June 3rd, 2017

9th of Sivan 5777


Being the first when it comes to matters of sanctity

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“They brought their offering before the L-rd: six covered wagons and twelve oxen” (Bamidbar 7:3)

Rashi writes: Rabbi Nathan says: Why did the chieftains see fit to be the first to contribute here, whereas concerning the work of the Mishkan, they were not the first to contribute [but the last]? However, the chieftains said as follows, “Let the people contribute what they can, and then we will complement whatever is missing.” When they saw that the people had supplied everything-as it says, “And the work was sufficient for them” (Shemot 36:7)-they said, “What is left for us to do now?” So they brought the shoham stones and the filling [stones] for the ephod and the choshen. Therefore, [in order to make amends,] here they were first to contribute.

Since they were not commanded to do so, but contributed the wagons voluntarily, Moshe did not accept this from them until Hashem told him: “Take [it] from them, and let them be used in the service of the Tent of Meeting.”

On the surface, this seems puzzling. Why didn’t Hashem instruct Moshe to prepare wagons to carry the Mishkan? After all, the beams of the Mishkan were very heavy and it was impossible to carry them. If the Nesi’im would not have donated the wagons voluntarily, there would be no way to lift the beams and move them from place to place. Why, then, was this not explicitly commanded by Hashem?

It seems to me that Hashem intentionally did not command them about this in order to give them the opportunity to voluntarily donate it. Hashem wanted to test them; would they notice by themselves that the Mishkan lacked wagons to transport it, and then they would initiate the idea to donate them. Or, perhaps they would be indifferent and wait for an explicit commandment. One whose heart is burning with love of Hashem must be the first to consider all issues of sanctity; he must be like Nachshon; who hastened to serve Hashem and did not wait for others to do the job, he did not wait for an explicit commandment. Since the Nesi’im were lax when it came to donating the raw materials for the Mishkan, and they delayed contributing towards it, they now came to correct their mistake and hastened to fulfill Hashem’s will, and they themselves initiated the idea to volunteer wagons to carry the Mishkan.

Then Hashem commanded Moshe “Take [it] from them,” implying that he should accept it, for His whole purpose was to test their devotion in the service of Hashem, and see if they would initiate by themselves an added contribution, or perhaps even now they would wait for Hashem’s command to be given. Indeed, the Nesi’im passed the test and right away they volunteered to contribute the wagons. One whose heart burns with the love of Hashem and His Torah cares enough to take the initiative and contribute to the service of Hashem even without being commanded explicitly to do so.

This is why the Torah is so lengthy in describing in detail the sacrifice of each Nasi. Likewise, the Torah lengthily describes their contribution of the wagons, because it stemmed from their devotion to Hashem and from their wish to contribute to the Mishkan. This is as is stated by Rashi (ibid. 10), “After they had contributed the wagons and the oxen for carrying the Mishkan, they were inspired to contribute offerings for the Altar to dedicate it.” Since they came on their own initiative and demonstrated their desire to be the first one to contribute towards issues of sanctity, Hashem favored their contribution very much. This is why the Torah does not mince its words to praise them in public. From here we learn to be swift in performing Hashem’s will, and always contemplate how to improve and contribute more in the service of Hashem, because this proves one’s love of Hashem.

The Nesi’im’s hearts burned with a desire to serve Hashem and they were drawn to matters of sanctity. Therefore, they were quick to initiate the contribution of wagons and bringing sacrifices, and Hashem favored this greatly. I would like to suggest that this is the reason why Chazal say (Rashi Beha’alotcha 8:2), “For when Aaron saw the dedication [offerings] of the chieftains, he felt distressed over not joining them in this dedication - neither he nor his tribe.” He too wished to serve Hashem with great fervor, and he too wanted to take part in offering sacrifices like the Nesi’im. But Hashem consoled him and told him, “By your life, yours is greater than theirs.”

