Illuminations #197, Adar A, 5779, Parshat Vayakhel

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Illuminations #197, Adar A, 5779, Parshat Vayakhel

Torah Gems

“And the heads of the tribes brought shoham stones, and stones to be set, for the efod and for the breastplate” (Shemot 35:27). Rashi cites the words of the Sages who note that the heads of the tribes brought the last donations for the Sanctuary. They said, “We will let the other people donate whatever they will donate, and we will bring whatever is missing.” But the people brought all that was needed. The heads of the tribes then asked, “What can we still do?” The only things remaining were the special stones that were needed and this is what they brought. But because they procrastinated at the beginning, the letter yud is missing from their name in this verse (nesi’im). Rav Yeruchem Levovitz commented that their original thought appears to have been virtuous. They said they would bring whatever was needed at the end. This appears to be a very generous proposal on their part. But we learn from here that since their behavior touched on the negative trait of laziness, their behavior was considered incorrect and they were censured for it. Whenever a negative character trait could be an underlying factor in your behavior, be very careful to clarify what your true motivation is. This applies especially to the trait of laziness. It is easy to give many good-sounding reasons for not doing things. But when laziness could be the real reason for your lack of action, be suspicious that your reasons are actually rationalizations by which you are trying to excuse yourself. If the Alter of Nevardok had difficulty deciding whether he should go to the Bet Midrash to study Torah or to go someplace else, he would first go to the doorstep of the Bet Midrash. By this means he would remove the bias of laziness and only then would he reach a decision about what to do. (Growth through Torah)

Parsha Pearls

“The people exceeded in bringing more than the labor of the work that Hashem commanded to perform” (Shemot 36:5). Moshe spread the word among the Jewish people to cease bringing materials for the mishkan. The people were actually held back. The people were so generous that the entire fundraising process was completed in just two days. (36:3). Rabbi Menachem Zaks z”l asks, why did Moshe stop them? Why not let them bring as much as they wanted, and make more and fancier vessels? After all, the Bet Hamikdash was more elaborate than the Mishkan and contained many more vessels. Why couldn’t the people of the desert do the same for the Mishkan? Plus more people would get more mitzvot! Rabbi Zaks answers that there was a fundamental difference between the Mishkan and the Bet Hamikdash. The Mishkan was built as a temporary structure that was to travel with the people in the desert on their way to Israel. All of the parts of the Mishkan had to be carried and reconstructed by the Leviim. Since the Mishkan was to be carried by people, it was not fair to add more weight for them to carry. Therefore Moshe put an end to further donation. On the other hand, the Bet Hamikdash was a permanent structure. Therefore the more donations that were accepted, the more mitzvot the givers would acquire. This can be a lesson for us whenever we want to do a mitzvah. It is important to consider the impact on others. For example, if a person enters a crowded shul after the people started praying the Amidah, he might push his way through the praying people to reach his seat. A person is supposed to pray in a set place and use the same seat, because it helps him concentrate better. The latecomer may feel that the importance of his own prayer justifies disturbing all the other people and causing them to lose their concentration. Is this person acting properly? Clearly he is putting his own needs ahead of everyone else’s. We can also learn a lesson about spending money. We should consider the burden we place on another Jew. When we spend a few extra dollars on fancier clothing or furnishing for our homes, we must stop to consider our actions. Are we creating a burden for our friends who may not be able to keep up but feel they must? Of course we all agree that a person can get great benifits through spending money, just like the one who comes to shul and had a set seat is capable of praying better. But that doesn’t mean he is permitted to drive over someone to reach his place. Now we can understand the reason why the Israelites were “forced” to stop bringing money for the Mishkan. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Glimpses of Greatness

We are surrounded by a culture that has rejected, in large part, the sacred Jewish concept of “an eye is watching, and an ear is listening,” which teaches that a human being is held accountable for his actions. Public schools are even prohibited from teaching the existence of God. Therefore, in the world we live in, each individual has his own challenges that he must overcome in working out his own relationship with Hashem. Therefore, especially in our times, we should have the kavana, when bowing to Hashem during shemoneh esrei at the first bracha (ie: magen Avraham), that in addition to our G-d and the G-d of our Fathers, we thank him for protecting us, as he did Avraham Avinu, against the onslaught and pressure of the powerful influences of the world filled with kefira surrounding us, which could have a devastating effect on our belief and trust in Hashem. Similarly, on seder night, in every generation, each individual expresses thanks to Hashem that He has assisted him in his own efforts to come close to Him. We say in the Haggadah, and NOW (not then), Hashem is constantly bringing us close to His service.

Halacha Weekly

Q. If one cannot request one’s needs on Shabbat, how can one pray for a sick person on Shabbat? [I-18-YD -384]

A. Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat ( 15-3) writes that one may not request one’s needs on Shabbat: Rav Zeirah asked Rabbi Chiyah bar Abba, ‘[What should one do?!] One does not make requests [on Shabbat in prayer for]  difficulties with livelihood?! He answered, ‘One should grasp hold of the blessings (of Shabbat).’  Karban Haeidah explains that…requesting  needs on Shabbat follows the rule of oneg Shabbat (delighting in Shabbat), and it is considered as if the person has completed all his work [so that] asking for one’s needs appears the opposite [of this, as if he has not finished his weekday work], and it also brings worry to his heart [which nullifies oneg Shabbat].  Rav Zeirah’s advice is, therefore,  in praying for one’s livelihood [one should grasp hold of] birkat hamazon and birkat hahaaretz [in the blessing after meals on Shabbat] and it is as  if  he is asking for his needs. Therefore he says ‘grasp hold of the blessings.’ The text of the blessing is one that does not change [significantly] from weekdays to Shabbat [and mentions the needs of his livelihood]… [The text is the same for both weekdays and Shabbat ] in order that he not be confused in his blessing.

For this reason, on Shabbat we pray the misheberach prayer for the sick. Sefer Yaskil Avdi (Orech Chaim, 7-44-8, R. Ovadiahedaya Z”L) writes that every text that is fixed [and one does not add one’s own request to it] which one says has the [same] ruling … even if it is decreed to be said only on Shabbat, it is considered as ‘grasping hold’  of the blessings [on Shabbat to say them with great intent, just like one does when one is praying for one’s livelihood, through a fixed text of the blessings after meals].  In this way the same thing is accomplished in a permitted way in regard to praying for the sick when we say the (fixed) formula of the misheberach prayer on Shabbat for those who are ill.