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FEBRUARY 11-12, 2005 3 ADAR I 5765

Pop Quiz: What metals were used in the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels?


"Make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in them." (Shemot 25:8)

The Midrash says on this pasuk that this is compared to a king who had an only daughter. Although he wanted her to marry, he couldn't bear to part from her. So he told his daughter, "Wherever you go, make me a room so I can be with you." So, too, Hashem said to the Jewish people, "Take my daughter, 'the Torah,' but make me a sanctuary to dwell amongst you."

When the great Rav Shach z"l saw this Midrash, he got so excited for days. He said: You see how great it is to learn Torah. You get to have Hashem with you. Hashem and the Torah are inseparable, and when one acquires Torah, he acquires a connection with G-d.

Let this be an inspiration to us to attach ourselves to the Torah and to Hashem. It will only bring us more berachah! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"You will cover it with pure gold from inside and outside you shall cover it." (Shemot 25:11)

Hashem commands Moshe to tell the Jewish nation to build the Mishkan, a beautiful Temple, to be used in the desert. Let me recount a story I read to make a very important point. Rabbi D. Kornbluth tells a true story about an American reporter during the 1984 Ronald Reagan election campaign.

The reporter had just done a long, critical analysis of Reagan's first term in office for a respected news magazine. The news piece included pictures of the President visiting a homeless shelter, while the journalist's corresponding text explains that Reagan has drastically reduced funding, and the number of homeless people has skyrocketed during his term in office. In the next picture, he shows the President happily shaking hands with Afro-Americans, while the reporter writes that the President has attacked affirmative action, and his popularity among Blacks has plummeted. The next picture shows the President with schoolchildren, while the reporter describes massive cuts in school funding. And so on... The reporter felt that the contradiction between the pictures and the facts as stated had put the honesty and credibility of Reagan's administration in serious question. He was sure that the White House would call him "a democrat" and "not a fair journalist," and that he would never be allowed to set foot in the White House again. Dreading the awaited phone call from the White House, he gets a call from the press secretary, who tells him, "I want to thank you for the article!" The reporter replies, "What! Did you see it? Why are you thanking me?" The press secretary chuckled, "You don't understand. People don't read anymore. People look at pictures. We are a visual society. You gave us golden images. We couldn't have paid for better publicity. We owe you one."

This story helps us understand a major idea of the Mishkan and the garments of the Kohanim. Sparkling gold and beautiful materials are very much emphasized. But why? Aren't we people who emphasize inner beauty? Doesn't Jewish thought teach us the importance of what is beyond the physical? The answer is that, thousands of years before the White House press office, the Torah was well aware of the importance of what we see. The color of the golden vessels in the Mishkan was reminiscent of the fiery revelation on Har Sinai. The vestments of the Kohen were meant to look royal and inspire awe. We are what we see. The eyes are the gateway to the heart. Thousands of studies now link viewing of violence to violent tendencies. Taking your family on a car trip through the neighborhoods to view wealthy people's homes causes jealousy. On the other hand, good sights are important. If our children see us give sedakah with a smile, if they see us learning Torah with joy, this becomes real to them. Chances are they will want to emulate us. The pen is mightier than the sword, but the picture outdoes them both. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And you shall overlay it [the Ark] with pure gold; inside and outside you shall overlay it" (Shemot 25:11)

Hizkuni writes that the Aron (Ark where the original Ten Commandments were placed), which consisted of a wooden layer sandwiched between two golden layers, should really have been made entirely of gold. The reason it was not was that it had to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites when the Children of Israel journeyed in the desert. If the Ark would have been made entirely of gold, it would have been heavier for the people who were responsible to carry it.

Even the holy Ark was made lighter than it might have been to lighten the burden of the Levites who had to carry it. We should learn from this to always try to alleviate the burden of our fellow men.

In his last years, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld rented a room in the Diskin Orphanage during the summer. His doctors advised him that the fresh air in that area was important for his health. Despite the fact that he was president of the orphanage, he insisted on paying rent and always stayed fewer than thirty days. During the last year of his life, he curtailed his stay at the orphanage and returned earlier than usual to his home in the Old City of Jerusalem. His family and doctors tried to persuade him to remain longer at the orphanage, but Rav Yosef Chayim refused.

When Rabbi Moshe Blau asked for an explanation, Rabbi Sonnenfeld replied, "You see yourself that I'm very old and my time is running out. I don't want to trouble the members of the burial society to carry me all the way from the orphanage to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. (It is customary in Jerusalem to carry the remains of prominent Torah scholars all the way to the cemetery without the use of any vehicles.) My own home is much closer. (Love Your Neighbor)


Question: Why is the letter ; (Feh sofit) not found in any Amidah (other than Musaf, where we need to mention the Musaf Korbanot)?

Answer: The letter ; is found in the names of the angels of destruction (///;db w;me w;t). We therefore avoid any reminder of them. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)


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)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Gold, silver and copper.

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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