Category Archives: Parshas Pekudei

Parshas Pekudei: Be Happy!!

Parshas Pekudei

Be Happy!!

“Clothe Aharon with the sacred garments. Anoint him and sanctify him so that he may serve as a kohain to Me.” (Shmos 40:13)

A chasid was sent to a prison in Siberia for the “crime” of teaching Torah. On his first Shabbos afternoon in the prison, he went outside and was surprised to hear someone singing Shabbos songs. He followed the sound until he came to a Jew with long hair. The Jew’s eyes were closed, and he was singing with passion. He was not aware that another Jew had come. When he opened his eyes, he said that he had been in Siberia for 20 years and hadn’t seen the face of a religious Jew until now. Anxiously, he asked the newcomer if he had any religious articles with him, as he had none. The newcomer responded that he only had a tefillin shel yad. Everything else had been confiscated. He said that he would bring the tefillin the next day. The next morning, the old timer excitedly put on tefillin for the first time in 20 years! He performed the mitzvah with immense joy! (Torah Wellsprings, Parshas Vayakhel, by Rabbi Elimelech Biderman)

In contrast, during the first half of the 20th century, many Jews were heard saying, in Yiddish, “It is difficult to be a Jew”. Those Jews had to endure poverty and deprivation to be able to keep the mitzvos of Shabbos, Kashrus, and Family Purity. Yet, often, their children abandoned Torah Judaism.  Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l said that hearing this refrain frequently from their parents caused untold numbers of Jews to forsake their religion. (Derash Moshe Bereishis 31:14)

When serving in the Mishkan and later in the Beis HaMikdash, the Kohain Gadol wore 8 special garments. The ordinary kohanim wore 4 special garments. The Kohanim were forbidden to enter the Mishkan in the manner of mourners. “Do not let your hair grow long and do not tear your garments” (Vayikra 10:6). The Sefer HaChinuch (149) explains that the Kohanim were forbidden to enter the Mishkan with torn clothing or not having had a haircut for 30 days. The root of this mitzvah offers an insight which is relevant to all Jews. Just like the Kohanim, all Jews are required to treat the Beis HaMikdash with respect and honor. One should enter the House of Hashem in a state of happiness, joy, and delight and not in a state of mourning or grief. Each Jew coming to the Beis HaMikdash should feel joyous at his good fortune to be in the place where Hashem’s Holy Presence dwells. He should not enter in a sad state or with outward manifestations of grief.

This joyous feeling was not limited to the Beis HaMikdash. The entire city of Yerushalayim had a special status of joy. The Midrash Rabbah (Pekudei 52:5) says that there was a bookkeeping room outside the city of Yerushalayim. Anyone who had to make financial calculations would leave the city and go to this special room. The Maharzu and Matnos Kehuna explain that sometimes a person would make financial calculations and realize that he lost money. That would make him feel sad. It would be inappropriate to feel this sadness in a city of joy. Thus, the room was situated outside Yerushalayim.

Rav Pam zt”l says that when a person exudes joy when doing mitzvos, he has a profound influence on his children. There was a person who was a devoted rav of a shul as well as the head of a yeshiva. Unfortunately, all his children strayed from the path of Torah. Apparently, his attitude played a major role in this tragedy. At home, he constantly complained about the difficulties that he had in the rabbinate and in the yeshiva.

During COVID, most of us were unable to daven with a minyan. We couldn’t answer amen, say borchu or kedusha. When we returned to shul, did we exhibit the same joy of a mitzvah as the man in Siberia did when he put tefillin on for the first time in 20 years? Do we still feel that joy?


It is a special privilege to be a Jew. We have the joy of doing mitzvos,

and the rewards inherent in following the ways of the Torah.

It is important for us to demonstrate our joy to others.

How beautiful our heritage is! How lucky we are!


(dvar Torah based on Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith)


Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei: Feel Their Love!

Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei

Feel Their Love!


“You shall not light a fire throughout your habitations on Shabbos” (Shmos 35:3).

I remember reading the following story. It is not a true story, but it does impart a lesson: A husband and wife lived in poverty. Finally, the wife told the husband to get a bracha from a particular rebbe. The husband told the rebbe about his sad state-of-affairs. The rebbe felt bad and gave the husband a bracha. He said that the first thing that the husband did when he arrived home would be especially blessed. The husband excitedly started dreaming about all the business possibilities that could bring him riches. As soon as he arrived home, he and his wife got into an argument. That was the husband’s first act when arriving home and that act became “blessed”. He and his wife argued for the rest of their lives.

The pasuk in this week’s parsha (Shmos 35:3) says, “You shall not light a fire throughout your habitations on Shabbos”. Most commentators explain this literally, that you may not light a fire on Shabbos. The Shaloh HaKaddosh in his sefer, Shnay Luchos HaBris (as quoted by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in Love Your Neighbor), says that the word “fire” in the pasuk also alludes to the destructive fire of anger and disputes. Especially on Shabbos, one should be exceedingly careful not to grow angry or become involved in disputes.

Some commentaries say that erev Shabbos, Friday afternoon, is a time when people may get angry more easily, in their rush to prepare for Shabbos. The Talmud (Shabbos 30B-31A) tells a story. Two men made a bet that whoever could make the sage, Hillel, angry would get four hundred zuz. One of the men went to Hillel’s house on erev Shabbos and asked him a nonsensical question. Hillel answered calmly and returned to his erev Shabbos preparations. For a second time, the fellow knocked on Hillel’s door, again disturbing Hillel, with another nonsensical question. This went on once more. Hillel maintained his composure and did not get angry!

Perhaps the following dvar Torah by HaRav Alter Henach Leibowitz zt”l, will help us, in some way, to avoid getting angry at others, especially at our loved ones.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Shmos 12 and 13) says that when all the work of the Mishkan was complete, the only thing remaining to be done was for the Mishkan to be erected. Then Hashem’s Holy Presence would dwell within it. However, no one was able to erect it. Neither the wise men nor Ohaliav or Betzalel, who were in charge of its construction, could do so. Therefore, the Jewish people felt much anguish. The people voiced their frustration to Moshe. They showed Moshe each part of the Mishkan. Moshe agreed that it was all done properly, according to the proper specifications. Therefore, they asked Moshe, “Then why can’t the Mishkan be raised?” Moshe felt their pain. He felt terrible anguish that they could not erect the Mishkan. Why did Hashem cause this failure? Moshe Rabbeinu had felt personal pain that he had not been asked by Hashem to participate in the actual building of this holy structure. In actuality, Hashem had saved the raising of the Mishkan for Moshe to do.

The Rosh HaYeshiva zt”l asked, how could it be that Moshe, with all his wisdom, did not realize that raising the Mishkan would be his share in it? Moshe had felt pain that he had not been actively involved. One would think that Moshe would have felt joy knowing that obviously Hashem was saving this for him. Yet, the Midrash seems to indicate that Moshe only felt anguish but no joy, by the fact that the Mishkan could not be raised. Why was that? The Rosh HaYeshiva zt”l explained that Moshe was overwhelmed by the pain and anguish that the Jewish People felt due to their inability to raise the Mishkan. That pain, for others, so overwhelmed him, that his own personal pain, his desire to participate, was totally dwarfed. How could he feel joy when the Jewish people felt anguish?

Perhaps the reason that Moshe felt the pain of his people to the exclusion of his own personal pain was because of his tremendous love for his people. He loved the Jewish people so much that his personal pain was negligible compared to their pain.

We should make a conscious effort to increase our love for our fellow Jews.

When our hearts are filled with love of them, our own ego and self-love will be reduced.

That will help us to refrain from getting angry at others, even when they seem to deserve it.