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Haftarah: Melachim I 7:13-26

FEBRUARY 21-22, 2013 22 ADAR I 5774


"See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Besalel…He filled him with G-dly spirit, with wisdom and with every craft." (Shemot 35:30-31)

Besalel was filled with a tremendous gift of wisdom. He used this gift to be the main builder of the Mishkan. He was able to coordinate and craft all of the amazing artwork of the Mishkan. What brought about that he should be on the receiving end of this Divine present?

Rabbi David Kaplan explains that it is well known that Hashem conducts the world with the principle of midah k'neged midah, which means that Hashem pays back measure for measure. With this in mind, the Meshech Hochmah explains that it is quite logical for Besalel to have been the one who received this blessing. You see, it was Besalel's ancestors from the tribe of Nahshon ben Aminadav who were willing to sacrifice themselves and jump into the Red Sea.

Now, in order to sacrifice oneself, one cannot do much thinking. If one thinks too much, one may very well come up with reasons why one does not really have to be so selfless under those circumstances. The people from the tribe of Yehudah did not think their way out of it. They just did it.

But that was not all. It was Hur, Besalel's grandfather, who at the incident of the Golden Calf, sacrificed his life in his attempt to put a stop to the terrible sin. So since Besalel's ancestors acted without trying to be too smart, measure for measure it resulted in their descendant being granted a high degree of wisdom. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"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 Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael and said to them." (Shemot 35:1)

Rashi observes that this assembly took place on the day after Yom Kippur, after Moshe Rabenu had descended from the mountain. The Siftei Hachamim notes that Parashat Ki Tisa concludes with Moshe's descent from the mountain. The narrative here continues from that point. The fact that Rashi emphasizes that the Assembly occurred on the day after Yom Kippur is notable. Is the date really that significant? If the gathering would have taken place on another day - would it have been different?

Horav Moshe zl, m'Kubrin offers a practical exposition - something to which we can probably all relate. Yom Kippur is central to Jewish belief as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. It is a day when we all go to shul and pray with fervor, supplicating the Almighty for forgiveness and entreating Him to grant us another year of good health, success and welfare. It is not a time for bearing a grudge or maintaining a bad relationship with anyone. People "tend" to get along at this time of the year, because they are frightened. We understand that if we cannot forgive the fellow who hurt us during the year, we can hardly ask Hashem to do the same for us. It is a simple quid pro quo.

Yom Kippur goes by and, lo and behold, the amicable relationships that had prevailed "yesterday" are gone "today." The friendships begin to wane, the forgiveness deteriorates, life returns to pre-Yom Kippur status. Indeed, as the days go by, as we distance ourselves from Yom Kippur, we begin to do likewise with our "friends." Yom Kippur is over and, often, with it go some of the resolutions we made regarding our social relationships. The peace and unity which had reigned just a few days earlier no longer seems to be applicable to today. It is almost as if one is no longer able to discern that a Yom Kippur had occurred.

This, says the Kobriner, was what Moshe was alluding to in addressing the nation: "Rabotai, we are gathered together today as one, as a unified Klal Yisrael. After all, it is the day after Yom Kippur. The mood that was infused in our nation should not wane the day after. Hakhel, 'assemble together,' on the 'day after Yom Kippur,' as you did 'on Yom Kippur.' Let peace and harmony reign among our people. It is not only for Yom Kippur. It is also to be continued the 'day after'." (Peninim on the Torah)


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 the 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 comfort?

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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