Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Contributing Editor: Daniel Dadusc
Volume XIV, No. 23
4 Adar II 5760
March 11, 2000
Orach Chaim 263:5-7
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Yevamot 102
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Nedarim 17
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 . . .” (38:21)
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 banded them.”
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?” (Midrash Tanchuma)
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. (Netivei Chaim)
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 forgetfulness. (Imrei Chaim)
Why was it specifically the hooks (in Hebrew: “vavim”) of which Moshe lost track? R’ Yehuda Aryeh Perlow z”l of Novominsk explains:
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 “vavim.”
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)
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 communities)
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 involved. (Ginat Egoz)
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 Deah 363:1.]
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)
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Copyright © 1998 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.
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