Parshas Vayakhel 5757

Jewish Unity

"VAYAKHEL" MEANS TO ASSEMBLE TOGETHER A GROUP OF PEOPLE. UP UNTIL NOW THE TORAH RELATED TO US THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT MOSHE GOT FROM HASHEM CONCERNING THE BUILDING OF THE TABERNACLE. NOW IT IS TIME FOR MOSHE TO PASS ALONG THOSE INSTRUCTIONS TO KLAL YISROEL. BUT MOSHE DOES SOMETHING ELSE FIRST. HE CALLS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE TO ASSEMBLE TOGETHER. THE MISHKAN (TABERNACLE) IN THE DESERT WAS THE SYMBOL OF JEWISH UNITY. IT FOCUSED AND CONCENTRATED THE THE NATION'S SERVICE OF HASHEM INTO A CENTRAL PLACE. MOSHE WANTED TO TEACH THE PEOPLE THAT BEFORE THE MISHKAN CAN BE ERECTED, THEY MUST FIRST LEARN TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND CONCERN THEMSELVES WITH EACH OTHER'S WELFARE. THIS IS THERE PREREQUISITE FOR THE MISHKAN AS IS IS STATED, (EX. 25:8) "BUILD FOR ME A MISHKAN AND I WILL DWELL WITHIN THEM". NOT WITHIN IT, BUT WITHIN THEM, WITHIN EACH MEMBER OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. AND IN FACT, ONE WHO DOES A FAVOR FOR ANOTHER IS ACTUALLY DOING A FAVOR TO HIMSELF SINCE KLAL YISROEL IS REALLY ONE.

THE JERUSALEM TALMUD EXPLAINS WHAT JEWISH UNITY IS. IF A PERSONS SMACKS ONE HAND AGAINST THE OTHER, HE DOESN'T PUNISH THAT HAND FOR HITTING BECAUSE IT IS LIKE PUNISHING HIMSELF. SO TO WITH A JEW, WHEN SOMEBODY DOES HIM A BAD TURN HE DOESN'T HIT BACK BECAUSE IT IS LIKE PUNISHING HIMSELF

JEWISH UNITY, TO WHAT EXTENT?

The Chiddushei Ha Rim explained it as follows. The Gemara in Baba Metzia (62a) posed this question. Two men are on a journey, and only one of them has a flask of water. If they both drink from it they will both die since there is only enough water for one man to survive. If one man drinks it, he will survive and arrive at his destination, but the second man will die of thirst. Ben Petura says that both men should drink, for it is better for both to die than for one man to witness the death of his friend. That was until R' Akiva came along and expounded the verse (Lev. 25:36) "...and let your brother live along with you." It comes to teach that your life takes precedence over your friend's. Therefore the one with the water should drink and live.

But it is troubling the meaning of , "until R' Akiva came along...". Did something suddenly change that now we act according to R' Akiva?

The Chiddushei HaRim explains that in fact there is no difference of opinion between Ben Petura and R' Akiva. Until R' Akiva, the proper thing to do was to act according to Ben Petura, for who could drink water and at he same time witness his friend dying of thirst. Better that both should drink and both should die! But then R' Akiva came along and demanded a higher level of love. One man willing to give up his life so that his friend might live is the highest form of love between two Jews.

Short Biography: The Chiddushei HaRim, (Rebbi Yitzchok Meir), was one of the most important disciples of Rebbi Simcha Bunem of Pryschicha and then the fiery R' Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. At the insistence of the Chassidim, the RIM became leader after the death of the Kotzker. At the first Chassidic gathering over which he presided he declared, "Reb Simchah Bunem led with love, and R' Menachem Mendel with fear. I will lead with Torah!"
He succeeded in establishing a precedent of excellence in Torah study which is still a hallmark of the Gerrer Chassidim today.

