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Parshas Vayakhel / Pekudei / Parah - Time Heals All Wounds...Whose Time Is It?                  21 Adar 5778

03/07/18 16:31:26


I have just concluded the year of Aveilus/mourning for my mother, Yocheved Bas Tzvi A”H. I’m not the first person to lose a loved one and go through the mourning process, nor will I be the last. Nevertheless, people ask about the transitions regarding time and status of being a mourner. Following the initial seven day period of sitting Shiva is the thirty-day period of Shloshim, concluded after eleven months by the cessation of saying Kaddish which is then eclipsed by the twelve-month, end-of-year-long process. The answer to the transitions of time and status for the mourner is multi-dimensional. Time, for the mourner, is capable of moving very slowly yet, simultaneously and mysteriously, also very quickly. For the person going through the period of mourning, time isn’t measured daily. Time, at least from my experience seemed to pass in chunks rather than hours or days or even weeks. All of us remark during the milestones of life “Where has the time gone?” For the mourner, or at least for me, the chunks of time moving me through the year seemed to be measured privately, internally. believe I grieved as my mother grieved for her losses. She did not show a great amount of outward emotion; she internalized her grief and moved on with life. She mourned appropriately and Halachikly - no more no less.

A 2008 Psychology Today article articulates that “Time doesn't heal; it's what you DO with the time that causes healing.” I am not going to disagree that keeping oneself busy will distract a person from sorrow and ease the burden during this difficult period of life. Keeping that in mind, a person can keep busy at the initial stages of worry, concern and bereavement and forget their woes altogether. What is the Torah’s perspective on time as a healer - both the long and short term?

The Halacha in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 394:1 states: “One is forbidden to mourn excessively. The first three days are for weeping, the first seven days for eulogy, and the first thirty days for refraining from haircutting and laundering. One should not grieve more than this.” The Sifsei Kohain, known as the Shach, in Y”D 344:9 states: “In mourning for one’s parent, certain laws apply for an entire twelve months. This is an aspect of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s father and mother.” Mourning for thirty days is of Biblical origin, taken from the death of Yakov Avinu and later Moshe Rabbeinu. The extended eleven months for a parent is of Rabbinic nature (For reasons too detailed to list here). The Halacha in Shulchan Aruch which derived the law from the Torah mandates us to mourn for specific times, no longer, no shorter.

Another indication of the time for mourning is the time to erect the monument. The opinions range from immediately after Shiva up until after the twelve months have elapsed, but everyone agrees it should not be later than right after the year concludes. One of the major explanations given by Rebbi Akiva Eiger is that the purpose of the monument is to make sure that the person will not be forgotten. This is not necessary during the twelve months because the memory of the deceased remains fresh in people’s minds throughout the twelve months. The Rabbis taught that the memory of the deceased is forgotten, or dimmed, after twelve months. This does not mean we forget about our loved one. Rather it is stating that the pain and anguish we felt throughout the first year dissipates. This happens because of time. It matters little whether the mourner was busy or not during the time of mourning – when the year concludes, the process of mourning is over. We conclude the year by seeing the power and significance to the yearly cycle of events. Even more noteworthy is the renewal of something after a year has passed.

In a one hundred -eighty degree turn from mourning, we can value another aspect of Jewish life: the blessing of Shehecheyanu that is recited on a new creation, and other new and fresh things which follow a season or a year. There are certain Mitzvos that we are commanded to perform only once a year at a specific time, and therefore we recite a Shehecheyanu in addition to the blessing of that Mitzva. This coming Shabbos there is a Mitzva D’Oraisa, a Biblical commandment (just like Zachor) to read Parshas Parah according to Tosfos in Brachos 13. The Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 685:7 states, “…therefore the people living in villages who don’t have a minyan need to go to a place where there is a minyan to listen to these portions which are Biblically commanded”. There is a story about the Chofetz Chaim, who prior to completing the Yeshiva building in Radun, davened with his students in a private home. On the Shabbos of ‘Zachor’ he went to the local Shul to listen to the reading because a Mitzva of such magnitude requires ‘Hiddur Mitzva” and therefore needed to read it B’Rov Am Hadras Melech - with a multitude of people and not with a small group. This principle holds true a hundred times more regarding the reading of the Megilas Esther. Some believe that they might be doing a good thing by creating more Megillah readings, by splitting into smaller groups. Not so. It is wrong to take away from the larger group to form smaller ones so that people can read privately when the alternative exists for everyone to come together.

Some people feel they can mourn a little more or a little less. They think their decision can be based upon their feelings, believing all fall within the boundaries of Halacha. I’m sorry to inform them that they are incorrect. They are wrong. The unity of the Jewish people does not depend upon the individual’s understanding of the Klal (the group); rather it is their submission to the Kehilla, to the gathering of the Jewish people, and to what we do together as a whole, not to individual parts.

This can be expounded upon through this week’s double Torah portions. The word ‘Vayakhel’ means to assemble - Moshe gathers Am Yisrael together. The second Parsha, ‘Pekudei’ means the accounts or to remember. *Reb Mordechai Yosef Leiner, known as the Ishbitzer. explains the connection between the two parshios in his sefer Mei HaShiloach, explaining that these are the accounts of the Mishkan, said to organize and complete the arrangement of Parshas Vayakhel. Parshas Vayakhel set up all the utensils and Kelim of the Mishkan, while Pekudei sets those items into motion, showing their actual practical use. First the Torah writes about the construction of the Ark (37:1) and later placed the Tablets in the Ark (40:20). In Vayakhel they made the Shulchan (37:10) and in Pekudei they arranged the bread on the Shulchan (40:23). In (37:13) they made the Lamp or the Menorah and later on (40:25) the lamps were lit before Hashem. In Vayakhel (37:25) the Incense Altar was made of gold and later in Pekudei (40:27) the incense was burned on it. In the beginning of Perek 38 the Sacrificial Altar was built, and in Pekudei (40:29) the offering and meal offering were burnt. The last connection in Vayakhel (38:8) the Kiyor, the washstand, was constructed and in Pekudei (40:30) it was filled with water for washing. The word ‘Pekudei’ means to fill in everything that was missing in the utensils made in Vayakhel.

Every person is a Keli/a vessel that Hashem has put into this world. That vessel needs to be filled and used for its ultimate purpose and goal - to serve Hashem with all of Klal Yisrael together. A person cannot pick and choose what goes in or what goes on top. There is a standard held across the board that unifies us all. It’s not about ME; it’s about WE.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica (1801-1854) was a Rabbinic Hasidic thinker and founder of the Ishbitza-Radzyn Chasidic dynasty. Rabbi Mordechai Yosef was born in the Polish town of Tomashov in 1801. At the age of two his father died. Rabbi Mordechai Yosef became a disciple of Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa where he joined Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and Rabbi Yosef of Yartshev, who were also both born in Tomashov. When Rabbi Menachem Mendel became Rebbe in Kotzk, Reb Mordechai Yosef became his disciple there. In 1839 Rabbi Mordechai Yosef became a rebbe in Tomaszów, moving subsequently to Izbica. His leading disciple was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Eiger, grandson of Rabbi Aiva Eiger. Mordechai Yosef Leiner is buried beneath an ohel in the Jewish cemetery in Izbica.


Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780