Thursday, March 23, 2017

Vayakheil & Pekudei & HaChodesh 5777

Torah Portion of "Vayakheil Pekudei HaChodesh"  

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Deena Bat Tzion Bat Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Refael Ben Masha Etel and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov

The Torah Portion of Vayahkeil

"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".

"Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur" (Shemot 35:30)

Why does the Torah, when it is telling the ancestry of Betzalel, also mention his connection to his grandfather Chur?  Rashi explains, because Chur was the son of Miriam the Prophetess, and therefore Betzalel merited to make the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  And there are those that say, that the reason Betzalel merited to do this, was because of his grandfather Chur who gave up his life during the episode of the Golden Calf, when he refused to make the Golden Calf, and they (the rabble-rousers) killed him. And also, this is to teach us, that by means of the act of the setting up of the Mishkan which was made by the grandson of Chur, that was a sign that Israel was granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.  For if that was not the case, Betzalel could not have made the Mishkan, since he was the grandson of Chur who was killed in the episode of the Golden Calf, and someone who is a Katigor (acting, as it were, as attorney on the side of the prosecution in the Heavenly Courts) cannot be a Sanigor (an attorney of the side of the defense in the Heavenly Courts).  And also, Mesirut Nefesh (the devotion of one's soul) needs to be done without investigations and over-intellectualization, since the hesitance involved in such investigations will delay one's internal will to give up his life for the sanctification of Hashem Yitbarach, as the Chassid Yavetz states, and Nachshon Ben Aminadav who was the Prince of the tribe of Yehudah, devoted himself at the Sea with Mesirut Nefesh, and also Chur devoted himself at the episode of the Golden Calf.  And therefore, he (the Chassid Yavetz) said that since they didn't investigate or over-intellectualize too much, therefore Betzalel was filled with the spirit of G-d with wisdom and knowledge, etc., and that is why it is written "son of Chur of the tribe of Yehuda" (Shemot 35:30)  (from the Meshech Chachma) 

The Torah Portion of Pekudei 

"These are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe."  (Shemot 38:21)

The Holy Zohar asks, isn't it so that the blessing is not to be found except in something which is hidden from the eye, so why did they count all the silver?  And the answer is that regarding the silver which was counted by Moshe Rabbeinu, that the blessing rests upon it even if it is counted and not hidden from the eye.  And that is the explanation of the verse "these are the accountings of the Mishkan...which were counted at the word of Moshe" --  because they were counted by Moshe there was no damage or lack caused by the counting of the sum of the donations for the Mishkan, and on the contrary because of the power of Moshe's greatness and righteousness, there was no reason to prevent the blessing.

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

The Baal HaTurim wrote that in parallel to the hundred sockets they established to say a hundred blessings every day.  And the Chidushei HaRim says that just as the sockets are the basis of the Mishkan, so also the blessings are the basis of the holiness of every man of Israel, and by means of the blessings he testifies that Hashem, may He be blessed, is the Master of all of Creation.    The Kli Yakar says that a Socket (in Hebrew: Aden) is from the same root as Master  (in Hebrew: Adon), and he says that someone holds himself to be lowly like a Socket, is a  Master, and as in the language of the Zohar, someone who regards himself as lowly, is great.

"...and Moshe blessed them." (Shemot 39:43)

Rashi states that Moshe said to them "May it be Hashem's will that the Shechina (the Divine Presence) should dwell within the work of your hands".  And the explanation of this is, that in all the activities that a person is occupied with, also in matters of physicality and earning a livelihood, it needs to be recognizable within that activity that he is serving the Creator and that the Shechina is present.  And that is the meaning of saying that "the Shechina should dwell within the work of your hands."

" Hashem had commanded Moshe."  (Shemot 40:19 and other places)

There are 18 times in this Torah Portion that it is mentioned "as Hashem had commanded Moshe", and it is brought in the Talmud Yerushalmi that in parallel to this there were 18 blessings established in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer.  And this is also to show us that in every act that a person does, he needs to know if that is in accord with the commandment of Hashem.

Why is the Torah repetitive?

