|Back to This Week's Parsha|
PARSHAS VAYAKHEL-PEKUDEIOn six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy to you. (35:2)
Rashi teaches that mentioning Shabbos in our parsha before mentioning the Mishkan emphasizes that Shabbos takes precedence in any conflict of interest with the construction of the Mishkan. When Shabbos arrives, construction of the Mishkan halts. Kedushas Shabbos brings the work on the Mishkan to an impasse. Veritably, the Torah already presented this lesson to us in Parashas Ki Sissa 31:13, where Rashi asserts that the link between Shabbos and Mishkan teaches us that the building of the Mishkan does not supersede the strictures of Shabbos. Clearly it is an important lesson, but why does the Torah teach it twice?
The Nesivos Shalom explains that it is all in the timing. Our parsha occurs on the day after Yom Kippur, when Moshe Rabbeinu returned from the mountain with the wonderful news that Hashem had forgiven Klal Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf. In addition, he reiterated the two mitzvos which were to play a crucial role in the Jewish nation's process of teshuvah, repentance/return to Hashem. It was necessary that these two mitzvos be repeated specifically on the morrow after Klal Yisrael's first experience with Heavenly pardon.
The Slonimer Rebbe qualifies the above statement. Shabbos and Mishkan share a principle which is relevant to all aspects of Jewry. They both focus on all Jews, regardless from which end of the spectrum of observance they hail. Even those Jews who are at the extremes of spiritual affiliation - both right and left - are required to observe Mishkan and Shabbos. The Jew who has transcended the physical dimension - whose head is in the clouds of spirituality - and the Jew who has fallen into the abyss - into the nadir of depravity, the sewer of morality - and everyone in between: all answer to the universal message of Shabbos and Mishkan. Shabbos illuminates the world of the Jew who aspires to elevated spiritual ascendency. It inspires and cloaks him in a mantle of kedushah, holiness, as it invigorates every fiber of his spiritual essence. Indeed, every Jew, even one who has fallen into the morally bankrupt world of idolatry, can find atonement through proper observance of Shabbos. The observance of this holy day enriches and transforms his entire life.
This concept of universal relevance is paralleled in the underlying motif of the Mishkan. Those who have achieved an elevated level of kedushah are moved by the spiritual influence emanating from the Aron and Luchos, which are the seat of the Torah. They develop a more sophisticated appreciation of the Torah and avodah, Divine service. They are internally illuminated by the light of the Menorah. The flame burning through the night on top of the Mizbayach, Altar, protected it from the darkness engendered by various mishaps. Each of the Mishkan's vessels offered some spiritual benefit which could be appreciated by the individual who is spiritually inclined.
Likewise, the Mishkan was home to all Jews. Regardless of their shortcomings, their inconsistencies and indiscretions notwithstanding, they were all welcome in its environs. Was it not the place where the sinner was to bring his sacrifice to seek atonement? Indeed, Chazal teach us that the Korban Tamid, Daily morning offering, atoned for nocturnal sins, while the Korban Tamid shel Bein HoArbayim, afternoon Tamid, compensated for sins committed during the day.
We now understand the significance behind the mutual juxtaposition of Shabbos and Mishkan. Parashas Ki Sissa addresses the Jew prior to the sin of the Golden-Calf. He is yet untainted, climbing the spiritual ladder of holiness. The Jew in Parashas Vayakhel has already been in the spiritual pit, having fallen into the abyss created by his involvement in the sin of the Golden Calf. Shabbos and Mishkan speak to both of these. Their relevance applies to both, individually and together. The "before" and "after" Jew is confronted by the institutions of Shabbos and Mishkan: "We can help you both." To the Jew affected with "post Golden-Calf syndrome," we can offer guidance and encouragement on the road to spiritual makeover. To the Jew who has it all, who is surging forward on his spiritual quest to become closer to Hashem, we can help make the trip smoother and more meaningful.
I think that the greatest lesson of these two institutions is: No Jew should be left behind. No Jew should be written off. No Jew is exempt from responsibility. The Mishkan and Shabbos are not the sole property of the truly observant or the one who is not yet observant. Indeed, the Jew of Parashas Ki Sissa would do well to open up his "heart" and his "home" to the Jew of Parashas Vayakhel. This way both Jews will benefit from the integration of these two parshios!
