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Parashat Terumah

A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

Instructing a Gentile to Perform Forbidden Activity on Shabbat

It is forbidden to tell a gentile to perform melachah (forbidden activity) for a Jew on Shabbat and Yom Tov; it is prohibited even to instruct the gentile before Shabbat to perform the given activity on Shabbat. Hazal found an allusion - an "asmachta" - for this prohibition from the pasuk concerning melachah on Yom Tov, "no work shall be performed on them" (as opposed to, "do not perform work"). According to the Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 16a), whenever Hazal find an allusion to a rabbinically mandated halachah in the Torah, this shows that Hashem Himself noted that this is a proper provision. One must therefore be very meticulous with regard to this prohibition.

One may not tell a gentile to perform a melachah even for purposes of the fulfillment of a misvah. One may, however, instruct a gentile to perform activities prohibited by Hazal for purposes of a misvah. Thus, one may tell a gentile on Rosh Hashanah to climb a tree to retrieve a shofar from the treetop for purposes of shofar blowing. One may also tell a gentile to bring bread in an area where carrying is prohibited by Hazal for se'udat Shabbat. The Shulhan Aruch (338:2) rules that one may have a gentile play music on Shabbat for a hatan and kallah. Although Rav Yis'hak Taib, in his work, "Erech Hashulhan" (325:2), argues that in cases involving personal enjoyment - such as food and music - this provision does not apply, the aforementioned ruling of the Shulhan Aruch clearly indicates otherwise.

If a gentile lit a candle on Shabbat for his own needs, such as the light in the stairwell, a Jew may benefit from that light and walk up the stairs after the gentile. If, however, the gentile turned on the light for the purposes of the Jew, such as if he saw the Jew coming up the stairs and turned the light on for him, the Jew may not benefit from that light. He must therefore wait until the light goes off and then walk up the stairs. However, if there already is a little bit of light and the gentile added more light, he may benefit from the additional light.

One may not tell a gentile to purchase a given item for him when the market is held only on Shabbat, even if he makes the request on Erev Shabbat. If, however, the market is held on the weekdays, as well, on may ask the gentile to make the purchase, even if he knows that the gentile will make the purchase on Shabbat, since he does not explicitly tell him to buy the item on Shabbat. One may also tell the gentile to purchase the item for himself so that if the Jew wants he can buy it from him - even for a big profit.

A Jew may give his car on Erev Shabbat to a gentile mechanic where all the workers are non-Jews in order to pick it up on Sunday morning, so long as they arranged a specific fee for the services and the work can be completed on Erev Shabbat or Mossa'ei Shabbat. It is then permissible, even if in the end the gentile does the work on Shabbat itself, since the Jew did not tell him to perform the work on Shabbat. When a particular need arises, one may give the car in to be fixed even if time is tight and the mechanic will have to perform the work on Shabbat.

For purposes of a misvah involving many people, one may tell a gentile to perform a melachah, even one forbidden by Torah law. Thus, if the lights in the Bet Kenesset were off on Leil Shabbat, one may ask a gentile to turn on the lights.

In some communities, a gentile is commissioned to sit in a room outside the sanctuary in the Bet Kenesset to record the pledges of those who purchased aliyot to the Torah and the like. This practice has authorities on whom to rely, and it is therefore not worthwhile to object. However, this applies only to Batei Kenesset who have followed this practice for many years; those synagogues that never adopted such a practice should not begin doing so.

There is a dispute among the authorities whether one may tell a gentile to tell another gentile to perform a given melachah - even one forbidden by Torah law - for a Jew for purposes of a misvah. In situations of dire need one may rely on the lenient position.


The time for school registration is right around the corner. Parents wish only the best for their dear sons and daughters, the most precious treasure in their possession. What factors do they take into consideration? They look for a high academic standard, and for good reason. In the Torah educational systems the academic standards are, indeed, high. They look for beautiful, spacious buildings, and for good reason. Indeed, in many places the Torah educational schools are situated in luxurious buildings, while others are as yet - and we emphasize, as yet - located in crowded facilities, and all efforts are being made to attain proper facilities.

But let us bring to the parents' attention a lesson from our parashah. The aron haberit, the ark of the covenant, which contained the Sefer Torah and the two luhot, was plated with gold both inside and out. This teaches us that when it comes to education, one cannot look only at the exterior. One must rather look to see if even on the inside there is pure gold.

