MARCH 11-12, 2005 1 ADAR II 5765
"These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of testimony." (Shemot 38:21)
As I sit in my hotel room in Jerusalem, I face the Old City wall, a truly beautiful sight. Many thoughts come to mind as I put pen to paper. Many members of our shul completed the Shas (Talmud Babli) and celebrated the siyum in Madison Square Garden. Now in Israel, one cannot help being overwhelmed by its holiness. As one looks at the Old City, one is reminded of the Bet Hamikdash that stood in its full glory. Let's relate to this with a little anecdote.
If we would be approached by a friend who asked how we were doing, most of us would respond, "Baruch Hashem, I am fine. I have a roof over my head, a loving family, livelihood is a struggle but I manage. I have food to eat, clothes to wear." If you friend would ask, "Do you have any requests of Hashem?" you would probably respond, "Of course, I would ask for good health, long life, wealth, happiness," and the list would go on and on. However, we would probably miss the most important request.
The book Shaare Armon gives a parable to illustrate the point. Once there was a wealthy businessman who ran his business and household with great success. However, he fell on hard times and every venture and investment turned sour. The smile left his lips. One day, he was about to travel to his usual trade show, and his wife told him to stay home. She logically explained that he was having hard luck now, and he should refrain from buying goods that will only bring more losses. Stay home and we will live on our savings. He listened to his wife and stayed home until the savings were finished. His wife then told him, "Now it is time to travel and buy." "How?" he asked his wife. "I have no money left. If I would have traveled before, I would have had some money to buy goods." She answered, "On the contrary. Before, you would have lost the money because your luck was bad. Now we hit rock bottom and things might change. I will pawn my jewelry and give you the money to invest." The good husband followed her advice. She pawned her jewelry and he began working again. Sure enough, things turned around and he had tremendous success. The business grew to levels greater than before and the standard of living in the house was better than ever. His smile returned to his lips. One day the wife asked, "Are you happy?" He responded, "Of course!" She began to cry and said, "What good is all of this happiness?" He was completely confused. After all, he had followed every word of her advice with tremendous success. She cried out, "How can you be happy? All of my jewelry, my rings, my bracelets, my diamonds are all in the pawn shop and you forgot all about them!"
His smile vanished and he was shocked that he could forget the sacrifices his wife made, how difficult it was for her to part from her jewelry, and he was so absorbed in his own happiness.
In the past, we were wealthy with both physical and spiritual wealth. We had prophets and the great Sanhedrin. We had Kohanim and Leviim serving in the Bet Hamikdash. However, due to our sins, we lost it all. Hashem saw the depth of our sins and took his crown, his jewelry, the Bet Hamikdash, and "pawned" it for our sake. The pasuk reads ?Eleh pekudei hamishkan, mishkan ha'edut."??Our Sages interpret this to mean that Hashem pawned (from the word "mashkon" - collateral) the Bet Hamikdash twice, taking his anger out on the stones of the Bet Hamikdash instead of on us, and kept us alive. We have gone through terrible exiles. Now the sun shines on us again and our smile returns. Baruch Hashem, we have our necessities. We also have spirituality. We pray every day. We learn Torah every day. We perform misvot. But we forget that Hashem's crown is still pawned. The Bet Hamikdash is still destroyed.
On this Shabbat of Parashat Pekudei Hamishkan, let us lift our eyes toward redemption and pray for the rebuilding of Hashem's crown. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"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. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"A cloud of G-d was on the Mishkan by day and fire used to be over it by night...throughout their journeys" (Shemot 40:38)
This is the concluding pasuk of Sefer Shemot. What parallel can be drawn between the closing and opening passages of Humash Shemot?
"Day" represents the good times and happy periods the Jewish people experience. "Night" is an allusion to gloomy and difficult times that may, G-d forbid, confront us. The Torah assures us that throughout all our travels, regardless if things are shining for us or G-d forbid the reverse, clouds of Hashem and heavenly fire protect us to guarantee our safety and survival.
Humash Shemot begins with the journey of the Jewish people down to Egypt, which was one of the darker periods in our history. Knowing that Hashem's watchful eye is with the Jewish people throughout "all their journeys" helped them survive the ordeal of slavery.
Another way to link the end and beginning of Shemot may be the following: In the beginning of Humash Shemot the Torah relates how the daughter of Pharaoh saved Moshe when he was placed in a little box on the waters. On the pasuk "vatishlah et amatah - she stretched out her arm" (2:5) Rashi says, Hashem miraculously elongated it and it was able to reach the box.
In the concluding perashah of Humash Shemot we learn that when the Mishkan was completed, no one was able to stand it up due to the weight of the boards. It was brought to Moshe and he, too, was puzzled: how could he possibly pick it up? Hashem told him, "Put your hand to it and then it will stand up by itself" (Rashi 39:33).
The lesson which we are taught in the beginning and end of this Humash is that when something has to be accomplished, we should not become disillusioned and frightened because it seems difficult or impossible. If we make an honest effort to do the utmost, Hashem will bless us with success and the impossible will become a reality. (Vedibarta Bam)
Question: Why do the Kohanimi wash their hands before Birkat Kohanim? Answer: This is in fulfillment of the verse, "Se'u yedechem kodesh ubarchu et Hashem -Raise you hands in holiness and bless Hashem." (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)
This week's Haftarah: Melachim II 11:17 - 12:17.
The regular haftarah for this week speaks about the construction of the First Bet Hamikdash by King Shelomo. This parallels the construction of the Mishkan which is discussed in this week's perashah.
However, since this week is Shabbat Shekalim, a special maftir is read. We read about King Yehoyada, a righteous king who did away with the idols that the people had been worshiping. He instituted a system to collect funds for the repair and fortification of the Bet Hamikdash. This section contains a reference to the half-shekel contribution that each person was required to bring every year, which is also the theme of the special maftir which we read this week.
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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