Rav Moshe Twersky zt”l on Parshas Vayakhel


By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

1 – Morah Shabbos   ביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון לה’ לה:ב

The Sefer Yereim has a unique opinion that one of the taryag mitzvos is morah Shabbos.  He obviously had that as his girsah in the Gemara when it makes a hekesh between Shabbos and the Mikdash, based on the pasuk in parshas Kedoshim (19:30).  Just like there is a halacha of morah Mikdash, behaving in a manner of respectful awe when you’re in the Mikdash, so too does that apply to Shabbos.

Now, as far as the Mikdash is concerned, how this respectful awe must express itself is explicit halachos.  Most of them are delineated in the end of Maseches Brachos.  For example, not wearing shoes or carrying a purse.  And so on.  However, as far as Shabbos is concerned the Gemara leaves it undefined.

The Yereim says that the expression of this morah is to be involved and concerned with kavod Shabbos.  To act in general in a manner befitting of Shabbos.  Of course, that is in addition to the most basic concern of observing all of the halachos of Shabbos properly.

The understanding of this is based on an idea that we mentioned previously.  Namely, that just as there is kedusha in the dimension of space, so too is their kedusha in the dimension of time.  The Mikdash is the particular space which is reshus Gavoha, the reshus ha’yachid of Yechido shel Olam – the domain of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.  Even though la’Hashem ha’aretz u’meloah, still, v’ha’aretz nasan l’vnei adam.  That means that in general we have permission and have been granted a license to make ourselves at home, as the saying goes, here in this world.  Hashem gives it to us to be ours, even though really it’s His.

But when you go into reshus Gavoha, into the domain that Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu sets aside exclusively as His, then one does not have a license to behave in a “make yourself at home” type of way.  He is in the domain, kavayachol, of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, and he therefore must conduct himself accordingly with the appropriate sense of respectful awe.

Shabbos is the reshus Gavoha in the dimension of time.  It is a time frame that belongs exclusively to the domain of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.  It therefore requires the same demeanor of respectful awe.

The truth is, though, that this really is an opportunity to be “normal”.  To be who we really are.  Throughout the week we are pushed and pulled in so many different directions by all types of considerations that, in a very real sense, are estranged from our true essence.  But on Shabbos, which is kulo kodesh la’Hashem, you get a chance to be normal; like a mensch!  So it is not a burden, but a pleasure.

(Audio recording available here)

2 – Pirush of the word al       ויבאו האנשים על הנשים    לה:כב

There are numerous approaches in the mefarshim regarding how to explain this enigmatic expression.  Rashi learns that the word al in this context means im, with.  That the men came along with the women to donate the jewelry.

The Sforno says a very interesting thing to explain why it was necessary for the men to escort their wives in this donation.  The halacha is that a tzedaka collector is allowed to accept small size donations from women because we assume that her husband would not mind.  However, large donations may not be accepted from women because it is possible she is giving it without the consent of her husband, and, were he to know, he would object (Bava Kama 119a).  Since these donations of jewelry were certainly large size donations, the men came along to confirm their agreement.

The Ramban explains that it means that the women were the ikar and the men were the tafel.  The women were the ones who were the primary initiators, the main menadvim – at least in the context of this donation of jewelry – and the men were ancillary to them.

The Chiddushei Ha’Rim, on the other hand, explains it in the opposite manner: al does not mean that the men were secondary to the women.  On the contrary, it means that they were superior to them.  Why?

Only the men had sinned in the eigel ha’zahav and not the women.  This is the way the Gra explains the pasuk, “isha v’chol eileh lo matzasi” (Koheles 7:28) – that there was not even one woman who took part in the cheit ha’eigel.  Therefore, continues the Chiddushei Ha’Rim, the men were on a higher level.  Why?  “B’makom sheh’baalei teshuva omdin afilu tzaddikim gemurim einan yecholin laamod, baalei teshuva occupy a lofty level that even complete tzaddikim cannot occupy.”  They put their heart and soul into their contributions towards the Mishkan, and it was a part of their tikun for the cheit ha’eigel.