Every man whose heart inspired him came; and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the portion of Hashem. (35:21)
Ramban explains that in his address to the people, Moshe Rabbeinu called upon two types of people: the nediv libo, "whose heart motivated him," to contribute gifts; and the chacham lev, wise-hearted person, to volunteer his craftsmanship. In our pasuk we are told that, in response to Moshe's call, every man asher nasao libo, "Whose spirit inspired him," came forward to bring the portion to Hashem. The individuals who would do the actual work were the ones who possessed nesius ha'lev, an inspired heart; in contrast, the contributors were the ones who had nedivus ha'lev, a motivated heart.
In what has become a much cited commentary, Ramban explains the concept of nesius ha'lev with regard to craftsmanship. To answer Moshe's call required an inspired individual, since there was no one among them who was proficient in the necessary crafts. They neither had a teacher, nor had they ever been trained in the art or skill that was required to produce the Mishkan and its vessels. Rather, he perceived in his own nature that he somehow knew how to perform such skilled work, Vayigbah libo b'darkei Hashem (stylistic citation from Divrei Haymim II 17:6), "And his heart was elevated in the ways of Hashem." Without experience and with no training, these individuals declared themselves ready to do anything that was required of them.
This is an amazing statement. After all is said and done, if one does not know how to do something, how does he take it upon himself to perform the necessary task? Horav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Shlita, asserts that the only quality that separates intellectual knowledge, skill and expertise from craftsmanship and proficiency is nesius ha'lev, an inspired heart. What is nasah libo? The Rosh Yeshivah explains that the heart has "wings" that allow it to soar to great elevations. In addition, the heart possesses the reservoir of knowledge, as well as the required talent and expertise, to attain great achievement. The individual has to "grab hold of the heart" and soar with it. The problem is that we are so caught up in the mundane, so prone to habit, that we do not allow for "inspiration" to affect us and stimulate our forward and upward advance.
We have it all within us! School teaches us how to uncover what is already there. When we begin to realize that Hashem has imbued us with the ability to create, conceive, compose, institute, invent, to do those things that we always thought were beyond us, we will be able to do all of that! Every organ, fiber, muscle, of our body possesses the capacity for anything that we want to do. Our bodies are comprised of a symphony of millions of cells which work in perfect harmony. This is all part of the Tzelem Elokim, image of G-d, with which we are all imbued. If we apply ourselves, it will all come together. First, we must believe in ourselves. This conviction creates inspiration. We connect with the heart, and we soar!
Rav Ezrachi emphasizes how it is all within the nature of each individual creation. While the human being created in the image of G-d possesses greater faculties, the animal world also has innate talents and skills that are intrinsic to its nature. The panther knows exactly how to attack its prey. So does the lion. They certainly did not take a hunting course. How interesting it is that they know which animal to attack and which to avoid. They know this because they have been endowed with an innate aptitude, which is triggered by a sense of self-preservation. In order to live, they must eat, and, in order to eat, they must hunt. It is as simple as that. Necessity is the mother of invention; in this case, it is the mother of inspiration.
The women who sewed the Curtains and Paroches for the Mishkan did not take a sewing or weaving course in Egypt. How did they do it? It was all within them. Moshe called for volunteers. They understood that their purpose was to build a Mishkan. This was their life, their sense of self-preservation. Thus, they were inspired to come forward and "somehow" found it within themselves to sew brilliantly!
If this is true with regard to the physical dimension, how much more so should it apply in the world of spiritual development. How often do we hear a student bemoan that he lacks the ability, the acumen to become another Rav Akiva Eiger or Chazon Ish? "I cannot control my mouth as the Chafetz Chaim" is not an uncommon rejoinder. The only quality they lack is ambition - not brains; diligence - not ability; perseverance - not intelligence. One who is a sho'ef, ambitious, who strives with all of his kochos, strengths, can grasp the wings of the heart and soar. He possesses all of the potential to become a Moshe Rabbeinu. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah 1:2 asserts this. What more does one need? There is one requirement, however: this must be his life. Becoming the next Chazon Ish must be his life's goal. It defines his sense of self-preservation. The Torah is his sustenance, without which he cannot live. With it, he can achieve his life's goal. When he achieves nesius ha'lev, he will suddenly discover that all he has been seeking has actually been a part of him all of the time - just like the individuals who constructed the Mishkan.
