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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26 - 6:13

FEBRUARY 19-20, 2010 6 ADAR 5770

Ta'anit Esther will be on Thursday, February 25.


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

The Mishkan was built from the most beautiful materials. The wood used for the Mishkan was shittim wood. Where did they get it? Rashi explains: "From where did they have shittim wood in the wilderness? Rabbi Tanhuma explained, our forefather Ya'akob foresaw through Divine inspiration that Israel was destined to build a Mishkan in the wilderness. He brought shittim trees (a type of cedar wood) to Egypt and planted them there, and he commanded his sons to take them with them when they departed from Egypt."

Ya'akob Abinu was worried about how they would obtain the wood necessary for the Mishkan in the desert. Why wasn't he worried about food and drink for those same people in the desert? Obviously, He was certain Hashem would provide all their material needs in the desert. But, if so, it only stood to reason that He would also provide them with lumber where no trees grew. Why then did Ya'akob Abinu plant trees in Egypt to take care of their future construction needs?

Rabbi Naftali Reich answers that the Mishkan was far more than a physical home for the Divine Presence in this world. It was also meant to symbolize the spiritual home each Jew constructed in his own heart and soul where Hashem would dwell. In this light we can understand why they had to bring their own lumber. In order for the Mishkan to retain its fullest meaning, it needed to come entirely from the Jewish people. It had to be an invitation from us to Hashem to come among us. Therefore, it would have been inappropriate to ask Hashem to provide the lumber for construction. Hashem could provide food and drink, but for Him to provide the lumber it would have diminished its symbolic significance.

In our own lives we find ourselves slipping into mechanical observance of the misvot. We need to be inspired. It would be a good idea to look into the temples of our hearts. Perhaps they have been neglected. The roof may have sprung a leak and the walls may be in need of repair. We should reaffirm our commitment to Hashem and our desire to have him dwell within us. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Make an Ark of cedar wood...and cover it with gold." (Shemot 25:10-11)

The Aron (Ark), which held the two Tablets in them, had to be made out of cedar wood and covered with gold from within and from without. Since this is one of the most important vessels in the Mishkan, shouldn't it be made totally out of gold? What is the significance of the wood between the layers of gold?

The answer is that the Torah must be kept in something wooden because wood is a substance which symbolizes growth. The scholar and the layman both must be like wood in the sense that they are constantly growing and improving. The gold covering symbolizes the midot, the character, which must be sterling and pure like the pure gold in the Mishkan, but the main substance which can hold the Torah is wood. The lesson for us is that no matter what our level of understanding is, we must try to increase our learning and be constantly on the move towards perfection. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And you shall make two Kerubim of gold." (Shemot 25:18)

Rashi explains that the Kerubim's face had the form of a child's face. We must endeavor to understand the rationale for selecting the face of a child from among the myriad of Hashem's creations as the basis of the Kerubim. Rabbi Meir Rubman z"l suggests that a child symbolizes an individual who strives to learn, one who does not yet feel accomplished, one who is always willing to listen, reflect, and accept guidance. He cites the Ba'al Haturim who states that the pasuk (Hoshea 11:1) "For Yisrael is a youth and I love him," alludes to the Kerubim. Hashem knows that Am Yisrael is like a "youth." Therefore, He loves us. When a youth transgresses, he is forgiven with the hope that as he matures he will be able to accept rebuke and will develop increased sensitivity.

Willingness to learn and accept direction is one of the necessary qualities of a Ben Torah. This concept may be noted from the Hebrew term used to describe a Torah scholar, "talmid hacham," a student of Torah wisdom. He distinguishes himself in his desire to continue learning, seeking to acquire greater knowledge of the Torah. A talmid hacham is one who has an overwhelming desire to involve his whole being in Torah scholarship. Perhaps this is why Yehoshua was chosen to assume the mantle of leadership over B'nei Yisrael. Although he was a grown man at the time, the Torah (Shemot 33:11) calls Yehoshua a "youth," since he had the attitude of a youth towards studying, molded by his teacher par excellence, Moshe. (Peninim on the Torah)


"I just can't seem to memorize this speech," Sarah complained.

"You have just got to keep repeating it," Deborah suggested. "Whenever I have to memorize something, I find I have to go over it about a hundred times before I get it."

"I must have read it fifty times already, and it still isn't sinking in," Sarah griped.

"Just reading it won't work," replied her friend. "You must repeat it out loud for it to penetrate your brain."

Memorizing anything takes a lot of work and a great deal of concentration. Reading something silently - even numerous times - may not yield success in memorization. However, articulating the words over and over again is like hammering a nail centimeter by centimeter into a piece of wood. This is true of a simple poem or even the most mundane phrase. And when it comes to principles of faith, to the words and ideals you would like to imprint on your soul, repetition - especially aloud - is necessary for successful indoctrination.

David Hamelech said, "I trust in the Lord; out of great suffering I spoke" (Tehillim 116:10). Some explain this to mean that faith becomes ingrained in a person's soul only when words of faith are spoken on a regular basis. During the day, busy as you may be, you should continue to utter words of faith:

"This could only take place if Hashem willed it."

"This beautiful tree was created by Hashem."

"Hashem is in control."

The fast-paced, modern, high-tech world we live in has many deterrents and obstacles which hinder people from developing true faith in Hashem. Once you have clarified for yourself that you are one of those who does believe in our Creator, you should start driving the point home to yourself by constant repetition out loud. This technique will not only help you remember this most important fact of life, but will also drive it into your heart so that your belief is solid and unwavering. (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)

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