Torah education is gold. The speech is clean, free of curses and swearing, without vulgarity and vile talk. The treatment of others, particularly to the underprivileged, is characterized by a willingness to assist and help out. It is free of sickening violence and brutality. It teaches a respectful and appreciative attitude towards parents, obedience and discipline. All this is besides the enrichment of knowledge of our tradition and ancestral heritage, a knowledge of our leaders and festivals, tefilah and Tehillim - a genuine attachment to our enlightening heritage! Such a beautiful education, symbolized by the pure gold "keruvim" whose faces resembled those of children, which represent the students of Torah education.


The planks with which the mishkan was built were transported in wagons: twelve planks were placed in a wagon attached to a pair of oxen (Shabbat 98b). Now each plank measured ten amot in height, an amah and a half in length, and one amah in width. A simple calculation shows that there were approximately fifteen cubic meters of wood - the area of half a room. It is hard to imagine that a pair of oxen today would be able to budge a carriage with such a load.

The accessories of the mishkan, by contrast, were carried on the levi'im's shoulders, with poles inserted through the rings as they prepared for transport. The poles were then removed when the mishkan was assembled in its new location. This was true with regard to all the accessories of the mishkan except one: the aron haberit. The poles of the ark were plated with gold and remained fastened to it at all times. The Torah explicitly forbids removing them: "The poles shall be in the rings of the aron; they shall not be removed from it." One who removed the poles violates a Torah prohibition and receives "malkot" (flogging).

Why? What idea underlies this prohibition?

The Sefer Hahinuch (misvah 96) presents the following explanation for this misvah: "The aron is the sanctuary of the Torah, and it is our main essence and our honor. We are obligated to treat it with all the honor and glory to the best of our ability. We were therefore commanded not to remove the poles of the aron from it, lest we will have to quickly leave with the aron for some need."

This concept is very clear and easily understood. Nobody likes coming home and discovering that someone broke into the house and emptied the vault, taking all the jewelry. Yet, he doesn't lose any sleep over the knowledge that there are thieves who carry out thefts; he therefore won't turn himself into a prisoner in his own home. Nor will he surround himself with sensors and other exotic deterrents. If, however, he is entrusted with the crown jewel in his home, then no means of protection will be too much; he will not allow his eye to budge from the treasure.

Why? Let us define this scientifically. Say the threat of burglary is one in a hundred thousand. If one owns an estimated $100,000 worth of property in his home, than we may calculate the risk at but $1. For this risk no one loses sleep. But the crown jewel is worth, let's say, $100 million. Even if the risk was the same - it would now be worth $1,000 - a considerable sum. Not to mention the fact that potential thieves are lured by such a treasure, and thus the risk factor rises considerably. This idea is very simple and in fact has a source in halachah. A parah adumah (red heifer) is very rare; because of its exorbitant price, halachah requires that it be watched and guarded with particular care and caution (Shabbat 52a).

The sacred Torah is eternal, and its lessons are eternal for everyone in every generation. What are we to learn from this halachah, from this especially strict standard of reverence required in our treatment of the ark of the covenant?

Say we sold a house and received its full price. What would we do with the money? Imagine an acquaintance comes along and says, "It's okay, give me the money. You won't lose a thing, trust me."

Wait a minute - what does this mean? This is half a million dollars; no small change. What does he mean he won't lose? Who says he will return the money; who will guarantee it? Without any shadow of a doubt, we wouldn't trust him. Instead, we will schlep around from one bank to the next, compare different savings plans, look to reduce service charges and maximize our profits - this kind of money is no small matter!

Several months ago there was some hysteria in Israel. A certain water reservoir was mixed with too much chlorine or something like that. Immediately, hundreds of thousands of people stormed the supermarkets and emptied the shelves of mineral water. They carried enormous cartons and filled the trunks of their cars in mass hysteria. And for good reason - health is no light matter.

Long lines of people stretch before the Central Bus Station and the entrance to the Western Wall area. Security guards are checking bags, having the people pass through metal detectors, and conducting searches. Everyone accepts the tightened security measures with understanding in light of the current situation. Security is no small matter!

A young man wearing a kippah walks down the street, suddenly feels hungry, lifts his eyes and sees a "kosher" sign over a shop. He walks inside. To where? On what basis? Who confirms the sign, who guarantees that the fruits are not "orlah," that "terumot" and "ma'asrot" have been taken? And after all, non-kosher meat is far cheaper. Who guarantees that it was salted properly, that all the forbidden fats - the consumption of which is punishable with "karet"- were removed? Let us be honest with ourselves: money is no small matter, health is no small matter - but what about the laws of the Torah and halachot of kashrut?

One who knows that forbidden food "seals" one's heart and soul, and leaves a stain upon them, will exercise extreme care and concern with regard to where and what he eats.


