Friday, March 24, 2017

Gem from Vayakhel

I am sorry there is no Mussar Drosha this week, but, B’Ezras Hashem Yisbarech; I would like to share with you a beautiful insight on Parshas Vayakhel and Pekudei (in the next post): 

So the Torah tells usויקהל משׁה את כּל עדת בּני ישׂראל....וגוֹAnd Rashi HaKadosh comments and explains that Moshe Rabbeinu assembled us the day after Yom Kippur. 

Writes the Chiyucha Shel Torah: "On Yom HaKippurim, everyone is gathered [together] in the Beis HaKnesses, and they treat each other with brotherhood and friendship.  However, all this only lasts for one day.  Therefore, Moshe Rabbeinu saw to gather the people the day after Yom HaKippurim.  He sought from them that the unity would continue to be, also after Yom HaKippurim." (From Chiyucha Shel Torah). 

 A Gut Shabbos to all!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Teachings, Sayings and Stories: 24th of Adar

‘Shimon HaTzaddik was among the remainders of the Knesses HaGedolah:  He used to say: “Upon three things the world stands:  Upon Torah, upon, Avodah, and upon Gemilus Chasadim.”’ (Pirkei Avos 1:2)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Parshas Ki Sisa 5777

Parshas Ki Sisa 5777:

Hey again everyone!  Hope you're having a good day, Hashem willing.  With the Help of Hashem, I would like to share with you some beautiful “nuggets” on the parsha:

1) So Hashem says about the Half-Shekel, ‘This they shall give’. The Midrash Tanchuma (quoted by Rashi HaKadosh) explains: ‘He (Hashem) showed him a sort of coin of fire, weighing half a shekel. He said to him: “Like this they shall give”.’ Teaches us the Noam Elimelech (Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk zt”l); Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu that money is like fire: It can be used for so much good -- but it can also be very destructive, Chas V’Shalom.  (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash).

2) On the same Midrash, the Kotzker Rebbe (Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk zt”l) explains that it teaches us that if one gives money as atonement, it should be given with fire and enthusiasm. (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash). 

Similarly, the Chiddushei HaRim (the first Gerrer Rebbe -- Rebbe Yitzchok Meir Alter zt”l) comments that we need to give charity with fire and enthusiasm.  (Told over by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita on

3) So, Hashem says that each man should give an atonement for his Soul: Rebbe Moshe Bogomilsky shlita notes that the word ‘ונתנוּ’ is spelled the same both backwards and forwards. This teaches us, he explains, that a person should not worry when they give -- for they will surely get paid back. (From VeDibarta Bam). 

4) Why was it specifically a half-shekel -- not a full one? Says the Alshich HaKadosh (HaRav Moshe Alsheich zt”l) in the name of HaRav Shlomo Alkabetz zt”l -- and many others say this as well; it is to teach us that no Jew is whole by themselves. We can only become whole through joining with our fellow-Jews.

5) Now we have an insight into Shabbos -- a very famous one: So, as we know, the Shabbos is called a sign.

And the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l) gives a mashal/parable: When a person opens up a store, the first thing they do is put up a sign (maybe some people...). The sign informs everyone that the store is open, indicating that the storekeeper is well. Even if the store is sometimes closed, as long as the sign is up, it lets people know that the storekeeper is still alive and in business.

Explains Reb Yisroel Meir zt”l; Shabbos is our Sign. As long as Shabbos is observed, it is clear that we are alive, and thriving -- serving Hashem. Even if sometimes we, Chas V’Shalom, might sin some, our Sign is still there showing that we are still alive. However, if Chas V’Shalom, our Sign is no longer up -- not observed -- we are “out of business”, Rachmana Litzlan.......

May HaKadosh Baruch Hu send every single person a
wonderful Shabbos full of sanctity!

