Vayikra El Moshe

ויקרא אל משה...   א:א

Parshas Vayikra is, as both Rashi and the Ramban say, a direct continuation of parshas Pekudei; both of which are addressing the day of hakamas ha’Mishkan, when the Mishkan was erected in a permanent sense.  It is the eighth and final day of the miluim.  Although Moshe Rabbeinu assembled and disassembled the Mishkan during the first seven days, it only had a status of a bamah during that time.  Its full status as the Mikdash, says the Raavad in his pirush on Toras Kohanim, only took effect on this final day, which was of course the first day of Nissan (of the second year counting from yetzias Mitzrayim).  This permanent Mikdash status of the Mishkan converged on this tremendous day with the inauguration of Aharon and his sons as the Kohanim.

The Gemara in Megilla (10b) says that on this day of hakamas ha’Mishkan – the shmini l’miluim – there was simcha lifnei Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu k’yom sheh’nivreu bo Shamayim va’Aretz, that the joy on this day was as great as on the day that Heaven and Earth were first created.  It further says in Midrashei Chazal that the twenty five letters beginning from vayedaber until the end of the pasuk correspond to the twenty five letters of the pasuk, Shema Yisrael.

The Nefesh Ha’Chaim elaborates at length – over the course of more than an entire perek – that the pasuk of Shema Yisrael is what is called yichuda ilaah (“upper oneness”) and Baruch Sheim is yichuda tataah (“lower oneness”).  He explains that what this means is that there are two perspectives on yichudo yisbarach, the oneness of Hashem.  From the perspective of Hashem, as it were, it is ein od milvado k’pshuto mamash: in the most literal sense, there is no existence other than Him, just like before the creation of the universe.  This is the yichuda ilaah and it is the proclamation of Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad.  From our perspective, though, there is a whole gigantic universe packed with innumerable creatures.  From this vantage point, Hashem is not the only existence, but there are also other beings, but we acknowledge that He is the king and ruler over them all.  That is the yichuda tataah of Baruch Sheim: expressing the concept of malchuso l’olam va’ed, that He alone is the king over everything.

When the Medrash says that the twenty five letters in the first pasuk of Vayikra (beginning from vayedaber) correspond to the twenty five letters of Shema Yisrael, it is to this idea that it is making reference: that on the final day of the miluim – on the day when the Mishkan assumed its complete status as the Mikdash – this yichuda ilaah was manifest.

With this we can understand what Chazal mean when they say that one of the ten crowns that were given to the day of hakamas ha’Mishkan was rishon l’maaseh breishis, it was the first day of creation (Shabbos 87b).  What is that supposed to mean?  Obviously, it had to be some day of the week.  So what is the significance of the fact that the first day of Nissan of that year happened to fall out on a Sunday?  With the above concept in mind, though, we understand it very well.  Rashi brings in Breishis that the first day of creation is called yom echad (and not yom rishon) because it was the day of absolute oneness.  The only one in the world, kavayachol, was the Creator.  There were not even any malachim.  So the briah on that day was in a state of awareness, as it were, that there is only Yechido shel OlamEin od milvado.  And likewise was the state of awareness on the day that the Mishkan was finally erected as the full-fledged Mikdash.  Chazal tell us that the Mishkan was a microcosm of the entirety of creation (Medrash Tanchuma on parshas Pekudei, siman 2).  It was the mahadura tinyana, then, the “second edition” of this state of absolute awareness that Hashem is the only reality.  This was expressed by the fact that the cloud filled the Mishkan and even Moshe Rabbeinu could not enter.

There is another amazing facet to the day of hakamas ha’Mishkan.  Rashi says – as one of the explanations of the word leimor at the end of the pasuk – that Hashem was instructing Moshe Rabbeinu to let Him know if Klal Yisrael accepts what He is now telling them.  The Brisker Rav asks: we find this expression right before Matan Torah, that Hashem told Moshe to let Him know, as it were, if Klal Yisrael accepts the terms of the bris of Torah.  Over there we readily understand it.  Hashem was offering the Torah to Klal Yisrael and it was up to them to accept.  It had to be a mutual agreement.  But over here, these are specific mitzvos being described.  So why should it matter at this point if they accept or not?  Should it be necessary for every particular mitzvah to secure their agreement?  They already agreed to the whole Torah and that’s that!  So what is this all about?

The Brisker Rav answers based on the Gemara in Sotah that says that there were two krisos bris.  Two times did Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu establish the covenant of Torah with Klal Yisrael: once at Har Sinai and another time in Arvos Moav (in parshas Ki Savo).  According to Rabi Shimon, though, there was a third time: in the Ohel Moed.  The Ohel Moed, of course, was the Mishkan (once it was fully erected and became the full-fledged Mikdash).  Because of this krisas bris, there had to be an acceptance from the side of Klal Yisrael.  A covenant, by definition, is two sided, as it were.  It has to be reciprocal and mutual.  That is why there was this give and take.

