Vol. 9 No. 19
This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Dov Tuvyah ben Shalom Shlomoh z.l. ve'Gita bas Yitzchak Moshe z.l.
Hillel b'Reb Kasriel Dov z.l.?u'Devorah bas Menachem Mendel z.l.
Building A Beis-Hamikdash
The Rambam writes in the first Perek of Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 'It is a Mitzvas Asei to build a house for G-d, that is ready to offer in it (daily) sacrifices, and in which one celebrates three times a year, as the Torah writes "And they shall make for Me a Mikdash". The Or ha'Chayim explains that he derived this from the fact that in Pasuk 8, the Torah refers to the House of G-d as "Mikdash", whereas in the very next Pasuk, it calls it a "Mishkan". Clearly then, the earlier Pasuk refers to the general Mitzvah of building a Beis-Hamikdash. It pertained to that time in the desert, and to all times. In fact, we would even be obligated to fulfill it in Galus, had the Torah not expressly forbidden the bringing of Korbanos outside Eretz Yisrael, once we had entered the Land.
The second Pasuk refers to the temporary House of G-d that they would build for Him in the desert, which suited the circumstances that prevailed at that time.
The Seifer ha'Chinuch, who adds to the Mitzvah the construction of the holy vessels, the Aron, the Shulchan, the Mizbe'ach ... , stresses that the Beis- Hamikdash was not meant to house G-d (Kevayachol), for, as Shlomoh Hamelech wrote in Melachim, all the Heavens cannot contain G-d ... . The real purpose of the Beis-Hamikdash is to enable us to attain atonement for our sins. This we do by bringing before G-d animals (to whose level we sink when we sin), and to elevate ourselves spiritually by humbling ourselves before the Master of the world (when we bring Him sacrifices not intended to atone for any sins).
In addition, he says, the act of bringing before G-d some of the very food that we eat, inspires us to come closer to Him, and the Metzudas David adds Tefilah as an additional objective.
In any event, the Beis-Hamikdash may well be referred to as the House of G-d, yet primarily it is we who benefit from its presence, and who lose out when it is not there. And this is borne out by a Medrash cited by Rabeinu Bachye:
The Medrash, quoting G-d, says 'You are My sheep, and I am your shepherd. Make a pen for the shepherd, so that He may come and graze you (provide for you).
'You are a vineyard and I am your guardian. Make a hut for Me to come and protect you.
'You are My son and I am your Father. It is an honor for the children to be with their father, and for the father to be with his children'. Make Me a room so that I can come and dwell among you'.
Depending on our own level of conduct, the Beis Hamikdash is the location that our King has chosen to feed us and even protect us, as long as we serve Him faithfully - as loyal subjects serve their king.
Whereas if we respond to the privilege of having G-d in our midst, by behaving like children of G-d rather than servants, then our Father in Heaven will treat us with the love and affection of a father to a son. And when that happens, then it is not only we who will benefit from that closeness. Because, in the words of the Tana at the conclusion of Pirkei Avos, 'All that G-d created in the world, was for His Honor', and the greatest honor that we can bestow upon Him is by loving Him like a son loves his father.
The Metzudas David too, writes that the main objective of the Beis Hamikdash is to designate a place of worship, a place where the Shechinah and G-d's Hashgachah can reside. For so the Pasuk writes in Melachim (1) 9:3) "And My eyes (Hashgachah) and My heart (the Shechinah) will be there all the days". And so the Medrash (based on the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim "Behold He stands behind our wall") states 'Never has the Shechinah departed from the Kosel ha'Ma'aravi (the Western Wall), nor will the Kosel ha'Ma'aravi fall until the rebuilding of the (third) Beis Hamikdash'. And all G-d wants is to grant us the merit and to straighten us to serve Him, in order that the purpose of the creation should be fulfilled in us.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin (20b) lists three Mitzvos that became incumbent upon Yisrael after they entered Eretz Yisrael: to appoint a king, to destroy out Amalek and to build a Beis Hamikdash (in that order). The king must come first, in order to gather an army and make battle with Amalek (perhaps the Malchus Shamayim that he reflects will also defend us against Amalek (who is the epitome of "Lo Yarei Elokim"). And wiping out Amalek must precede the building of the Beis Hamikdash, because that follows the order prescribed by David Hamelech in Tehilim (34:15) "Get rid of evil and (then) do good".
May we witness the fulfillment of these three Mitzvos soon.
When Giving is Taking
"And they shall take a gift ... " (25:2).
The Torah uses an expression of taking a gift rather than giving one, because the fact that G-d accepts our gifts is a great privilege and the source of much joy, which far outweighs the value of the gift. Perhaps we can compare this to the Gemara in Kidushin, which rules that if an important man betroths a woman with the gift that she gives him, she is betrothed, because his acceptance is of value to her, and it is as if he had given her a gift.
