Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 34:8-22, 33:25-26
JANUARY 25-26, 2013 24 SHEBAT 5774
"From every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion." (Shemot 25:2)
When the Jewish nation left Egypt at the time of the Exodus, they left with great wealth, which the Egyptians themselves gave them. Later, at the splitting of the Red Sea, great wealth from the dead Egyptians washed ashore. This wealth was even greater than what they had taken from the Egyptians earlier.
The Hatam Sofer (quoted by Rabbi D. Staum) notes that there was a significant difference in the interest the Jews displayed when collecting the wealth at the time of the Exodus and the eagerness with which they gathered the wealth at the Red Sea. In Egypt, Moshe Rabenu implored the nation to ask for and accept the wealth of the Egyptians. At that time the Jews were happy just to be leaving alive; they were not focused on wealth.
At the sea, however, they were already removed from a slave mentality and viewed the wealth differently. In that case Moshe Rabenu had to coax them away from the spoils that were continuously washing ashore.
Whereas the wealth of Egypt was granted to them even though they were not searching for it, at the sea they were excited about the wealth and scooped it up eagerly.
The Hatam Sofer asserts that from the spoils of Egypt they constructed the Mishkan, the resting place of the Shechinah (Hashem's Presence), whereas from the spoils of the sea they contributed to the construction of the golden calf. King Solomon in Mishlei (20:21) says, "If an inheritance is seized hastily in the beginning, its end will not be blessed." That is essentially what occurred at the edge of the sea. They grabbed at the wealth with gusto, and the end result of that acquisition of wealth was disaster.
This idea is relevant to us living in the affluent society of the West. We see around us an insatiable desire to accumulate more and more - pleasures, money, vacations, aesthetics, and so on. Amassing the pleasures and luxuries of life drains our ability to seek more from other more important areas of life. The motivation for our pursuits plays a vital and clear role in the outcome of our efforts. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
Our sages were able to derive beautiful and practical lessons from the Mishkan and the utensils therein. The Hatam Sofer quotes his Rabbi, R' Nosson Adler who said that the Aron (Ark) symbolizes Torah study in this world. The Luhot (Tablets) it contained represented Torah, the Cherubim symbolized its students and the poles (badim) which were used to carry the Aron symbolized its supporters.
Let us develop this analogy further. The two Cherubim faced each other, underscoring the respect scholars afforded each other. At the same time, the Cherubim's faces were directed toward the Cover of the Aron containing the Tablets. This suggests that whatever differences may arise in scholars' interpretations of the Torah, those differences are based on each scholar's genuine attempt to interpret the Torah, as contained in the Tablets behind the Cover.
The poles of the Ark symbolize the supporters of the Torah, those who provide the financial wherewithal for the Torah's students. It is particularly significant that the poles were not functional. They remained in a stationary position, attached to the Aron even when it was resting. This teaches us that those who perceive that they are upholding the Torah are in reality being upheld by it. The poles did not support the Aron; the Aron upheld the poles. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
Life can be very frustrating. It seems that as soon as you solve one problem, you are faced with yet another difficulty. How to cope is a question that keeps the psychiatrists' appointment books filled with the names of anxious patients.
Patience is in short supply. One of the main causes of a person "losing it" is an inability to deal with a problem. When confronted with a new obstacle, some people break down and cry, while others simply shudder in frustration at the thought of failing to resolve the issue that they face.
The best amongst us view every problem as an opportunity. A problem, they feel, is a chance to spin an otherwise negative situation into a positive one at the end of the day. So what is the difference between the person who "loses it" and the one who sees a problem as an opportunity?
Well, those who just can't handle it are probably impatient souls, who, when confronted with a difficulty, start to unravel simply because they do not see a simple, immediate solution. They have no patience. On the other hand, people who view challenges as an opportunity see no immediate solution but have a positive attitude and know that for every difficulty there is a solution. They patiently seek the answer. If they themselves cannot think of an answer, they ask friends and experts for their opinions. They network patiently, and with each response to their questions, the solution becomes clearer and the light at the end of the tunnel, brighter.
It is inevitable that you, too, will be hit with life's unavoidable curve balls. When that happens, remember that there is a solution out there with which you can live. Patiently start the process of finding the answer. Go through the possibilities yourself, and then begin to network with friends, family, and experts on the subject. It takes a little patient contemplation to decide that a problem is an opportunity - but it will yield many profitable solutions as a result of your patient approach. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
The saintly Rosh Yeshivah of Ponevezh, Horav Elazar Menachem Shach, z"l,, was an individual to whom Torah study was life itself. Though aged and physically weak, he received strength and succor from the time spent with his precious sefarim. Every line of Talmud, Rambam, Rishonim added strength to his frail body.
One day, a prominent mechanech, Torah educator, visited and presented the Rosh Yeshivah with a difficult request. As an educator who via his educational programs came in contact with students from many yeshivot in Bnei Brak, he was able to organize a siyum Mishnayot, completion of the entire Mishnah, which would be attended by thousands of youngsters from the area. The siyum was to be held in a hall adjacent to the yeshivah. Was there any way the Rosh Yeshivah could attend? No speeches, no fanfare - just to walk in and grant the children the treat of seeing the gadol hador, preeminent Torah leader of the generation. It would mean so much to them and would be remembered their entire lives. Rav Shach apologized profusely, saying that he was simply physically exhausted. The Rosh Yeshivah was a centenarian upon whom every step took its toll. The mechanech felt bad, but understood that it was simply too much for Rav Shach.
After the gentleman left, Rav Shach turned to Rav Toib, his close confident and sort of aide, and asked him if he "agreed" with his decision not to attend the function. Out of deep reverence, Rav Toib hesitated, but, then respectfully said, "I must tell the truth, but I wish to do so by relating a story." The Rosh Yeshivah agreed to listen.
"My father-in-law, Rav Michel Fried, survived the horrors of the European Holocaust. He lost everything - family and physical possessions. His world as he once knew it was gone. Despite the tremendous losses and mind-numbing emotional pain, he retained his strong emunah, faith, in the Almighty. I once asked him how he was able to persevere in his faith after all that he had suffered. So many others had weakened; what kept him going?"
He replied that as a child, the venerable sage of Radin, the Hafess Hayim, visited his village, and the entire community went out to greet the great Kohen Gadol. "My father lifted me so that I could gaze at his radiant face and look into his piercing eyes. From that moment on, that image was seared into my mind," his father-in-law said. He would never forget that image of holiness and splendor. His countenance stood before him during the most bitter and lonesome moments, when all was dark and gloomy. That image pulled him from the depths and gave him the strength to look forward with hope to the next day.
Rav Shach listened intently to the story. He remained deep in thought for a moment, and then the elderly Rosh Yeshivah arose from his chair, donned his frock and hat, and went out to see the children. (Peninim on the Torah)
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