Mussar Drosha: Ki Sisa

Mussar Drosha: Ki Sisa:

The Mohorosh of Heichal HaKodesh Breslov (Rebbe Eliezer Shlomo Schick zt”l) writes (Positive Pointers; page 3): “The alarm clock sounds.  You throw off the covers, forcing yourself out of bed once again to face the stresses and strains of yet another day.  You dress yourself reluctantly and then halfheartedly head towards the door for another stressful day of work -- all while thinking of the unpaid bills and how unfulfilled you feel in so many aspects of your life.  Stop right there!  Have you noticed the rays of dawn’s light piercing through the edges of a dark, long winter’s night?  Don’t you hear the children’s laughter reverberating through the air as they chase each other at the bus stop corner?  Aren’t you dazzled by the marvelous sight of the myriads of buds lining the branches of barren trees that have spontaneously begun to sprout -- silently proclaiming the long-awaited arrival of spring?  Before you dash into your car and jump into your daily routine, take a moment and just soak up the majesty of the scenery unfolding before your eyes.”

Rushing:  It takes the wonderful moments away.  It sucks the beauty out of things that would be extremely inspiring and even life-changing if thought about and concentrated on.  

But unfortunately, we tend to rush through life.  Whether it be because of having to take care of a bunch of stressful things at work or just in our lives overall -- it goes by very fast.  Every week -- and certainly every day.  And we find ourselves wondering where all the time went and feeling bad about it.  This is probably one of the biggest ailments of today’s fast-moving world.

The Mohorosh zt”l is giving us an incredible piece of advice:  We need to slow down our lives -- take the time to see the little things.  If you just stop and look around, as Reb Schick zt”l was teaching us above, you will realize the beauty and Miraculousness of everything.  

This is a huge concept in Judaism and the Torah even teaches us it -- in many places:  For example, we have the Commandment of Tzitzis, and we are supposed to see the strings and it will remind us not to, Chas V’Shalom stray.  If we don’t slow things down and think about stuff, how are we going to possibly even think to look at them -- or if we do see them, think of the significance?!  Also fearing Hashem:  We are supposed to have the constant awareness that He is Above us, watching us.  But if, Chas V’Shalom, we are just running through life and don’t take the time to think, how will we fulfill that?  And there are other examples.  

In this parsha, we are told about the Kiyor:  The Kiyor was the vessel from which the Kohanim would wash their hands and feet before starting the Service.  Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi zt”l, among others, rules (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 4:1): “Every person who arises from bed in the morning…… needs to wash his hands….. because every person, when HaKadosh Baruch Hu returns to him his Soul becomes like a new Creation…… A person entrusts his Soul weary, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu returns it to him new and rested…… Therefore, we need to sanctify ourselves in His Holiness and wash our hands from a vessel, in order to serve (perform) His Service and minister to Him, like a Kohen who would sanctify his hands from the Kiyor every day before his Service.”

What a beautiful thing!  Just think about that!  But when we wake up (Hashem willing) each morning and wash, we (at least I) tend to just do it because, alright, we know that’s the Halacha -- and even sometimes just by rote.  We almost for sure aren't thinking about the beauty of it described by Reb Shneur Zalman zt”l!  Same drill every day (Rachmana Litzlan/may Hashem save us):  Get up, wash, get going -- not slowing down and taking the time to think…… Such a beautiful and inspiring thing, such as this, can, Chas V’Shalom and Rachmana Litzlan become in our eyes like just a task because we are running through our day.  

And this concept is illustrated beautifully by HaRav Eliezer Kashtiel shlita:  He explains that the water of the Kiyor was about Sanctifying the thoughts and intentions of actions.  And he says that Sanctifying is to focus.  We must clean inside of ourselves and focus.  When doing things, we must also be there with our intentions. “The main thing of cleanliness, the main thing of purity, the main thing of the Kiyor is the heart” he says. (From B’Nefesh HaShabbos).  

And we may add that, when we slow down and think -- it purifies us just like the waters of the Kiyor.  

Every second and everything in life is so beautiful, wondrous and miraculous.  But you won’t notice that if you are just “running by”.  Torah and Life (one and the same, really) are more wondrous than the most beautiful landscape in the world.  But if we, Chas V’Shalom, just run through them with our mind elsewhere, we won’t notice it.  If we would just slow down, we would see it all………

May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help every person to do this, Amein Vi’Amein.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Teachins, Sayings and Stories: 17th of Adar

Tefillin are absolutely so special.  How can a person possibly not Daven properly when they understand that they are wearing upon themselves the Two Batim?!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Parshas Tetzaveh 5777

 פּרשׁת תּצוה

So, now, with Hashem’s Help, I would like to share with you some beautiful insights: 


1) Let’s just start off with a very all-encompassing thought:  In the Parshios from Terumah to Pekudei, there are certainly a lot of specifics, and details, etc. 


