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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26-6:13

FEBRUARY 24-25, 2012 2 ADAR 5772


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

As we begin to study the interesting subject of the Mishkan in the desert, we are told of the two Cherubim. These are two angelic forms of pure gold. These two statues are part of the Kaporet, the cover of the Aron, the Ark that contains the two tablets. The Cherubim have large wings that spread over the entire Ark of the Torah.

What do these two Cherubim represent? Rabbi Shimshon Pincus z"l explains that these Cherubim symbolize the relationship between us, the Jewish people, and Hashem. As we know, the concept of the existence of Hashem is not an exclusively Jewish concept. The nations of the world know and acknowledge the existence of Hashem. On every American dollar it says, "In G-d we trust." Any thinking person who opens his eyes to look will see the existence of Hashem. Judaism, however, introduces a new concept. In the heart of mankind, it is difficult to conceive that there is a personal connection between man and Hashem. The gap between man and Hashem is too great. Jews, however, differ and say that Hashem dwells in the heart of man. It is possible to have a connection with Him, even speak directly to Him through prayer, when we say blessings and when we study Torah.

Furthermore, Hashem loves His Jewish nation with a great love, "Ahabat Olam," and we and Hashem are like a married couple! Therefore, one Cherub represents us and one represents Hashem. But, the most amazing part of this is that the two are equal. In Shir Hashirim we and Hashem are described as twins (5:2). In what way can we possibly be equal to Hashem?

Take, for example, the great Ben Ish Hai. He was a genius, a holy man and a great kabbalist. Imagine if his little son comes to him to ask him for some little thing. He will tell the child to ask his mother. He is a gaon, he knows the entire Torah, he fasted for forty years. His wife, as great as she was, was not functioning with him on these levels. But, the boy must ask Mommy. Because when she married him she became the one in charge of the house and in this realm they are like "twins." What is the bond of marriage? It is the love between them, and that is the love between us and Hashem. All this is represented by the Cherubim. It takes some doing but it is possible for us to feel this love and get close to Hashem. 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


The Keli Yakar teaches that if we study the dimensions of the various items in the Tabernacle, we can learn some valuable lessons. Three items in particular which he discusses are the Aron (Ark), Shulhan (Table) and Mizbah Hazahab (Golden Altar).

The Aron was 2-1/2 by 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 amot (handbreadths). Note that all three dimensions are 'broken' (no one side is a whole number). Since the Aron represents spirituality, this teaches us that one must always look at himself as if he is only half-way there spiritually. He should never feel as if he's reached his goal and there is no room for improvement. He will then always strive to grow in Torah and misvah observance.

The Shulhan, which represents all the material blessings from Hashem was two amot by one amah by 1-1/2 amot. From the 'whole' sides, we learn that each person must be satisfied with the amount of blessing which Hashem has given him. He must believe that he has everything he needs, and that he lacks nothing. At the same time, the 'broken' side teaches that a person should not seek to fulfill all his desires. Rather, he should try to 'break' his hunger for material things.

The Mizbeah's three dimensions were complete: one amah by one amah by two amot. The purpose of the Mizbeah was to atone for the sins of the people. Hence, it filled in what was lacking in them. The smoke which rose up from the incense on the Mizbeah repaired the damage to the soul and made it complete again. (Lekah Tob)


Some time back, our synagogue was graced with a visit by our Chief Rabbi from Israel. Before the reception, several members of the synagogue's executive committee, some local Rabbis, and a few of the more community-active members of the neighborhood sat in a small meeting room with the distinguished guest. We were all very pleasantly surprised by the man's personable, unassuming manner.

When the ba'al koreh (Torah reader) was introduced, the Chief Rabbi asked him, "Are you a good reader?"

Slightly taken aback, my flushed friend replied, "I try to do my best every Shabbat."

The Chief Rabbi then inquired, "What do you do when the people yell out a correction when you make a mistake?"

"I go back and read it correctly and smile to let everyone know that I am appreciative of their constructive criticism. Then when Shabbat is over, I mark my practice book with the mistakes I made that week so that next year, when I read the same portion, I will take special care not to repeat them," answered my friend.

The Chief Rabbi smiled and stretched out his hand for my friend to kiss and get a special blessing. "You are an excellent Torah reader," said our illustrious guest.

Everyone makes mistakes. We are all human and imperfect. Even someone who is extremely cautious will sometimes err. Whether the subject is sports, business, intellectual pursuits, or spiritual growth, no one is exempt from an occasional error. Our Sages teach us that a saddik falls seven times and gets up each time to continue on the path to perfection.

When you slip up - don't cover up, deny, or ignore your mistake. Put your error to positive use by taking steps to learn from it and move forward. This honest approach will help you improve daily to become an "excellent reader." (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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