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ומשה לא ידע כי קרן עור פניו בדברו אתו

Moshe did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant when Hashem had spoken to him. (34:29)

Rashi observes that, until this point, Moshe Rabbeinu’s face had not become radiant – even after having achieved the spiritual heights necessary to receive the Torah. It was only after he received the second Luchos that he earned the merit of koran ohr panav, radiant face. What about the second set of Luchos made such a difference? Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, explains that the second set of Luchos were obtained in a manner that distinguished them from their predecessor. Following Klal Yisrael’s sin with the Golden Calf, Hashem was prepared to sever His relationship with the nation and rebuild Klal…

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הראני נא את כבודך

Show me please Your glory. (Shemos 33:18)

The cheit ha’eigel, sin of the Golden Calf, was committed forty days after Hashem gave Moshe Rabbeinu the Aseres HaDibros, Ten Commandments, on Har Sinai. It was a sin for which Hashem wanted to destroy the Nation. While only a small group of people actually sinned, the rest of the nation stood by in apathy, either indifferent or unable to do anything to prevent the sin from occurring. As a result, Hashem held all of them in contempt, and He punished them. Hashem revoked His decree to destroy the nation due to Moshe Rabbeinu’s supplication on their behalf. Following Hashem’s…

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ויאמר משה אל אהרן מה עשה לך העם הזה כי הבאת עליו חטאה גדולה

Moshe said to Aharon, “What did these people do to you that you brought a grievous sin upon it?” (32:21)

Rashi interprets Moshe Rabbeinu’s question as, “How much trouble did they put you through before you felt compelled to make the Golden Calf for them?” Ramban disagrees, because such a sin is considered avodah zarah, idol worship, which is one of the three cardinal sins for which the law of yehoreg v’al yaavor, one should be killed rather than transgress, applies. In other words, regardless of the yissurim, painful troubles, to which Aharon might have been subjected, he still did not have license to make the Golden Calf. While it is beyond the scope of this dvar Torah to distinguish…

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זה יתנו כל העובר על הפקודים

This shall they give – everyone who passes through the census. (30:13)

The mitzvah of giving machatzis ha’shekel, a half-shekel, each year applies equally to all Jews (men, twenty years old and up), regardless of their financial circumstances. All Jews are the same with regard to the donation that supports the daily korbanos, communal offerings, and other communal rituals in the Bais HaMikdash. As the Sefer HaChinuch explains the shoresh, root, of this mitzvah, Hashem wanted – for the good and merit of Klal Yisrael – that all Jews be equal with regard to the sacrifices (equal representation) that they brought regularly before Him. Shavim b’mitzvah, equal in the mitzvah, because all…

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וישב העם לאכל ושתו ויקמו לצחק

The people sat to eat and drink and they got up to revel. (32:6)

Rashi explains that the term, l’tzacheik, to revel, implies the three cardinal sins: idolatry; licentiousness; and murder. In addition to their worship of the Golden Calf, Bnei Yisrael committed immoral acts and murdered Chur (nephew of Aharon HaKohen and Moshe Rabbeinu and son of Miriam HaNeviah and Kaleiv ben Yefuneh). He attempted to restrain them and, as a result, he became their first victim. Chur sacrificed his life Al Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify Hashem’s Name. He is the first and only Jew who died Al Kiddush Hashem in the Torah. Surprisingly, there is no overt mention of his mesiras nefesh,…

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ועשית אותו שמן משחת קודש

Of it you shall make oil of sacred anointment (30:25)

The shemen ha’mishchah, oil of anointment, was used exclusively for sacred purposes, such as anointing the Ohel Moed, the Kohen Gadol and the keilim, vessels in the Mishkan/Bais Hamikdash. In examining the shoresh, root, of the mitzvah, the Sefer HaChinuch writes that Hashem wanted us to perform an act ourselves, on the day that we go up to be inaugurated to the honor of performing His holy service l’haros banu gedulah u’shevach, to indicate greatness and praise in us. This is the anointing of the oil. Horav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita, comments that the words, “to indicate greatness and praise in…

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כי תשא את ראש בני ישראל לפקדיהם ונתנו איש כפר נפשו...ולא יהיה בהם נגף בפקד אתם

When you take the count of Bnei Yisrael to their numbers, each man shall give an atonement pledge…so that there should not be a plague when you count them. (30:12)

Jews are counted when necessary, but with great sensitivity and trepidation. Rashi explains that when counting Jews, we refrain from taking a head count; rather, each person gives a machatzis, half-shekel, [to represent] themselves. These half-shekels are counted in their stead. In this manner, we avoid the chance of ayin hora, evil eye, which, when cast upon a person (even inadvertently), can catalyze a plague. (We take ayin hora very seriously!) Rabbeinu Bachya writes that when we count people individually, we single them out; likewise, Hashem examines their deeds individually. We are in a better position as part of the…

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ועשית כיור נחשת... לרחצה

You shall make a copper Laver… for washing. (30:18)

The Kiyor, Laver, was a large, copper utensil filled with water, from which the Kohanim were required to wash their hands and feet prior to performing the service. This washing was not for purposes of hygiene, but for the sake of kiddush, sanctification. The Kohanim purified their hands and feet, representing the upper and lower parts of the body, symbolic of the Kohen’s total devotion and the sublimation of his entire body to the service which he was about to perform. The Laver is not mentioned in the previous parshiyos (Terumah,Tetzaveh) together with the other utensils of the Mishkan, because,…

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ואתה דבר אל בני ישראל לאמר אך את שבתתי תשמרו

And you shall speak to Bnei Yisrael saying, “However, you must observe My Shabbos. (31:13)

V’atah tidaber; “And you should speak.” It almost sounds as if it was only this mitzvah (Shabbos) that Moshe Rabbeinu was to (personally) teach the nation. What about the rest of the Torah? Did he not teach the entire Torah to Klal Yisrael? Why is emphasis placed on the mitzvah of Shabbos? Chazal (Eiruvin 54:13) teach that there was a special seder, order/sequence, in the manner that Torah was transmitted to Klal Yisrael. Keitzad seder ha’mishnah, “What was the order of (teaching) the Torah?” Moshe studied (a halachah) from Hashem. (When Moshe was finished) Aharon HaKohen would enter and Moshe taught…

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ושמרתם את השבת כי קדש היא לכם

You shall observe the Shabbos for it is holy to you. (31:14)

Concerning Yamim Tovim, Festivals, we find the concept of lachem, “For you,” which means that a person is permitted to have personal enjoyment from the Festival. The Talmud (Pesachim 68b) cites a dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua concerning the proper manner in which to celebrate Yom Tov. Rabbi Yehoshua contends: chetzya LaHashem u’chetzya lachem; part of the day should be spent in service to Hashem, ie, praying and learning, and part of the day for oneself, enjoying good food and wine. Rabbi Eliezer is of the opinion that it be spent kulo LaHashem, in total service to Hashem….

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