HaRav Adin Steinsaltz shlita compares the Mishkan to a rocket ship (of course there is a big separation between the two….):  So, he discusses the fact that people will work on the rocket for a long time, with all the details, trying to make it perfect.  It needs all these details and specifics to be good enough to make it to space!  So too with the Mishkan, he explains; it needed all the details and specifics to be perfect in order to ascend to Heaven (or bring Heaven down here, so to speak).  


And it is the same with the Garments of the Kohanim, says Rav Steinsaltz shlita:  Just like an astronaut suit must be “perfect”, with all the details, and if anything goes wrong the astronaut will die when he goes out into space (may Hashem save us all), so too with the Garments of the Kohanim; they had to be perfect, down to the last detail. (From Chayei Olam Al HaTorah).  


2) In the book Peninei HaTorah, it is related on the first verse of this Parsha a story about HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt”l:  A student of his once came to him and told him that he wanted to go to Germany to spread Mussar there and help people to do Teshuva.  Rav Yisroel replied; “And with Russia you have already finished?” The student admitted that Rav Yisroel was right and said “If so, I will travel to Russia.” Rav Yisroel replied; “And with Poland you have already finished?” The student admitted that Rav Yisroel was right and the Rav said further: “And with your city, Radun, you have already finished?  And your family you have already returned in Teshuva?  And yourself you have already corrected?” The student realized Rav Yisroel zt”l’s wisdom, and said essentially that yes, he had to first return himself to Hashem.  


Adds HaRav Shabsi Yudelowitz zt”l; this is one of the lessons in the verse: ‘And you’ - you must first correct yourself and return to Hashem wholly; then ‘shall command the B’nei Yisroel’ - then you can “command” others and spread Mussar to them. (From Peninei HaTorah). 


3) Asks HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l; why in the first verse does it say ‘and they should take to you’?  Why the ‘to you’?  Not only this, but it uses that same language of ‘to you’ when Moshe Rabbeinu was told to bring near Aharon HaKohen and his sons to be Kohanim! 


So, he quotes from Gemara Kereisos (5b) which comments on Tehillim 133:1-2, and explains that when the Anointing Oil was poured upon Aharon, it was as if it was also poured on Moshe Rabbeinu.  Explains Rav Shmulevitz zt”l; because of the great oneness of Aharon HaKohen and Moshe Rabbeinu, when the Anointing Oil was poured upon Aharon his brother - Moshe Rabbeinu felt like it was poured on him.  It was like ‘one man with one heart’.  That is the ‘to you’ as he explains. (From Sichos Mussar). 


4) The first verse says ‘and they shall take to you pure olive oil; pressed (or crushed) for lighting…’ HaRav Shalom Schwadron zt”l says; how do you acquire Torah?  ‘Pressed’ - you must press yourself, toil, work hard, labor in Torah; and then ‘for lighting’ - you will then see the Light of Torah permeate through your life. (Quoted in Peninim On The Torah). 


5) Before we move on to another verse, there is beautiful Chassidishe “nugget”:  The verse says ‘and they shall take pure olive oil, crushed, to kindle the light continually.’ Says the Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita), a person must make their hearts pure and without blemish, just like this olive oil was to be, and then not only will they personally shine, they will be able to kindle the eternal spark within everyone else.  


And he adds that the Soul is compared to the Candle of Hashem - and just like when you light other things with a candle, it doesn’t lose any of its flame, so too, if we can ignite other’s sparks, it will not take away any of our inspiration - on the contrary, actually it will add to our inspiration! (From  


6) So, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to speak to ‘all the wise of heart, whom I have filled with wisdom.’ Says Rebbe Shalom of Koidanov zt”l; only those who understand that ‘I have filled them with wisdom’ i.e. Hashem gave them their wisdom, and it is not from them - only those people are ‘wise of heart’.  