Words of Our Sages

Greeting one’s husband

“And grant you peace” (Bamidbar 6:26)

The attribute of peace includes perfect harmony, and this is how Hashem blesses the Jewish Nation.

The Pele Yo’etz writes: As such, how wonderful it is to greet every man with a cheery countenance and a clear voice! A person should inquire about the well-being of every person, especially a poor and destitute man. He should say to him, "How are you? What are you doing? Are things well?" It will be considered a great mitzvah, for he gladdens the hearts of misfortunate people and they are honored by his nobility. How great will be the punishment of someone who is not concerned about providing satisfaction to other human beings, especially to abject impoverished people, in a matter which requires no expense and is but a word from his lips.


Rabbeinu the Ba’al Haturim writes that the word “shalom” (peace) has the same numerical value as “Eisav.” This signifies that one must greet every person, even a non-Jew. And as Chazal wrote in the Mishnah (Avot 4:15), “Initiate a greeting to every person.” Rashi and the Ra’av comment, “Even a Gentile in the market, in order to keep peace,” as it is stated, “No one ever preceded a greeting to me, not even a Gentile in the market.”

The gaon Rabbi Avraham Kupshitz, shlita, related:

My father (Rabbi Hirsch, zt”l) used to pray together with my grandfather (the gaon Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld, zt”l) in the old Beit Haknesset of the Batei Machaseh neighborhood where he lived.

Every Friday night my grandfather would go together with my father to our house after Kabbalat Shabbat and the Ma’ariv services to wish my mother (his granddaughter) “Good Shabbat.”  “Imagine!” the grandson relates excitedly, “The esteemed Rabbi of Yerushalayim troubles himself to go to his orphaned granddaughter’s house in order to make her happy by offering his “Shabbat Shalom” blessings.”

One Shabbat night, when my grandfather entered the house with my father as usual, he noticed that my mother was deeply engrossed in the Amidah of Ma’ariv.

My grandfather did not want to linger, so he turned around and left. Although my mother was absorbed in her open Siddur, she noticed what was going on, but could not respond. At the end of the prayer, she did not want to miss her grandfather’s blessings, and set off for his home to receive his customary best wishes.

My grandfather greeted her warmly, and after wishing her “Shabbat Shalom umevorach,” he turned to her with a gentle rebuke:

“My dear daughter, you know that when the husband returns from his home after prayer, the wife must also be finished with her prayer, and the husband expects his wife to greet him with the table set in honor of Shabbat, and not to encounter her standing in the corner of the room engrossed in prayer. If the wife estimates that she will not manage to finish praying in time, she should delay her prayers for later in the evening, so that she should be able to greet her husband cordially with the “Shabbat Shalom” blessings, and she should not be absorbed in prayer.”

Guard Your Tongue

He is obligated to rebuke them

If through no fault of his own, he is caught in a crowd of gossipers, and he hears them speaking lashon hara, if he thinks that his rebuke would be constructive and would stop them from gossiping, then certainly he is obligated to rebuke them as a Torah commandment. Even if he feels that his rebuke would not help, he is not allowed to remain silent, since they may assume that he agrees with the slander.

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “And there was one man” (Shoftim 13)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah discusses the Nezirut of Shimshon and the instructions of the Navi to his mother of how to guard his Nezirut. This is similar to the parashah which discusses the subject of the Nazir and its laws. 

Walking in Their Ways

Good News from Ill Tidings

Dorit Malka, of Morocco, could not find her intended match for many years. Since she had steadfast faith in the tzaddikim, and especially the tzaddik, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, she would approach me every so often, asking that I bless her in the merit of my holy fathers, zy”a, that she find her life partner soon.

This scenario repeated itself throughout the course of ten years. Eventually, I felt ashamed that I could help her no longer. I was especially vexed, since this woman had been very helpful in arranging my overseas flights, since she is a travel agent by profession. I really wished I could repay her with her life’s wish. Once, after a visit, I implored Heaven with all my might that she should find her intended in the very near future.

