Oneg Pekudai

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  • K I N D L Y S P O N S O R E D " " "

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    OnegShabbosNorth West London's Weekly Torah and Opinion Sheets

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    12th March 2016 "

    And Moshe was not able to come to the Ohel Moed because the cloud was resting upon it, and the glory of Hashem filled the mishkan (Shemos 40:35).

    The medrash asks, could it possibly be the case that Moshe Rabbeinu could not enter due to the cloud? We know that earlier in Mishpatim (24:18), the pasuk says that Moshe went into the cloud. The Medrash explains that on this occasion because of the kavod that Moshe had towards Hashem he was not able to go inside.

    Rav Shimon Schwab ztl asks, if the pshat is that he had too much kavod to go any closer, why does it say he was not able to go closer? Surely he was able to go closer, but chose not to due to the kavod he had for the shechina.

    The answer is that Moshe Rabeinu had worked on his kavod so much, the midda had been internalised to the point that he was unable to enter since that did not show the correct amount of respect.

    When we work on improving out middos and becoming better people, we must try to make sure that the good middos and actions become so ingrained into our psyche that we are not able to do anything which goes against our good character traits.

    We find a similar idea when we examine the bracha given to a baby at a bris mila.

    At a bris we say kshem shenichnas lbris kein yikanes ltorah lchupa ulmaasim tovim. This means that just as a bris mila is done with no ulterior motive and is completely lishma, (as who would ever consider causing pain to an eight day old baby if it were not the commandment of Hashem). So too this child should

    go ltorah,lchupa ulmasim tovim completely lishma without any negios or ulterior motives.

    A strikingly obvious question on this bracha is why are the mitzvos bein adam lemakom not mentioned. Why do we not say kein yikanes ltorah, lchupa, lmitzvos,ulmaasim tovim?

    From the answer to this question we can once again see the concept which we learnt above. Bris mila is changing the natural state of something in order to make it better. So in the bracha to the child we are saying, just like with a bris where there was a positive change in nature made on the baby who went from being an arel to becoming a mahul, so too he should have a positive change through Torah. We know that when a person goes from being an am haaretz to becoming a talmid chacham there is a positive change in the person. Lchupa as before he was half a person and now he is complete, again a positive change in the nature of a person. Ulmaasim tovim, as becoming used to doing kind acts causes these character traits to become natural to a person and changes his teva as we saw from Moshe above.

    When it comes to mitzvos bein adam lmakom however, if a persons teva would change to the point where he becomes used to doing the mitzvos and it becomes second nature then this will be a negative thing. He will then be doing the mitzvos by rote rather than keeping them new and fresh. As the Sifri says, we should make sure that mitzvos are being done as if they are new, therefore mitzvos are not mentioned in the bracha to the baby at his bris.

    We must learn from Moshe Rabbeinu that fixing our middos means internalising, it means changing our natural reactions and psyche so that good middos and maasim tovim becomes an integral part of who we are and everything we do.

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    So you think you know Sefer Shemos? This a group that is only once brought in its full entirety in the Torah not in Sefer Shemos. However on seven occasions in Sefer Shemos they are listed but each time one or more is missing. Twice in two different Sedros only one is missing in another Sedra once four are missing and another time only one is missing and the seventh and final time they are brought is in a different Sedra entirely and this time two are missing.

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    1. How many times is the building of the mishkan mentioned in the Torah?

    Towards the beginning of Parshas Pekudei, the Torah says that the entire weight of all the gold that was dedicated to the mishkan was 29 Kikar and 730 Shekel [Shemos 38:24]. The Sforno writes that this was actually a relatively small quantity of gold. The amount was a small fraction of the gold present in the first Beis HaMikdash built by Shlomo HaMelech, which in turn had a fraction of the gold present in the remodelled second Beis HaMikdash built by Herod. The Seforno points out that the presence of the Shechina in the three Sanctuaries (the mishkan and the two batei mikdash) was inversely proportional to the amount of gold present. The Shechina was most acutely felt in the mishkan of Moshe, less so in the mikdash of Shlomo, and far less so in Herods beis hamikdash.

    The clear lesson, says the Seforno, is that the grandeur of the wealth or the size of the building is not what determines the Presence of G-d amongst the Jewish people. The beauty of a building has nothing to do with whether the Presence of the Shechina will reside in that building. The Master of the Universe is not impressed with posh and lavish surroundings. The Mishkan, which was temporary - almost a tent like structure, was akin to a poor mans house and yet the Shechinah was always there. The Al-mighty does not value such things. What G-d wants is peoples feelings and devotion. He is not interested in the surroundings.

    My purpose in mentioning all this is not to cast aspersions against any congregation with plush design and theatre seating. I happen to enjoy comfortable seats. My point is that we should all remember that none of this is what is going to bring down the Shechina into our synagogues. According to the Seforno writes, it is the actions and the piety of the people present will bring down the Shechina.

    An extension of this is another idea of Chazal: Take heed of the children of poor people (bnei aniyiim), for from them will emerge Torah. In this context, aniyiim does not merely refer to people who are poor of means. Sometimes we see children who come from backgrounds that are

    less than stellar and they turn out to be the best students in the Yeshiva. Some of them go on to be great men in Israel.

    This is the same thought. They come from humble backgrounds and they are humble people. From them, Torah comes forth. Rav Meir Shapiro ztl once explained that when children from poor families see the sacrifices of their parents to send them to frum schools and to make money available for tuition fees and the like, it makes a profound impression on the children. When children are aware of all that sacrifice, they approach their learning differently. The common denominator between the thought regarding the gold in the mishkan and the students from poor backgrounds is that the Al-mighty appreciates humble backgrounds.

    The Soloveitchik dynasty of Torah greatness is well known in the Yeshiva world. It has transcended many generations and continues to this very day. How did this great Torah dynasty get started? I have seen this story written up in many places, most recently in something I read by Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, ztl, a member of this Torah dynasty.

    The dynasty did not started with a great talmid chacham, but with a man who was a great business man, named Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, who lived in the time of Rav Chaim of Volozhin. He was in the lumber business and was a fantastically wealthy individual. He gave vast sums of money to charity on an annual basis. All of a sudden, his business took a turn for the worse and he lost everything.

    It was such a shocking setback for the Jewish community that Rav Chaim of Volozhin convened an emergency meeting of the Beis Din in Volozhin to determine what Rav Moshe Soloveitchik did that caused Divine disfavour, such that his business suffered such a dramatic reversal. The Beis Din met and deliberated and the only thing they could come up with was that