Friday, Jul 12, 2024


Napoleon wrote that an army of rats can win a battle. How, you ask, is this possible? They can win if they are led by a lion. Conversely, an army of lions can go to battle and suffer a crushing defeat if they are led by a rat.

A single person can lead many much smaller people on a successful path if he is honest, courageous and moral. If he is a man of spirit and goodness, he can bring about virtue, superiority and wholesomeness.

Every week, we read one parsha of the Torah, and each week until this one, the portion dealt with the creation of the world and the formation and development of Am Yisroel, culminating with the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai.

This week, with Parshas Terumah, we move on to the parshiyos that discuss the Mishkon Hashem and the various avodos performed there.

To construct the Mishkon, it was necessary to solicit the Jewish people to bring forth gold, silver, copper and other materials. The success of the first Jewish building project was the same as the many others that would follow for millennia. It was dependent on the donations of the most philanthropic people the world has known.

Who to take from? Is every donation accepted or are there qualifications and limitations? The posuk states, “Veyikchu li terumah mei’eis kol ish asher yidvenu libo… Accept donations from all those whose hearts motivate them.”

Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded to accept contributions only from people who possessed “nedivus halev.”

What is “nedivus halev” and why was Moshe limited to taking donations for the Mishkon from people who possessed this attribute?

Rashi explains that asher yidvenu libo is a depiction of good intentions – “preshnit belaz,” a clean heart.

In Parshas Shemos (4:13-14), we find that when Moshe was in Midyon, Hashem appeared to him and asked him to return to Mitzrayim and speak on His behalf to the Jewish people. Moshe deferred and asked that his older brother, Aharon, be appointed to the leadership position.

Hashem was upset with Moshe and told him that he should continue to Mitzrayim and Aharon would joyfully come to welcome him, overcome with joy at Moshe’s selection.

The posuk states, “Vero’acha vesomach belibo.” Rashi explains that Hashem was telling Moshe that he was wrong to assume that Aharon would feel upstaged by his brother’s appointment as leader of the Jewish people. In fact, Aharon would be happy for him. “Vesomach belibo. He will see you, and in his heart he will be happy for you.”

Rashi states that in reward for his heartfelt happiness over the promotion of his younger brother, Aharon later merited to serve as the kohein gadol in the Mishkon and wear the Choshen over his heart.

What made him worthy of serving in the Holy of Holies was that he experienced selfless joy over his brother’s accomplishments.

Because his heart was pure, he was an “oheiv shalom verodeif shalom,” able to pursue peace between other people. His selflessness allowed him to see the good in other people, relate to them, and bring them together when they became estranged.

He brought peace to warring partners and incompatible spouses. He brought people closer to Torah. He wore the Choshen and performed Hashem’s holy service in the Mishkon because he was the one about whom the Torah testified, “Vero’acha vesomach belibo.”

He was a selfless giant, unencumbered by jealousy. He was a lion.

Such are the types of people who are the foundations of Klal Yisroel – Moshe, who would rather forgo Hashem’s appointment than hurt his brother’s feelings, and Aharon, who was overjoyed by his brother’s position. When seeking people with whom to construct edifices of holiness, such as the Mishkon, we look to people “asher yidvenu libo.”

A Mishkon is constructed with the help of people who possess pure and clean hearts, thus donating with the fullest measure of good intentions.

To build a Mishkon, bringing holiness to this world and carrying out major accomplishments, you must only involve people who possess good hearts. They must give without conditions and be motivated to contribute in order to enhance the public welfare.

If you want to accomplish and build, it is incumbent to keep a distance from those who are not able to rejoice in another’s happiness and contribute out of selfish interests. To be a builder of kedusha, you have to be able to distinguish between those who are giving because they want to give and those who give because they want something in return.

For a full, happy life of accomplishments, mold your heart in the pattern of Aharon Hakohein. Study Torah and mussar so that your middos become perfected and you are selfless, non-judgmental and unburdened by jealousy.

Nedivei lev are positive-minded people who seek to help others and spread brotherhood, G-dliness and goodness in this world. Their lives become a chain of goodness, happiness and greatness. They exist to help and support others, thus meriting positions of leadership in the Mishkan Hashem.

