Volume 37, No. 22
25 Adar 5783
March 18, 2023
Sponsored by Mrs. Elaine Taragin on the yahrzeit of her father-in-law Asriel Taragin a”h, Mr. and Mrs. Jules Meisler on the yahrzeit of his father Irving Meisler (Yitzchak ben Yehudah a”h), Nancy & David Broth and Rona & Aaron Lerner in memory of their father Alvin Cohn (Avraham ben Yaakov Hakohen a”h)
With this week’s Parashah, we conclude the building of the Mishkan / Tabernacle. In next week’s Parashah, we will begin to read about the various sacrifices that were offered in the Mishkan and, later, in the Bet Hamikdash.
R’ Nachman of Breslov z”l (1772-1810; Ukraine) teaches: The Bet Hamikdash is like a spinning sphere, where top is bottom and bottom is top. How so? On the one hand, top is bottom: through the Bet Hamikdash, Hashem, who is so elevated, descends to dwell in our world. On the other hand, bottom is top: in the Bet Hamikdash, lowly animals are elevated to become offerings to Hashem. This, explains R’ Nachman, is the symbolism of the spinning Dreidel, connected to Chanukah–the holiday that commemorates the (re)dedication of the Bet Hamikdash.
R’ Nachman continues: This is a lesson for those who think that spiritual truths can be arrived at through philosophical speculation. No amount of logic, says R’ Nachman, could ever lead to the conclusion that Hashem can exist in our lowly world, while lowly animals can be sacrifices to Hashem.
R’ Nachman concludes: The process of Ge’ulah / redemption is similarly “upside down.” [Hashem descends to this lowly world to lift us from the depths to the loftiest spiritual heights.] This explains why Bnei Yisrael sang about the Bet Hamikdash immediately after their redemption (Shmot 15:17): “You will bring them and implant them on the mountain of Your heritage, the foundation of Your dwelling-place that You, Hashem, made–the Sanctuary, my Master, that Your hands established.” (Sichot Ha’Ran 40)
“Moshe summoned Betzalel, Ohaliav, and every wise-hearted man whose heart Hashem endowed with wisdom, everyone whose heart inspired (literally, ‘uplifted’) him, to approach the work, to do it.” (36:2)
R’ Moshe Alsheich z”l (1508–1593; Tzefat, Eretz Yisrael) explains: The volunteers who built the Mishkan did not need to possess particular skills. Their yearning to be involved uplifted them to start the work, and then the work miraculously completed itself. (Torat Moshe)
“Moshe commanded that they proclaim throughout the camp, saying, ‘Man and woman shall not do more work toward the gift for the Sanctuary.’” (36:6)
From this verse, the Gemara (Shabbat 96b) derives the prohibition of transferring an object on Shabbat from a Reshut Ha’yachid / private domain to a Reshut Ha’rabim / public domain. Bnei Yisrael’s tents were private domains, whereas Moshe sat in the centrally-located Machaneh Leviyah / Camp of the Levi’im, which had the status of a public domain. (The Machaneh Leviyah was where everyone would gather to hear Moshe speak.) Moshe’s proclamation, which the Gemara proves was made on Shabbat, said: “Do not bring items from your private domains to the public domain.” [Until here from the Gemara, as explained by Rashi z”l]
R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky z”l (1891-1986; rabbi in Lithuania, Seattle, and Toronto; Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, N.Y.) asks: Why was this Shabbat prohibition, unlike all other laws of Shabbat, taught specifically in the context of bringing donations for the Mishkan?
He answers: Our Sages teach that the Mitzvah of Shabbat was given originally–before Bnei Yisrael came to Har Sinai–at a place called “Marah.” There, Bnei Yisrael encountered a spring of bitter (“Mar”) water, and Hashem miraculously sweetened it (see Shmot 15:23-25). Borrowing from the Talmud (Ta’anit 25a–describing the reaction of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa when his daughter mistakenly lit Shabbat candles using vinegar), we can say about this miracle: “The One who told oil to burn can also tell vinegar to burn.” Hashem’s ability to alter nature and change the water’s taste demonstrated that He is the Creator and Master of the world; therefore, it was an appropriate time to instruct Bnei Yisrael not to perform “creative” labors–reminiscent of Creation–on Shabbat.
