As the long process of the construction of the mishkan was completed (it took a full month to read about), Moshe concluded the work and issued a brief beracha (Shemos 40:43). Rashi quotes the text of this blessing from the Medrash: "yehi ratzon she'tishreh schechinah b'ma'aseh yedeichem," may it be His will that His Divine Presence rest upon the work of your hands. Although berachos are always appreciated, the timing and wording of this beracha seem to have specific meaning and purpose.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
After first being introduced at Marah in Parshas Beshalach and then elaborated upon at Har Sinai in Parshas Yisro, the Torah speaks often about Shabbos in the final five parshios of Shemos, presumably because of the unique relationship between Shabbos (sanctity of time) and mikdash/mishkan (sanctity of space). Ki Sisa is no exception, and included in the lengthy and dramatic parsha is another paragraph about Shabbos, including the well-known "vi'shamru" recited by many as the introduction to the Shabbos daytime kiddush. The paragraph begins with Hashem's warning "Ach es Shabsosai tishmoru ki os hi...", "but" preserve my Shabbasos (plural) for she (singular) serves as a sign (of our relationship with Hashem). Aside from the sudden transition from the plural tone into the singular one, many have been perplexed by the original reference to Shabbos in the plural, wondering how many Shabbasos there are to keep.
There is very little to add to the ongoing tefillin controversy about whether females should be permitted to don tefillin. From a halachic angle, the Rama is the source for all contemporary Ashkenazic practice barring significant dissent among contemporary poskim, and he advocates protesting women's wearing of tefillin. Ancient stories, whether true or apocryphal, are halachically irrelevant; we have a tradition for the evolution of halacha that rarely includes historical evidence. The attempt to accuse the protesters of women's tefillin as judgmental was clever; invoking the j-word nearly guarantees success among the media masses. However, more recent opposition has been sure to clarify that no accusations are being made against the girls; rather, their institutions are being taken to task. In fact, the reason this story has become such a big deal, when many are wondering if this is the biggest sin being committed in our time, is precisely because the communities where this has taken place have already established an agenda of promoting feminism by pushing the halachic envelope.
As an aside, Rav Herschel Schachter did a wonderful job of dispelling an increasingly popular belief: Although in all secular matters, there seems to be an implicit sense of "kol d'alim gevar" and "kol ha'kodem zacha," the earliest and loudest people to the scene win the debate, the halachic process is different. Halacha relies on the validity of the arguments and the credentials of the one making them, unpopular as it may be in today's social media driven world.
In any event, with little to add, I have only two thoughts:
Friday, February 14, 2014
As a reminder, this year's leap year raises some interesting halachic questions, including the celebration of today's Purim Katan. Here are some previous posts which address some of the issues:
1) Joy in Adar
2) Which Adar Gets the Joy
3) Purim Katan
1) Joy in Adar
2) Which Adar Gets the Joy
3) Purim Katan
Friday, February 7, 2014
Hashem offers two adjectives to describe the role of Aharon HaKohen's eight unique garments. They are to be made "l'chavod u'l'tifares," for splendor and glory (Artscroll translation reversed). Some commentaries, such as the Ramban and Ibn Ezra, do not explicitly differentiate between the two words, explaining that the garments served the purpose of providing honor to their wearer.
Friday, January 31, 2014
The most impressive of our prophets, and the greatest Jew who ever lived, Moshe, when building the Mishkan, was still perplexed about how to build the menorah. Despite crafting vessel after vessel, when reaching the menorah, the pasuk says "tei'aseh," it will be made, as opposed to the more common "ta'aseh," you should make. Rashi explains that this subtle substitution reflects Moshe's confusion, and therefore Hashem told him to throw the block of gold into the fire and it will emerge fully formed.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
In one of the greatest revelation of G-d's glory in all of history, the Jewish people marched out of Egypt through the split Red Sea and then watched the Egyptians as they proceeded to drown in the very waters which stood upright moments before. The moment was so profound, it led directly to the singing of the poetic Az Yashir composed shortly after the episode. Among the many praises the Jews sing to Hashem, they declare "zeh Keli ve'anvehu," this is My G-d and "anvehu," (which we will attempt to translate shortly). The Medrash Rabbah (Shemos Rabbah 23:15), aware of the trend in which "zeh" connotes an ability to physically point, says that B'nei Yisrael pointed to Hashem when they uttered these words. Perhaps based on this apparent appreciation of G-d's Presence, another Medrash says that a maidservant at Yam Suf saw more than Yechezkel ben Buzi (who saw the ma'aseh merkava) ever did. Rabi Meir derives from a pasuk in Tehillim (68:27) that even unborn fetuses saw the Divine Presence through the uterus and were able to join the singing (Kesubos 7b and Sotah 31a).