By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Moshe gathered together the entire assembly of the Children of Israel
and said to them these things which G-d commanded them to do. (Shemos
MOSHE GATHERED TOGETHER: The expression "the entire assembly of the
Children of Israel" includes the men and women, for all donated to
the work of the Mishkan. Thus, Moshe, after having commanded Aharon,
and the Princes and "the entire assembly of the Children of Israel"
-- the men -- "all that G-d had spoken with him at Mt. Sinai" (Shemos
34:32), following the breaking of the Tablets, and after he had put
the veil on his face, again commanded that the people be assembled,
whereupon the whole congregation gathered before him -- men, women,
and children. (Ramban)
Normally, "the entire assembly of the Children of Israel" refers to
all the Jewish people who were physically able to come at the time
that Moshe called them. However, we know from elsewhere that, on a
deeper level, we're also talking about ALL the souls of the Jewish
people that would ever exist as well.
There are different ways of looking at this, but, according to
Kabbalah, the reason is because Moshe represented the last generation
of "new souls" to come into the world, after which time, everyone has
been a reincarnation. For, the Talmud says:
The brisa says: Rebi Shimon the Chasid said: These are the 974
generations that were supposed to be created before G-d created the
world, but, they were not created. The Holy One, Blessed is He, puts
them into every generation, and they are the brazen in any particular
generation. (Chagigah 13b)
The actual word the Talmud uses is "komtu," which, rather than mean "
Thus, according to Kabbalah, they did exist, though for a brief
period of time. They existed just before creation, as we know it,
came into being. And they had some kind of free-will, which allowed
them to choose evil over good, which cost them their existence. In
fact, it was their role to bring evil into creation, to make
free-will possible for man.
Now, the posuk says,
Remember His covenant forever -- the word which He commanded for a
thousand generations.(I Divrei HaYomim )
Which means that, if you count the generations from Adam to Moshe
Rabbeinu, which total twenty-six altogether, and you add the 974
generations to which the Talmud refers, you arrive at a total of
1,000 generations. Thus, a sort of spiritual door closed with the
birth of Moshe Rabbeinu, and all souls that have come since have been
here before, they have since come back in different bodies.
Thus, Moshe Rabbeinu could later say,
Not only with you do I make this covenant and this curse; but with
the those who do not stand here today before G-d, our G-d, as well as
those here today. (Devarim 29:13-14)
That is, PHYSICALLY they don't stand before G-d, but SPIRITUALLY, they ALL do.
This is why it was so important to include even the children in the
"gathering," who, seemingly, could not comprehend what Moshe came to
command them. For, though the body knows age and intellectual
development, the soul does not. And, there were souls that there that
had to be included that day, for the sake of the body they presently
occupied, and, for the sake of all the bodies that the soul would
occupy in the future.
The question arises then, in which body, during Resurrection of the
Dead, does the soul actually come back?
In Sha'ar HaGilgulim, the Arizal explains that it all depends on the
amount of mitzvos done in each body, and which level of soul was
rectified. It can be, and it happens often, that the soul will be
divided between bodies, with the amount of Soul-Sparks being divided
according to those fixed up by the respective bodies.
To be sure, it will be a complicated calculation to make, but not too
complicated for the Creator, Who will work it out right down to the
last spark. So, if during the period called "Techiyas HaMeisim" you
bump into someone you did not know, but, with whom you feel a close
association from the past, it is probably true. But, then again, the
same holds true for this period of history as well.
This is the accounting of the Tabernacle -- the Tabernacle of
Testimony -- which Moshe requested of the Levi'im, under the guidance
of Itamar, the son of Aharon the priest. (Shemos 38:21)
This is the final accounting of the Mishkan, before the Torah moves
into Sefer Vayikra and the details of the service within. And, even
though, according to the Talmud, the Mishkan was more in response to
the golden calf than what was absolutely necessary, still, it
embodied -- every last micro-detail -- all that we are expected to
The Mishkan consisted of a rectangular-shaped building that was ten
amos (1 amah =3D 1.5 - 2 feet) wife, and, thirty amos long. It was
divided into two chambers, the first one called the "Kodesh," which
was twenty-amos long, and, the "Kodesh Kodashim," which was the final
ten amos of the thirty. In the former the Incense-Altar, Menorah, and
Showbread was placed, and, in the latter, the Holy Ark was placed.
