Febuary 29th, 2020

4th of Adar 5780


Sanctify Yourself to Merit Hashem's Presence

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"They shall make a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25:8)

Chazal tell us that when Hashem commanded Moshe "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me", Moshe was frightened and recoiled, and said to Hashem, Master of the World, it is written (Melachim I, 8:27), "Behold, the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain You" and yet You say, "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me". Hashem replied to Moshe “It is not as you think, but twenty beams in the north and twenty beams in the south and eight in the west and I go down and limit My Shechina down below (in this relatively small space of the Mishkan)".

It was an immense honor for Bnei Yisrael that Hashem wished to rest His presence among them and even the angels were jealous of them. The Midrash Tanchuma tells us, "Hashem said to Moshe, 'Make a Sanctuary for Me for I wish to dwell among My children'. When the angels heard this they said: 'Master of the World, why are You going down to the lower world? It is Your honor that You should be in the Heavens,’ '…Hashem replied, 'Why are you surprised about this? See how much I love the lower world and go down and dwell under curtains made of goat hair'."

Imagine if a Moroccan king would get up and declare: I prefer to leave my magnificent palace where I now live and move into the Jewish Ghetto! This statement will certainly leave the Jewish people inundated with feelings of honor and importance. If this is the case with a human king, how much more so when the King of Kings expresses His desire to dwell among us! This immense and wonderful merit to which we are treated is certainly an enormous honor for us and fills our hearts with great joy.

The holy Alshich zya"a points out: It says, "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them". It does not say 'so that I may dwell in it' but rather, 'so that I may dwell among them'. Hashem wishes to dwell inside every single one of His people. We are therefore obligated to prepare our hearts and purify our bodies from any sin and iniquity and transform it into a 'Mikdash', so that Hashem can dwell inside us. Fortunate is the one who merits this, for if Hashem's Shechina rests inside him, he is protected from any spiritual harm since he is in close proximity to Hashem Yitbarach, enveloped in a holiness which saves him from all kinds of sins and transgressions.

My holy grandfather, Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto zya"a, moved to Casablanca at the end of his life. The townspeople attested that from the moment he took up residence in the city, it transformed into a spiritual location, full of Torah and holiness. His holiness radiated over all those who came into contact with him and strengthened them spiritually. The power of his perfect faith in the Creator of the World was enormous. Just gazing at his holy face taught a person a chapter about faith in Hashem Yitbarach. Being in his presence and seeing his holy conduct, was a clear lesson in how a faithful servant should behave towards his Creator. If a tzaddik who came to live in a certain place, had such a positive effect on his surroundings, how much more so if a person merits Hashem dwelling inside him, he will certainly be influenced for the good from the power of this G-dly Holiness and powerful Presence.

It is important to note that this great merit that we were accorded, also brings with it a very heavy responsibility. If a person wishes to merit Hashem's presence, he must first prepare himself. The verse says, "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me": First of all, transform your bodies into a Sanctuary. This requires much preparation, effort and trouble, to guard oneself closely and not to make one's body filthy with different kinds of sins. One must sanctify one's body through diligently toiling in Torah study, and only then will we merit "so that I may dwell among them". But if a person does not prepare himself, and his body is soiled with spiritual filth, Hashem will certainly not wish to dwell in this person and he will be punished for this. We must realize that Hashem emphatically demands: Allow Me to live together with you! It can be compared to a master who wishes to enter his home. Who are we that we can dare prevent Hashem from entering His home! But if a person sins, it is as if he is locking the master out of his home and this is an exceptionally great sin.

The main way in which a person transforms his body into a Mikdash is through occupying himself with Torah and thoroughly observing all the six hundred and thirteen mitzvot, together with being careful to distance himself from any form of sin. A person is obligated to sanctify his body through Torah study. The intention is toiling in Torah study with enthusiasm and truly investing effort, not just paying lip-service through indifferent study.

Any slight deviation from the straight path or the presence of some foreign thought, even if it is the most minimal, is enough for Hashem to remove His Shechina and He no longer wishes to dwell among us. Once when I was in the airport, I went through security control, and when I passed under the detector, the machine suddenly started beeping. It soon became clear that a small nail stuck to the sole of my shoe was the cause of the alert. I took off my shoe, once again passed through the detector and was given the all-clear. When I picked up my shoe and contemplated this small and minuscule nail, I started to tremble with fear. What a powerful lesson this contained for me! I thought to myself that if this machine is so sensitive and can detect such a minuscule nail, all the more so the Holy Torah and Hashem's Shechina cannot be comprehended by a person who has all kinds of nails of lust or foreign and impure thoughts in his heart. A minute nail of slight impurity is enough to cause him to lose everything, for he has caused the door to be closed and the Shechina will not enter, for how can Hashem dwell in a sullied place?