"They shall make for Me a Mikdash, and I will reside among them"

The pasuk does not say that Hashem "will reside in it" - the Mishkan - but rather "among them" - Benei Yisrael. From here we learn that the primary residence of the Shechinah takes place within the person himself, in the heart of every individual. The Alshich Hakadosh zs"l writes that in fact one is dependent upon the other. That is, when the Shechinah resides among us, it resides as well in the Bet Hamikdash. Yirmiyahu therefore told his contemporaries not to say, "Heichal Hashem, Heichal Hashem" - that Hashem will certainly not destroy the Bet Hamikdash, as it is his home. In truth, Yirmiyahu continues, "Heichal Hashem hemah" - the people are the ones who are meant to become a "Heichal Hashem" and have the Shechinah dwell in their midst. If they do not do so, then the Shechinah departs even from the Bet Hamikdash. Likewise, the Gemara says that when Titus burned the Bet Hamikdash, a Heavenly voice cried, "You burned a burnt Heichal!" This is what the pasuk means: "They shall make for Me a Mikdash" - and when will the Shechinah reside within it? When the people fulfill the next clause in the pasuk: "I will dwell among them."

"They shall make for Me a Mikdash, and I will reside among them"

The Hid"a zs"l writes that since a person himself turns into a Mikdash for Hashem and a place for the residence of the Shechinah, he must ensure to have within him all the accessories of the Bet Hamikdash. He must have a menorah that illuminates the area - meaning, he must ensure that people learn from his pleasant ways. The first task is to clean the menorah from the filth that had collected, meaning, to cleanse his ways so that they are pure and for the sake of Heaven.

He must also have an aron haberit, containing the luhot: he must bend his shoulder to bear the yoke of Torah and carry on his back the keruvim - whose faces resembled those of a child, meaning, he must teach his children and guide them to observe Hashem's laws.

The incense altar - includes the "helbenah," a putrid substance which symbolizes those who have strayed from Hashem's path. They, too, must be influenced by one's actions, and the Name of Hashem must be sanctified by him.

On the mizbah ha'olah burned an eternal flame. The fire alludes to enthusiasm in the service of Hashem, particularly tefilah, which takes the place of korbanot in the absence of the Bet Hamikdash. The daily "terumat hadeshen" (removal of the ashes from the mizbe'ah) alludes to constant introspection and improvement. The shulhan (show-bread table) symbolizes the sanctity of one's food and maintenance of the highest standards of kashrut, as well as supporting Torah institutions and scholars, understanding that financial support is critical for intensive Torah study. We then fulfill the pasuk, "In accordance with all I show you, the structure of the mishkan and the structure of all its accessories - so shall you do" - in your own, personal Mikdash!

"They shall make for Me a Mikdash, and I will reside among them"

Rabbenu Yosef Haim zs"l writes in his work, "Od Yossef Hai" that, as we know, the Shechinah resided within all the accessories ("keilim") of the Mikdash. The Midrash relates that Nevuchadnessar fashioned a statue and tried to persuade Daniel to bow down before it. He therefore took the golden "siss" (frontlet) of the kohen gadol and placed it in the mouth of the statue. The statue would then declare, "I am Hashem your G-d!" When Daniel heard this, he told Nevuchadnessar that he wants to kiss the statue's mouth. He approached the statue and said, "I am flesh and blood and the messenger of the Al-mighty. Make sure that the Name of Hashem is not desecrated on your account!" The "siss" was immediately expelled from the statue's mouth. Regarding this incident Yirmiyahu prophesied: "I will deal with Bal [the Babylonian deity] in Babylonia, and make him disgorge what he has swallowed, and nations shall no more gaze on him with joy" (Yirmiyahu 51:44). At that moment the wind knocked down the statue. With what force did the "siss" operate? It was among the bigdei hakodesh - the sacred garments of the kohen gadol within which the Shechinah resided. But on what account did the Shechinah reside in the sacred garments and accessories of the Mishkan? On the account of the intention of those who made them, as Moshe Rabbenu blessed them, "May it be His will that the Shechinah resides in your handiwork." This is what our pasuk means: "They shall make for Me" - for My Name, with pure intentions, "a Mikdash" - the sacred accessories, and as a result of these sacred intentions "I will reside among them" - within those accessories.


Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah zs"l

The central obligation of our generation is that of "zikuy harabim" - bringing merit to others, the obligation to which our rabbi Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a has devoted himself. And it was this mission that burned like fire within the bones of Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah zs"l. He would urge his students to go out to the masses to pour upon them the blessed dew of Torah and bring their hearts closer to their Father in heaven.

