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

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Vol. 12   No. 22

This issue is co-sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos
Ha'Rav Simchah ben ha'Rav Asher
and Gita bas Bentziyon z.l.
& Chayim Ze'ev ben Yisrael
and B'rachah Miriam bas Moshe Aharon z.l.
wishing a refu'ah she'leimah to
Refa'el Avraham ben Orah Yutel z.l.

Parshas Vayakhel

The Will of G-d
(Based on the Ha'amek Davar)

The Gemara in Bava Basra (99a) raises the following question. Seeing as the Torah writes (in Parshas Terumah 25:20) that the Keruvim (the Cherubs that adorned the Aron ha'Kodesh) faced each other, how can the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (3:13) say that they faced (eastwards, towards) the House?

When we consider that the two Keruvim (which resembled a boy and a girl) represented the love between G-d and Yisrael, whose wedding (Kevayachol), had just taken place at Har Sinai, comments the Ha'amek Davar, the Gemara could have answered simply by drawing a distinction between the generation that built the Mishkan and the one that built the Beis-Hamikdash. The Gemara in Yuma (54a), compares the generation that built the Mishkan to a bride during the days of her Chupah, and the subsequent generations, who lived in Eretz Yisrael, to a wife. Now a Kalah under the Chupah is not expected to work, but to adorn herself, so that the Chasan can gaze at her and derive endless pleasure from her beauty. And for that, he obligates himself to sustain her already from that moment, even before married life has really begun. And that explains why the Keruvim in the Mishkan (following the grand wedding at Sinai) faced each other.

Once however, they reached Eretz Yisrael, 'the honeymoon was over'. They no longer enjoyed the relationship of a Chasan and a Kalah, but of 'a married couple'. Consequently, they did not face each other, but 'the house' because it is after this initial period that the real challenges of married life begin in earnest.

Chazal however, were not satisfied with this answer, because they knew that the Keruvim that Betzalel made were permanent (until today, they are hidden together with the Aron), whereas those that Sh'lomoh made (which stood on the floor beside the Aron) were taken into Galus. That being the case, the two types of Keruvim were applicable to Eretz Yisrael, and not just to the Dor ha'Midbar.

The Gemara therefore explains that our Pasuk is speaking of when Yisrael did the will of G-d, whereas the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim refers to when they did not. The Rashbam adds that in the latter case, which speaks just after Shlomoh Hamelech built the Beis Hamikdash, the Keruvim miraculously changed their original position.

But that is strange. How can we refer to the time when Shlomoh built the Beis Hamikdash as a period when they were not performing the will of G-d?

The Gemara in B'rachos (35b) establishes the Pasuk in the Sh'ma ("and you will gather your [own corn"] there where Yisrael are not doing the will of Hashem), and the Pasuk in Yeshayah (promising that others will do our work for us) where they are. Tosfos asks there how this is possible, seeing as the former Pasuk begins with the words "and it will be if you will listen to my Mitzvos ... ". And they establish the Pasuk where Yisrael are indeed fulfilling the commands of Hashem, but not properly.

But this too is difficult to understand in light of the opening phrase "im shomo'a tishme'u", which implies a high level of observance.

The Ha'amek Davar, based on many Pesukim, which describe how Yisrael are sustained through a special merit directly from G-d, therefore explains it with a mashal to a king, who sustains all of his loyal subjects. But he does so in two different ways.

He ensures that the population at large have sufficient to eat, provided they work hard and till his land. Not so the soldiers who make up his army. They do not work on the land, but in exchange for wielding their swords in his honor, they are fed from the royal coffers without having to participate in their own sustenance. And that is how the Divine King operates. He sustains all of those loyal citizens who obey His laws, though they are required to participate in their own sustenance. His soldiers, on the other hand, the talmidei-chachamim who fight the battle of Torah, are fed straight from the Divine Hand. As Chazal have said, 'G-d prefers those who stand before him in the gates that excel in halachah to all the dwellings of Ya'akov (with reference to the people who serve him in the Beis Hamikdash)'.

And that too, is what Chazal mean here when they say that the Pasuk here (which refers to the two Keruvim looking at each other, but also "at the lid of the Aron" [as the Pasuk specifically states] clearly referring to the Torah that it contains); whereas the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim refers to the people who observe all the Mitzvos, but who are not dedicated to learning Torah. They face towards the house (a reference to the Beis Hamikdash), but not towards each other. They are not soldiers in G-d's army, so He does not deal with them directly, eye to eye.

The question arises, comments the Ha'amek Davar, that if K'lal Yisrael are performing all the Mitzvos, how can the Chachamim refer to them as 'not doing the will of G-d'?

He explains that just as a king of flesh of blood expects every able-bodied man to join the ranks of his army, so too, does G-d expect whoever is able to join the ranks of His army - to become a talmid-chacham. And anyone who fails to do so falls under the category of 'one who is not fulfilling the will of G-d'.

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Parshah Pearls

Shabbos and the Golden Calf

"Six days work shall be done ... " (35:2).

