Parshas Teruma 5776
Candle Lighting Time: 5:14 pm
February 12, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 16
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Dvar Torah


This Torah's For You

  By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

It this week's parshah, as we learn about the various artifacts that resided in the Mishkan, we find a subtle difference as to how Moshe Rabbeinu was instructed to construct each article.  With the exception of the Aron Hakodesh (Ark), all the commands are expressed in the singular form, "You [Moshe] shall make etc." However, when it comes to the construction of the Aron we findHashem using a plural commandment: "They shall make." (Shemos 25:10) Why the discrepancy?
Ramban suggests that this is due to the fact that the Aron was unique and required the entire Jewish nation's involvement in constructing it.  Why?  Since the Omnipresent dwelled in the Aron [Tehillim 46:5], it was the most sacred item in the entire Mishkan.  Additionally, Chazal [Gemara Yoma 72b] teach that the golden boarder around the Aron symbolizes the crown of Torah.  Therefore, specifically here, Hashem wanted the involvement of the entire Jewish people so that each and every person merit having a connection and attachment to the Torah.
Ramban asks: we know that in the end of the day only Betzalel built the Aron [see Shemos 37:1].  If so, how can the Torah say that everyone was involved?  The Ramban suggests that each person was involved in some way. Some donated a gold article for use in making the Aron [in addition to his general donation for the Mishkan], others rendered some small assistance to Betzalel,and still others participated mentally and directed his thoughts towards the matter.
We see from here a very important idea.  Each and every Jewish person must have an association to Torah.  Even in today's day and age there are many different ways to be involved with Torah.  Obviously, each person to the best of their ability must be involved in Torah study as much as possible.  If one is able to contribute to further Torah study, whether financially or mentally, it is appropriate to direct his time and money towards such causes.
Perhaps this is also the reason why specifically with regards to Torah study there is a concept of a "Yissochar-Zevulan" relationship, for precisely here everyone needs to be involved.  In the World to Come, a supporter of Torah (Zevualan) will know the same amount of Torah as the one who learned his whole life (Yissachor) (see Rashi Devarim 33:18).  Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt"l, asks, how could this be understood, for we are taught a person only acquires Torah through toiling and working hard (Gemara Brachos 63b).  If so, how could Zevulan, who did not spend years working hard learning, merit knowing just as much as one who dedicated years of his life to Torah wisdom?  Rav Yaakov answers, that in reality the Zevulan also "shvitzt" (sweated) for Torah, for he toiled as well in order to have the finances to support the Torah scholar (Emes L'Yaakov pg. 542).
Similarly, we find in the Gemara (Kesubos 111b) only one who has learned Torah can merit being brought back to life at the time of the resurrection of the dead.  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim writes that in Olam Haba a person will only be able to discuss the Torah topics that he learned during his lifetime.  If one had the ability to learn and did not utilize that opportunity, his soul will be very embarrassed, for all eternity he will never able to talk about the subjects he never learned.  Since there are many people who are burdened with supporting a family, and do not have ample time to devote to Torah study, Hashem set up a system that one can partner with one who does study Torah.  This ensures that in the next world even though he himself did not actually learn, he will have amassed the Torah knowledge needed to be able to learn, saving his soul from unending embarrassment.  We see our connection to Torah literally determines our future for eternity! 
This is the reason the Shulchan Aruch (YD 246:1) rules, every person is obligated to learn Torah; it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor, young or old.  The ShulchanAruch continues, even if you are unable to learn yourself, you must support someone else's learning.  As we learn about the Aron, may we eternalize this idea and further our Torah connection to an even higher degree.  Let us remember, you really matter, for it is essential for every Jew to be involved!

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Tzeddaka   
Part 5
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
The Torah [Bamidbar 30:3] commands: "If a man makes a vow to Hashem or swears an oath to establish a prohibition upon himself, he shall not desecrate his word; according to what he said he should do."  We learn from here that if a person accepts a neder (vow) upon himself, and does not keep it, he has violated both a positive and negative Biblical commandment (Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos Mitzvas Asei 94 & Lo Tzatzai 157).
As a general rule, if a person makes a neder and later regrets committing to such an undertaking, or finds it too difficult, he may perform hataras nedarim (annulment of the vows) (Shulchan Aruch YD 228).  However, when it comes to vows regarding tzedakah, one should only annul in a pressing circumstance (Shulchan Aruch YD 203:3), since the Posuk [Tehillim 116:18] states "I will pay my vows to Hashem" (Rambam Hil' Nedarim 13:25 & Bais Yosef YD 203).  Practically, if one says he plans to donate a certain amount to charity, this constitutes a vow, which would obligate him to give that amount to tzedakah immediately (Shulchan Aruch YD 257:3).  Therefore, it is good advice to accustom oneself to say "bli neder" (I am pledging this amount without making a vow).  Even if he says bli neder, he should nevertheless try to fulfill his word, to ensure his words are truthful (Shaarei Teshuva l'Rabbeinu Yonah 3:183).  As an aside, according to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l, one can annul his future vows of tzedakah when he recites hataras nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Shu"T Minchas Shlomo 1:91:20).
There are exceptions where one who pledged and did not pay right away has not violated this mitzvah of "not delaying."  Some scenarios include if one specifically stipulates that he does not plan on distributing his pledge all at one time or to one person, or one pledged in a public forum [where it is not expected that one pay all at once] (Shulchan Aruch & Rema YD 257:3).  Additionally, a person can stipulate at the time of the pledge that this money does not have the status of tzedakah until it reaches the poor persons' hand (Derech Emunah 1: 8:ftnt. 8 this was the advice of the Chazon Ish, zt"l).  In cases where he pledged to give some charity, yet there are no poor people around, he is obligated to set it aside (Shulchan Aruch YD 257:3).
There is a machlokes haposkim if one merely thought about giving tzedakah, whether this is considered a vow or not (Rema YD 258:13).  All seem to agree that the discussion only begins if one has firmly determined in his mind to give.  The Rema holds he is obligated, however, the Pischei Teshuva [YD 258:15] brings others who maintain that this does not constitute a neder.  Generally, one should try to be stringent (Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser pg. 95 based on Shach YD 258:5).  However, in a case where one has a "fleeting thought" for a moment to give to tzedakah, this would not constitute a neder (Emes L'Yaakov YD ftnt. 149 & Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser pg. 94).

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