Where is Rashi:
Anyone who has ever picked up a Chumish, or any volume of the heylige Gemora (Bible, or Talmud) and that would include the Novee (Prophets), avada knows that Rashi’s comments can be found either alongside, or just underneath the text. In fact, Rashi is the foremost commentator; he is #1 super commentator. In fact, his thoughts inspired and are the basis of more than 300 “super commentaries” including some of the greatest names in rabbinic literature who analyze, agree, disagree, and even a few argue vehemently against his analysis. Sadly, his passing at the age of 65, prevented him from completing his commentary on nine volumes of the heylige Gemora.
Here are the facts. Of 122 pisukim found in Vayakhale, Rashi comments on but 22. And of 92 in Pikuday, Rashi’s comments are found on but 23. Together, between 214 pisukim which close out Sefer Shemois (Exodus), Rashi’s comments are found on 45 pisukim, or just over 20%. By way of comparison, in last week’s parsha of Ki Sisa, Rashi commented on 74 of 139 pisukim and that’s greater than 53%. Why is the Oisvorfer sharing this information? Ver veyst!
Ober, as we get ready to review Parshas Vayakhale and Pikuday (our eighth) and our first spring double header with a total of 214 pisukim (verses), you may notice an oddity, one not found in any other parsha in the gantze Toirah Kula. Rashi has gone missing. What’s pshat missing? In these parshas, Rashi’s comments have been dramatically reduced. Not because the printer ran out of space. Rather, Rashi’s comments, which typically appear on greater than 50% of all verses, have been reduced to just over 20%.
And why is that? Because, contrary to what we were taught in yeshiva about the heylige Toirah not repeating concepts, words or even letters, as we read this week’s parshas, one could be led to conclude differently. Avada, if the RBSO decided to -with very slight changes- repeat all the instructions He gave in parshas Teruma and Tetzaveh, here in Vaykahale and Pikuday, zicher He had good reasons. What they are is none of your business!
The good news: Just in case you missed shul during Parshas Terumah and Tetzaveh wherein the heylige Toirah, in great and colorful detail, described the Mishkan campaign, its various parts and materials, the clothing the Koihanim would wear and more, you can chap it all again this coming shabbis as we read and learn Parshas וַיַּקְהֵל and פְקוּדֵי (Vayakhale and Pikuday). In fact, these two parshios are almost, but avada not exactly, copies of Terumah and Tetzaveh. The RBSO had very specific ideas about the measurements and design of the Mishkan, and believe it or not, in these two parshas, we will find out that despite the fact that the Yiddin found themselves in the Midbar and had no training whatsoever to be artisans and craftsmen – seemingly these courses were not offered in Mitzrayim during their 210 years in slavery- nonetheless, somehow the RBSO saw to it that the Yiddin were in fact able to get their hands on the material’s needed and also build intricate structures. In Pikuday, the Toirah will tell us, over and again, that the Yiddin did and built everything just as the RBSO told Moishe. And the bottom line: if the RBSO wants something done, it gets done! Veyter.
Coming off the Eygel incident and now in tshuva mode, akin efsher to the first few hours after Yom Kippur, the Yiddin were committed and devoted their talents, energies and resources to creating a spiritual home for the RBSO on this earth. Ober, many taka ask: Where did the Yiddin learn how to build all this stuff? As the parsha delineates the RBSO’s descriptions of the intricate and ornate details required to construct each individual item the Mishkan required, it would appear that epes some knowledge and artistic intelligence would be required. Were these newly freed people suddenly able to, in 40 days, acquire all this knowledge while trekking through the wilderness schlepping all the gold, silver and other goodies they borrowed permanently (looted) from the Mitzrim?
Ober says the Ramban (Reb Moishe ben Nachman) azoy: the skills required to construct the Mishkan already existed in the minds of the Yiddin, and the RBSO’s role was to help the Yiddin realize that they were capable of creating this magnificent structure: mind over matter, gishmak mamish! Seemingly, the RBSO helped each Yiddile uncover his/her own innate potential to understand how to create this spiritual masterpiece constructed in the wilderness. It’s taka emes that the Yiddin might have thought they were not capable of completing this labor, ober the RBSO, as He can do, helped them trust their knowledge in a way that ultimately led to the creation of the Mishkan. Givaldig.