R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld explains why having already taught the Parshah of Shabbos in Parshas ki Sissa, before the sin of the Eigel, the Torah sees fit to repeat it again here.

The official reason that Chazal attribute to Moshe's breaking of the Luchos is because Yisrael were unfit to receive them (see Rashi in ki Sissa 32:19). Yet elsewhere (viewing Matan Torah as the wedding day between G-d [Kevayachol] and Yisrael) they say that Moshe did so in order to spare Yisrael the severe punishment that is due to a woman who has committed adultery. By tearing up the marriage contract, so to speak, he returned them to their previous status of 'single', thereby reducing the level of their sin and earning them a less severe punishment.

As a result, explains R. Yosef Chayim, Yisrael were concerned that they were once again considered gentiles (like they were before Matan Torah), with the result that, if they were to observe Shabbos, they would receive the death-sentence (in keeping with the Chazal 'A gentile who keeps Shabbos is sentenced to death').

That is why the first thing, even before commanding them about The Mishkan, Moshe reassured them that they were Jews and that they were still obliged to observe the Shabbos.


The Clouds Brought Them

"And the princes brought the onyx stones and the filling stones ... " (35:27).

This is the simple explanation. The Rosh however, cites the Gemara in Yuma (75a), which based on the missing 'Yud' in the word "ve'ha'Ne'si'im hevi'u", explains that it was actually the clouds that brought the precious stones from the River Pishon for the Choshen and for the Eifod and deposited them with the Princes' portion of Manna. This too, is hinted in the Pasuk later, where the Torah writes (36:3) "and they continued to bring him their donations for two mornings" ("ba'boker ba'boker"). On the one hand, this informs us that in only two mornings, everything that was needed for the construction of the Mishkan had been donated. On the other hand, the expression "ba'boker ba'boker" is equivalent to the expression used in Beshalach (16:21), in connection with the falling of the Manna. The hint is blatant.


To Detach Oneself from the Community

"And the princes brought ..." (ibid).

A 'Yud' is missing from the word, says Rashi, because the princes decided to wait for the community to finish donating, and they would supply whatever was still needed.

The Torah chose the letter 'Yud' it seems, because without it, 'Nesi'im' has connotations of 'clouds' (see previous Pearl). *

The Avnei Azel however, explains that the Torah chose the letter 'Yud', since it is the letter that denotes plural (hinting at the community), and it was because they detached themselves from the community that they are taken to task here (despite their good intentions).

Rabeinu Bachye learns from here that someone who ignores the opportunity to be among the first to perform a Mitzvah, is considered lazy, and will go down as having sinned, good intentions notwithstanding!


It's the Thought that Counts

"ve'lach'shov machashovos" (35:32).

Unklus translates this as 'to teach the craftsmen', another of the numerous areas in which Betzalel was master. See Rashi's interpretation of "Ma'aseh Choshev" (Terumah 26:1).

However, the words also have connotations of 'machshavos' (thoughts). And it is in this connection that the Kanfei Nesharim connects it with Betzalel's ability to fathom the motive of each and every donor to the Mishkan. And so it was that the gold of someone who gave his donation with a full heart, Betzalel designated for the construction of the Aron or another of the holy Vessels, whereas the donation of someone who gave only because he saw his friend giving or for some other secondary motive, he used in the construction of the courtyard.

Chasidim tell the story of a Misnaged (anti-Chasid) who once asked the Rudziner Rebbe why it was that in days gone by the Tzadikim (referring to the great Chasidic Rebbes) used to live in abject poverty, whilst in modern times, they traveled around in comfort in beautiful coaches drawn by four strong horses. This sarcastic question was no doubt a subtle reference to the Rebbe's custom to outwardly display Malchus (royalty) (the fact that he practiced numerous acts of self-affliction was something that he kept to himself, and was therefore not publicly known).

'I'll tell you why' answered the Rudziner. 'You see, there are three kinds of Chasidim (followers) - genuine Chasidim, whose every action is le'Shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven); important Ba'alei Batim, and the general populace. When they donate money to their Rebbe, he uses their donations according to the level of intent that goes into the donation. The money of the genuine Chasidim is used solely for holy purposes; that of the Ba'alei-Batim goes towards sustaining him; whereas the donations of the general populace is used to purchase horses.

Now in the olden days, when all the Chasidim were on a much higher level, all their donations were used for holy purposes and there was simply no money available with which to purchase such mundane things as horses. But today, when many of the Chasidim are unfortunately ignoramuses, their money cannot possibly be used for holy purposes. So what can the Rebbes do with all that money other than to buy horses and carriages.


The Wise Animals

" ... into whom G-d placed wisdom and understanding" (36:1).

The word for 'into whom' is "baheimah". Chazal however, in a play of words, infer from here that G-d infused even the animals with wisdom.

The K'sav Sofer explains this according to Rashi, who explained earlier (35:26) that the women spun the hair directly from the goats' backs. This cannot be an easy thing to achieve under the best of circumstances, he explains, but it would certainly be made infinitely more difficult to do so against the animal's will. Therefore, the Torah informs us, G-d put wisdom into the animals' hearts, and they willingly allowed the women to do their work, undisturbed.

