The midrash teaches that at the moment when Bnei Yisrael said,
"Na'aseh ve'nishmah"/"We will do and [then] we will hear," i.e.,
when Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah unconditionally, Hashem
said, "Let them take for Me terumah." R' Chaim Aryeh Lerner z"l
explains this as follows:
There is an opinion in the gemara that one is not permitted to
take a vow. How then did Yaakov take a vow (Bereishit ch.28)?
Tosfot explains that all agree that one is permitted to take a
vow in times of trouble.
We might think that precisely when a person is anguished he
cannot be trusted to fulfill his vows. However, G-d trusts us to
have faith in Him and to repay our vows even if He seems not to
be answering our prayers. For example, when a Jew promises to
give charity as a merit for an ill relative, G-d is confident
that the vow will be fulfilled even if the relative does not
recover. It is a Jew's nature to accept G-d's decrees.
The gemara (Shabbat 88a) records that a certain heretic told
the sage Rava, "You are an impetuous nation! You should have
heard what G-d was offering before you accepted it." Rava
responded by explaining that when Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah
unconditionally without even knowing its contents, they expressed
their faith in Hashem that He would not mislead or disappoint
them. This is precisely the same Jewish trait that was mentioned
above in connection with the making of vows.
We learn a halachah from Yaakov's vow. From the fact that he
said (Bereishit 29:22), "I will repeatedly tithe to You," we
learn that one is permitted to give up to two-tenths, or one-
fifth, of his wealth to charity. This is alluded to in the word
"terumah" as well, as we can read the word: "torem heh"/"he gives
five (i.e., one-fifth)." However, we could not learn this
halachah from Yaakov's vow if we did not know that Yaakov was
permitted to take a vow. And, we would not know that Yaakov was
permitted to take a vow in his time of trouble if the Jews had
not said, "Na'aseh ve'nishmah." This is why at the moment when
Bnei Yisrael said, "Na'aseh ve'nishmah," Hashem said, "Let them
take for Me terumah." (Imrei Chaim p.49)
"You shall place the kaporet/cover on the aron/ark from
above, and into the aron you shall place the
edut/testimonial [i.e., the luchot] that I shall give you."
Rashi writes: "I do not know why this was repeated after it was
already written (25:16), 'You shall place in the aron/ark the
edut that I shall give you.' Perhaps it comes to teach that the
luchot should be placed into the aron when it is just an aron
without the kaporet." (This is learnt from the fact that the
verse says, "Into the _aron_ you shall place the tablets.")
R' Baruch Yosef Sack z"l (1887-1949; the "Kobriner Rebbe")
observes that Rashi's answer is alluded to in the words of the
verse: "teetain et ha'edut"/"You shall place the testimonial
[tablets]." The final letters of "teetain et ha'edut" have the
gematria of 850, which is equal to the gematria of "kodem
kaporet"/"before (the) cover."
R' Sack also offers a homiletical interpretation of our verse.
Chazal teach that a person will be asked on the Day of Judgment,
"Did you study Torah?" If he answers that he did, he will be
told to recite what he has learned. Accordingly, it is incumbent
upon every person to obtain a grasp of the Torah that he studies
to the point that it can be said that his Torah is packed in his
suitcase for his trip to the next world.
This is the meaning of our verse: If you expect a
kaporet/forgiveness (from the word "kaparah") above, then into
the aron/box you shall place the Torah that I shall give you.
"They shall be even at the bottom, and together yiheyu
tamim/they shall match (literally: 'they shall be complete')
at its top, for a single ring, so shall it be for them both
. . ." (26:24)
Literally, this verse describes how the boards of the mishkan
were to be assembled together. However, R' Yehuda Aryeh Perlow
z"l (see page 4) offers the following homiletical interpretation:
Chazal teach that when man is in pain, Hashem says, "My head
hurts. My arm hurts." The work Lachmei Todah explains that this
refers to Hashem's "head" and "arm" where, according to the
gemara (Berachot 6a), He wears His tefilin (metaphorically, of
course). The gemara teaches that those tefilin allude to G-d's
unity with His people in much the same way that our tefilin
allude to our unity with Him. (Our tefilin contain the verse,
"Shema Yisrael, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One," and we bind
them to ourselves, symbolically binding ourselves to G-d. His
tefilin contain verses that describe His love for us.) Because
of His closeness to us, as represented by His tefilin, His "head"
and His "arm" feel our pain.
Our Sages further teach that the only way that the typical
person can achieve closeness to G-d is by attaching himself to a
Torah scholar who is himself close to G-d. The work Lachmei
Todah explains that this is the idea behind Chazal's statement
that the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because people abused Torah
scholars. The whole purpose of the Bet Hamikdash was to bring
Hashem close to us, as we read in this week's parashah (25:8):
"They shall make a sanctuary for Me - so that I may dwell among
them." And, achieving closeness to Hashem requires being close
to Torah scholars. Therefore, if Torah scholars are abused,
there is no point in having a Bet Hamikdash.
