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FEBRUARY 15-16, 2002 4 ADAR 5762

Pop Quiz: What name is given to the top of the Aron?


Our sages were able to derive beautiful and practical lessons from the Mishkan and the utensils therein. The Hatam Sofer quotes his Rabbi, R' Nosson Adler who said that the Aron (Ark) symbolizes Torah study in this world. The Luhot (Tablets) it contained represented Torah, the Cherubim symbolized its students and the poles (badim) which were used to carry the Aron symbolized its supporters.

Let us develop this analogy further. The two Cherubim faced each other, underscoring the respect scholars afforded each other. At the same time, the Cherubim's faces were directed toward the Cover of the Aron containing the Tablets. This suggests that whatever differences may arise in scholars' interpretations of the Torah, those differences are based on each scholar's genuine attempt to interpret the Torah, as contained in the Tablets behind the Cover.

The poles of the Ark symbolize the supporters of the Torah, those who provide the financial wherewithal for the Torah's students. It is particularly significant that the poles were not functional. They remained in a stationary position, attached to the Aron even when it was resting. This teaches us that those who perceive that they are upholding the Torah are in reality being upheld by it. The poles did not support the Aron; the Aron upheld the poles. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"And they shall make an Ark of Shittim wood" (Shemot 25:10)

Today the world focuses its attention on Jerusalem. A great amount of focus is on the Old City of Jerusalem and in particular, the Temple Mount, the site of the Temple - the Bet Hamikdash. The Bet Hamikdash was awesome. If today's world is preoccupied with the place where the Temple used to be, imagine how the world was watching the actual Temple. Our perashah discusses the building of the Mishkan, the first Temple of the desert. Many laws and insights concerning the Temples in Jerusalem, including the third Temple that is coming soon, are derived from this early Mishkan.

The first command to the Israelites was to build the Aron - the Ark that contained the Torah. The Torah is our lifeline. This command to build the Aron came before the building of the Mizbeyah - the Altar for the sacrifices. The main function of the Bet Hamikdash was to house the Altar. The purpose of the sacrifices on the Altar was to bring atonement of sins and save the lives of people who deserved to die because of their sins. Rabbi Mordechai Gifter learns from this fact that the command for the Aron came before the Altar to teach us that building the Aron even preceded saving lives! This is a difficult concept for us. However, the Torah is teaching us that our understanding of all concepts, even those that pertain to matters of life and death, must be learned from the Torah. Often a person tends to use his own understanding or rationalization in this very delicate situation. Hopefully we should never be confronted with such serious health and medical situations. However, as one consults with the doctor, one must always remember to consult with the Torah. Consulting with the Torah means just that - go to your Rabbi, who will go to the greatest Rabbi of the day. An Orthodox doctor is a poor substitute for a great Torah Sage. May we always enjoy good health and long life. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"...and they shall take a portion for Me from each man whose heart shall motivate him..." (Shemot 25:2)

Rashi explains the phrase "whose heart shall motivate him" to mean that the contributions of the people to the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, had to be voluntary. Even when a person does a good deed, it must be done with his heart to be worth its full value.

Many times, our Rabbis have served as examples of how to do Hesed. Once, two men wished to stay in Jerusalem for the holidays. They wanted to be near the great Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, a"h. When Rabbi Yosef Chaim heard about them, he invited them to his home for the holidays. They politely refused, claiming that they would stay at a nearby hotel. The Rabbi insisted, and said that he would charge them if they would stay by him, but less than the hotel. The men accepted his invitation and enjoyed their stay in the Rabbi's home. When the holidays were over, they approached the Rabbi with the sum agreed upon for their stay. He refused to accept it, saying: "I wanted to ensure that you would feel comfortable for the duration of your stay at my home. That is why I said I would charge you, so you would feel free to take what you need and eat to your heart's content. However, I never had any intention of accepting money from you!" We can all learn from Rabbi Yosef Chaim to make our guests feel as comfortable as possible!

A man once fell upon hard times. As the holidays approached, he wondered how he would manage. Finally, he decided to ask his Rabbi for assistance. "How much money do you need for the holidays?" the Rabbi asked. "One thousand dollars," came the reply. The Rabbi went into another room and returned with nine hundred and fifty dollars. "Take this money and go enjoy the holidays!" he told him. When the man happily departed, the Rabbi's assistant questioned: "If the rabbi was already giving such a substantial amount of money to him, why not give the full amount? Why fifty dollars less?" The Rabbi responded: "I wanted the man to leave with a good feeling. If I had given him the entire sum, he might have felt bad that he hadn't asked for more, for surely I would have complied with whatever he would have requested. By giving him a little less, he walked away feeling good that he only requested one thousand dollars, for the maximum I could have given him must be only nine hundred fifty!" With some wisdom, we can accomplish even more than the Hesed or Sedakah we originally planned.

