1. The distinguishing feature of this Shabbos is that it is Shabbos parshas Hachodesh: distinguished in that we read an extra section in the Torah (parshas Hachodesh), and read a different Haftorah (special to parshas Hachodesh).

The beginning of parshas Hachodesh is “This month shall be for you the head of months.” This refers to the month of Nissan, the “month of redemption” from Egypt. The rest of the section talks of the Pesach sacrifice — the idea of the exodus and redemption from Egypt.

The Midrash on the verse “This month shall be for you ...” introduces a startling idea: that the main emphasis is on the greatness of Jews — “This month shall be for you the head of months” — and the idea of redemption is but an outcome of this greatness. It states: “‘This month shall be for you’ — Happy is the nation whom the L‑rd is its G‑d: When G‑d chose His world, He set in it Roshei Chodoshim and years; and when He chose Ya’akov and his sons, he set in it the Rosh Chodesh of redemption.” We see, then, that the main emphasis is on the greatness of Jews, the chosen of G‑d — and the redemption is the outcome of that “He chose Ya’akov and his sons.”

The phrase used by the Midrash “ G‑d chose His world” indicates that the choice was made after the world was created (for choice can only be made when the thing exists). The world existed — in perfection — before this choice was made; and G‑d’s choice bestowed upon it even greater distinction.

Free choice is loftier than even speech and deed, or any of man’s other faculties. For the latter are bound by their innate limits, whereas choice transcends form and limits. G‑d’s choice of the world is therefore loftier even than His creation of it. Thus, even after the world was created in its entirety — and G‑d pronounced it “very good” — an infinitely loftier distinction was given it by G‑d’s choice of it.

As a result of this, “He set in it Roshei Chodoshim and years.” The world of itself (without G‑d’s choice of it) is unchangeable. Created beings, because they are limited, should really be subject to change. However, because of G‑d’s infinite power invested in creation, the world remains the same. When, as a result of “ G‑d chose this world,” He “set in it Roshei Chodoshim,” an element of newness and change was introduced. “Chodesh” means “new,” and thus “He set in it Roshei Chodoshim” means G‑d introduced the element of newness in the world.

There is yet a higher distinction than “ G‑d chose His world” — “He chose Ya’akov and his sons.” Because the world was created for the sake of Israel, it follows that the choice of Jews is loftier than the choice of the world.

This distinction (that the choice of Jews is greater than the choice of the world) is expressed in actual deed, as the Midrash continues, that the result of the choice of the Jews was that G‑d “set in it (the world) the Rosh Chodesh of redemption.”

The world, even after G‑d chose it, is limited. That G‑d “set in it the Rosh Chodesh of redemption” means it was redeemed from its state of finite limitations to a state that transcends limits. In other words, the “redemption” here does not mean only the redemption from Egypt, but an elevation from one level to an infinitely higher level — just as redemption is infinitely higher than exile. Thus the redemption of the world (through the choice of “Ya’akov and his sons”), lifted the world from its limited status to one that transcends all limits; an infinite state. And finity cannot compare to infinity.

Now that we see the idea of “He set in it the Rosh Chodesh of redemption” refers not to the redemption from Egypt specifically, but to an elevation to a level infinitely higher than previously, we can understand the idea of the future redemption. The future redemption will be infinitely higher than the redemption from Egypt. Even if the Jews had merited it, and there would have been no more exile after the redemption from Egypt — it still cannot compare to the future redemption. For, as we have explained “redemption” means an ascent to an infinitely higher level. Thus, even if the redemption from Egypt had been perfect (no following exile), there is still room for yet a higher ascent — to the extent that it is infinitely higher than the redemption from Egypt.

This future redemption is also associated with the idea of “He chose Ya’akov and his sons” which resulted in “He chose the Rosh Chodesh of redemption.” The Midrash continues to state: “The Rosh Chodesh of redemption — in which the Jews were redeemed from Egypt, and in which they are destined to be redeemed in the future.”

