These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1241 The Case of the Mishloach Manos That Was Delivered to the Wrong Person. Good Shabbos!
You Don’t Necessarily Get What You Pay For In Terms of Divine Presence Being Present
The pasuk in Parshas Pekudei says, “All the gold that was used for the work – for all the holy work – the offered-up gold was twenty-nine talents and seven hundred thirty shekels, in the sacred shekel.” (Shemos 38:24). Parshas Pekudei provides an accounting of all that was donated and all that was used in the construction of the Mishkan. The Torah documents exactly how much gold was used in this holy work.
The Seforno on this pasuk notes that the Torah specifies the exact value of the gold and other precious materials that were used to construct the Mishkan because the amounts were relatively small compared to the gold and other precious materials that were used to construct the first Beis HaMikdash.
The Mishkan, in comparison with the Beis HaMikdash, was the equivalent of a motor home compared to a mansion. The Seforno adds that certainly, compared to the rebuilt Second Beis HaMikdash as redone by Herod, the Mishkan was miniscule.
Nevertheless, as basic and as Spartan as the Mishkan was, the Shechina (Divine Presence) was evermore present in Moshe Rabbeinu’s Mishkan than in Shlomo Hamelech’s Beis HaMikdash, and certainly more so than in the “Temple of Herod,” which lacked the Shechina‘s presence to a very large extent. So here we have this very basic temporary dwelling called the Mishkan that was built on a shoestring budget relative to the Batei Mikdash, and yet there was a constant hashra’as haShechina (Divine Presence dwelling among us). Even the Beis HaMikdash built by Shlomo HaMelech, with all of its cedars and gold and silver – literally one of the man-made wonders of the ancient world – lacked the level of spiritual dimension that the Mishkan possessed.
The Seforno draws a fundamental moral lesson from this: It is not wealth and luxury that cause hashra’as haShechina. The Shechina cannot be bought by money. The most fancy and elaborate building does not cause hashra’as haShechina, but rather “Hashem desires those who fear Him.” Hashem will place His Shechina among those who dedicate themselves selflessly to His Service.
This idea is brought home by two pesukim in Yeshaya (66:1-2) “Thus said Hashem: The Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool; what house could you build for Me, and what place could be My resting place? My hand created all these things, and thus all these things came into being – the word of Hashem – but it is to this that I look: to the poor and broken-spirited person who is zealous regarding My word.” HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not care about the thickness of the padding of the theater seats in a shul. Hard wooden benches are fine for Him. He does not care about the benches. He cares about the people sitting on those benches. If the people sitting there are humble of spirit and tremble over His Word, then His Shechina will reside in such a shul.
A famous Gemara teaches (Nedarim 81a) “Take heed regarding the children of the poor for from them Torah will emerge for Israel.” Poor children will be the future Torah leaders of Israel. The Maharal explains that just as when the Almighty is going to put His Shechina in a building, He does not look at the trappings, but rather, he looks at the inner quality, so too the children of poor people are generally humble. They come from poor backgrounds and they are not haughty and overly proud about things. That is where the Torah resides.
Rav Aharon Soloveitchik zt”l used to say over the following story: The progenitor of the famous “Brisker Dynasty” was named Rav Moshe Soloveitchik. His son, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, was the Beis HaLevi, the Rav in Brisk who had a son named Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, who needs no introduction and whose pedagogic and biologic descendants are a major force throughout the Yeshiva world across multiple continents to this very day. This major Torah dynasty all descended from Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, father of the Beis HaLevi.
Rav Moshe Soloveitchik was a businessman. He was in the lumber business and he was very successful. His fortune turned and he lost all of his money. It was such a shocking thing that this wealthy patron of so many charitable causes lost all his money. It had such an impact on the community, that the Beis Din of his town convened to try to figure out what he was doing wrong to cause him to lose his money.
