Friday, March 12, 2010

Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern on Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei - Heb. & English pdf

Here is Reb Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's Torah on Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei, with English excerpt and full text in both English and Hebrew in pdf form. You can send an e-mail to this address to subscribe to receive Rav Morgenstern's Torah in your e-mail box every week.

"אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת, אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל-פִּי מֹשֶׁה: עֲבֹדַת הַלְוִיִּם בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן... וַיְהִי מְאַת כִּכַּר הַכֶּסֶף לָצֶקֶת אֵת אַדְנֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֵת אַדְנֵי הַפָּרֹכֶת: מְאַת אֲדָנִים לִמְאַת הַכִּכָּר, כִּכָּר לָאָדֶן."

“These are the accounts of the Mishkan, even the Mishkan of the testimony, as they were rendered according to the commandment of Moshe, through the service of the Leviim, by the hand of Itamar, the son of Aharon HaKohen... And the hundred talents of silver were for casting the sockets of the Mishkan, and the sockets of the veil: a hundred sockets for the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.”[1]

Rashi explains: “‘The sockets of the sanctuary’—[the sockets] of the forty-eight boards of the Mishkan, which had ninety-six sockets, together with the four sockets of the paroches makes a total of one hundred. The Torah says that all of the other sockets were of copper.”

Upholding the Mishkan

The main support of the Mishkan was from the placement of the boards within their sockets, which were donated by the Jewish people through the fixed rate of the half-shekel regardless of the wealth of the individual donor. It is this that the verse describes when it lists the measure of the hundred talents of silver, one talent for each socket. These were the sockets that upheld the boards which formed the structure of the Mishkan itself.

Reb Nosson of Breslov explains why it was necessary that the silver of the sockets come equally from every Jew: “They were commanded to each bring a half-shekel to teach us that no Jew is complete on his own; he has to join together with his fellow. The main rectification is achieved when everyone is brought together in love and unity, when each one is just a half until he is united with his friend, and that friend with yet another, until all of the varieties of opinions and personhoods become one within the absolute and simple unity of Hashem Himself. This process is most precious before Hashem. This is why, ‘The wealthy shall not add and the poor shall not give less’—so that there should be no division or difference among them.

It is necessary so that, ‘Each man’s wealth will atone for his soul, and the poor will not hear rebuke’[2]—so that the wealthy will not lord it over the poor and they will all achieve the rectification of tzedakah, which is to support the Torah in mutual love and respect. The main objective is to be united and subsumed within Hashem’s oneness, and this is only possible when a person is humble and self-effacing, when he nullifies his ego before his fellow Jews, when he, ‘Does not regard the wealthy above the poor.’[3] The giving of a uniform half-shekel demonstrates that all are equal before Hashem and everyone has a part to play in the establishment of the Mishkan, and through this Hashem’s absolute unity is revealed in the midst of variety and multiplicity. This is also why all the other offerings for the Mishkan were given in accordance with the person’s means, as Rashi explains at the beginning of Parshas Terumah. The unique nature of the half-shekel offering was to highlight to the wealthy that there is nothing to be prideful in their resources, because Hashem could just as easily build the Mishkan through the offerings of the poor, and He has the power to enrich the poor and impoverish the wealthy in any case. Although He does choose to give the merit of charity to those whom He has blessed with abundance, nevertheless the actual framework of the Mishkan is provided by each person equally. And the wealthy have no cause for pride, ‘For all is from You, and from Your hand do we give to You.’[4] The main act of tzedakah is in supporting Torah scholars who give birth to halachos, because this is a manifestation of the Mishkan built by Moshe Rabbeinu in every generation. And the main way in which we accomplish this is by revealing Hashem’s absolute oneness from among a multiplicity of actions.”[5]

This means that the basis of the integrity of the structure of the Mishkan derives from a relationship of equality between Torah scholars and those who support them, that they should be in a state of complete unity of the soul—that the silver sockets and the boards they support should be all of a piece. It is only when the supporters are unified with the talmidei chachamim and do not feel above them and the scholars do not feel superior in their scholarship that they are truly bound together and equal. Then the holiness of the boards also rests upon the sockets and the structure can stand securely, and the light of the yichud can shine brightly.

[1] Shemos 38:21,27
[2] Mishlei 13:8
[3] Iyov 34:19
[4] Divrei HaYamim I:29:14
[5] Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Apotropos #1

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