FEBRUARY 7-8, 2003 6 ADAR I, 5763
"They shall make a Sanctuary for Me - so that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25:8)
Hashem commands the Israelites, who traveled the desert before entering the land of Israel, to build the Mishkan - the Temple. The Mishkan was to serve as the dwelling place of the Shechinah, which is the Divine Presence of Hashem. Our Sages study the above verse and note that the word "betocham -in them" - is seemingly the wrong word. It should have said "betocho - in it." But, the Sages explain that this change is to teach us that not only does the Shechinah dwell in the Mishkan, it also will dwell in each individual Jew and in each Jewish home. If a Jew makes the proper setting, the Shechinah dwells in each home and in the heart of each Jew. How can you tell if there is holiness in a home? Rabbi David Orlofsky explains that the holiness of the home is difficult to detect, unless you are on a high enough level to sense holiness. But, it is a place where you feel comfortable and at ease. It is a place where the people who live there enjoy a peace, happiness and harmony that make it seem to be one of the nicest places in the world. How can we introduce more happiness into our homes? There are four practical things to do.
1. Smile - It sounds simplistic, but the simple effort of putting a smile on our face can make a tremendous difference in the world around us. Now what should you do if you have a bad day? Focus on the fact that every day is a good day, it is just that some days you have to work harder to realize it.
2. Talk softly - To a child, yelling and screaming often feels like a slap. It is actually worse, because the sting of words can stay with children longer than the sting of a slap. If you are getting upset, either walk away or force yourself to speak softly.
3. Take pride - enjoy your children, be proud of them. Enjoy your children as people; take joy in their interests and accomplishments. Take a strong interest in whatever they are telling us or playing with.
4. Look at the big picture - don't get caught up in the details of our lives, and miss what's really important. Is it wise to spend time to prepare extra dessert for Shabbat, and run the clock down to the wire on Friday? Or would the time be better spent in creating a calm atmosphere in our homes as Shabbat approaches?
We need to make an effort to make ourselves into happy people and our homes into places of love and contentment. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Cedar wood, standing erect" (Shemot 26:15)
We were told to take cedar wood trees for use in the Mishkan as beams. The word "omdim" is taken by the Midrash to mean "standing forever", that the beams and all components of the Mishkan will never fall into foreign hands. Even when not in use, they will be hidden until the great revelation, and they will then be put in use again! Why did these objects merit to be safeguarded from all our enemies while the two Batei Mikdash did not have this zechut?
The Rabbis tell us that to give for the Mishkan or the Temple is really not necessary since Hashem owns all the gold and silver in the world. He can construct anything He wants. In fact, the third Temple will come down from Heaven already built! The reason He wants us to build it is that He wants our hearts and souls behind the actual giving! Hashem desires to see if we will carry out His will and the attitude in the giving makes the donation last forever. Moshe and Bnei Yisrael were able to give with all their hearts and souls so their donations lasted forever.
We are a most generous community. We give and give, Baruch Hashem, for many causes. We have to make sure that if we're giving anyway, we should give with our hearts. Our attitude should be positive and we should especially not cause grief to the one collecting by making him wait and come back again and again! If we're going to give anyway, let us give in a way which will make our donations last forever!
Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"You shall make an Ark...a Table...a Menorah" (Shemot 25:10,23,31)
Why are the items for the Mishkan listed in this order?
In the pesukim concerning the making of the Ark, every letter of the alef-bet is used except gimel. An explanation for this is that "gimel" in Hebrew alludes to "gemul" which means "reward" (Shabbat 104a). Since the Ark represents Torah study, the gimel is omitted to emphasize that one should not study Torah to receive a reward.
The Table and the bread on it represent material affluence. The Menorah represents spiritual light and warmth.
The order in which these three items are listed in the Torah conveys an important lesson. When one learns Torah leshem Shamayim - without anticipation of personal gain, but only to fulfill Hashem's command - eventually he will be rewarded with a Table and Menorah - material and spiritual abundance. (Vedibarta Bam)
"Cover [the Ark] with a layer of pure gold on the inside and outside" (Shemot 25:11)
The Talmud states (Yoma 72b) that this verse symbolizes that a Torah scholar must be pure inside as well as outside to be considered a Talmid Hacham. That is, just as the Ark which symbolized Torah knowledge had gold on both the inside and outside, so too a Torah scholar is not someone who just speaks wisdom on the outside, but he must also internalize his wisdom and live with it.
There have been many intellectuals throughout the ages who have espoused profound philosophical ideals. They have expressed the most elevated thoughts of universal love for humanity. But in their own private lives they have been arrogant and cared only for their ideas, but not for the people with whom they actually had to deal on a daily basis. This is not the Torah concept of a Talmid Hacham. To be considered a true Torah scholar and not merely someone who carries a lot of book knowledge with him, one must practice the lofty ideals that he speaks about. This has held true for all our revered Torah scholars both in ancient and modern times.
Whenever you speak about lofty thoughts, ask yourself whether you really experience them. Do you actually follow the principles you speak about? If not, do not stop speaking about those ideals, but elevate your behavior. (Growth through Torah)
Question: In Lecha Dodi there are paragraphs which discuss Shabbat and paragraphs which discuss Mashiah. What is the connection?
Answer: If the Jewish people would observe two Shabbat days properly, they will immediately be redeemed with the coming of the Mashiah. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
This week's perashah discusses the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. The walls of the Mishkan were made of large planks of acacia wood. Rashi, quoting Midrash Tanhumah, teaches that Ya'akob Abinu foresaw that B'nei Yisrael would need to build a Mishkan in the desert. Knowing that they would not be able to find wood in the desert, he planted trees while they were living in Egypt, and instructed his children to bring the trees with them when they would leave.
There are many instances where the previous generations took measures to ensure the success of the generations that would follow. In particular, our parents and grandparents who left their home country to start a new life in America made countless sacrifices to guarantee our future success as observant Jews. We must always appreciate their sacrifices, and see to it that their efforts were not in vain. At the same time, it is up to us to lay the groundwork for our children and grandchildren to follow the path of the Torah.
Question: Name some people who have given of themselves to guarantee your success and the success of the Jewish community? What are you doing to further the cause?
This Week's Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26 - 6:13.
Our perashah describes the Mishkan and everything that goes into it. B'nei Yisrael volunteer and contribute whatever they can to participate in this great event.
Our Haftarah describes the building of the first Bet Hamikdash. Now that the Jews have established themselves in the land, they need a permanent structure for G-d to reside in. The Temple was built by King Solomon, who spared no expense to make it a glorious house for G-d. (Tell it from the Torah)
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