Shabat Parah - Parsha Shemini

April 2nd, 2016

Adar ב 23rd 5776


Why Moshe Erected and Dismantled the Mishkan Each Day

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

“It was on the eighth day, Moshe called to Aharon and his sons, and to the elders of Israel” (Vayikra 9:1)

The Torah relates how Moshe erected the Mishkan during each of the first seven days of the inauguration. However, each evening when the sun began to set and Hashem had not yet rested his Shechinah upon Bnei Yisrael, Moshe dismantled the Mishkan (Yalkut Shimoni Vayikra 518). This procedure continued for seven full days; Moshe erected and dismantled the Mishkan while praying and hoping that Hashem would have mercy on His nation and rest His Shechinah upon them.

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu dismantle the Mishkan each evening during the first seven days of the inauguration? Why didn’t he leave it erected until Hashem would rest his Shechinah upon it? We can compare the situation to a contractor of a building upon completing his structure. Even if he were to notice after erecting the building that there was a fault in his plan, e.g., insufficient sunlight, he would certainly not destroy the entire building because of it. He would try to find a solution while allowing the existing structure to remain. He may either try to create another window, or perhaps break down a wall. Since much planning went into designing the building, he would certainly not rush to tear it down entirely upon encountering a flaw. He would rather invest effort in repairing the existing building.

Likewise, it is perplexing why Moshe Rabbeinu dismantled the Mishkan each evening and did not leave it standing while praying to Hashem that through His great compassion He rest His Shechinah among them. What was the point in Moshe dismantling the Mishkan seven times, day after day? The complicated task of erecting and dismantling the Mishkan required great physical and mental energy. Chazal relate (see Tanchuma Pekudei 11) that there were many miracles involved each time upon the erection of the Mishkan. What is the reason behind Moshe Rabbeinu’s decision to take apart the Mishkan at nightfall and not leave it standing until the Shechinah would descend upon it?

The Mishkan is like the heart of a man’s body. Just as the heart circulates blood throughout all the veins of the body, infusing life into it, the Mishkan was the source of spirituality for the Jewish people. In order for Am Yisrael to merit residing with the Shechinah, which is like the oxygen that keeps a person alive, they had to demonstrate that they truly desired Hashem’s presence among them. As an example, imagine a king who desires to bestow upon his faithful servant all his royal treasures. However, upon approaching his faithful servant to hand him the key to his treasure house, he notices that his servant is not eager to receive it. The servant half-heartedly reaches to receive the key as if he were being forced to do so. Understandably, when the king perceives his servant’s apathy and lack of appreciation for the great gift he is about to bestow upon him, his own goodwill lessens as well, and he does not hurry to transfer the key to him. The king only desires to bequeath his riches to one who appreciates their magnitude and enthusiastically aspires to attain them, and not to one who feels as if he is being coerced to receive them.

After the Exodus from Egypt, Hashem rested His Shechinah among His children and led them through the desert with wondrous miracles. However, when Am Yisrael fashioned the idol of the Golden Calf, Hashem removed His Shechinah from them in His anger. He saw that they did not appreciate their good fortune of having the Shechinah reside among them. After Moshe Rabbeinu beseeched Hashem with much prayer, Hashem agreed to restore His Shechinah to reside among His people once more. However, before doing so He wanted to behold how Bnei Yisrael truly yearned once again for His presence to rest among them. This was especially important since just beforehand Bnei Yisrael had rejected the Shechinah and caused its departure by serving the Golden Calf. Moshe Rabbeinu understood Hashem’s prerequisite and intentionally erected and dismantled the Mishkan each day in order to provoke Bnei Yisrael to do teshuvah. He was demonstrating to Bnei Yisrael that Hashem had not yet acquiesced to reside among them. When Bnei Yisrael saw on the days of the inauguration that Hashem had not restored His Shechinah to reside among them, compelling Moshe to dismantle the Mishkan at the end of the day, they were immediately aroused to do complete teshuvah. They examined their deeds for any flaws to probe the reason for the delay of the Shechinah’s appearance.