Some time elapsed. We were celebrating the hilula of my grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hakatan, zy”a, on the 16th of Marcheshvan, 5760, in Casablanca. Dorit Malka approached me with the news that she had recently met a man who seemed suitable for marriage. But she had been burnt so many times in the past that she was skeptical about the entire prospect. When she finished speaking, she placed a picture of the man before me. As I studied the picture, I had a strong feeling that this fellow was in the hospital just then, undergoing surgery. In my mind’s eye, I clearly saw him lying under the scalpel. I realized it must be a message from Heaven.

“Where is this man at the moment?” I asked, to which she replied, “In France.”

“You should know that he is now in the hospital, undergoing surgery. I may be mistaken, but this is my gut feeling.”

The woman was shocked at my words. “Surgery?” she asked, uncomprehendingly. “How can that be?” she continued. “Just today, we spoke together.”

But I stood my ground. “He is having an operation as we speak. If it is confirmed that this is so, let it be a sign from Heaven that this man is your truly intended. If not, he is not for you.” She was quiet for a moment and then said that she would check it out.

Two days later, she phoned my host, R’ Mordechai Knafo, and related the end of the story, which turned out to be just the beginning: “For two days straight, I tried reaching my fiancé by phone, but was unsuccessful. Today, he finally picked up. I immediately asked where he had been these past two days, and why he didn’t take my calls. At first, he tried to evade my questions, but he finally relented. He said that he had, indeed, been in the hospital, undergoing surgery. Baruch Hashem, the surgery was successful. Upon hearing these words, I repeated Rabbi David’s words in Morocco. He was speechless, for Rabbi David’s words were true to the letter.”

Baruch Hashem, they were married and merited establishing a fine Jewish home. There is no doubt that Dorit Malka was rewarded for her unswerving faith in tzaddikim and their blessing.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Tips for a successful marriage

We can learn several important lessons about marriage from the inauguration of the Mishkan mentioned in the parashah.

Chazal say (mentioned in Rashi) about the pasuk (Bamidbar 7:1), “And it was that on the day that Moshe finished erecting the Mishkan”: It does not say: “On the day he erected.” This teaches us that throughout the seven days of investitures, Moshe erected it and dismantled it, but on that day he erected it but did not dismantle it. Therefore, it says, “Moshe finished erecting.” We can learn from this that also in marriage things may not go easily and smoothly. This is because the nature of the man is different than the nature of a woman, and just as their faces differ, so do their views differ. Especially at the beginning of the marriage there are ups and downs. One must rise again after each fall, as it is stated (Mishlei 24:16), “For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise.”

Likewise, we learn from the pasuk (Tehillim 24:3) “Who will ascend upon the Lord's mount,” that the issue of serving Hashem and building a Jewish home is like ascending a mountain. Usually the climbing is not easy and one falls a lot, but the main thing is that he continues to ascend and, ultimately it will be as “and who will stand in His Holy place?” In the end he will succeed in standing up. One should not despair of hardships and arguments between man and his wife, because it is a natural thing, but the main thing is to be patient until reaching a compromise and restoring peace to the home.

Moreover, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu did not build the Mishkan by himself, but entrusted Bnei Yisrael to build it. This also teaches a lesson for generations that it is important to entrust the young couple to manage on their own and not rely too much on family members, parents and siblings. They should learn to deal with things themselves, just as Moshe Rabbeinu entrusted his disciples to build the Mishkan, even though he could have built it alone. In this way the couple will ultimately be more successful when they learn to manage on their own, and they will develop their skills and capabilities, and thus build a magnificent home.

Another lesson is also hinted to in the word “be’agalot – in the wagons,” since the word “agol” means round, and Chazal tell us that a round shape alludes to unity. This is because a round shape has no corners, but all ends connect with each other forming one unit without any protrusion. According to this we can explain what Chazal say (Tosefta Ma’asrot), “All the creations of Hashem are round.” This implies that just as Hashem is One and His Name is One, so too, all His creations reflect this Oneness and therefore they were created round to signify unity. This is the reason why a woman is consecrated with a round ring which alludes to the unity between them. Living in unity and harmony brings success to one’s home and it is the foundation of marriage.

