Volume XII, Number 18
2 Adar 5758
February 28, 1998
The Katz family
on the yahrzeits of
Avraham Abba ben Avigdor Moshe Hakohen Katz a"h
and Etia (Etush) bat Avigdor Moshe Hakohen Landau a"h
In this week's parashah, we begin to read of the construction
of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. The midrash explains the purpose of
the Mishkan with a parable:
"There was a king who had an only daughter. Eventually,
another king came and took her hand in marriage. After the
wedding, when the new couple set off for the groom's land, the
bride's father said, 'I can't part with my only daughter, but I
cannot tell you not to take your wife home. Do me a favor -
build me a cottage near your palace so that I can live near you.'
"Similarly," the midrash explains, "Hashem said, 'I have given
you My Torah, but I cannot part with it. On the other hand, I
cannot tell you not to take it. Therefore, build Me a Tabernacle
so that I may dwell amongst you'."
What does it mean to build a "cottage" for Hashem? R' Yosef
Leib Bloch z"l explains that each person must clear out a place
within himself which will be devoid of material concerns and
reserved for holiness. Similarly, each person must have a time
of day which is set aside for spiritual striving, a time for
quiet meditation and concentration.
"They shall make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell
among them - like everything that I am showing you, the form
of the Tabernacle and the form of all its vessels, and so
you shall do." (25:8-9)
R' Moshe Sternbuch shlita observes: These verses contain a
fundamental lesson, i.e., that the only way Bnei Yisrael could
cause G-d to dwell among them was to make the Tabernacle
exactly as Hashem commanded.
On the last words of verse 8, "[A]nd so shall you do," Rashi
comments, "Forever." R' Sternbuch explains: As in the Tabernacle
construction was it necessary to follow G-d's instructions to the
letter, so it is with all of our mitzvot. The only way to cause
Hashem to dwell among us is to follow halachah to the letter.
"The poles shall remain in the rings of the Aron/Ark, they
may not be removed from it." (25:15)
R' Yaakov Kamenetsky z"l writes: The Aron represents those who
study Torah, and the poles represent their financial backers.
The prohibition to remove the poles from the Aron alludes to the
teaching of the gemara (Pesachim 53b) that those who support
Torah study will be seated in Heaven right next to the scholars
But how can this be? R' Kamenetsky asks. In Heaven, souls
"sit" and "discuss" Torah topics. And, since Torah knowledge can
be acquired only with much toil, how will a person who spent his
whole life toiling in business (and not in Torah) take part in
the discussion with the great scholars that he sits amongst?
He explains: When a baby is in the womb, it is taught the
entire Torah. Then, just before birth, it forgets what it
learned. Why? Because, in the words of the prophet (Iyov 5:7),
"Man was born to toil." Man must toil in this world to reclaim
the Torah knowledge which he forgot at birth.
A person who toils in business during his lifetime so that he
can support Torah scholars has also toiled, R' Kamenetsky
observes. Because he has toiled for the sake of Torah study just
as the Torah scholar has, he, too, is able to reclaim his lost
(Emet Le'Yaakov: Shmot 25:15 & Devarim 33:18)
"You shall make two keruvim/cherubs of gold . . . (25:18)
". . . with their faces toward one another." (25:20)
The gemara (Sukkah 5b) states that the word "keruvim" is
related to the Aramaic word for "baby," teaching that the keruvim
Regarding the second verse quoted above, the Ba'al Ha'turim
explains that the keruvim faced each other "like two friends
discussing a Torah topic."
R' Meir Rubman z"l (Israel; 20th century) asks: Aren't these
mixed metaphors? Babies don't discuss Torah topics with each
He explains: Every person has hidden powers far in excess of
his everyday abilities. These powers manifest themselves, for
example, when a person is in danger. A person's powers are like
a storekeeper's merchandise; a small amount is on display, and
the rest is in the back room.
Most people use only their "visible" powers, but a great person
strives to use his hidden powers. This is because the typical
person feels no need to strive for greatness, while a select few
do. Indeed, this is one way to differentiate between a "regular"
person and a great one.
The lesson of the baby-faced keruvim who face each other like
friends engaged in a Torah discussion is that every person, even
if his powers are hidden like a baby's, can achieve greatness,
like a person engaged in a Torah discussion with his friend.
Malbim (19th century) writes: The two keruvim were on the cover
of the Aron, which held the two luchot. Thus, one of the keruvim
covered one of the Tablets, and the other covered the second.
On one of the luchot were engraved five obligations of man to G-
d; on the other were engraved five obligations of man to his
fellow man. One of the keruvim represents the kohen gadol, whose
role is to inspire man to perform his obligations toward G-d.
The other cherub represents the king, whose role is to enforce
man's obligations to his fellow man.
The two keruvim faced each other, to teach that Israel's
political and religious authorities should work together.
(Quoted in Sha'ar Bat Rabim)
R' Meir Halevi Abulafia z"l
born approx. 1180 - died 1244
R' Meir, known by the acronym "Ramah," was a leading sage of
his time, whose halachic opinions were sought even by Ramban
(Nachmanides). ("Ramah" should not be confused with the 16th
century Polish posek/halachic authority, "Rema"/R' Moshe
Isserles.) R' Meir's Talmud commentary, which he called Pratei
Pratin, has been lost, except for tractates Sanhedrin and Bava
Batra. These two have been published under the name Yad Ramah.
R' Meir's father, R' Todros, was the rabbi of Toledo, Spain,
and was given the title Nassi/"Prince." After his father's
death, R' Meir succeeded to these positions. R' Meir strongly
opposed the study of philosophy, and he attempted to convince the
sages of Lunel, in the Provence region of France, to ban the
study of certain works of Rambam (Maimonides). However, the
sages of Provence, led by R' Aharon ben Meshulam, did not agree.
In addition to his Talmud commentary, R' Meir composed a
kabalistic commentary on Bereishit, and a collection of Masoretic
notes entitled Masoret Seyag La'Torah. [The term "Masoretic
notes," or simply "mesorah," refers to the traditional spelling
and pronunciation of words in the Torah, as well as to their
number. This is important for preserving the connection of the
Oral Law to the Written Law.]
R' Meir's work on mesorah is cited by R' Ovadiah Yosef
regarding a word which is spelled differently between Ashkenazic
and Sephardic Torah scrolls. R' Yosef writes: "I say we hold
like Ramah, for we follow this sage in all his words, for he is
bar samcha/reliable." (Sources: The Artscroll Rishonim, p. 84;
She'eilot U'teshuvot Yabia Omer, Vol. VIII, Y.D. No. 25)