Pop Quiz: Who was in charge of assigning the Levi'im their tasks in the
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"These are the reckonings of the Sanctuary" (Shemot 38:21)
Moshe made a reckoning of all the donations to the Mishkan to see that everything was accounted for. The Midrash says that he was surprised to see that there was some silver not accounted for, and sat there wondering where it went. He even heard some people murmuring under their breath about Moshe's wealth and whether it was connected to the lost silver. Ultimately, Hashem called out to Moshe reminding him where the lost silver was used, and everything was accounted for down to the last item. We see from here an amazing lesson. People tend to suspect even the greatest among us, no less than Moshe Rabenu. There is a tendency in human nature to find fault in others. Although this is sometimes disappointing and maybe even disheartening, we should not lose hope in the goodness of human nature. In the long run, the innocent will be proven so, even if Hashem has to make a miracle to clear one's name. If a person knows that he's free of guilt, rather than despair, he should put his faith in Hashem to ultimately exonerate him. Shabbat Shalom.
BY HOOK OR BY CROOK
Rabbi Reuven Semah
"These are the reckonings of the Mishkan" (Shemot 38:21)
The Mishkan and all of the holy vessels were completed. Moshe then told the Jewish people that he is going to present to them an exact account of how he used the materials that were donated. He sat down and gave a reckoning of every ounce of gold, silver and copper that was given. In the accounting of the silver, the total amount donated was 100 kikar (each kikar was 3000 shekels), plus 1750 shekels. The Midrash says that when Moshe tried to tell them where the silver was used, he was baffled. He couldn't remember where the 1775 shekels were used. 1775 shekels remained unaccounted for. Moshe was afraid he would be accused of embezzlement. Finally, a heavenly voice proclaimed that the 1775 shekels were used for the hooks (vavim) on the pillars. The pillars that surrounded the courtyard had silver hooks attached to them, which held the curtains in place between the pillars. Rabbi M. Sternbuch explains that Moshe actually knew about the hooks but felt that they weren't considered as part of the "building" of the Mishkan because the hooks were only used to steady the pillars so they stood properly. Hashem revealed to Moshe that those seemingly unimportant hooks which give stability to the building are a part of the building and must be counted. My friends, we cherish our shuls. We tend to give recognition and honor, as we should, to the "builders" of the shuls. What about the "hooks," the small guy that does those little things that stabilize the shul and keep it running smoothly? These people know who they are, and we thank you! Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim
"Moshe saw all the work and lo, they had accomplished it; as G-d had commanded, so they had done" (Shemot 39:43)
Moshe inspected all the work that had been completed, and he noted, as Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch describes, that the work bore two distinct characteristics. First, "asoo otah," it was "they" who had done it; every part, from the smallest to the largest, expressed their whole personality, their devotion, their spontaneous enthusiasm and the strength and the energies of the entire nation. Secondly, "ka'asher sivah Hashem ken asoo, as G-d had commanded, so they had done." Their zeal and enthusiasm in its sum total as well as in its every detail, had been subordinated completely to the commands of G-d. There had been no attempt on the part of any craftsman to bring his own ideas and his own individuality to bear upon the work by making additions or omissions. Rather, each and every one of the craftsmen had considered it his supreme accomplishment to execute obediently, and with scrupulous care and precision, not his own idea, but the ideas and the commandments of G-d. This free-willed, joyous obedience, this freedom in obedience and this obedience in freedom, which makes one most happily aware of one's own strength precisely by subordinating one's personality to the will of G-d - these constitute the most important characteristic of moral perfection in the deeds of the Jewish person. This is what characterizes a human being as "ebed Hashem - a servant of G-d." Shabbat Shalom.
BACK TO WORK
"Moshe saw all the work...And Moshe blessed them" (Shemot 39:43)
Moshe's blessing was "May Hashem's Divine Presence abide in the work of your hands"(Rashi). Why didn't Moshe say "in the Mishkan"? When the Jews were involved in the building of the Mishkan, Hashem delighted with His chosen people because they were in a lofty and exalted spirit. After the Mishkan was completed, they returned to their regular daily mundane activities. Undoubtedly, Moshe prayed that the Shechinah should be pleased with Klal Yisrael and dwell in the Mishkan. However, in addition, he also blessed the Jews that when they are involved in "ma'aseh yedechem" - their regular daily activities and preoccupations - even then they should conduct themselves in such a way to merit that the shechinah should feel comfortable to be among them. (Vedibarta Bam)
[After being told to anoint Aharon, Moshe was told in reference to Aharon's sons:] "And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father" (Shemot 40:15)
Rabbi Meir Simcha Hacohen explained that when Moshe was told to anoint his brother, Aharon, he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moshe, the younger brother, was the leader of the Israelites and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. But in reference to Aharon's sons, the situation was different. Moshe's own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So when it came to anointing Aharon's sons, Moshe might have felt envy. Therefore, Hashem told Moshe to anoint Aharon's sons with the same wholeheartedness and joy with which he anointed their father. It is amazing that Moshe would need a special command to overcome envy. We see from here that even the greatest person needs to internalize attitudes that will help him avoid envy. Moreover, we see that it is possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person's success even if that person has something that you do not. (Growth through Torah)
Answer to Pop Quiz: Itamar, the son of Aharon.
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