7) Okay; Hashem willing, we will have a couple thoughts on the Me’il:  #1:  So, as we know, there were supposed to be pomegranates and golden bells on the bottom of it - and the bells, of course, would make noise. 


So the Baalei Mussar point out that a person is more aware of what is around them (and Above them) - just more aware in general - when they are making sounds as they go.  For the sounds sort of wake them up.  The sounds of the bells ringing would help to make sure that the Kohen Gadol was very aware of the holy place he was in.  (Told over by HaRav Shalom Rosner shlita on  


8) #2; Says the Alshich HaKadosh, the Ephod is an allusion to the mouth, for the word אפוֹד, if spelled without the ו (as it is at times), is the same as that of the word פּה - mouth.  And indeed, he brings that the Sages teach that the Me’il atoned for the sin of Lashon Hara.  And he explains many lessons for speaking we learn from it (I’ll quote 2 of the 3):  


First, the Torah tells us that it should be the work of a weaver and that it should not be ripped.  Explains the Alshich HaKadosh; this teaches us that a person should not think to themselves that they will cause strife with their mouth and then fix it - rather, they should fix their speech at first! (This learned out from the fact that the Me’il was supposed to never be ripped - even if it could be fixed afterward).  


And another lesson:  The Torah tells us ‘Vi’haya phi rosho bi’socho/And it’s opening (literally - mouth) at the top shall be [turned] inward’.  Says the Alshich HaKadosh: “That his speech and his mouth should be like what is in his heart and in him, so that it should not be ‘one thing in his mouth and one in his heart’!” (This learned out from the “mouth” of the Me’il having to be turned inwards). (This insight is from Vi’Haarev Na).  


9) Okay; so, another one of the Garments to be made was the Tzitz:  It was a golden head plate that had the words Kodesh L’Hashem (Holy to Hashem) inscribed upon it.  


So, the Ksav Sofer (HaRav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer zt”l) quotes from his father the Chasam Sofer (HaRav Moshe Sofer zt”l), who brings the teaching of the Sages, that the Tzitz atoned for the sin of brazenness.  


And the Chasam Sofer zt”l quotes from Pirkei Avos (5:21) where Rabbi Yehuda ben Teima z”l says ‘Be bold as a leopard….. to carry out the Will of your Father in Heaven.’ (See an incredible explanation of this Mishnah in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 1).  So he explains that the writing of ‘Holy to Hashem’ on the Tzitz teaches us that we must use this trait of brazenness properly - and make it ‘Holy to Hashem’. (From Ksav Sofer Al HaTorah).  


10) One last insight on the parsha, and then, Hashem willing, we will list one insight on Parshas Zachor and Purim, and then another on Purim:  


So Hashem says in the sixth Aliyah ‘And there I will arrange My meetings with the Bnei Yisroel…..’ Explains HaRav Yosef Dov (Yoshe Ber) Soloveitchik zt”l (son of HaRav Moshe Soloveitchik zt”l); Hashem had rendezvous’ with Moshe Rabbeinu there, and later, in the Beis HaMikdash, with us.  But a rendezvous, he says, is really a confidential and private thing (usually that would take place between only two parties).  A multitude of people can’t really have a rendezvous with one individual!  However, the Rav zt”l explains that the Jewish People are really one - we are an individual.   


And he concludes: “A Jew is someone who has a rendezvous from time to time with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  The Jew will never delay this rendezvous.  He will never break this rendezvous.  He will never postpone this rendezvous.  A Jew never says ‘It is cold today; I would rather put on Tefillin tomorrow.’ Judaism itself is a rendezvous. (From Mesoras HaRav).  


11) As we discussed above, Parshas Zachor and Purim are both about defeating Amalek YM”S (and the Yetzer Hara).  And our Gedolim tell us that Amalek tries to make us not serve Hashem with warmth (‘that he cooled you off on the way’) and bring doubts about Him and Judaism in general into us (the numerical value of the word עמלק is the same as that of ספק/doubt).  And these things go hand in hand.  If, Chas V’Shalom, we do not serve Hashem with passion and warmth, false doubts will come into our heads, may Hashem save us.  


So this time is a reminder to us to try to beat these powers of Amalek (and the Yetzer Hara):  It is a reminder to try to, with Hashem’s Help, overcome those terrible things.  May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help every single person to do so, Amein Vi’Amein. 


