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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 35, v. 26: "V'chol hanoshim ...... b'chochmo tovu" - Rashi says that the special wisdom exhibited by the women in spinning the thread made of goats' hair, was their ability to do this while the hair was still attached to the goats (gemara Shabbos 74b). What was accomplished by spinning the threads while still attached to the goats?

1) If the women were impure, since the threads were still part of the goats, the impurity would not affect the purity status of the threads.

2) The women wanted to donate that which was truly theirs. Since there is a rule that the handiwork of a woman becomes her husband's property, this would not truly be their own donation. However, if a woman does handiwork beyond the normal capacity, then it belongs to her. By spinning the threads while they were still attached to the goats, time was saved, which was considered their own donation. (Maharil Diskin)

I have two difficulties in understanding this:

1) The rule of a woman's handiwork belonging to her husband was not instituted until the time of the Mishneh.

2) Even if we consider this rule in place at the time of the building of the Mishkon, there is also another part to this rule. The Rabbis instituted that for the woman's handiwork to go to her husband, he would in turn be responsible for her sustenance. This arrangement was established for the wife's benefit, since women commonly did not have the opportunity to be wage earners. Since the main intention of this rule was to protect the wife, if circumstances arose by which she could have a well- paying and reliable income, she had the option to change the arrangement and tell her husband, "I will not receive your sustenance and I will keep my handiwork (income) for myself (gemara K'subos 58a)." Since in the desert all were sustained by Hashem's manna, it is obvious that all women would take advantage of this option.

3) The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze gives another reason for the hair being spun while still attached to the animal. He says it is because of the halacha, "kol mitzvas assei shehazman gromo noshim p'turos" (gemara Brochos 20b),women are exempt from positive mitzvos which are time bound. Because the building of the Mishkon may not be done on Shabbos, it is considered a timebound mitzvoh. Therefore, the women were at a disadvantage, since their helping to create the Mishkon was only voluntary, while the men's was obligatory. That which was created as an obligation is preferable to that which is voluntary (gemara Kidushin 31a). By showing that their creations could be made in this unusual manner, which is a "shinnuy," done in an unusual manner, it was shown that it could be done without a Torah level desecration of Shabbos, making it a non-timebound mitzvoh, making it obligatory even on the women.

I have two difficulties in understanding this.

1) A mitzvoh which requires that something be done once seems to not be time bound. Time bound means that theoretically a mitzvoh could be done at all times but the Torah limits it to a specific time. For example, we could have been instructed to eat matzo every night and day of the year. Once Hashem limited it to Pesach night, it became timebound. Theoretically, building the Mishkon did not have the possibility of being a continuous mitzvoh, since once it would be completed, there would be nothing more to do.

2) The overriding Shabbos does not give it the status of "zman gromo." It is a full time mitzvoh which has something more powerful pushing it aside, but not by virtue of its being timebound.

A proof for either of these two points might come from the Shaagas Aryeh (responsa #34) who questions if a woman has the mitzvoh of writing a Sefer Torah. Nowhere in his responsa does he point out that since writing the Sefer Torah on Shabbos is prohibited, it therefore becomes a timebound mitzvoh, excluding women from the obligation to write one.

I heard a taped lecture by Rabbi Y. Bernstein z"l who quoted Horav L. Gurewitz zt"l as saying that a communal mitzvoh is not subject to the guidelines of a timebound mitzvoh. This would also put the building of the Mishkon beyond the scope of "mitzvas assei shehazman gromo." Any clarification of the issues raised here would be appreciated.

Ch. 35, v. 27: "V'ha'n'siim heivi'u" - The word "V'ha'n'siim" is spelled without a letter Yud. Rashi brings a Medrash Bmidbar Rabboh 12:16 which says that although the tribal heads were very magnanimous in offering to cover any shortfall in the donations, nonetheless, they were lacking in the alacrity and enthusiasm of donating immediately. This lack is reflected in their title, "nsiim," being spelled in an inferior manner, lacking the letter Yud.

In 36:7 it says, "V'hamlochoh hoysoh da'yom ...... vo'hoseir." The Sichos Tzadikim asks that the verse seems to contradict itself. If it was exactly sufficient then it wasn't extra, and if it was extra, then it wasn't exactly sufficient. He answers that since the purpose of creating the Mishkon was to have a centre for the Divine Presence to rest, it would require that the donations and building of the Mishkon involve no haughtiness. Arrogance pushes away the Divine Presence. If the materials that were brought would amount to exactly that which was needed, each donour would feel that without his contribution the Mishkon would be incomplete, no matter how large or small the donation was. This emotion would negate the sanctity of the Mishkon. Only because it was known that there was extra was it sufficient. Now each donour wasn't sure if his materials were used. This kept the donours from feeling that they were indispensable in the creation the Sanctuary. The Rav of Volomin zt"l applies this thought to our verse. Another reason for the word "V'ha'n'siim" being spelled without a Yud is because the tribal heads knew that their donations, the stones for the Kohein Godol's breast-plate, were being used. They lacked the sense of humility shared by all other donours, who did not know whether their donations were used. (Ma'yonoh shel Torah)

Ch. 36, v. 1: "V'OSOH B'tzalel" - Does "V'OSOH" mean "and he SHALL make" or "and he HAS made?" Rashi on gemara Makos 12a d.h. "v'rotzach" says that it means the future tense, as does the Ibn Ezra in our verse. This seems to be the logical translation, as Betzalel had not received the building materials until verse 3. However, the Shach, the Chasam Sofer, and the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh all say that it means "and he HAS made." They have different answers to the problem pointed out from verse 3. Since the earlier commentators say that "V'OSOH" is in the future tense, how can the latter commentators deviate from this?