In a completely unrelated exposition, Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, once made a distinction between the terms nedivus ha'lev, motivated heart, and nesius ha'ruach, inspired spirit. Since the two terms are very close in meaning and the Rosh Yeshivah's machshavah, thought, is practical as well as significant, I felt it deserves mention. On the way out to the bais ha'medrash, a husband passes by the kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes. He knows that the dishes do not just wash themselves. So, he offers to wash them. That is nedivus ha'lev, sensitivity to his wife's state of affairs, not ignoring that he also lives in the house, and, surprisingly, he "also" ate from the dishes. Knowing that her husband is on his way to learn Torah and that every moment is of infinite value, the wife responds, "Thank you, but I would rather not deprive you of your learning." This is nesius ha'ruach. She has just elevated the mundane act of washing dishes to a lofty, spiritual conduit. Every dish is another line of Talmud, another Tosfos. A home built along the lines of such give and take, of a relationship of nedivus and nesius, is a veritable Mishkan, a place that will merit to be a resting place for the Divine Presence.
These are the reckonings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony, which were reckoned at Moshe's bidding. (38:21)
In the Tur Yoreh Deah, 257, Chazal assert that virtuous charity collectors who are in charge of communal funds need not be scrutinized. They are implicitly trusted. In order for them to be "innocent in the eyes of Hashem and Yisrael, they should provide a thorough accounting of their collections. The Bach adds that this demand is not found in the poskim, halachic decisors. Perhaps the Tur derived this from the actions of Moshe Rabbeinu concerning the funds administered for the Mishkan. He gave a full accounting of every penny that he collected, explaining where it was put to use. He wanted to be sure that no one suspected him of any wrong doing. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh derives from the words "which were reckoned at Moshe's bidding," that indeed it was only Moshe who made the demand for an accounting. He did not want anyone raising suspicion unnecessarily.
Dealing with communal funds is an enormous responsibility which must not be taken lightly. This goes without question, but what about an individual Jew's funds? Is that any different? Is there a distinction between gezel ha'rabim, public theft, and gezel yachid, theft from an individual? Theft is theft, and a ganov, thief, is a ganov, regardless of whom he victimizes. How careful we must be with other people's money. When Horav Avraham Karliner, zl, searched through the pockets of his garments on Erev Pesach, he would weep. He said that one must check his pockets for other people's money. Heaven forbid that one have money in his possession that belongs to another Jew. Once, two Jews came to Horav Meir, zl, m'Premishlan, with the request that he draw up a document for them to confirm their partnership. He took out a blank piece of paper and wrote the letters aleph, bais, gimel, daled. "Rebbe, what relationship do these letters have to a partnership?" He explained, "Aleph stands for emunah, trust; bais is for berachah, blessing; gimel is for geneivah, stealing; daled is for dalus, poverty. If you act with emunah, trustworthiness, towards each other, you will be blessed; if, however, you steal from one another, you will end up poor."
On that awesome day when we are all called before the Heavenly Tribunal to give an accounting of our mortal life, the first question which we will be asked will be, Nasassa v'nosata b'emunah, "Did you conduct your business dealings in emunah?" Horav Shimon Schwab, zl, explains that the word emunah has two meanings: "Were your dealings done honestly?" and "When you were engaged in business, did you possess emunah in Hashem?" In other words, did you believe that Hashem provides for all, that Divine Providence rules? Were you cognizant of the fact that Someone is always looking over your shoulder, listening to every word that you say and think?
Based upon the above, one who resorts to cheating, trickery, fraud, or just plain "shtick," is not only dishonest - he is non-observant! He manifests a behavior that lacks emunah. Apparently, he does not believe that Hashem provides sustenance for all. He can daven a long Shemoneh Esrai, eat only the most reputable shechitah, and even be a great baal tzedakah, but if he denies Hashgachah pratis, Divine Providence, he is a blasphemer. Parnassah is a direct intervention from Hashem, granting the individual favor in the eyes of others.