12) Now a Purim thought:  Rebbe Elimelech Biderman shlita notes that if we look at the Megillah collectively, we are amazed at the wondrous Miracles!  However, if you look at the individual things of the Miracles of Purim, all of them can be explained according to “nature”.  


Purim, he says, teaches us a brand new faith:  It teaches us that Hashem is always with us, even when things seem like the “natural way of the world” (since everything is from Hashem - even what we would think of as just the norm; such as breathing…..). (This vort is from Torah Wellsprings - Zachor Purim 5777 - an online booklet on the Parshios and Festivals.  It can be found at Be’er Mayim Chaim).  

I wish every single person a wonderful Shabbos full of holiness!

Mussar Drosha: Tetzaveh

Mussar Drosha: Tetzaveh:

The Gemara (Masechta Shabbos Daf 31) tells a story of a Roman who was passing behind a Study Hall and heard a Scribe saying the verse in this Parsha ‘And these are the Garments which they shall make; a Breastplate and an Ephod….’

The Roman asked; “These, for who are they?” He was answered that they were for the Kohen Gadol.  The Roman said to himself that he would convert in order that they would install him as the Kohen Gadol.

So he came before Shammai z”l and told him to convert him on condition that he be appointed as Kohen Gadol.  Shammai z”l basically just chased him out - he was talking nonsense!  The Roman came before Hillel z”l and he converted him.  

Hillel z”l basically told him that before anyone can become king, they must learn the royal arts; “Go and learn the arts of the king” he said - i.e. learn the Torah.

The Roman went and read and when he came to the verse (Bamidbar 1:51) ‘And the stranger that draws close shall die’ - speaking of the fact that only the Leviim could handle the Holy Vessels of the Mishkan - he asked Hillel z”l who this applied to.  And he answered that it applies to even king Dovid himself.

Now the Roman reasoned to himself a Kal VaChomer (a fortiori - essentially, if something is this, then all the more so such-and-such……):  If the Jewish People (aside from the Leviim) - called the Children of Hashem - are not allowed to touch the Holy vessels, he, who was a convert who had come without merit, all the more so the rule would apply to him!  

He came back before Shammai z”l and essentially asked him why he hadn’t explained to him that his notion of becoming Kohen Gadol was nonsense.  

Then he returned to Hillel z”l and said to him: “Hillel, the patient, may blessings rest upon your head, for you brought me under the wings of the Divine Presence.”

It would seem from this beautiful story that this non-Jew really wanted to become the Kohen Gadol and wear such special clothing - but then Hillel z”l helped him to realize how great and special it is to “just” be a Jew……

Our Gedolim tell us that all Jews are like Kohanim (in a sense).  We all have the special Service of Hashem to do.  

All of us are all extremely important and needed and we are all servants of Hashem and have special missions we must carry out.  Not only this, but we all have a special connection to Hashem!

And, based upon this concept, we can perhaps answer the question of why Moshe Rabbeinu’s name isn’t mentioned in this entire Parsha:  The Sforno and the Ramban, both zt”l note that the reference to Moshe Rabbeinu the three times at the start of this Parsha as ‘you’ implies that instead of having to instruct others to do certain things, he had to personally involve himself in these three tasks:  The tasks being the designation of the pure olive oil; the designation of the Kohanim; and the selection of the wise men to make the Holy Garments and the Mishkan.  

Moshe Rabbeinu was extremely essential and important here (of course he was in every Parsha he is in) - even though his name isn’t mentioned!

And so, perhaps the lack of mention of his name is a lesson to us all that even if your name isn’t talked about all over the place - i.e. you aren’t like world renowned - you still are extremely important and still have a special job in this world.

And these things actually connect beautifully to Purim and Parshas Zachor:  For they are both about beating Amalek YM”S.  Haman was from Amalek and he ended up defeated (Baruch Hashem!) - and Parshas Zachor is about remembering what Amalek did and blotting them out.  But how does all this connect to what we have been saying?

So, HaRav Yosef Tzvi Salant zt”l (in Be’er Yosef Al HaTorah) explains on the beginning of Parshas Yisro that one of the things that Amalek tried to do was to make it like the Jewish People has nothing special about it, Chas V’Shalom.  

