B parashat hashavua b parasha : Pekudei

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PARASHA : Pekudei

Date :29 Adar I 5771, 5/3/2011

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori

Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l

Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone who is interested in receiving them, can subscribe via the Parasha web site: http://parasha.sde.org.il/eparasha - Arieh.



Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel; http://www.moreshet.co.il/zomet/index-e.html


"And Moshe Finished the Labor"

- by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg, Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne

"We have been taught: That day (the day that the Tabernacle was first erected) was characterized by ten different crowns. It was the first since the days of creation, the first day of the sacrifices of the heads of the tribes, the first time for the priests..." [Shabbat 87b]. All the items in the list are related to the Divine service in the Tabernacle except for the first one: "The first since the days of creation."

A link between the creation of the world and the making of the Tabernacle appears in the Talmud (Megilla 10b), where it is stated that the day the Tabernacle was erected was as happy for the Almighty as the day when heaven and earth were created. It is also stated that whoever recites the passage "Vayechulu" – "And the heaven and earth were completed" [Bereishit 12:1] – becomes a partner in creation of the world. But this is hard to understand. Wasn't the creation finished at the end of the six days?

The answer is that the partnership of humanity can be seen in our efforts to help the world reach its ultimate goal, the purpose of the creation. "The Holy One, Blessed be He, had a desire to have a dwelling place down below" [Tanchuma Bechukotai]. How will this be accomplished? "That which He created in order to act" [Bereishit 2:3]. G-d created the world out of nothingness, and we act – we mend and improve the world (see Rashi). In this way we prepare the site for the revelation of the Shechina. And that is the reason for the command, "Let them make a Tabernacle for me, and I will dwell within them" [Shemot 25:8]. When the Tabernacle was created, G-d's desire was fulfilled, and this was the completion of the labor of creating the heaven and the earth. As the Ramban writes, "This is the end of the Book of Redemption which describes how the G-d of Yisrael came to Yisrael, the nation closest to Him."

So this is the way that man became a partner in the creation of the world, by building a Divine dwelling place down below. And on this day the labors of creation came to fruition. And for this reason the day was awarded a crown both for being first since the creation and also the first day that a fire came down from heaven into the Tabernacle.

However, the truth is that all of this has an even deeper significance. It is not enough just to make a building for the Almighty. Just as He has a desire to dwell down below, so we should yearn to cling to Him. Just as with any other covenant between two sides, "Like a deer yearning for streams of water, so my soul longs for You, G-d" [Tehillim 42:2]. This is what the Almighty desires, "As water reflects from one face to another" [Mishlei 27:19]. This reciprocal process is the ultimate goal of the creation of heaven and earth.

The three first lines of the liturgical poem "Adon Olam" describes three successive stages: (1) "The Master of the World, who ruled before any creature was created" – He was King before the creation of the world. (2) "When it was created, as He desired it all" – from the time of the creation – "Then He was declared as King." (3) "After everything is gone" – when all of creation no longer exists – "He will reign in awe, alone" – He will then remain alone.

But this is not clear. Are we saying that after the world is gone the Kingdom of G-d will return to its former state, as it was before the creation? If so, what benefit was there in the creation in the first place?

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook writes in his Siddur (Olat Re'iyah) that "Acharei kichlot hakol" does not mean that everything will be destroyed but rather that all of creation will return its soul to G-d. This is the same sense as in the verses, "My soul yearns... for a living G-d" [Tehillim 84:3] and "My flesh and my heart yearn for G-d forever" [73:26]. When the soul of the world will yearn to be close to G-d, the creation will have reached its ultimate objective.

"And the heaven and earth were completed" [Bereshit 2:1] – "And Moshe finished the labor" [Shemot 40:33] – "And the glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle" [40:34].


The Crescent: Arabization or Westernization?

