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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

   4th Day of Adar II, 5749

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

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

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

Yechidus

Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

Eve Of Lag Baomer, 5749

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 Pikudei
4th Day of Adar II, 5749
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  1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 574911th Day of Adar II, 5749  

1

Today we concluded reading the second Book of the Pentateuch -- Shmos. Every completion in Torah should bring an increased awareness and a greater effort to evaluate and renew the Divine service associated with the just completed cycle, with the intention to properly prepare for the coming phase, in this case the Book of Vayikra.

This practice may be applied to the various cycles that we experience during the year:

The last month of the year, Elul, is the month of reckoning for the past year, as well as the time of proper preparation for the future.

The final day of the Hebrew month is Erev Rosh Chodesh, a propitious time for retrospection and preparation for the coming new month.

Erev Shabbos, at the close of the six weekdays is a time for adding up all the activities of the week and preparing for the new week.

So, too, each evening before retiring during the Shema one must take a retrospective look at the day before reciting the words "In Your hand I place my soul."

Likewise when we complete the study of a book of the Torah it is an appropriate time to review the theme of the concluded book, and its lessons in Divine service, as well as to make preparations for the future. Torah is very precise and this process of account-taking itself is alluded to at the close of the Book of Shmos and the beginning of Vayikra.

The book of Shmos gives us a total glimpse of man's Divine service. Starting with the story of how the Jewish people came to Egypt, it alludes to the descent of the soul into the corporeal body and materialistic world. This is followed by the story of the punishment of Egypt through the ten plagues which once again alludes to the Divine service of purifying and refining the materiality of the world. This leads to the Exodus -- to be freed of the yoke of Egypt and the worldly limitations as a preparation for the time when "you will serve G-d on the mountain." At the Mattan Torah experience, the division between the lower and upper worlds was eliminated and G-d descended to Mount Sinai and gave us the Torah. At the same time we received the power to transform the physical world to holiness and create a dwelling place for G-dliness in the world.

This effort reaches its perfection when the Shechinah rests in the Sanctuary that was built with the contributions made by the Jewish people for the Mishkan. All this is recorded in the Book of Shmos.

At the close of Shmos in the portion of Pikudei the Torah makes an account and summary of all the materials used in making the Sanctuary. This gives us a clear lesson of the importance of making such an account at the close of a section of Torah. The name of the portion, Pikudei, itself means "the sum" -- the account of all the donations to the Mishkan and all the vessels and objects made to be part of the Mishkan. In a sense here we have the summary of the Divine service which is discussed in Shmos with the goal of making a dwelling place in the lower worlds.

In our Divine service we must also make a similar reckoning in our work to make a dwelling place for G-dliness, at the close of Shmos. It should be clear and precise so that we may say Eleh Pikudei -- these are the accounts of the Sanctuary which the Jew makes.

Rashi was very specific in his explanation of the opening words of Pikudei:

In this section are enumerated all the weights of the metals given as a contribution for the Tabernacle, of silver, gold and copper, and also there are enumerated the vessels used for every kind of service in it.

(Rashi, Shmos 38:21)

This lesson may be applied in a symbolic sense to every individual. Gold, silver and copper allude to three areas of man's Divine service and to the three levels man may attain. On each level man must use the different powers and means at his disposal "gold" "silver" and "copper," to build the Sanctuary for the Holy One, Blessed be He, and then one must be ready to account for everything he has done.

Similarly one must list all the vessels -- when one makes himself a vessel for G-dliness and likewise when he transforms the world to be a vessel for G-dliness.

Not only must we be aware of the vessels produced -- but we must also be aware of how the vessels are used for the "service" of the Sanctuary. Just as the portion of Pikudei goes on the describe how the vessels were made and how they were used in the service of the Tabernacle.

In Chassidic terms a Jew's Divine service must include the theoretical aspects of Torah study as well as the practical side of mitzvos.

Another point to be gleaned from the accounting of the Mishkan. Not until after all the account-taking did the Torah tell us that the Mishkan was actually erected -- for only then was it apparent how all the parts fit together to form one Sanctuary.

Chassidus explains that the personal efforts in the counting process awakens the yechidah -- the essential (unique one) of the soul. With this approach all the person's individual efforts are unified and united with the One Ruler of the world, and G-d says "I will dwell among them"; the world is then influenced on all levels to truly be a dwelling place for G-d.

Now just as in Pikudei, by making the Mishkan we did not lose sight of the individual components that united to form the Mishkan, so too, by making a dwelling place for G-dliness we infuse spirituality in all the various components and all the levels so that each item becomes holy and this holiness comes in a revealed way. The word Eleh () -- these are -- has the gematria of 36, add the three letters (E'L'H') and we have 39, add 1 for the word and you have 400, alluding to the 40 minus 1 categories of work prohibited on Shabbos (the same categories of work which were used to build the Mishkan). Chassidus teaches that human Divine service completes the void in the "40 minus 1" so that the gematria of 40 is completed. The power to do this comes from Moshe who is mentioned in the opening verse of Pikudei.

At the close of the book of Shmos one might assume that having made the summary and account of all the activities discussed in Shmos, and having actually built the Mishkan one might assume that now there is time to relax and stop working. At this point an important message is brought to us in the final Rashi of the portion.

The Torah concludes Shmos with these verses:

[Later], when the cloud would rise up from the Tabernacle, it [would be a signal] for the Israelites to move on, [and this was true] in all their travels. Whenever the cloud did not rise, they would not move on, [waiting] until the day it did. G-d's cloud would then remain on the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night. This was visible to the entire family of Israel, in all their travels. (Shmos 40:38)

What connection is there between the narrative of the construction of the Mishkan and the travels of the Jewish people? Here we speak of the fact that the Shechinah came to dwell in the Mishkan.