But we must defeat that power of Amalek (a.k.a. the Yetzer Hara) - a big part of Purim and Parshas Zachor - and realize how special and important it is to just be a Jew; and not only this, but how special to Hashem we all are.  

May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help everyone to realize these wonderful things, Amein Vi’Amein, so may it be His Will……

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Teachings, Sayings and Stories: 10th of Adar

'Rabbi Elazar HaKappar said: “Jealousy, desire and honor remove a man from the world.”' (Pirkei Avos 4:28)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Teachings, Sayings and Stories: 7th of Adar

“Yiras Shamayim does not mean fear of being punished, but rather a feeling of awe at the Majesty of Hashem......  The awareness of Hashem’s Majesty gives rise to a desire to be close to Him.” (The Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l – Four Chassidic Masters; p. 28)

Parshas Terumah 5777

פּרשׁת תּרוּמה
What a privilege it is for us to be able to continue moving on in the Torah - now getting to the part talking about the instructions for the Mishkan and its Vessels!  So, with Hashem’s Help, let’s get started:  

Perhaps the most “all-encompassing” and preliminary verse to the Mishkan (and more than that, as we will soon see, Hashem willing) is in the first Aliyah:  Hashem says to Moshe Rabbeinu ‘And you shall make Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst.’

Now, there is a beautiful theme that many of our Gedolim teach us on this - with slightly different variations (and I will quote different ones which I have seen):  

#1:  Says the Alshich HaKadosh:  The verse does not say ‘I will dwell in its midst’; but rather ‘I will dwell in their midst’.  This teaches us that Hashem won’t just dwell in the midst of the People of Israel - but within all of us.  He is ‘within our midst’.  And the Shelah HaKadosh says essentially the same thing.  

#2:  Writes the first Lubavitcher Rebbe - Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi zt”l in Tanya: “This is what man is all about.  This is the purpose of his creation and of the creation of all the worlds, higher and lower - that there be made for G-d a dwelling in the lower realms."

#3:  Similarly, Rebbe Aharon HaGadol of Karlin zt”l teaches in Beis Aharon that a person needs to make themselves a Sanctuary - a holy person - and then Hashem will dwell within them. (HaRav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch zt”l says basically the same thing - just about Hashem dwelling in the midst of Yisroel as a whole).

Those insights are extremely inspiring and enough to think about in and of themselves, but, with Hashem’s Help, I would like to “go further” - and add a beautiful insight from the Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita):  Teaches Rebbe Lebovits shlita:  Hashem is always close to us - but that doesn’t mean we are close to Him.  He never distances Himself from us, but if we, Chas V’Shalom commit transgressions, then we are distancing ourselves from Him!!  And the same goes for the constant blessings He sends us, explains the Nikolsburger shlita:  Hashem always sends us blessings - however, if we are sinning and distancing ourselves from Him, Chas V’Shalom, then the blessings just don’t reach us!! (From  

But now let us put all these incredible teachings together:  Hashem wants to be close to us and dwell in our midst:  And He does His part!  

But we also have a part to do:  We need to ascend closer to Him.  And we do this by keeping His Commandments and serving Him properly - sanctifying ourselves.  Hashem revealed Himself to us at Har Sinai, gave us the Torah and took us as His People - drawing close to us.  And He always dwells in our midst, making it easier for us to access Him - reaching out His Hand, so to speak, for us to grab.  Now we must sanctify ourselves and make ourselves a Sanctuary - thereby drawing close to our Holy Father in return, and taking hold of His outstretched Hand.  

Now, with the Help of Hashem, I would like to share with you at least 10 beautiful insights on the parsha:  

1) Ask HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l - the Beis HaLevi (quoted in Sefer L’Hisaneig) and HaRav Baruch Epstein zt”l (in Torah Temimah); why is it that right after Parshas Mishpatim - dealing a lot with monetary laws - we have Parshas Terumah, where Hashem asks us to give for the Mishkan? And they answer beautifully:  It is to teach us that if a person is going to give - they need to give with good money.  It can’t have been acquired dishonestly, Chas V’Shalom.

