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Parshas Vayakel Pikudei 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 5:42 pm
March 7, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 19
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Dvar Torah

Tabernacle of Testimony

By Rabbi Daniel Epstien


                 "Eleh pekudei hamishkan, mishkan ha'edus"  ("These are the reckonings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony.")   Rashi, in the name of the medrash, explains that since the Mishkan was graced with the presence of the Shechina, it bore witness that Hashem had forgiven Bnei Yisrael for the sin of the egel hazahav (Golden Calf).  The mefarshim (commentators) ask: Wasn't the fact that Hashem gave us a second pair of luchos sufficient evidence of forgiveness?  What, then, was purpose of the testimony of the Mishkan?


Chazal teach that there was an essential difference between the first luchos and the second.  While the stones of the first luchos were supplied by Hashem, the stones of the second were supplied by Moshe, as per Hashem's command.   Rav Dessler explains in the name of the Radvaz that the stones of the luchos represented the collective heart of Klal Yisrael, and the difference between the stones of the first luchos and of the second reflected the different spiritual states of this heart when receiving the two pairs of luchos.  At Matan Torah, when the first luchos were given, Bnei Yisrael were so completely devoted to the Torah that our hearts were purified of any wayward tendencies, and the Yetzer Hara lost all power over us.  Yisrael's heart at this level was symbolized by the stones supplied by Hashem Himself -heavenly and perfect.  Forty days later, though, as a result of the sin of the egel hazahav,  that lofty spiritual state was diminished.  Although Hashem gave the second pair of luchos, signifying that the sin was forgiven, the Jewish people no longer had the pure heart symbolized by the heavenly stones of the first luchos.  Instead, our hearts were much the same as they are now -flawed, and prone at times to choose falsehood over truth.  The heart in this imperfect state was represented by stones that were supplied by a mere mortal.


With the state of our hearts, our mission as a people changed, as well.  Instead of experiencing permanent closeness to Hashem, we must now struggle with our baser inclinations in the constant attempt to subjugate our hearts to Hashem's will.  After the chet ha'egel, a single question burned in the minds of Klal Yisrael: Are we forever incapable of regaining our former spiritual glory?  Is the lofty state we once achieved now just a distant memory, or do we still have the power of realizing it again?  Receiving the second luchos gave Bnei Yisrael reassurance that had been given reprieve, but it did not allay their anxiety about their capacity to realize their highest potential.  This is why the testimony of the Mishkan was necessary.


In his commentary on Parshas Teruma, the Ramban writes as follows: "The secret of the Mishkan is that the glory that had resided on Har Sinai would rest upon it in a hidden fashion...and the glory that had appeared to them on Har Sinai was constantly with Yisrael in the Mishkan."  In other words, the revelation on Har Sinai would now be relived, on a permanent basis, within the Mishkan.

It is in this sense that the Mishkan bore witness not only that the sin of the egel was forgiven, but that its corrosive effects on the spirit of the Jewish people could be reversed. True, the spiritual level of the Jewish people was rendered fundamentally lower by the sin of the egel than it was at Matan Torah, and that makes the goal of hiskarvus to Hashem more difficult.  However, the sublime state we once achieved at Har Sinai is not just another event in our national history.  We may still look to that lofty state as an inspiration and a lifelong goal, because in every generation we have the ability to regain it. It is still possible, through a lifetime of self-perfection, to elevate ourselves to the lofty heights and state of spiritual purity we once experienced.



Dvar Halacha


The Laws of Krias Hatorah  part 2


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


Bnei ashkenaz have the minhag to say B'rich Shemay.  Bnei sefard recite B'rich Shemay only on Shabbos and Yom Tov (Tefillah K'hilchasa 16:11 & ftnt. 29).  Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt"l holds that it is preferable to first remove the Sefer Torah from the Aron Kodesh and then recite the prayer of B'rich ShemayReb Moshe, zt"l adds that one need not protest if someone does not do it this way (Igros Moshe OC 4:70:9). One may recite B'rich Shemay until the Sefer Torah is opened (Mishneh Berurah 134:13).


The Aruch Hashulchan [OC 282:1] writes that a separate person should be honored to take out the Sefer Torah from the Aron Kodesh, because this displays more honor for the Torah.  While the Torah is being removed from the Aron Kodesh, the congregation is required to stand until the Sefer Torah is placed on the bimah, because of kavod Sefer Torah (Shulchan Aruch YD 282:2, Mishneh Berurah 146:17 & Aruch Hashulchan OC 282:1).


Some people have the custom to walk behind the Sefer Torah until it is placed on the bimah (Aruch Hashulchan OC 282:3).  Many people have the custom to kiss the Sefer Torah as it passes by them (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 38:2).  Many have a custom to bring their children to kiss the Torah in order to educate them in performing mitzvos) (Rama 149).  One should carry the Torah in his right hand.  This applies to both right-handed and left-handed people (Mishneh Berurah 282:1).


While the Torah is opened to be read from [even if it is not currently being read from], one must be quiet and not speak, even words of divrei Torah (Shulchan Aruch 146:1 & Mishneh Berurah 146:4).  The Aruch Hashulchan [146:3] holds that one only needs to be quiet while the Torah is actually being read.


The Mishneh Berurah [146:15] writes that it is befitting for the tzibbur to read along quietly together with the baal koreh.  However, other gedolim just listened quietly (see Sefer Ishei Yisroel38:ftnt. 45* quoting Orchos Rabbeinu 3:pg. 231:21 this was the practice of the Chazon Ish)].


While the Sefer Torah is open to be read from, it is prohibited to walk out of the shul (Shulchan Aruch 146:1).  One may walk out in between aliyos (Shulchan Aruch 146:1), if it is a tzorech gadol (a pressing need) (Mishneh Berurah 146:3).  Furthermore, one should not walk out on a consistent basis [between aliyos], because it looks like he is being po'raik ohl Torah (throwing off the yoke of Torah) (Be'ur Halachah 146:1 s.v. aval).  There is a machlokes whether one may walk out after the Birchas Hatorah was recited but before the baal koreh starts reading (Be'ur Halachah 146:1 s.v. sha'pir damee).


There is a machlokes whether one needs to stand during krias hatorahL'halachah, one does not need to stand during the actual krias hatorah, Birchas Hatorah, and in between aliyos (Shulchan Aruch 146:1 & Mishneh Berurah 146:19),  However, one must stand while the oleh says barchu and Baruch Hashem Hami'voruch L'olam Va'ed, because these are devarim she'bekidusha (Mishneh Berurah 146:19).  This applies only to Barchu and Baruch Hashem Ha'mivoruch etc., but not by the actual Birchas Hatorah. (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 38:ftnt. 54 quoting Reb Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a)



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