Efsher you’re wondering why we taka have doubleheaders when it comes to Parshas. The answer is quite poshit (simple): that there are more parshas (Toirah portions), 54, than there are shabbosim in any given year, 51 or 52. Moreover and depending on the each year’s configuration, there are also some shabbosim that fall on Yom Tov, where we read special parshios and not the usual weekly parsha. And let’s not forget that when Chol Hamoed and shabbis collide as they typically do on Pesach (though not this year), the heylige shabbis laining is usurped and we lose another special parsha laining. Chap al that? Nu, veyter!
Ober didn’t we learn in yeshiva that the heylige Toirah has no extra words, that mamish every single word and letter has special meaning and were written for a purpose? Avada we did! Efsher you’re wondering, as has the Oisvorfer himself, as to why a full thirteen perokim (chapters) and four of the heylige Toirah’s 54 parshas (portions) of Sefer Shemois (Exodus) are dedicated almost exclusively to the creation of the Mishkan and the clothing line worn by the koihanim (priests). And if you weren’t wondering about this, efsher you should, especially so, when we find but one chapter describing creation of the gantze universe, and but three that describe the big moment on Har Seenai (revelation). In fact, the Mishkan project gets more play than does the entire buildup leading to Yitzias Mitzrayim which only gets 11 perokim. What’s taka pshat? Why taka so much detail regarding the traveling sanctuary built to house the Divine presence in the desert, a physical structure? Surprisingly enough, there isn’t all that much Medrish and commentary as to why it was necessary for the Toirah to expend numerous verses in what appears at first glance to be unnecessary repetition. What could be the reason for this redundancy? Ver veyst ober says the Oisvorfer, if the RBSO saw fit to repeat these items; you can rest assured that there was a good reason. Would you like to meet Him in person and ask this question or are you tzifriddin (quite satisfied) living and minding your own business here on earth? Nu, case closed and veyter.
Ober says one medrish that pshat is like this: the Mishkan was built as atonement for the cheyt (sin) of the eygel. Following that disastrous faux pas, the RBSO’s Divine presence did not totally rest upon the Yiddin. In fact, as we well know and as previously discussed, the RBSO was quite disappointed with the Yiddin and was ready to wipe them all out and begin a new race with Moishe. Considering that Moishe was taka married to efsher a black beauty, this could’ve been the origins of the ‘Amazing Race’. Seemingly the RBSO was giving the Yiddin a second chance, and who among us can’t benefit from such an opportunity, if you chap. The RBSO ordered the Mishkan built so that He could once again be able to dwell his presence upon the Tabernacle and among the Yiddin. Veyter.
Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 35:2,5) azoy: Six days work shall be done and the seventh day shall be holy, a Shabbis to Hashem…. Take from among you a tribute to Hashem; all who are benevolent of heart shall bring a tribute [in order to build the Mishkan] for Hashem….
And what is the connection between these two sentences? Taka and excellent kasha and lommer lernin how the building of the Mishkan became the primary source, according to most, for why we can’t open cans, dip tea bags into hot water, tear open packets of sweetener, fold our taleisim, carry, and avada why we must use a kli shaynee or shlishi, and myriad other chumris (restrictions) that keep popping up on the heylige Shabbis. It turns out that 39 different types of work were required for the building of the Mishkan project and this week Moishe reminds the Yiddin that, come what may, none of these 39 milochois may be performed on the heylige Shabbis. Plowing is allowed under certain conditions, if you chap. Though the Yiddin likely didn’t tear toilet paper while building the Mishkan, somehow this too, is now prohibited on the heylige shabbis. And from that one brief sentence, our chachomim deduced that the heylige shabbis overrides the Mishkan, and any of the works that may have been necessary to build it, were forever verboten on the heylige Shabbis. Shoin, an entire tractate of the heylige Gemora was suddenly seeded and ever since, hundreds of books have been written, school curriculums always include special studies of the 39 milochois and hundreds of questions are asked and answered by Rabbis all over the world about what one may or may not do on the heylige Shabbis.
Lommer chazerrin (let’s review). Chazal tell us that the proximity between these two subjects in this week’s parsha, the Mishkan and Shabbis observance, connects them and is an indication that there is a relationship between them. Proximity can taka bring about relationships, If you chap. Shoin, the Mishkan and shabbis are related, ober what is not clear, is how we learn that the connection between them refers to the actual tasks that had to be performed in the construction phase and that these same tasks are now forbidden on the Shabbis. And to connect the dots, Chazal will focus on the usage of but one word ‘Melocho’ and the amount of times that word is used in the heylige Toirah.
