March 13, 1999 25 Adar 5759
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"These are the reckonings of the Mishkan...all the gold that was used for the work" (Shemot 38:21-24)
Our second perashah, Pekudei, begins with an accounting given by Moshe Rabenu, of all the gold and silver collected for the construction of the Mishkan. Despite the fact that the metals were deposited with Moshe, and were under the supervision of Besalel, men of true greatness, Moshe made a full accounting. He would not rely on assumptions, for leaders must be beyond reproach.
The Midrash Tanhuma says that the cynics of the generation actually made comments implicating that they were harboring thoughts that Moshe Rabenu became wealthy from the collections! Moshe responded that when the work was finished he would show where all the money went. The Ibn Ezra makes an interesting note. In his accounting, Moshe Rabenu tells us how much gold and silver was taken in. However, when he shows where the money was spent, he only tells about the silver. The accounting of how the gold was spent was left out. What was the reason for this?
Rabbi M. Sternbuch answers the Ibn Ezra's question. Moshe Rabenu was responding to his accusers. It is the way of stingy people who give very little, less than they are able to give, to be quick to accuse that the funds are not spent with honesty. They, the ones who give only silver, demand to know. However, generous ones, who give gold, give with a full heart. They are happy to rely on Moshe that he is completely honest in the disbursements of the gold. Therefore, it was really only necessary to give an accounting of how the silver was spent and not the gold.
Despite the trust given to our great leaders, they nevertheless excel in this trait of being open and careful not to betray the trust given to them. It was said about the famous Brisker Rav that he was always careful with the charity money entrusted to him. He always made sure to find out why the money was given in order not to use the money for a purpose different from the intent of the giver. We should learn from the story of Moshe to be like the givers of gold and not like the givers of silver.
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"He made the washbasin of copper...from the mirrors of the legions" (Shemot 38:8)
The washbasin was made from the copper mirrors which the women donated to the Mishkan. Even though Moshe hesitated to use mirrors used to beautify women for something so sublime as the Mishkan, Hashem told him that this was very dear in His eyes. The women used to beautify themselves in order to restore the spirits of their downtrodden husbands in Egypt, and thus they were able to be fruitful and multiply. Hashem said that this is very precious to Him and should be used for the washbasin.
What connection is there between a washbasin and mirrors? Every time a kohen would do the service in the Mishkan, he had to purify himself by washing his hands and feet. When he saw the mirrors in the washbasin, he would undoubtedly look at his reflection in the mirror. This would allow him to purify his spiritual self by causing him to observe himself and remember which traits he would have to cleanse within himself. So the copper mirrors enabled the kohen not only to wash his hands and feet but also wash out any impurities of his character. This was especially important since he was about to serve the rest of the Jewish people and he might have been tempted to see negative traits in others. He was now reminded to rectify his own traits before judging others. Whenever we leave the house we look at the mirror to see if we are presentable. We should learn this lesson and also look at our flaws in the "mirror" before going out into the world and seeing other people. This will put us in a better perspective to see only the good in others. Shabbat Shalom.
WHO'S HELPING WHOM?
"And behold they did it as Hashem commanded, so they did do, and Moshe blessed them" (Shemot 39:43)
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin related that he was once at the dedication ceremony of an institution for which one Rabbi selflessly devoted an extremely large amount of time and energy. The Rabbi spoke and heaped much praise and many blessings upon the donors whose contributions made the institution possible. Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin was the next speaker and said, "Really the donors should be the ones to praise and bless the Rabbi. It was his efforts that enabled them to have the merit of contributing to such a worthwhile charity. But he followed in the footsteps of Moshe. After the complete report of everything that was donated to the Mishkan, Moshe blessed all those who participated in the donations and contributions. They should have blessed Moshe for the opportunity he gave them.
"The same is true when a wealthy person helps a poor person. The wealthy person gains more from the poor person, since he gains spiritual merit. But what do we see in the world? The receiver gives more thanks to the giver than the giver to the receiver." When someone approaches us for a contribution for a worthy cause, we should appreciate that he is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to contribute. This is an important concept for fundraisers to keep in mind. They should be aware that they are doing an act of kindness for the donors. At the same time, they need to show gratitude to the donors. (Growth through Torah)
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