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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

   27th Day Of Adar I, 5749

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

Machne Israel Special Development Fund

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

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Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Metzora

Maamar Matzah Zu

Tzivos Hashem/Pesach

6th Day Of Pesach, 5749

Shevi'i Shel Pesach, 5749

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5749

Maamar Vehechrim

Shabbos Parshas Acharei

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2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

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Evening Following Lag Baomer, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

Address To The Women's Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 4th Day Of Sivan, 5749

1st Day Of Shavuos, 5749

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

Yechidus Following Shavuos

12th Day Of Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 13th Of Sivan, 5749

Sichos In English
Volume 41

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim
27th Day Of Adar I, 5749
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  20th Day Of Adar I, 57491st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749  

1

The month of Adar brings with it several special themes:

  1. "When the month of Adar begins we increase joy" (Taanis 29a);

  2. "On the first day of Adar proclamation is made regarding the Shekalim" (Shekalim 1:1).

What do these themes have in common?

The holiday of Purim has an indirect connection with the practice of giving a half-shekel for the Sanctuary. The Gemara states:

It was well-known beforehand to Him at whose word the world came into being that Haman would one day pay shekels for the destruction of Israel. Therefore He anticipated his shekels with those of Israel. And so we have learned: On the first of Adar proclamation is made regarding the shekalim. (Megillah 13b)

In this light our mitzvah to donate half-shekels to the Temple serves as "a cure before the illness," to anticipate the miracle of Purim.

Since the shekalim were used for the communal daily sacrifices and since the Torah is superprecise we can say that Purim also has a connection to the sacrifices themselves. It remains to be clarified how the joy of Adar is associated with the shekalim of Adar. Another point to clarify is how all this connects to the portion of Vayakhel which we read on this Shabbos when we bless the month of Adar.

At the start of Vayakhel the Torah relates:

Moshe assembled the entire Israelite community and said to them, "You may do work during the six weekdays, but Saturday must be kept holy as a Sabbath of Sabbaths to G-d. Do not ignite any fire on the Sabbath, no matter where you may live."

After this introduction the Torah goes on to speak of the various items to be donated for the construction of the Tabernacle.

Why did Moshe preface his appeal for the Mishkan with a discussion of the laws of Shabbos? Rashi explains: "...to teach us that the construction of the Tabernacle did not suspend the laws of Shabbos."

A moment's reflection will engender some serious puzzlement. After all, the main topic discussed in Vayakhel is the Mishkan -- the mention of Shabbos seems to be only an ancillary remark, to remember not to desecrate the Shabbos in the enthusiasm for the Mishkan. If so, it would have been more appropriate to put this reference to Shabbos at the end of the discussion of the Mishkan.

Its prominence at the introduction to the Mishkan reveals to us that there was a more profound connection between the two, and in fact the observance of Shabbos served as a preface and preparation for the work of building the Mishkan.

Why does the Torah single out fire here as an example of the prohibition on Shabbos? There seems to be an indication that the main aspect of Shabbos which prepares for the Mishkan is somehow connected to this prohibition not to kindle fire on Shabbos.

Another question:

Why was it necessary to gather all the Jews as a preface both to the laws of Shabbos and to the laws of the Mishkan? We do not find such a practice in most other cases of Torah commands.

The explanation:

The inner theme of the Mishkan is to bring the Shechinah to rest among the Jewish people. The Midrash states: "When did the Shechinah dwell on earth? On the day the Sanctuary was erected" (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:2); with the Mishkan the process of drawing G-dliness down to the physical world was completed. This process had begun with Mattan Torah when there was a revelation from Above, and it was completed with the efforts of the Jewish people below -- bringing donations for the Sanctuary and building the Tabernacle.

This aspect is focused on by the timing of Moshe's command to the Jewish people, as Rashi explains, he gathered the people on the day after Yom Kippur. It was on Yom Kippur that the process of Mattan Torah had been completed -- for on Yom Kippur Moshe received the second set of Tablets. It was on the following day that Moshe gathered the people and told them of G-d's desire for a Sanctuary, because the Mishkan was the sequence to Mattan Torah and in a sense it served as the completion of Mattan Torah.

In this context we may understand that just as Jewish unity was a prerequisite to Mattan Torah it was also necessary for the Jews to be united in preparation for the Mishkan, hence Moshe had to gather them in a unified assembly. The "spark of Moshe" in every Jew caused this post-Yom-Kippur assembly to take on the same aspect of unity that prevailed before the Torah was given, back in the month of Sivan, when the Jews camped "as one man," facing Mount Sinai.

The common theme of Mattan Torah as well as the construction of the Mishkan is to bring the Shechinah to rest in the lower world. This means that even in the "public domain" of the material world it becomes evident that the world is the "private domain" of the "One Ruler of the world." Even in a place of dissention the unity of the Holy One, Blessed be He, will prevail.

