Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vayakheil, Pekudai & Para

The Torah Portion of Vayakheil

"And Moshe assembled..." (Shemot 35:1) 

Rashi says that this occurred on the day after Yom Kippur.  It is customary for people to appease their friends on the day before Yom Kippur, but also on the day after Yom Kippur we should take care to continue to assemble together and to live in peace and brotherhood. And that was the intention of what Rashi says "And Moshe assembled - on the day after Yom Kippur".

"You shall not light fire in any of your dwellings on the day of Shabbat." (Shemot 35:3) 

It is brought in the holy books that even though the fire of Gehinnom is extinguished on Shabbat, for someone who desecrates Shabbat the fires of Gehinnom are kindled especially for him to punish him.  And this is what the Torah is warning us, that one should be careful not to desecrate Shabbat since that would cause the fires of Gehinnom to be lit up for him.  Also, the Sages said that the sin of desecrating Shabbat causes fires, G-d forbid.  And this is what the Torah is hinting to us, that you shouldn't cause fires to flare up in your dwelling places, because of desecration of  Shabbat, G-d forbid.  Similarly, if we are careful not to  desecrate Shabbat, then as a result there will not be any fires in our houses.   In addition, it is hinted in the holy books, that on the holy Sabbath,  one needs to be especially careful to prevent the kindling of the fire of divisive argumentation (Machloket).  On Shabbat people are present in the Bait Knesset and are not busy with their weekday work, so the evil inclination finds an opportunity precisely on this holy day to incite people to have disagreements and arguments.  And that is why the Torah says "You shall not light fire...on the day of Shabbat".

The Torah Portion of Pekudai

"A hundred sockets (in Hebrew: adenim) for a hundred kikar." (Shemot 38:27)

The Ba'al HaTurim wrote that in parallel to the hundred sockets of silver, they established the saying of 100 blessings everyday, and the Chidushei HaRim says that just as the sockets were the foundation of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), also the blessings are the foundation of holiness for every man of Israel, and by means of the blessings he testifies that Hashem is the Master  (in Hebrew: Adon) of all the Creation.  (Note the similarity "Adenim", which is the word for "sockets" in Hebrew, to "Adon", which is the word for "Master" in Hebrew.)

The Torah Portion of Para

The reason for the reading of the Torah Portion of Para (the Red Heifer) is that at the time when the Temple existed and they could sacrifice the Passover offering, someone who was impure because of contact with a dead person was not able to bring the offering unless he became purified beforehand by means of the ashes of the red heifer.  It was necessary to remind and announce to everyone who had become impure from contact with a dead person to purify himself from that impurity, so that he could bring the Passover offering at the right time. Therefore  they began early to encourage people about it before the month of Nissan, so that those who lived far away from Jerusalem would already start to leave their cities on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in order to go up to Jerusalem, and while the people were still at home in their cities, they would remind them that if someone had become impure from contact with a dead person, he first needed to purify himself.  And even though, in our many sins, the Temple has been destroyed and we don't have the bringing of the Passover offering and don't have impurity from a dead person which we need to be purified from beforehand, in any event we learn about these commandments and laws and pray before Hashem, may His name be blessed, that also upon us will be cast the purifying waters, in the near future.  And by means of learning these laws may it be considered as if we have purified ourselves from our impurity.

The Torah Portion of "Vayakheil" has 122 verses.  The Torah Portion of "Pekudai" has 92 verses. There are 4 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments.

Two Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1. for the weekly Torah portion and 2. for the Torah portion of Para, from the beginning of the Torah Portion of Chukat until the words "Ad HaErev" (in English: until the evening).The Haftorah is "Vayehi Devar Hashem" (Yechezkel 36)

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben  R' Chaim ztz"l

Shabbat Shalom!

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