Bnei Yisrael were moved to the extent that they began to cry and beg Hashem to have mercy on them and forgive them completely for sinning with the Golden Calf. They prayed that every trace of the sin should be removed so that it should not prevent the Shechinah from descending upon them. In this manner, during the first seven days of the inauguration, Bnei Yisrael purified themselves by doing wholehearted teshuvah and perfecting their yirat Shamayim. With each passing day, as they observed that Hashem’s Shechinah had not yet descended upon them and Moshe was forced to dismantle the Mishkan once again, they increased their efforts to do complete teshuvah in order to merit having the Shechinah reside among them.

Walking in Their Ways

A Toast to Sanctity

Many years after my father emigrated from Morocco to Eretz Yisrael, some friends from the old country came to visit. They enjoyed walking down memory lane, as they recalled mutual experiences of Essaouira in Morocco. During the course of their conversation, one of the men suggested they drink a l’chaim from the liquor on the table. Father had a dislike for strong drink and asked that they wait for me to come home and join them in his stead. As I stepped into the house, I found Father’s friends watching me expectantly.

“Why didn’t you have a shot beforehand?” I asked in puzzlement.

“Your father asked that we wait for you to join us,” they replied.

I was taken aback by this rejoinder. Father raised us with rock-solid distaste for hard drinks. Why did he want me to join in the drinking this time? But since I was also raised to revere my parents, I kept my reservations to myself and turned to the honor of pouring the drinks.

When I lifted the bottle, my face fell. The liquor was infested with tiny ants. All of the men seated were elderly and had blurred vision. They surely would never have noticed the tiny bugs at the bottom of the bottle. Hashem miraculously saved them from ingesting defiled creatures. Baruch Hashem, Father had the foresight to prevent them from this terrible pitfall.

It’s Not Peanuts

On a flight abroad, a flight attendant offered the passengers packages of nuts, as is common on many flights. When I was offered this snack, I declined. But he probably did not hear my answer, because he repeated his offer. So I repeated my response.

“It is kosher,” he tried to assure me.

“How do you know?” I challenged.

He thought for a moment, and then said, in wonder, “What could be in it already? It’s only peanuts!”

I took the package from his hand and opened it. I placed it under his nose and asked if he smelled oil.

“You’re a hundred percent right!” he agreed. “They smear the peanuts with oil. But doesn’t kashrut apply only to meat products? Does oil, too, need a kashrut symbol?”

“Certainly,” I answered. “Our G-d commands us to eat only that which the Torah certifies is kosher. We are ordered to keep away from impure foods. This does not concern only animal meat, but, in essence, everything we put into our mouths! Every food item must be checked to see whether it derives from a pure or an impure source. Even a drop of oil from a non-pure source can render a food forbidden. For this reason, I declined your kind offer of peanuts.”

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “The word of Hashem came to me, saying” (Yechezkiel 36)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah mentions that in the future Hashem will purify Bnei Yisrael with the water of sprinkling from the ashes of the parah adumah, which is the main subject of the maftir of Parashat Parah, since the subject of parah adumah and the purification of the contaminated through the water of sprinkling is discussed.

Guard Your Tongue

Losing Merits

See how enormous the punishment for this dreadful sin is: By speaking lashon hara and rechillut one loses the meager portion of Torah that he succeeded in acquiring. It says in the holy sefarim that one who speaks lashon hara about his fellow, the merits that he achieved are taken from him and transferred to his fellow.

In addition, his tefillot are not accepted on high because of this, as explained in the Zohar Hakadosh.

Lekach Tov

It is customary to abstain from eating matzah 30 days prior to Pesach, or from Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

There are several reasons for this custom (which is not obligatory according to halachah, but is a stringency):

During these days we begin with the cleaning to get rid of chametz, and we prepare the provisions for Pesach. Another reason is in order that the matzah should be special when fulfilling the mitzvah on the seder night. This is why we abstain from eating it prior to Pesach.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

Learning hilchot Pesach in order to uproot bad habits

Regarding what Chazal say (Pesachim 6a) that one is to begin reviewing hilchot Pesach 30 days prior to Pesach, one may ponder: Why did Chazal obligate everyone, even Torah scholars, to review hilchot Pesach 30 days prior to Pesach when they already know all the details of the laws.

The explanation is as follows. Before Bnei Yisrael were finally redeemed from Egypt, we find that Hashem had commanded them to eat matzot on Pesach. Hashem also warned them that it is prohibited to have chametz found in their homes.