(And HaRav Eliyahu Schlesinger shlita - in Eileh HaDevarim - says something very similar:  That it is because we first must know the Halachos of money, then we can give.  Otherwise, the contributions might come from dishonestly earned money, Chas V’Shalom).  

2) The question is asked; why was the donating to the Mishkan a voluntary thing - why was it not made an order or a Command?  

Answers the Avnei Nezer (the Sochochover Rebbe - Rebbe Avraham Borenstein zt”l); the Mishkan was something that brought closeness with Hashem - and in order to feel that closeness and love, we must have a burning desire to do so.  It cannot be forced.   And so, he explains, contributing to the Mishkan was a voluntary thing – people had to have a burning desire to do so.  

Adds my Rebbe, HaRav Binyomin Goldstein shlita, beautifully:  In the absence of a Mishkan or Beis HaMikdash, we are told (see above) that we must make our hearts into a Sanctuary for Hashem.  But this cannot be done without the desire to serve Hashem - the passion and feeling.  

If someone has a burning desire to bring Hashem into their heart; nothing can stand in their way. However, he says, if the desire for closeness is not there (Chas V’Shalom), it is essentially impossible to make the Sanctuary for Hashem.  We can “go through the motions” of keeping the Commandments - but if the desire of the heart is not there, then the task of building an inner-Sanctuary for Hashem cannot be accomplished. (From my Rebbe, HaRav Binyomin Goldstein shlita’s Dvar Torah on Parshas Terumah).  

3) So the famous question is asked; why is the wording in the first verse when talking about us contributing to the Mishkan ‘they should take’?  It would have been more proper to say ‘give’!  Not only this, but the Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu says that once we said ‘We will do and we will listen’ - immediately Hashem wanted for us to give the Portion.  Why is this, asks HaRav Shlomo Ganzfried zt”l (author of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch)?  

But he answers to the first question we quoted:  When we give - it actually is taking (meaning that we get a lot from giving).  We gave some things but we got such a precious thing (and even more than just that!) - Hashem dwelling in our midst!  It is so awesome!  

And this answers what the Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu says, he explains:  So he quotes the story from Gemara Shabbos where someone said to Rava z”l that we are an impetuous people - saying ‘We will do’ before even hearing what we would do have to do!  But by saying ‘We will do’ first, says Rav Ganzfried zt”l, we were saying that we know that whatever Hashem asks of us is really for our benefit.  Everything is a gift to us.  And so when Hashem asked us to give - we understood that it actually was “taking” (receiving) for us. (From Sefer Apiryon).  

And we could just add the teaching of the Alter of Novhardok (HaRav Yosef Yozel Hurwitz zt”l):  He taught that one who gives gets much more than the receiver:  The receiver gets something of limited value; while the giver acquires a good and pure heart. (Quoted in Sparks of Mussar).  

4) But there is also a different answer to the teaching of the Tanna D’vei Eliyahu:  It is quoted in the name of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan zt”l that it could be because when we had the inspiration still from ‘Naaseh V’Nishma’ - immediately then we needed to build the Mishkan. (From Sefer Ner Yisroel).  

5) Okay; so the list of the donations was:  Gold, silver, copper…… wait; says the Reisha Rav - HaRav Aharon Levine (or Lewin) zt”l:  It is not the gift itself that was important to Hashem - because what physical things does Hashem need?  But then what was important to Him?  

Says Rav Levine zt”l; it was the good will.  For just them giving shows that they love Hashem.  And this love is important to Him. (From Ha’Drash Vi’Ha’Iyun).  And I might add that this is a big encouragement in and of itself - as it shows us that every little bit of love we might have for Hashem is so important in His “eyes”!  

(In a similar vein, the Maggid of Dubno - HaRav Yaakov Krantz zt”l, in Ohel Yaakov - teaches us that Hashem specifically wanted us to give things that are special to us, as that shows love, and we are giving our love and our heart).  

6) On a different note - but the same thing in the Torah - HaRav Yaakov Neiman zt”l comments that the Mishkan being built by these materials teaches us that the Mishkan should bring holiness to all aspects of our lives.  We need to elevate all areas of our life. (From Darkei Mussar).  

