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Posted on March 7, 2024 (5784) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

Volume 38, No. 22
29 Adar I 5784
March 9, 2024

Sponsored by Mrs. Elaine Taragin on the yahrzeit of her father-in-law Asriel Taragin a”h

This week’s Parashah opens with the Mitzvah to observe Shabbat. We read (35:2), “On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem.” Why, asks R’ Moshe Schick z”l (1805-1879; a leading rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in Hungary), does the Torah use the passive form, “Work may be done,” instead of saying, “You may work”?

He explains: One might think that Shabbat is merely a day to rest one’s body from the toil of the workweek. If that were so, however, then a person who did no work during the week would not need to observe Shabbat. That is not the Halachah, of course; indeed, one who would say that has the legal status of a Mumar / someone who has left the fold, writes R’ Schick.

Rather than being a day of physical rest, Shabbat is a day that Hashem gave us to sanctify, writes R’ Schick. It is inherently different from all other days, holier than all other days, and filled with blessings more than all other days. Since it is thus a propitious day to attain holiness, a person must sanctify himself on it. This one does by making Shabbat a day when he doubles his efforts to engage in Avodat Hashem / service of G-d.

This is why the verse is in the passive form, R’ Schick explains: Even if work is done for you, and you do no work yourself, Shabbat must be a day of rest. Why? Because “the seventh day shall be holy for you.” (Maharam Schick Al Ha’Torah)


“Moshe said to the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael, saying, ‘This is the word that Hashem has commanded, saying’.” (35:4)

What is the purpose of the last word in this verse–”saying”? R’ Yosef David Sinzheim z”l (1736-1812; Chief Rabbi of France; author of Yad David on the Talmud) explains: The Mishkan was to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, in connection with which we read (Shmot 32:3), “The entire people” contributed. Thus, to obtain atonement, the entire nation would need to contribute generously to the Mishkan. But not all people are the same, writes R’ Sinzheim; some are generous and some are stingy. Therefore, those who were generous were commanded to “say” to, i.e., to persuade, the less generous to donate. Then, the generous donors were to “take” from the less generous ones, as we read in the next verse, before the latter changed their minds. (Shelal David)


“Take from yourselves a portion for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for Hashem–gold, silver, copper.” (35:5)

R’ Yaakov Emden z”l (1697-1776; Central Europe) writes, citing the Zohar: In Parashat Terumah (25:2), we read, “From every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.” At that point, donations to the construction of the Mishkan could be accepted “from every man”–even the Erev Rav / the non-Jews who had attached themselves to Bnei Yisrael at the time of the Exodus. However, that verse was spoken before the sin of the Golden Calf, which was initiated by the Erev Rav. Our verse, in contrast, was spoken after the sin of the Golden Calf, when the participation of the Erev Rav was no longer welcome. Therefore it says, “Take from yourselves”–implying: not from the Erev Rav. And, lest there be any doubt to whom “yourselves” refers, note that we read a few verses earlier (35:1), “Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael and said to them . . .” (Eim Le’binah)


“Every wise-hearted person among you shall come and do everything that Hashem has commanded.” (35:10)

R’ Moshe Miskin z”l (1860-1929; Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshivas Toras Chessed in Baranovitch, Poland; better known as R’ Moshe Midner) writes: The Rebbe of Kobrin z”l (R’ Moshe Polyer; 1783-1858) once cried out, “What good is all of your wisdom? ‘Every wise-hearted person among you shall come and do everything that Hashem has commanded.’ Truly having wisdom means doing something–specifically, G-d’s will–with what you have learned. Therefore, one’s intention when learning Torah should be to practice what he is learning. Otherwise, says the Midrash, he would be better off if he had not been born.” (Kitvei Rabbi Moshe Midner Ha’shalem p.111)


“Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael, ‘See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda.” (35:30)

Rashi z”l writes: Chur was the son of Miriam. [Until here from Rashi]

R’ Daniel Chaim Alter shlita (Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva in Yerushalayim; son of the previous Gerrer Rebbe) writes: In two additional places, Rashi informs us that Chur was the son of Miriam:

  1. On the verse (Shmot 17:10), “Yehoshua did as Moshe told him, to do battle with Amalek, and Moshe, Aharon, and Chur ascended to the top of the hill”; and
  2. On the verse (Shmot 24:14), “To the elders he said, ‘Wait for us here until we return to you. Behold! Aharon and Chur are with you; whoever has a grievance should approach them’.”

