At every moment of each day, we are making decisions about what is most important to us. What gets to the top of the list can be very telling about where our priorities lie. Last week, I was the focus of a story published in one of the weekly magazines by my famous cousin, Rabbi Nachman Seltzer. About a year ago, I was organizing a big Shabbaton for teens at a large mansion. It took a lot of work, and I had to raise some real dollars to make it happen. By Thursday night, close to Shabbos, I was still $1,500 short and I needed to make more calls to raise the balance. It was 10:40pm, I had just finished giving my late evening parsha shiur, and my wife called to ask me to get some missing items for Shabbos from the grocery store.
The timing was not the best! But I made the call – my wife takes priority. I got all she asked for and right at the checkout line, I met a person I had wanted to ask to contribute to the Shabbaton. He gave me a check for the whole balance on the spot!
As I told this story later on, someone else offered to help pay for the next Shabbaton. Amazing dividends resulted from my helping my wife with the shopping! And now, after this story was published in the magazine a week ago, I expected more of the same. It didn’t quite happen…yet. But I did get a call asking me about the mansion for a family vacation! And much more importantly, a lady called me saying that now, when she asks her husband for help, he jumps up and says, “I’ll take care of it! Rabbi Bodenheim taught me what to do!”
The ability to create harmony in a couple, Shalom Bayis, is a fantastic accomplishment – even better than obtaining sponsors for a Shabbaton! And similarly, building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was all about bringing the presence of Hashem into this world — to create a closeness and intimacy between Him and His people. While we unfortunately don’t have a Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash today, we nevertheless have the ability to bring down Hashem’s presence through Shalom Bayis.
The Gemara Sotah (17a) highlights the words for Man and Woman – Ish and Isha. There are two different letters in these similar words: “Yud” in ish and “Heh” in isha. These two letters together spell out Hashem’s name, and Rebbi Akiva concludes, “When there is peace and harmony between a man and his wife, then the presence of Hashem rests between them.”
That is such a powerful statement! Rebbi Akiva is teaching that a harmonious home is literally the resting place of Hashem. A peaceful house is a current-day Mishkan!
Further, the presence of Hashem is especially felt on Shabbos. Three major vessels in the Mishkan were the Menorah, the Shulchan and the Mizbeach. Our lighting Shabbos candles corresponds to the lit candles of the Menorah. The tasty challah we serve on Shabbos corresponds to the Shulchan with its 12 fresh loaves of challah. The delicious food we serve to our families and guests on Shabbos corresponds to the offering of korbonos (sacrifices) on the Mizbeach. In addition, The Nesivos Shalom says that we wear our nicest clothing on Shabbos to emulate the kohanim, who wore their special clothing in the Beis HaMikdash. And of course, the need for continuous Torah study corresponds to the Aron (ark) inside the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies), which contained the luchos (tablets).
Every Friday afternoon, the Satan knows Shabbos is coming and Hashem’s presence will be deeply felt when there is harmony between husband and wife. That’s why the Satan instills moments of tension on Fridays, hoping to create discord and friction. Our job is to anticipate this mischief by planning ahead, getting the cleaning done earlier, and having everything ready in plenty of time to ensure the sparks of tension can’t even light.
Indeed, my wife’s grandmother would have the table set for Shabbos by Thursday night, and by noon on Friday, the challah, chicken, soup etc. were all done! The house was clean and the smell of Shabbos delicacies wafted across the home Shabbos entered in sweet harmony.
It takes work. It takes planning. But the payoff of a harmonious home is truly priceless. It’s akin to having the Mishkan here with us. Wishing
“אם לא תעכב אותי, אני מבטיח לך עולם הבא”
שוטר התנועה שזכה להבטחה נדירה מהגאון רבי אברהם גניחובסקי זצ“ל
היה זה לפני כ-40 שנה. הגאון רבי אברהם גניחובסקי זצ”ל צועד חפוזות ברחובה של עיר כדי להגיע בזמן לשיעור בישיבת טשעבין, כשלפתע עוצר אותו שוטר חמור סבר בטענה כי לא המתין כנדרש ברמזור האדום להולכי רגל.
רבי אברהם התפלא, ואמר לשוטר כי טעות בידו ולא היו דברים מעולם. אולם כידוע, שוטר לעולם אינו טועה… הוא התעקש על גרסתו וביקש לעכב את רבי אברהם לצורך כתיבת דו”ח ומתן קנס.
פנה אליו הגר”א ואמר: “ראה, אין לי בעיה עם עצם הדבר, אם לטענתך עברתי ברמזור אדום, אשלם ככל אשר יושת עלי. הבעיה הגדולה שלי היא השיעור בישיבה שאליו אני ממהר. השיעור הזה שווה אצלי כל הון דעלמא. קח בבקשה את מספר הזהות שלי ואת כל הפרטים הנדרשים, ודבר עמי בקשר לקנס מאוחר יותר, כדי שלא אאחר לשיעור”.
