Parsha Vayeikel Pikutei from Rabbi Gedalia Segal based on Rabbi Usher Freund

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We should accept from anew each day by day, each hour by hour, the yoke of Torah and the mitzvahs on our shoulders and it is not something old or cold.  We should feel and know that we are commanded and that is why we are screaming naaseh v’nisma, alive, saying it now

audio of the Parsha from Rabbi Gedalia Segal based on Reb Usher Freund

Vayakeil

You get purity through holy speech

Moshe gathered the nation of Israel and said these are the words that Hashem spoke.  On the wording gathered, that Moshe gathered all of Israel to build a mishkan, it says in a lot of holy books that this is a gathering of repentance, like on a scale, it weighs down the transgression of the golden calf.  It says that the nation gathered for the calf but against Aharon.  So, this is the way we fixed in repentance for the sin of the golden calf.  A gathering for this rather than for sin.

On the word gathering, when the Tzadik of the generation is holy with Torah and prayer and with speech and the nation gathers around him to understand the Torah from his words and guidance and avodas Hashem, that is the meaning of gathering in this Parsha.

When Moshe came down after Yom Kippur in a state of holiness and purity, it was a time for him that he could influence the nation of Israel to draw their hearts towards the worship of Hashem. They were gathered through his speech to bring them to the words of Hashem, that they should be able to do Hashem’s will.  This is juxtaposed to the transgression of the golden calf where they did not listen to holy righteous individual. They only listened to the erev Rav that made them sin.

The way we corrected the sin of the golden calf, in Parshas Paro they gathered to the Kohen, Aaron, and now the mother of the calf, the cow, the para, should be given to the Kohen.  The para was atoning for the sin of the child, the calf.  When we read Parsha para close to Peach and we are getting ready to purify ourselves and the greatest purification is through Torah and prayer. That is the altar of atonement is learning Torahs and praying. Before that we have to know that we sinned, and we should not think that we are pure.

That is why the para came to make them pure the pure ones and to purify the impure ones.  When we speak about the red cow, to make them pure the pure ones, those who think they are pure in their own eyes, the para made impure.  Because he should know himself  a person that thinks he is pure does not know his soul and he is not worried about the impurities.  That is how he stumbles.  And one who is impure, he will become pure because he knows he is not pure and we worries about himself . that is the person who will get an atonement and he will become pure. There is no greater tragedy or sorrow or exile more than impurity.  We have to ask and beg and pray to Hashem that He should save us from this, that He should save us from all our impurities.  When we know impurity is a tragedy and we try to save ourselves from it then that will bring the salvation..

Thoughts in giving charity

A  person has to have merit for his lovingkindness to find the right address, it is dependent on him if the money he makes is honest, if his heart is pure, if his money will go to places that are holy and pure.  There are certain people who give to education that are pure and impure.  A person merits that his money should be given to a bais medrash, a place where they learn torah, a higher level of learning, or a yeshiva, or a pure mikvah or places of chesed. Those are people that merit giving their money to holy places.  Even the people that give to holy places, that is the merit for the money to go for the most holy things.

There is a famous story from Reb Chaim Voloshin. His yeshiva goes to collect the money and people went to collect in villages and Reb Chaim saw that a villager that once gave stopped.  And Reb Chaim went to see that villager to see why he stopped giving.  He asked him and he said he does not like the collector, who comes with a wagon with many horses because he wanted to get to many wealthy people.  And the man said I am giving for the yeshiva and not for the horses.

It says in the Parsha, that he did the work of the mishkan, and he would think thoughts. Betzalel could understand the thoughts of everyone who gave to the mishkan. If one person’s thoughts were pure and holy, his donation went to the aron or the kadosh hakedoshim.  The second person whose thoughts were not so holy would go to lesser holy items.  According to their thoughts, that is the value of what they were donated to. 

Reb Chaim said it is the same with you. If you give with all your heart it goes for the Torah but if the heart of the donor is not complete, the donation goes for the furniture.  And a person who has even lesser holy thoughts his money goes for the wagon and horses.  The mishkan is holy and the yeshiva is holy.  The nation of Israel that goes according to the Torah is also holy and the mishkan also, and it is a big merit for someone that gives money so his children can grow in Torah and yiras shemayim.  Today the mishkan are the yeshivas and the shuls, where our children grow in yiras shemayim.