We must therefore continually take care that our spiritual clothes remain white and our souls should be clean of any filth and dirt, free of any kind of sin. We must scrub our inner Mikdash and purify our thoughts so that Hashem should desire to dwell among us.

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "Hashem gave wisdom to Shlomo" (Melachim I, 5-6)

The connection to the Parsha: The Haftarah talks about the building of the first Beit Hamikdash which was built by Shlomo Hamelech, and in the Parsha Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu a"h about building the Mishkan.

Guard Your Tongue

Consider the Outcome

Sometimes the prohibition of lashon hara applies even when speaking about a young child. If a person's intention in telling the lashon hara is to repair the damages that the child caused and educate him in the correct path, then it is permissible. But he must first ascertain that the story is true, and should not assume that what he heard from other people is indeed what happened.

Besides, one must consider the outcome of relating the lashon hara, for many times these matters can lead to a distorted conclusion.

Words of the Sages

Where Does Your Money Go?

"From every man whose heart motivates him, you shall take My portion" (Shemot 25:2)

Rabbi Shmuel Greineman zt"l was the trusted assistant of both the Chafetz Chaim and the Chazon Ish. About seventy years ago, he travelled to America to raise funds for avreichim who were struggling financially, to the extent that they did not even have money to buy bread. While describing their desperate plight to these rich American philanthropists, one of those present got up and said with emotion: "Rabbi, why do only phonies come to us? Why do the genuinely poor people, the ones you are telling us about, not come knocking on our doors?!"

Rabbi Shmuel immediately replied with his sharp wit: "To the extent that your dollar is genuine, to that extent the genuine people come to you. To the extent that it is dishonest, the dishonest people come"…

When people steal and deceive each other, the money that they possess is not really theirs, so the money they are giving away is really other people's money. This is why, he explained, if a person's money is truly his, the truly poor people come to him. But if a person possesses dishonest money, the dishonest people come to him…

Also on this topic, the Gaon and tzaddik Rabbi Aryeh Shechter zt"l told over the following story:

My father zt"l received a blessing from a great Admor, that his money should only go to good and worthy causes. In those days, when a person wished to buy a house and wanted to register it with the Land Registry, he would be obligated to donate a certain percentage to the 'Jewish National Fund' (JNF). My father went to the Land Registry office, and a certain official, whose authority was close to that of a judge, was receiving people. My father heard him shouting at the person who stood before him in line because he didn’t want to give money to the JNF. When my father's turn came, he told the officer: "The house that I wish to purchase is a great bargain. However, if I have to give money to the JNF, I prefer not to buy it because the JNF plant trees on Shabbat. I cannot allow my money to assist in profaning the Shabbat. If you agree to register my property without me giving money to the JNF, all is well. If not, I will not purchase the house."

To his astonishment, the official relented and registered the property without my father having to give any money to the JNF.

Walking in Their Ways

Gifts from Heaven

A wealthy New Yorker, who is an old acquaintance of mine, sadly informed me that his son was suffering greatly from a terrible illness which had no known cure. The distraught father turned to me in desperation. “Honored Rav, I will give you whatever amount you ask of me. A hundred thousand dollars, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand; you name the price. Just make my son healthy!”

I blessed his son warmly with a speedy recovery. I watched the man leave my room with pity in my eyes. I thought to myself that there are some things which one just cannot buy with money, even with enormous amounts that this rich man was prepared to offer. Health and life cannot be bought with cash. They are in Hashem’s hands alone.

Freedom is another thing to which Hashem alone holds the keys. How many people are imprisoned, rightfully and not! How many POWs are languishing in foreign prisons! No amount of money can extricate them from their bondage. Even the dreadful despot, Sadaam Hussein, the president of Iraq, may his memory be obliterated, spent his last days caged in a bunker in the bowels of the earth. He did not see the light of day, in spite of his dazzling wealth.

Childbirth is also solely in Heaven’s hands. All the money in the world cannot bring a child to this world if it is not Hashem's wish.

Hashem holds the keys to these and other gifts. But He is a loving Father who awaits our prayers, which have the power to draw down Heavenly blessing. Let us place our trust in Him alone, and ask for our needs from His broad hand.