Chazak U’Baruch

There is a remarkable allusion in our parashah, as Rabbi Gamliel Hacohen Rabinowitz, shlit”a, wrote, that the acronym of “Naso” is “Nevarech, sheya’anu Amen – We will bless to be answered Amen.”

There is a beautiful explanation for the vital importance of answering Amen to the Birkat Kohanim that Rabbi Yehudah Leib Eiger of Lublin, zt”l, wrote in  his sefer “Imrei Emet” on our parashah as an explanation to the well-known question that the commentators discuss: Why did Hashem command the Kohanim to bless Bnei Yisrael instead of Hashem blessing them Himself? The answer is that specifically because of Hashem’s great love for His Nation, Hashem desires to bless them personally, but since “gadol ha’oneh Amen yoter min hamevarech – it is greater to answer Amen than to recite the blessing,” Hashem commanded the Kohanim to bless us, so that He could answer Amen to their blessings, and then the blessings would be more effective.

We can also appreciate the importance of answering Amen to the Birkat Kohanim if we would contemplate the following: We see hundreds and thousands of people constantly flocking to tzaddikim for their advice and blessings. Certainly, anyone who merited receiving their blessing answered Amen with utmost sincerity. Let us now imagine how we would feel if the blessing was given by one of the sacred Tana’im, or one of our holy Fathers; Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Would we not make every effort to answer Amen to their blessings with all our might? If we would just reflect a bit, we would realize that each of us is given the opportunity daily to merit the blessings that we so much await, sent directly by Hashem, the King of all kings, Himself. It is a blessing that is not limited to just two words, but details all the good in the world, as is explained by Rashi and other commentaries. Moreover, Hashem even promised regarding this “v’ani avarchem – And I will bless them.” If so, is it not worthwhile to listen carefully to the blessing and answer Amen?

There is an incident that took place with the Rabbi of Brisk, zt”l. One Rosh Hashanah there were no Kohanim to be found in his Beit Midrash: the Rav instructed the chazzan not to begin the Chazarat Hashatz (chazzan’s repetition), until they would bring Kohanim from elsewhere. This took a substantial amount of time, and one of the congregants complained that it was “tircha d’tzibbur” (inconveniencing the people). However, the Rabbi did not respond, but continued waiting patiently until a Kohen arrived.

When the Services ended, the Rabbi said: I do not understand. Don’t people often wait on line hours to receive their desired blessings from tzaddikim? How much more so, should we wait for the blessings for which it is explicitly stated “v’ani avarchem – And I will bless them.” Is there any blessing greater than one issued directly from Hashem Himself? Is it not worthwhile to wait a little for it?

Men of Faith

One Friday in Elul 1999 (5759), a day before the hilula of Rabbi Chaim Hagadol in Morocco, a few people approached Moreinu, shlita, seeking his blessings for a Jew from Paris who was imprisoned. It was causing his family much untold suffering.

One of his friends turned to Moreinu and asked him, “Does the Rabbi recall that two weeks ago the mother of the prisoner visited the Rav in Paris, and the Rav promised her that with the help of Hashem her son would be released and would join the hilula in Morocco?”

Moreinu responded, “I do not remember this. But if I did say it, then in the merit of the tzaddik he will be released and come to the hilula.”

As mentioned, this took place on Friday morning. In the afternoon, the friends of the prisoner approached Moreinu again and this time informed him that he had miraculously been released.

How did this happen? Suddenly, the judge entered the prisoner’s cell and told him, “I have good news for you. Today you will be freed.”

Even before he had time to digest the good news, the judge continued, “I have already sent an order to the police station to return your passport and documents that were confiscated. You may leave the country whenever you please.”