May our hearts motivate us to wholeheartedly participate in acts of kindness and thus hasten the coming of Mashiah, Amen. Rabbi David Maslaton


"Take for Me an offering" (Shemot 25:2)

Rashi comments that in this section of the Torah we find the term "terumah" three times. They refer to three collections of offerings. One collection was for sockets that would serve as a foundation for the Tabernacle. One was an obligation that each person give a certain amount to purchase the animals for sacrifices. And one was for the actual building of the Tabernacle which was donated by each person in the amount he wished to contribute.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin wrote that once the yeshivahs in Europe were in deep financial difficulties and he and a delegation of other prominent Rabbis traveled to Warsaw to collect funds. They had invited journalists and editors of papers to come to a meeting and Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin gave a speech about the importance of their mission. One editor asked him, "Why did Rabbi Meir Shapiro build such a luxurious edifice for his yeshivah? He had to raise large sums of money. Wouldn't it have been preferable to share all the money he raised with the other yeshivahs?"

The intention of this journalist was to ruin the fundraising campaign, and Rabbi Sorotzkin answered him thus: Why did the Torah obligate each person to give a half shekel for the sacrifices? Why didn't the Torah rely on the generosity of the people as it did when it came to giving donations for the building of the sanctuary? The reason is that the Torah knew human nature when it comes to giving donations. People are more open to giving their money when it comes to donating for a building that for the daily running expenses of the institution. What is more precious: the Sanctuary itself or the sacrifices? Of course, the sacrifices, since the whole purpose of the Sanctuary was to be a place in which to offer the sacrifices. We also see that the daily offerings wee permissible on Shabbat, but the building of the Sanctuary was forbidden. Even though the sacrifices were the key purpose, it was necessary to make it an obligation for people to donate for the sacrifices. However, when it came to the building of the Sanctuary the people immediately brought on their own all that was needed.

"The same is true with the yeshivahs," said Rabbi Sorotzkin. "The purpose of having yeshivahs is for Torah study; the buildings are only a means to an end. Nevertheless, people find it easier to give donations for buildings. They appreciate having parts of buildings named in their honor: rooms, doors, windows and bricks. It is much more difficult to raise money for the daily upkeep of a yeshivah. I am certain that when Rabbi Shapiro completes the building, he will have difficulties in raising the money necessary for the daily maintenance of the yeshivah just as the other heads of yeshivahs do."

Rabbi Sorotzkin concluded that the money for the sockets also needed to be collected as an obligation by every person. True, people are willing to give for a building, but they want to be certain that the building will be a reality and not merely a dream. Therefore, they want to wait and see if the foundation gets started. Only after the foundation is completed do they feel secure that the building will actually be built. Therefore the money for the sockets, which was the foundation, had to be collected as an obligation from each person. (Growth through Torah)


"And acacia wood" (Shemot 25:5)

Rashi explains that B'nei Yisrael had access to shittim wood as a result of Ya'akob Abinu's foresight. When he came to Egypt, he brought acacia trees with him which he transplanted in Egypt. He was Divinely inspired to foresee that one day his descendants would build a Mishkan requiring shittim wood. Before his demise, Ya'akob implored his children to take those transplanted trees when they eventually departed from Egypt.

Rabbi Y.L. Nendik suggests a profound lesson to be derived from this. To the average person, Ya'akob appears to be an ordinary farmer regarding this matter. He tills and fertilizes the land in preparation for planting. Then, he digs deep holes and plants the trees. He does not appear to be performing an extraordinary act - except in his own mind. Ya'akob is not merely planting trees, he is building a Mishkan for Hashem! This profound thought is the underlying motif in every endeavor undertaken by the Patriarchs and every act constituted a component in the building of Klal Yisrael.

We suggest that this profound thought may be integrated into the parenting process. Parents should view their role as encompassing much more than the "simple" process of raising children. They are performing a mission! It is their obligation to transmit the legacy of Torah to the next generation. Viewed from this perspective the parents' role is elevated and their success will be magnified. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And their faces shall look one to another; towards the Ark-cover the faces of the Kerubim shall be" (Shemot 25:20)

The Gemara (Baba Batra 99a) asks why in the Mishkan the Kerubim faced each other, whereas in the Bet Hamikdash "their faces were to the walls of the house" (Chronicles II 3:13). The Gemara answers: When the Jews fulfilled Hashem's wish, the Kerubim faced each other. When they conducted themselves contrary to His will, then the Kerubim faced the wall. What is the connection between the direction of the Kerubim and the will of Hashem? The Gemara's explanation of the direction the Kerubim faced may be explained as a metaphor: "Each man facing his brother" (the literal translation of "ish el ahiv") can be taken as a symbol of the relationship between one Jew and another when in compliance with the will of Hashem. He desires that a Jew always be concerned for a fellow Jew. "Facing the walls of the house" means that one turns his back on the other and is totally preoccupied with what takes place within the walls of his home. Such selfish behavior is contrary to Hashem's will. (Vedibarta Bam)


This Week's Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26 - 6:13.

Our perashah describes the Mishkan and everything that goes into it. B'nei Yisrael volunteer and contribute whatever they can to participate in this great event.

Our Haftarah describes the building of the first Bet Hamikdash. Now that the Jews have established themselves in the land, they need a permanent structure for G-d to reside in. The Temple was built by King Solomon, who spared no expense to make it a glorious house for G-d. (Tell it from the Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: The Kaporet.

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