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MARCH 19-20, 2003 27 ADAR 5764

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 23.

Pop Quiz: What was the kiyor (wash basin) made of?


"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

"The leaders brought the shoham stones." (Shemot 35:27)

Our two perashiyot this week discuss the actual construction of the Mishkan. Our verse above mentions that the leaders brought the very expensive shoham stones. Rashi explains that they made a mistake. At first, they didn't donate anything, saying that the people should be allowed to donate first and whatever is missing, they would provide. It turned out that the people were so enthusiastic to donate, that everything was given. The only thing left were the shoham stones for the Kohen's garment. Rashi concludes by quoting the Midrash that due to their laziness, they almost missed out on this important misvah. As a result, a letter (yud) was erased from their title.

To us, it seems at first that they did a noble thing. However, our Sages teach us that what sounded like generosity was actually laziness. The great Rosh Yeshivah of Porat Yosef, Rabbi Yehudah Tzadkah, says that alacrity (zerizut) is an integral part of serving Hashem. King David said in Tehillim (119:32) "I will run in the performance of your misvot." Running is a sign of zeal and eagerness to do something. Never will you see a person running to pay taxes unless he has a profound love for the king or the tax collector. R' Yehudah gives the following parable: A man feels ill and goes to the doctor. The doctor doesn't ask if he is eating on a regular basis, because his presence clearly tells the doctor that he is eating enough to sustain himself. The doctor will surely ask if he has an appetite, because an appetite is a sign of good health. So it is with serving Hashem. If you want to know whether you are spiritually healthy, look at how eager you are to do misvot.

One late Friday afternoon in Jerusalem, Rabbi Menahem Porush was summoned to the Brisker Rav to come right away. The Rav told him that he must write a letter to a certain individual to request help for a poor Torah scholar who was in dire straits and could not find peace of mind. The Rav dictated the letter and R' Porush wrote accordingly. When finished, he couldn't help but ask why it was so important now, so close to Shabbat. After all, the post office was already closed and would not open again until Sunday. Why couldn't they write it on Saturday night? The Brisker Rav turned to him and said sternly, "Do I know if I will live until Saturday night? Whatever I can do now, I am forbidden to postpone."

It is a known fact that running increases your appetite, spiritual as well as physical. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"See, Hashem has called the name of Besalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yeudah...and also the gift of teaching He has put in his heart, both he and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamah, of the tribe of Dan" (Shemot 35:30,34)

The Midrash takes not of the various "partnerships" involved in the making of both the Mishkan and the Bet Hamikdash. Regarding the Mishkan it is stated that Besalel of the tribe of Yehudah and Aholiab of the tribe of Dan were the ones who spearheaded the work. The Bet Hamikdash was also built by individuals who descended from these respective tribes, such as Shelomo Hamelech of the tribe of Yehudah and the son of a widow from the tribe of Dan. The Midrash points out the significance of using an artisan who was a member of the tribe of Yehudah, which was the most exalted tribe, and a member of the tribe of Dan. Placing them together, Hashem taught B'nei Yisrael never to look with disdain upon one whose origins are not noble, for in the eyes of Hashem the great and the small have equal stature. A less gifted person who serves Hashem with all of his capabilities ranks equal to one who is more gifted, for Hashem judges a man in accordance with the intentions of his heart.

The Midrash, however, seems to emphasize the uniqueness of the "partnership" which contributed to the Mishkan's construction. What was so exceptional about Besalel's collaboration with Aholiab? Rav Chaim Zaitchik derives from here that the ultimate test of an individual's qualification to assume and maintain leadership over a community or to spearhead a given project is his capacity to accept assistance and advice from others. A leader must possess the ability to overcome any paranoia and envy associated with sharing the limelight with others. Hashem appointed members of two different tribes to collaborate on the construction of the Mishkan in order to discern whether their goals were solely for the sake of Heaven. There are individuals who, despite their total devotion to a given community service project, must be the only ones who are "in charge." They must maintain control over every facet of an activity. Such people are never able to delegate authority to others, feeling that this would diminish their own prestige. Besalel was different. His willingness to collaborate with Aholiab, a member of the lowliest tribe, illustrated his pure intentions in building the Mishkan, revealing his worthiness to be the prime artisan in its creation. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And Besalel made the Ark...and he made for it a crown of gold round about...and he made the Table...and he made for it a crown of gold round about...and he made the Altar of Incense...and he made for it a crown of gold round about" (Shemot 37:1,2,10,11,25,26)

The crown around the Ark represents the crown of Torah. The crown around the Table represents the crown of malchut - kingship - and the one around the Altar represents the crown of Kehunah - priesthood.

In Pirkei Abot (4:13), Rabbi Shimon speaks of these three crowns and concludes: "Vecheter shem tob oleh al gabehen - a crown of a good name surpasses them all." Why wasn't there another crown in the Mishkan to represent Keter Shem Tob?

A crown is a symbol of grandeur which brings magnificence and splendor to its bearer. Sometimes, one who has earned the crown of Torah, Priesthood or Kingship may still lack a good reputation due to his poor personality. R' Shimon teaches that in reality there are only three crowns. The crown of a good name is not an additional one, but rather the integral part of each of the three others. The three crowns add glory to the one who wears them only if he possesses a good name and reputation. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: Why is Uba Lesiyon not read in Shaharit of Shabbat, though it is read in Shaharit of other days?

Answer: It is read on weekdays to make up for the kedushah that is read earlier in the prayers (in case some people came in late). On Shabbat, people come on time. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


"You shall not kindle fire in all of your dwellings on Shabbat." (Shemot 35:3)

Aside from the simple meaning of the pasuk, the Ben Ish Hai, quoting the Hida, offers a lesson to be learned here. As we know, Shabbat is the holiest day of the week and its observance elevates a person spiritually. As the day approaches and a person is preparing for Shabbat, he can almost feel the holiness begin to descend upon him. The Satan, wanting to prevent this, exerts great effort to create situations that will cause people, especially husband and wife, to get angry with one another. If he can manage to cause them to argue at the onset of Shabbat, he will have succeeded in minimizing the level of holiness that they will receive. This is the message of our pasuk: Do not allow the fires of anger and dispute to burn in your home on Shabbat.

The Ben Ish Hai, therefore, recommends that one should be aware that there will sometimes be situations in which a spouse or family member seems to have acted inappropriately. This may very well be solely the work of the Satan, causing them to slip up, in his attempt to instigate a fight. Knowing this, a person will be able to control his temper, and receive the full holiness of Shabbat.

Question: Do you find yourself to have less patience than usual on Friday afternoons? What can you do to make sure that the Satan will not be successful?


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18 - 46:18.

The regular haftarah for this perashah would be from Yeshayahu, which discusses the completion of the construction of the First Bet Hamikdash. However, since this week is Parashat Hahodesh, and we read a special maftir, a different haftarah is read. This haftarah begins by instructing the Kohanim to take a bull for a sacrifice on the first day of the month of Nisan. This maftir and haftarah are always read on the Shabbat which falls on or immediately before Rosh Hodesh Nisan.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Bronze.

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