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Posted on February 15, 2024 (5784) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

Volume 38, No. 19
8 Adar I 5784
February 17, 2024

Sponsored by Menashe and Nesh Katz on the yahrzeit of her father Nissim ben Yitzchak Yaakov Hakohen (6 Adar I)

In this week’s Parashah, we read about the command to build the Mishkan / Tabernacle and its implements. R’ Zvi Hirsch Kalischer z”l (1794-1874; German rabbi; leading advocate both for resettling Eretz Yisrael and for renewing the Temple service) writes that through the Mishkan we are meant to see the error of the gentile philosophers who concede that G-d exists, but who think that He is too exalted to interact directly with this world. That this is not so was demonstrated when Hashem rested His Shechinah on the Mishkan–an event that was visible to all, as we read (Shmot 40:34), “The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan”–and when He spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu there.

R’ Kalischer continues: A Midrash states that before the Mishkan was built, the world stood on two legs, but after the Mishkan was built, it was stabilized by a third leg. This refers to the Mishnah teaching that the world stands on three legs–Torah, Avodah / service, and Chessed / kindness. Only two of those (Torah and Chessed) were widely practiced before the third leg, the sacrificial service, had a home. That service is also a response to the misguided philosophers mentioned above, writes R’ Kalischer, for we believe that it is Hashem’s Ratzon / Will that we offer sacrifices to Him, while they contend that He cannot have a Ratzon. In their eyes, having a Ratzon implies the ability to change, while G-d is unchanging. We, on the other hand, say that Hashem has a Ratzon, for if He did not, it would mean there was another power restricting Him. It was His Ratzon to create the world and to give us the Torah, and it is His Ratzon to draw us close to Him, for our own good, through our Divine service. (Sefer Ha’berit Al Ha’Torah)


“They shall make an Aron / Ark of acacia wood . . . You shall cover it with pure gold, from within and from without you shall cover it.” (25:10-11)

The Gemara (Yoma 72b) states: The craftsman, Bezalel, made three arks–the middle one of wood, and the inner and outer ones of gold. Rashi z”l elaborates: He put the wooden ark into the larger golden one, and the smaller golden one into the wooden one. Thus, the wooden ark was overlaid with gold inside and out.

The Gemara states further that the Aron, which contained the Torah, alludes to a Torah scholar, who has Yir’at Shamayim / reverence for G-d, and whose “inside is like his outside.” R’ Ze’ev Wolf Olesker z”l (1700-1777; Galicia and Eretz Yisrael) explains: His “inside is like his outside” means that he practices Yir’at Shamayim both in public and in private. Notably, he writes, the Mispar Kattan / “small Gematria” of “Ha’yir’ah” / “the reverence” (14) equals the Mispar Kattan of “Zahav” / “gold.” [Mispar Kattan is calculated by dropping all zeros–for example, the Mispar Kattan of Yud is 1 instead of 10.]

R’ Olesker continues: Once we know that the Aron alludes to a Torah scholar, the instruction in the verse, “They shall make an Aron,” can be understood as alluding to another Halachah: That the community is obligated to take care of the Torah scholar’s physical needs. (Derashot Ha’Razah)


“You shall make a Kaporet / Cover of pure gold, two and a half cubits its length and a cubit and a half its width.” (25:17)

R’ Don Segal shlita (Yerushalayim and Brooklyn, N.Y.; a leading contemporary teacher of Mussar) notes that the Torah devotes almost as much space to describing the cover of the Aron / Ark as it does to the Aron itself. Moreover, those verses mention “the Kaporet” repeatedly when it seemingly would have sufficed to use a pronoun.

R’ Segal answers: Some say that it is because the Kaporet is the base for the Keruvim, which are very important elements of the Mishkan. We can add, however, writes R’ Segal, that the Kaporet itself alludes to something that is very beloved by Hashem: the trait of Tzniut / discretion. We read (Micha 6:8), “He has told you, man, what is good, and what Hashem seeks from you: . . . walking discreetly with your Elokim.” Indeed, Hashem Himself is called (Yeshayah 45:15), “Kel Who hides.” The trait of Tzniut is alluded to by the Kaporet, which covers and hides the Torah within the Aron, just as a person should conceal, not flaunt, the Torah he has studied and Mitzvot he has performed. We can even interpret the quoted verse from Micha as saying: “Walk discreetly; then you will be with Elokim.” (Ma’adanei Shabbat)


“You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out the Menorah shall be made . . .” (25:31)

R’ Yoel z”l (17th century or earlier) writes: The Torah uses the passive form “shall be made” because the Menorah ultimately was made on its own. (Rashi z”l writes similarly that Moshe found it too challenging to make the Menorah. Instead, Hashem told him to cast a block of gold into the fire and the Menorah emerged on its own.)