(Audio recording available here)


3 – Dayam v’hoser       והמלאכה היתה דים…והותר   לו:ז

What does it mean that the donations of Klal Yisrael were dayam, which means sufficient, and hoser, which means that there was left over?  The Sefas Emes says that the word dayam is like the word dee in the context of dee zahav (Devarim 1:1).  There, Rashi brings the Chazal that dee zahav is hinting to the cheit ha’eigel.  The Gemara says that Moshe Rabbeinu defended Klal Yisrael by saying to the Ribbono shel Olam, “It’s the abundance of gold and silver that you gave to them that caused them to sin!”  The dayam of donating gold and silver (etc.) for the construction of the Mishkan is the atonement of the misappropriation of their gold and silver in the sin of the eigel ha’zahav.  By them doing this, their gold and silver (etc.) was uplifted, which is implied in the word hoser.

This is in line with the Midrash that says (on the words tov meod by maaseh breishis), tov is referring to the yeitzer ha’tov and meod is referring to the yeitzer hara.  Really, the whole purpose of the yeitzer hara is to enable a person to accomplish much greater things than he would otherwise reach.  Although people “look for many calculations” (bikshu chishvonos rabim) and unfortunately put the yeitzer hara to use for the wrong things, that’s not what it is for.  We can and should draft the yeitzer hara for the tzad ha’kedusha by having it push us forward to achiever much higher levels of ruchniyus.

Coming at this pasuk from a different angle, the Shlah Ha’Kadosh says that it was actually a miracle that the donations for the Mishkan sufficed.  He says that if you go through all the components, piece by piece and detail by detail, and carefully tally up all the raw material that would be needed to make everything, you’ll realize that what was donated was not enough.  Through a neis it sufficed.

Interestingly enough, the Ohr Ha’Chaim Ha’Kadosh says the exact opposite: really, it was hoser – the amount that Klal Yisrael donated was too much.  However, through a miracle it all fit.  When they put the materials to use and made everything, every last bit that was donated was used up and it came out perfectly that there was dayam, just enough.  Nobody’s nedavah was left out.  According to the Ohr Ha’Chaim, it was a bigger miracle.

(Audio recording available here)


4 – Vayechaber vs. l’chaber

חמשים קרסי זהב ויחבר…קרסי נחשת חמשים לחבר     לו:י,יח

These pesukim are an example of the careful attention with which we should learn these parshiyos.  The dichotomy leaps out.  Why is it that by the golden clasps of the bottom cover of the Mishkan (that the pasuk just calls “mishkan”) the word fifty comes first, whereas by the bronze clasps of the second cover (made out of goat hair) it first says bronze clasps and then says fifty?  Secondly, why is it that by the golden clasps it says vayechaber, he connected them (the tarps), whereas by the bronze clasps it says it in the infinitive form l’chaber, to connect them?

Regarding the order of the wording, the Meshech Chochma says that when it came to the gold clasps they made precisely fifty of them, whereas the bronze ones they made a certain, undefined amount and they took from that amount fifty for the second tier tarps.  The Meshech Chochma says this without really explaining it so much, and the question remains to a large degree unanswered.

As far as the difference between vayechaber (by the bottom layer covering) and l’chaber (of the second layer covering), the Meshech Chochma says that Betzalel didn’t just set up all the tarps to be connected, rather he actually connected them.  Vayechaber, and he connected them.  However, when it came to the second layer of coverings (made from goat hair), it was l’chaber, to be connected.  Meaning, Betzalel set everything up in order to get it ready to be connected.  Moshe Rabbeinu, though, was the one who actually connected the tarps of the second layer covering.

Of course, it needs to be understood why it is that specifically the yerios izim (the second layer covering) should be connected by Moshe RabbeinuTzarich iyun.

(Audio recording available here)


5 – Quote of the Week

“If you come across something in your learning that relates to parshas ha’shavuah, it is a good sign.  It means that you are on the right track.”


6 – Featured Story

One day I was walking Rav Twersky out from mincha and I asked him a question (I always tried to have questions to ask him, but when you have a person who answers every single question of yours, you run out of them pretty fast!).  I said, “How can it be that all of Beis Shammai learned the sugyah the same way, and all of Beis Hillel learned the sugyah a different way?  Were there no dissenters in each yeshiva? How can a whole yeshiva always learn and conclude in a more lenient way, and a whole other yeshiva learn and conclude in a more machmir way?”  Rebbi responded, “Of course, that was their shoresh ha’neshama…Do you think you just ended up in this particular yeshiva?”

(Reb Mickey Dov Lebovic)

Many more divrei Torah and stories of Rav Twersky are available on VayigdalMoshe.com!

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