Says Rashi (Shabbis 49a): The heylige Toirah often repeats the prohibition of performing Melocho (work, labor) on Shabbis, yet it tells us kimat nothing about what type of work it means to prohibit. Ober from the Toirah’s association of not working on Shabbis with the construction of the Mishkan, it is learned that any labor which was necessary for the construction of the Mishkan is prohibited on Shabbis. Shoin and settled. And when the Mishna was codified, it listed (Shabbis 73a) a total of 39 categories of Melocho that are prohibited on Shabbis for this reason. And according to the heylige Gemora the number 39 has a Biblical source (Shabbis 49b)as well: Seemingly the number of prohibited Melochis on Shabbis corresponds to the number of times that the words “Melocho,” “Melochto,” and “Meleches” appear in the heylige Toirah, which is a total of 39 times; are you sleeping yet? One more time then: The 39 mentions of the word ‘Melocho’ in the Toirah (with its various suffixes) provide a convenient source for the ruling that exactly 39 categories of Melocho are prohibited on Shabbis. Of course, the heylige Gemora expounds ober we need to move on.
Nu, efsher you’re wondering about another time that the heylige Toirah used that same word of ‘melocho’ and efsher your recall that when Yoisef, who was being pursued by Mrs. Potiphar showed up to work one day, the heylige Toirah tells us that he came ready to do his ‘melocho’, if you chap. And taka Rebbi Yosi in the same Gemora was wondering: “Is the verse ‘And Yoisef entered the house [of Potiphar] to tend to his Melocho (Bereishis 39:11)’ included in the count.” And if it was, the Oisvorfer was klerring azoy: would we then not be able to perform the melocho, if you chap, at home with the eishes chayil on the heylige shabbis? Ver veyst, but seemingly it’s worthy of a sheaylo to some Ruv who would be more than happy to write some responsa on it and publish yet another book on hilchois Shabbis.
Yet another source for the 39 prohibited categories can be found in the heylige Gemora (Yerushalmi 7:2; p. 44a) and says the heylige Gemora azoy: the posik (verse) found in Sefer Devorim (16:8) which states and reminds us that “Six days you shall eat Matzois, and the seventh [day of Pesach] shall be a holiday; do not perform any Melocho” — is meant to complete the full 39 appearances of Melocho; it is the last time that the word Melocho is mentioned in the Toirah. Givaldig!
And do all agree that the word ‘Melocho’ appears but 39 times in the Toirah? Avada not, and seemingly when one attempts to actually count the appearances of the word “Melocho” in the Toirah, it turns out that the Gemora’s source is not at all simple and straightforward. Says the TOISFIS YOM TOV (Shabbis 7:2) azoy: when his son pulled out the Concordance he found that the number of times the word Melocho with its various suffixes, appears in the Toirah is grada more than 39. In fact, the number ballooned to greater than 60! Why did Chazal ignore so many appearances of the word “Melocho”, and which did they ignore? Efsher, in order to let the men chap, they did not for some reason include the one about Yoisef mentioned above, and many others. Nevertheless, this riddle has puzzled Toirah scholars for centuries. Veyter. Says the heylige Toirah:
“And they came, every one whose heart stirred them up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the Tent of Meeting, and for all his service, and for the holy garments” (Exodus 35:21). Among the items that people donated were Shoham Stones, filling stones and spices. What were these stones and where in the midbar did the Yiddin find them? And where did they get the spices listed below? Lommer lernin in-a-veynig (let’s read the words of the heylige Toirah)….
