Illuminations #153, Adar 5778, Parshat Vayakhel – Pekudai

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Illuminations #153, Adar 5778, Parshat Vayakhel – Pekudai

Torah Gems

From Moshe’s presence they took the entire gift that the Children of Israel had brought for the work for the labor of the Sanctuary, to do it. But they continued to bring him free-willed gifts morning after morning. … They said to Moshe as follows, “The people are bringing more than enough for the labor of the work that Hashem has commanded to perform.” …And the people were restrained from bringing, but the work had been enough for the labor of all the work to do it, and there was extra. (36:1-7)

One might be lead to believe that Moshe was the most successful fundraiser of all time. It’s an odd characterization for our all-time spiritual guide. In the end there were more donations than necessary. Imagine that! How often does that happen? Many would love to know his secret. How did Moshe do it?

We should not forget that the task was complicated by the requirement that the materials and the monies to be collected had to given for Hashem’s sake alone and no other ulterior motivation, as the verse states, “And you should take for Me Terumah!” (Mishpatim 25:2)

Rashi comments, for Me: For My sake! That profound caveat should make the fundraiser’s job that much more difficult if not impossible! It’s an awful handicap to burden a fundraiser with! However, ultimately not only was it not an impediment, it may even have been a help! How can we understand that to be so?

There is a story about Rav Aaron Kotler, ztl. Once, at a parlor meeting where a select group of Torah supporters were gathered to raise funds for the Yeshiva, a speaker outlined all the benefits that would accrue to Klal Yisrael from Lakewood Yeshiva in terms of providing teachers of Torah, etc. for future generations. The Rosh HaYeshiva, however, was uneasy about what was being spoken. He stood up and said, “Gentlemen, I fear I am being guilty of deception. Yes, our Yeshiva will, with Hashem’s help, produce heads of Yeshivas and Rabbis and teachers, but I want you to know that the main aim of the Yeshiva is the learning of Torah lishma – learning Torah for learning’s sake only, without thinking of career or profession, and it is for that purpose that I am asking for your support!”

The Torah writes, “All generous hearts they should bring Terumah” Offerings to Hashem! (35:5) Rav Shmuel Rozovsky reads the verse: “They should bring …their generous hearts with the Terumah for Hashem. So the main building of the Mishkan was from the generous hearts!” My guess is that Moshe used few gimmicks to raise funds. First he lifted aspirations and that lead to the flow of goods. From the strength of his own clear-minded conviction he was not so much a classic fundraiser as an elevator of spirits. The Sanctuary was built from pure intentions. There are no alchemist’s tricks needed to make gold from hearts of gold.

Parsha Pearls

Moshe had asked the people to contribute to the construction of the Mishkan. The people were so generous that more contributions than were needed came in. Moshe then told the people that there was enough to finish the construction and more contributions were not needed.

The language Moshe used to tell them was somewhat dubious. He asked that an announcement be made as it says in the Pasuk, “Man and woman shall not do more work toward the gift for the Sanctuary” (36:6). Why did he not simply say that they should stop bringing their contributions for they were no longer needed?

Perhaps the reason was that we must never imply that contributions are not needed. You can say that for a particular cause no more contributions are needed. You should never express yourself in such a manner as to tell people to stop giving.

Parents must impress upon children the importance of giving donations and contributions for all good causes. Rabbis and leaders of organizations must constantly influence their followers to donate and stress the need. Moshe did not tell them to stop giving. He told them that there was no longer a need for their contributions towards construction of the Mishkan.

Glimpses of Greatness

An American Jew came to visit Jerusalem. In the synagogue he met a great rabbi, dressed in a shabby hat and a faded suit, and he had a few stalks of straw in his coat. “How did this straw come on a coat?” Asks an American Jew. “Because I put my coat on the straw mattress in my bed and it probably stuck to the coat,” he replied. He asks again, “Why don’t you hang your coat in the closet?” “Because I do not have a closet, there is no room in a small house for the closet, when we are a family with many children,” he answered. The American Jew gives the following advice: “If so, you need another room – build one more room behind the house and that way you’ll have more space in the house.” “Let us think,” the Rabbi told him smartly, “I will now be forced to put myself in debt to build another room and buy a new closet; why? For some straw in the coat, is it worth it?!”

Halacha Weekly

Q. What is the status of a child’s report in regard to an halachic decision? [1-4-172]

A. We rely on the testimony of a woman when it concerns halachic prohibitions. Chashukei Chemed  (Pesachim 602, R. Yitzchok Zilberstein) cites  Rav Elyashev regarding whether one who is in doubt if he has said birkat hamazon after eating is allowed to rely on a minor son who informs him that he has said the blessing. He says that if one relies on the son, and it is completely certain to him so that there is no doubt at all [regarding the truth of the son’s report], he is exempt from saying the blessing again.  The proof is from Rambam, Z”L (Sanhedrin 24-1) who writes: ’If a woman is trusted by him (a judge), it is sufficient if we find the matter is established clearly in his heart, to rely on [her testimony] and judge.’

Haghaot Asheri (Chulin 1-14, R. Yisrael Kremz Z”L) writes, “But Rabeinu Eliezer from Mitz answers the difficulty why in this case we say one witness is believed in order to establish something prohibited [while elsewhere we say two witnesses are required]. [This case] speaks specifically of persons who are empty and reckless, then two witnesses are believed by the Torah [to establish something prohibited] and one witness alone is not believed.  But in the case of one who is reliable and upright we rely on one such person, even a woman.

This week’s illuminations is sponsored anonymously

By a friend of Kollel Ner Hamizrach.