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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS KI SISO 5772 BS"D

Ch. 30, v. 12: "Ki siso es rosh bnei Yisroel lifku'deihem v'nosnu ish kofer nafsho" - When you will count the heads of the bnei Yisroel to their countings and they shall give each man an atonement for his soul - In a manner of drush: When you will elevate a person to be the head of the bnei Yisroel, to be a head of their appointments, and they shall place a man who is willing to give his life as an atonement for the people, i.e. totally devoted. (Holy Alshich)

Ch. 30, v. 12: "V'nosnu" - And they shall give - "V'nosnu" is read the same forwards and reverse. This teaches us that a person should realize that when he gives for a holy purpose, such as here, for the building of the Mishkon, all that he gives is not given away, but rather, it comes back to him for his benefit. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 30, v. 13: "Zeh yitnu kol ho'oveir al hapkudim machatzis hashekel" - This shall they each give each one who passes through for the census a half-shekel - The gemara Kidushin 39a says that when a person is challenged to sin, he should imagine that he and the world are at this very moment half and half, standing in the position of their merits and sins bearing equal weight. If he were to sin, he would bring himself and the whole world into the sorrowful state of being more sinful than meritorious. This is alluded to in our verse. "Zeh yitnu," this concept shall they place into their hearts, "kol ho'oveir al hapkudim," all who are on the verge of transgressing the commands, "machatzis hashekel," the balance-scale is at half and half. (B'eir Mayim Chaim - Admor of Chernovitz)

Ch. 30, v. 13: "Zeh yitnu kol ho'oveir al hapkudim machatzis hashekel" - This shall they each give each one who passes through for the census a half-shekel - The bnei Yisroel were on a spiritual high and their drive for donating was unbridled. Although such spiritual energy is very commendable, at the same time there is the danger of going out of control and doing things in the name of spiritual pursuit that can be very negative. To rein in this extreme enthusiasm a command was given to donate only a small amount, a half-shekel. This shall they give, "kol ho'oveir al hapkudim," because there is a fear that all will transgress the commands in a frenzy of enthusiasm, only a half-shekel, and this should serve as a reining in of their unbridled zeal. (n.l.)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh" - The wealthy individual shall not exceed - The cantillation on these words is "munach r'vii." These names take on the meaning "four shall rest. This alludes to the gemara Ksubos 50a, which states that a wealthy person should not squander his money for charity. This is when he would give more than a fifth of his holdings. This is "munach r'vii," four parts shall remain. (GR"A in Divrei Eliyohu)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh v'hadal lo yamit" - The wealthy individual shall not exceed and the poor individual shall not lessen - The rich man shall not think that he is so great because he has wealth. This world is ephemeral. The poor man should not think that he is inconsequential because he is destitute. This world is ephemeral. The greatness of a person will come to light in the world-to-come. (Shaar Bas Rabim)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh v'hadal lo yamit" - The wealthy individual shall not exceed and the poor individual shall not lessen - If the wealthy man will not live excessively, "lo yarbeh," then "v'hadal lo yamit," the poor man will not have insufficient funds, as the wealthy man has plenty of money to give to the poor. If however, the "oshir" is "marbeh," lives excessively, then the "dal" will be "yamit," have not enough. This is because when it comes to extravagances there is no limit and the wealthy individual will not be generous in giving charity, always thinking that he needs his riches for himself for this and for that. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)

Ch. 30, v. 15: "He'oshir lo yarbeh v'hadal lo yamit l'cha'peir al nafsho'seichem" - The wealthy individual shall not exceed and the poor individual shall not lessen to bring atonement for your souls - The halacha is that when hoodlums come to a community and demand money, if there will be no battle to oppose them and the community agrees to give money to avoid confrontation, then the amount demanded by the ruffians is calculated according to wealth rather than divided equally. If they come and threaten that they will otherwise kill, then the money given should be collected evenly, regardless of whether one is wealthy or poor. This gives us a new insight into why for the donations of machatzis hashekel are the same for all. Our verse ends with, "L'cha'peir al nafsho'seichem." Since the money is given to afford atonement for the soul, it is considered a matter of life and death and all contribute equally. (Medrash Y'honoson)

Ch. 30, v. 18: "V'ossiso kiyor" - And you shall make a laver - The laver, which contains water, is juxtaposed to the giving of donations for the Mishkon to teach us the lesson mentioned in the gemara Taanis 8b, that if people pledge charity and do not fulfill their pledge, drought ensues. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 31, v. 16: "Laasose es haShabbos l'dorosom" - To make the Shabbos for their generations - How do you MAKE Shabbos (see Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)? Perhaps we have an allusion here for creating a warm meaningful atmosphere on Shabbos. Although one can be a shomer Shabbos by refraining form all prohibited acts, lighting Shabbos lights, and reciting Kiddush, one's children will look upon Shabbos only as a day of restrictions. It would then not be all that likely that they would carry on with "keeping Shabbos," and all the less likely for all later generations. MAKING Shabbos meaningful and exciting makes for "Laasose es haShabbos l'dorosom," creating the Shabbos that will carry on for all future generations. (n.l.)

Ch. 31, v. 16,17: "Bris olom, Beini u'vein bnei Yisroel" - A covenant in perpetuity, Between Me and between the bnei Yisroel - Musof Rashi says that if the bnei Yisroel safeguard Shabbos properly they will not come to harm on Shabbos. This is "Ose hee l'olom," their not coming to harm is a permanent sign that Hashem does and will continue to guard them.

Commentators explain that this is the reason we do not recite the same blessing at maariv services on Shabbos that we recite on weekdays, "SHOMER amo Yisroel lo'ad," as Shabbos has its own inherent safety. It is therefore most interesting to note that just a bit later in our Shabbos maariv services we recite a short blessing which is called "mei'ein sheva," - a likeness to seven - meaning a shortened version of the seven maariv "amidoh" blessings, and the reason given for this is that if someone came to the prayer services late, and in turn, would end his maariv prayer late, he would go home alone at night and there is a fear that he will come to harm. By adding this prayer it gives him time to "catch up." Why is this necessary if there is an inherent safeguard on Shabbos? Perhaps, as is spelled out by Rashi, it is required to very carefully safeguard Shabbos, "Im yish'm'ruhoh koro'uy," which is no small task. Any help would be very appreciated. (Question raised by R' H.W.)

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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a


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