Vayakhel - Shabat Shekalim

February 26th, 2022

25th of Adar I 5782


Man’s Organs and the Holy Vessels of the Mishkan

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and said to them: ‘These are the things that Hashem commanded, to do them’” (Shemot 35:1).

Why specifically now did Moshe assemble all the Jewish people, and not at other times when he spoke to them?

The Ramban explains: Moshe commanded Aharon and the leaders and all the male members of Bnei Yisrael, all that Hashem spoke to him on Har Sinai. After he broke the Luchot and put a mask on his face, he once again assembled and commanded all the men and women. At that time he told all of them about the Mishkan, about which he was commanded before he broke the Luchot. Now that Hashem forgave them, gave them the second Luchot, and renewed His covenant that He will dwell in their midst, they regained their previous status and love. Knowing that Hashem’s Shechina will rest among them as He commanded previously, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them,” Moshe now repeated all he was commanded originally.

It is clear from the Ramban that Moshe assembled Bnei Yisrael to tell them that the Shechinah will once again rest among them, and that is why he repeated all the work of the Mishkan in detail, for this is the normal way. When someone announces good news to others, he relates it at length and in detail.

Hashem too was happy about this and dedicated four Parshiot which detail the work of the Mishkan several times over. The first time is Hashem’s command to Moshe, the second time Moshe gives over Hashem’s words to Bnei Yisrael, and then we once again read of the details when they actually carried out the work. Why was this? After forgiving them for the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem wanted to show His affection for Bnei Yisrael and tell them that His Shechina will once again rest among them. Hashem wanted Bnei Yisrael to know that the purpose of creation is for Hashem to have a dwelling place in the Lower World, as Chazal say (Midrash Tanchuma), “When Hashem created the world, He desired a place in the Lower World as He has in the Upper World.”

However, even though the Shechinah returned to rest among them, it was unlike the original Presence. Originally, Hashem’s Presence in This World was similar to His Presence in the Upper World and the whole world was filled with His glory. He did not reduce His Presence to one location. But later, after Bnei Yisrael sinned with the Golden Calf, and Hashem said (Shemot 32:34), “On the day I make My account, I shall bring their sin to account against them,” the Shechinah was confined to the Mishkan.

We learn that Hashem wished to rest His Shechinah among Bnei Yisrael themselves and not only in the Mishkan, from the words “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary so I may dwell among them.” It does not say “inside it” but “among them.” Before they sinned, Hashem wanted to reside inside each and every Jewish person.

This is why Moshe now assembled all Bnei Yisrael and not at any other time. He wished to impart this message: they should learn from the Mishkan to sanctify and rectify their own selves, making themselves into a fitting miniature Mishkan for Hashem’s Presence.

The Midrash says (Kohelet Rabba 1:4) for everything Hashem created in man, He created a resemblance in the land too. It can be said that Hashem created a person’s mind, where the soul resides, corresponding to the Mishkan and Mikdash, the resting place for the Shechina. Chazal compare the soul to the Shechina (Berachot 10a); as we know man’s soul contains part of the G-dly essence. Man’s heart corresponds to the Aron in which the Luchot and Sefer Torah were placed, as Chazal say (Berachot 61b), “The heart understands.”

The Mishkan resembles man in This World. Just as the Mishkan was dismantled and erected every time Bnei Yisrael journeyed and camped, and accompanied Bnei Yisrael on all their travels, this is the way man must travel around in This World. Even though we sometimes fail to overcome our challenges, we must nevertheless continually strengthen ourselves in our avodat Hashem, just like the Mishkan that was frequently dismantled yet erected each time anew.


Disposables at the Shabbat Table?

“The seventh day shall be holy for you” (Shemot 35:2).

On many occasions, Moreinu Hagaon Rabbi David Chananya Pinto shlit”a points out that every minute of Shabbat Kodesh should be utilized for true rest; rest that includes yirat Shamayim, as it says, “a perfect rest in which You find favor.” We should take a break from our secular occupations, strip ourselves of our dirty clothing, and don our royal garments.