We might add that, in addition to the intrinsic pleasure that we experience from G-d's acceptance of our gift, there is the added bonus of the pleasant repercussions that are bound to follow the acceptance itself (based on the Seifer Likutim Yekarim).
" ... For Me" (ibid.).
"Li", 'li'Sh'mi', Rashi explains, the gift must be given in G-d's Name, and not for any ulterior motive.
A gift to G-d, the Seifer Likutim Yekarim elaborates, is not the same as Tzedakah to a poor man. When one gives Tzedakah, the poor man benefits, in which case the donor has performed a Mitzvah, irrespective of his motive in giving. Not so a gift to G-d, which is not for the benefit of a needy recipient, but of the donor. Consequently, it must be given specifically in G-d-s Name - "Li", 'li'Sh'mi'. Otherwise, his gift is worthless.
"And they shall make an Aron of acacia wood two and a half Amos long, one and a half Amos wide and one and a half Amos tall" (25:10).
By all the other Holy Vessels, the Torah writes "And you shall make". The one exception is here with regard to the Aron, where the Torah changes to the third person ("And they shall make"). This hints at Sh'lomoh ha'Melech, who made a replica of all the Holy Vessels, with the sole exception of the Aron ha'Kodesh - Ba'al ha'Turim.
The word Aron (spelt with a 'Vav'), contains the same letters as 'Oron' (their light), because it housed the Luchos, which in turn, symbolized the Torah - the light of Yisrael. And it also contains the same letters as 'Noro' (awesome), because it is where the Shechinah, which is a consuming fire, focused when appearing in this world.
The numerical value of "Oron" is equivalent to that of "Neizer", a crown. The crown of Torah, Chazal teach us in Pirkei Avos, rises above that of Kehunah and of Malchus. And that explains why the Torah writes "ve'Osiso lo" with regard to the Shulchan (which represents the Keser Malchus), but "ve'Osiso olov", with regard to the Aron.
The measurements of the Aron are all broken (half-Amos), to teach us that someone who studies Torah must be broken (i.e. humble) - Ba'al ha'Turim.
Perhaps one may add, it also teaches us that, however much Torah one learns, one's knowledge always remains only half (i.e. incomplete).
The Ten Ma'amaros
Ten Parshiyos in this Sedra begin with the Loshon of 'asiyah' ("ve'osu" or ''ve'osiso''), corresponding to the ten commands with which G-d created the world (Ba'al ha'Turim).
This conforms with the Medrash, which compares the construction of the Mishkan to the Creation of the world.
"ve'Osiso Sh'nayim Keruvim ... u'feneihem ish el ochiv".
The two K'ruvim faced each other, like two partners discussing Torah together (because, like the Oron in the Mishkan, that is the central theme on which the whole world rests).
The numerical value of "K'ruvim" is equivalent to that of 'Mar'eh Kavod' (the Vision of Glory).
"K'ruvim", the commentaries explain, is an acronym of 'ke'ravya' (like youths), which in turn is reminiscent of the Pasuk in Hoshei'a ("ki na'ar Yisrael ve'ahaveuihu" - 'because Yisrael is a youth and I love him'). Ba'al ha'Turim.
The two K'ruvim together with Moshe (whose name is hinted in the first letters of "mi'bein sh'nei ha'k'ruvim" ('from between the two Cherubs'), represent the Sheloshah Avos, on whose merits they built the Mishkan (Ba'al ha'Turim).
"And you shall make the Menorah" (25:31).
The word "Menorah" is written seven times in the Parshah, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, corresponding to the seven heavens, and the seven continents.
The letter 'Samech' does not appear in the Parshah of the Menorah at all (neither does it appear in the Parshah of the creation). This teaches us, he explains, that where there is the lamp of Torah and the light of Torah, the Satan (represented by the letter 'Sin) has no power, because the Torah shuts his mouth, and prevents him from prosecuting.
A fascinating Medrash relates how the stick that Adam presented to Sheis, was later handed down from generation to generation, until Ya'akov handed it to Yosef. Upon Yosef's death, Yisro, one of Par'oh's astrologers, realizing the stick's importance, took it and planted it in his garden, where it took root. He read in the stars that whoever pulled it out would be the saviour of Yisrael.
The Medrash also informs us how Yisro announced that whoever removed the stick from the ground, would marry his daughter. Many suitors came, but none was able to pull it out - until one day, Moshe was walking in the garden, and innocently drew it out.
Chazal say that good emanates from a good person. That explains why even what Yisro read in the stars was for the good of K'lal Yisrael, because, as we have stressed over and over again, Yisro was, from the very outset, a good person. Interesting also, that we have here yet another way in which Yisro was instrumental in the Redemption of K'lal Yisrael from Egypt.
We referred earlier, albeit briefly, to Yisro's Midas ha'Chesed. In fact, most of the good things that Yisro perpetrated were acts of Chesed. Here are another two Medrashim, which dwell, at least in part, on this Midah, a good note on which to end the article on this great man.
