Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Parasht Pikudei

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Pikudei, completing the second book of Torah, Shmos. The portion begins with a full accounting of all the gold silver and copper that was used for different articles and vessels of the Mishkan (temple). Thereafter the Torah describes in detail how all the priestly garments were made in accordance with the specifications given in Parshas Tetzave. In addition to the weekly portion, we read a supplement called parshas Shkolim. In the supplement we read about the obligation to give a half Shekel to the mishkan, which was used for the adonim (sockets). This was an equal obligation to all rich and poor, Half Shekel from all. The reason we read this supplement now is, because in the Bais Hamikdash the collection of funds for public offerings began on the 1st of Adar. That is why we read this portion on the Shabbos preceding the 1st of Adar.

The midrash teaches us that some light headed individuals were saying that Moshe became rich off the contributions of the Jewish nation for the Mishkan (i.e. he pocketed goods for himself). Therefore, Moshe devoted time to count exactly what came in and gave an exact count as to where all the goods went.

If one thinks in to this, one can not help but wonder. Did anybody ask for an accounting from Aharon when they contributed for the golden calf ? The answer is, clearly not. Why is that ? Because when it comes to holiness people always find reason to dispute, however when there's no substance, anything goes.

Another very interesting observation: After Moshe gave the exact figures as to how much of each commodity (god, silver, copper ..) was contributed, Moshe detailed what was done with the silver (adonim - sockets for the sanctuary and for the partition) and what was done with copper (hooks for the pillars......), but no mention as to what was done with the gold. Why didn't he announce what was done with all the gold ?

The answer, says Reb Yonoson Eibshitz, is simple. 
Who were the people demanding a count ? Who are always the people at every tzedokoh appeal shedding reasons not to give ? The people who lack an understanding and a desire to contribute with their whole heart. The people with generous hearts who contribute big sums wholeheartedly never ask for a count. Therefore Moshe only gave a count for the people who gave silver and copper, for those may not have been contributed with generosity and wholeheartedly. However the contributors of gold, did not even think of asking for a count.

Parshas Shkolim
Rashi explains (medrash), that Hashem showed Moshe a half shekel coin made of fire.
The Chidushei harim explains that Hashem was trying to show him, that the contribution should be given with fire (whole heatedly).

Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk says that this was an important  message. Fire has two different purposes. It can warm someone and protect them from cold and it also has the ability to burn someone. This was the message G-d was sending to the Jewish people. If money is used properly, it can warm you up, however if it is used improperly, it can burn someone.

May we all merit to give tzedoko with generosity and always be from those who are kind not those that criticize.

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