Why did the Torah repeat separately the service in the Mishkan, and the commandments about the Mishkan, and the making of the Mishkan, and the setting up of the Mishkan, with all the details each and every time?  It is because the Holy One Blessed Be He desires very much to have His Shechina dwell within Israel.

The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev.

The Mishkan was finished on the 25th of Kislev, but Hashem said to set it up on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, since that is the month in which Yitzchak Avinu was born, and he was a Korban (sacrificial offering), and the Mishkan was the place to bring sacrificial offerings.  The month of Kislev came with a complaint, "why are they waiting till the month of Nissan?" So Hashem said, it is incumbent upon me to "pay" Kislev with the holiday of Chanukah.  (from the Sages)

The Siman (Mnemonic Sign) at the end of every Torah Portion.

At the end of every Torah Portion appears the sum of the number of verses in the Torah Portion, together with a corresponding mnemonic sign, except for the Torah Portion of Pekudei.  There is no mnemonic sign for the sum of the number of verses.  And it has been explained in the name of one of the Tzaddikim (Righteous Men), that in his opinion, that was just an omission of the printer.  And it is possible that it was written "Bli Kol Siman" (In English: "without any mnemonic sign") --- that is to say, the "Siman" (in Engish: "mnemomic sign" ) was "Bli Kol" (in English: "without any")  which has the Gematia (numerical value of the letters) of 92, which is the number of verses in the Torah Portion.   And the printer came and understood it in a simple manner, that there was no mnemomic sign, and therefore left it out...(from Otzar HaChaim, as brought in the book "Torat HaParshah"). 

The Torah Portion of HaChodesh:

The reason for this reading is to sanctify and declare the month of Nissan, because of the importance of this month, for so it is written in the Torah: "This month will be to you the head of the months; it is the first for you of the months of the year". (Shemot 12:2) It is the head of the months and of the festivals. (Practically speaking, this is not the actual sanctification of the month but rather just an addition of holiness.)

Another reason for this reading: to announce to the people that Passover is coming soon, so that they should prepare themselves to come up to Jerusalem for the festival. The Mitzvah of coming up to Jerusalem for Passover is more stringent than for the the other festivals, because of the "Korban Pesach" (Passover offering), which is a positive commandment that has the punishment of
Korait (cutting off) if not fulfilled.

10 Crowns that were taken by Rosh Chodesh Nissan:

1) The first for the act of creation
2) The first for the princes; the princes began to bring sacrificial offerings
3) The first for the priests (the Kohanim); the priests began to do their service
4) The first for the service; the sacrifices of the community began to be offered
5) The first for the coming down of fire upon the sacrificial altar
6) The first for eating of the holy offerings, according to their statutory laws
7) The first for the indwelling of the Divine Presence
8) The first time for the Kohanim to bless the people of Israel
9) The first time when it became forbidden to offer sacrifices on Bamot, so that they would be offered only in the Mishkan
10) The first of the months of the year

On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Moshe blessed Israel, May it be His will that the Divine Presence will dwell in the acts of your hands.

It is customary from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the 13th of the month to say each day the Torah verses about one of the princes from the dedication of the sacrificial altar. On the the first day, we begin with "Vayihi Biyom Kalot Moshe"; on the 12th day we complete the Torah portion of Naso; and on the 13th
day we say the Torah portion of Baaloticha until "Et Hamenorah". (A Kohen or a Levi should not say the Yehi Ratzon.) (from Mishna Berura, Siman 429)

We bless "Chazak" at the end of the Torah Portion of Pekudei, which is the end of the book of Shemot.

The Torah Portion of "Vayakheil" has 122 verses. It has 1 negative commandment.  The Torah Portion of "Pekudei" has 92 verses. It has 4 positive commandments and 5 negative commandments. Two Torah Scrolls are taken out: 1) for the weekly Torah portion 2) for the Torah Portion of "Bo", from "Vyomar Hashem... HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem" until "Tochlu Matzot". The Haftorah is "Kol HaAm HaAretz" (Yechezkel 45)

This week is Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Nissan.  Rosh Chodesh Nisan is on Yom Shlishi (Tuesday).  The Molad is Ohr L'Yom Shlishi at the hour 7:04 with 10 Chalakim.

We say Borchi Nafshi

May you have a light-filled and happy Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom

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