by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS KI SISO 5771 BS"D
Ch. 30, v. 13: "Zeh yitnu kol ho'o'veir al hapkudim machatzis hashekel" - This shall they give each who is passing through the census a half a shekel - Moshe had difficulty with the concept of a half shekel. Hashem showed him the form of a fiery half shekel coin, which He produced from under His throne. Moshe had difficulty in comprehending why there was a limitation of only a half shekel for someone whose heart was burning with desire to donate much more. Hashem responded by showing him a fiery coin. The message was that the zeal and fire which one has when he donates is counted by Hashem as if he gave much more. (Chasam Sofer)
Ch. 30, v. 13: "Zeh yitnu kol ho'o'veir al hapkudim machatzis hashekel" - This shall they give each who is passing through the census a half a shekel - There is an allusion in the giving of the half shekel that a person should subordinate and focus all his powers to serving Hashem. Our negative inclination attempts to drive us away from this goal. If not for Hashem's help we could not overpower the evil inclination (gemara Sukoh 52b). Thus our Rabbis say that he who attempts to pursue sanctity has Hashem's help, "habo l'ta'heir m'sa'yin oso" (gemara Shabbos 104a). A person is not capable of doing mitzvos in their entirety on his own, as the evil inclination mixes in. At that point Hashem helps him complete his task. Thus, a person needs atonement for not having the volition to start out doing a mitzvoh. When started, its completion incorporates Hashem's assistance. This is the concept of a half shekel as "kofer nefesh" and not a complete shekel. The half of starting the mitzvoh is in his hands and he is held responsible for not starting out. All who pass by the commands, "Kol ho'o'veir al hapkudim" require this half shekel. Only a half shekel is required. The second half is "trumoh laShem," an elevated level of completion of mitzvos, which is in the hands of Hashem. (Yeitev Lev parshas Va'yakheil)
Ch. 30, v. 13: "Machatzis hashekel esrim geiroh hashekel" - Half a shekel twenty geiroh are a shekel - A half shekel is given to bring atonement for serving the golden calf a midday. Half a shekel is ten geiroh, as those who served the golden calf denied the Ten Commandments. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid)
Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh v'hadal lo yamit" - The wealthy person shall not give more and the poor person shall not give less - Since everyone left Egypt with a tonne of gold, silver, garments and other items, and there was no need to expend money in the desert, wasn't everyone wealthy? Rabbeinu Efrayim says that this command applied only in Eretz Yisroel where there would be wealthy and poor people. On the other hand, Minchoh Vluloh says that we do not find these two mitzvos listed by any of those who compile the list of 613 mitzvos. This is because the command to give a half shekel per person as an atonement and that the silver was to be used for the foundation blocks of the Mishkon was obviously only applicable for that generation, thus they are not counted in the list of 613.
There is not really a disagreement, as the Minchoh Vluloh is referring to the money used for the Mishkon and Rabbeinu Efrayim to the half shekel given annually for the communal sacrifices that started to be collected at the beginning of the month of Ador.
Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh v'hadal lo yamit l'cha'peir al nafsho'seichem" - The wealthy person shall not give more and the poor person shall not give less to atone for your souls - There is an halacha that if marauders come to a city and demand a set amount of money, the community collects from each person according to his means. If there is a threat of death, then all contribute equally. Our verse, after saying that all contribute equally, therefore ends by explaining that atonement is required for their souls, that otherwise their lives are in danger. (Medrash Y'honoson)
Ch. 30, v. 18: "V'ossiso kiyor" - And you shall make a lave - This command comes on the heels of the command to give a half shekel since the water in the lave brings a blessing of sufficient rains. However, when people who are obligated to give of their money and hold it back, likewise rain is held back. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Ch. 31, v. 2,3: "R'ei korosi b'shem B'tzal'eil, Va'ama'lei oso ruach Elokim b'chochmoh uvisvunoh" - See that I have called the name of B'tzal'eil, And I have filled him with a G-dly spirit with wisdom and understanding - We do not find earlier in the Torah that B'tzal'eil in particular was chosen to do any of the crafting of items needed for the Mishkon. As well, what is the meaning of the first word of our verse, "R'ei?" Rabbi Moshe Feinstein answers that the calling was in that Hashem imbued him with all these very special skills. When one is given special abilities it is in and of itself a calling to do use them in the service of Hashem. "Seeing," being aware of the unique abilities that are G-d given, is the calling itself.
Ch. 31, v. 4: "Lach'shov mach'shovos" - To think thoughts - The Baal Haturim cites the Medrash Tanchuma, which points out that the word "lach'shov" is spelled lacking the letter Vov, indicating that thought of crafting and creating are to take place only during the six weekdays, but not on Shabbos. This requires elucidation as halacha allows for one to think about creative work on Shabbos, all the more so when it comes to a mitzvoh matter, as is the case here with creating the Mishkon components. Perhaps because the creation of the Mishkon totally replicates the creation of the world, as detailed in the M.R. at the end of parshas Pikudei, we might offer that just as when the creation was completed in six days and not only was no further physical creation required, but no thought thereof either, the crafting and building of the Mishkon likewise required that there be no involvement even on the mental level about building or creating on Shabbos. (n.l.)
Ch. 31, v. 16: "Laasose es haShabbos" - To make the Shabbos - See the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh who offers fifteen explanations of these words.
Ch. 32, v. 3: "Va'yisporaku kol ho'om es nizmei hazohov asher b'ozneihem" - And all the nation unloaded themselves of the golden rings that were on their ears - How is it that the gold the bnei Yisroel had available came to them in fulfillment of the command to empty the Egyptians of their belongings and that it be turned into an idol? HRH"K Rabbi Avrohom of Tchechinov answers that the gold used for the calf came exclusively from gold that was collected at the shore of Yam Suf. Although there was a promise that the bnei Yisroel would leave Egypt with a "r'chush godol" and according to almost all commentators this included that which was collected at Yam Suf, nevertheless, there was no command to "take it all." We see that Moshe had to prod the bnei Yisroel to leave, "Va'yasa Moshe." It is from this gold that they created the golden calf.
Ch. 32, v. 8: "Soru ma'heir min ha'derech asher tzivisim" - They quickly turned away from the path I have commanded them - Turning away from the path connotes forsaking the whole Torah. This is not accomplished in one fell swoop. One would have to wait for Pesach to eat chometz, Shabbos to desecrate it, Yom Kippur to eat, etc. however, there is a way to totally negate the Torah in a fleeting moment and that is to accept upon oneself a false deity. This is the "soru ma'heir min ha'derech" of our verse. (Imrei Hashem)
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