Pearls of the Parsha

We Only Pass Along

"Speak to the Children of Israel, and let them take for Me a portion" (Shemot 25:2)

The 'Tzionei Torah' brings the following befitting mashal to clarify why it says "let them take" and not "let them give":

Reuven and Shimon travelled together to a fair. The journey was long and Reuven exhausted his food supply. He asked Shimon to give him some of his food, promising to replace it when they arrive.

After spending some time at the fair, Shimon wished to return home, but Reuven wanted to stay on a little longer. He asked Shimon if he could take some of his parcels with him in his wagon, and return them to him when he gets back.

When Reuven asked Shimon for food, he said: "Give me some of your food", but when he asked him to take his parcels home for him, he said, "Take my parcels", since the parcels belonged to Reuven and what he was requesting from Shimon was only to transfer them from place to place. Only when Shimon had to take from his own food and give it to Reuven, is it appropriate to use the expression of giving. This concept is quite clear.

This mashal answers the above question perfectly. When Bnei Yisrael were told to donate towards the work of the Mishkan, the dwelling place of the Shechina, it is not appropriate to say, "give" a donation for Hashem, since "Mine is the silver and mine is the gold". We are simply transferring the contribution from our private house to the Mishkan. This is why it says, "let them take".

No Limit to Donating for the Mishkan

"Let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion" (Shemot 25:2)

Since it says "let them take for Me a portion", why does it repeat "you shall take My portion" at the end of the verse?

Besides, why does the verse begin by saying "a portion", whereas it ends by saying "My portion"?

Rabbi Yehuda Katzin zt"l, explains this idea in his sefer 'Vezot l'Yehuda'. He quotes the Rambam in Hilchot Matanot who says that one is forbidden to request charity from a generous person, meaning one who gives more charity than he can really afford to give.

However, it is possible that the verse wishes to teach us that concerning this important mitzvah of building the Mishkan, one is permitted to request even from a generous person. This is the implication of the beginning of the verse, "let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him", meaning that for the sake of building the Mishkan one may request from all kinds of charitable people, even from someone who gives more than he should be giving.

The end of the verse, "you shall take My portion", refers to the other people who only give what they are obligated to give according to their means. This kind of donation is called "My portion", since they are required to give as Hashem wishes.

Good Advice When Facing Hardship

"You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah be made" (Shemot 25:31)

Rashi says on this verse, "Since Moshe found it difficult to fashion the Menorah, Hashem said to him: Throw the ingot into fire - and the completed Menorah emerged. This is why the verse says, 'תיעשה המנורה', shall the Menorah be made, and not 'תעשה', you shall make. Rabbi Yisrael of Modzitz derives a wonderful piece of advice from this idea: Any time you come across something that is hard for you, the correct thing to do is to cast your burden upon Hashem, "and He will sustain you". The matter will already resolve itself on its own.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

If a Husband and Wife Merit, the Shechina Rests Among Them

In the repetition of the Mussaf prayer on Shabbat, we say, "A crown will they give You, O Hashem, our G-d – the angels of the multitude above, together with Your people Israel who are assembled below. Together all of them will thrice recite 'Holy'." The meaning of this prayer is that the angels present Hashem with a crown on Shabbat.

Why especially on Shabbat? Since we refer to Shabbat as 'Shabbat Shalom', Shabbat of peace, for this is the day when peace and harmony reign. This experience of peace and unity on Shabbat stems from the fact that on this day people are more tranquil and at peace, therefore their hearts are not drawn to fights and arguments. Since the angels are aware that there is unity among Am Yisrael on Shabbat, they therefore present Hashem with a crown as a symbol of honor for the fact that His children are united on this day.

It says in Tehillim (29:11), "Hashem will give might to His nation, Hashem will bless His nation with peace". The Torah is called 'oz', might, (see Vayikra Rabba 31:5), and according to the above verse that also talks about might, one can say that it is the power of Torah that brings peace and blessing to Am Yisrael. Since Am Yisrael occupy themselves with the Torah that is called 'oz', they merit Hashem's blessings of peace and unity.

It is not hard to understand why the Torah brings peace to the world. This is because the Torah and its mitzvot educate us and accustom us to not only think about ourselves but to also pay attention to all those around us. Through occupying oneself with Torah, toiling in it and striving to fulfill its mitzvot, one merits rectifying one's negative traits and at the same time, one acquires positive middot, refining one's personality and elevating oneself with the attribute of unity.