A STORY TO ILLUSTRATE THE IDEA

The son of the Rizhner Rebbe, R' Avraham Yaacov of Sadiger once told this story. One Erev Shabbos the Baal Shem Tov appeared in a town unexpectedly. Declining invitations from all the locals, he elected to remain alone in the Shul after Shabbos evening davening. The wonder of the residents turned to alarm when they saw his fervent Tefilla and Tehillim continue the whole night long. Something was surely the matter. But in the morning the Baal Shem Tov was relaxed and joyful, and he accepted the invitation of one of the locals to the morning Shabbos meal. Naturally, all of the townspeople crowded into the house of the host to see the Holy Baal Shem Tov. As they were sitting at the table, a goyishe peasant came around looking for a drink of vodka. They were about to drive him away when the Baal Shem Tov called out that he should be brought in, and provided with a generous glass of vodka. He asked him to tell what he had seen in the mansion of the Poritz (wealthy Polish estate owner) the previous night. The peasant's tongue, loosened by the vodka, related that the Poritz, believing that he had been cheated in a business deal by a Jewish merchant, assembled his peasants and armed them with knives and hatchets telling them to be on the ready to avenge themselves on the Jews at his command. They would then all be able to liberate their stolen riches from the Jews.

The whole night we waited for the command, but the Poritz had closeted himself in his office with an unexpected visitor, an old friend that he hadn't seen for 40 years! Finally, he emerged and told us all to go home, that the Jews were upright and honest people and nobody should dare lay a hand on them. We all went home and that's all.

"This old friend", explained the Sadigerer Rebbe, "had been dead for decades." "The Baal Shem Tov had dragged him from the grave to influence his friend the Poritz." "But I always wondered," queried the Rebbe, "why did the Baal Shem Tov have to travel all the way to that town for Shabbos to avert the decree, couldn't he just as well have remained in his hometown of Medzibuz?" "But I understand now. The Baal Shem Tov said to himself, if I can succeed in saving the town, fine...but if not, then I will perish together with them..."

Short Biography: Rebbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov was the founder of the Chassidic movement. He was born around 1700 and lived for 36 years lived an austere and pious life in relative seclusion without ever revealing who he was. When he did reveal himself, he won the hearts of the simple people as well as those of some of the greatest scholars of the day who then became his dicsciples. He opposed ascetic practices and self castigation. His approach was to spread joy and to gently turn the heart towards Hashem. He travelled constantly, spreading his message of prayer, joy and humility. His successor was Rebbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch.


SPARKS OF SHABBOS

(Parshas Vayakhel)

Preparation for the Holy Shabbos day.

The word Shabbos is Hebrew is spelled ù á ú . This forms an acrostic in Hebrew which reads: ùáú áä úùåá , on* Shabbos*do*Teshuvah (repentence). Shabbos is a day that is unique in that it is a special opportunity to start again fresh. The Rebbe, R' Elimelech of Lizensk taught that the eve of the Shabbos is like the eve of Yom Kippur. In his household, the family as well as the servants would beg forgivenss from each other every Erev Shabbos until they were trembling and shedding tears. Thusly cleansed, at the moment of the lighting of the Shabbos candles, a sublime and awesome joy enveloped each and every one. A few minutes before the start of Shabbos to review the events of the previous week can truly help to make Shabbos a day of spiritual and emotional rest.

Many people take these few minute before immersion in the Mikveh, or before the time of candle lighting. Especially proper is to takes any measures to guard against anger on Shabbos and to heals and wound that anger caused during the week. A parent is even remanded not to scold or punish his children on Shabbos.

This is the meaning of thre verse from this weeks Parsha, (Ex. 35:3), "Don't kindle any fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day." Fire can be understood as anger. On Shabbos, there is no room for anger.

May all of our Shabboses be Peaceful!!

Short Biography: R' Elimelech of Lizensk was a major disciple of the successor to the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch. R' Elimelech along with his brother R' Zusia, spent years roaming the Polish and Galician countryside igniting tens of thousands of dormant hearts and drawing them back to Torah and to Chassidus. R' Elimelech himself raised up many important disciples (see Parshas Titzave 5757 - How to Live with Hardship).

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