Illuminations #113, Adar 5777, Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

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Illuminations #113, Adar 5777, Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Torah Gems

When discussing the building of the mishkan, the Torah specifies that, despite the greatness of the mitzvah, it doesn’t override the prohibition of doing work on Shabbos. The question arises, why would klal Yisroel have even entertained the notion that building the mishkan would override the prohibition of doing melachah on Shabbos? We know that there must always be a special pasuk allowing us to do any melachah on Shabbos. Why would the building of the mishkan be any different?
In last week’s parasha, Bnei Yisroel sinned by making the golden calf. The Ramban explains that the sin came as the result of a mistake. When Moshe Rabeinu, their great leader, did not return at the time when they thought he was to have returned, they were thrown into turmoil. Who would guide them, who would connect them with Hashem? As a result they created the golden calf to fill this role. Now, if we were to think about it, their intentions were noble indeed. The transgression lay in the mistaken assumption that any means were justifiable if they were intended for a noble end. That is the lesson the Torah is teaching us at the beginning of this week’s parasha. Even though Bnei Yisroel was commanded to build the Mishkan, the ultimate result of which was to have a dwelling place for the Shechina, which one may think is the greatest of all ends, nonetheless, building the mishkan on Shabbos is still forbidden.

Parsha Pearls

Upon the completion of the building of the mishkan, the Torah states that “They built it just as Hashem commanded, and Moshe blessed them.” Rav Schwab notes that a few pesukim earlier, the Torah says that they did just as Hashem commanded Moshe, yet at that point Moshe Rabeinu did not bless them: what prompted Moshe to bless them now more than before? Rav Schwab explains that the first time the Torah says that Bnei Yisroel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe, Moshe Rabeinu was concerned that their actions were intended to please Moshe, but not purely for the sake of Hashem. Later on, however, when the Torah says that they did it just as Hashem commanded, without mentioning Moshe, it was clear to Moshe that they built the Mishkan purely for Hashem’s sake, and were thus worthy of the blessing that “Hashem should dwell amongst their handiwork.”

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Elya Svei, Zatzal, Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshiva of Philadelphia, was known for his tremendous concern for every person and his tremendous desire to help whomever he was able. Once he received a letter from a person who was amidst a personal dillema and was asking the rosh Yeshiva for his advice. Unfortunately, the person who wrote the letter forgot to write a return address. Rav Elya was greatly distressed and went to great lengths to get ahold of the return address in order to be able to give an answer and be of assistance.

Halacha Weekly

Q. When Is causeless destruction for a constructive purpose permitted? (I-2-134]

A. Shulchan Aruch HaRav  (Hil. Shmirat Guf vNefesh, 14- Baal HaTanya) writes that the general rule in this matter is that there is no prohibition of baal tashchit, causeless destruction, except if it is performed in a manner which is completely destructive. But in order to rectify or fix something it is permitted.  Therefore, if one is destroying for the sake of his own body, for example to burn a vessel in order to provide fuel with which to heat himself because he does not have other wood , this is permitted.  Other examples similar to this are permitted.


Sefer Chassidim (667, R. Yehudah Ben Shmuel of Regensburg Z”L) writes that one who does not need to eat meat transgresses baal tashchit (causeless destruction)  if he slaughters an animal. On the other hand, if he needs to slaughter it for some other reason, even for the skin of the animal alone, it is permitted to slaughter it.