|27. And the princes brought the shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen;||כז. וְהַנְּשִׂאִם הֵבִיאוּ אֵת אַבְנֵי הַשֹּׁהַם וְאֵת אַבְנֵי הַמִּלֻּאִים לָאֵפוֹד וְלַחֹשֶׁן:|
|28. and the spice and the oil for lighting and for the anointing oil, and for the incense.||כח. וְאֶת הַבֹּשֶׂם וְאֶת הַשָּׁמֶן לְמָאוֹר וּלְשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וְלִקְטֹרֶת הַסַּמִּים:|
Though we read about these special stones a few weeks back, efsher you’re still wondering where the Yiddin were able to source these and the many other items needed including Shittim trees, different types of wool and so many other items. Nu, count on Targum Yoinoson who mamish chapped the entire concept and says azoy: the word “hanesiim” (see verse 27 above) does not refer to the priests – human beings- instead, the word means clouds. Says the heylige Gemora (Yoma 75a) on this verse. And that the clouds brought the avnei shoham and the avnei hamiluim. What’s pshat that clouds brought these stones? Says the Targum azoy: The clouds of heaven went to the Phison, and drew up from thence onyx stones and stones for infilling, to enchase the ephoid and the breastplate, and spread them upon the face of the wilderness. And the princes among the Yiddin went, and brought them for the need of the work. And the clouds of heaven returned, and went to the Garden of Eden, and took from thence choice aromatics, and oil of olives for the light, and pure balsam for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. Is this gishmak or what? Seemingly Targum Yoinoson chapped that none of these things naturally existed in the midbar and only through divine intervention could they appear. And as the Oisvorfer has told you in the past on more than one occasion, pshat is quite simple. The midbar was a magical place. And when the RBSO ordered a scavenger hunt to locate the numerous items needed to build the Mishkan project, you can rest assured that He also made provisions for these items to be found. Interestingly enough, according to this pshat, the clouds initially scoured the stones and arranged their placement and then the Nisiim (princes) brought them. Grada this isn’t so farfetched since the word “nisiim,” does in other places, on occasion also mean clouds. The clear example of this is Mishlei 25:14:
|יד נְשִׂיאִים וְרוּחַ, וְגֶשֶׁם אָיִן– אִישׁ מִתְהַלֵּל, בְּמַתַּת-שָׁקֶר.||14. As vapours and wind without rain, so is he that boasteth himself of a false gift.|
Veyter gigangin (let’s move on). Though the parshas are connected mamish and we read them without a break, as Pikuday begins, three months have gone by and all the parts of the Mishkan are done. The project is complete. The parsha begins by telling us that the results of the massive Mishkan campaign are in: “These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were counted by Moishe’s command…” Efsher you’re wondering why an accounting wasn’t taken from Bezalel, his assistant and helpers, wasn’t he the general contractor?
What was taka the primary reason for Moishe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the Mishkan? Who ordered the accounting and audit of the project? Was Moishe under suspicion for pocketing a few gold bars or hiding some shittim wood? Nu, believe it or not, though Moishe was seemingly the most revered leader the Yiddin ever had, seemingly he was not trusted by all. And says the Medrish: there were apparently some who suspected that Moishe might have been on the take – chas’ v’sholom, say it’s not so- and that efsher he kept some of their Sanctuary contributions for his own use. Yikes! Sadly, such things have been known to happen.
Though the Yiddin were just forgiven for the eygel mishap, still, the troublemakers now turned their attention to Moishe and his stockpiles of gold, silver and other goodies; efsher he was wearing too much techeiles on his tzitzis, ver veyst? Accordingly, he responded by showing one and all that every single coin and article contributed was indeed used for the Mishkan. Avada we learn from this the importance of not judging another person too hastily, but do we? Is that what taka happened? Not according to everyone and one medrish tells us that Moishe failed the audit, the books didn’t balance. And we are taught that Moishe could not give a complete accounting, until he was saved by a bas kol (Heavenly proclamation) which had to vouch for him. If so, what was the purpose of even beginning the accounting? Ver veyst? The emes is that the Oisvorfer is not pleased at having to read such a disturbing medrish about his hero Moishe, ober it’s mamish what the medrish sadly tells us. Is it a wonder that the RBSO was always angry with the Yiddin?
That notwithstanding, another Medrish (Tanchuma) says azoy: Always appoint at least two people together as trustees over public funds. Even Moishe Rabaynu, who enjoyed the full trust of the RBSO, figured the accounts of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) together with others. Thus our chachomim (Sages) taught: the one who made the appropriation [of the monies donated to the Holy Temple] did not enter the chamber wearing either a hemmed cloak or shoes or sandals or tefillin or an amulet (i.e., nothing in which money can be hidden); lest if he became poor people might say that he became poor because of an iniquity committed in the chamber, or if he became rich people might say that he became rich from the appropriation in the chamber. For it is a man’s duty to be free of blame before men as before the RBSO, as it is said: “And be guiltless towards the RBSO and towards Israel.” Seemingly, Moishe Rabaynu couldn’t catch a break.