Both chambers were separated by a curtain -- the "Paroches."
Around the Mishkan itself was a larger courtyard that was an
enclosure of curtains. The Courtyard, or, "Chatzer," in front of the
Mishkan measured a perfect fifty amos by fifty amos. Inside this
area, in front of the opening to the Kodesh was the large altar on
which the animal sacrifices were brought.
At this point, one reached the opening to the Chatzer, which was
twenty amos wide, and was covered by a curtain -- a veil -- that did
not permit a view from the outside. Beyond this was the world outside
the Mishkan, and the rest of the Jewish camp.
Now, we know from the Talmud (and a deeper discussion), that the
number "twenty" represents spiritual blindness, which is why the veil
over the opening to the Chatzer was twenty amos wide. Anyone who
walked by this veil was reminded that the world outside the "Chatzer"
was a completely "natural" one, one that "veiled" the hand of G-d,
and gave us the free-will to choose to see past it.
Once a person "penetrated" this veil, he faced a courtyard that was
fifty amos long, corresponding to the "Nun Sha'arei Binah" -- the
"Fifty Gates of Understanding," Torah knowledge that elevates a
person to the status of being "kadosh" (holy).
Traversing the length of the Kodesh, which was twenty amos long, one
arrived at the curtain to the "Holy of Holies," which is where the
Aron HaKodesh, the Holy Ark resided. As the Talmud points out
(Megillah 10b), the Aron HaKodesh consumed more space than it
physical had, which meant that it was a place of miracles.
This makes sense, since, the total amount of amos that one covered,
by that point, was SEVENTY amos -- the number of years after which
the miracle of Purim occurred since the exile into Babylonia, the
number of verses in the Megillah that chart Haman's rise and fall,
and, the number of days it took for all of it to happen.
And, the number of words of Tehillim that we recite in the daily
prayer service, just before we talk about the coming of the redeemer,
is seventy. Incidentally, it is Psalm TWENTY that we say.
And, Purim is a holiday of wine, which, in Hebrew, has the numerical
value of seventy, as does "sod," which means "mystery," or, "secret."
And, this is what the rabbis write: "m'shinichnes yai'in, yotzei sod"
-- "when wine goes in, secrets come out."
What kind of secrets are we talking about?
Well, in truth, the four areas of the Mishkan correspond to the four
levels of Torah learning: Pshat, Remez, Drush, and Sod -- Simple
Explanation, Hints, Exegetical Teachings, and, Mystery, as follows:
-- which, in turn, correspond to (Simple) Torah (Verse), Mishnah,
Talmud, and, ultimately, Kabbalah. Thus, the progression for the
simple, natural, outside, everyday world to the Kodesh Kodashim --
the ultimate goal of every Jew, for there The Holy One, Blessed is
He, is also the progression from Pshat to Sod.
And therein lies the redemption of the body, the soul, and the mind.
Moses finished all the work. (Shemos 40:33)
Motzei Shabbos begins Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the Rosh Hashanah of the
Jewish months. It is the first month that the Jewish people were
commanded in Egypt to sanctify, which we have done since then until
this very day.
The Talmud states:
Anyone who blesses the new moon is like one who has received the
Shechinah, as it says, "HaChodesh HaZeh ..." (i.e., This month ...
Shemos 12:2), and it says over there, "Zeh Keli v'Anveihu ..." (i.e.,
This is my G-d and I will glorify Him; Shemos 16:2) ... (Sanhedrin
In other words, the Talmud is finding a connection between Kiddush
HaChodesh (New Moon Sanctification) and revelation, because of the
usage of the word "zeh" in both verses. In this sense, the concept of
the new month represents the goal of all of Torah and the Jewish
nation as a whole.
Why? The answer to this question is alluded to in the special prayer
we say each month when we bless the new moon, in the prayer called
May it be Your will ... to fill the flaw of the moon, that there be
no diminution in it. May the light of the moon be like the light of
the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was,
before it was diminished ...
According to the Talmud (Chullin 60b), the moon started off on equal
footing with the sun. However, since the moon complained about being
the sun's equal, it was reduced in brightness. The moon complained
about that too, and was consoled by being made the light of the
night. However, that wasn't enough consolation for the moon, so, the
stars were added to its legion of lights. But, lo and behold, that
too was not consolation enough for the moon, so, G-d said that the
Jewish people, who are compared to the moon, would count the months
according to the moon.