Today when we have neither a Beit Hamikdash nor a Mishkan, a person's private home is considered as a miniature Mikdash. In order to merit Hashem's Shechina residing in our homes, we must focus on increasing love and peace in the home. When Hashem sees that the husband and wife show love and respect for each other, then He hurries to rest His Shechina between them, which in turn increases the love and peace.

However, if a couple do not treat each other respectfully and the home is full of strife, then Hashem quickly removes His presence, and when there is no Shechina and Heavenly assistance in the marriage, then the path to separation and divorce is short. This is the meaning of the Chazal (Sotah 17a), "If a husband and wife merit, the Shechina rests between them. If they do not merit, a fire consumes them". By removing the letter yud from the word ish (husband), one is left with the letters alef and shin, the Hebrew word for fire. Likewise, by removing the letter hei from isha (wife), one is also left with the letters that spell fire. The yud and the hei together make up one of the names of Hashem.

A Novel Look at the Parsha

The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Ganz shlita, tells over that once when he had the opportunity to talk to the Gaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l before he entered his home, he noticed that several times during the conversation, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman shook his jacket as if removing dust.

Harav Ganz was sure that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman was in a rush to get home, and this act was his way of gently hinting to him that he had to end the conversation. But when Harav Ganz tried to take leave, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman signaled to him that he is not in a rush and can continue talking. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman carried out this motion several more times during the rest of their conversation.

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman noticed that Rav Ganz was perplexed and explained: "I now have an appointment with the Shechina"! And he clarified: "Chazal tell us, 'If a husband and wife merit, the Shechina rests among them'. It is not fitting to receive the Shechina with a dusty suit!"

When the Torah commands us "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25:8), the implication is that a person's private 'Mishkan' serves as a dwelling place for the Holy Shechina. There is a practical way in which we can cause the Shechina to rest among Am Yisrael even today, after the Shechina has departed from the Beit Hamikdash: When a couple set out to build their home together, they should realize that with this act they are expanding the borders of holiness in the world. Their home will serve the same purpose as that of the Beit Hamikdash. It serves as a connection between Heaven and earth, a place for Hashem's Shechina to rest down in this world. This is why we find that several times Chazal compare a person's home to the Beit Hamikdash.

When the attribute of kindness is a leading influence in one's home, together with seeing the good and acting with holiness, and if the trait of anger is not allowed to rule, Hashem rests His Shechina in this kind of home, as Chazal say: If they merit, the Shechina rests between them (Sotah 17a). This is how one can easily fulfill the command of "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me", even today, inside each of our homes, and merit the ultimate purpose:  "so that I may dwell among them".

The Walls of the Home Absorbed Holiness

The Goan Rabbi Ya'akov Edelstein zt"l, Rav of Ramat Hasharon, in his hesped on Maran Hagaon Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkovitz zt"l, said: "I and my brother, the Rosh Yeshiva Maran Hagaon Rabbi Gershon shlita, lived in Rabbi Michel's home when the Ponivezh Yeshiva first opened its doors. Maran Harav m'Ponivezh, the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahanaman zt"l, rented a room from Rabbi Michel, where he could put two beds for us. With our own eyes, we bore witness to the holy walls of his house. In those days, the huts that they lived in were made from wooden beams, and when the time came to enlarge the premises and change it into a normal house, Rabbi Michel Yehuda found it difficult to agree to demolish this wooden structure. This was because of all the Torah, tefillah and holiness that those walls had absorbed. "The Shechina rests in this home, it is not a simple thing to take it apart!" Rabbi Michel Yehuda explained.

In order to merit the Shechina resting in ones' home, one should take care that the family's conduct is one of utmost holiness and purity. The home should be a place where they are particular about halacha and correct conduct in speech and deed, and they behave pleasantly and with good middot. Through this they will merit the realization of their aspiration: "If they merit, the Shechina rests between them".

An orphaned bachur once approached Maran Rosh Hayeshiva, Hagaon Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Man Shach zt"l, and asked him for some advice and a blessing on the occasion of his upcoming wedding. Harav Shach answered him pleasantly: "This is my advice for you, my child: Always leave and enter your home in happiness, this is the foundation upon which everything depends".

Not for nothing do Chazal tell us (Shabbat 30b) that the Shechina does not rest on a person who is sad. When there is joy in the home the Shechina is present, and when there is Shechina there is a blessing in the home. This is a sure recipe for success in setting up a Jewish home, and for general success in all a person's endeavors.

In a similar vein, the Admor, the Yeshuot Moshe's advice was: "Always be happy, and be concerned that your family should also be happy, and then you will be successful."


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