This requires a solid base of Jewish unity. When Jewish souls descend to the physical dimension there is a potential for dissention, separation and disparity as was the case in the encampments before Mattan Torah. In order to be ready and worthy for G-d to give us the Torah it was necessary to reach a state of unity. This goal is achieved through the process of raising the soul to its place of pre-eminence above the corporeal bodies of physical existence, so that in each Jew there was a revelation that they were all compatible and "we all have one father." This brought to the attitude of "one man with one heart" at that point, to draw down and reveal the unity of G-d in the world which is the general goal of Mattan Torah. In the case of the Mishkan the Jewish unity was more than just an attitude of "one heart," for it expressed itself in action, a unified act of donating the objects needed for the Mishkan.

In the human experience one thing that often brings to disunity and competitiveness is the accumulation of wealth. Most problems that arise between people are in matters of money. By nature man is very concerned about his wealth and this often leads to dissent and strife among people.

When the Jewish people united in their desire to donate their possessions to the Mishkan they showed their underlying unity even in the area of material wealth, as a result their wealth did not lead to dissention rather it revealed their unity, for they all brought of their possessions for the Mishkan.

Our sages say that wealth is called "the substance that was at their feet" (Devarim 11:6), meaning the wealth which puts a person on his feet. Although in a qualitative sense these matters are even lower than a person's feet, nevertheless they provide a foundation upon which he can stand himself and in this manner the unity of the Jewish people is actually enhanced and the unity of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is revealed in this world.

In this context Rashi's insight is also more revealing that Moshe gathered the people on the day after Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is seen as "a day which brings love and friendship, a day which eliminates jealousy and competitiveness" (see Machzor for Yom Kippur). For on that day all the Jewish people form a "unified force to do Your will with a full heart." (Ibid.)

More profoundly, on Yom Kippur the yechidah (unique one) of the soul -- its essential being -- is revealed and on that level all Jews are truly one.

The gathering which Moshe convened added the innovation that it was the day after Yom Kippur.

The unity of Yom Kippur normally prevails at a time when the Jewish people are in the highest possible condition -- outside of normal human limitations -- they do not eat or drink on Yom Kippur and they are compared to angels. The hope and real goal is that the unity of Yom Kippur will continue on the next day and then through the whole year. This means that after descending to the worldly matters (down from the mountain), to business, etc., the Jews should still be united and that their unity should infuse even their monetary activities in the form of the donations for the Mishkan through which they will reveal the unity of G-dliness in the world. This is the goal of the Mishkan to create a dwelling place for G-dliness in the world.

Having presented this preface of Vayakhel the verse goes on to explain in detail the system of the Divine service of the Mishkan by first presenting the law of observing Shabbos.

The reference to Shabbos in this portion is unique because in its literal translation the verse states "six days work shall be done (te'aseh)." This passive verb indicates that the work should somehow be done by itself. In the Ten Commandments the prohibition of work on Shabbos is presented in the active sense "you shall work six days and do all your work." Furthermore, in the Ten Commandments Shabbos is referred to by the term "Shabbos -- a day of rest," while in Vayakhel, Shabbos is referred to by the double phrase "Shabbos Shabboson -- a Shabbos of rest." Why this difference?

The commandment to observe the laws of Shabbos that is presented in Vayakhel carries a broader message than the prohibition of work on Shabbos included in the Ten Commandments. Here the Torah teaches us that Shabbos must influence the six weekdays so that they too should be infused with the spirit of Shabbos.

In explaining the concept of Shabbos one of the ideas suggested is "to implant in our souls the faith in the creation of the world" (Chinuch, Mitzvah 32). Shabbos clearly proclaims that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world and mankind, and rules the world. This knowledge serves as the foundation for a person's action, throughout the week. When he is involved in business to earn a livelihood he knows that it is G-d who provides his livelihood and his business merely serves as the vessel for G-d's blessing. "And G-d shall bless you in all your endeavors." With this attitude in mind the work is done by itself, "te'aseh melachah." For one who has such faith his involvement in his business is not total and overwhelming. Rather "By the work of your hand you eat." The work is done merely by the hands while the head and the heart remain in a higher state of Torah and mitzvos.

In such a scenario where the work is taken care of during the week, one may also attain faith in the Creator and the weekdays will also have a bit of the Shabbos spirit. Then, when Shabbos comes it is truly a "Shabbos Shabboson" a "Shabbos of Shabbos rest."

All of this is clearly alluded to in the prohibition of kindling fire on Shabbos.

Fire refers to warmth and enthusiasm, when the Torah states "do not ignite any fire in your dwelling places" (literal translation), this means your voluntary, permitted occupations. Your involvement in all your endeavors in the weekdays should be in a manner of "do not ignite the fire" -- leave the enthusiasm out. The fire of zealousness should be reserved for matters of holiness. The Mechilta paraphrases this verse -- you may not kindle fire in your private homes but you may kindle fire in the Beis HaMikdash.