He would explain the halachah that one may not speak in between the placing of the tefillin shel yad and tefillin shel rosh as based on the symbolism of the two. The tefillin shel yad symbolizes workers who live off their profession, whereas the tefillin shel rosh alludes to those who occupy themselves in Torah. There may be no interruption between the two: they must enjoy a constant and ongoing relationship and connection.

He delivered beautiful lectures and conducted himself with beautiful manners, practicing what he preached. He would go through the trouble of traveling to wherever he was invited to speak so long as he had the strength to do so. Once, after a long day in the yeshivah and he was visibly tired and worn, he was seen boarding a bus to Haifa. He was asked why he was traveling so far in such a condition. He replied, "Perhaps there will be in the audience one person whom I will reach and will strengthen himself in Torah and yirat Shamayim - for him this is all worth it!"

He knew the secret that a community is composed of individuals, each of whom constitutes an entire world. He therefore spared no effort even when dealing with individuals, be it an adult or child. He once heard from a student that a certain person in a certain town sent his children to a school which taught religious studies but not with the necessary intensity or at the appropriate standard. Without any hesitation, he traveled to that town and went to the parents' home. They didn't understand why there was such a fuss; after all, they did not send their children to entirely secular schools, Heaven forbid. He pleasantly replied, "If a young man is recommended for your daughter, a nice boy, but then an even better match is suggested - wiser, more refined, more intelligent - whom would you choose? "The second," they said. "You see," he said, "the same applies to education. You send your children to a good school, but there is a much better option, one which your children deserve."

A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

"Kiddush Be'makom Se'uda" - Continued

What Constitutes a "Se'uda"?

One who eats a kezayit of food made from the five grains, such as noodles made from flour and the like, fulfills his obligation with regard to reciting kiddush in a place where he conducts his meal. If, however, he eats rice - even a large quantity - or meat or fish, he does not fulfill this obligation. On Shabbat morning, however, those who are lenient in this regard have authorities on whom to rely so long as the one who recited kiddush drinks a revi'it of wine from the cup. But on Leil Shabbat, when the main obligation of kiddush applies, one should not conduct himself leniently in this regard.

If one drinks a revi'it of wine (around 86 ml) he fulfills his obligation of kiddush in the place of a meal. He may then go to eat his meal in a different location. Some authorities maintain that even the one who recited kiddush fulfills his requirement if he drinks a revi'it of wine from the cup. Others, however, argue that he must drink an additional revi'it besides the revi'it from the kiddush cup. It would seem that with regard to kiddush on Leil Shabbat, which is required by Torah law, one should drink an additional revi'it besides the revi'it of wine from kiddush cup. On Shabbat morning, one may be lenient and fulfill his requirement of kiddush be'makom se'uda with the revi'it he drinks from the kiddush cup. (A full revi'it is required for this halachah; a majority of a revi'it does not suffice.) If, however, one drank only a revi'it from the kiddush cup on Leil Shabbat and already moved to a different location, he need not repeat kiddush.

If one drank a revi'it of beverages other than wine, he is not considered having recited kiddush in the location of a meal. He must eat a kezayit of bread or other baked goods, or drink a revi'it of wine.

One who Recites Kiddush on Behalf of Others and Does not Eat With Them

One may recite kiddush on behalf of others who do not know how to recite kiddush to fulfill their obligation, even if he does not intend to eat at that location and thus does not fulfill his requirement through this recitation. He should not drink from the kiddush wine in this situation; instead, one of the listeners should drink from the wine a quantity of a majority of a revi'it. The one reciting kiddush may recite the berachah of "borei peri hagefen" even though he personally does not drink from the wine.

Kiddush at the Time of the Meal

One must eat his Shabbat meal soon after kiddush. He should not wait too long in between kiddush and the meal. Nevertheless, for purposes related to the meal one may interrupt in between kiddush and the meal. At the seder, therefore, one may prolong the reading of the Haggadah even though this results in a long interruption in between kiddush and the meal. (The reason is that massah is called "lehem oni" because "onim alav devarim harbeh" - many words are spoken over it, referring to the recitation of the Haggadah, and the misvah to tell the story of yessi'at Missrayim applies specifically "when one has massah and marror before him." Thus, the Haggadah is considered the purposes of the meal.)



