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Haftarah: Yehezkel 43:10-27

FEBRUARY 12-13, 2016 4 ADAR I 5776


“You shall cover it with pure gold, from inside and from outside you shall cover it.” (Shemot 25:11)

In this week’s perashah we read how Hashem commanded Moshe to make the Aron, the Ark that contained the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. It must be covered with gold inside and out. The Talmud explains that the practical way of doing this is to make three boxes. A large one of gold, a smaller one of wood, and the smallest one of gold. The three are then placed one inside the other, so that the Biblical commandment is fulfilled. The Talmud (Yoma 72) derives from this that any Torah scholar whose inside does not match his outside is not really a Torah scholar, since it is written, “Cover it with gold on the inside and on the outside.” The level of spirituality that we display on the outside should match our true level of spirituality, that which is found on the inside.

Rabbi Yaakov Haber asks, if the Ark is supposed to represent a Talmid Hacham, why is it not made of solid gold? What is the wood doing there altogether? Should not the Torah scholar be pure, rather than veneered with spiritual beauty? The answer is that the wood represents the human aspect of the person. We must understand that as holy as we can become on the outside and on the inside, we nevertheless remain, and should remain, human beings. If we become so holy as to become totally spiritual, then we no longer have a place in this world, but only in the World to Come.

Once a Rabbi was sitting next to a Jewish person on an airplane and they started talking about Jewishness. He claimed to have tried out Judaism at one point in his life, but not to have felt comfortable with it. “I must feel comfortable with it,” he said. “Otherwise it’s not for me.” He went on to explain that even today when he is called upon to contribute to UJA, he refuses, because he does not feel really good about giving away his money. The Rabbi told him that in his opinion there is only one kind of person that feels good about giving away his money. A mesznoon! (A mentally imbalanced person).

If we were angels we would feel really good about giving our money away, but we are not. We may be gold inside and outside, but in between there is a layer of wood which is our humanness.

It’s not that we don’t want to give, but there is a part of our humanness which says no. It is exactly under these circumstances that we are required to do misvot. If we waited until we felt really good about doing misvot, we would have to wait until we have left this world. You can be sure that everyone, even a Rosh Yeshivah, will find it difficult to get up early in winter to go to morning minyan. But this is required of us, even though we would all rather be sleeping late. We are all human, even Rosh Yeshivot.

The truth is that one fulfills the misvah of hesed in a manner of greatness when one performs it against one’s natural feelings. The wood of the Aron is the humanness within us, and is to be treasured. It is our job to sanctify it and cover it with gold.

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 “oh?¦s§n«?g” 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


“Then his master shall bring him to the court… and his master shall bore through his ear with the awl, and he shall serve him forever.” (Shemot 21:6)

Rashi interprets Elokim as Bet Din, the Jewish court of law. Why would the court be compared to the Almighty to the point that they carry His Name? While there is no doubt that the members of the court are distinguished scholars, referring to them with G-d's Name seems to be carrying their distinction a bit too far. Harav Gamliel Rabinowitz views this from a practical standpoint. An individual stands before the Bet Din and presents his claim in a clear manner. He lays out the proof, clears up any ambiguity that might exist, and is certain that everything fits into place. He is clearly the winner - or, so he thinks. The judges are clearly mistaken; they must be wrong; they are crooks, having certainly been bribed by the other litigant - and it goes on. No one sees the truth any longer and sides are taken, with the judge usually serving as the fall guy, the source of blame.

Therefore, when the Torah refers to Bet Din as Elokim, a person must realize that all that occurs in his life is part of Hashem's Divine plan. The judges are simply His mouthpiece, articulating His plan for the individual who stands before them. Nothing happens within a vacuum. Everything has its reason and purpose. In the World of Truth it all makes sense. This is true even if the litigant has proof that he is innocent and, concomitantly Bet Din rules wrongly.

This attitude of accepting whatever is thrown at us applies equally in the sector of the individual. At times, life throws us a curve and we blame others, we attribute it to the fault of others; we never take responsibility for our actions. The Hafess Hayim writes that when one loses money in Bet Din, he should know that the judges are not more than Hashem's agents. One should never fault the judge whose decision does not coincide with what he was hoping to achieve. It all comes from Hashem.

We must live with this heshbon ha'nefesh, personal soul-searching. Who knows if we did not unintentionally harm someone - physically, emotionally or spiritually? Sure, we did not harbor any evil intentions. But Hashem does not forget, nor does He overlook. There is a record of everything we have done, and if it adversely affected someone else, we will be called to task for our actions. (Peninim on the Torah)


Zev was getting on in years and his health was failing. One day, he called in his sons and gave each one a rod to hold. “Try to break your rod into two pieces,” he directed them. Each of his sons succeeded in breaking the stick that he held. Then the father handed out small bundles of rods. “Now try to break the bundle in half,” he commanded. Each man tried, and each man failed to break the bundle.

“I want you all to learn that if you are separate, you are vulnerable, and if you are together, you are indestructible,” the old man taught. “In unity there is strength, because not only does the addition of more pieces make the group physically stronger, but the fact that Hashem is happy when He sees His children getting along brings a special protection to His people.”

The Jews in the desert were commanded to bring a half-shekel coin for the census being conducted by Moshe. The commentators ask, “How come they brought a half shekel rather than a whole one?” The answer is that Hashem wanted to teach us that even the biggest and most important person – politically, socially, or academically – is not complete on his own. Nine men, no matter how illustrious, do not comprise a minyan. Yet even the poorest or simplest Jew can complete the quorum and turn the most important group of nine men into a minyan.

The secret is to stay all together. (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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