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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26 - 6:13

FEBRUARY 23-24. 2006 6 ADAR 5767

Ta'anit Esther (the fast of Esther) will be on Thursday, March 1.

Pop Quiz: How tall were the beams of the Mishkan?


"They shall make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them." (Shemot 25:8)

With the exception of the tragic incident of the Golden Calf, the rest of the book of Exodus is devoted to the preparation and the building of the Mishkan, the dwelling place of Hashem's Presence (Shechinah) in the desert. The Ramban explains that the redemption from Egypt was not complete with the physical departure from the land of enslavement. The revelation at Mt. Sinai was the goal of the redemption. But it wasn't complete even with the giving of the Ten Commandments. The spiritual goals were achieved permanently with the building of the Mishkan. The Ramban compares the different components of the Mishkan with the different components of the revelation at Mt. Sinai.

Rabbi Yonatan Eibshutz explains that the acceptance of the Torah by the Jews at Mt. Sinai was not total, and was acquired later by means of the service in the Mishkan. This is evident with the sin of the Golden Calf - that with their first opportunity to show their acceptance, they failed. What went wrong at Mt. Sinai? According to Rabbi Eibshutz, the Israelites had everything handed to them on a platter. They did not have to work for it, and therefore they took it less seriously. They would have to work for their Divine service. When they build the Mishkan, this would bring back the experience of the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Each would have to make a contribution, and not a fixed tax either. It must come from the heart.

There is a lesson to be learned here. People often ask, "What can I get out of such and such a misvah?" The answer is clear. You can get out of a misvah only what you put into it. Years ago, our synagogue started in private homes in our neighborhood. It was great, yet as a long term solution, there was something missing. That something was a building dedicated to prayer - a shul. And a shul will only prosper to the extent that each member contributes to it - not just annual dues, but something more - a personal commitment to the shul's welfare.

As the world says, "Put your money where your mouth is." Of course, it's not always the money that counts. The investment of time, effort and dedication to a misvah is more important than money. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"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 ??? 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


"And they shall make an Aron of shittim wood" (Shemot 25:10)

B'nei Yisrael were enjoined to build the Aron Hakodesh prior to the Mishkan itself. Why was this? Rabbi M. Gifter suggests the following reason for this. The Aron, which held the Torah, represents the Torah as the foundation of our people. Because we have the Torah, Hashem chooses to rest the Divine Presence on our midst. Consequently, we must orient our priorities in accordance with the Torah.

Rabbi Gifter notes that the Aron was built even prior to the Mizbeah, Altar. The Mizbeah denotes sacrifice and its derivative, mesirat nefesh, self-sacrifice for Hashem and His misvot. He explains that only through Torah can the parameters of mesirat nefesh be clearly defined. The clarity of vision which evolves from total Torah study and scholarship structures one's perspective concerning self-sacrifice. Without Torah's guidance, intelligence and reason give way to the irrational and absurd. Thus, self-sacrifice can become an act of murder and destruction.

This idea may be extended to all areas of endeavor. The Torah perspective must guide all of activity, even concerning misvot which are "humanitarian" in nature. Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Katz used to explain the Mishnah in Peah, which crowns Torah study above all misvot, including wonderful acts of loving-kindness. The Mishnah enumerates many noble misvot, such as honoring parents, doing acts of kindness, coming to the Bet Midrash on time, and visiting the sick. It ends with the phrase, "Vetalmud Torah keneged kulam - and Torah study is equal to all." The word "keneged" is actually translated as "opposite" rather than equal.

In light of this, Rabbi Katz explains that every misvah must be "held up" opposite and performed in light of the Torah. Torah must mold the personality and total perspective of a Jew. His philosophy of life must coincide with the Torah's philosophy of life! Only then does he satisfy the mandate of "Vetalmud Torah keneged kulam." (Peninim on the Torah)


"And they shall make an Aron of shittim wood…and you shall cover it with pure gold from within and without." (Shemot 25:10,11)

Although in the eyes of the beholder, the Aron appeared to be made completely of gold, it is a well known fact that this was only an overlay. The Aron was made of wood, sandwiched between outer and inner layers of gold. This seems enigmatic. It would be appropriate that this most sublime vessel, which housed the Torah, consist entirely of gold. Certainly gold would more readily reflect the magnificence and majesty of Hashem. Rabbi David Feinstein, who raises this question, offers the following lesson to be derived from this "wooden" Aron. Wood is a living substance which grows and reproduces. In contrast, gold, which captivates its beholder with its beauty, is inanimate. Which one would make a more suitable repository for the Torah?

The Torah was given to human beings, who are made of flesh and blood. They are subject to the seductive influence of their yeser hara, evil inclination, and must exert amazing strength to avoid falling prey to its constant blandishments. Nonetheless, this is life. One must live and grow in order to overcome these obstacles. Thus, a wooden Aron teaches us that the Torah, a tree of life, was not to be contained by the cold inert gold, regardless of its beauty. Rather, the Torah was given to living, breathing, growing human beings in order to enable them to attain eternal life.

Why then, asks Rabbi Feinstein, is the Aron covered from within and without with gold? The answer is that while a Torah scholar is subject to the same weaknesses as others, he must, nonetheless, attempt to purify himself to the greatest extent possible. Although he is human, he should aspire to reach the purity of an angel. Thus, the gold is also within to teach us that, even in privacy, a ben Torah should be pure. In the innermost parts of his private life, he should mirror the virtue he has achieved through Torah study. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Ten amot.

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)

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