7) So, as we know, one of the materials was Tachash skins.  And Rashi HaKadosh quotes from Gemara Shabbos 28a, b, which tells us that the Tachash was an animal that only existed for a little time - and it had many colors.  

Says HaRav Ben Tzion Firer zt”l:  The many colors of the Tachash represent the many “shades” of good. There are many good ways for a person to follow.  (For example; there are Chassidim, Baalei Mussar, etc. Or the Brisker learning style and the Chassidishe learning style.  They are different - but both good). However, he says; everything in the Mishkan was made exactly according to what Hashem said.  So, even though there are many good ways - we do not have permission to just follow what we think is good:  We must go according to Hashem’s Word.  

8) Okay; so we get on to the Aron:  HaRav Nosson Adler zt”l (quoted in many places) notes (as some others do, as well) that the measurements for the Aron are all in halves!  So he explains that a Torah scholar (represented by the Aron - which held the Torah) must never look at themselves as whole:  They need to always realize that they have more to learn. (I have seen this quoted in the name of the Pardes Yosef zt”l, as well).

I saw on another thought quoted in the name of Rav Adler zt”l:  He teaches us that the halves represent the fact that we must break our ego in order to acquire Torah.  These two thought really go hand in hand – and they go for all of us.  

9) So, the Aron, as we know, was to be coated with gold ‘from inside and from outside’.  Teaches us Rabbeinu Chananel zt”l (others say this too); this goes to teach us the Talmudic dictum (Yoma 72b) that a Torah scholar (and all of us) must be consistent:  Our actions when we are outside - in the eyes of others - must be consistent with how we act inside - when people aren’t watching us (though Hashem still is….).  

10) The Beis HaLevi (HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l) comments differently, however:  He explains that it teaches us that we must support Torah scholars (and Torah learning, I might add):  Just as we act prosperously within our homes - so too we must act prosperously outside our homes, giving generously. (Quoted in The Stone Edition Chumash).  

11) We are told that the Aron and the Menorah represent Torah scholars:  So, HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein shlita quotes from his father-in-law, HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l:  And he explains:  The Aron, which stayed “behind closed doors” - i.e. in private -  represents the fact that a Torah Sage must sometimes stay in private and to themselves.  However, says Rav Elyashiv zt”l, the Menorah, which shone light on all its surroundings, represents that a Sage also needs to go out and light up the world. (Quoted in Aleinu L’Shabeiach).  

12) So, as we know, the Aron had to have Cheruvim on top - two of them, facing each other.   Teaches the Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita); the last letters (if you mix them up a bit) of the words ‘וּפניהם אישׁ אל אחיוspell the word ‘שׁלוֹם’.  This teaches us, he explains, that when we look at one another with respect, with a desire to see each other’s goodness, then there is true and everlasting peace. (From  

13) Says HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector zt”l: “These two traits – to have wings reaching upward and faces focused on each other – must be the goal of all Jews. We must on the one hand set lofty personal goals and always seek to ascend to new heights. On the other hand, we must be focused on the needs of others, looking out with sensitivity toward those around us, ever ready to lend a hand…” (Quoted in M’Shulchan Govoha).  

14) Similarly, HaRav Dov Weinberger shlita comments on this, and explains that a person must always aspire upwards - just like the wings were pointed upwards.  And the Torah (in the Aron) helps us achieve this.  However, he explains, we must turn our attention to others, as well, and make sure not to hurt them.  

And he adds that, as Rabbi Abahu z”l tells us (Gemara Chagigah 13b), the faces of the Cheruvim (this is just one opinion, I believe) were that of a child.  Says Rav Weinberger shlita; a young child is totally dependent on their parents and they know that everything comes from them.  So too, he says, we must be with Hashem….. (From Shemen HaTov).  

15) Okay; one more thought from an Acharon (later Rav) in this Dvar:  The Menorah, as we know, was made out of one piece of gold - hammered out.  And, as we quoted above, this is one of the Vessels that represents the Torah:  Says the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan zt”l):  This represents the fact that the entire Torah is one.  All the different parts of it - the Mishnah, Gemara, etc. - is all one. (From Chofetz Chaim Al HaTorah).

I wish every single person a wonderful week!