It follows then that the Midrash is telling us a wonderful thing in regard to parshas Hachodesh —the idea of “This month shall be the head of months for you.” Parshas Hachodesh teaches us the greatness of the Jewish people, chosen by G—d. The redemption is but a result of the choice of Ya’akov and his sons. Thus the distinction of Jews should excite great wonder — greater even than the idea of the redemption from Egypt and the future redemption — which are merely the result of Jews’ distinction.

2. There is a lesson in this for our service to G‑d: When we read parshas Hachodesh and think of the above Midrash concerning the greatness of Jews, it inspires extra enthusiasm in the fulfillment of the command “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” For when one meets a Jew, he knows that this Jew is chosen by G‑d! Although a Jew certainly keeps all mitzvos, including this one, knowledge that a Jew is chosen by G‑d inspires special enthusiasm in its fulfillment.

The above Midrash applies to all Jews, for the Midrash states “He chose Ya’akov and his sons” — i.e. the choice of Jews is not just a result of the choice of Ya’akov, but G‑d chose all Jews themselves. Likewise, this choice applies notwithstanding a Jew’s personal spiritual level: for the name “Ya’akov” is a lower level than the name “Yisroel” — and our Sages say that a Jew, even though he sins “he is a Yisroel.” Certainly, then, on the level of Ya’akov, every Jew is included, for every Jew is a “Ya’akov.”

The lesson, then, from parshas Hachodesh is that efforts in spreading Judaism must be increased — “Love your fellow as yourself.” In addition, special efforts must be placed in the Matzah Campaign, including efforts to ensure that all Jews have the means to celebrate Pesach properly. In similar vein, increased endeavors should be placed in all the mitzvah campaigns.

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3. In addition to parshas Hachodesh, we read parshas “Vayakhel-Pekudei” on this Shabbos. Indeed, we read parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei before parshas Hachodesh — and, as evidenced by the fact that seven people are called up for its reading in contrast to only one for parshas Hachodesh (the “maftir”), it is the principal reading. Thus there is also a lesson to be derived from parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei.

On some years parshas Vayakhel and parshas Pekudei are read on separate Shabbosim. This year they are read on the same Shabbos. This is not just a chance happening, for everything is by Divine Providence. Certainly the calendar, which was set by Hillel, provides lessons for our service to G‑d. Thus, there is a lesson to be learned from parshas Vayakhel alone, from parshas Pekudei alone, and from parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei as they axe joined together. When two parshas are joined together, they become one, and therefore the entire week belongs to parshas “Vayakhel-Pekudei.” Thus there must be a special lesson derived from “Vayakhel-Pekudei” together.

The lesson from parshas Vayakhel: “Vayakhel” means to gather the public together and make them a “kehol” — a congregation. That is, one entity (a congregation) is made from many individuals.

The lesson from this is simple: Because there are many different categories of Jews, ranging from “the heads of your tribes” to “your wood-choppers and your water-drawers,” a simple Jew may think that it is impossible that he, one of the lower categories, can unite with the highest category — “the heads of your tribes.” Parshas Vayakhel teaches that notwithstanding these differences, all Jews unite together. Simultaneously, those on the lofty levels must know that they must unite even with the lowest levels — to form one congregation.

This lesson is relevant not just to the week in which parshas Vayakhel is read, but to the entire year, since all matters of Torah are eternal. When, however, we read parshas Vayakhel, it is an appropriate time to effect its lessons (unity of all Jews) — and with this strength, to extend it to the entire year.

This lesson is relevant not just to the week in which parshas Vayakhel is read, but to the entire year, since all matters of Torah are eternal. When, however, we read. parshas Vayakhel, it is an appropriate time to effect its lessons (unity of all Jews) — and with this strength, to extend it to the entire year.

“Pekudei” teaches that each Jew, whoever he may be, has his own firm existence as an individual. Thus, although when a Jew makes a reckoning of his own worth it seems he is greater or lesser than his fellow, Pekudei teaches that he has his own worth, and is counted equally with every other Jew. The greatest Jew and the lowest Jew each count as one, no more and no less.

Thus, although “Vayakhel” and “Pekudei” both deal with the same thing, they are opposites: Vayakhel indicates how the many become one, whereas Pekudei indicates how each of the many remain individuals.

The lessons from parshas Vayakhel and parshas Pekudei, are also opposites: the former stresses the unity of Jews in one entity; the latter stresses the idea of the individual. A Jew may therefore think that it is impossible for him to carry out both these lessons together, but instead, each must be carried out at separate times. The joining of parshas Vayakhel and Pekudei together — “Vayakhel-Pekudei” — teaches that a Jew has the ability to fulfill the lessons from both at the same time.

4. Because this year parshas “Vayakhel-Pekudei” is read together with parshas “Hachodesh,” it shows there is a lesson to be learned from both of them coinciding on the same Shabbos. We explained previously that parshas Hachodesh is the idea of the choice made by G‑d of “Ya’akov and his sons,” and the result was that “He set in it the Rosh Chodesh of redemption” — the idea of transcending the limits of the world, even after the choice in the world.

In man’s spiritual service, this corresponds to service which transcends all limits. Although service must be gradual, rising from one level to another, nevertheless, even at the beginning of service, a Jew must be in a state of redemption — service on the lowest level must be such that it leads to service on the highest level. When service is bound by limits, then even when one progresses from level to level, there is no connection between the preceding and the following levels. When service is performed in a manner transcending limits, service on the lower level is itself in such a manner that it leads to the next level.

An example: Torah is studied step by step. A child is first taught the Aleph-Bais, then words, then Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud etc. This can be done in two ways: Usually, each step is separated from the rest, a separate study in itself. A loftier way is when the study of one step is done also as a preparation to the next step.

So too in service to G‑d. Service can be performed entirely independent of the next, higher level. Only after finishing one level, does a person start the next level of service. A loftier method is that one performs the lower level with the next level in mind, thus making it a preparation to the next level. In such a fashion, even the performance of the lower level is completely different — in the manner of “redemption.”

This is the distinction lent to the service of “Vayakhel-Pekudei” by parshas Hachodesh. The service of Vayakhel alone (unity of Jews), Pekudei alone (individual worth), and Vayakhel-Pekudei together, each contain many levels. For example, Vayakhel: One tribe is called a “congregation,” and the whole of Jewry is called a “congregation.” Normally, each level of service is separate from the next. Parshas Hachodesh teaches that the service of “Vayakhel-Pekudei” must be in the manner of redemption — the service is performed in a manner transcending al limits, such that even in the lowest level, the highest level is kept in mind.

Likewise, Vayakhel and Pekudei are normally separate services, and their synthesis — “Vayakhel Pekudei” together — comes after these individual services. Parshas Hachodesh teaches that even when engaged in these separate services, a Jew must feel the inner concept, the common theme of Vayakhel and Pekudei from which one reaches the higher level of Vayakhel-Pekudei together.

The above lesson from parshas Hachodesh is expressed in the idea of redemption itself. Even in a state of redemption a Jew seeks and demands the ultimate in redemption — the future and final redemption. A Jew’s attitude to redemption transcends all limits, and therefore every level of redemption is a step and preparation to a higher level, extending to the highest of all — the future redemption. That is why at all times Jews awaited the future redemption — even after the redemption from the exile of Babylon, and even in the times of the second Bais Hamikdosh. For since five things of sanctity were missing in the second Bais Hamikdosh, the Jews desired the complete redemption of the future.

This is also the connection between the redemption and Vayakhel — for in the future redemption, the idea of the “congregation” will reach its ultimate perfection — “a great congregation will return here.”

When a person’s attitude is such that on the lower level he has in mind the higher level, then on that lower level he already possesses the higher level. As the Baal Shem Tov said, a person is where his thoughts are. This is why such a tumult is made about “We want Moshiach now” — for through this, a person is there! Simply put, Jews cannot wait any longer, and want Moshiach now — and through this longing we speedily merit the coming of our righteous Moshiach when will be fulfilled the promise “A great congregation will return here,” “with our youth and our elders, with our sons and our daughters.”


5. Rashi, the commentator par excellence on Scripture, always explains any difficulties in the plain interpretation of Scripture, or else writes “I do not know.” There is a perplexing matter in our parshah, however, on which Rashi makes no comment (nor does he say “I do not know”).

The Jews in the desert donated many different types of material for the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. Parshas Vayakhel tells of the actual making of the Mishkan. The beginning of parshas Pekudei then gives an accounting of the total amount of gold, silver and copper donated. Parshas Pekudei then continues to relate the making of the priestly garments.

This is very puzzling. Why does Scripture interrupt the telling of the making of the Mishkan and its vessels with an accounting of the amount of the donations. Surely the proper place to give an accounting is after all the work has been completed, including the priestly garments — or before any of the work has started. Why is an accounting given at the beginning of parshas Pekudei, in the middle — between relating the making of the Mishkan and its vessels and relating the making of the priestly garments?

More particularly, the donations given by the people were for all parts of the Mishkan and its service. This includes the actual Mishkan (the boards, curtains, pillars etc), its vessels (Aron, Menorah etc.) and the priestly garments (without which the priests could not perform the service of the Mishkan). Thus we see that part of the gold donated was used to make the priestly garments — to make the golden threads interwoven in the garments, the settings for the precious stones of the breastplate, the bells on the robe, and the head-plate which was all gold. The question is thus reinforced: Why is the reckoning of the sum total of the donations given in the middle of the account of the work — after telling about the making of the Mishkan and its vessels, and before telling of the making of the priestly garments, which were also made from these donations?

A further difficulty: We find a difference in the accounting of the gold and the accounting of the silver and copper. When giving an account of the amount of silver and copper, Scripture not only tells the sum total of silver and copper donated, but details the uses to which it was put. In regard to silver, for example, it tells us (Pekudei 38:25-28) the sum total collected was 100 talents and 1775 shekels; and continues to tell that 100 talents were used for the bases, and the remaining 1775 shekels were used for the hooks, caps and hoops. In regard to the copper, Scripture tells us (38:29-31) the donation amounted to 70 talents and 2400 shekels. It tells us these were used for the bases at the entrance, the copper altar, screen and vessels, etc. Yet, in regard to the gold donated, it tells us only the total amount given (38:24): “The amount of gold donated ... was 29 talents and 730 shekels.” It does not tell us, as it does in the case of the silver and copper, the particulars for which it was used. All it says is that it was “All the gold used for the work of the Sanctuary” — and nothing else. Why does it not enumerate the particular uses to which it was put as it does in the case of silver and copper?

The explanation:

Moshe Rabbeinu gave an accounting of the materials (gold, silver and copper) donated for the Mishkan to the Jews so that they would know it was all used for the purposes for which it was given. Of course, the Jews knew how great Moshe was, and would not have suspected him of using the donations for personal use. Nevertheless, even such a person must give an accounting so there will be absolutely no room for any suspicion.

Scripture states (Shemos 28:12): “Bring near to you Aharon your brother and his sons ... so that they may minister unto Me ... And you shall make sacred garments for Aharon ...” Rashi, on the words “Bring near to you,” explains this means “after you have completed the work of the Mishkan.” In other words, the making of the sacred garments for the priests was after the completion of the Mishkan and its vessels.

The reason for this is because in order that Aharon and his sons should be able to serve as priests, the Mishkan had to first be completed. After completing the Mishkan, the garments had to be made to enable the priests to serve.

Because of this break between making the Mishkan and its vessels and the making of the priestly garments, Moshe could not wait to give an accounting of the donations until after the garments were completed. To remove any suspicion that he misused the donations, he gave an accounting at the first opportunity — immediately after the completion of the Mishkan and vessels, and did not wait until after the making of the priestly garments.

But there is a difference between the accounting of the gold (only a general one) and the accounting of the silver and copper (a detailed one). Moshe could not give a detailed accounting of the gold, for at this stage (immediately after the completion of the Mishkan and its vessels), the priestly garments, for which gold was needed, had not yet been made. Because no silver or copper was used in the making of the garments, a detailed accounting of them could be and was given.

On the other hand, Moshe could not give an accounting just of the silver and copper, and leave out the gold — for the non mention of the gold (the most precious metal) would excite suspicion of misuse. Moshe therefore had to give a general accounting: “All the gold used for the work of the Sanctuary” — both that which was already used for the Mishkan and its vessels and that which would be used for the garments — was used totally for its right purpose.