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Parshas Mishpatim 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 5:19 pm
February 15, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 16
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Dvar Torah

Foundation of Obligation 

By Rabbi Daniel Epstien




                    Rashi, in the name of Chazal, comments that three trumos, donations, were given by klal yisrael in the desert, one to supply the mishkan with animals for korbanos and two - one obligatory and one voluntary - for the building of the mishkan itself.   The obligatory donation, the machtzis hashekel,  was used for the construction of the adanim, the silver base of the mishkan.  The voluntary donation is the subject of this week's parsha , which specifies that it should be given by each person according to the desire of his heart.  What can we learn from this seemingly contradictory fundraising strategy and from the fact that the material for the adanim, which were the foundation of the mishkan, were funded only from the obligatory machtzis hashekel?


                      Rav Yerucham Olshin, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoha, cites a medrash that states that the donations to the mishkan served to atone for the donations that klal yisrael had given willingly to build the egel hazahav, the golden calf.  Accordingly, to gain insight into the trumos of the mishkan, we would do well to investigate the sin of the egel hazahav.  What in fact was the sin of the egel?  The Bais Halevi in parshas Ki Sisa cites a medrash that b'nei yisrael glimpsed the chariot of Hashem at Har Sinai and wanted to replicate it as best they could.  The result of their misguided effort was the egel hazahav.  In other words, klal yisrael's original intention in making the egel was not to worship avodah zara (idolatry), but to have in their midst a physical object in which the shechinah, (the Divine presence) would rest.


                 This presents us with a paradox.  The donations for the egel and the trumos for the mishkan were given with virtually identical intentions -to create a resting place for the shechina.  Why, then, were the results so catastrophic in the first case, while the second time they led to the realization of our ultimate purpose: to have the shechina among us?  The answer, says the Bais Halevi, lies in the one critical factor that was present in the building of the mishkan but lacking in the making of the egel:  Divine commandment.  To be sure, there is nothing more precious than the performance of a mitzvah out of the desire of one's heart to draw near to Hashem.  However, there is another kind of mitzvah which is equally precious, and that is one that is performed out of a sense of obligation.  Each approach by itself is incomplete.  An action performed solely out of obligation lacks individual creativity and emotional connection.  Conversely,  action that is fueled purely by love and spiritual desire, without being grounded in a sense of duty, becomes but another form of egoism.    The ideal avoda is comprised of both elements.  It is an individual expression of a person's longing for connection to Hashem which is grounded in an uncompromising sense of duty and responsibility.


                                                               In forming the egel hazahavklal yisrael  acted purely out of love, but avoda based only on love is not enough; it must also be rooted in chiyuv (obligation).  Only when a foundation of chiyuv is established, can a person begin to use his or her own creativity to develop it further into avoda of spiritual longing and love.   This, Rav Olshin explains, is the key to the dual nature of the trumashamishkanHashem desired that the mishkan be built with the materials that b'nei yisrael donated out of personal desire and love of Hashem.  However, this time would be different than the egel because the crucial factor of Divine command was present.  Klal yisrael gave of their possessions for the construction of the mishkan not just because they wanted to, but because they were commanded to do so, yet part of that offering was discretionary so that each person had the opportunity to invest creativity and individuality into the mitzvah.  The mishkan itself reflected this dichotomy.  Its foundation, the adanim, were made of the shekalim which each person was commanded to give in precisely the same amount.  Upon this foundation, the rest of the mishkan was built from donations freely given from the heart.

















Dvar Halacha


The Laws of Purim Part 3, Ma'atanos L'Evyonim


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

                Every person is required to give matanos l'evyonim to 2 separate aniyim, poor people (Shulchan Aruch 694:1).  Women are also obligated to give (Rama 695).  Many opinions hold that poor people are also obligated to give (Mishneh Berurah 694:1).  Two matanos are the minimal obligation (Mishneh Berurah 694:3). It is preferable to give more money to the poor than it is to spend on seudas Purim and mishloach manos, because there is no greater simcha than being me'samach (gladdening) the hearts of poor people, widows, and orphans, and whoever brings them simcha is comparable to the Omnipresence (Mishneh Berurah 694:3 quoting the Rambam).


One is supposed to give a davar chashuv (respectable amount) (Mishneh Berurah 694:2).  There is a dispute amongst the Poskim how much this amount is. Some Poskim hold the amount should be equivalent of the price to buy a respectable meal [for example, 2 slices of pizza and a drink] (Rabbi Herschel Welcher, shlit"a, Adar 5772).  According to Reb Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a $1 is considered a davar chashuv (Koveitz Halachos 16:2).  When Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l was asked how much one is required to give, he would advise to make sure one give a davar chashuv for both the giver and receiver (Halichos Shlomo Moadim 2:19:ftnt. 62).


One should give matonos l'evyonim on Purim day and not at night (Mishneh Berurah 695:22, Be'ur Halachah 694:1 s.v. l'shnei aniyim).  One may write a check for ma'tanos l'evyonim even if it cannot be cashed that day [for example, if Purim falls out on Sunday] (Koveitz Halachos 16:3 & ftnt. 3 quoting Reb Moshe Feinstein zt"l).  One should not use maaser money for ma'tanos l'evyonim (Mishneh Berurah 694:3).  However, any additional amount of money more than the minimum obligation may come from maaser money (Mishneh Berurah 694:3).


The Shulchan Aruch [694:3] rules "anyone who sticks out his hand [for money] you should give him."  In other words, on Purim anyone who asks you for money should be given [and you do not need to check if he is really poor or not].   This halachah only applies to someone who is collecting for himself; if he is collecting for an organization one does not need to give them (Koveitz Halachos 16:1).


Every person is obligated to send 2 food [or drink] items to 1 person, as stated in Megillas Esther [9:19] "U'mishalaich Manos Ish Leray'ahu" (Shulchan Aruch 695:4).  Both items should be given together at the same time (Koveitz Halachos 17:18 & ftnt. 19 quoting Reb Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l).  Whoever does more than this, it is praiseworthy (Shulchan Aruch 695:4).  When one gives his friend mishloach manos, this causes friendship. (Shu"T Binyan Tzion 44).  The 2 foods should be 2 separatetypes of food, but they do not have to be 2 separate brachos (Koveitz Halachos 17:2).  It is preferable to send a food item that is useable as is [and will not need to be cooked] (Mishneh Berurah 695:20).  Additionally, they should be something that is acceptable to give to a guest that visits [for example, a piece of cake, as opposed to just one candy] (Koveitz Halachos 17:6-12).  One has only fulfilled his obligation, if the recipient receives his mishloach manos on Purim day (Rama 695:4).  Therefore, if one sends mishloach manos before Purim, however the recipient did not receive it until Purim, one has fulfilled his obligation.


There is an opinion that one can only be fulfill his mitzvah of mishloach manos if it is delivered via a shliach (messenger) (Mishneh Berurah 695:18 quoting Shu"T Binyan Tzion 44).  The reason is because the Posuk [Esther 9:19] says "U'mishloach" implies that it needs to be sent.  Therefore, many people are careful to give at least 1 mishloach manos via a messenger to try to fulfill one's obligation according to all opinions.


One should not send mishloach manos to an avel (someone who is in the 12 month mourning period) (Rama 696:6).  If someone makes a stipulation that the mishloach manos is for the entire family [and not specifically for the avel] it is permissible to send it (Koveitz Halachos 17:41).  If one wrongfully sends mishloach manos to an avel [exclusively], the avel may accept it (Koveitz Halachos 17:40).  An avel may send mishloach manos to as many people as he normally would have (Koveitz Halachos 17:43).



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