Friday, February 15, 2019

Dvar Torah - Titzave - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Titzave. The portion begins with the mitzvah of preparing proper olive oil in order to kindle the Menorah every evening. The portion continues with Hashem commanding Moshe to arrange for the production of the special garment to be worn in the Holy Temple (Mishkon - Beis Hamikdosh), by the High Priest - Kohen Godol. Separate garments needed to be worn by the other Kohanim (priests), during their service in the Mishkon/ Beis Hamikdosh. Each of these garments needed to be prepared according to special specifications. Each of the garments of the Kohen Godol were to atone for different sins, and their specifications have hints and very deep meaning.

In Shmos 28 - 2, the Torah says that the garments for the High Priest Ahron shall be made for honor and splendor. This would imply that it was sort of a manifestation of splendor, and a uniform to present the honor of the position. Further in the next phrase, the Torah states “and you shall speak the wise people whom I’ve invested with the spirit of wisdom, and they shall make the vestments (garments) of Ahron to sanctify him to serve me. This seems to be a contradiction. Is the purpose of the outer look of the Kohen meant for splendor and honor or is it for sanctity, and service?
Many times two people will hear the same thing and one hears what he wants to hear and the other is really paying attention to the deeper meaning. The simple person may view the garments and vestments as a uniform thats just there for splendor, someone who’s not superficial understands that every detail has meaning. Every color, every cut, every stone, every garment has tremendous lessons and is meant to awaken in us a yearning and a desire to get closer to Hashem. As we are well aware before the Jewish leaders went out to war they would consult with The Urim Vitumim which was placed behind the Brestplate - the Choshen. The answer would show up in lit up letters on the Choshen. Of course to understand and appreciate this one needs to obtain wisdom and not look at these holy garments as just superficially.

May we speedily merit to return to the days of true glory when the life of the Jewish people was directed by meaningful servants in the holy temple.

ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים בשמחה ובטוב לבב.

Gut Shabbos

Friday, February 8, 2019

Dvar Torah - Truma - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Truma. The portion begins with Hashem’s request that Moshe tell klal Yisroel to contribute various raw materials in order to build a Mishkon - a dwelling, so to say, for the Shechina (Hashem’s presence). This contribution was given by everyone whose heart desired to take part in this great mission. There was no mandatory amount and nobody was forced to give. All items are needed for the Mishkon, are listed in detail, gold, silver, copper.... Hashem also described to Moshe the artifacts and utensils which were to be placed in the Mishkon, beginning with the Aron - the holy Ark, which held in it the two tablets, and represents the holy Torah. Then there were the remaining artifacts such as the Shulchan, the Menorah and the Mizbeiach. Each one of the above mentioned artifacts had to be made precisely to specifications. All the details and measurements have great meaning and nothing is just simply by chance.

The first of the artifacts is the Aron which represents the Torah and above them were the kruvim - two birds, with faces like children facing each other. The kruvim represent the highest standard of Torah study, like children, who are worry free and don't have to go out to earn a living, they are able to immerse themselves in anything without great worry. So too, the world stands on Torah that is studied around the clock with full concentration. Another interesting detail is that the Kruvim faced each other, which is a hint as to how Torah should be studied. The talmud teaches us oi chavrusa oi misusa - either with a partner, or death. In other words, live Torah needs to be studied with others, otherwise it is dead. Perhaps that is a hint of the Kruvim above the Aron. Maybe even a step further, without taking an interest in someone else, there is no relation to Torah, upneihem ish el ochiv.

The idea of the Mishkon is that we create place for the shchina, to dwell amongst us. The Talmud teaches us that after the destruction of the Holy Temple our Shuls and places where Torah is studied, have somewhat of the holiness of the Beis Hamikdosh. By cherishing and respecting our Mikdosh Mi’at (small Temple), we will soom metit to return to the glorious days of the true great dwelling - the Beis Hamikdosh.

Gut Shabbos

Friday, February 1, 2019

Dvar Torah - Mishpotim - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Mishpotim. The portion begins with the laws pertaining to someone who purchased a Jewish slave. The maximum term of work is six years, and if he is married, his master must make sure that his family is supported as well. The Talmud in tractate Kidushin teaches us that one who purchased a Jewish slave, in essence, purchased a master. The way one must treat the slave is fascinating. He cannot sleep with two pillows and his slave with one, he cannot overwork him and many other details that are designed to teach us respect for each other.

The Torah portion continues discussing physical harm, which one may have caused to someone and the proper restitution. Further the Torah discusses the four different types of damages which one’s animal or property causes to his fellow man or to his property. Later we learn about the stringency of mistreating a widow or an orphan. We also learn about the importance of assisting one another with loans when needed. As Rashi states, when you are approached for a loan you should view it as if you were the one in need (imoch). The portion concludes with Details that transpired during kabolas haTorah.

The majority of this portion are issues that apply bein odom lichaveiro - between man and man. This is the first portion after kabolas haTorah, and it also ends with the details of mamad Har Sinai (events at Mt Sinai). To be a Torah Jew means to be stringent not only in mitzvohs between man and G-d but it begins with mitzvohs between man and man. Perhaps one more example of this concept is the mitzvah ozov tazov imo - one who see his enemy’s donkey lying under a heavy load, one must assist him. The Talmud states that if one has an enemy who needs assistance loading and a Friend who needs assistance unloading he should rather assist the enemy, in order to overcome his bad tendencies of revenge (see Bava Metzia 32). Although normally it would seem more important to unload to lighten the burden from the animal as well, yet, the Torah stresses how important it is for us to change and refine our character.

The portion begins with “the laws which you shall place before them” and rashi explains that the Torah should be placed before them like a fully prepared table from which one can immediately eat. A chosid once complained to the Chidushei Horim, that he was forgetting the Torah he learned. The Chidushei Harim replied, why is it that when it comes to eating, you don’t seem to have forgotten ? Did you ever put your spoon in the soup and then instead of putting it into your mouth, put it into your ear ? Why is it that the Torah doesn’t become ingrained in us at least as much as the mundane things we do ?

May we merit to learn Torah and be wholesome in both, bein odom laMokom and bein odom lchaveiro, thereby absorbing the Torah as part of us.

Gut Shabbos