They are the lions who influence others to rise and excel.

They inspire others and the ripples of their contributions create waves of righteousness.

Speaking at the levayah of the Ponovezher Rov, Rav Elozor Menachem Man Shach expounded upon the Medrash (Eicha Rabosi 1:37) which derives that the passing of tzaddikim is more difficult for Hashem than the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.

Rav Shach combined this teaching with the lesson Chazal derive from the posuk in this week’s parsha which describes the commandment of constructing the Mishkon. The Torah says (25:8), “Ve’asu li Mikdosh veshochanti besocham. And they shall build for Me a Mikdosh and I will dwell among them.”

He explained that when Hashem sought a home for the Shechinah, the intention was not to limit it to the four walls of the Mikdosh. The Shechinah was brought down to this world so that every Jewish person could create within himself a home for the Shechinah.This objective is realized most often by tzaddikim, those righteous ones who dedicate all their energies and abilities to Torah and maasim tovim, enabling them to form within themselves a place where the Shechinah can, kevayachol, feel comfortable. Thus, the passing of a tzaddik is more severe than the churban of the Bais Hamikdosh.

It is the tzaddikim in every generation who form within themselves a home for holiness, and it is the tzaddikim who step forward to enable the formation of central places of holiness for the benefit of the rest of Am Yisroel.

This week rang in Adar, the month of happiness. As Chazal say, “Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha. Joy increases as Adar begins.”

Many wonder how to achieve happiness. People are sad. They feel unfulfilled. They are frustrated. Life isn’t turning out the way they intended. Everyone prospers, it seems, but them.

What are they to do? What can they do to bring a smile to their faces?

The last halacha in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim indicates how this can be done. It states there that in a year in which there are two months of Adar, such as this year, there is no obligation to celebrate the fourteenth day of the first Adar with a festive meal or with increased joy.

The Rama concurs and says that even though some argue with the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch and hold that there is an obligation for feasting and jubilance on the 14th day of the first Adar as well, our custom does not follow that ruling.

Nevertheless, the Rama posits that in deference to the ruling of those who are more stringent and require mishteh and simcha, it is proper to add something special to our meals on the 14th day of the first Adar.

To complete his ruling and to round out his discussion of the halacha and the entirety of Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, the Rama quotes a posuk that seems to sum it all up: “Vetov lev mishteh somid. The person who is goodhearted is always happy.”

The lev tov delights in the happiness of others. A lev tov is not a negative cynic who criticizes those who dedicate their lives to building, doing and helping. A lev tov recognizes a good cause and volunteers his assistance. A lev tov seeks to use his life to increase G-dliness and happiness in the world.

Significantly, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim opens with the posuk of “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid” and ends with “Vetov lev mishteh somid.” The connection between the two statements is obvious: A person who always views Hashem before him is one who can be in a perpetual state of happiness. He who realizes that all that transpires in this world is only by Hashem’s will is a person who is constantly at peace with himself and in harmony with others.

People who refuse to admit that Hashem runs the world fall prey to negativity, pettiness and jealousy. They are therefore frequently upset and sad.

A person who observes the posuk of “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid” is one who is happy with his lot because he realizes that such is the will of Hashem. Such a person is a “tov lev” and is “mishteh somid.”

The Rama cites the posuk about a lev tov always being happy in reference to a year with two months of Adar, indicating that both months are auspicious times to work on inculcating in ourselves the ability to increase joy in our lives.

Last week sported historically cold weather in the Northeast, but this week, Rosh Chodesh Adar brought a warming trend. Last week we froze, while this week we come to life. Let us thaw out our souls and hearts from the intense frost of golus and seek good causes in which to involve ourselves. In the spirit of Adar, let us rid our hearts of disease, evil thoughts and malice towards others. It will make us all happier and healthier.

Let us bring ourselves to the level at which the Shechinah would feel comfortable within us, and let us use our abilities to help create places for kedusha to grow. May we all merit healthy, good hearts, bursting with happiness and joy during Adar and all year round.




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