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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26-6:13

FEBRUARY 20-21, 2015 2 ADAR 5775


"From every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion."

With the exception of the tragic incident of the Golden Calf, the rest of the book of Shemot is devoted to the preparations for and the construction of the Mishkan. Everything was to be given voluntarily. So anxious were the people to have a share in creating a resting place for the Shechinah, that those in charge of the work had to appeal to Moshe to order a halt to the contributions. Their hearts were truly motivated. The Torah implies that this feeling was the key element of this entire project.

A true story is told about the Vilna Gaon. Once he visited a very wealthy man to ask him for a donation for an important charity. The wealthy man responded with a halachic question. "Is it permitted for me to give charity? I am deeply in debt, much more than I am worth, and all the money I have is borrowed from others." The Rabbi didn't even have a chance to answer when suddenly the local tailor arrived at the house. He was delivering a most expensive suit of clothing that he had made for the "wealthy man"! The Rabbi asked, "If it is true as you say, why did you buy such an expensive suit with other people's money?" The rich man answered that he purchased this suit also on credit. The Rabbi commented, "A pasuk in Yirmiyahu describes what you are doing: 'Your dwelling is amid deceit, through deceit they refuse to know Me - the words of Hashem' (Yirmiyahu 9:5). All of your actions are deceitful, but when it comes to charity you suddenly become an honorable man."

Quite often it happens that when a person experiences a decline in his wealth or business the first sacrifice is the charity, and the standard of living remains high. However, the Torah describes the donations to the Mishkan that their hearts were motivated. If a person's heart is motivated, the charity is the last sacrifice. Baruch Hashem our community is well-known for its truly generous heart. 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 k"z 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


"v'tzipisa ohso zahav tahor mibayis u'michutz titzapenu"

"And you shall cover it with pure gold - on the inside and on the outside you shall cover it." (Shemot 25:11)

The Gemara tells us that Besalel made three Arks - a golden Ark for the outside, another golden Ark for the inside, and a wooden Ark in the middle.

What was the point in putting wood in the middle? Since there was gold on the inside and gold on the outside, surely the Ark could have been made of one big solid gold piece? The Da'at Zekenim answers very simply that if it would have been totally made of gold, it would have been too heavy to carry.

From here we see an incredible insight into Hashem's attitude towards holiness. The Ark, which was the holiest object in the Mishkan and contained the broken tablets that Hashem Himself had created, together with the tablets that Moshe carved, was constructed with a layer of wood instead of gold to avoid causing undue difficulty to those who would have to carry it. The message from this is clear; even when it comes to holiness and religious devotion, one must always consider how is actions will affect people around him.

This message was truly epitomized in the latter years of Rav Yisrael Salanter's life when he was too ill to supervise the city's matzah baking before Pesah. He sent some of his best students to supervise the entire process. Before they departed for the bakery, they asked their teacher which religious stringencies they needed to be careful about in their task. Rav Yisrael just answered them as follows: "The woman who cleans the floors in between each baking is a widow; be careful how you speak to her." (Short Vort)


There are days when nothing seems to go right.

As soon as you get to the stop where you catch the bus that takes you to work reliably on a daily basis, one of your fellow commuters calls your cell phone and tells you about the wildcat strike. "The bus drivers walked out this morning…something about a retirement package. We'll have to find another way to get to work."

After splitting an expensive taxi fare with someone who works nearby, you arrive at your office building. Many of your fellow workers are standing outside in the cold, teeth chattering. It seems the office manager - the one with the key - hasn't arrived yet; her commute has also been affected by the strike.

Finally you get inside. You rush to your desk, anxious to meet a deadline on an important project - but the computers are all down. Something in the system crashed, and you must wait for a technician to repair the problem. But that's not your only trouble. Your assistant and several other staff members have decided to use the bus strike as an excuse not to come to work at all! As the problems pile up, you ask yourself, "Whatever happened to the good old days? People were gentler and kinder and more considerate of others, and they cared about their work. And things worked better than they do now!"

Before you board a time machine to travel back to the past, consider life without the conveniences and comforts that have been developed over the last several decades. Cell phones, minimally invasive surgery, microwave ovens and other appliances for the home and workplace - all have added to our quality of life. Yes, there are new problems - but would you really want to give up modern-day comforts?

People who wish for days gone by may just be lazy. Rather than focusing on their own inability to rise to the occasion and get the job done, they may blame technological problems for their personal failure to succeed in the material world.

Similarly, those who fail to grow in the spiritual realm can easily point to the great, wise leaders of the past in admiration, and then point out the weaknesses of the leaders we have today. But their fingers might be more accurately aimed when pointed at their own chests!

Make the best of every day, because these are the good old days. (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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