That is what we donate today

Reishes chochma yiras Hashem

What comes first is acquiring wisdom and then fear of Hashem. Hashem calls the name of Betzalel to come to do the holy work of the mishkan and vessels and it says I will fill him with the spirit of Hashem with wisdom.  In medrash tanchuma it says if Hashem does not fill someone with wisdom. In mishlei it says give a wise man wisdom and he will get wiser.  Give chochma to the wise ones.  Those who have wisdom hashem adds wisdom to. He doesn’t give wisdom to a fool.

Why does hashem not give wisdom to a fool, why only to the wise?  It should be the opposite.

If two people come to borrow money, one poor and one wealthy, who do you give it to..the wealthy one who can pay it back, not the impoverished one.  The fool will use the wisdom inappropriately and the wise will use it for good.

The Rebbe of Kosk asked, where does the initial wisdom of the wise person come from.  The initial wisdom comes from the fear of heaven. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem.  Fear of Hashem is the reason for wisdom and because of that, once we have the initial wisdom, we merit getting even more.

Regarding Betzalel, Hashem gave wisdom in his heart. Wisdom is in the head so why does it say in the heart.  because the heart fears.  And from here is the wisdom.  All the chochomim lev, the wise of heart, did it. In the mishkan Hashem wanted to place it in the heart of Israel.  It talks about the heart here, but it talks about the donation, that everyone wants to give of their hearts. Hashem wants the heart of Israel in the building of the mishkan.  How did Betzalel merit it …from the merit of his grandmother Miriam, and the fear in his heart.  Because of their fear of Hashem, Miriam and Yocheved had Betzalel and Moshe.

The main thing for fear of shemayim, without that there is no wisdom.  There is no advice or understanding if it is against Hashem. Anything that is not fear of Hashem is nothing at all.  The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem.

In the merit of one willing to give up his life for Hashem

The nation of Israel was preparing itself for the building of the mishkan that would house the divine presence and they needed a special craft to do the holy work.  He has to know weaving, embroidery, all these crafts and more.  And who was the person?  Betzalel. He knew all these types of different works and he stood in the head of all the special craftsman in the work of doing the mishkan and the vessel.  How did Betzalel know all the crafts? Did he learn it in mitzrayim how to draw a pyramid?  The Rambam says they were working with mortar and brick, not gold and silver, so where did he learn it?

Hashem gave him a spirit of wisdom and understanding and through that he was able to do all this work.  So why wasn’t Moshe chosen for this, if it was done with the wisdom of Hashem Moshe is a man of Hashem a holy man, was he not worthy of it. Moshe wanted to do it, to make a menorah, a table, an altar. Moshe thought he would do it. But Hashem said to Moshe that Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur will do it.  The answer is in the medrash because of Chur, that he gave his life to be killed because he protested at the golden calf.  In that merit, Betzalel his grandson, he was the one that merited to do the holy work of establishing the mishkan.  Moshe comes and tells Israel look, Hashem calls to establish the mishkan because of the zechus of a person whose grandfather gave up his soul for the honor of Hashem.

Pekudai

Leaders of the nation are patient

Patience without any bound or measure, that is what a leader of Israel has to have and is granted to him.  He has to take upon himself all the burdens of the nation, the secrets, the burdens, if they are correct or not correct, and suffer all the embarrassments if they suspect him, they have to judge everyone favorably and he has to answer everyone appropriately, and he has to stand like a lion to not let anyone break through the ideals of the Torah that people want sometimes to change to go away from it. The leader has to stand up and accept all the arrow that are thrown to him. Imagine a gabbai in the shul was selected by most of the people in the shul and he is trustworthy and does everything right and one day a ten your old stands up arrogantly and demands an accounting of the money of the synagogue.  A youth like this would get a lot of upset feedback rom the people in the temple because no one would think that the gabbai of the shul would give an accounting of all the money that is given to the synagogue.