Hashem does not demand from man that which he is not capable of doing. If we succeed in elevating the atmosphere in our home, even in the smallest way, it will already be a different Shabbat completely. Our souls will delight in the song of Shabbat, a rest day for eternal life.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a was approached with a question that evolved into a fascinating halachic discussion: The question was posed by a couple who had a disagreement about which kind of dishes to use on Shabbat. The husband claimed that since the family uses a lot of dishes during Shabbat, and it translates into his wife having many dishes to wash after Shabbat, he prefers to use disposables. In this way, after the meal, the tablecloth – also disposable – is rolled up together with all the dishes and trash, and thrown in the garbage. The considerate husband was trying to make things easier for his wife.

However, the wife claimed that although the use of disposables will ease her workload, which may cause her pleasure on Shabbat, she was concerned about the honor of Shabbat. Is it called honoring Shabbat to use disposable dishes? After all, if an important guest would be invited to their home, they would certainly use their most beautiful dishes!

The gaon Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a replied with a story that occurred with his uncle, Maran the Chazon Ish zt”l. Bnei Torah are known to honor the Shabbat by wearing a tie. A bachur once came to Maran the Chazon Ish and described how difficult it was for him to wear a tie during the summer because he perspires a lot. The bachur wanted to know if he could go without a tie, or would this be considered disrespect for the honor of Shabbat?

The Chazon Ish replied, “If there is no pleasure, there is also no honor!” That is, if the bachur does not enjoy wearing the tie, for him it is not called honoring Shabbat. Accordingly, one can say in this case too, since washing dishes creates difficulty for the wife, using disposables is not considered a slight to the honor of Shabbat.


Plumbing the Source of the Problem

At the end of Chodesh Av, a young man approached me. In another two days, bein hazmanim would end and the Elul zman would begin. He spilled out his heart, crying painfully that he had no desire to sit and study Torah. He felt his mind was blocked from learning.

I was truly pained at his words. I told him, “You surely know that a heart attack results from blocked arteries. The more the passageways are blocked, the more severe the heart attack. In order to save the person’s life, a catheter must be inserted to open the blockages. This enables the blood to once again flow freely to and from the heart.” Seeing that he understood, I continued, “Likewise, when a Jew’s heart is spiritually clogged, it prevents him from studying Torah with eagerness and motivation. The obstruction must be removed immediately.

“You must search your deeds and find the source of the blockage. It may have come from forbidden sights or sounds you experienced during bein hazmanim. Consuming unkosher foods can also clog our heart and cool it off from avodat Hashem.

“After you have found the source of the blockage, repent for your wrongdoings. Then you will once again feel enthusiasm for Torah study, and you will merit studying with joy and satisfaction.”


1. Peirot shevi’it which are not usually made into juice should not be squeezed during Shemittah. One may also not make honey from dates or wine from apples. But it is permitted to make wine from grapes and oil from olives since it is normal to use the fruit for this purpose.

2. If one squeezes peirot shevi’it, the juice becomes imbued with kedushat shevi’it.

3. One may squeeze oranges, lemons, and grapefruit during Shemittah, since it is normal to use them for juice.

4. One may squeeze lemons to make natural juice, or squeeze lemon onto fish etc. since this is normal. Anything that is normally done is permitted.

5. Today we are also lenient with carrot juice, since it has become a common drink. However, some are stringent.

6. Other fruit may be pureed as long as it is regular practice. Even though some liquid may be extracted during the process, it is not considered as making it go to waste. Fruits and vegetables that are normally pureed for an infant may be pureed, even though it is not usual to do so for adults.

7. One may grind garlic or onion to mix into meat balls. Nuts and peanuts may also be ground for baking. However, one must be careful that the taste of the peirot shevi’it should remain dominant for otherwise it is considered as diminishing their holiness.

For any questions in practical application of these halachot, please consult a rabbinical authority.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The Holiness of Shabbat – Our Highest Priority

“Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and said to them: ‘These are the things Hashem commanded, to do them. On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem; whoever does work on it shall be put to death’” (Shemot 35:1-2).

