title.jpg (23972 bytes) subscribe

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


"Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion" (Shemos 25:22).

This was the first major appeal for funds; to build the Tabernacle in the Desert. The next one, this time to build the Beis Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, was made by King Dovid. Dovid expressed his delight with the enthusiastic response of the people, and especially with the joy with which they contributed to the cause. "Then the people rejoiced, for having offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to Hashem; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy" (Divrei Hayamim I 29:9) In his prayer for the benefit of the people, King Dovid stressed this joy with which they contributed to the cause. "I know also, my G-d, that You test the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness; as for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now have I seen Your people, who are present here, to offer joyfully and willingly to You. Hashem, G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and of Yisroel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You" (ibid. 17-18).

The Radak explains this passage as follows. Dovid exclaimed that Hashem wants service which is performed with uprightness. He explained that he can bear witness on the uprightness of his own heart; however, he cannot read the hearts of others to bear witness on them. But since he sees the profound joy with which the people have contributed, it seems obvious that they, too, perform the great mitzvah with uprightness.

He then beseeches Hashem to help the people keep this uprightness forever and always perform Hashem's mitzvahs with joy.

In the Evening prayer we ask of Hashem, "Remove the Satan from before us and behind us." It is very understandable that the Yetzer Hara positions himself before us, in order to prevent us from performing the commandments. But it seems strange that he is also to be found behind us. What is he doing there?

Some explain that this passage does not refer to the place of the Evil Inclination but to his timing. He tries his best to prevent us from performing a mitzvah properly. But even if he fails, he does not give up in his attempt to prevent us from succeeding. After we perform the mitzvah he tries to snatch it away from us by causing us to regret having performed it. Indeed, the Sages taught that one who laments having performed a mitzvah and says, "I wish I hadn't done it," Hashem grants his will and removes it from his list of achievements.

Our prayer is that the Yetzer Hara have no influence upon us, neither by preventing us from doing mitzvahs properly in the first case, nor by causing us to regret them after we have completed them.

Recently (Parashas Vaera), we told a story about the Satmerer Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum ztvk"l, who, when he was a child, would borrow huge amounts of money to distribute to the poor and then personally collect alms with which to repay the debt.

The Rebbe continued this policy all of his long life and he and his Rebbetzin a"h were famous for the help they provided to the needy.

My sister once reported to me that someone had gone to the Rebbe to ask for his blessing and was turned off at the scene of the piles of money people placed upon the Rebbe's table all day long. I explained to her that that money was not for the Rebbe personally but for his many charities, and that by the end of the day, not a penny would be left since he will have distributed it all to the many needy people who visit him every day.

One of the many, marvelous stories told about the Rebbe's benevolence involves the joy with which he performed the mitzvah and how he never allowed the Yetzer Hara to cause him to regret it.

An unfortunate Jew came from Israel to visit the Rebbe. He began to cry uncontrollably as he told the Rebbe his plight: besides having no income, he was a widower with many children to marry off and he suffered from some terrible disease which cost lots of money to treat. As he went on and on, the Rebbe felt tremendous pain and compassion for the man and, in his mind, he kept increasing the amount he planned to give him. By the time the fellow finished his story, the Rebbe took an empty bag and filled it with money; totally clearing the table! He gave the poor man all of the money which was before him and blessed him with health and success.

Right after the poor man left, another Jew from Israel came before the Rebbe. He began by expressing the hope that the Rebbe did not give his predecessor too much money. He explained that he knows this fellow well and, although he surely is in need, his plight is not nearly as bad as he makes it. His wife helps bring in some income and, in general, he gets along not too badly.

When the Rebbe heard that the poor man had lied to him, his face was filled with joy. Rather than regret the unusually large donation he had given him, he thanked the man profusely for removing a stone from his heart. "I felt so bad for this fellow," the Rebbe told him, "that my heart was breaking. Thank you so much for telling me that he is not really suffering so much!"

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel