This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Vayak'hel (5760)
This week’s section is very strange because it is almost totally a repetition of Parshat ‘Truma’ (three chapters ago where the complicated Commandment of making the Tabernacle and all its details was explained.)
The only difference is, that here the word ‘VaYaas’ is added to each detail, meaning that what was commanded earlier was ‘actually done’.
But, this could have been accomplished by simply adding one sentence to the end of Parshat ‘Truma’; “And all that G-d commanded in the construction of the Tabernacle was done.” Why was it necessary to make an entire separate chapter and devote hundreds of words of repetition to say the same thing? What is G-d trying to tell us here?
I would like to illustrate with a JOKE and a story.
Once, after Napoleon had won one of his most important battles, he called the Generals of his various legions to his stately war-room to reward them in a pompous ceremony.
The General of the Bavarian troops stepped forward, fell to one knee before the Emperor and declared, “I want autonomy for BAVARIA!”
“So it shall be!!” proclaimed Napoleon to the ministers and officials surrounding the scene. “Autonomy for Bavaria!!”
The Slovakian General then stepped forward, fell to his knee and similarly declared, “Liberty for Slovakia!!”
“Liberty it shall be!!!” shouted Bonaparte.
And so it was with the Arabian and the Ukrainian
Generals. “By G-d autonomy and statehood for Arabia, and for the Ukrainians!” He announced.
Finally the Chief of the Jewish forces stepped forward. “And what of you my loyal friend” Napoleon asked, “What reward do you ask for your bravery?”
“I would like a cup of hot coffee with milk and no sugar, two bagels with cream cheese, and some lox on the side”
Without hesitating, Napoleon sent one of his officers to bring the Jew’s order, saluted all those present, and left the room. Meanwhile, the order arrived, and the Jewish General washed his hands for bread, sat down, and began eating while the other Generals gaped in amazement.
“You fool!” one of them blurted out, “Why did you make such a stupid request! You could have asked for a Nation, riches and power! Why did you waste your wish on a few bagels !?”
The Jew stopped eating for a moment, looked up at them with a sly smile and replied. “At least I got what I asked for.”
That is what G-d wants to show us here; The main thing is the final deed…ACTION! Torah learning, prayer, good resolutions & excitement are all essential, but it is all meaningless without it coming into ACTION in this physical world.
To illustrate here is a story.
In the summer of 1956, after returning from the Soviet Union, Rabbi Adelman made a visit to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneirson, better known as the Lubavitcher Rabbi after visiting Communist Russia with a delegation of American Jewish dignitaries. He wrote as follows in the B.M.H. Bulletin, September 20, 1960:
“The purpose of my visit to the Rebbe was more than idle curiosity. Somehow, as a result of what we had seen in Russia, I felt that I could find the answer to a most perplexing problem—how to captivate the hearts and hands of our people for God and His Torah—how to cause commitment to His Truth.
But why the Lubavitcher Rabbi? For this I will have to go back to our visit in the Soviet Union.
It would be trite to repeat the oft-heard story of spiritual decay in this hell-on-earth—where Satan rules and the god of materialism holds sway.
Yet it was in the midst of this modern Egypt and its forty-nine degrees of spiritual uncleanliness that my colleagues and I discovered the only meaningful resistance among our people. For, to our amazement, we found scattered groups of Lubavitcher Chassidim that had somehow managed, not only to survive, but to continue to find strength and to transmit it to their children.
Upon my return to America, I hastened to 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, expecting to find an imposing building as would befit this gigantic challenge to Russian Communism and the god of Moloch. I looked for severe security measures—secret chambers—and a hard dynamic leader of international movement.
I suppose that I was a little disappointed to find, instead, a ramshackle old building, badly in need of paint and repair, the lusty voices of young men hard at a folio of Talmud—and a soft spoken and gentle middle aged rabbi, who seemed hardly to be a match for the Kruschev I had met in Moscow.
But that was until I started to speak to Rabbi Schneirson and looked into his eyes.
Slowly, it began to dawn on me why we had met Lubavitcher Chassidim in Russia, even after they had been cut off from their source of strength for over thirty years. The former Lubavitcher Rabbi had been expelled in the mid-twenties—but more importantly, I began to see the answer to many questions that had been giving me no peace. For here I saw strength of a different kind—the strength of spirit.
The answer was obvious. To overcome material giganticism, one does not have to meet it on its own level. Synagogues need not be turned into a kind of religious night club or replica of Las Vegas to draw on the hearts of its people.
The simple answer to material giganticism is in being spiritually gigantic. No more—no less.
The power of truth is overwhelming—and its obvious asset is that it is Truth.
This is the great discovery that is beginning to turn American Jews back to the synagogue. We are beginning to realize, in the words of the Lubavitcher Rabbi:
“Far dem emes muzen alle fahlen!“
“Before the truth, all most prostrate themselves.”
This answers our questions; The truth that the Bait HaMikdosh represents, and that Moshiach will reveal is the fact that the physical can be much more holy than the spiritual but it depends on ACTION; one good deed can make heaven on earth. That is why this week’s Torah portion, tells us in detail how the Jews actually did what was commanded earlier; because action; actually doing what G-d wants, is so important. This is the truth in the Rebbe’s eyes that eventually demolished the false ideas of Communism.
And finally, the Moshiach will bring the ultimate truth:
THE ENLIVENING OF THE DEAD; even the highest souls; Moshe, Avraham etc. will all return to bodies in this world of ACTION.But all this depends on us. One more good deed…. Just one! Can tilt the scales and bring....
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