At the end of this week's parshah, after the Mishkan was
completed, we read, "Moshe could not enter the Ohel Mo'ed/Tent of
Meeting, for the cloud rested upon it." Rashi comments, "As long
as the cloud was there, Moshe could not enter. When the cloud
departed, Moshe could enter."
At Har Sinai, also, there was a dense cloud which initially
prevented Moshe from approaching. How did Moshe approach Har
Sinai? The sage R' Eliezer says that Hashem grabbed Moshe and
pulled him in. In the yeshiva of the sage R' Yishmael they said
that Hashem made a path through the cloud and Moshe entered.
R' Moshe Feinstein z"l comments: there are many times when a
person feels that he cannot move forward because a dark cloud
hangs over him. One should know, however, that nothing can stop
him! Sometimes one can make a path through the cloud, i.e., he
can navigate through his troubles without becoming embroiled in
them. This is the preferable course, for who knows how he will
emerge if he gets caught up in a struggle?
If one cannot go through the cloud, he should look for a path
that has no obstacles (just as Moshe waited for the cloud to
depart). However, if he can neither go through the cloud nor
find another path, he should push forward anyway with a firm
conviction that Hashem will take him by the hand and lead him
through. (Darash Moshe, Vol. II)
"These are the reckonings of the Mishkan/Tabernacle . . ."
Moshe said, "I know that Bnei Yisrael are complainers.
Therefore, I will give an accounting of all of the donations that
were given to the Mishkan." However, he forgot what he had done
with 1,775 shekel, and he felt bad. Later Hashem enlightened
him, and he felt better. Then he announced in a loud voice
(verse 28), "And from the one thousand seven hundred seventy-five
[shekel] he made hooks for the pillars, covered their tops and
Why did Moshe make an accounting? He heard people saying, "If
someone was in charge of thousands of talents of silver and
thousands of talents of gold, is it any wonder that he is rich?"
R' Chaim Moshe Reuven Elazary z"l observes: from this we learn
the extent to which a public official or one who is entrusted
with the public's funds should go to avoid any appearance of
impropriety. Surely only a few cynics questioned Moshe's
integrity! Nevertheless, even to silence those few, Moshe gave a
full accounting of the mishkan's assets.
Why did Hashem cause Moshe to forget what he had done with
1,775 shekalim and to suffer even a brief period of pain?
R' Chaim Aryeh Lerner z"l explains: The Sages teach that if the
Luchot had not been broken, there would be no such thing as
forgetfulness. Thus, although Hashem congratulated Moshe for
breaking the Luchot, Moshe, nevertheless, had some culpability
for reintroducing forgetfulness to the world. Moshe's
"punishment" was that he suffered from a brief period of
Why was it specifically the hooks (in Hebrew: "vavim") of
which Moshe lost track? R' Yehuda Aryeh Perlow z"l of Novominsk
Even after Bnei Yisrael had been forgiven for the sin of the
Golden Calf, Moshe remained troubled by it. If only Bnei Yisrael
had not said (Shemot 32:8), "This is your Elokim, Israel, which
(plural) brought you ('he-elucha') up from the land of Egypt"!
By using the plural form, they implied that there were other gods
with G-d. If they had said, ". . . which (singular) brought you
('he-elcha')" - _without_a_"vav"_ - their sin would have been
less. Because Moshe wished to overlook the "vav," he forgot the
How did Hashem enlighten him? He reminded Moshe that the "vav"
is a sign of teshuvah. [A full explanation is beyond the scope of
this space.] Thus, for example, when Kayin repented for killing
Hevel and he asked G-d for a sign that would protect him, Hashem
engraved the letter "vav" on his forehead. This consoled Moshe,
and he then remembered the "vavim."
(Lev Aryeh Hechadash)
"They brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the Tent and all its
utensils: its hooks, its planks, its bars, its pillars, and
its sockets . . ." (39:33)
Rashi explains: Bnei Yisrael were unable to raise the Mishkan.
Also, since Moshe had not made any contribution to the Mishkan,
Hashem left the job of raising it for Moshe.
R' Chaim Moshe Reuven Elazary z"l writes: here in America (in
the 1940's), we have many spectacular meeting places and shuls.
