Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 19   No. 23

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Parshas Vayakhel & Pikudei
(Parshas Parah)

The Mishkan and the Creation
(Part 1)

(by Rabeinu Bachye)

"These are the reckonings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the testimony, which was counted at Moshe's bidding, the service of the Levi'im under the authority of Itamar, the son of Aharon the Kohen" (38:21).

The Medrash explains that the Torah repeats the word "Mishkan", to teach us that the Heichal (Sanctuary) in Heaven corresponds to the Heichal on earth. Indeed, R. Bachye explains, when the Torah writes at the end of the Shirah "A dwelling (Mochon) for You to reside ", the word Mochon, which can also be read as 'Mechuvan' (corresponding), indicates that G-d's dwelling in Heaven corresponds exactly to His dwelling on earth.

*

R. Bachye also cites the Medrash Tanchuma, which presents eight comparisons that the Torah makes when it uses similar expressions in connection with both the Mishkan and the creation of the world.

Regarding the creation of the world, the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (104:2) "Who spreads the heavens like a thin curtain and He stretches them ", whereas by the Mishkan the Torah writes "And you shall make curtains of goats' hair".

Regarding the creation, the Torah writes in Bereishis (1:9) "Let the water gather to one location" (Bereishis 1:9) by the Mishkan - "And you shall manufacture a copper basin " (Sh'mos 30:18).

By the creation - "Let there be luminaries" (Bereishis 1:14) by the Mishkan "And you shall manufacture a Menorah" (Sh'mos 25:31).

*

By the creation - "And birds shall fly" (Bereishis. 1:20) by the Mishkan "And the Keruvim shall spread their wings" (Sh'mos 25:20).

By the creation - "And G-d created man" (1:27) by the Mishkan "And you shall bring Aharon close " (Sh'mos 25:1).

By the creation, the Torah writes " the Heavens and the earth were completed" (2:1), whereas by the Mishkan it writes "And all the work was completed" (Sh'mos 39:32).

By the creation - "And G-d blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it (Bereishis 2:3) and by the Mishkan "And Moshe blessed them" (39:43) and " he sanctified it and all its vessels" (Bamidbar 7:1).

By the creation, the Torah writes "for on it He rested" and by the Mishkan "Six days work shall be done" (Sh'mos 35:2) and after that, the Pasuk writes "Take from yourselves a donation " (Sh'mos 35:5).

*

Remarkably, R. Bachye adds no less than another fifteen comparisons between the Mishkan and the creation. These we will I.Y.H. present in the next issue.

(to be continued)

* * *

The Perpetual Light
(Part 2)

(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)
(cont. from Parshas Tetzaveh)

In Parshas Tetzaveh, we cited the K'li Yakar, who asks why the Mitzvah of instructing Yisrael to donate oil for the Menorah had to be performed by Moshe exclusively more than all the other Mitzvos, and many other questions on the opening Pasuk there.

And we cited the author's introduction to the answer based on the Ramban, who explains that when the Torah writes "to kindle the perpetual lamp", it is referring, not to all seven lamps, which, as we explained there, only burned from evening till morning, but to the Ner ha'Ma'aravi (the Western Lamp), which did indeed, burn perpetually. Indeed, the Menorah in general is discussed in Emor, and it only mentions it here with regard to the Ner ha'Ma'aravi, as we shall see shortly. When G-d commanded Moshe that the people should construct a Mikdash for His Shechinah to dwell among them, the K'li Yakar explains, this pertained to each of the three sections of the Mishkan - the Kodesh Kodshim, the Heichal and the Azarah. In each of these Moshe wanted there to be ongoing evidence that the Shechinah was in their midst. That evidence was manifest in the Kodesh Kodshim in the form of the Luchos, which miraculously could be read from both the front and the back, and in which the 'Mem' and the 'Samech' stood on their own. The problem with that is that nobody other the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kipur had access to the Kodesh Kodshim (and even then, the entire room was covered with a cloud of smoke from the Ketores). Consequently, G-d arranged further evidence connected with the Menorah, housed in the Heichal, to which the Kohanim did have access. And that testimony took the form of the Ner ha'Ma'aravi, the Ner Tamid, which contained the same amount of oil as all the other lamps, but which continued to burn long after they had gone out.

Finally, the author points out, Moshe Rabeinu is referred to in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah (33:21) as 'Reishis', because he was the first in whatever has to do with miracles. And as we know from his birth, when the entire house was full of light, he was like a lamp from which light was taken to kindle other lamps (See also Rashi Parshas Beha'aloscho 11:17).

This now explains why G-d ordered Moshe specifically to instruct the people to bring him oil for the Menorah. The Menorah contained sufficient oil to burn from evening till morning. Only Moshe would give of his own excessive light, to enable the Ner Tamid to continue burning throughout the day.

Now let us take a look at the two problematic Pesukim (Sh'mos 27:20/21) in light of the above explanation, and see how all the problems have been resolved.

"And as for you, you shall command the B'nei Yisrael to cause the continual light to burn" - specifically you with your superior light.

