Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Surprise Me - Rav Weinberger's Drasha on the Women's Geula Event & Parshas Vayakheil

Below, please find this adaptation of Rav Weinberger's drasha from this Shabbos, parshas Vayakheil 5779. Rav Weinberger has reviewed this write-up and any corrections are incorporated herein. Enjoy!

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Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Vayakheil 5779
Surprise Me

A remarkable event occurred this past Tuesday. Tens of thousands of holy Jewish women around the world gathered together to daven together for the redemption. Strangely, because my name was listed alongside the gedolim who lent their names and approval for the event, I received several dozen phone calls from concerned rabbis who apparently did not wish to call Rav Chaim Kanievsky or Rav Reuven Feinstein to criticize their support for this day of tefillah. These phone calls caused me to ask myself why Jewish women today are more aligned with the desire to bring the world to the final redemption? Why not the men? What particular feminine quality primes women for this type of holy endeavor even more than men?

Let us delve into this question in light of the first major project to which the entire nation dedicated themselves, the building of the Mishkan. In parshas Terumah, there is no mention of the women participating in the donations to or the building of the Mishkan: “Speak to the children of Israel an, ‘And you shall take for Me a gift from every man…” (Shmos 25:2). But in Vayakheil, the Torah and Chazal strongly emphasize women’s contributions: “The men came with the women, every generous-hearted person…” (ibid. 35:22). According to Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachaya, only the women brought gold. The men only donated things of lesser value. And the Torah continues, “And every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands…. And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun the goat hair” (ibid. 25-26). The women were engaged in spinning goat’s hair in the most remarkable way to make the highest-possible-quality material for the Mishkan.

We see that Hashem and Chazal wished to emphasize how the women were at the very center of the project to donate-to and build the Mishkan? Why is this? And why were the women not mentioned at all in parshas Terumah?

In chapter 18 of Messilas Yesharim, the Ramchal zt’l explains what the trait of piety – chassidus means. It means thinking what Hashem would appreciate above-and-beyond what is required and doing that for G-d. To put this in modern terms, chassidus means doing the same thing for Hashem that one does when he or she makes a surprise party for someone they love. There are certain things one needs in a relationship and it is perfectly appropriate for ask one’s partner to fulfill that need. In such instances, the fact that one person asked takes nothing away from the value of the other person’s fulfillment of that need. But it is nonsensical for one person to ask, “Honey, next week is my fortieth birthday. Can you please make me a surprise party?” By definition, a surprise party is something that arises from the heart of the one planning it for the other. Asking for a surprise party is an exercise in absurdity.

But the Ramchal teaches us that Hashem says to us, “Surprise Me!” Although Hashem knows what we are thinking and planning, it makes Him so happy when we say to ourselves, “What would Hashem really love? What would give Him nachas?” There are many things that are required by halachah. And if a Jew observes Shabbos according to every din in Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah, including the rules of oneg Shabbos by singing at the Shabbos table and enjoying the traditional Shabbos foods, one cannot have any claim against him. But this is not chassidus. A  chassid always thinks about what Chazal say, “I have a great gift in my treasure house and it is called Shabbos” (Shabbos 10b). He recognizes that Shabbos is a gift so he wants to reciprocate that present by asking what would make Hashem happy even though it is not required.

One of the most apparent differences between men and women is that the vast majority of men do not go beyond what is technically asked and required of them, whereas women often understand intuitively what another person needs or wants without being explicitly asked. This difference is apparent in a remarkable teaching by the Maharal on the passuk, “Thus shall you say to the house of Yaakov [the women] and tell to the children of Israel [the men]” (Shmos 19:3). Rashi explains that this passuk teaches that Moshe was commanded to speak gently to the women, but more directly or harshly to the men. Most people understand Rashi to mean that women are more sensitive, so one must treat them with kid gloves and walk on eggshells around them, lest one hurt their feelings.

But the Maharal (Drush Al HaTorah: “V’sageid l’Bnei Yisroel…”) explains quite differently. The only way men are likely to do what is needed only if they are told clearly, in no uncertain terms, exactly what is expected of them. If one uses subtly or expects them to infer what they should do, the message is likely to go right over their heads. Moshe was therefore told to command the men in direct, succinct, and unambiguous language, lest they miss the point. But with respect to the women, Hashem told him to speak gently with them because He knew that the women would infer even from indirect or gentle language everything that they could do for G-d even without being told explicitly.

We can now understand why the Torah doesn’t mention the women in parshas Terumah, the parshah in which Hashem commanded exactly what the Jewish people were required to do with respect to the building of the Mishkan. But parshas Vyakheil is the parshah of the actual carrying out of the donations-to and the building of the Mishkan. The women were not included in the initial commandment because Hashem knew they love to surprise other people. He knew they would participate without being formally commanded. And this played out in Vayakheil, where the women donated even more generously than the men and spun the materials for the Mishkan in the most remarkable way to ensure that it was of the highest quality.

This also explains why tens of thousands of women gathered together around the world to find a new way to beg Hashem to redeem us. And it sheds light on the perplexing phenomenon of so many rabbis and men who were confounded by the event. I explained to a number of people that besides the fact that Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, and Rav Reuven Feinstein shlita lent their approbations to the event, the Chofetz Chaim in his sefer Tzipisa L’yeshua, lamented how desensitized we have become to our exile, saying that he did not understand why men and women were not marching in the streets begging Hashem for the redemption. There were even people who criticized the Chofetz Chaim for making such a “big deal” about lashon hara. Yet today everyone recognizes the importance of emphasizing and holding events to strengthen this aspect of our service of G-d.


Thankfully, the Jewish women of today and are the forefront of making this “surprise party” for G-d – holding an event to daven, beg, and plead that Hashem’s glory return to earth with the coming of the complete redemption soon in our days. May their and our prayers be answered quickly!

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1 comment:

Clipping Path said...

Nice post. I really enjoy reading it. Very instructive, keep on writing.Thanks for sharing.