Horav S.R. Hirsch, zl, explains the pasuk concerning parnassah, Poseiach es yadecha umasbia l'chol chai ratzon, "You open Your hand and willingly satiate all living creatures" (Tehillim 145:16), in this manner. Based upon the translation, it should have, instead, read, U'masbia ratzon l'chol chai." What role does the word, ratzon, play at the end of the pasuk? He says that the word, ratzon, is similar to the phrase, yehi ratzon milfanecha, "the matter should be pleasing to You." Parnassah is derived when Hashem grants an individual favor in another person's eyes. Whether it is the poor man at the door, the teacher in school, the physician in the office, or the fundraiser - they all need ratzon to make it. This favor is Hashem's way of granting us parnassah, but we must believe that parnassah comes from Hashem. One who cheats denies Hashem's Providence.
We should be extremely careful with someone else's money. The Brisker Rav, zl, asked, "What prompted Yosef to give their money back to the brothers, and place it discreetly in their sacks? He answered, 'Because he wanted to be certain that they would return to Egypt.'" Someone who was present at the Rav's Chumash shiur, lesson, asked, "But they would have to return because of the famine. Their need for sustenance would have been a prime motivator. And besides, their brother, Shimon, was being held captive. They could not ignore him. Why did Yosef find it necessary to put money in their sacks to make sure that they would return?"
The Brisker Rav replied, "The ten brothers were Shivtei Kah, the forebears of Klal Yisrael. We have no way of grasping their level of bitachon, trust, in Hashem. Yosef conjectured that as a result of their profound bitachon, they might decide to remain at home for the duration of the famine. They trusted that Hashem would neither forsake them nor forsake Shimon. Eventually, Hashem would have him released from prison. Yosef, however, was acutely aware of one thing: If his brothers had money in their possession that was not theirs - they would immediately return. Shivtei Kah would never keep any money that was not by halachic rights theirs. That is why they would return."
We have to ask ourselves: How far have we deviated from such lofty standards?
For the Cloud of Hashem would be on the Mishkan by day, and the fire would be on it by night, before the eyes of all the Bnei Yisrael throughout their journeys. (40:38)
In his preface to Sefer Shemos, Ramban writes that the second book of the Chamishah Chumshei Torah is dedicated to the subject of the first galus, exile experienced by the Jewish People, and their geulah, redemption, from it. He posits that the Egyptian exile did not end until the day that Klal Yisrael returned to the location and stature of their forefathers. Thus, when they left Egypt, they might have been leaving the "house of bondage," but they were still considered exiles. They were wanderers in a wilderness, travelers in a land not their own. They were not yet home. When they arrived at Har Sinai and later constructed the Mishkan, with Hashem's Presence eventually dwelling among them, they finally returned to the eminence of their forefathers. Only then were they considered geulim, liberated from their exile. This is why Sefer Shemos concludes with its completion of the subject of the Mishkan and with the glory of Hashem filling it always.
In Parashas Terumah (25:2), Ramban explains what he refers to as "the secret of the Mishkan": The glory of Hashem's Presence, which was revealed openly at Har Sinai, was always present in the Mishkan in a concealed manner. Numerous parallels exist between Har Sinai and the Mishkan, reflecting the concept of the Mishkan as an extension of Har Sinai.
We no longer have the Mishkan or the Bais Hamikdash. This means that we are in galus, since we no longer have that place which is suitable for hashroas haShechinah, an abode for the Divine Presence. While we cannot catalyze the collective, general geulah for all of Klal Yisrael, each and every individual can create within himself a veritable Mishkan. The Torah in Parashas Terumah (Shemos 25:8) says, V'asu Li Mikdash, v'shochanti b'socham, "They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them." It should have said, b'socho, "in it." This prompts the Sages to derive an all important lesson: Hashem resides within each and every one of us. We must let Him in. We must give Him the space. How do we do that? V'asu Li Mikdash, "Make for Me a Sanctuary." When we act for Hashem, when our intentions are solely to conform with His demands; to glorify Him, then we become a Mishkan - and the galus is over! In other words, it is not where you are - it is what you have become!