"In the Ohel Mo'ed outside the curtain which covers over the (Luchos of testimony)" - which is testimony that G-d's presence rests with K'lal Yisrael, only it is hidden from view, therefore requiring a second testimony that is visible. Consequently

"Aharon and his sons shall arrange it from evening till morning". This does not mean that they were to spend the entire night arranging the Menorah, the K'li Yakar explains, but that they were to put in the exact amount of oil that was needed to burn from evening till morning. And this includes the continual lamp ("you shall cause the continual lamp to burn"). Yes, the western lamp (which is either the middle lamp or the second from the left, depending on whether the Menorah stood from north to south or from east to west), which is the focus of this Parshah, was continual, and served as a clear testimony that the Shechinah dwelt in Yisrael.

Because like the other lamps, it contained the exact amount of oil that was needed to burn from evening till morning, yet, day in, day out, it continued to burn throughout the day (and that, in spite of the fact that it was always the first lamp to be kindled).

What is particularly striking about this testimony is the fact that the Mishkan followed the sin of the Golden Calf, and proved, beyond any shadow of doubt, that G-d had forgiven Yisrael (sufficiently to rest His Shechinah among them).

*

In his opening words, the K'li Yakar alluded to ongoing miracles that occurred in all three sections of the Mishkan that attested to the Divine Presence there. In the course of the article he discussed the miracles of the Kodesh Kodshim and the Heichal, but said nothing about the miracle(s) of the Azarah (the Courtyard) which contained the copper Mizbei'ach. Admittedly, there was no point in doing so, as it would have had no bearing on the Pesukim under discussion. On the other hand, just as the miracle of the Aron (in the Kodesh Kodshim) was hidden from the whole of Yisrael, so too, was the miracle pertaining to the Menorah (in the Heichal) hidden from the vast majority of people, since, as we explained, it was only the Kohanim who had access to it - and even then, only the handful of Kohanim who entered the Heichal at any one time to perform the Avodah.

And if anything, it would have been the miracle(s) that took place in the Azarah, mostly in connection with the Mizbei'ach, that would have proved the most powerful testimony, since they were readily visible by the many people (Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisre'eilim) who entered the Azarah each day to perform the Avodah or to bring their Korbanos each day.

*

Most of the ongoing miracles that occurred there (to which the author might have hinted) are listed in Pirkei Avos Perek 5, Mishnah 5). These miracles include the fact that

The flesh of the Korbanos never went off (despite the fact that it was sometimes left lying on the Mizbei'ach for two or three days).

No fly was ever seen in the area where the animals were Shechted.

The rain never extinguished the fire that burned perpetually on the Mizbei'ach, nor did the wind ever prevent the smoke from rising in a straight line either vertically or at an angle.

The people stood (in the Azarah) squashed, yet they were all able to prostrate themselves with plenty of room between themselves and the next person.

An additional ongoing miracle that occurred in connection with the copper Mizbei'ach was the fact that although the surface was extremely thin, the fire that burned continually on it never burned a hole in the copper.

* * *

And You
And You
And You !

Regarding the K'li Yakar's question as to why the opening Parshah of the Menorah and the subsequent Parshiyos throughout Parshas Tetzaveh begin with "ve'Atoh" (and you), I once gave the following answer (which I presented in 'Midei Shabbos many years ago):

Bearing in mind that following Moshe's request that his name does not appear in this Parshah (see opening Ba'al ha'Turim), G-d acceded to his request (what a Tzadik decrees, Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu upholds!'). Moshe's name does indeed not appear in the entire Parshah of Tetzaveh. But the Torah wants us to know that the absence of his name did not detract one iota from his influence. Whether it was the Mitzvah of the oil for the Menorah, the appointment of Aharon as Kohen Gadol, the Mitzvah of manufacturing the Bigdei Kehunah or any other aspect concerning the Mishkan and the Avodas ha'Korbanos, nothing was done without Moshe's full participation in his capacity as leader of K'lal Yisrael.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
Vayakhel

(Adapted from the Riva)

Last in Deed, First in Thought

"And all the wise-hearted men who did the work manufactured the Mishkan (the bottom set of curtains) " (36:8).

If we look in the Pesukim in Terumah, says the Riva, we will see that G-d first instructed the people to manufacture the Aron, which was the main objective of the current project, since it housed the two Luchos. And it was in honour of the Aron, to ensure that as soon as it was completed, there would be a fitting place to house it, that he reversed the order and manufactured the Mishkan first.

*

Presumably, it was for a similar reason that G-d instructed Betzalel to first manufacture the curtains and then the planks (as we see from the current Pesukim) even though logically, he should have begun with the planks, which held the curtains in place. It must be that, just as He gave precedence to the Aron, due to its superior Kedushah, so too, did He give precedence to the curtains, which were called 'Mishkan' precisely because they formed the intrinsic Mishkan, whereas the planks were needed merely to hold them up. Only there, since it was not the Kavod of the Aron that was at stake, but that of the 'Mishkan', Betzalel did not see fit to change the order.

*

Pikudei

Overlaying with Silver

"Whereas from the thousand seven hundred and seventy-five (Shekel) he manufactured hooks for the pillars and he overlaid their tops and banded them" (39:28).

Rashi comments that he used the silver to overlay the tops of the pillars since with regard to all of them it is written "and he overlaid their tops ".

Rashi is referring exclusively to the pillars of the Chatzer, the Riva observes. The tops of the pillars of the Holy Paroches and of the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed were covered with gold, as the Torah specifically writes.

* * *

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