- by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute

The Pendulum Swings

During the past month some very significant events have been occurring in our world, fateful for the map of the world and for all of mankind. That is how I see and it is what I feel about the revolutions taking place in the Moslem-Arab world – from "Hodu to Kush" [Esther 1:1] - that is, from Tunisia to Bahrain, through Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. And as I write this article, the sparks have begun to fly in other Moslem countries, both in northern Africa and in the Persian Gulf.

Here I sit in my comfortable chair in Alon Shevut, feeling the effect of strong vibrations, a harbinger of a transformation of historic proportions. The pages of history are open wide, and unfamiliar notes are being sounded, with an intensity and at a pace that are truly breathtaking. And it is clear that the One who is writing the script is "He who knows about the future generations," the King of the universe Himself. Exactly what chapter of human history is being written before our eyes is not clear to us at the moment. Things are blurred, hidden, and mysterious, concealed even from those who are the main actors in the tumultuous events that unfold before our eyes. It seems that even those who are leading the revolutions do not have a route map, and they know neither where they are at this moment nor where this will all lead. It is highly doubtful that political upheavals have ever taken place in this way in the past, without any clear idea of the goals to be achieved, in the way that we now see in the communications media which embraces the world so tightly.

Arab or Western?

In the historical speculations that strike me I am torn between two possible futures for these nations: Are they headed for Islamization or democracy? Will it be Arabization or Westernization? (In Hebrew, this is a simple play on words: "Arav" or "Maarav"?)

At first glance, the revolutions are directed against totalitarian regimes, kingdoms of the type that were developed during the Middle Ages. All of the demonstrators demand democratic elections, a fight against corruption, and fair distribution of resources to all the citizens, and all this together with other democratic motifs. And the way that the revolt of the youth is described, based on heavy use of Facebook and other social networks, seems to be a clear indication of Westernization and the release of the people from the oppression of the old-world dictatorships. If this is truly the case and it is a real indication of the results to be expected, it is a good thing both for the people involved and for the whole world. And it will also be good for the State of Israel. It would seem that the closer the countries around us are to a "Western" lifestyle, the easier it will be to talk to them and develop economic and political ties with them at some level.

On the other hand, I cannot shake the suspicion that in the end, in the natural way of the world (unless G-d interferes with a direct and surprising miracle – which we would greet with a loud cry of "Amen"), what will take control are the hands of Arabization and Islamization (I know very well that these two concepts are not the same at all). In that case, the sword of radical Islam will engulf the Crescent, from Afghanistan through Saudia, reaching as far as the shores of northern Africa.

I do not have any answers to the question of how the Sunnis and the Shiites will manage to live together, but my strong gut feeling is that somehow the struggle against the "shared enemy, Israeli" can help them overcome the differences between them and can even act as a unifying force for Islam. There is not a single person in the world – not even the all-knowing media analysts – who can predict whether the pan-Arabic war against Israel will now increase in intensity or if the post-revolution energies will be channeled towards economic and social reforms, to the benefit of the long-suffering people in the area. (As it happens, Israel can suggest a long list of proposals for development of the area, in the spirit of the visions of Shimon Peres.)

Jewish-Christian Cooperation

"Happy is the man who is always fearful" [Mishlei 28:14]. A person must always be wary and prepare for different eventualities – "a gift, prayer, or war" [Rashi, Bereishit 32:9]. This is all the more important in view of my inner feeling – that the second scenario described above, that of Islamization, is more likely to take place than the other one, Democracy. And this leads me to repeat a proposal which I have brought up in this column in the past, and to emphasize it with even greater intensity.

I propose that we join together with the Christian world, at least with the sectors that are moderate in their religious beliefs, to unite against the radical Moslem forces (especially the Shiites), which are a serious threat to the entire world. In spite of the long record of repression of the Jews by the Christians on many occasions in the past, the creation of the State of Israel has totally changed the situation as far as the relationship between Judaism and Christianity is concerned. With a practical approach, based on foundations of faith, I feel that "men of the spirit" in the Western world offer a better source of support for us than social and democratic thinkers or advocates of economic change and globalization. Those who concentrate on social and democratic factors will surrender very quickly to an Islamic Diaspora when it tries to conquer Europe. The Moslems are very well organized and have experience in utilizing their power in democratic elections in Western countries. The other group of economists and wealthy people will be the first ones to "cave in" in the face of threats of the loss of the Arabian petroleum resources. Neither of these two groups has a sense of G-d or is driven by ethical considerations.