The following vignette sheds light on the meaning of becoming a veritable Mishkan for Hashem. When Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, was a young child, he davened in the shul of Rav Moshe Datnover, in Baltimore, MD. He was also a playmate of Rav Moshe's children. When Horav Shimon Shkop, zl, the venerable Rosh Yeshivah of Grodno and Telshe came to America, he visited with his talmid, student, Rav Moshe Datnover. After delivering the drashah, sermon, on Shabbos, Rav Shimon bentched, blessed Rav Moshe's children. Since the young Rav Gifter was a friend of the family, Rav Moshe asked the Rosh Yeshivah to include him. Rav Shimon placed his hands on the young boy and said, ehr zol kennen lehrnen, "He should know how to learn." Rav Gifter would later describe the powerful impact these few words emanating from such a great man had on his life. Rav Shimon's face shone like that of a Heavenly Angel. Indeed, the Rosh Yeshivah, in his extreme humility, would say that if he had any connection to the accolade, kennen lehrnen, it was attributable to Rav Shimon's brachah.
Upon hearing the Rosh Yeshivah relate the incident in the yeshivah dining room, a Kollel fellow escorted the Rosh Yeshivah and the Rebbetzin out, commenting, "Halevai, if only, I would be zoche, merit, to bring my son to the Rosh Yeshivah for a blessing, ehr zol kennen lehrnen." In his inimitable manner, the Rosh Yeshivah countered, "What is stopping you?" The Rebbetzin quickly interjected with the reply, "He does not have any children." Apparently, they had been married for some time and had not yet been blessed with a child. Rav Gifter looked at him and said, "But avada, certainly, you will have children - avada and avada!" and with those parting words, the Rosh Yeshivah went home. The Rebbetzin turned to the young man and said, "You will see. Within the year, you will be blessed with a son."
At the end of that month, the young couple was notified that, indeed, they would in the near future be blessed with a child. This young man immediately went to Rav Gifter and asked, "How did the Rosh Yeshivah know?" The Rosh Yeshivah replied, "You probably think it was a mofeis, a miraculous wonder, due to a tzaddik's blessing. Dos is nisht geven kein mofeis, "It was not a mofeis. You are someone who seeks a son for one purpose: To raise him l'Torah u'le'yirah, to study Torah and be G-d-fearing. That is exactly what Hashem Yisborach wants. So, if you want the same thing that Hashem wants, why would He not give it to you? That is what I meant when I said avada!"
Months later, the proud young father brought his newborn son directly from the hospital to the Rosh Yeshivah's house to collect his brachah.
Aside from the characterization of Rav Gifter to which this episode alludes, it teaches us the principle of how one transforms himself into a Mishkan: he coincides his ratzon, will, with that of Hashem. It is as simple as that. I want what Hashem wants. Thus, I become one with the Almighty. This is what is meant by v'shochanti b'socham, "I will dwell within 'them.'"
Laasos nekamah ba'goyim… hadar hu l'chol chasidav.
The progression of the pesukim imply that by taking revenge against the gentiles, it becomes a hadar, splendor, for Hashem's Chassidim. Why? The Gaon, zl, m'Vilna, explains that an individual's perfection is not achieved, and, likewise, not noticed, unless he possesses two contrasting qualities. For example, he is endowed with the attribute of compassion. Also the middah, quality, of achzarius, cruelty, is dominant in his life. Thus, one might posit that an individual who is only compassionate is not acting out of respect for Hashem's dictate, but rather, as a result of his inherent nature. He is a rachaman, compassionate person. If, however, by nature he is also a cruel-hearted person, and he goes against his grain to act compassionately, then he is truly performing Hashem's Will. He is a veritable tzaddik, righteous person. He is contending with his inborn character trait of cruelty and acting with compassion towards all of Hashem's creatures. Thus, when Chassidim, who usually act with compassion for all of Hashem's creatures go against their natural grain and exact vengeance against Hashem's enemies, this is for them a hadar, splendor, because they are acting solely to execute the will of Hashem.
l'zechar nishmas ha'isha
Yenta bas R' Nachum Tzvi a"h
niftar 8 Adar 5760
Schulhof, Winter & Feigenbaum Families
The Ninth volume is available at your local book seller or directly from Rabbi Scheinbaum.
He can be contacted at 216-321-5838 ext. 165 or by fax at 216-321-0588
Discounts are available for bulk orders or Chinuch/Kiruv organizations.
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to email@example.com