Rav Brazil On the Parsha: Responsibility and Kiddush Hashem


rav-shmuel-brazil-1By Rav Shmuel Brazil

The parsha begins with Moshe assembling Klal Yisrael together and commanding them on the building the Mishkan. Why by this particular commandment was it necessary to emphasize the assemblage of the Jewish nation?

The Beis Halavi in derasha 10 writes that in essence the Jewish nation did not transgress the cardinal sin of worshipping idolatry when they made the golden calf. The reason being, because their hearts did not sincerely  believe in it. Evidence to this claim can be derived from the very words that they saidאלה אלקיך ישראל  these are YOUR gods Yisreal. The more corrected grammatical version should have been אלה אלהינו ישראל   these are OUR gods. The explanation to the text is that they were too afraid to actually do avodah zarah but rather they wanted to test the waters and directed other Jews besides themselves to “jump in first” and then see if there would be any Divine retribution for their misdeeds. So if there was not real idolatry worship, to what then do we attribute their transgression and failure?

The Beis Halavi explains that by enticing other Yidden to initiate service to the aigel, they overrode their commitment of responsibility from one Yid to another. For when they screamed out in unisonנעשה ונשמע  they took upon themselves   ערבות  spiritual responsibility one for another. This is manifested by their statement of  נעשה We will do and listen and notאעשה  I will do. By adding on the prefix of the letter nun, they accepted responsibility for another Yid’s ruchniyus. Hence, by inviting and encouraging them to test the waters of avodah zarha, they reneged on their promise and did not fulfill their commitment of ערבות.  towards their fellow man. 

The Miskan was the tikkun of the sin of the golden calf as Chazal say  יבוא זהב ויכפר על זהב let gold come and atone for the gold used in the forming of the עגל Being the case, the non fulfillment of their commitment of social responsibility was the cause and sin of Am Yisrael. Therefore on the day after Yom Kippur, subsequent to our receiving of the second tablets which was a sure sign of our atonement, we were commanded to build a Mishkan. It is specifically here that we find ויקהל משה את בני ישראל Moshe assembled them together in unity and achdus as a precondition to hearing the command of building the Mishkan. For it was necessary to bring about once again this achdus and ערבות   as part of the tikkun of the חטא העגל.

When donating the materials to the Mishkan, Hashem required that they should be donated with the purest intentions and void of any ulterior motives as the passuk commands ויקחו לי תרומה The word לי  requires that it should be donated לשמה . There is a deeper understanding for this requirement of lishma  besides the regular understanding that pure thoughts create a more wholesome receptacle for the dwelling of Hashem’s presence. The Zohar says that if one performs a mitzvah without the emotions of love and fear of Hashem, then his mitzvah lacks wings and they therefore cannot fly upwards. The Eretz Tzvi explains that upwards does not only mean to shamayim but also to the shamayim – he upper part of the human being which is his neshama. In other words, a mitzvah done lishma with the love and fear of Hashem connects to the neshama of a person and not his guf. The concept of ערבות that one Yid is responsible for the actions of another, evolves from the fact that in the world of neshama all Jews are connected at one point. Therefore the din is that even if I already fulfilled the mitzvah I can recite Kiddush for you because of our common neshama that we share. A mitzvah  which is fulfilled without pure intentions remains by the guf. From the aspect of the guf, Jews are not connected to each other because each guf has its own domain. Therefore, explains the Eretz Tzvi, only mitzvos performed lishma can bring about true unity amongst the Jewish people.

With this we can now understand the Rambam [Hilchos Yesodai Hatorah] that if a person performs a mitzvah lishma he sanctifies Hashem’s name. This halacha is perplexing for if one does a mitzvah even if it is lishma in the privacy of his own home, how does that bring about the sanctification of Hashem? The Eretz Tzvi answers that we can learn the solution to the question from its very opposite – chillul Hashem. Rashi explains that chillul Hashem is so severe because it causes others to be slack in Torah observance. We can deduce from this that Kiddush Hashem means that through our actions we cause others to be stricter in Torah fulfillment. As explained above, only mitzvos performed with lishma could accomplish this act. For the component of lishma in  a mitzvah means that the mitzvah is elevated to neshama where all Yidden are connected. So it is now understood why it does not make a difference whether the Yid is standing in your four amos or in a different part of the globe, your lishma  will affect his bechira for the better. There is your Kiddush Hashem!!

Did we ever make a chillul Hashem even accidentally? We have now learned an alternative fixing for this most severe avairah. For instead of jumping into the furnace, we can make the Kiddush Hashem by attaining the level to do a mitzvah purely from the love of Hashem.

We also learned here that one does not have to feel bad that he does not find himself standing on one of those college campuses or at the kosel asking someone who looks like a Yid Are you  Jewish, do you want to come for Shabbos? You can do kiruv from your own home and you can affect a lot people if you reach the madraiga of lishma. The letters of lishma spell lemoshe who was equal to 600,000 Yidden and he affected them all.

Now we can understand the deeper meaning why the donations to the Mishkan required the level of  lishma. For the Mishkan, as we stated above, was a tikkun for the aigel which was really the irresponsibility for not undertaking the spiritual preservation of another Yid. Therefore all the donations had to be given lishma  לי so they would thereby contact the neshama of every Jew connecting all of them with a unity of נעשה ונשמע with the prefixed nun.

A tzaddik once said that the word ויקהל is gematria מקוה. The explanation can be that toveling in a mikva means that one immerses himself totally until completely covered by water. Under the water man cannot exist. By bringing himself to this state he is nullifying his existence and thus allowing to become one by contacting his neshama not his guf and thereby connecting to klall yisrael. If you think for one second that by nullifying yourself to the klall you don’t allow yourself “to become yourself” this gematriah proves you wrong. For if you spell out the letters of the name אהיה   like this   אלף הה יוד הה    you have the gematriah of ויקהל. Through unity one becomes so much greater that he could have been if he was all alone.

So all you erev Shabbos mikveh goers. By being be’achdus and fulfilling ויקהל – it is like toveling in the mikvah. And guess what this way you can save yourself $3 and a towel as well!! Try them both you can’t go wrong!!

 {Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}


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