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Haftarah: Melachim II 11:17 - 12:17

March 4-5, 2011 29 Adar I 5771

Rosh Hodesh Adar II will be celebrated on Sunday & Monday, March 6 & 7.


"As Hashem had commanded Moshe." (Shemot 40:21)

Our perashah relates how the Israelites, under the leadership of Besalel, completed the Mishkan. The Ba'al Haturim says that the Torah emphasizes that every aspect of the construction and assembly of the Mishkan was done precisely as Hashem commanded Moshe. In fact, the phrase "as Hashem commanded Moshe" is used eighteen times in our Parashah of Pekudei. As there are no coincidences in the Torah, the Ba'al Haturim explains that this number alludes to the eighteen blessings of the Amidah that we say three times a day.

Rabbi Ozer Alport gives us a beautiful insight into the comment of the Ba'al Haturim. Besalel was put in charge of the construction because he had Divine wisdom and expert craftsmanship skills. We are accustomed to viewing artists as free-thinking and creative spirits that value self-expression over adherence to strict guidelines. Now some of the specifications of the Mishkan weren't absolute and even some deviations wouldn't invalidate it. Therefore, one might have expected Besalel, with his "artistic spirit," to improvise and try to "improve" upon Hashem's blueprint. Therefore, the Torah stresses that he followed each and every instruction down to the smallest detail.

Similarly, many people today complain that they feel constrained by the standard text of our daily prayers, which was established 2000 years ago. They feel our daily prayers should change as our needs change. But the Ba'al Haturim, by comparing the Mishkan to our prayers, is suggesting on a deeper level that we shouldn't feel that way. Repeating the same phrases allows great expression, as the following story illustrates.

Once, a student of Rabbi Yeheskel Abramsky told him about a friend who had to undergo surgery for a kidney transplant. The Rabbi sighed and said, "I pray every day that I shouldn't be forced to undergo such a procedure." The student was surprised that the Rabbi made a special prayer every day. The Rabbi said that this prayer is included in the Birkat Hamazon said daily. We ask that we don't come to need "matanot basar vadam - gifts of flesh and blood" (such as transplants!). The student protested that the Rabbi's interpretation is not the simple meaning of the words. It means, monetary gifts from human beings ("flesh and blood"). The Rabbi explained that the Sages incorporated every need we may have into the text of the standard prayers. Anytime we can "read in" a special request we have into the words is also included in the original intention of the prayer.

Just as Besalel followed Hashem's precise guidelines for the creation of the Mishkan and still found room for creative expression, by doing so with his own unique intentions and insights, so did our Sages when they established the standard wording of the prayers with Divine inspiration, articulating within them every feeling we wish to express. Sometimes we have a difficult situation and when we pray we find a new interpretation of the words we say every day. This new-found meaning we found was there all along waiting for us to discover it, in our time of need. 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


"And Besalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehudah" ?(Shemot 38:22)

The Midrash explains the Torah's reason for citing Besalel's grandfather, Hur, when enumerating his lineage. Hur was slain during the incident involving the golden calf as a result of his opposition to the calf. The construction of the Mishkan through Hur's grandson atoned for the guilt of Hur's death. Besalel was the recipient of many wonderful family qualities. He was also the great-grandson of Moshe's sister, Miriam. As a reward for her fear of Hashem which prompted her to disobey Pharaoh's order to murder the Jewish babies, she was blessed with a descendant who knew how and was worthy of building the Mishkan. This attribute of willingness to sacrifice oneself for Hashem was a vital part of Besalel's personality. Perhaps the Torah mentions Hur to state an even greater degree of self-sacrifice on the part of Besalel. He grew up with a deep sense of awareness of his grandfather's dedication and act of self-sacrifice to sanctify Hashem's Name. When Besalel was selected to be the one to build the Mishkan, which was to serve as an atonement for the sin of the golden calf, during which his beloved grandfather was murdered, there was no quandary in his mind regarding his acceptance of this position. There were no feelings of remorse or resentment, no sense of revenge. The ability to cope with these feelings, to be able to apply himself fully to Hashem's service, trusting with complete faith in Hashem and His commandments, is true self-sacrifice. This was but another aspect of his lineage of nobility that was an inherent part of his personality. (Peninim on the Torah)


Parents have come to realize that when it comes to education, school is only part of the total picture; the home environment is also crucial to the growth of young intellects. Mothers and fathers spend millions of dollars annually to provide their offspring with educational toys, trips to museums, and interactive science and technology presentations. The media, never passing up an opportunity to cash in on consumer wants, have created a market for a variety of educational toys, games, books, and periodicals. They have also made it fashionable to be up to date on the latest television programming. Recent studies have shown, however, that TV programming fails to deliver as advertised. Psychological tests have proven that the child who watches educational programming is less successful than children who are "deprived" of such educational offerings. The reason, they conclude, is that non-active involvement yields no fruit. "Interactive" is today's buzzword.

Adults, too, must realize the value of working to grow in any area of their lives. When it comes to physical development, the slogan is: "No pain - no gain." The same is true with any self-help program. Just sitting back and listening to an expert will yield nothing at the end of the day. You have to accept responsibility, carry the burden, and do the work yourself.

You might sometimes feel that your spouse, your manager - or anyone else - should be able to do a job without your involvement. But they seem to be having trouble getting started. Consider whether it is time to intervene. It only takes a little enthusiasm to roll up your sleeves and begin the job yourself. The sweat and toil - mental or physical - that you expend will yield treasures that you will own for years to come. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

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.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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