As a proud Jew, I am not afraid of the theological world of the Christians. I am not afraid that Jews "at the edge of the camp" will start to leave our fold – acting as a group who "are trailing behind us" (see Devarim 25:18, referring to the people first attacked by Amalek), who might suddenly discover the light of Christianity, G-d forbid. Judaism and Christianity have maintained a cease fire for many years. I therefore call out to prominent Jewish religious leaders, in Israel and abroad, to initiate conferences, declarations, pacts, and inter-faith calls to action – all against Islam, which is murderous, suicidal, and inhuman.

The Tanach is our ancient covenant with the G-d of Yisrael, our mandate to take possession of Eretz Yisrael, and the foundation of our establishment of the State of Israel. The Tanach can also be the basis for making a covenant (Yes! Exactly what I wrote!) between the Jews and the Christians against fundamentalist Islam. But there is one important condition from our side: This move must be led by rabbis and faithful people, not by irreligious statesmen whose main faith is the "religion of the Western world."


The Reading of the Passage of Shekalim

- by Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel

Question: What is the scope of the passage of Shekalim (the donation of half a Shekel given by everybody in the nation) – both when the Temple existed and now, after the destruction of the Temple?

Answer: We have been taught in the Mishna: "On the first of Adar an announcement is made about the Shekalim" [Shekalim 1:1]. The Mishna does not describe the details of how the announcement is made. In another Mishna, we are taught, "If the beginning of the month of Adar is on Shabbat, the passage of the Shekalim is read. If the month begins during the week, the reading is advanced to Shabbat." [Megillah 4:4]. That is, the announcement is through reading the Torah on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh or the Shabbat that precedes it.

The Talmud explains the source for this law during the time of the Temple. "It is written in the Torah, 'This is the Olah sacrifice, month by month' [Bamidbar 28:14]. This is the time to start bringing the sacrifice from new contributions." [Megillah 29b]. And it further explains that since from the beginning of Nissan the sacrifices must come from new donations, the money should be gathered during the preceding month, Adar.

There is a disagreement in the Talmud about which passage of the Torah to read. Rav said the passage should be the one that describes the daily Tamid sacrifice, "This is the Olah sacrifice" – the source of the requirement to read about the new contributions. Shmuel feels that what should be read is the beginning of the Torah portion of Ki Tissa (Shemot 30:11-16), and this is the custom today.

The question that we might ask is why we continue to read the passage about the Shekalim today, after the destruction of the Temple, since there are no longer any sacrifices and there is no need for the donations. The Chinuch writes as follows: "And now, because of our sins, when we do not have a Temple or Shekalim, all of Yisrael have a custom in memory of this matter to read the passage every year... on Shabbat that is before Rosh Chodesh Adar" [105]. Thus, according to the Chinuch, the reading of the passage is simply as a "memory." The Mishna Berura mentions the reading as a "memory," but he adds a quote from the Lavush, broadening the scope of the reading in modern times: "The first (of the four special readings before Pesach) is the passage of Shekalim, in memory of the mitzva of donating half a Shekel... And we perform an equivalent act by reading the passage" [105:2]. (See the verse, "We will replace the oxen by use of our lips" [Hoshaya 14:3].)

