Friday, March 20, 2009

Kol Brisk on Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei

לעלוי נשמת הגאון הר"ר אהרן בן הר"ר משה הלוי סאלאווייציק זצ"ל

Parashas Vayak'hel-Pikudei

This week's Parasha closes Sefer Sh'mos, Sefer Hageulah, the Book of Redemption. Am Yisrael were redeemed physically from the bondage in Egypt, received the Torah and built the Mishkan, the dwelling place for the Shechinah.

In Parashas Pikudei, we find the conclusion of the process. Moshe Rabbeinu accounts for all the materials donated. Hashem commands Moshe to put everything in its place; this directive is carried out. Finally comes the greatest moment, the culmination of the entire redemption process, found in the last psukkim of the Sefer:

"Va'ychas he'anan es Ohel Mo'ed uchevod Hashem maleh es haMishkan."
And the cloud covered the Ohel Mo'ed, and the Glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan.

The Shechinah now dwelled in the midst of Klal Yisrael.

* * *

Let us examine an important point::

Why were all the materials of the Mishkan counted and weighed? Is there not a rule taught by our sages, "ain habrachah shorah b'davar hasafur vehashakul", blessing does not rest on an object that is counted and weighed??

R' Levi Yitzchak miBarditchev explains the reason why bracha does not rest on counted objects. Counting can chas veshalom bring ayin ra'ah upon the object. Instinctively, when a person gazes upon an person or object, he sizes it up, passes some sort of judgement, negative or positive, or gives it some type of label. Let us call this a relative or comparative value. Any judgment and comparison immediately arouses Heavenly comparison and judgement. Thus, ayin harah. The archetype of the ba'al ayin ra'ah is Bil'am harasha. Bil'am, consumed with jealousy, would bring calamity with his gaze.

By the Mishkan, however, it was Moshe Rabbeinu who did the counting and weighing. Moshe Rabbainu's gaze was very different. When he looked upon anyone or anything or any situation, he would see the G-dliness in that very object. By doing this, he would connect it to its Source and thus bring blessing and abundance upon it.
"Aileh pikudei hamishkan asher pukad AL PI MOSHE"
These are the accounts of the mishkan that were counted by MOSHE'. The reason why there was bracha and Shechina dwelling on what was counted was because it was counted BY MOSHE.
We go about our lives constantly judging and sizing up and counting. Chazal caution us against this instinctive tendency. Our vision and understanding is ultimately limited. When there is misjudgement, there is a danger of negative consequences, which chazal term "Ayin Harah". HaRav Aharon Soloveichik zt"l explains "ayin Harah" in contemporary terminology as "boring a whole in the psyche". When a judgement or relative value is passed concerning a person, this enters the person's subconscious. This negativity latches onto and affects the person's self-image and corrodes his self-confidence. It significantly limits his ability to function.

Rather, the Torah guides us to only judge or count "al pi Moshe". There is an aspect of Moshe Rabbainu in every single Jew (sefer HaTanya). This is the quality of Daas, knowledge-connection. Through this quality, we are able to see through the outer covering of a subject or situation upon which we gaze. It enables us to view the root of the subsistence of the subject. Rather than only attribute a superficial and relative value to the scene, we see that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is its Root and Source. This realization, this awareness, this reaching out to the Absolute value contained in everyone and everything IS WHAT BRINGS BRACHA.

You might say that this sounds like positive reinforcement. It is just that, and much more. When applied for example in chinuch- education, it means broadcasting an unspoken message of tolerance and acceptance of the person. It means communicating respect for the person and belief in their capabilities. It is the silent declaration of a person's absolute value. He possesses a Neshama Elokis. His G-dly soul was sent into this world with its own specialized job. He is equipped with a specialized and unique situation. This is a package deal. It includes personality, talents, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. It also encompasses family situation and position in the community, all custom-tailored for this unique tafkid. Perhaps it can be said, that when a person senses authentic recognition of his absolute value, this is a fantastic reservoir for motivation.

Practically speaking, this is implemented by not comparing people with one another. Never insult or denigrate people for their weaknesses or mistakes. Never criticize out of anger or impatience or intolerance, but only with love and respect.

Also, let us be open and not stingy with our compliments! Let us give credit where credit is due. It makes people so happy when we take notice and take out the extra moment to express our sincere appreciation and acknowledgement. The stingy and self-absorbed jealous one is Bil'am harasha. Wholly immersed in himself, Bil’am compares everything that comes his way to his own situation and how he can take it and use it for his own glory.

Remember, the more we toil to view and to judge with Da'as, al pi Moshe, be'ayin tovah, the more opportunity we allow for bracha, for Shechinah.

Our relationships blossom and deepen,

and the Divine Presence resides in our midst.

Chazak chazak venischazaik,

A gutten Erev Shabbos
from Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh

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