Imagine a room over 1650 feet in length and 90 feet in height. Such a room would be an amazing sight in any building. It is all the more remarkable when we encounter a room 660 feet deep beneath the surface of the ground. Indeed, these are the measurements of the large room in Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. A cavern may be composed of a very intricate system of rooms, cells, hallways and windy paths. These paths can be narrow and short, to the point where one must crawl in order to pass through them. They will then suddenly open into giant rooms, palaces of sorts. In these caves one can find particularly interesting creatures. In one cave in New Zealand, for example, there lives a flying insect that received from the Creator a gland that lights its path like a flashlight. In caves in tropical areas there are cockroaches the size of frogs who must compete with much larger creatures for food. Snakes often make their way into caves in tropical areas, sometimes to live and feed off the bats and other birds in the caves.

Caves come across as places shrouded in mystery. This fact attracts many youngsters who look to learn about and study the inside of the cave and revel over the surprising and irregular discoveries they find. In actuality, one should know that not everyone can enter every cave without first consulting with qualified scientists. Some are infected with diseases or pose other serious dangers. For us, this brings to mind the fact that in Judaism, too, there are many levels that we may categorize as "sod" ("secret"), and it is not appropriate for anyone to try and study them despite the lure and mystery involved in discovering that which is concealed. One who wishes to study the "hidden" areas of the Torah must be worthy of this discipline. In the "revealed" areas of the Torah, there are very deep levels that every Jew can study and through which every Jew can grow. Our Torah was given to all levels of the nation and allows every Jew to learn at his level and fulfill the demand of "you shall engage in it day and night."


Dear Brothers,

The mishnah is Masechet Keilim (1:6) lists the "ten levels of sanctity." Eress Yisrael is more sacred than other countries; Yerushalayim more so than the rest of Eress Yisrael; Har Habayit from other areas in Yerushalayim; then the azarot, the Bet Hamikdash - until we get to the most sacred chamber, the kodesh hakodashim. What is situated there, in the kodesh hakodashim? The aron kodesh, which contains the luhot and the Sefer Torah.

Hazal teach us that every Torah scholar resembles an aron kodesh (Yoma 72b). Just as the aron contained within it the tablets and the Torah, so is the Torah inscribed on the heart of every Torah scholar.

Nevertheless, an explicit pasuk teaches us that the Torah dwells within the heart of every single Jew: "My victory shall stand forever, My triumph shall remain unbroken. Listen to Me, you who care for the right, O people who lay My instruction to heart" (Yeshayahu 6-7). The Creator Himself testifies to the fact that His nation is a people with the Torah upon their hearts.

This concept has practical ramifications in halachah. The Gemara in Moed Katan (25a) says that one who stands by a person at the moment when he dies must rend his garments, as a Jew's death is likened to the burning of a Sefer Torah. This is codified as halachah in the Shulhan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 340:5). Indeed, every Jew is like a Sefer Torah, his body like the aron!

The aron was not made entirely from gold. It was plated with gold on the inside and outside, but in the middle it was made from wood. The same applies to each and every one of us. On the outside, we are gold: Shabbat, kashrut, family purity, and tefilah. In the inside, too, we are gold: the Jewish heart, Jewish emotions, Jewish qualities - we are humble, compassionate and doers of kindness. We cannot, however, overlook the middle layer. Not everything is gold. There is a layer of simple wood, mundane and physical.

But atop the aron lies the covering, the kapporet, featuring the keruvim who spread their wings over the ark, their faces resembling the faces of children.

What is the significance of the kapporet and keruvim over the aron? We must grow from within ourselves the next generation, so that they maintain a strong connection with their parents' generation. We must educate our children to be pure as keruvim and angels, to strive for spirituality. But their faces are turned towards the aron kodesh - which symbolizes each and everyone of us - obeying their parents, honoring them and fulfilling their wishes.

The keruvim are not merely plated with gold - they are made from pure gold. This must be the parents' ambition. No need to worry; the time will come when they will go out to the mundane world, to be a wooden aron plated inside and out with gold. But now, during their childhood years, they must be educated to be pure gold, filled entirely with sacred emotions, pure faith, the Torah of the patriarchs and our multigenerational heritage.

Which parent does not want his pure children to grow into "a solid block of pure gold"? Every parent sets this as his ambition, goal and desire!

But how does a parent realize this goal? There is but one answer: Torah education.

Education involving vulgar speech and talk of the street ruins the pure gold in the delicate soul of the child.

Education accompanied by brutal violence, gangs and fights leaves tragic scars.

Education detached from our ancestral heritage, far removed from pure faith, bereft of tefilah and the atmosphere of the hagim, is hollow and cold. Only Torah education, together with a high standard of general studies, teaches good manners, pleasantness, attachment to our heritage and faith. Only it will protect the souls of our pure angels that they may continue to grow as pure gold.

Shabbat Shalom,

Aryeh Deri

Gamliel Ben Nizha and Yosef Ben Hanom

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