Parshat Vayakhel begins with Moshe commanding Am Yisrael about observing Shabbat. The main point of assembling them was for the sake of instructing them about donating for building the Mishkan. Nevertheless, the Torah begins with the prohibition of doing work on Shabbat, and only after that mentions Moshe’s request to Am Yisrael to donate all different materials for the sublime goal of building the Mishkan. “Take from yourselves a portion for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for Hashem: gold, silver, copper…”

The order is not happenstance and contains a practical lesson for us. Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to instill in Am Yisrael the knowledge that even though he is now assembling them to ask them to donate for the building of the Mishkan, nevertheless Shabbat observance is immeasurably more important, and even overrides the mitzvah of tzedakah. We find there are people who tread on the sanctity of Shabbat, but to quiet their conscious they disperse charity and generously assist the needy. Those people reassure themselves by saying that although they do not observe Shabbat, they are most particular about giving charity and does it not say (Mishlei 10:2), “Charity saves from death”?! So they rely on this merit; thinking nothing bad will happen to them and they will not be punished for desecrating Shabbat.

By instructing Bnei Yisrael about the mitzvah of Shabbat, Moshe Rabbeinu was instilling the message in the hearts of the people that although the mitzvah of tzedakah is very important, and one who is meticulous about its observance will merit great reward, Shabbat is just as important, if not more. Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. We too must honor this day when Hashem rested from His work, and dedicate it to Hashem.

G-d forbid these words do not come to diminish the importance of giving charity. Rather, they remind us about the importance of Shabbat, and the need to meticulously observe all its laws and details.


Hagaon Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l

Hagaon Rabbi Yaakov Kaminestsky zt”l was one of the greatest sages of America and member of the Rabbinical Assembly of Agudath Israel of America. He was outstanding both in Torah and good middot, and his exceptional personality radiated the light of Torah to all those around him.

The attribute of truth was his guiding light and influenced his every act, even if it cost him dearly. A number of stirring and astonishing facts testify to this ideal; we will quote just one incident below:

Rabbi Yaakov’s custom was to not eat shruya on Pesach. This puzzled his followers for they were aware that the Rav descended from a Lithuanian family where this custom is not observed. Rabbi Yaakov explained that in his youth he studied in the Slabodka yeshiva, and since the yeshiva was a great distance from many of the students’ homes, most of them remained in yeshiva and did not travel home for every chag.

“One year,” he related, “I too stayed in yeshiva for Pesach and was hosted by a certain family for the festive meals. On Seder night they served steaming soup, and in my heart I had some doubts about the kashrut of the soup, so I did not wish to eat it.

“However, I did not want to insult my dear hosts, so I refrained from telling them the real reason. Instead, I said it is my custom to not eat shruya, and since there are kneidlach (made from matzah flour) in the soup, I prefer not to eat it. This sounded reasonable to them.”

Rabbi Yaakov concluded: “Not wishing to sin by saying an untruth, I undertook to observe what my mouth had uttered. Since then I have not eaten shruya on Pesach!”

Nothing expresses Rabbi Yaakov’s extreme modesty and humility more than his aversion to others rising in his honor, when he entered the yeshiva or any other place.

However, once Rabbi Yaakov deviated from this custom.

This was when he, together with Rabbi Shneur Kotler zt”l, entered the annual gathering of the “Agudath Israel Conference” in America. Rabbi Shneur suggested to Rabbi Yaakov that they should enter through a side door, to preclude those assembled from standing up in their honor.

How great was Rabbi Shneur’s astonishment upon hearing Rabbi Yaakov reject his proposal, with the following reasoning, that contains a powerful lesson:

“After all, our wives are also in the hall, and they will derive pleasure and enjoyment at the sight of the entire audience rising in our honor. Let us do this in their honor, thus making it easier for them to bear their constant exertion throughout the year, due to the many people who approach us…”

The sefer Rabbi Yaakov tells of the mutual concern between Rabbi Yaakov and his Rabbanit, even in seemingly minor matters.

When the Rabbanit went shopping, Rabbi Yaakov waited and listened attentively for the sound of the car returning her from the market. As soon as he heard the car entering the parking lot, the elderly Rosh Yeshiva hurried out to help her carry in the shopping.

One erev Sukkot, Rabbi Yaakov went out the back door to check that everything was in order with the Sukkah. Accidentally, the door locked behind him. He was about to ring the bell so his wife would come and open the door, but then quickly withdrew his hand.

“Why should I bother the Rabbanit to open the door for me?” he thought to himself, and walked around to the front of the house, entering through the front door which was unlocked.


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