R’ Kamenetsky continues: Of all the Melachot / labors prohibited on Shabbat, only one is not creative in nature. That is the Melachah of Hotza’ah / transferring an object from one Reshut / domain to another. When an object is moved, it remains the same object, and its form does not change; only its location changes. Thus, Marah, reminiscent of Creation, was not the appropriate place to teach about that Melachah. Rather, in the context of the Mishkan, which teaches us that there are sanctified places, it was appropriate also to speak about the prohibition of transferring an object from one place to another place. (Emet L’Yaakov)
“The hundred talents of silver were to cast the sockets of the Sanctuary and the sockets of the Partition; a hundred sockets for a hundred talents, a talent per socket.” (38:27)
The Gemara (Menachot 43b) teaches that one is obligated to recite 100 Berachot every day. R’ Michel Zilber shlita (Rosh Yeshiva of the Zvhil yeshiva in Yerushalayim) quotes R’ Menachem Recanati z”l (1223-1290; Italian Kabbalist), who writes that the “secret” of the 100 Berachot is connected with the 100 Adanim / sockets that held the posts that made up the walls of the Mishkan. Thus, if one recites 100 Berachot, it is as if he assembled the Mishkan. [Until here from R’ Recanati]
R’ Zilber explains: We read (Devarim 10:12), “Now, Yisrael, Mah / what does Hashem, your Elokim, ask of you? Only Le’yir’ah / to fear Hashem . . .” The Gemara cited above states that “Mah” can be read as “Me’ah” / “one hundred” — a hint that one should recite 100 Berachot a day. Further, notes R’ Zilber, since the subject of the verse is having Yir’ah / fear or awe of Hashem, we can infer that reciting 100 Berachot a day is a means to develop that trait. This, he notes further, may answer the question that the Gemara asks elsewhere (Berachot 33b), “How can the verse say, ‘What does Hashem, your Elokim, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem’? Is that a small request?” The answer is: Yes! If one recites 100 Berachot a day, Yir’ah of Hashem will come easily.
R’ Zilber continues: In this light, we see a connection between 100 Berachot and the 100 Adanim. The word “Adanim” (sockets) hints to the Divine Name Aleph-Dalet-Nun-Yud, which is associated with the Divine Attribute of Justice; hence, with Yir’ah. We read, for example (Malachi 1:6), “If I [G-d] am a Father, where is My honor, and if I am Adonim / a Master, where is Yir’ah of Me?”
R’ Yaakov ben Asher z”l (the “Ba’al HaTurim”; 14th century) writes that King David established the recitation of 100 Berachot daily in response to a plague that was killing 100 of his subjects each day. It follows, writes R’ Zilber, that reciting 100 Berachot a day has a life-giving force. This, again, connects the 100 Berachot with the 100 Adanim, for our Sages teach that during the entire time that the Mishkan was under construction, not one of Bnei Yisrael passed away. This was, in particular, in the merit of the Adanim, which, say our Sages, were made from the half-Shekel coins that Bnei Yisrael donated. [The Torah says about the half-Shekel donations (Shmot 30:12), “So that there will not be a plague among them.”] The Mishkan was given as an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, which brought death back to the world (after it briefly was abolished when the Torah was given). When one recites 100 Berachot daily, it is as if he lays down the 100 Adanim and stands up the posts of the Mishkan, thus bringing life to the world. (Ba’yam Darech: Ma’amarei Ha’mishkan No. 36)
Thirty Days Before Pesach . . .
R’ Yaakov Moshe Charlap z”l (1882-1951; rabbi of Yerushalayim’s Sha’arei Chessed neighborhood and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Mercaz Harav) writes: Unlike the body, which can only adapt to gradual change, the soul is capable of rising to the loftiest heights “as quick as lightning.” In particular, on the night of the Seder and all day long on the first day of Pesach, a Jew who prepared himself even somewhat can experience the feeling of sitting in Hashem’s presence–well beyond the level that the person merits based on his own preparations and good deeds.
But, continues R’ Charlap, just as there is no limit to the fabulous spiritual wealth that a person can amass on this day, so, too, one’s fear should be great lest he squander the opportunity by not preparing himself. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 108b) relates that Hashem gave the Generation of the Flood a taste of Olam Ha’ba. This had two purposes, R’ Charlap explains. On the one hand, tempting that generation with immense reward was a last ditch effort to induce it to repent. On the other hand, giving them a taste of Olam Ha’ba was meant to increase their punishment if they did not repent, for without that taste, they would never know what they had forfeited.
The same is true of Pesach night, R’ Charlap writes. If one prepares to the extent of his ability, it can be a taste of the Olam Ha’ba that is to come. If one does not prepare, it will be a taste of the opportunity he has squandered. (Indeed, R’ Charlap adds parenthetically, Kabbalists say that the days of Sefirat Ha’omer are days of judgment–a time to repent for not making the most of Pesach. Of course, it would be preferable not to be among those who need to repent.) (Haggadah Shel Pesach Mei Marom p.5)