Why does Rashi tell us in these three places that Chur was the son of Miriam?

R’ Alter explains: We read about the midwives who refused to obey Pharaoh’s order to murder the newborn boys (Shmot 1:21), “And it was because the midwives feared the Elokim that He made for them houses.” Rashi comments there: “A dynasty of Kohanim and Levi’im from Yocheved, who was identical with the midwife Shifra, and a dynasty of kings from Miriam, who was identical with the midwife Pu’ah.” But one might ask, writes R’ Alter: Why did Yocheved/Shifra received her reward in the very next generation, while Miriam/Pu’ah had to wait hundreds of years until her descendant, King David, ascended the throne? The three comments of Rashi quoted above are meant to answer this question, says R’ Alter.

He explains: A king of Yisrael has three obligations: to establish a judicial system, to destroy Amalek, and to build the Bet Hamikdash. Rashi is noting that Miriam’s immediate descendants played a role in all three of these; she did not wait hundreds of years to receive her reward: Her son Chur helped Moshe hold his arms aloft during the battle with Amalek, and he served as a judge while Moshe was on Har Sinai, while Chur’s grandson, Betzalel, was the chief craftsman of the Mishkan, the forerunner of the Bet Hamikdash. (Devarim Achadim)



R’ Avraham Zvi Kluger shlita (Chassidic Mashpia in Bet Shemesh, Israel) writes: There is a disagreement among Midrashim and the classical commentaries whether the commandment to build the Mishkan was given before the sin of the Golden Calf or after that sin. Some, including the Zohar Ha’kadosh and R’ Moshe ben Nachman z”l (Ramban; 1194-1270; Spain and Eretz Yisrael), hold that the commandment was given before the sin, as it was always Hashem’s desire that there be a place on earth where His presence would be revealed. Others, including Midrash Tanchuma and Rashi z”l, hold that there would have been no need for a physical Mishkan if not for sin; Hashem would, instead, have “dwelt” within each person. Only after the sin was there a need to make a Mishkan, they say.

R’ Kluger continues: The Gemara (Eruvin 13b) teaches that when our Sages disagree, “These and these are the words of the Living Elokim.” While we cannot always see how two opposing opinions can coexist–here, for example, the commandment to make a Mishkan either was given before the sin of the Golden Calf or it was given afterward–the Gemara is instructing us to find some common denominator, some point on which the two sides agree. Here, R’ Kluger writes, both sides presumably would agree that Hashem would like to reside within each Jew’s heart, and that He desires that connection more than He desires to reside in a Mishkan.

There is a common misconception that Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. This belief presumably arises from the fact that the Torah calls Yom Kippur “Shabbat Shabbaton” / “The Sabbath of Sabbaths” and because it comes only once a year, writes R’ Kluger. In fact, however, the holiness of Yom Kippur–which is one of the festivals, whose occurrence is dependent on man’s sanctification of the new moon–is not as great as the holiness of Shabbat–which was sanctified by G-d at the time of Creation. (The relative holiness of the two days is demonstrated by the fact that the punishment for performing labor on Shabbat is stricter than the punishment for working, or even eating, on Yom Kippur.)

Why, then, asks R’ Kluger, was the Kohen Gadol permitted to enter the Kodesh Ha’kodashim / Holy of Holies only on Yom Kippur and not on every Shabbat? Based on the above, he writes, this question is answered. The Kodesh Ha’kodashim is the holiest physical place in the Mishkan–it is where the Kohen Gadol can have his most intimate connection with Hashem. But the holiness of Shabbat makes it unnecessary to seek a connection with Hashem within a confined physical space. Instead, Shabbat’s holiness enables every Jew, and certainly the Kohen Gadol, to discover the presence of the Shechinah within himself. (Havineini V’echyeh: Shmot p.679)