In the Tanchuma it is written that the reading of the passage in modern times "raises up" the heads of Bnei Yisrael. "Moshe also taught Torah to Yisrael and guided them in the mitzvot. He gave them the sequence of reading the Torah and the portions to be read every Shabbat, every month, and every holiday. He is therefore mentioned in every portion. But with respect to Shekalim, Moshe said to the Almighty: Master of the World, when I die I will not be mentioned in this Torah portion. The Almighty replied, I swear that just as you stand now and give them the passage of Shekalim, and you raise your head high, so each and every year when they read the passage before me it will be as if you are standing there and you will raise their heads high. How do we know this? It is derived from the wording of the passage, 'And G-d spoke to Moshe, saying: When you lift up the head' [Shemot 30:11-12]. What is written is not 'lift up the head' but rather 'when you lift up the head.'" [Tanchuma Ki Tissa 3]. That is, the significance of reading the passage of Shekalim in later generations is not only as a reminder but also a spiritual significance of giving a donation to the Temple.

The RAMA notes that there is a disagreement about whether a minor can be called to read the four special pre-Pesach passages. "A minor may read the passages of the Mussaf sacrifices or the four passages added during the month of Adar, and this is the accepted custom (RAN, Mordechai, Chapter 2 of Megillah), even though some do not agree." [282]. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (ibid) quotes the responsa of Perach Shushan who disagrees with the RAMA, and who feels that the other opinion should be accepted and that a minor should not read any of the four passages. The accepted "Calendar of customs for Eretz Yisrael" also states that the custom is for a minor not to be called to the Torah. In "Hararei Kodesh" on "Mikra'ei Kodesh" Rabbi Frank claims that the dispute about whether a minor can be called up for the passage of Shekalim depends on how the reading is defined. If it is merely a reminder of the announcement at the time of the Temple, then a minor can be called up. However, if the reason for the custom is that "we will replace the oxen by use of our lips," as a substitute for performing a mitzva, every individual has an obligation to read (or listen to the reading), and a minor cannot be called up because he is not obligated to perform the mitzva.

Let us hope and pray that the Third Temple will be rebuilt soon and that we will have the privilege of hearing the announcement of the Shekalim at the Torah reading, so that we will indeed be able to contribute half a Shekel to be used for the public sacrifices.


Rabbi Yaacov Kaminetsky

- by Rabbi Uri Dasberg, the Zomet Institute

Rabbi Yaacov Kaminetsky, who passed away on the twenty-ninth of Adar I 5746 (1986), was not only a Torah giant but was also very exacting in observance of the mitzvot in all their detail. It is not in vain that as a youth he was described as the "sharpest rabbi in Lita." After finishing his studies in the Slobotka Yeshiva, he was the rabbi of Chitvin, in Lita, for eleven years. Before the Nazis came into power, he was appointed as a rabbi in Toronto. From there he moved to Yeshivat Torah Vadaat in New York. Wherever he was, he left his mark. In this article we will concentrate on his sharp wisdom and see what lesson we can learn from it.

Two men got into a taxi, Rabbi Yaacov and another yeshiva head. The radio in the taxi was blaring out very loud music. The second rabbi asked the driver to lower the volume, but Rabbi Yaacov told him, "The work of a taxi driver is very boring and mundane, and we therefore do not have the right to ask him to turn his radio down." It would sometimes happen that a man would stop in the middle of the street to pray Mincha in order not to miss the proper time, and often the man would enter a phone booth for privacy. Rabbi Yaacov felt that doing this was stealing both from those who were waiting in line and from the phone company, which could have made a profit from other people using the phone for a human conversation and not to talk to G-d. When Rabbi Yaacov grew old and some of the students insisted on accompanying him from the yeshiva to his house, he said: I am more than sixty years old, and I walk very slowly. There is no justification for you young men to get caught in the rain because of me. One of the students insisted that the yeshiva should provide "mehadrin" meat only, even though Rabbi Yaacov felt that all the meat slaughtered in the United States was mehadrin, since if any questions were asked about the kashrut of an animal it was immediately transferred to the nonkosher department of the slaughterhouse. Rabbi Yaacov asked the student to come see him and to bring his Tefillin. He opened up the Tefillin and showed the student that the writing was improper according to the rulings of the Beit Yosef. The rabbi said to him: If you allow yourself to be lenient with your Tefillin, there is no reason not to be lenient too with respect to kashrut of the meat.

