Thursday, February 28, 2008

VaYakhel: two types of donors

Parshat Va'Yakhel

In 35:21, it says, "כל איש אשר נשאו לבו וכל אשר נדבה רוחו אותו הביאו"

There seems to be two different types of people donation to the Mishkan. There are those who are donating from their heart, and those from their spirit.

Those donating from their heart, the passuk says, "whose heart leads him" - it is an emotional donation. He is being overly generous, giving more than he otherwise would.

Those donating from their spirit are giving more in control - he wants to give but has to limit it.

The passuk equates these two types of people - It is not important how much one gives, but how one gives. The person who can allow himself to donate with no limit, just because he wants to is great. If a person gives wholeheartedly, even if he can only give less, but he gives what he can and he really wants to, he and his donation are just as important as the guy who gives millions, and even better than the guy who gives begrudgingly.
ובלבד שיכוון לבו לשמיים

NOTE: After I thought of this, I found the first part, describing the two different types of people donating explained on the Ohr HaChaim, much more eloquently than I could explain it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ki Tisa: not accepting Lashon Ha'Ra

Parshat Ki Tisa

In 32:19 Moshe gets down the mountain and is shocked by what he sees.

Why is he shocked? Hashem told him what was going on..he already davened on their behalf, so why the surprise and anger?

Even though he had acted on the info on their behalf, he did not really believe it. he could not believe it. In a sense it was Lashon Ha'Ra. No matter how reliable the info, how reliable the source, you cannot accept Lashon Ha'Ra except "l'toeles".

Moshe had a "toeles" - he had to daven for them. So he accepted it for that much, so he could daven for them. But that is it. To actually believe it, which had no other toeles, he had to assume it was not so bad or there was a mistake or something.

therefore he was surprised when he actually saw what was going on.

Ki Tisa: calm down first

Parshat Ki Tisa

In 32:11 Moshe begins davening on behalf of the people. He had not yet even seen what they did. he simply heard from Hashem that they had done bad and he right away begins pleading for them.

What chutzpah. How can he ask for forgiveness on their behalf when he does not even know what they did? he has not seen the extent of their sin but he is already asking for mercy???

You do not need to delay your assistance just to find out details. if there is a way to help immediately, do so and worry about the details later.

Moshe first davened. he offered his immediate solution to calm the situation. Only after the tension is broken does he need to go get the details and deal with the specifics.

Ki Tisa: upper management

Parshat Ki Tisa

In 32:10, Hashem tells Moshe, "Leave me alone and let my anger consume them. I will destroy them and make a great nation out of you."

Why does Hashem need Moshe's advice or permission? Moshe had not been pleading with him at that point. It was Hashem who came to Moshe, as if Moshe was not allowing it and Hashem wanted to convince Him to allow it...?

Unilateral actions are never good. You do not just do something and spring it on your people. Share the information. Consult. Ask advice. Invite the participation of others in the decision making process.

No matter how powerful a person is, such as the CEO of a company or the manager of a division or whatever, you have to confide in your managers before making big moves. That is what Hashem did with Moshe.

Ki Tisa: Question: what is shabbos a sign for?

Parshat Ki Tisa

In 31:13 it says about Shabbos that it is a sign "Between Me and you... that I have made you holy (separate)".
In 31:17 it says about Shabbos that "Between Me and Israel it is a sign forever.."that I created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day I rested".

So what is Shabbos a sign for? That God rested on the 7th day or that the Jews are a holy and separate nation?

Ki Tisa: not standing on ceremony

Parshat Ki Tisa

In 30:18 It says, "And you should make the basin (for washing) from copper".

All the vessels in the mikdash were made from gold. Why is the washing basin the exception? Why copper?

The Seforno asks why this vessel is mentioned here at the beginning of Ki Tisa when all the other vessels were mentioned in Teruma (and a couple in Tetzaveh)?

The Seforno explains that this vessel, the washing basin, did not have the purpose of effecting Divine Presence in the Mishkan, as did all the other vessels. The basin was simply for the Kohanim to be able to prepare for the service. It was functional. Therefore, it is not mentioned with the others - because it has a different purpose.

This idea also answers my question.. The basin did not have the same purpose as the others.

The other vessels all had to made of gold because they were effecting השראת השכינה - Divine Presence. We know "there is no destitution int he place of wealth" which is why they had to be very strict about not using broken vessels, using only gold, etc.. so as not to give the appearance of any level of "עניות" - because in the process of effecting the Divine Presence, a certain level of כבוד was needed, and that required the vessels to be made of gold.

Yet the basin did not have that as its purpose. The basin was simply functional. It was not there for glory and respect. They simply had to wash their hands and feet. To do that, the basin did not have to be gold.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Trumah: acheiving wisdom

Parshas Trumah

In 25:32 it says, "מקשה תיעשה המנורה" - the Menorah should be made of a solid piece.

Rashi explains that you should not make it in pieces that you then attach together, but from one solid piece.

The menorah is symbolic of wisdom - Torah knowledge. חכמה, wisdom, cannot come from partial information, knowledge in piecemeal fashion, putting things together. If you have bits and pieces of information, you might know some things, but that does not make you into a חכם.

You have to work hard and get the whole picture. learn it all, get the whole Torah, get the whole of whatever it is you are studying, understand it completely, the whole concept.

That is the way to acheive wisdom, just as the Menorah had to be of one piece.

Trumah: promises of donations

Parshat Trumah

In 25:3 it says, "וזאת התרומה אשר תקחו מאתם" - this is the donation that you should take from them.

Rashi comments that it was all בנדבה - given generously. If that is the case, why does it keep says "Tikchu" you should take from them? they are donating it? They are coming and giving it to Moshe, so why does he have to go take it?

People make donations, during an appeal in shul for example, but they are lazy about actually getting around to making good on it. The Treasurer has to remind people that they have not yet paid. He has to keep nudging and even to take it from them.

When you are building the Beis Hamikdash, the Mishkan, a Shul, a Tzedaka project, etc., you cannot just sit back and rely on the promises people make as to whether they will donate and how much. If you rely on their promises, your project will never get off the ground.

You have to go get the money. Make them actually pay up. People promise to donate, but when they have to pay, they get reluctant,. It is difficult to pay out.

They donated generously, but you still have to go take it from them.