Here is Moshe and he gives the money for the mishkan. The leitzanim said they don’t believe he acted in a right way with the monies from their donations and they suspected that he took some money for himself. The thought like this is mockery, that they suspect the most trustworthy person in Hashem’s house that he would do such a thing.  And how did Moshe respond, when they suspected him?  He sat down and made an accounting with the mishkan, the silver gold and copper, and everything is listed in the Parsha and the Torah signs off on the proper accounting.  This is the way a leader of Israel is patient and so strong with great and small people as well as those who make a mockery with their false suspicion.  This is the way they can act. That is the beauty of our gedolim.

Why is the Parsha of the mishkan repeated here

In the beginning of sefer Bamidbar when Hashem gave the commandment, to count every tribe, because of the love of Hashem He counts every hour.  ‘We don’t understand on the Parsha why it says in such detail.  In the Parsha of korbon Pesach it tells how to roast it with matzah and everything . when we come to how Israel carries it out, it says bnei Yisrael did like Hashem commands Moshe.

Here in the mishkan it says one verse, a short verse, that bnei Israel did the commandment of putting up the miskhan and after it already went into the detai the work of the mishkan and all its laws..what is the difference between putting up the miskan, the mitzvah is the korbon pesach for generations. Why so much detail on the mishkan and for korbon pesahc it talks about what they did because Hashem commanded them. Here we see it is because of Hashem’s love of Israel.  They were broken by the sin of the calf, their crowns taken away by the angels.  They thought Moshe had died and the soton confused them and they saw Moshe with his glory shining and they were so embarrassed.  Now they hear from Moshe to set up a mishkan and the divine presence will dwell with Israel and they had such a desire to do this, as an atonement of the golden calf, that they sinned, so when they started to do the avoda hamishkan, it was like their soul had a burning desire to cleave to Hashem.  It was so important that the sin of the golden calf was forgiven.   It burned to ashes of the sin of the calf.  Their burning desire burnt the sin of the calf and scattered all the ashes all over.

It is like a child that sinned against his father and afterwards he learned Torah and felt so bad because of his sin. How precious is that in the eyes of the father. That is why Hashem came and reviewed the whole of the mishkan because He had such a love for them at this time.

What are we asking an accounting for

Bnei Yisrael made the mishkan and there was great joy and everyone had a part in the mishkan.  Everyone gave money to make the mishkan but it seemed to someone that Moshe did not use the money appropriately and Moshe proved he did. The money they gave to the calf, they gave earrings for the golden calf. What happened to the rest of the gold. No one asked for an accounting, what happened to the rest of the gold. There was so much gold in the earrings, maybe it was the erev rav who stole the money and put it in their pocket. No one asked for an accounting   we see that someone who gives their money to a pure holy cause, he has a suspicion maybe it was not used for this purpose and maybe those that collect the money, and those who give their money to all types of things, they are not interested.  Here we learn that evil people always feel badly.  Even after a sin a rasha does, it says what did you do.  The other one who did a good thing is a happy person.  When the gold was given for the calf, they felt bad, better the gold should fall into the hands of the ones who made it. No one asked for an accounting.

This is true in all golden calves for people who donate. But if a person gives for a mitzvah he wants to know it will be use donly for that purpose and he asks for an accounting. That is something we can learn praise on wanting an accounting. That is the nature of someone who gives to a holy cause.

Dressing for women, beautifying themselves for the sake of Hashem

It is given to women permission to beautify themselves to look in the mirror on the condition that it is not too much and the modest women when they beautify themselves do it in a certain way, they tried carefully.  The righteous of that generation were cautious and careful with their jewelry, to not do anything wrong.  When the men fell into the trap of listening to the erev rav and took the women’s jewelry ,the women did not want to listen.  The righteous women stood up to the cause and we have to see how dangerous the jewelries could be to turn into idol worship.

We hear that those ladies that Moshe was commanded by Hashem to make a mishkan that in it will dwell the divine presence, they heard this, and where is the place for the shechina? In a place of tznius they gave their mirrors to the mishkan.  Where does the divine presence dwell?  In a place of modesty and they gave their jewelry to the mishkan.  The dressing of the ladies of Israel has to be b’shem Hashem.  There is no danger that will take them away from the right way.  When somebody gets dressed up and beautifies themselves in their house, that is allowed and wanted and is a mitzvah and does not bring out an aveira.  And any dressing that is not of that nature could turn itself around to be a weapon in the hands of the evil inclination and could bring to inappropriate behavior, chas vshalom, and all types of bad behavior not appropriate to Torah.