R’ Yoel continues: There is a superfluous letter Yud in “תיעשה” / “shall be made,” alluding to the ten Menorot that King Shlomo would place in the Bet Hamikdash. (The Gematria of Yud equals ten.)

R’ Yoel writes further: The word “תיעשה” can be broken into “עשה ת”י make it 410,” alluding to the 410 years that the first Bet Hamikdash would stand. “עשה” has the same Gematria as “Shlomo,” who built that temple, and that word can be read as the acronym of “Asah Shlomo Ha’melech” / “King Shlomo made.”

R’ Yoel adds: This verse has nine consecutive words ending with the letter Heh, whose Gematria equals five. Together, their Gematria equals 45 (9 x 5), alluding to the number of Tzaddikim in each generation in whose merit the world continues to exist (see Chullin 92a). The reason the Tzaddikim are alluded to at the end of the words is that Tzaddikim do not receive their reward until “the end,” i.e., the World-to-Come.

Lastly, the word in our verse “מקשה” (containing the word “קשה” / “difficult”) alludes to the four things Moshe had trouble understanding until Hashem showed him clearly: Menorah, Korbanot / how to slaughter the sacrifices, Sheratzim / the eight rodents that impart Tum’ah when they die, and Ha’chodesh / when the new moon is big enough to sanctify (see Menachot 29a). (Rimzei Rabbeinu Yoel)



The Gemara (Shabbat 34a) teaches that a man should remind the members of his household to finish Shabbat preparations and light Shabbat candles on time. However, cautions the Gemara, “He must say these things gently.” The Gemara (Gittin 52a) also teaches that the Yetzer Ha’ra works especially hard to cause disagreements in the home on Erev Shabbat.

R’ Pinchas Friedman shlita (Belzer Rosh Kollel in Yerushalayim) explains: We are taught a general rule: “Everything follows the beginning.” This is why we are commanded (Shmot 13:2), “Sanctify to Me every firstborn,” and (Devarim 26:2), “You shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground . . . and go to the place that Hashem, your Elokim, will choose.” Similarly, in the laws of Shabbat, if an object is Muktzeh (loosely translated, “unsuitable for use”) in the first few minutes of Shabbat, it remains Muktzeh all of Shabbat.

Therefore, R’ Friedman writes, the Yetzer Ha’ra works hard to have us begin Shabbat on the wrong foot. We must make a similar effort to ensure that the Yetzer Ha’ra fails and we have a Shabbat of Shalom. (Shevilei Pinchas 5774 p.243)

The Gemara (Shabbat 31a) relates: Two people once wagered that whichever of them could anger the sage Hillel would receive 400 Zuz from the other. One of the men went to Hillel’s house on Erev Shabbat when Hillel was shampooing his hair and tried to anger him. [The Gemara then describes how this individual tried, but failed, repeatedly to cause Hillel to lose his temper.]

Why did this man choose this particular time to try to anger Hillel? R’ Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook z”l (1865-1935; first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael) explains: Some people are more patient when they are relaxed. In such a situation, even something unexpected will not disturb their calm. Other people are more at ease when they are busy. Since they are already running around, an unexpected twist won’t faze them. People also are less likely to get annoyed when they know they have to interact with the public, since they know that the public is made up of many different types of people.

On the other hand, writes R’ Kook, when a person is in transition from toil to rest, he is more at risk of losing his patience. At that moment, he has started to wind down from his usual state of constant movement, but he has not yet reached a state of rest. This is what makes Erev Shabbat a time when a person is more susceptible to becoming angry.

Also, continues R’ Kook, even a person who is generally patient with the public is prone to lose his patience when he is interrupted in the middle of a private activity. This is why this individual chose Erev Shabbat–and specifically when Hillel was about to shampoo his hair–as the time to try to anger the sage. (Ain Ayah: Shabbat 31a, No. 114)