The above mentioned Rashi points out that "V'OSOH Hashem lo'hem" in Dvorim 31:4 is also in the future tense, although it differs from our "V'OSOH." For Betzalel it was a command, "And he SHALL do," while in Dvorim 31:4 it means, "And Hashem WILL do," not a command but a statement of fact. In either case it is still in the future tense. The Targum Onkeles on that verse says "V'YA'A'BEID." However, on "V'OSOH" of our verse, he translates "VA'AVAD." We see clearly that here he translates "V'OSOH" in the past tense. Perhaps this is the source for the Acharonim.

Ch. 36, v. 6: "Ish v'ishoh al yaasu ode m'lochoh" - If Moshe wanted the people to stop donating since there was already more than enough of the required materials, why didn't he announce that no one should donate anything more, rather than announce that no one should create any more building or vessel components?

A possible answer might be that there was such a strong desire to donate toward the construction of the Mishkon, that an announcement to stop donating might not be effective. Even though more than enough had been collected, people wanted as great a share as possible in this mitzvoh, and might still donate in the hope that their contributions would be used. Only by announcing that all the components of the Mishkon had been completed, would it become clear that no further goods would be used, and the people would then stop donating.

Ch. 36, v. 18: "Va'yaas karsei n'choshes chamishim L'CHA'BER ES HO'OHEL" - In verse 13 where it discusses the golden connecting hooks for the Mishkon coverings, the words "l'cha'ber es ho'ohel" are not mentioned. The Meshech Chochmoh answers that halacha required that all items used for the Mishkon and its vessels be created specifically for the sanctity of the Mishkon, etc. The dwellings people lived in also had sheets of material used as roof coverings.

It is very likely that to connect the sheets of material, inexpensive copper hooks were also used, similar to those required for the upper Mishkon covering. Therefore the Torah stresses,"l'chaber es ho'ohel," to emphasize that the hooks used to join the sections of the Sanctuary covering had to be created specifically for that purpose. For the lower level of the Mishkon covering which would be visible, the Torah required that the hooks be made of gold (verse 13). Since people would not use gold to make hooks for the roof covering of their own homes, it was therefore not necessary to mention "l'cha'ber es ho'ohel" in verse 13.

Ch. 38, v. 8: "B'maros ha'tzovos" - The laver was made of such highly polished copper, that it had the properties of a mirror. The laver was placed in the area between the outer altar and the Sanctuary doorway, but off to the north, beyond the entrance. This positioning allowed women to notice this highly reflective vessel. It served as a reminder that a wayward wife who was suspected of infidelity would be brought to the Mikdosh to be tested by drinking the water of the laver. (Moshav Z'keinim)

Rashi says that Moshe was reluctant to accept the copper mirrors for such a lofty purpose, since the mirrors had been used by the women to adorn themselves in order to arouse their husbands. Hashem responded that the copper mirrors were very dear to Him, as the women had used the mirrors to beautify themselves in order to revive their husbands' broken spirits in Egypt, and for the spiritual aspect of having children and keeping the Jewish people alive. This is referred to in Shir Hashirim 8:5, "Tachas hatapuach orartich."

Why did Moshe not mind using the women's "kumoz" (35:22), an abdominal plate? 1) Because it was melted down and would not resemble its original form at all. (Moshav Z'keinim)

2) Because it was melted together with numerous other types of metal objects, and was nullified among the rest. (Sifsei Chachomim)

3) Because the "kumoz" was used as a safeguard against unwanted physical relations. (Sifsei Chachomim)

4) The reason Moshe was reluctant to accept the mirrors was not because of their being an object that aroused base desires, but rather, that since they were reflective, one standing at a certain angle would see the activities of the Kohein Godol inside the Mikdosh on Yom Kippur, which would compromise the requirement of the Kohen Godol being alone when he does the service (Vayikroh 16:17). (Moshav Z'keinim)

5) Since the Kohanim wash their hands and feet from the laver in a bent over position with their hands directly over their feet, Moshe was concerned that the copper plates would make it appear as if the Kohanim were bowing down to themselves.

6) There is an opinion that "kumoz" means another type of jewellery completely.

While on the subject of using mirrors, the Shaalos u'Tshuvos Divrei Chaim O. Ch. volume 2 responsa #6 says that it is prohibited for a man to use a mirror to see if his tefillin are in the proper position on his head.

