stick over them, removing the spell which the magicians have cast, and they walk into the palace uninvited, with the happy lions in tow, like a dog trots contentedly behind its master. And so Moshe and Aharon enter Par'oh's presence, followed by the two lion cubs.

Par'oh is astounded by this. He calls Bil'om and Yeinis and Yembris his sons, together with the magicians of Egypt.

Aharon throws down his stick and it turns into a snake. The magicians do likewise. Aharon's snake opens its mouth to devour all the other snakes, but Bil'om makes nothing of that and challenges Aharon to let his stick swallow the other sticks. Aharon accepts the challenge, and his stick promptly swallows all of the magicians' sticks.

Par'oh reacts by increasing the already heavy burden on the Jews... The plagues begin on Rosh Chodesh Iyar. After the plague of blood, Moshe "disappears" for three months.

The frogs occur on Rosh Chodesh Av
The lice in Ellul
The wild beasts in Tishri
The pestilence in Mar-Cheshvan
The boils in Kislev
The hail in Teves
The locusts in Shevat
Darkness in Adar
Makas Bechoros in Nissan
(This dating is one of many opinions.)

The frogs appear in their cups, and when they drink, they fill their stomachs. They fill their beds too, and all of their perspiration turns into frogs.

The lice cover the ground of Egypt to a depth of two amos. The wild beasts include insects - flies, hornets, gnats and fleas, which fill the eyes and ears of the Egyptians and follow them into their rooms, and it also includes all forms of winged creatures. When they try to bolt their doors, Hashem sends octopuses from the sea, with arms ten amos long. They climb up onto the roofs and open the bolts.

From the time that Moshe prayed for the removal of the locusts, not one locust ever plagued Egypt again.

Ba'al Chonon ben Achbor, King of Edom dies, and they crown Hadad in his place. He will rule for forty-eight years.

Moshe marries Tziporah bas Re'uel (or Yisro) in Midyon. She is of the same calibre as the Imohos, Soroh, Rifkah, Rochel and Leah.

(Pikudei) (Melochim I 7:40-50)

This Haftorah appears in Melochim immediately following the Haftorah of Va'yakhel. It deals with the completion of Sh'lomoh Ha'melech's Beis Ha'mikdosh, and there are many similarities between it and the completion of the Mishkon in this week's Parshah. Even the phrase that informs us of the Beis Ha'mikdosh's completion - "And all the work that Sh'lomoh Ha'melech did, with regard to the House of G-d" sounds very much like "And all the work of the Mishkon of the Ohel Mo'ed was finished", despite the slightly different use of words in the two places. Further similarities include:

1. All B'nei Yisroel brought the Mishkon to Moshe in the month of Adar, and Sh'lomoh gathered all the people to Yerusholayim in the month of Tishri, in order to bring the Oron to its final position.

2. No sooner was the Oron placed in the Kodesh Ha'kodoshim, than a cloud appeared, preventing the Cohanim from entering to do the Avodah, and that is exactly what happened in the Mishkon when they placed the Oron in the Kodesh Ha'kodoshim - the Cloud covered the Mishkon, preventing Moshe Rabeinu from entering until he was called.

3. The King turned and blessed the people, much in the same way as Moshe Rabeinu blessed the people when the Mishkon was erected. The blessing incidentally, which is referred to in (Melochim I, 8) possuk 14, is not quoted in the pesukim that follow, although the word "Boruch" (at the beginning of possuk 15) might convey the impression that it does. The pesukim that follow, explains the Redak, contain the Tefillah of Sh'lomoh that followed his brochoh to Klal Yisroel - a tefillah of which the last seven pesukim are but a small part. The text of Sh'lomoh's brochoh to Klal Yisroel follows that of the Tefillah as from possuk 55.

The opening possuk in the Haftorah describes how Sh'lomoh Ha'melech brought the silver, the gold and the vessels that his father Dovid Ha'melech had sanctified for the Beis Ha'mikdosh, and placed them in the treasury of the Beis Ha'mikdosh. But why did he not use them for the purpose for which they were designated?

The Redak explains that Sh'lomoh himself possessed such an abundance of gold, silver and copper, that he had no need for the wealth that his father had designated. Nevertheless, in deference to his father, he used some of those materials. The bulk however, he placed in the Beis Ha'mikdosh's treasury.

According to the Medrash however, Sh'lomoh used none of the materials that his father had prepared. For this, the Redak cites two explanations:

1) Because he knew that the Beis Ha'mikdosh would eventually be destroyed. He therefore preferred not to use his father's materials, so that the nations of the world should not ascribe the destruction to the fact that it was built with the money that Dovid Ha'melech had "stolen" from them.

2) When, towards the end of Dovid's reign, there was a famine that lasted for three years, he should have withdrawn those treasures in order to feed the poor. He did not do this, and that is why Sh'lomoh declined now to use those "tainted" treasures for building G-d's holy house. However noble it was to build the house of G-d, he considered that it should not have been done at the expense of the starving poor. They should have been given priority. (See page 2, "The Poor" etc.)

PLEASE NOTE that this year Midei Shabbos is not dealing with special Parshiyos such as Parshas Shekolim. We hope to cover them next year.

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