The righteous women of that generation, the women of today have to understand how they acted, to put a barrier to the evil inclination of beautifying themselves, not to spend too much money on it. They should think about the women in the desert, who could give away their jewelry and mirrors for the holiness of Hashem.  And they took the teruma and they built a mishkan for the shechina .  and to their modesty that enveloped them, they made a man and woman of the divine presence between them, that Torah and tznius surrounds them.

The beauty of the Jewish woman is indoors, all the honor of the daughter of a king is within, she could honor herself and beautify herself in the house.  When they were redeemed in the merit of the righteous women, we should merit to go from darkness to light in the merit of the righteous women that in our generation go in the footsteps of their mothers to make more modesty in Israel and to make a place for the shechina that should come in our midst.

Bringing shkalim and learning Torah

When in Yerushalayim everyone had to bring a shekel, and this money was given for buying the korbonos that would go on the misbeach.  These shekalim they had to bring until Rosh Chodesh Nisan and really they could bring it at first of Adar.  The beis hamikdosh is not here and we give instead of cash Parshas Shekalim, for love.  We have to be like we make korbonos in the bais hamikdosh and we brought a half a shekel. In giving half a shekel, everything is equal. The rich should not do much and the poor not too little.  Everyone brought half a shekel.  But when it came to the sacrifices, a wealthy person brought an animal and a poor a bird, but in the eyes of Hashem it is equal.

That is the same in limud ha’Torah . we are chayiv in it whether rich or poor.  Why didn’t thy bring a whole shekel  We didn’t come to be wholesome, we give half a shekel.  Sometimes we think we know the Torah but it is so deep, there is no end to its width and breadth.  What we understand is good but it is over and beyond what we understand. When we learn Torah and our heart is broken, it is something very desired by Hashem because he knows how far he is from the true worship, that he is just half, not complete.  A broken heart hashem won’t despise and Hashem will help us understand the most wisdom of the Torah.

The korbonos were taken from the new shekalim they brought this year and not from the old to teach us that we always have to start anew. The shekalim from last year are not worthy of the sacrifices . come let’s make new, the new heart we make when we renew ourselves, then our service will be accepted. 

So too in Torah lets renew ourselves with strength and power.

Pesach

The night of the seder 

The nation of Israel is making a seder with matzah and they are happy wih holy feelings and thanking Hashem that He took us out of the exile of mitzrayim and made us a nation of priests and a holy nation.  One person with one heart.  In all corners of the world, klal Yisrael is leaning by the seder looking at our father in heaven with songs of the night that we sing, and the holiday becomes holy expressing our joy of freedom that happened when we were freed.  When our fathers made the seder in mitzrayim, more than 60000 men with their wives and children in great faith in their creator and redeemer.  Those people that were in Egypt saw great kindnesses and it surrounded them on all sides. Around them there were screams of death that broke through because there were no houses where there were no dead.  In our eyes we see the song of praise that broke out of Israel to Hashem on the redemption of their souls .  when the light of morning came, there was no light.  They would go straight to the light that has no limit to the gathering at Sinai and the receiving of the Torah.

Just like we said family and family, one nation with one heart, leanig at the table, we see it is as if we left mitrayim, this day we became a nation.  It is not just that generation it was for them and the generations that follow.  Every day it should be new in your eyes.  There are the 10 commandments, the oral torah, the written torah, just like we feel the exodus as if we were enslaved and left the darkess to light, so too we should feel in every hour that we ourselves are standing on Ha sinai and seeing and hearing the thunder and lightning, where there is hope throughout the world and through enthusiasm of a fear of holiness, we should accept from anew each day by day, each hour by hour, the yoke of Torah and the mitzvahs on our shoulders and it is not something old or cold.  We should feel and know that we are commanded and that is why we are screaming naaseh v’nisma, alive, saying it now

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