Parshas Trumah concerns the mitzvah to build the Mishkan -- the Tabernacle
in the desert -- and the Beis Hamikdash -- Temple -- in Jerusalem. The central
aspect of the Mishkan and the Beis Hamikdash is the Aron Hakodesh -- the
Holy Ark containing the Tablets and the Torah.
One of the issues discussed by the commentaries regards the order of
construction. Moshe first commanded the building of the Aron Kodesh (Holy
Ark). Betzalel, the artisan in charge of the building, changed the order,
and built the Mishkan itself first, then the Aron Kodesh (Talmud, Brachos
The Chasom Sofer began by explaining that prophecy is associated with
intellect. (In Judaism, prophets must first of all be outstanding Torah Scholars.
This contrasts with other religions, in which "prophets," "seers," and "oracles"
were often uneducated, insane or drugged.) The Torah says: Sof ma'aseh
b'machshavah t'chilah -- "last in deed is first in thought." Therefore, Moshe,
who commands through his prophetic spirit, mentions first that which will
be produced last. (Toras Moshe)
We must first envision the ultimate goal. Its realization should always
remain primary. However, initial steps must be taken; these steps, although
not actually the primary goal, are nonetheless essential to reaching the
fulfillment of the ultimate goal.
This principle is wide-reaching. The Baal Shem Tov answered many profound
questions with a similar idea: Hashem has two attributes, which seem contrary.
We talk of G-d's Knowledge and G-d's Will. "G-d's Knowledge" deals with ultimate
goals -- the righteous will be rewarded, the wicked will be punished. "G-d's
Will," however, seems quite contrary. He wills that there be Free Choice;
this entails that the wicked "get away" with crimes for now, and that the
righteous suffer hardships in this world. These steps are necessary in order
to fulfill the ultimate goal, however. (Baal Shem Tov Al Hatorah, Beraishis,
2 [we have oversimplified, the interested reader should see the original].)
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Twelve)
The Two Months of Adar, continued
The Jewish Leap Year has an extra, thirteenth month. The twelve month
is Adar Rishon (the first Adar); the thirteenth month is Adar Sheni (the
Last week, the question was raised concerning Bar Mitzvos and Yahrzeits:
"If a birth or death occurred during the month of Adar on a normal year,
when will it be commemorated during a "leap year?" On the first Adar, or
the second Adar?"
Readers might be surprised to find that a child born during Adar of a
normal year, has the Bar Mitzvah during the second Adar. Even those of the
opinion that the first month of Adar is fit for the Yahrzeit, agree that
the second month is appropriate for the Bar Mitzvah.
Mahari Mintz distinguished between the two. Yahrzeit is a day of atonement;
it could be held after twelve months, even if not indicative of the date
of the calendar. The Bar Mitzvah, however -- signifying the end of twelve
years -- must correspond to the exact date of the year.
Purim Katan -- The Minor Purim
Next week, on the fourteenth of Adar Rishon (Thursday night and Friday),
comes the minor holiday, Purim Katan. The very last entry in Orech Chayim
(Laws of Daily Life) concerns the minor Purim, which occurs during a leap
In the Talmud, there is a debate: in which of the two months of Adar
should Purim be held? The conclusion is the second Adar. Even so, the Mishnah
states that there is no difference between the first Adar and the second,
with the exception of the reading of the Megilah. The implication is that
during the first Adar, there should be some kind of remembrance of the miracle
of Purim. The other laws of Purim, except for the reading of the Megilah,
should apply... The halachah states that "some are of the opinion that Purim
Katan should be celebrated with a festive meal, but it is not the custom
to do so. Nonetheless, one should have a slightly festive meal, for it is
written, (Proverbs 15:15): 'He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.'
" (Shulchan Oruch, end of Orech Chayim).
Rav Tzadok Milublin explained that Adar Rishon (the first Adar) corresponds
to the realm of thought, while the second Adar corresponds to action. All
the requirements of Purim concern deed -- action -- so the requirements are
put off until the second Adar, the time of doing. However, at heart, the
mitzvos of Purim apply equally during the first Adar, as well as the second.
One of the mitzvos of Purim is Mishloach Monos -- giving foodstuffs to friends
and acquaintances. The purpose of Mishloach Monos is to bring about a unity
and harmony among the Jewish People (who had been accused by Haman of being
"scattered and divided.") [Esther 3:8] (Monos Halevi). If the laws of Purim
are in theory necessary on Purim Katan, then Mishloach Monos ought to be
given, as well. If it is not our custom, then, at least in heart, they should
The Ramah (Rav Moshe Iserles) wrote glosses to the Shulchan Oruch, the
major source of Jewish Law. By deferring from his own original works, and
instead focusing on another's work, Ramah unified Judaism in a remarkable
way. The Shulchan Oruch was written for Sephardim and the schools who rely
heavily on Rambam's decisions. Ashkenazim, however, took into account a wide
array of legal rulings. Ramah's glosses made the Shulchan Oruch accessible
to all Jews, and the work thus became universally accepted.
At the very beginning of his glosses, Ramah quotes the verse (Psalms
16:8): "I have set Hashem always before me."
The last laws in the section of daily duties concern Purim Katan. The
Ramah concludes the first part of Shulchan Oruch with the verse (Proverbs
15:15): "He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast." Rav Tzadok Milublin
writes that the first entry and last entry are similar, and it is surely
not a coincidence. Set Hashem forever before yourself -- you will have a
merry heart, and be able to rejoice constantly.
The first comments concern "yirah" -- fear and awe. The final comments
concern "simchah" -- joy. When the Jewish People begin with effort, exertion
and acceptance of responsibility, they will eventually merit to meet all
challenges with joy.
(Based on Pri Tzadik)
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein PC Kollel 1 Babbin Court Spring Valley,
NY 10977 Phone: 914-425-3565 Fax: 914-425-4296 E-mail: