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אשה ריח ניחוח לד'

A satisfying aroma to Hashem. (1:9)

The service comes to its conclusion as the aroma of the offering rises up in smoke to Hashem. This pleases Hashem because, as Chazal (Sifra, cited by Rashi) explain, “I have spoken, and My will has been carried out.” Hashem certainly is not into aroma, nor does He require offerings. We do not understand the esoteric rationale behind korbanos, offerings. We do understand, however, that when Hashem commands – we respond by executing to His will. What could be more pleasing than having one’s will carried out to perfection. Indeed, the Talmud (Menachos 110a) teaches: “The term ishei reiach nichoach…

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ואם זבח שלמים קרבנו

If his offering is a feast peace-offering. (3:1)

A Korban Shelamim is unique in that it is self-motivated, brought voluntarily, because a person has been moved to express his gratitude to Hashem for favors granted, and to enhance his closeness with Him. Shelamim is derived from shaleim, wholeness, perfection and shalom, peace. It increases good will, since so many people – the Kohanim, the family and friends of the donor – participate in its consumption. Ramban focuses on the relationship of the Shelamim with sheleimus, wholeness. He observes that the donor who offers a Shelamim is doing so freely, not to atone for an infraction on his part….

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אשר נשיא יחטא

When a ruler sins. (4:22)

Rashi explains the word asher, as related to ashrei, fortunate: “Praised/fortunate is the generation whose leader is bold/courageous enough to offer penance/korban/offering for his shegagah, inadvertent sin; kal v’chomer, how much more so, if he is prepared to show remorse/ regret over his willful sin.” It is a rare leader who does not conceal his error, who does not hide behind his exalted office, often denying that he committed an error in judgment or had a lapse in his spiritual relationship with Hashem, one who proclaims, Chatasi, “I have sinned.” This is unfortunately a rare phenomenon, but this alone is…

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לא תבערו אש בכל משביתכם ביום השבת

You must not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the day of Shabbos. (35:3)

Chazal (Shabbos 70a) debate the reason for the singling out of meleches havarah, kindling a fire, on Shabbos. Some say l’laav yatzah, it is singled out to teach a negative precept, (lo saaseh) that one who lights a fire is subject to the death penalty, kares, Heavenly excision, or bringing a sin-offering – as is the law regarding any other one of the avos melachos, 39 primary categories of labor prohibited on Shabbos. The other position vis-à-vis havarah is l’chalek yatzas, it was singled out to separate the melachos of Shabbos. This means: If one, out of ignorance, transgresses the…

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ויבאו כל איש אשר נשאו לבו... ויבאו האנשים על הנשים... וכל איש אשר נמצא אתו... וכל הנשים אשר נשא לבן

Every many whose head inspired him came… the men came with the women… every man with whom was found… all the women whose hearts inspired them. (35:21,22,23,26)

Horav Yeshaya Pik, zl, posits that these pesukim address four types of donors. (Charitable donations usually fall under the rubric of these four circumstances.) Some men/husbands will not donate before going home and speaking it over with their wives. This type of husband is in a situation in which their bank accounts are joint, and his wife has a dominant role in the home (as it should be). Therefore, whatever money goes out must have her acquiescence. Concerning this type of man, the Torah writes: “The men came with the women.” These men had their wives’ consent. Next is the…

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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור

See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel, ben Uri, ben Chur. (35:30)

It was necessary for Moshe Rabbeinu to announce that Hashem had selected Betzalel, his sister’s grandson, to be the Mishkan’s chief artisan. As a result, the usual malcontents, who derive their greatest pleasure from finding fault and expressing their dissatisfaction, should be aware that it was Hashem’s decision – not Moshe’s. Why was Betzalel selected for this august position? Chazal (Tanchuma Vayakhel 4) explain that Hashem wanted to reward Betzalel’s grandfather, Chur, who had given up his life Al Kiddush Hashem when he stood up to the sinners that committed idol worship with the Golden Calf. Hailing from the tribe…

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ויברך אותם משה

And Moshe blessed them. (39:43)

Rashi teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu’s blessing was: “Yehi ratzon, May it be His will that the Shechinah rest on the work of your hands; Vihi noam, May the pleasantness of our G-d be upon us.” What greater blessing can there be than knowing that Hashem’s Shechinah, His Divine Presence, rests upon his work? One can have no greater prize than having the Divine Presence crown his finished product. How did the people warrant such an extraordinary blessing? They were sincere in their contributing. Their donations – whether it was their best material or themselves – was all l’shem Shomayim, for…

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ביום החדש הראשון באחד לחדש תקים את משכן אהל מועד

On the first day of the first month, you should set up the Mishkan of the Ohel Moed. (40:2)

Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma, Pikudei 11) teach that the construction of the Mishkan was completed within three months. Tishrei, Mar Cheshvan, Kislev. The people did not set up, however, until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, because Hashem wanted the festivities surrounding the erection of the Mishkan to be combined with the celebration of the birth of Yitzchak Avinu. What is there about Yitzchak Avinu’s birth, his entrance into the world, connects with the Mishkan? How do these two celebrations mesh, and what is the message for us? Let us focus on Yitzchak’s name, it source and what it represents vis-à-vis our nation. The…

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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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