Why did Hashem strictly prohibit chametz by commanding to search for it and burn all the chametz found in the house? Wouldn’t it have been enough just to command the eating of the matzah on Pesach?

The Ba’alei Tosafot ask (Pesachim 2a): Why did Chazal find it necessary to obligate burning the chametz found in the house? After all, the Torah only mandates one to annul the chametz. They explain that since chametz is permissible all year and is not prohibited besides for Pesach, they feared since people were used to eating chametz the entire year, the habit will cause them to forget that it is Pesach, and when they will find chametz in their home, they might consume it by mistake. Therefore, Chazal added the stringency to search for chametz and to burn the chametz found in the house. This way they will not come to eating it, G-d forbid.

We learn an important lesson from this about the power of habit. Habit becomes second nature. If a person gets accustomed to behaving poorly with bad character traits, the negative traits become ingrained in his heart and mind, and he will not notice anything wrong in his actions. Thus, we see that people who are used to speaking lashon hara become accustomed to speaking lashon hara all the time, even though they know that it is wrong. Likewise, one who gets used to smoking, it is hard for him to stop, even though he knows that he is risking his health.

This is exactly the way it is with a person who is used to eating chametz the entire year. If he would leave chametz around in his house and not get rid of it and burn it, there is a chance that when he will find it, he will forget that it is Pesach and it is forbidden. Subsequently, he may eat chametz on Pesach. This is not so regarding Shabbat, since one is used to abstaining from forbidden work, as in lighting a fire on Shabbat, once every week. Therefore, Chazal were not worried that perhaps people would forget by mistake.

Consequently, the Torah guides us how to break the force of habit that becomes second nature to a person. We see that even though a person is used to eating chametz the entire year, he is capable of breaking the force of habit by the process of searching in every hole and cranny of his house to find the chametz. This effort serves to impress him with the severity of chametz on Pesach. During the search, when he finds chametz, he is filled with satisfaction that he merited fulfilling the mitzvah to destroy and burn the chametz. On the other hand, if he discovers chametz in his house on Pesach, he is filled with remorse.

Words of Wisdom

A Clear Mind

“Intoxicating wine do not drink, you and your sons with you” (Vayikra 10:9)

Rabbi Yehudah Halevi son of Rabbi Shalom says:

In Hebrew wine is called יין, and in Aramaic it is called חמר. The sum of the gematria of the two words totals 248, which corresponds to the number of limbs in a person.

When wine enters a person, all his limbs become shaky and his mind gets confused. Wine enters and his reasoning leaves him.

So did Rabbi Eliezer Hakapar teach: Wine goes in and the secrets go out. Wine (יין), which has a numerical value of seventy, goes in, and the secret (סוד) which also has a numerical value of seventy, goes out.

Therefore, the Kohen Gadol was commanded not to drink wine while serving in the Sanctuary, in order that his head should not be confused. He must retain the Torah and keep a clear mind, as it says, (Malachi 2) “The teaching of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips.” Likewise it says, “For the lips of the Kohen should safeguard knowledge,” etc. Consequently Hashem commanded Aharon, “Intoxicating wine do not drink, you and your sons with you.” (Midrash Tanchuma) 

The Rabbis’ Admission

“Moshe heard and he approved” (Vayikra 10:20)

He publicized throughout all the camps: I erred in the halachah, and Aharon my brother came and clarified it for me.

Elazar knew the halachah and kept silent. Itamar knew the halachah and kept silent. They were rewarded and the Voice addressed them and their father and to their father’s brother during their lifetime. This is as it says, “Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying to them.” Rabbi Chiya explains: “saying to them” refers to the sons, Elazar and Itamar. (Midrash Rabbah)

Proof of the Torah’s Validity

“These are the creatures that you may eat” (Vayikra 11:2)

Chazal ask: How many kosher animals are there in the world?

Chazal answer: There are ten animals; the hart, and the gazelle, and the roebuck, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the antelope, and the mountain-sheep, the ox, the sheep, and the goat. None other exist in the world.