Nice little story, eh? The moral of the story? Be happy with your
portion, jealousy is a naughty trait, and, the Divine Presence is in
exile with the Jewish people.
Huh? You wanna run that last one by me again?
Children's stories and morals aside, the reduction of the moon's
light represents one of the deepest of Kabbalistic ideas. It is an
allusion to the fact that a very holy light, for the sake of creation
and free-will, was forced to leave its holy abode in the Sefiros, and
"descend," spiritually-speaking, to a far less godly "environment."
If it complained about anything at all, it was about this, and THAT
Our job is to reverse that result. Our job, as the Jewish people, by
learning Torah and performing mitzvos, is to elevate the everyday
reality until it becomes "holy to G-d." Once we have achieved this,
then, that less godly environment becomes more godly, until,
eventually, it rises to the level that the light came from.
Thus, this is what we mean when we say:
"That there be no diminution in it. May the light of the moon be
like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of
creation, as it was, before it was diminished ..."
That is, that it be allowed to return to its original level of
holiness, which means that all of creation will also have become
elevated, and the Shechinah -- the Divine Presence which this light
represents -- will be allowed to end its exile, as we, the Jewish
people, do as well.
Thus, when we bless the new moon, we are in fact elevating creation,
and, the light that the moon symbolizes a few spiritual notches up.
The sacrifice that was brought on Rosh Chodesh, which the Mussaf on
Rosh Chodesh replaces for now, was specifically for this purpose.
This does not serve to distance the Shechinah further from us, but,
to bring us closer to it. And thus, we are considered to have
"received it," when performing this all-important mitzvah, especially
for the month of our redemption, a time when we read Shir HaShirim --
Song of Songs -- which recounts the closeness of the "Assembly of the
Children of Israel" with their Father-in-Heaven.
When we have truly done this, then we can say that we have "finished the work."
A Shigayon of Dovid, which he sang to G-d, concerning Kush ben
Yemini. G-d, my G-d, in You I seek refuge, save me from all my
pursuers and rescue me. (Tehillim 7:1-2)
The word "shigayon" is understood in three ways. According to Rashi,
it may have been a musical instrument used by the Levi'im in Temple
times. Alternatively, it may mean "an error," as in Dovid's error.
According to the Talmud, Dovid HaMelech, at first, celebrated the
downfall of Shaul HaMelech. However, after being chastised by G-d for
doing so, he composed this psalm to admit his mistake (Moed Katan
Alternatively again, says Rashi, it refers to the mistake Dovid
HaMelech made by taking refuge in Nov, the city of priests, while
fleeing Shaul HaMelech. As a result of this, says the Talmud, Doeg
incited Shaul to massacre the entire city, which, eventually, led to
Doeg's own death and Shaul's as well with his sons (Sanhedrin 95a).
In any case, this psalm was dedicated to Shaul HaMelech, the man who
tried to kill Dovid HaMelech on many occasions. What made this enemy
so difficult was that he was, for all intents and purposes, a great
and righteous man. And thus, at a moment when Dovid HaMelech could
have easily ended the pursuit once and for all by taking advantage of
Divine Providence that gave him the chance to rightfully kill Shaul,
instead, Dovid responded by saying, "how can I kill the anointed of
Yet, still, Dovid HaMelech, as upright as he had been in his dealings
with Shaul HaMelech, still, he had erred in celebrating after the
downfall of so great an enemy.
This posuk also shows the greatest of Dovid HaMelech, to feel for
others even when his own life is endangered by those very people:
Let the evil of the wicked vanish, but sustain the righteous.(10)
While most people would pray that evil people vanish altogether,
Dovid HaMelech just prays that their evil disappear. For, Dovid
HaMelech still hoped for their teshuvah, in spite of all the evil
they have been doing. This is as Bruria told her husband, the great
Rebi Meir, who had been praying for the demise of some evil people of
his time: Let the sins cease and perish, but not the sinners (Brochos
But the classic line of this psalm comes towards the end, when it says:
He digs the pit, digs it deep, only to fall into his own trap. His
mischief will recoil upon his own head, and upon his own skull will
his violence descend. (16)
Sound familiar? That's right, it sounds like Haman, and this is why
the rabbis designated this psalm as the Psalm of the Day for Purim
itself (unlike the Vilna Gaon).
I will thank G-d according to His righteousness, and sing praises to
G-d's Name, Most High. (18)