Following the instructions in Parshiyot Terumah and Tetzaveh regarding the construction of the Mishkan, the Torah states, “Ach Et Shabtotai Tishmoru,” “But keep My Sabbaths” (31:13). In next week’s Parsha, however, the Mitzvah of Shabbat precedes the description of the building of the Mishkan. Why the change of order?
The Beit HaLevi explains with a parable: A rather wealthy man’s son is about to be married off. Because of the marriage, the father wants to buy his son a whole new wardrobe. He buys his son nice clothing, including weekday clothes and Shabbat clothes. In addition to the clothes, the father buys his son fine jewelry, the kind that only a very rich man would wear. How can we tell whether the father is buying these things for his son out of love or out of responsibility? The Beit HaLevi answers that we can tell based on the order in which the father purchases the items. If he is doing it out of love, he will first buy the luxurious items, the expensive jewelry, for his son in order to see the joy on his son’s face. He will then buy the necessary items afterward. However, if he were to buy the necessary items first, we would see that he is doing it primarily out of responsibility, and not just out of love.
The same holds true for Shabbat and the Mishkan. Without Shabbat, it would be impossible to stay Jewish. However, the Beit Hamikdash and Korbanot are, while extremely important, still not absolute necessities – we have lived without them for the past two thousand years. Hashem therefore chose to put the luxury of the Mishkan before the necessity of Shabbat, showing pure love. However, after we committed the Chet Haegel, Hashem was forced to discuss the necessity before the luxury, because then the more pressing issue was our practical need and responsibility to return to Avodat Hashem.
Moshe the Muse
by Ely Winkler
This week’s Parsha includes the complex story of the Chet HaEgel, the sin of the golden calf. Many questions come to mind while reading how the same nation that followed God out of Egypt suddenly came to sin by worshipping a golden calf. The problem only worsens when the people say, “...these are your gods, O Israel, who took you out of the Land of Egypt.” (32:4). Their behavior just does not seem to make sense!
In order to understand this story, we must look at its progression and what could have led them to sin. First, why were Bnei Yisrael so impatient? We know they sinned because Moshe had not returned from the mountain, but if we embrace the Midrash that they waited for Moshe to return for 40 days and miscounted, why would they sin after thinking Moshe was just one day late? Indeed, according to the Pshat in the Pesukim, the people never really knew the exact date Moshe was supposed to return, so why would they be so impatient about counting days?
There seems to be a much simpler answer. We must remember that this was not the first time that Moshe had gone up to Har Sinai. Earlier visits took only a few days. Therefore, Bnei Yisrael had good reason to assume that this time Moshe would not be gone any longer. They could not even imagine that it would take this long to get the Luchot. Therefore, it made sense for them to ask how much longer they could wait for him to return.
Another glaring problem is that it simply does not make sense to think this nation would turn to idol worship. After all, they believed in Hashem! Rav Avraham Bornstein (the Rebbe of Sochaczev) suggests that there was a deeper meaning behind Moshe’s absence that led them to this sin. As long as Moshe was around, he and Bnei Yisrael were connected, and he helped the nation stay out of trouble. Moshe was an inspiration for each of them. Once he went up to Har Sinai, however, he took all of his light and put it into understanding the Torah so that he would be able to properly teach it to the people. However, the people lost their connection to him. When they felt his presence move from them, they became concerned, as well as uninspired. At this point, the Satan was able to bring them to this sin which they would normally never have considered.
Halacha of the Week The Rishonim argue as to whether men are biblically obligated to attach Tzitzit to all types of four cornered garments or only to garments that are made of wool or linen (please note that we do not attach wool Tzitzit to a linen garment today, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 9:2). The Rama (O. C. 9:1) rules in accordance with the lenient view. However, the Mishnah Berurah (9:5) writes that a God fearing individual will be sure to wear a four- cornered garment made of wool in order to be sure that he fulfills the Mitzvah of Tzitzit on a biblical level according to all Rishonim. Married men accomplish this by wearing a Tallit Gadol that is made of wool. However, the Mishnah Berurah (ibid) writes that it is nevertheless “proper” (but not absolutely required) for men to even wear a Tallit Katan that is made of wool. On the other hand, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik wore a Tallit Katan made of cotton (see Peninei HaRav p.21) following the opinion of the Vilna Gaon (see the Maaseh Rav number 17).
Food for Thought
by Jerry M. Karp
1) Why did Moshe make Bnei Yisrael drink the water mixed with part of the golden calf?
2) If Bnei Yisrael had already seen Gods revelation at Har Sinai, why were they frightened by Moshe’s face?
3) Why is the command to build the Kiyor not given along with the commandments to build the other keilim in Parshat Terumah?
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