ורבי אברהם הוסיף: “אני בטוח שאם תעשה כבקשתי, תקבל על כך עולם הבא!” ויש שאמרו, כי אמר זאת אף בלשון הבטחה – “אני מבטיח לך עולם הבא!”
ומה היה בסופו של דבר? הדברים שיצאו מן הלב נכנסו אל הלב, והשוטר הנכבד שכנראה ראה שאיש מורם מעם עומד לפניו, ויתר על כל הענין ושיחרר את רבי אברהם לדרכו לשלום…
(ע”פ מוסף שבת קודש שמיני תשע”ג מתוך קונטרס ‘אגן הסהר’)
In this week’s parsha, the pasuk once again talks about HaShem resting His presence amongst klal Yisrael. The pasuk says “…I shall rest among the children of Israel…they shall know that I am HaShem their G-d who took them out of the land of Mitzrayim…” The Ramban explains this pasuk to mean that as a result of knowing that HaShem rests among us, we can properly come to the Emunah that HaShem took us out of Mitzrayim.
On a basic level, this idea is very difficult to understand. HaShem was talking to klal Yisrael at this time. This was the every same klal Yisrael which saw the miracles in Egypt! Why did they need to “know that HaShem is among us”, in order to know that “HaShem took us out of Mitzrayim”? Rav Yitzchak Isaac Sher asks this same question in last week’s parsha. What was introduced with this knowledge which wasn’t already a part of klal Yisrael? They witnessed kriyas yam suf! The ten plagues! How could this knowledge that HaShem is within in our midst add anything to the emunah that He took us out of Mitzrayim?
There’s a very big yesod from the baalei Mussar which is very relevant. There are different levels of emunah. Rav Avigdor Miller would give a mashal of a small child. If you tell the child that the element of a stove is very hot and that he shouldn’t touch it, the child will believe you. However, even though he can know that the stove is hot, he’s never experienced the heat from the stove. On the other hand, if there’s a child who touched the stove top and got burnt, his level of knowledge that the stove is hot is on a much higher level of understanding than the first child.
The same is true with our emunah. A person can know intellectually that there exists a Ribbono shel Olam. That person’s emunah is within the realm of knowing. However, his emunah is limited, for he never experienced it. Feeling HaShem’s presence creates a much higher level of emunah than simply knowing it to be true.
The baalei mussar say that this is what the Ramban is alluding to. A person could intellectually know HaShem. He could have even seen open miracles proving what he knows! However, if a person wants to make emunah a part of him, to take with him the root of emunah which is yetzias mitzrayim, it’s not enough to just know it; one has to feel it. He needs that higher level of emunah called emunah chushis; not just an intellectual emunah, but an experiential one.
This yesod is a major yesod which I personally take much mussar from. The Torah isn’t just telling us to know HaShem, the Torah is telling us to live with HaShem. To feel His presence among us. How many times do we forget this? How many times do we act in a way which is against His will? Or furthermore, how many times do we justify our own agendas by misconstruing His will? If we felt Him in our midst, could we do such things? Would we be able to act in such a way?
The yesod is penetrating. If we want to become people who serve HaShem, who connect to yetzias Mitzrayim, HaShem has to become our reality. And the only way for us to make Him a reality is to feel His presence. To try as hard as we can to focus on Him and to put Him in front of us always. In this way, with this high level of emunah, we don’t just exist as people who know of HaShem, rather we experience HaShem.
“Aharon shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the choshen over his heart when he enters the Holy.” Shouldn’t it say on his chest, why on his heart?
The Seforno says it was over his heart to inspire Aharon to daven for the Jewish people – sheyispalel aleihem sheyizku b’mishpat – that they persevere and triumph in judgment. The Abarbanel goes even further. Aharon wore the breastplate with the names of the tribes on his heart – “sheyizkor Aharon tamid b’machshavto u’vitfilosav es Bnei Yisroel,” so that the would always be thinking of his brothers and sisters, the Jewish people constantly.” Wearing the Jewish people on his heart meant he was always mindful of them. They never grew old, or stale or irritating. He never got used to them or their plight or their fate.
The midrash tells us that when Aharon went into the Kodesh Ha’kadashim, the Holy of Holies, it was bizchus ha’avanim v’hasfatim, in the merit of the stones and the tribes.
Asks the Sfas Emes – but when Aharon went into the Holy of Holies, he wasn’t wearing his choshen with the stones representing the tribes? How could his entrance be in their merit? Answered the Sfas Emes that in fact he was wearing them. Aharon wore the Jewish people on his heart whether technically donning the choshen or not. He carried us with him on his heart wherever and whenever.
We too must carry the Jewish people, we must carry our family and their fate on our hearts. When we learn of the tragedy of the murder of a beautiful Jewish soul in Israel for no other reason that she is a Jew, we should put down our mug and shed a tear. When we read the anti-Semitic twitter rants of a sitting member of Congress, we must stop in our tracks and pledge to protest, to do something about it and hold her colleagues accountable.
To be a Jew is to have the rest of the Jewish people on our hearts and in our minds always, never looking away or saying its not our problem, but always feeling the pain and celebrating the joys.