The question is, though, what necessitated an additional krisas bris at this stage?  The answer is that there was a new facet of Torah that was coming to Klal Yisrael.  Har Sinai was the giving of the Torah in an overarching, general sense wherein everything was encapsulated in the Aseres Ha’Dibros.  At this juncture, though, is when there begins a long-term receiving of the innumerable details of the Torah.  Similar to the concept of ki mi’Tziyon teizei Torah, that was the state of affairs with the Ohel Moed of the Mishkan – that from there was emanating a constant flow of the innumerable details of the mitzvos, and this new facet required an independent krisas bris.  This is a tremendous insight.

What emerges, then, is that the day of hakamas ha’Mishkan embodied two fundamental realities: Emunah and Torah.  It was the mahadura tinyana, the “second edition” of both the ein od milvado of the first day of brias ha’olam, and the krisas bris of Maamad Har Sinai.


Bein Ha’Zmanim

Rav Twersky’s deeply held attitude of doing what needs to be done — whether in terms of helping a father, mother, wife, or child, because that is critical to what it means to be a good Jew — was a lesson that he not only implemented in his own life. He also sought to impart it to his talmidim.

In fact, one talmid specifically recalled how Rav Twersky told them not to make set chavrusas during Pesach bein hazemanim because they should be available to help their mothers. He encouraged them instead to learn on their own, working around the family’s demands and schedule.  At the end of winter zman of 5774/2014, right before it was time for the boys to go home for Pesach, he told them: “During the time when everyone is busy, there are a few words you should never say: ‘I have to learn’. You learn when you have time. If you want, you can daven extra early. That will afford you time to learn before all the hustle and bustle begins. It will also serve the additional benefit of keeping bein hazemanim distinct.”

On an earlier occasion, Rav Twersky elaborated: “Never say ‘I have to go learn’! Mi’mah nafshach, if your mother needs your help, then that is no excuse; and if you really do need to go learn, then just go learn!”  After shiur, I asked Rav Twersky what exactly is wrong with saying “I have to go learn,” if one is not saying it as an excuse to not help. He answered (I seem to remember that it was in the name of a certain adam gadol, but I don’t remember who) by explaining it like this (with a bit of elaboration on my part): Everything in the world is zeh l’umas zeh asah Elokim. That means that everything has a tzad hatov and a tzad hara. The world is created as a parallelism. Every facet of the universe has a positive side and potentially negative side. There is a mechanism called u’neshalmah parim sefaseinu, that by reciting the pesukim of the korbanos it is as if we actually are fulfilling the mitzvah of bringing korbanos. Our words are considered as action. So what is the flip-side of this power? It’s when a person says “I have to go learn.” By doing that, there is a feeling of dibur k’maaseh, as if the words he uttered are as though he learned already, and he can lose the internal impetus to actually go learn.

Reb Yehoshua Gabay added, “Rebbi told me the same thing about words being able to make one feel as though something was already done, which he derived from the parashah of Avraham and Efron. I told him that Rav Yerucham Levovitz says the same thing and I showed it to him. I remember him being more happy than usual at seeing it inside. I seem to remember that he said he was so happy to see it because already for many years he had held that this was a true principle.”

Reb Avrohom Rudner heard a very similar concept from Rav Twersky and it is worth hearing the angle that he gives it: “I remember he once said an unbelievable insight about the importance of ‘emor me’at v’aseh harbei’ (speak little and do a lot). He said that, by nature, when talking about something and imagining it being done, we can already derive a certain vicarious pleasure and satisfaction as if we did it. This could be a very big deterrent in actualizing our plans, since you already feel like you did it, in a certain sense. Whereas if you just think, ‘I’m going to do such-and-such,’ and don’t give yourself any chance to revel in it, you’ll likely yearn to actualize your good intentions.”

(Excerpt from A Malach in our Midst) ------------

Don’t Count Your Money

Many years ago, when I was a bachur in Rav Twersky’s shiur, he once surprised us with an unexpected comment. “One day, you will all be married and have a family,” Rav Twersky said to us, “and part of that is financial responsibilities and dealing with money. I want to teach you something that I hope will help you. Never count the money in your wallet! It’s baduk u’menuseh (tried and true)!”

(Rabbi Eliezer Niehaus. Ed. Comment: See Bava Metzia 42a that “bracha only comes to that which is hidden from the eye”)

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