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זה יתנו כל העבר על הפקדים מחצית השקל השקל הקדש

Everyone passing by to be counted must give this half-shekel based on the shekel of the Holy. (30:13)

Why were the people commanded to give only a half-shekel? It clearly was not due to financial difficulty. It is not as if another half-shekel would have placed anyone on the poverty list. It is almost as if the Torah wants to send a message with the “half” shekel amount. Indeed, the commentators, each in his own inimitable approach, underscore the value of a “half” and how it applies to each Jew – knowing that on his own he is fractioned, he is not whole. He needs his fellow in order for him to become whole. Horav Yoshiahu Pinto, Shlita,…

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ויהי כאשר קרב אל המחנה וירא את העגל ומחלת ויחר אף משה וישלך מידו את הלחת וישבר אתם.

And as he (Moshe) approached the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing; Moshe’s anger blazed, and he threw down the Tablets that were in his hands and smashed them. (32:19)

The last three words of the Torah are: l’einei Bnei Yisrael, “before the eyes of Bnei Yisrael.” This refers to Moshe Rabbeinu’s greatest act of leadership, indeed, his epitaph: He broke the Luchos before the eyes of the Jewish people. Hashem agreed with Moshe’s decision. This is how the Torah ends. It begins with the Creation of the world and ends with (so to speak) the breaking of the Luchos. Clearly this begs elucidation. Does the Torah not present any other closing lesson, any other leadership decision that Moshe made that might deserve greater mention? Furthermore, how was Moshe able…

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ילך נא ד' בקרבנו כי עם קשה ערף הוא

Let my Master go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people. (34:9)

Hashem revealed to Moshe Rabbeinu His Yud Gimmel middos, Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, which signify that Hashem will forgive us out of a sense of Divine compassion. Understandably, we are not always worthy of His absolution. Thus, these Attributes come into play to guarantee that Hashem will never turn His “back” on us. Following the last of the middos, Moshe asks of Hashem, Yeilech na Hashem b’kirbeinu, “Let my Master go among us.” Why does this request follow immediately after the Attributes of Mercy? In his inimitable manner, the Maggid, zl, m’Dubno explains with a parable. A peddler who would…

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ויאמר אם נא מצאתי חן בעיניך ... ילך נא ד' בקרבנו ... וסלחת לעונינו ולחטאתנו ונחלתנו.

And he (Moshe) said, “If I have found favor in Your eyes…let my Master go among us…and pardon our iniquity and our sins, and take us as Your own possession.” (34:9)

On the first day of Selichos we plead with Hashem: Pnei na el ha’telaos v’lo l’chataos; “Turn to our sufferings and not to our sins.” We understand that we have failed to keep our commitment to Hashem. He has given us so much and asked only that we maintain our fidelity to Him, that we observe His commandments. We failed because of all that is going on in our lives: troubles, problems, adversity, economic issues, health issues, spousal issues, children issues. Our mind is overburdened with telaos, tzaros, troubles. The Gaon, zl, m’Vilna was an outspoken proponent of aliyah, emigration,…

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל

Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael. (27:20)

Not Moshe, just, V’atah, “Now you.” Indeed, the Torah does not mention Moshe Rabbeinu’s name in this parsha. This is by design, because, in his defense of Klal Yisrael, following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe pleaded that they be forgiven. If not – m’cheini na mi’Sifrecha asher Kasavta, “Erase me from Your Book that You have written” (Shemos 32:32). When a tzaddik issues forth a declaration it is not ignored. Thus, one parsha, the one which usually is read around the seventh of Adar, which is Moshe’s yahrzeit, is missing his name. From the time that the Torah…

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ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרון אחיך

Now you, bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother. (28:1)

Horav Naftali, zl, m’Ropshitz, interprets the pasuk instructing Moshe Rabbeinu to bring Aharon HaKohen closer as an admonishment to our quintessential leader to take a lesson from Aharon’s approach to relationships with people. Moshe was prone to isolating himself from people. He never knew when Hashem would call on him; thus, he was always prepared. His tent was outside the camp. While he was always available when someone called, he was not as accessible as Aharon HaKohen, who was known for his outreach in loving and pursuing peace. As the great conciliator, he was always in the “trenches” with people….

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ולקחת את שתי אבני שהם ופתחת עליהם שמות בני ישראל

You should take the two Shoham stones and engrave on them the names of Bnei Yisrael. (28:9)

Chazal (Sotah 36b) teach that when Yosef HaTzaddik almost fell prey to the blandishments of Potifar’s wife, an image of Yaakov Avinu, his father, appeared before him and said, “Yosef, your brothers’ names will eventually be engraved upon the stones of the Ephod, and your name (as of now) is destined to be included among them. Do you want your name to be omitted (if you sin)?” When Yosef heard this, he immediately withdrew. Potifar’s wife was not going to cause him to be deprived of his spiritual destiny. So much for Yosef. What about Reuven and Yehudah? It is…

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והיה על מצח אהרן... והיה על מצחו תמיד לרצון להם לפני ד'

It shall be on Aharon’s forehead… and it shall be on his forehead always, to bring them favor before Hashem. (28:38)

The Tzitz, Head-Plate, was a unique addition to the Kohen Gadol’s vestments. When the Kohen Gadol wore it, the two words that were engraved on it: Kodesh l’Hashem, Holy to Hashem, served to gain Heavenly favor for blood or sacrificial body parts that were offered on the Mizbayach, Altar, while in a state of tumah, ritual contamination, allowing them to be accepted by Hashem. Tzitz meratzeh: the Tzitz caused ineligible offerings to become accepted. Whether this was only when Aharon/Kohen Gadol wore it on his forehead is the subject of a debate in the Talmud (Yoma 7b). One Tanna takes…

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ועשו ארון עצי שטים אמתים וחצי ארכו ואמה וחצי רחבו ואמה וחצי קמתו

They shall make an Ark of atzei shittim, acacia wood, two and a half cubits its length; a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. (25:10)

Chazal (Talmud Yoma 21a) teach that one of the miracles which occurred in the Bais HaMikdash was Aron einah min ha’middah, the place of the Aron HaKodesh, Ark, was not included in the measurement of the Kodesh HaKedoshim, Holy of Holies. Based on the measurement, the Ark should not have fit inside the room. The Kodesh HaKodoshim measured twenty cubits by twenty cubits, and a Braissa states that a space of ten cubits was on either side of the Aron. Thus, only through a miracle did the Aron fit in the Kodesh HaKodoshim. Obviously, how this occurred is beyond the…

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ועשית ארון עצי שיטים ... ונתת אל הארון את העדות אשר אתן לך

They shall make an Ark of atzei Shittim (Acacia wood)… You shall place in the Ark the Testimonial tablets that I shall give you. (25:10,16)

The Aron HaKodesh was the receptacle that contained within it the first Luchos HaBris –which Moshe Rabbeinu broke as a result of the cheit ha’eigel, sin of the Golden Calf – and the second Luchos. Chazal (Berachos 8b) compare a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, who, due to no fault of his own has forgotten his learning to the Shivrei Luchos, Broken Luchos. As we are instructed to place the Broken Luchos respectfully beside the Luchos Shniim, Second Luchos, so, too, are we commanded to respect the elderly Jew whose Torah erudition is sadly now a matter of history. One may…

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