It follows, concludes Lachmei Todah, that when Torah scholars
are abused and the unity of the Jewish people and Hashem is
destroyed, Hashem's tefilin become blemished.
R' Perlow continues: we read in Megillat Esther (3:8), "Then
Haman said to King Achashveirosh, 'There is a certain people
scattered and dispersed'." We learn from here that the Jewish
people in Mordechai and Esther's time were not united. Later we
read (4:15), "Then Esther said to reply to Mordechai, 'Go
assemble all the Jews . . .' " From this we learn that the
Jewish people repented and became united. What caused their
repentance? The gemara (Megillah 14a) says: "The removal of the
ring from Achashveirosh's hand when he gave it to Haman was more
effective in causing the Jewish people to repent than all of the
words of all of the prophets."
Now to our verse: "They shall be even at the bottom" - when we
are together (i.e., united) below, then,
"They shall be complete at its top" - Hashem's tefilin above
will be complete. How can this unity be brought about?
"For a single ring" - by repenting as we did because of
Achashveirosh's ring." Bringing about mass repentance may
require us to rebuke others, but,
"So shall it be for them both" - any rebuke that you give must
be for yourself also. Then you will be fulfilling the mitzvah of
"Love your fellow as yourself," which will bring about unity.
(Lev Aryeh: Drush Shlishi Le'Parashat Terumah)
The Month of "Adar Rishon"
What is the halachic status of the first month of Adar in a
leap year (which has two months of Adar)? On the one hand, many
have the custom that if they lost a relative in the month of Adar
in a year which was not a leap year, that they observe the
traditional yahrzeit fast only in the _first_ Adar. On the other
hand, a child who was born in Adar in a year which was not a leap
year but whose thirteenth year is a leap year observes his bar
mitzvah only in the _second_ Adar. Why?
R' Joseph B. Soloveitchik z"l explained: a yahrzeit is observed
on the anniversary of another person's death. If the anniversary
falls in Adar, then, in a leap year, there are two anniversaries.
However, once a person has fulfilled his obligation to fast by
fasting on the first anniversary which falls in a given year, he
is no longer obligated to fast that year, even though the
yahrzeit will fall again in the same year.
However, a bar mitzvah is not an observance of a _day_. It
represents the completion of thirteen years of life and the
beginning of the fourteenth year. If one's birthday is, for
example, the last day of Adar, then even after the first Adar has
passed, the whole month of Adar is still to come. How then can
this boy say that he has _completed_ thirteen years of life?!
(Quoted in Harrerei Kedem p. 311)
Rabbis of the New World
R' Yehuda Aryeh Perlow z"l was born in 1878 in Novominsk,
Poland, where his father, R' Yaakov, was rabbi and chassidic
rebbe. (In 1896, R' Yaakov founded the first chassidic yeshiva
in Poland.) When R' Yaakov died in 1902, his chassidim divided
their allegiance between his sons R' Yehuda Aryeh and R' Alter
Yisrael Shimon. The former established his chassidic court in
the town of Vlodova while the latter remained in Novominsk.
In 1912, R' Yehuda Aryeh assumed the additional positions of
rabbi and av bet din of Vlodova, and he founded a yeshiva there.
In 1922, he accepted the call from his chassidim who had settled
in the United States, and he reestablished his court in the
Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
R' Perlow was among the founders of the Agudath Israel of
America and he also organized the Agudat Ha'admorim, a council of
chassidic rebbes in the United States. He died on 10 Elul
5721/1961. (Sources: Toldot Anshei Shem p. 102; Otzar
R' Perlow's nephew, R' Nachum Mordechai Perlow z"l (son of R'
Alter Yisrael Shimon) was another pre-war chassidic rebbe in the
United States. He was born in 1887 in Novominsk. At first, he
served as rabbi in Sokolov, Poland, alongside his father-in-law.
In 1925, he settled in Eretz Yisrael, but he was unable to
support himself there and he returned to Europe.
In 1927, R' Nachum Mordechai visited the United States to raise
funds for the Sokolov yeshiva, and he was persuaded to remain
here. He became the Novominsker Rebbe on New York's Lower East
Side and later he moved to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn,
where he attracted followers from among both the chassidic and
Lithuanian communities. (It was said that his style of learning
was similar to the "Brisker" method of Talmud study.) Still
later, he moved to Boro Park.
R' Nachum Mordechai was actively involved in Agudath Israel and
in numerous other public roles on behalf of Jewry as a whole. He
passed away on 9 Elul 5736/1976. (Sources: Toldot Anshei Shem p.
102; Marbitzei Torah Me'olam Hachassidut Vol. 4, p. 255 and Vol.
8, p. 191; Contemporary Sages p. 7)
R' Nachum Mordechai's son, R' Yaakov shlita, is the current
Novominsker Rebbe and is one of the leading rabbinic figures in
the United States today.
Alan and Paula Goldman in memory of Sam W. Goldman
The Katz family on the yahrzeits of
Avraham Abba ben Avigdor Moshe Hakohen Katz a"h
and Etia (Etush) bat Avigdor Moshe Hakohen Landau a"h