And efsher you’re wondering how much of each item was taka collected from the overly generous Yiddin for this project, and here are the numbers.
The amount of gold donated as a wave offering was 29 talents and 730 shekels for a grand total of 87,630 shekels. The silver census money collected from the community came out to 100 talents and 1775 shekels. The 100 talents were used to cast the bases for the sanctuary and the cloth partition…The 1775 shekels were used for the hooks, caps and inlaid hoops for which the pillars were made. What the hec is a talent? Nu- it’s not the same talent you chazerrim (swine) pay for when you’re on the road, if you chap. A “talent” is approximately 150 lbs. and that’s real talent. The Yiddin borrowed (got away with) 4,350 pounds of gold from their enslavers and that doesn’t take into account a whole lot more that the sea spit out after swallowing up the pursuing Mitzrim (Egyptians). Of course, when the Mitzrim decided to give chase, they loaded up their chariots with gold, silver and copper; isn’t that the way you’re supposed to chase down the enemy? Ver veyst?
What does all this mean in dollars and cents? Ver veyst, but chump change it was not. After a quick review of the numbers and the talent on hand, the entire Midbar experience doesn’t sound at all too giferlich. The Yiddin had food delivered: Munn for breakfast, clouds of glory to lead them by day, clouds of fire at night, water from Miriam’s well to drink, a designer clothing line for the koihanim, and gold, silver and copper all over the place. Does this lifestyle sound terrible to you?
Ober why did Moishe taka have to give an accounting? Says the Medrish (Rabbah): Seemingly, he found himself unable to recall how the 1,775 shekels had been used. This caused him great anguish, as he feared that the people would grow suspicious of his handling of the communal funds. They did! A heavenly voice then emerged and declared, “The 1775 shekels were used for the hooks, caps and inlaid hoops for the pillars were made etc.” Said R’ Meir Shapiro: it is amazing to comprehend how human beings act under different situations. When creating the Golden Calf, the people donated immense amounts of gold and received only a miniature calf in return. Yet, no one thought to demand an accounting of how the funds were used. Yet when it came to building a holy sanctuary, where numerous rich and impressive objects were fashioned, everything had to be accounted for and only a heavenly voice could silence the rumor mongers among them. Such is human nature that when money is donated for a holy cause, every penny had better be accounted for, yet when spent on frivolous causes, huge sums can be frittered away without thought given to the bottom line. Yiddin!!
Shoin. With the Mishkan complete and the audit certified, there was one more take to complete. The time had come to erect the Mishkan. Says the Medrish (Tanchuma 11 – quoted by Rashi) azoy: when the time came to erect the Mishkan, none of the wise craftsmen were able to figure out how to get it to stay standing. They brought the Mishkan to Moishe, but he too couldn’t erect it; seemingly, no one could get it up, oy vey. Efsher he needed some Shittim wood, if you chap. What went wrong? When it was time to actually erect the Mishkan, the weight of the krashim, the wooden uprights, made the task virtually impossible. Seemingly too much wood can also cause issues, if you chap. They brought it to Moishe. He asked the RBSO how it was possible for a human being to erect it. He was told to try as hard as he could -you do your part- it will appear that you are lifting it, but, in fact, they will stand up on their own.
Moishe asked the RBSO, “What should I do?” Said the RBSO: “Moishe, make motions with your body as if you’re putting up the Mishkan – I’ll do the rest!” and taka in life, we seem to go through the motions but avada we must all remember that the RBSO is doing the rest.
According to the same Midrash, the Mishkan was erected and dismantled each day (of the Seven Days of Inauguration). Ober says Rebbi Chanina: it was erected and dismantled three times a day! Why? Why not just get it standing and then leave it that way (at least until the time came to travel)? Ver veyst? And for the shabbis tish: Says the Nesivos Shalom: there are life lessons to be learned from the erection of the Mishkan: that the task of erecting a Mishkan is not something accomplished on one’s first try. One gets one’s “Mishkan” standing, only to suffer a setback, and have it dismantled. He/she tries again, and again gets it standing, perhaps this time even more firmly than before, yet once again, finds it taken apart. Part of the difficulty of its construction, then, is in not becoming disheartened at the seemingly endless process of back-and-forth implied by this daily cycle of up and down. “It’s all in a day’s work.”
A gittin Shabbis and Chazak, Chazak V’nischazek! – Let us be strong, let us be strong and let us strengthen others as well.
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv