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Simcha Groffman

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Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei (Parshas Parah)

The Torah uses the expression chochom leiv many times in this week's parsha. What does chochom leiv mean kinderlach? Literally translated, it means wise heart. Rav Leib Chasman in his sefer Ohr Yohel asks the following question. When we speak about wisdom, we usually refer to the head, not the heart. Why does the Torah refer to the heart as being wise and not the head? He answers by explaining that a chochom (wise man) is not someone who is only able to speak and repeat words of wisdom. A true chochom is someone who internalizes these words of wisdom into his heart. He lives by them. That is why he is referred to as chochom leiv. As it says in the posuk in Kriyas Shema (Bamidbar 15:39), "Do not search after your heart and your eyes." Rashi explains that the heart controls the desires and motivations of a person. If we put wisdom into our hearts, then our whole lives will be governed by wisdom. How do we put wisdom into our hearts, kinderlach? When we learn a piece of wisdom in the Torah, we take it to heart and do what it says. When you learn a new halacha (Torah law), put it into practice. What if you had just learned the halachos of returning lost objects? On your way home from cheder you see a lost object. Gevaltig! Hashem has given you the opportunity to apply what you just learned! To give another example, let us say that you had learned the halachos of netilas yadaim (washing hands before eating bread). The next time that you wash, you will do it much more carefully and correctly, because you have learned all about it. If you implement what you learn kinderlach, you will become real chochmei leiv.

What was the contribution of the Princes of Klal Yisrael to the Mishkan, kinderlach? The Torah tells us in posuk 35:27 that they brought the precious stones for the apron and the breastplate. This seems like a relatively small gift compared to the huge amounts of silver and gold brought by the Bnei Yisrael. Rashi explains that the Princes offered to supply anything that was lacking after all other contributions were made. The Bnei Yisrael were so generous, that nothing was lacking. In fact, they gave more than was needed. There was nothing left for the Princes to contribute! When the time came for the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Princes brought their gifts first. Although each of their twelve gifts was identical, the Torah describes each one individually in detail. Altogether, 72 pesukim (Bamidbar 6:12-83) are written describing the gifts. We all know that the Torah does not waste words, kinderlach. Why then are there so many pesukim repeating the same thing? The Chofetz Chaim explains that the Torah is teaching us a lesson in zerizus (quickness). Hashem is showing us how dear it is to Him when people do His mitzvos with zerizus. The gemora teaches us in Pesachim 4a; "People who are quick do their mitzvos early." We learn this from Avraham Avinu who got up early in the morning to begin the Akeidas Yitzchak. Let us try to have a contest kinderlach, to see who can be the first one to wash after kiddush this Shabbos. Who will be the first one to be ready for school in the morning? Who will be the first one to change into pajamas in the evening? If zerizus is so dear to Hashem that He devoted 72 pesukim to it in the Torah, then it is surely important for us to try to do all of our mitzvos with zerizus.

The posuk says (35:3), "Do not kindle a fire in all places where you live on Shabbos." The Shlah says that the word fire is a hint to the "fire" of anger and conflict. A person must always be careful to guard against anger, but especially on the holy day of Shabbos. Shabbos is a day of peace, unity, and harmony. There is no place for anger and conflict in our homes or our communities on Shabbos.

This week is Parshas Parah where we read about the parah adumah (red heifer). The ashes of the parah adumah were sprinkled on people who were tomei (impure due to contact with the deceased). The ashes were part of the taharah (purification) process. The parsha is read now before Pesach to remind the Bnei Yisrael to purify themselves before they go up to Yerushalaim. There they will partake of the Korbon Pesach, which can only be eaten by one who is pure. Rav Moshe Feinstein asks a question on the language of the verse (Bamidbar 19:2), "These are the statutes of the Torah." The verse is referring to the parah adumah, therefore it should say, "These are the statutes of the parah adumah." He answers as follows. The effect of the parah adumah depends upon the status of the person. If a person is tomei, (impure) the ashes of the parah will purify him. If the person is tahor (pure), the ashes of the parah will make him impure. The entire Torah has this effect on a person. If a person has certain middos (character traits) that are being used improperly, their negative effect can make him tomei. An example is kovod (honor). If a person focuses only on increasing his own honor, this can lead to many sins. However, if he uses that very same middah in accordance with the Torah's laws, then it will purify him. The Torah tells us that one should honor other people, not himself. So we see, the Torah can turn tomei into tahor. The opposite is also true. Going against the Torah will turn the tahor into tomei. If a person has a good middah and uses it improperly, it will make him tomei. Every middah has its proper use, kinderlach. We should always seek to honor others and not ourselves. Normally, we are not allowed to be envious. We are permitted to be envious of another person's learning, if it will motivate us to learn better. We are not allowed to be lazy when we have to do a mitzvah. We can be lazy when it comes to doing an aveyra. We have a mitzvah to serve Hashem with happiness. However, we can be sad on Tisha B'Av. We are supposed to listen when people speak to us. We should not listen when someone is speaking loshon hora. Kinderlach, we hope and pray that you will always use all of your middos properly, and that your entire lives will be filled with kedusha and taharah.

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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