The Medrash describes why Yisro insisted on returning to Midyan. It quotes him as saying that he did so (despite Moshe's efforts to get him to stay) because that year had been a year of drought and he had borrowed large sums of money in order to feed the poor. His failure to return and pay off his debts, would create a tremendous desecration of G-d's Name.
And in similar vein, another Medrash tells how, over the years, people had come to trust him, and had deposited things with him for safekeeping. Now what would they say if he simply failed to return? They would accuse him of having given over all their possessions to his son-in-law, giving both him and Moshe a bad name. So he insisted on returning, in order to give back all the articles to their rightful owners.
Here we have a demonstration of a combination of many good Midos - Chesed, integrity, faithfulness and a love of G-d - at the highest level. That was Yisro!
(based largely on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")
The significance of 'Da'as' is best summed up by Chazal, who said in Vayikra Rabah 'Da'as chosarto, mah koniso, da'as koniso, mah chosarto' (If you lack knowledge, what have you acquired? If you have acquired knowledge, what do you lack'?)
Hashiveinu Ovinu ...
The Levush writes that this B'rachah corresponds to the angels, who proclaimed 'Bouch Atoh Hashem, ho'rotzeh bi'seshuvah', when G-d forgave Reuven for his sin. This occurred when Moshe included Reuven in the blessings, and said "Yechi Reuven ve'al yomos" ('Mat Reuven live and not die'). And Chazal placed Teshuvah after Binah, following in the footsteps of the Navi Yeshayah (6:10), who did just that, teaching us that understanding (of one's sins) inspires a person to do Teshuvah.
Chazal have taught that Teshuvah reaches the Throne of G-d, and that explains the fifteen words that this B'rachah contains, corresponding to the seven Heavens and eight spaces that divide between this world and G-d's Holy Throne. And it also corresponds to the number of words in the Pasuk in Yeshayah (58:7) "Ya'azov rosho darko, ve'ish oven machshevosav, ve'yoshov el Hashem vi'yerachameihu, ve'el Elokeinu ki yarbeh li's'lo'ach" (Kolbo).
Our Father ... Our King
The concept of G-d being our Father on the one hand, and our King on the other, appears on numerous occasiosn in our liturgy. 'Avinu Malkeinu' that we recite often, particularly during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, is one of our most moving prayers, and it is interesting that here too, the dual concept is being said in the B'rachah of Teshuvah.
Torah, it appears, G-d's handbook, is His gift to us as a father to a son, whereas Avodah, whether it is in the form of Avodah or of Mitzvos, as the Eitz Yosef explains, is the obligation of a subject to a King. After having prayed for Binah, and reached a deeper understanding of our obligations in these two areas, and come to a realization of how short we have fallen in our commitment, we ask G-d to help us find our way back.
Your Torah ... Your Avodah
The commentaries explain how Torah is G-d's communication with us, and Tefilah is our communication with Him. Consequently, once, with the help of G-d, our Torah study and Tefilah are on track, we can rest assured that our inter-relationship with G-d is sound.
And if, as we just explained, 'Avodah' refers to the Mitzvos, then to be sure, someone who is climbing the ladder of Torah and Mitzvos, is certainly heading in the right direction.
As a third alternative, it seems to me that we may well be asking Hashem for Divine Asistance in not two, but three areas of spiritual endeavor. Because, 'Your Torah' appears to incorporate both Torah-study and the fulfillment of Mitzvos, and 'Your Avodah' refers to the Avodah of Tefilah.
The Dover Shalom ascribes the three parts of this B'rachah to the three areas of human endeavor, deeds, speech and thoughts. 'Return us our Father, to Your Torah', he explains, refers to Torah-study - speech, 'and bring us close to our worship - deeds, 'and bring us back with a complete Teshuvah before You' - thoughts - seeing as the main part of Teshuvah is 'azivas ha'chet' (taking leave of one's sins in one's heart). And he bases this latter concept on the Rambam who, describing the essence of Teshuvah, writes 'until the One who knows all hidden things attests that he will never again return to his sin'.
Ve'hachazireinu bi'Seshuvah Sheleimah ...
We are only capable of taking the first steps towards Teshuvah, the Eitz Yosef explains. After that, we need Divine assistance, like the Navi said in Eichah "Bring us back to You Hashem, and we will return", implying that if You don't, we will be unable to attain this on our own. That is why we say here 'and bring us back with a complete Teshuvah (for as long as we are left to our own devices, our Teshuvah will remain incomplete). Indeed, Chazal have said 'without G-d's assistance we would be unable to overcome the Heitzer ho'Ra'. Whereas on the other hand they said 'ha'Ba Le'taher mesay'in oso' (Someone who comes to purify himself, receives Divine assistance), and that is what we are praying for here.
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