Ch. 38, v. 17: "V'tzipui rosheihem kesef" - The Moshav Z'keinim asks in the name of Rabbi Yeshayoh, "Why in 27:10 where Hashem tells Moshe the requirements of the poles for the curtains that will create the Mishkon courtyard, does it not mention that the heads of the poles should be covered with silver, as is mentioned here?" The question is left unresolved. If you come across an answer, please let me know.


Ch. 39, v. 32: "Va'teichel kol avodas mishkan" - The Baal Haturim says that these words equal "B'esrim v'chamishoh b'Kisleiv nigmar," numerically.

Ch. 39, v. 32: "K'chol asher tzivo Hashem es Moshe KEIN OSU" - The Baal Haturim on 40:21 says that the expression "kaasher tzivo Hashem es Moshe" appears 18 times, corresponding to the 18 blessings in the "Amidoh, shmonoh esrei," and the expression of our verse which adds "KEIN OSU," corresponds to the "birkas haminim," the blessing in "shmonoh esrei" against heretics. I do not know why the Baal Haturim points this out in 40:21, as it is neither the first, nor the last place where "kaasher tzivo Hashem es Moshe" appears in the parsha. If you have an answer, please respond.

A man once came to the Holy Admor of Satmar for counsel. He had sent his son to Eretz Yisroel to study in a Yeshiva, and received reports that his son was very diligent and progressing well in his studies. However, whenever he would become aware of a call to gather in protest against a group that had attempted to institute a policy or ruling which was against the law or spirit of the Torah, he would drop his learning and become involved with the protest. The father asked for the Holy Admor's opinion about his son's behaviour.

The Holy Admor asked the man what his own feelings were on the matter. He responded that he felt that the activities of those who make rulings against the Torah must be countered, but that it would be much more appropriate to have this done by wise, elderly Torah statesmen, rather than by young Torah students who should be busying themselves with in-depth Torah study.

The Holy Admor responded with the above Baal Haturim, and asked, "Why does each blessing correspond to 'ka'asher tzivo Hashem es Moshe,' while the expression corresponding to the downfall of heretics is 'KEIN OSU?' We see from here that for all other needs (the majority of the blessings of shmonoh esrei are the middle 13 "needs") it is sufficient to involve only Moshe, the leader of the generation. When it comes to countering the "minim," we have "KEIN OSU," all must be involved." (Olomos Shechorvu)

Ch. 40, v. 31: "V'rochatzu mimenu Moshe v'Aharon u'vonov" - On the gemara Z'vochim 19b Rashi says that the requirement of four volumes of sanctification for the hands and feet is a vessel requirement. The vessel from which the Kohanim wash their hands and feet must be able to hold this amount, but there is no requirement to have four such volumes of water in the vessel at the time of "kiddush yoda'yim v'ragla'yim." The Rambam in hilchos Bi'as Mikdosh 5:13 disagrees and says that this is the required amount of water. The Rambam's opinion precludes Rashi's opinion. If a minimum of four volumes must be in the vessel at one time, obviously the vessel must be sufficiently large to contain that volume.

How do we arrive at the number four? Once again we have a disagreement between Rashi and the Rambam. Rashi says that it is derived from the number of people needing this sanctification, Moshe (who was a Kohein during part of the eight day dedication rituals), Aharon, Elozor, and Isomor. Rambam says that the four people are Aharon, Elozor, Isomor, and Pinchos.


In the added prayers for parshas Hachodesh, Yotzros l'Musof, we find, "Chodesh asher y'shu'os bo MAKIFOS." This is commonly translated as, "A month in which salvations abound." The Sfas Emes translates "MAKIFOS" as "BORROW." The month of Nison was a month of salvation by virtue of the exodus from Egypt.

However, Hashem was only willing to free the bnei Yisroel on the condition that they later accept the Torah, as it says (Shmos 3:12), "b'hotzi'acho es ho'om miMitzrayim taavdun hoElokim al hohor ha'zeh." Accepting the Torah had not yet taken place at the time of the exodus, hence it was a month of salvation on "credit," done through borrowing this merit.

In parshas T'zaveh, Ch. 30, v. 6, the difficulty raised by the Moshav Z'keinim (26:1) was raised. According to the gemara Shabbos 92b that the Kohanim and Lviim were 10 cubits tall, how could the Kohanim serve in the Mishkon building as it was also only ten cubits tall? R' T.B. offered an answer, which also helped clear up some other difficulties.

Regarding the height of the Kohanim and the height of the Mishkon: Perhaps one could answer a little less dachuk from a Rambam in Hilchos Shabbos, perek 17 halacha 36. He says that l'chumroh we calculate amos sochakos, with the fingers of the tefach loose, or dochakos with the fingers tightly pressed together. If we consider the height of the mishkon to be l'chumroh with sochakos (which is reasonable) and the height of the Kohanim to be l'chumroh with dochakos (why not?) then the Kohanim will be shorter than the height of the Mishkon.

How much shorter? The Magid Mishneh (same place: 17:36) says the difference is 1/2 an etzbah per amoh. In 10 amos, that amounts to 5 etzbo'os which is 5/4 tefach. If the Kohein's hat was less than that, we may have an answer.


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