Rabbi Yaacov's sharpness could be seen in his ability to pay attention to small details. On a visit to a slaughterhouse with his students in order to discuss practical matters of kashrut, he saw a package of meat with a label that read "Paterson, N.J.," with the letter "tav" used in the name. He told his students, That is not the correct way to spell the name, it should be with a "tet." He was afraid that one of them might write the name of the city incorrectly in divorce papers, based on what they saw during their visit. When he lived in Toronto the Reform community grew stronger, and the members of one synagogue wanted to move the "bima" to the front (like in a church). One of the new members asked, Just where is it written that the bima must be in the middle of the synagogue? Rabbi Yaacov replied: As part of the customs of Succot, we are told that the congregants must circle around the bima. This shows that it must be in a position where it can be surrounded from all sides.

Rabbi Yaacov insisted that his students should concentrate on acquiring broad knowledge in their studies and not on "pilpul" – long-winded detailed analysis. But one time he strayed from his regular custom and treated his students to a fascinating analysis of their subject, based completely on pilpul. When the students asked for an explanation, Rabbi Yaacov said: Last night I attended a wedding and I didn't have time to prepare today's lesson. This showed the students that pilpul is not linked to lengthy study. On a holiday, two students came to him with a question and started to argue in front of him about possible answers. Rabbi Yaacov did not mix into their discussion, and they were sure that they had managed to embarrass one of the Torah giants of the generation with their question. But Rabbi Yaacov slipped in an answer to their question in a different unrelated conversation. His son asked him, "Father, why didn't you give this answer this morning?" And Rabbi Yaacov replied, "That would be silly. They were not interested in hearing an answer. All they cared about was the question – so let them remain with it!" (The above stories appear in a book written by Rabbi Yaacov's son, Rabbi Natan.)

Words of Torah by our Subject:

"And he took and placed the testimony in the Ark, and he put the rods into the Ark, and he placed the Kaporet on top of the Ark" [Shemot 40:20]. At first glance we might have thought that he should put the rods in place before putting the Tablets inside. And the answer cannot be that he delayed putting in the rods because they were used for carrying the Ark, for if so he should have waited until after putting on the cover. Rather, the answer is that the Ark was not sanctified before the Tablets were placed inside, and the law that the rods "shall not be removed" [25:15] was not yet in effect. And that is why he put the Tablets in before the rods.

(Emet L'Yaacov)


by Bar-on Dasberg

Back to the Tent

According to Bereishit Rabba (16) and Rashi, in Sarah's tent, a lamp was always lit, her dough was blessed, a cloud marked the top of the tent, and the doors were always open wide. When Sarah died these four actions stopped, and they started again three years later, when Rivka came.

Perhaps in their interpretation the sages wanted to compare Sarah's tent and another prominent one, the Tent of Meeting. Her lamp is reminiscent of the Eternal Light in the Menorah, her dough can be compared to the "Lechem Hapanim," the bread kept from week to week in the Tabernacle, and the cloud over her tent can be compared to the incense in the Temple. Just as the Shechina is revealed in the Tabernacle, so it appears in a home where a man and woman live in harmony: "If they merit it, the Shechina will appear among them" [Sottah 17a].

But if this is true, why wasn't the main vessel, the Ark of the Testimony, also mentioned in the Midrash? And what is the significance of the fact that the lamp, the bread, the cloud, and the doors were inactive for three years?

The man "wearing linen" says something about the pause in the activity of the Temple: "And from the time that the Tamid sacrifice will stop and the silent abomination will appear will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days" [Daniel 12:11]. As Rabbi Yaacov Meidan explains (in his book "Daniel, Exile, and Revelation"), 1290 days is about three years. This is the length of time during which the Greeks defiled the Temple, until it was purified by the Chashmona'im.

If the Midrash indeed means to hint at these three years of a lack of activity in the Temple, it is clear that the Ark is not relevant, since this was during the time of the Second Temple, which did not have the Ark of the Testimony.

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