We can now see how the commandment to observe the Shabbos serves as a preparation to the request for donations to the Mishkan which needed Jewish unity also in monetary matters. We have explained that a serious source of disunity among people is the importance they place on money. In the law of Shabbos we are made aware of certain practices which people may do because they are concerned about their possessions and the halachah rules what to do in such cases. Thus love of money may even bring to the desecration of Shabbos (G-d forbid).

What is the solution? "Do not kindle fire on Shabbos in your dwelling places" get rid of the negative fire, the burning passion in the business which earns the money. Let it be done without such passion by infusing it with the spirit of Shabbos. The mundane weekly matters will then be infused with holiness, for the goal of the activities will be for holiness. And by taking the gold and silver from the Jewish people a Mishkan would be built. Then the fire of holiness will even radiate into the mundane matters. For in the Beis HaMikdash the fires were kindled and the purpose of the gold and silver is for the Beis HaMikdash.

In this context we may also see the connection to the rule that on the first of Adar proclamation was made concerning the shekalim. Chassidus explains that the half-shekel symbolizes the soul of a Jew which becomes complete only by uniting itself with the Holy One, Blessed be He, to become a "holy shekel." This aspect of the Jewish soul expresses itself in the power of martyrdom that exists in the essential point of the soul and is present in every Jew equally. For this reason the half-shekel was the common donation of all Jews, the rich could not give more and the poor no less.

Consequently, by giving the half-shekel Jewish unity was revealed -- the self-sacrifice that emerges from the common soul source of every Jew. This unity spreads into more mundane matters also, even into the individual's money so that the money also creates new unity.

The Gemara relates that when G-d said to Moshe "this" is what they should give, He showed Moshe a fiery coin. It was a coin that was totally infused with G-dliness -- so that its essence was fire.

The half-shekels that were collected on a yearly basis were used to buy the communal sacrifices for the coming year. This teaches us that the ultimate purpose of wealth is to be transformed into a sacrifice that can be placed on the altar so that the physical matter will be united with the supernal fire and in the process all material objects are uplifted and are brought closer to unity with G-dliness.

In our days when the prayers take the place of the sacrifices, and the true worship of G-d is worship in love (see Zohar II, 55b), the person offers himself to G-d through the flaming fire of love in his heart. This comes after the preparation of Jewish unity even in the area of their money as expressed in charity through the "fiery coin."

When Adar begins we increase our joy in accordance with the theme of Purim. On Purim the Jews fulfilled that which they had accepted earlier. At Mattan Torah the process of accepting G-d's law began and it was perfected and completed during Purim through the martyrdom of the Jewish people. Just as the laws of the Mishkan followed Mattan Torah so, too, with Purim, at the beginning of Adar proclamations are made concerning the shekels -- which will be used for the daily sacrifices starting from the first of Nissan which was the day the Mishkan was first set up and consecrated.

Every year this anniversary is reaffirmed by the offering of sacrifices from the new shekalim that was preceded by Jewish unity.

Just as Mattan Torah was preceded by the unified encampment of the Jewish people as "one man with one heart," so, too, the preparation for the work of building the Mishkan was preceded by the gathering of the Jewish people, "Vayakhel," and the unity penetrated even to their money and possessions. And in the same way on Purim the Jews reaccepted -- VeKibel -- in the singular -- because Mordechai had united the Jews and evoked their faith and self-sacrifice.

This unity then permeates all aspects of Jewish life -- so that on Purim we celebrate with festivity and send gifts to friends and give charity to the poor, once again unity in money. The joy of Adar and the shekels of Adar express the same aspect of Jewish unity.

Our lesson to be learned.

We must gather Jews and teach them Torah and mitzvos, the laws of Shabbos and the laws of the Mishkan, that a Jew must be filled with the spirit of Shabbos even during the week when he is involved in his business matters, for the goal of everything we do is to make a dwelling place for the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the world.

We may add, Rashi says people are gathered merely by words -- not by hand -- and the day after Yom Kippur was a propitious time, for everyone stood in a state of teshuvah. This is the case in our generation when the years of exile has seen the Jewish people fulfill the requirements of teshuvah, we are just waiting for the redemption.

It needs only good words to gather the people -- no hard work -- turn to the people in the language they understand and they will come. On Shabbos Shekalim the people must be gathered to tell them about the shekels and to remind them about the increase in joy.

Gather the people all over the world and inspire them to fulfill the mitzvos of Purim, with proper preparations, to increase joy beyond limitations. All this may begin today, especially the aspect of joy.

May our good resolutions in these matters bring immediate rewards which is the ultimate "Vayakhel" when G-d will gather all the Jews and bring us to the Holy Land -- to the holy city Yerushalayim and to the Beis HaMikdash.

May we hear the proclamation about the shekalim this year on Rosh Chodesh Adar so that we may bring the half-shekel for the sacrifices and then we will have the ultimate joy with the Third Beis HaMikdash.


  20th Day Of Adar I, 57491st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749  
  
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