Parshas Vayakhel

The Secret to Good Chinuch

“Every man and woman whose generous heart inspired them to bring something for all the work that Hashem had commanded to be done through Moshe [did so]. The Children of Yisrael brought a free-will gift to Hashem.” (Shmos 35:29)

Rabbi Shmuel Eidels zt”l, known as the Maharsha, was a rav in Poland in the 1600’s. He established a yeshiva in the town of Ostrog. The enrollment in the yeshiva grew so that they needed a new building. One of the townspeople secretly told the manager of the building project that he wanted to donate a large sum of money to pay for the cornerstone of the new building.  He wanted the donation to remain a secret. The bidding began for the honor to pay for the cornerstone of the new yeshiva building. The anonymous bid won with the staggering sum of 500 rubles! No one, except the manager knew the identity of this donor. The Maharsha was so impressed with the size of the donation and the humble manner in which it was given, that he asked to meet with the secret donor. When they met, the donor said, “I am not a rich man. However, I have no children to take my place so I thought it would be proper to give most of my money to help build the new yeshiva.” The Maharsha was so impressed by this answer that he gave the man a bracha that his wife give birth to a son. One year later, the blessing was fulfilled, and the man’s wife gave birth to a son. (Talelei Oros by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin)

Bnei Yisroel responded generously to Moshe’s request to donate materials to build the Mishkan. There is a seeming redundancy in the pasuk. The first part of the pasuk stated that men and women brought offerings for the Mishkan. The end of the pasuk seems to repeat the same thought, “The Children of Yisrael brought a free-will gift to Hashem”.

The Chida explains that sometimes a person is inspired to pledge a donation but later has second thoughts. Perhaps he even regrets his pledge. Those tainted thoughts diminish the holiness of his gift. In this pasuk, the Torah is telling us that the inspiration for the myriad of pledges to donate for the Mishkan did not diminish at all. That is what the pasuk is saying. “The Children of Yisrael brought a free-will gift to Hashem,” with the same inspiration that they initially had felt.

Rav Pam zt”l offers a different explanation, based on the Kehillas Yitzchok and the Alshich. He says that the last phrase stresses that when the people responded with such great generosity to build the Mishkan, they were blessed with, “Children of Yisrael”, righteous offspring. (Rav Pam on the Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith)

The Ksav Sofer says that the last phrase of the pasuk is teaching an additional point. The “Children of Yisrael” does not refer to the offerings of the adults. Rather, it is referring to the offerings of the young children of every man and woman whose heart motivated them to donate. The children of these parents were also motivated to donate to the construction of the Mishkan.

Rav Pam zt”l says that this teaches us the secret to good chinuch, the way how to properly educate our children. It is not by telling them what to do, while we ourselves do the opposite. It is not by lecturing or forcing them to act appropriately. Rather, it is teaching by example. When we act properly, our children see it. They learn from our actions.

(Messages From Rav Pam by Rabbi Sholom Smith)