Hashem says to Yisrael; Be careful not to contaminate yourselves with non-kosher animals and all winged swarming creatures. (Midrash Tanchuma)


Showering love and affection on children is not only a good method for influencing them, serving to educated them properly. This exhibition of love develops in the child a healthy mind.

A healthy mind means an all-inclusive healthy mind set with stability, equanimity, serenity, clarity, and self-control. In short, he acquires the conditions necessary to become a person who is well-liked by Hashem and people, as well.

The vast majority of learning problems and behavioral disorders in children originate from frustration and lack of balance and mental stability. Educators testify that most of the children that suffer from emotional distress have the same background: these unfortunate children grow up in “cold” homes, where they did not experience feeling closeness and warmth from their parents.

It is said about a child who exhibits hyperactivity that he suffers from lack of attention.

This is true.

This is correct because the emotional deprivation that he is lacking is love and affection, which the child so much longs for and needs. If he lacks this inherent building block, he will be lacking the building blocks for a healthy mind.

This child will require a greater and more intense expression of love for him. A well-balanced child senses the affection from the look in his parents’ eyes. The less balanced child needs to hear and feel it much more.

A well-balanced, healthy child detects the positive vibes of his parents and educators. His willingness to surrender to the authority of his parents and teachers and listen to them stems from his wholesome mental health. The love he receives from his elders instills in him emotional stability generating the motivation to accept their authority and obey them.

A child who experiences the love of his parents, a child who enjoys a warm relationship with his parents acquires the ability to impart it to others. It is also the sign of emotional stability and a sound mind: to help, support, contribute, to lavish, to love, and to give and give. Who is capable of this? Who is qualified for this? The person who as a teenager and child sensed that he was loved, approved of, and supported by his parents.

Why is that?

We mentioned earlier that affection is building and it settles the mind. These emotions have a stabilizing effect on the child and lead him to conduct himself in an honest and tranquil manner toward himself, his Creator and with his surroundings.

An important point that must be considered is that many parents deliberate at the time that they would need to express their love for their children. To them it seems strange and pointless to tell their child, “I love you.” If they are more introverted and they have a more serious nature, or for different reasons, words of appreciation and closeness do not “come out” easily for them. And for sure it is difficult for them to gush.

Without doubt, if the parents would know what great spiritual benefits their children would gain from this, they would view giving attention and verbalizing affection as a sacred service, in integral part of their role and mission as parents. This realization would help them succeed.

For these parents it is highly recommended to test for a period of time the results of exhibiting a warm relationship with their children. Certainly after they see how much aggravation they are spared in raising their children they will need no further proof.

We must clarify that expressions of love and affection is not necessarily limited to words. It includes also the tone of voice injecting warmth and friendliness, and body language, as the look in the eyes, the smile, and the overall attitude. These things strongly demonstrate a cordial relationship, love, appreciation, and closeness, even more than through lavishing upon them expensive gifts.

Men of Faith

Discovering “Chaim” – Life

The following story was told by Rabbi Meir Pinto, zy”a:

One year there was a big shortage of fish. Since it was a custom to eat fish on Shabbat in accordance with Kabbalistic teaching, Rabbi Chaim Hagadol summoned a fisherman and requested,

“Please go to the ocean and catch some fish.”

“Rabbeinu! For so many weeks now there have been no fish in the sea.”

Rabbi Chaim instructed him, “Go to the edge of the sea and every time you throw your net into the water, say ‘Chaim,’ and fish will emerge.”

The fisherman did as the tzaddik instructed, and in a few moments he had amassed a large stock of high-quality fish with which to honor Shabbat Kodesh.

When people heard that the fisherman had a stock of fish, they flocked to him, begging him to sell them some. However, fisherman refused to sell even one fish, insisting that the fish were

not his, but belonged to Rabbi Chaim Pinto.

Rabbi Chaim Pinto took the whole stock and distributed the fish to all the people of the city, leaving only a small portion for himself.

When his friend, Rabbi David Chazan heard about the episode, he came to the Rav’s house on Shabbat night and said, “Rabbi Chaim! I heard that you have Chaim (life) in your house.”

“That is true,” Rabbi Chaim replied. “I have Chaim in my house.”

The two sat together by the Shabbat table, relishing the special dishes of fish. Thus, they were able to uphold this traditional custom, originating in Kabbalistic teaching.


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