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והלבשת את אהרן את בגדי הקדש ומשחת אתו... ומשחת אתם כאשר משחת את אביהם

You shall dress Aharon in the sacred vestments and anoint him… You shall anoint them as you anointed their father. (40:13,14)

Was something unique about the process of Aharon HaKohen’s anointing that compelled the Torah to emphasize “as you anointed their father”? The meshichah, anointing, was the same for the Kohen Gadol, High Priest (Aharon HaKohen), as it was for the Kohen Hedyot, common Kohen (Aharon’s sons). What might have catalyzed changing the process of the anointing? In his Meshech Chochmah, Horav Meir Simchah, zl (Dvinsk), offers a novel insight. When Moshe Rabbeinu anointed his brother, Aharon, as Kohen Gadol, he felt no jealousy. After all, Moshe was undeniably the Navi, Prophet, manhig, leader, Melech, king, Kohen Gadol, High Priest. (He…

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ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש

On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you. (35:2)

Rashi teaches that, in the text, the mitzvah of shemiras Shabbos precedes the building of the Mishkan to warn us that shemiras Shabbos overrides the building of the Mishkan. Interestingly, in Parashas Ki Sisa (preceding the creation of the molten Gold Calf), the Torah introduces the mitzvah of building the Mishkan prior to mentioning the injunction concerning Shabbos. The Chidushei HaRim explains that, prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, the six weekday/workdays prepared for Shabbos Kodesh. (Shabbos was the focal point of the week, with each day bringing one closer to the ultimate goal of Shabbos Kodesh.) After…

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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור

See, Hashem has called by name Betzalel, son of Uri, son of Chur. (35:30)

The Torah mentions Chur twice (other than the three places that he is listed as Betzalel’s grandfather). Who was Chur, and how important was he as a member of Klal Yisrael’s spiritual leadership? The first time that Chur is mentioned concerns the war against Amalek. This despicable nation ignored Klal Yisrael’s special status as Hashem’s chosen people and attacked them shortly after their liberation from Egyptian slavery. Moshe Rabbeinu sent Yehoshua to lead the Jewish men in battle against Amalek. Our leader stood and prayed with his hands spread out. As long as Moshe’s hands remained straight (out), Yehoshua prevailed….

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ויאמר משה אל בני ישראל ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי... וימלא אותו רוח אלקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת... ולחשוב מחשבות... ולהורות נתן בלבו

Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael, “See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel son of Uri… He filled him with G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight and knowledge… To weave designs… He gave him the ability to teach.” (35:30,31,32,33,34)

Betzalel was filled with a G-dly spirit, with various forms of wisdom and understanding. The Torah goes on to state v’lachashov machashavos, which is translated as the ability to put his extraordinary wisdom to practical use. Furthermore, he was granted the ability to teach. Is it not all part of the “wisdom package”? If one is Heavenly endowed with uncanny wisdom and ability, what is added by his ability to weave designs and mentor others? Targum Onkelos defines v’lachashov machshavos as u’lalfa u’manin, to train others in how to carry out the tasks of working with the gold and silver….

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לך רד כי שחת עמך... סרו מהר מן הדרך אשר צויתם עשו להם עגל מסכה

Go, descend – for your people has become corrupt… they have strayed quickly from the way that I have commanded them. They have made themselves a molten calf. (32:7,8)

Hashem ordered Moshe Rabbeinu to return to his people. They were no longer worthy of his leadership. They had quickly strayed – they had made a molten idol. Upon reading the text, the first question that emerges is: Was this a digression in which they first strayed, and their turning away from Hashem ultimately led to the nadir of idol worship? Or, is it all one sin, in which the people strayed by creating and worshipping the idol? Let us return to the text: when Hashem informs Moshe that his people have strayed quickly. Does it really make a difference…

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ויאספו אליו כל בני לוי

And all Bnei Levi gathered around him. (32:26)

Moshe Rabbeinu issued a call to arms, and Shevet Levi, the tribe which stood strong, defying the rabble-rousers who created the Golden Calf, came forward in his support. What happened to the rest of the nation? In total, only three thousand men worshipped the molten idol. Where was everyone else? Did they not hear Moshe call out Mi l’Hashem eilai, “Whoever is for Hashem, join me!”? Horav Leib Chasman, zl, explains that, while one may not agree with the rebellion against Hashem and not support them in any way, he still may not be ready to take a stand against…

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ויחר אף משה וישלך מידיו את הלוחות וישבר אותם תחת ההר

Moshe’s anger flared up. He threw down the Tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. (32:19)

To break something which Hashem made is an act that transcends. Unquestionably, for someone of Moshe Rabbeinu’s stature to make such a move requires remarkable insight into what he was about to do. This was not a simple decision. Indeed, the fact that Hashem agreed with Moshe is in and of itself an indication that Moshe did not act out of anger, but rather, because he felt that it was the correct and proper thing to do. The commentators endeavor to provide a rationale to come to grips with this decision. Horav Shimon Shkop, zl, offers a novel explanation. He…

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ועתה אם תשא חטאתם ואם אין מחני נא מספרך אשר כתבת... מי אשר חטא לי אמחנו מספרי... ועתה לך נחה את העם

And now if You would but forgive their sin! – but if not, erase me now from Your book that you have written. Whoever has sinned against Me I shall erase from My book… And now lead the people. (32:32,33,34)

The Torah narrative relating the dialogue that ensued between Moshe Rabbeinu and Hashem is enigmatic. First, to which sefer is Moshe referring? Second, Hashem’s response to Moshe’s demand that his name be erased from the “book” appears, superficially, to suggest that Hashem was dismissing Moshe with prejudice. Yet, Hashem immediately tasks Moshe with leading the nation. How did indignation disappear only to be replaced with compassion? Horav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, zl (Seridei Eish), explains this as part of an earlier pasuk in which Hashem says to Moshe, V’Ata hanichah Li v’yichar Api bahem, v’e’escha l’goi gadol; “Desist from Me. Let…

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל

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

A name is important, but, for some people, it is sadly all they have. They feel that lineage of any sort will pave the way for their future. While in some instances it might be true, the lineage will not preserve their legacy. This is not meant to demean the value of a name. It can carry cultural, historical or familial significance, which is meaningful, not only to the person, but also to those who revere his lineage and what it represents. Legacy is established, however, by the impact one makes on his surroundings, his friends and his students. One’s…

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ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית

And they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil. (27:20)

Chazal (Midrash Rabbah, Shemos 36:1) quote the pasuk in Yirmiyahu (11:16), Zayis raanan yefei pri to’ar kara Hashem shemecha, “Hashem named you verdant olive tree, fair, with choice fruit” to indicate the comparison of Klal Yisrael to olive oil. Chazal state three characteristics of the Jewish People which mimic the characteristics of olive oil. First, the olive does not give forth its oil until it has been smashed and pressed. Likewise, (some of) the Jewish People return to Hashem through teshuvah, repentance, once they have suffered at the hands of anti-Semites of all creeds, who have persecuted them with all…

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