Rav Brazil On the Parsha


rav-shmuel-brazil-1By Rav Shmuel Brazil

An announcement went out from Moshe Rabbeinu proclaiming not to bring any more donations for the building of the Mishkan.[36,6] The following passuk then describes the reaction of the people that they were restrained from bringing any more. The Baal Haturim however explains that the reason why they ceased to bring their donations was because the clouds that would customarily drop with the manna from heaven precious stones and pearls stopped unloading their gems. The Yidden consequently had nothing further to bring hence it is now understood the term used in the passuk that they were restrained. How do we harmonize the pshat of the passuk which places the cause of the restraint with the proclamation of Moshe and the interpretation of the Baal Haturim who places the cause of the termination of donations on the clouds?

The answer is that the donations to the Mishkan given as an atonement for their transgression of worshipping the Golden Calf, were done via teshuva out of love. Their love for tikkun was so overwhelming that even though Moshe Rabbeinu proclaimed not to bring any more, they were nevertheless ready to continue bringing. Only because the clouds stopped dropping their precious cargo of jewels were they forced into not bringing due to lack of available supply.

Describing Am Yisrael’s incredible drive to return to Hashem, a thought by Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa comes to mind. We say in the beracha of Yishtabach “habochair beshirai zimrah” that Hashem chooses the songs of songs. As is, this is a very difficult literal interpretation. He therefore suggests that the translation of the word “shirai” means nothing else but as found in the word shirayim which means the leftovers. He explains as follows that there is the song that one sings because of his overwhelming joy and happiness. Nevertheless, after all is finished there still remains in one’s heart all of that unexpressed song that could not be put into words or melody, one that just swells within without any outlet. This unsung “zemer” is what Hashem chooses over the one that was sung, for remaining in its potential state possesses an essence of deeper yearning quality than the one already expressed.

With these words of Rav Simcha Bunim we can understand a puzzling passage in the parsha. After Moshe announced not to bring anymore donations the passuk says that the work was enough [dayam] and “vehosair” and there was leftover and extra [36,7]. This seems contradictary. If there was enough, then there was not any extra or surplus? However, we can explain that from the aspect of physical materials there was just enough for the total construction of the Mishkan. Yet the extras and surplus was perceived when one counted the “shirai zimrah”, the overflowing desires of Yisrael to give in greater abundance than was necessary. For when Klal Yisrael were restrained from bringing extra, they did not feel relieved or Baruch Hashem the pressure is finally off. Instead they felt great disappointment and a let down in the fact that they could not demonstrate and actualize their love further. These desires were counted as the real building materials for the resting of the Shechina in its midst.

The building of the Mishkan really defines for us the two types of Yidden that exist. One is labled the “dayam” Yid who does just enough to pass the requirement but nothing in excess or adornment. When he receives an involuntary freedom pass for not fulfilling a mitzvah he does not go through any pains of being unfortunate from his “heavenly divine” decreed release to perform that opportunity. He rather secretively if not overtly rejoices over his “petur” and excuse. Many of us know that sort of thrill on different occasions for instance when the gabbai kiaps on the bimah on Monday or Thursday after “chazaras hashatz” and announces that relished word “kaddish” and thereby freeing everyone from the recital of vehoo rachum. One easily frees his conscience and guilt by saying to himself it had nothing to do with me that in our presence there is or was a chasan or bris. Or for some, the same exhilaration is experienced even with that little group of 3 pesukim of “tzidlashcha tzedek leolam” recited after the Mincha tefillah of Shabbos that saves one maybe 7 seconds if that.

On the other hand we find the “vehosair” Yid who always tries to do extra so that even when he is restrained from demonstrating his love and devotion, he doesn’t rejoice over the fact of a missed opportunity. Rather, he makes an introspection why did this happen to him and makes inventory of his shortcomings to determine if there is a pattern that might have rippled effected and created a lost opportunity to mekadaish shem shamayim. He is like Avraham Avinu after the Akaidah when from heaven they forbade him to shecht his son nevertheless he begged to at least make a slight cut on Yitzchak just to demonstrate his endless love for Hashem.[Rashi 22,12]

This second prototype of “hosair” Yid is the Yid who is identified and one with the Torah. This can be even visualized in the spelling of his title ve”hosair” which are the identical letters of the word Torah. In fact the Torah admonishes the Am Yisrael by declaring that the reason why they will receive the severe tochacha and all the punishments enumerated in the parshiyos of Bechukosai and Ki Savoh, is only because one did not worship Hashem with simcha [Devarim 28,47]. Incredible? Just due to the lack of joy in avodas Hashem? It is the Kotzker Rebbe who brings this passuk into a new light as he places the punctuation of the passuk in an irregular flow thus creating a different interpretation than the norm. “It is because that you did not serve Hashem [referring to the opportunities which involuntarily freed you from serving Him] and with these instances nevertheless you rejoiced over the “petur”. For this response you are deserving of all this punishment.

The Chofetz Chaim ztl expresses this concept of the “hosiar” Yid in Orach Chaim at the end of Siman 62 commentating on the words of the Ramah that if one is in a place which is not entirely appropriate for reciting the Shma he may then go forward and recite it in his heart. Adds the Chofetz Chaim if his environment totally forbids him even to think Torah thoughts, then he should feel the agony of not being able to fulfill this mitzvah and Hashem will look into his heart and reward him for such thoughts and feelings.

Interestingly, One of my Rabbeyim in high school once related to the class that wealthy prospective father in laws would come to visit the yeshivas in order to check out a suitable bachur for their daughter whom they were willing to support in learning for many years. He remarked by saying “Don’t think they checked the bachur to see how he opened his gemarah as he sat down to begin learning. That was pashut and expected that every bachur did so with excitement and spirit. Rather, the litmus test for verifying the Torah quality of the young man was how he closed his gemarrah. Sure he was expected to close it in order to eat or go to sleep. But there is a close and there is a close. If one could perceive that the close of his gemarrah was not with the jubilance and geshmak of “petur” from the seder and learning, but instead it was visible that it was a closure that one could feel the reluctance and difficulty being experienced by the bachur at that time, then he was the candidate chosen for the Torah career. He was the hosair bachur who shared the letters of Torah.

The name Yisrael contains the words shir ail. According to Reb Simcah Bunim we can explain it to mean the shirayim for Hashem. Sounds like every Yid by definition must be a chasid since his essence has to be connected to an unexpressed “shirayim” of love of Hashem even when he is excused from his obligations.

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