The Beis Din did a thorough investigation and they could not find anything wrong in Moshe Soloveitchik’s religious behavior. The only thing they could find was that he gave more charity than a person is supposed to give. The Talmud legislates (Kesuvos 50a) that a person should not give out more than 20% of his income to charity. They found that Moshe Soloveitchik exceeded this limit. That is the only thing he did wrong.
When this finding was presented to Rav Chaim Volozhiner, he rejected that reason. He insisted that it cannot be that he lost his money because he gave too much tzedaka. Such a thing does not happen, he claimed.
What did Moshe Soloveitchik do when he lost all his money? He learned in the Beis HaMedrash and became an adam gadol. Obviously, he was a bright man. And from him came the Beis HaLevi and Rav Chaim Brisker and the Brisker Rav and the entire Soloveitchik dynasty.
In hindsight, Rav Chaim Volozhiner said that he understood why Moshe Soloveitchik lost his money. He lost his money so that his children would fall into the category of “the children of the poor” and therefore the Torah would emerge from the great Soloveitchik dynasty.
I saw in a sefer that Rav Meir Shapiro, the innovator of the Daf haYomi, once gave another explanation to the Talmudic advice “Take heed of the children of the poor, for from them the Torah will emerge in Israel.” He explained that the children of the poor see how their parents struggle to pay tuition. The sacrifice the parents make to afford “schar limud” inspires the children and gives them an appreciation for the sacrifice their parents make to allow them to learn. That motivates them to become talmidei chachomim.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD dhoffman@torah.
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Vayakeil/Pikudei is provided below:
- # 047 Pikuach Nefesh: To Save a Life
- # 090 The Melacha of Carrying
- # 138 The Melacha of Tying Knots on Shabbos
- # 185 The Melacha of Writing
- # 231 Making a Siyum
- # 275 Electricity in Halacha
- # 321 Leap Year and the Second Adar
- # 365 The Melacha of Tearing
- # 409 The Melacha of Melabain (Laundering)
- # 453 Wearing A Watch on Shabbos
- # 497 The Tefillah of B’rich Sh’mei
- # 541 Learning Kabbalah
- # 585 The Melacha of Trapping
- # 629 Sitting in Judgement on Shabbos
- # 672 The Mishebeirach in Halacha
- # 673 Putting A Sefer Torah in the Aron
- # 717 One Hundred Brachos A Day
- # 761 Killing Two Birds with One Stone
- # 805 Baruch Sh’omar, Ashrei and Yishtabach
- # 849 Saying L’shem Yichud – A Good Idea?
- # 893 The Unique Parshas Sh’kolim
- # 937 Magnetic Forces
- # 980 Siyum M’sechta: For The Past Or For The Future?
- #1024 Turning That Old Dress Into A Cover for a Sefer Torah?
- #1068 “This (Aron Kodesh/Ner Tamid/Window) Is Donated By”…A Good Idea
- #1111 Paying the Baal Koreh/Chazan/Babysitter for Shabbos
- #1154 Does The Husband’s Early Kabolas Shabbos Affect His Wife?
- #1197 Hachana Issues: Loading Dishwasher on Shabbos; Defrosting For Yom.Tov Sheni
- #1241 The Case of the Mishloach Manos That Was Delivered to the Wrong Person
- #1285 “It’s A Siman Min HaShamayim”: Is There Such A Thing?
- #1328 A Fascinating Muktzeh/Tevilas Keilim Shaila
- #1329 Finishing a sefer of Tanach: Does It Warrant a Seudas Siyum? And Other Siyum Issues
- #1416 Does the Prohibition of Not Taking Medicine on Shabbos Still Apply in Our Day and Age?
- #1461 What Do the Urim ve’Tumim and Scrabble Have to Do With Each Other?
- #1504 Must You Share Your Trade Secrets Recipes Methods? If You Dont Can I Steal Them?
- #1505 Giving Tzedaka for Kavod and Other Tzedaka Questions Giving Tzedaka for Kavod and Other Tzedaka Questions Giving Tzedaka for Kavod and Other Tzedaka Questions
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