Rashi comments:

This was visible to the entire family of Israel in all their travels -- at every masa which they made (according to Rashi this means: at every station at which they stopped) the cloud rested upon the Tabernacle in the place where they encamped. A place where they encamped is also called masa (the literal meaning of which is "journey"). Similar is, (Gen. 13:3) "And he went on to his resting place (L'ma'asav)" (cf. Rashi on this verse); similar also is, (Num. 33:1) "These are the Massei" -- "the places of encampment." Because from the place of encampment they always set out again on a new journey therefore all the different stages of their journeys (including the places where they encamped) are called masaos. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

The Torah adds the subject of travels at this point to teach us that when the Jewish people camped and the cloud of glory came to rest, one might think that they would remain in that place, having reached some goal. We are therefore told clearly that the cloud would again rise and move on, that the Jewish people were constantly moving ahead and rising to greater heights. This aspect is so important that Rashi tells us that even the place of their encampment was called a masa -- a travel place. Because from that stop they once again travelled. So a Jew must always feel that no matter where he may be standing, at whatever encampment he may be, there must always be another movement ahead.

A Jew must always improve and increase so that a Jew's resting place is his embarkment point to greater heights.

Thus, we take a lesson that wherever a Jew rests, and resting is necessary and required by Torah, he must know and sense that he must resume his travels to go higher and higher -- to the point that the encampment itself seems to be a movement.

Now that we conclude the book of Shmos we likewise understand that together with all the accomplishments of our Divine service in the themes of Shmos -- the construction of the Mishkan and the glory of G-d in the Mishkan -- we do not rest -- but must immediately move on to a new book in the Torah.

At the close of Shmos the glory of G-d filled the Mishkan and Moshe could not enter. Then at the beginning of Vayikra Moshe clearly rose to a higher level and G-d called to Moshe and he entered the Sanctuary.

The Torah is eternal and its message guides us even today. Moshe's power to advance was concentrated in his humility which was alluded to in the small "alef" of Vayikra. We, too, have a spark of Moshe in us and by learning Torah we can draw that power of growth into ourselves.

If we work at removing the gross concealment of our corporeal animal soul G-d will also reveal to us lofty and G-dly things. We may not even sense this G-dliness in our daily experience but it will affect our souls and trickle down even to our physical existence.

May G-d grant that everyone should experience the loftiest revelations in wisdom, understanding and knowledge; and in thought, speech and action. To feel the revelation even though we do not understand it -- sometimes someone feels elevated and cannot explain how he got there. This is the extension of Vayikra -- the call to Moshe.

On the other hand, this new elevation should not blind one to think that it is enough. And here Rashi also illuminates the point.

Rashi tells us that when G-d spoke to Moshe He would pause between one section and the next. Why was this necessary? To give Moshe time to absorb each subject and contemplate between topics. If this was so in the case of Moshe when he was learning from G-d, how much more so when a human students studies from a human teacher!

When G-d taught Moshe in the Tabernacle, He did not want the process of learning to be miraculous -- that Moshe should absorb everything without any diligence or time for reflection. Rather G-d paused to give Moshe the chance so that he should not be too excited and that he should not assume that study does not need deep thought and contemplation. Moshe had to concentrate and absorb his lessons. Only after absorbing one lesson was he taught the next subject.

In human teaching a person may sometimes be very excited about some new insight in Torah and then he will not give the matter proper attention to understand it properly.

There is the story of the bright Chassidic scholar who once was so overwhelmed by a maamar he was studying that he cried out "Holy words, but incomprehensible!"

We must remember that the words are truly holy but they are in our realm and we must understand them, and we have the potential to clearly understand with wisdom, understanding and knowledge. But this needs diligence and concentrated study -- not a psalm.

Teachers and educators who learn with children cannot assume that the child will, by some G-dly miracle, suddenly absorb the lessons, rather they must work hard to teach in a way that the child can understand and absorb; with the right mix of pauses, for the child to contemplate and comprehend.

Thus, on this week when we conclude the book of Shmos and we start Vayikra it is the appropriate time for this retrospective overview of the just concluded period in which there was emphasis on making a dwelling place for G-d out of the contributions. Vessels were prepared and the level was attained to enter the Sanctuary, through the study of Torah. There must also be the necessary pauses to contemplate and absorb.

This must also be applied in working with others, they too, should adopt this path and influence the whole world.

All the preparations for Purim should be made, to study the laws of Purim and to see that all Jews have all their needs to fulfill the mitzvos of Purim, reading the Megillah, sending food gifts to friends, charity to the poor and the festive Purim meal. In general, Adar is a good time to increase charity.

May all the above increases in our good action and Divine service merit the building of the Mishkan -- but now we speak of the Holy Temple -- the Third Beis HaMikdash. Rashi says that the verse "HaMishkan Mishkan" (at the beginning of Pikudei) alludes to the Beis HaMikdash. Rashi presents this as the plain meaning of the verse. Although Rashi's reasoning is not clear, it is clear that when we see the Third Beis HaMikdash we will learn the "New Torah" which will be taught from the Sanctuary and we will "see," as well as understand.

May all this come speedily and truly now. May "redemption be brought close to redemption" in a reversed order: first the ultimate redemption, then the redemption of Purim and then the redemption of Pesach, and may we see true "wonders," even as compared to the wonders of the Exodus.

All this with joy and glad hearts.


  1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 574911th Day of Adar II, 5749  
  
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