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MARCH 23-24, 2001 29 ADAR 5761

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Sunday, March 25.

Pop Quiz: What was used to make the kiyor (washstand) for the Mishkan?

- Rabbi Reuven Semah

"[Hashem] gave [Besal'el] the ability to teach, him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan." (Shemot 35:34)

The building of the Mishkan, the Temple of the desert, required great talent and skill. The master artisan of the Mishkan was Besal'el. However, here we are told that there was another, perhaps lesser known, craftsman whose name was Aholiab from the tribe of Dan. Rashi comments that Dan was of the lowly tribes, from the sons of the maidservants of Ya'akob (Bilhah). The Torah, Rashi continues, is equating Aholiab to Besal'el, who is from the highest royal tribe of Yehudah, to teach us that Hashem "sees no difference between the rich and the poor (Iyob 34:19)." This teaching from the book of Iyob doesn't only refer to money, but it also refers to wisdom and talent. In other words, the Torah is not saying that they were equal in wisdom. Nevertheless, they are viewed as equal. This seems difficult because we know there is a big difference between a person of great wisdom and a simple person. Let's explain with a simple illustration. Suppose there is a poor person who goes from door to door to collect food, and he approaches a person that has ten thousand dollars. They are obviously different. Suppose, however, that a sum of ten billion dollars is needed. Then the "rich" man we just mentioned is not regarded as such in this context. The same idea can be said here regarding the building of the Mishkan. This is a project that will result in containing the Shechinah, the Holy Presence of Hashem, on this earth. This will perfect the entire creation of the world. A great amount of wisdom and talent is required to accomplish this. In this context, the wisdom of Besal'el over Aholiab is regarded as miniscule. However, Hashem considers it enough to complete the job.

Many times in our lives, we are involved in things that are very great - far greater than we might realize, such as the study of Torah, the establishment of Yeshivahs, Mikvehs and synagogues. Many misvot that we do shape the entire world. The wisdom needed is astronomical. In this context, the difference between us is miniscule. Therefore we must always value the wisdom of the most simple person as much as the greatest person. We should always seek advice and counsel from all. Shabbat Shalom.


"These are the accounts of the Mishkan" (Shemot 38:21)

The Midrash states that the word "eleh" (these) which begins our perashah, is closely connected with another "eleh," namely "eleh elohecha Yisrael" (These are your gods O Israel). This rebellious statement was uttered by the people who threw themselves at the feet of the Golden Calf. Although Hashem responded to this uprising with grave measures, B'nei Yisrael were given the opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness. Hashem said to them, "With one "eleh" you angered Me, and with the other "eleh" you will appease Me." The shocking crime of the Golden Calf was forgiven because B'nei Yisrael displayed the same zeal and enthusiasm towards their donations to the Mishkan that they showed towards this crime. A profound thought lies in the words of this Midrash. We are expected to give to Hashem at least as much as we give to ourselves. One must exert the same amount of energy on behalf of Hashem's interest as he would his own interest.

The secret of success in any venture is not what is done to complete a task, but the manner in which it is done. It is the drive, the energy, the zeal and the enthusiasm which define its success. Leaders are individuals who actually "live" their work, rather than just perform it. Their whole life is permeated by their work. In contemporary society, unfortunately, we are accustomed to dividing the issues. In commercial, professional and political life there is little we would not do to achieve success. We strive to derive whatever we can out of life. When it comes to matters of the spirit and areas of religious endeavor, however, we suddenly become mild, genteel and obsessively tolerant. We are suddenly willing to accept numerous incursions into our beliefs, and are prepared to compromise and surrender our most precious values without a struggle. We should always remember the lesson of this Midrash. We should use the same enthusiasm and passion in accomplishing things for Hashem that motivates us to attain things for ourselves. (Peninim on the Torah)


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18 - 46:18.

The regular haftarah for this perashah would be from Yishayahu, which discusses the completion of the construction of the First Bet Hamikdash. However, since this week is Parashat Hahodesh, and we read a special maftir, a different haftarah is read. This haftarah begins by instructing the Kohanim to take a bull for a sacrifice on the first day of the month of Nisan. Since this maftir is always read on the Shabbat which falls on or immediately before Rosh Hodesh Nisan, this haftarah is also read this week.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Copper mirrors that were donated by the women.

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