The prisoner could not believe his ears. He was actually free to go on his way. He immediately phoned Moreinu v’Rabbeinu and informed him about his release. Moreinu reminded him that he had given him a blessing that he would participate in the hilula. However, since it was Friday, and he could not arrive in Morocco before the commencement of Shabbat, he should make an effort to be there on Sunday.

On Sunday, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the Jew arrived at the hilula. He had an amazing story to tell of how he had succeeded in arriving so quickly in Morocco:

I realized that I had to keep my promise and join the hilula, especially since the Rav had reminded me. However, I knew that if I would leave Paris on Friday, I would arrive in Morocco on Shabbat. Therefore, I ordered a ticket for Sunday morning at six o’clock, so that I would arrive in Morocco in the morning. After that, I arranged to have a private plane transport me from the airport in Casablanca to Mogador.

When I arrived at the airport in Paris this morning, I was told, to my dismay, that there were no flights going from Paris to Morocco at six in the morning. I was taken aback, since I had purchased a ticket for such a flight. The clerks checked the list of flights on the computer, but nothing came up. There were no flights from Paris to Morocco at that time.

“I have an important meeting!” I argued. They responded, “We are sorry, but there are no flights leaving to Morocco right now.”

Suddenly, one of the clerks turned to me and asked how it was possible that I had a ticket for a six a.m. flight from Paris to Morocco? Actually, there had been a plane from a Moroccan company that had arrived in Paris with passengers on the previous day. It was scheduled to fly back empty at six a.m. to Morocco without any passengers. Therefore, the flight did not appear on the computer screen. How was it possible to have a ticket for this flight? The clerk was astonished. The fact was that I had a ticket for a flight on an empty plane.

The clerks at the airport were stunned. They called the company, Air Morocco, and checked with the Moroccan police. In the end, they permitted me to fly on the flight alone with the pilot.

One of the pilots took a picture of me flying on the plane. The pilot quipped, “See, the plane is all yours! I cannot understand how they allowed you to fly on this flight. It was supposed to return empty, as usual, and this is the first time I am carrying a passenger on such a flight. How did you manage to get on this plane? Also, how did this flight appear on-line when you purchased the ticket, especially since it is a state-owned airplane?”

“I cannot explain how I managed to get a ticket for this flight,” the Jew concluded his amazing account. “It is all Hashem’s doing. He arranged that just then the flight should appear on the computer screen. In Heaven it was ordained that only I, who needed to arrive at the hilula, would purchase a ticket for this flight; and no one else. This corresponds to the saying, ‘Many designs are in man’s heart, but the counsel of Hashem – only it will prevail.’”

In the merit of his faith and his yearning to join the hilula, he was worthy of Hashem’s assistance. A chain of events were divinely orchestrated, in order that he should be able to participate in the hilula of the tzaddik.

“How abundant are your works, Hashem, with wisdom You made them all.”

As a token of appreciation, in honor of the tzaddik, the man donated a Beit Hamidrash in memory of his father in the Yeshiva Nefesh Hachaim in Yerushalayim.

Food for Thought

Being generous to your wife

Once Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld, the Rabbi of Yerushalayim; heard about a conflict between a man and his wife over money matters. The husband was very stingy with his money and he did not give his wife enough to cover the household needs. He invited the man to his home and reproached him about his relationship to his wife who was taking care of the household and the children.

The Rabbi began to patiently describe to the husband what the situation would be like at home without a wife, and how fortunate he is to have his precious children taken care of properly. After all, his wife looks out for all his family’s needs.

Is there any money in the world that can pay for all this? Thus, if the woman asks for additional funds, is she requesting luxuries? Of course not! She is asking to provide for the needs of his children; for the household requirements in which they are both equal partners. If so, then what grounds are there for arguments? And the blessings in the home only come in the merit of the woman. Therefore, it is necessary to fulfill her request and satisfy her needs, so that the blessings should rest in abundance upon their home.

In fact, after his pleasant words of reproach, the stingy husband began to see his wife in a new light; in the way that the Rabbi had presented her. Ultimately, peace and harmony reigned in their home.


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