All of them have planks, bars, and pillars, and in them are all
sorts of fancy utensils. However, one thing is missing from
these structures - the spirit of Moshe Rabbenu. And, without
that spirit, these structures cannot be called mishkenot/
tabernacles of Hashem.
From Rashi's comment on the above verse we learn that a Jewish
community needs people who can donate money and build spectacular
structures for shuls, and it also needs people who can fill those
structures with a proper spirit. We also learn that these two
functions are separate. The proper spirit cannot come from the
lay leadership; rather those individuals must submit to the
"Moshe Rabbenu" of the community.
(Shevilei Chaim p. 144)
"The kohanim brought the Aron/Ark of the Covenant of Hashem
to its place, to the Inner Sanctum of the Temple, to the
Holy of Holies, to beneath the wings of the Keruvim."
(Melachim I 8:6 -- in the haftarah read this week in some
Why is the word, "to" repeated four times in this verse?
R' Gavriel Ze'ev Margolis z"l offers the following explanation
(in the name of his cousin, R' Ben Zion Aryeh Ziesling z"l):
The gemara (Pesachim 64a) records that it was the practice in
the Bet Hamikdash for one kohen to slaughter the Korban Pesach
and a second kohen to catch the blood. That kohen passed the
blood to a third kohen, who passed it to a fourth kohen, and so
on, until, eventually, the blood was poured on the altar. What
does this teach us? The gemara explains that it teaches us to
follow the verse (Mishlei 14:28), "In a multitude of people is a
king's [i.e., Hashem's] glory."
It is for this reason, R' Margolis writes, that a baby who is
to be circumcised is passed from one person to another until he
reaches the mohel. Similarly, a new Sefer Torah is passed around
among many people before it is placed in the Aron. Also, our
verse teaches through the repetition of the word "to" (" "),
that when the Aron was brought to the Bet Hamikdash for the first
time, it was carried in in stages so that many kohanim could be
Rabbis of the New World
R' Gershom Mendes Seixas z"l (pronounced "Seishas") was not an
ordained rabbi, but he was the primary religious leader in
America during and after the Revolutionary War. It is believed
that he was the first American-born religious leader of an
American Jewish community.
R' Seixas was born in New York on January 14, 1745. His
father, Isaac Mendes Seixas, had lived as a Marrano in Portugal
before escaping to America. Gershom's mother, Rachel, was the
daughter of a German immigrant who had become the parnass
(president) of the New York Jewish community.
The young Gershom obtained both his religious and secular
education at the day school of Kahal Shearith Israel. His
teacher was R' Joseph Jeshurun Pinto, who had studied at a
yeshiva in Amsterdam, and who served New York as teacher,
maggid/preacher, chazzan, shochet and mohel. (R' Pinto was also
the author of the first Jewish calendar that listed candle
lighting times for New York.)
In 1768, the 23-years old R' Seixas was elected to succeed R'
Pinto, who had returned to Europe two years earlier. As mohel,
R' Seixas served not only New York, but also New England and
Canada. (On one trip, in October-November 1811, the 66-years old
mohel traveled for 34 days to perform four circumcisions in three
Canadian towns.) In 1798, R' Seixas founded the "Fund for
Charity and Anonymous Gifts" which supported the local poor and
also sent money to Eretz Yisrael. In 1802, he founded the first
free burial society "for Jewish aliens and strangers."
As a preacher, R' Seixas emphasized the coming of mashiach. In
particular, there was a noticeable decline in Jewish observance
after the Revolution, and R' Seixas took pains to remind his
brethren that they were still in exile, their new-found civil
rights notwithstanding. (Incidentally, R' Seixas was a fervent
supporter of the Revolution, and, in August 1776, he led the Jews
of New York in fleeing the city before the advancing British.)
As an acknowledged talmid chacham/Torah scholar, R' Seixas
organized a bet din for New York. Among the questions that were
asked of him was whether a Jewish cemetery could be moved when it
is threatened by flooding. It is recorded that in response, R'
Seixas opened to the appropriate chapter of the Shulchan Aruch
and read the answer that is stated there explicitly. [See Yoreh
R' Seixas was also admired among non-Jews and served as a
trustee of Columbia University. He passed away on July 2, 1816.
(Source: The Torah Personality p. 242)
Alan and Paula Goldman in memory of Sam W. Goldman