And he compares it to the story of the calf that ran in front of Rebbi, in order that it should be Shechted and eaten by him.


In Parshas No'ach, Rashi explains that when mankind dropped its standards of moral behaviour, the animals took their cue from them and began mixing breeds too. Perhaps here as well, what Chazal mean is that when, by the construction of the Mishkan, the people attained the wisdom of angels, the animals too, were elevated to attain the wisdom of human-beings.


Tzedakah and Rain

"And the people stopped bringing (va'yikolei ho'om me'hovi)" (36:6).

The Torah uses the same word with regard to the Great Flood " ... and the rain stopped (va'yikolei ha'geshem)".

Connecting the two, the K'li Yakar cites the Gemara in Ta'anis (8) that when people cease to give Tzedakah, there is no rain.

Rebbi Shimon Sofer however inverts the D'rashah. He explains that it is because the rain (Divine blessing) ceased, that the people stopped bringing (donations for Tzedakah). For it is human nature to give generously when things are going well, but when the going gets tough, and one barely manages to make ends meet, one finds giving far more difficult.

See also Ba'al ha'Turim.


Not Only for Washing

"And he made the copper basin and its copper stand, with the mirrors of the women who congregated ... " (38:8).

In Parshas ki-Sissa, the Torah writes that the basin was "for washing". Why, asks the Meshech Chochmah, is that not mentioned here?

To answer this question, he refers to Rashi's interpretation of the above Pasuk, where the righteous women donated their mirrors for the Mishkan, and Moshe was reluctant to accept them until ordered by G-d to do so. And what's more, the basin would subsequently be used to create peace between husband and wife, when the Sotos would drink from it and be proved innocent. Originally, it seems, the sole purpose of the Kiyor was for the Kohanim to wash their hands and feet. So at the outset the Torah added the word 'for washing'. But the Torah specifically omits it here, since the unforeseen devotion of the righteous women had resulted in this additional function of the Kiyor.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Mitzvah 30:
Not To Swear in Vain (cont.)

A proof for what we just explained lies in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18a), where, in connection with a Divine decree which is accompanied by a Shevu'ah, Rava concludes that although it cannot be atoned for with sacrifices and flour-offerings, it can be atoned for through words of Torah; and no mention is made there of any need for G-d to annul the Shevu'ah. This is a clear indication that all these references to G-d taking an oath are merely a Mashal for the benefit of the reader, so that he should better understand G-d's actions. And the author concludes that he went to such great lengths to clarify this issue, to help us come to grips with many similar statements which would otherwise be incomprehensible. And, he adds, that we only find the concept of G-d annulling a Shevu'ah with reference to a Shevu'ah to punish, because when it comes to a Shevu'ah to do good to someone, we have a principle "ve'Rav Chesed", 'Mateh k'lapei chesed' - that G-d performs abundant kindness, and will never retract from a good thing that he has promised to do. In other words, if someone at a certain stage, reaches a degree of merit that evokes an oath to reward him (such as David Hamelech, about whom the Pasuk writes in Tehilim "G-d swore to David ... "), nothing that he subsequently does will cause G-d to revoke that oath. For this is one of G-d's precious Midos.

The Dinim of the Mitzvah ... such as Kinuyei Shevu'ah (constituting expressions of Shevu'ah that are colloquial [such as Shevusah, Shekukah and suchlike])which Chazal gave the Din of a Shevu'ah even though they have no real meaning ... and the question of whether 'Alah' and 'Arur' are included in the Din of Shevu'ah ... and someone who responds with 'No' after hearing the Name of Hashem, and similarly 'right' or 'left' ... a Neder and a Shevu'ah also require 'the mouth and the heart to be of the same accord'. That is why the Chachamim say that one may declare a Neder to murderers and the like, to say to them 'All the fruit in the world will be forbidden to me, if this or that is the case', having in mind that they will be forbidden for that day only. Under the circumstances, the prohibition will indeed be limited to that day, even though the verbal Neder that one specifically declared implies that the prohibition is permanent. It should be noted however, that Chazal only permitted doing this, even under those circumstances, if one does it in such a way that one's words do not totally contradict the thoughts of his heart. In that case, it will be forbidden to declare such a Neder to a murderer, and to then have in mind, that the fruit is not really prohibited at all ... as well as the many other details that are discussed in Shevu'os and Nedarim, and in Yoreh De'ah 236.

This Mitzvah applies everywhere, to men and women alike. Someone who contravenes it, and deliberately swears that a marble column is made of gold or that a golden column is made of gold, or if he swears to negate a Mitzvah or to do something that a human being cannot possibly achieve, is liable to receive Malkos immediately. Due to the stringency of this sin, the Torah sentences him to Malkos, in spite of the fact that he has not performed an act. Should he perform it be'Shogeg, on the other hand, he does not bring a Korban, though for a Shevu'as Sheker (a false Shevu'ah), known as a Shevu'as Bituy, the Torah does require a Korban, as we will explain later (Mitzvah 123, at the end of Vayikra).

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