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Parshas Pekudei - Every Contribution Counts                                 Rosh Chodesh Adar II 5779

03/07/19 11:22:40


In my message for Parshas Yisro I introduced the concept of gratitude and noted at the time that I had omitted some key individuals and institutions which shaped me throughout my childhood and adolescence. that message I wrote, “Since I would like to give proper credit to a few more people and organizations, I will take the liberty to write about them independently over the next few months, giving proper homage, albeit very delayed.” One such person omitted was an integral part of my childhood years from about age eight to thirteen.

I was born and raised in Borough Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. My family lived within a few blocks of two sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. My mother, A”H, has a brother, Rabbi Ziegler, who was the Rabbi of a small shul where we all davened. All my cousins and I learned how to daven and lead the prayers for Shabbos morning at that shul. My cousin Duvy and I are the same age. We started at the bottom by concluding the davening on Friday night and Shabbos morning with Yigdal and Adon Olam., graduating to Ein Kelokeinu, then to Pesukei D’Zimra, and ultimately - after bar mitzvah- to Shacharis and Mussaf. The opportunity we had was not wasted as we all learned the skill of conducting services from being the Gabbai to giving Divrei Torah, even learning how to run a shul. Some of my cousins became pulpit Rabbis, but even those who didn’t are fully capable of doing so.

I spent every Shabbos afternoon with my cousin (The Rabbi’s son) at his house. We played board games for hours and also reviewed some of what we had learned during the week with his father, my uncle Eric. Shalosh Seudos was spent with my aunt Libby, enjoying her amazing deviled eggs! From there we went to Shul, and after Havdala, as my uncle, the Rabbi ,was conducting “shul business” he instructed and encouraged us to clean and tidy up the Shul. My uncle gave us twenty-five cents per week to put all of the Chumashim and Siddurim back onto their respective shelves. At the time someone may have accused my uncle of violating child labor laws. For me, looking back at that small investment in demonstrating the Kedushas Beis Haknesses, the holiness of respecting and maintaining the shul became a part of my inner self; it was an invaluable lesson learned. When someone takes care of something, he ultimately shows respect for it and its environs. The lessons of tidying up a shul have remained with me for life. Since that time, caring for a shul has been instilled deep inside of me. Therefore, upon entering or exiting a shul am drawn to either putting chairs back to their place, throwing out the papers and tissues and organizing the seforim. Even today, I automatically tidy up, foregoing the twenty-five cents that I rightfully earned and deserved. This practice of caring for the shul and its property strengthened me in areas of Kavod Beis HaKnesses, honor and respect to a shul. To this I owe a debt of gratitude and Hakaras Hatov to my Uncle Eric, Rabbi Ziegler, my Aunt Libby and cousin Duvy. They gave me that framework during those early, formative years. I always wondered where my uncle identified this essential practice, especially for young children. I came upon the answer which is found in a related piece to the Mishkan.

The Torah in this week’s Parsha Pekudei states in Shmos 39:43 “Vayar Moshe Es Kal HaMelacha, V’Hinei Asu Osa Ka’Asher Tziva Hashem Kein Asu, Vayevarech osam Moshe”. “When Moshe saw that all the work had been done exactly as God had ordered, he blessed all the workers”. Rashi explains that Moshe said to them, ‘May it be His will, that the Divine Presence (Shechina) abide in the work of your hands.’: “And let the graciousness of Hashem be upon us and the work of your hands”. This ‘Vihi Noam is part of one of eleven psalms which begin with “A Prayer of Moshe”.

The MaHarsham* in his sefer Techeiles Mordechai explains the double usage of ‘the work had been done,’ based upon the Alshich’s commentary on the verse “V’Asu Li Mikdash in the beginning of Teruma which explains that in addition to the actual building of the Mishkan itself, there is an additional component of building – You. The verse ‘make me a sanctuary so that I can dwell in it’ is, in actuality, in two parts: the first half is the physical building; the last words make a place for Hashem to reside within each of us. So, too, in our Parsha,, in addition to the work that was done to build the physical structure, the spiritual structure was also constructed within each of themselves. Based upon these two components, Moshe blessed the people. ‘Umaaseh Yadeinu Konina Aleinu is the physical building; Umaaseh Yadeinu Konineihu is the completion of the individual. The Midrash Tanchuma in Nasso 29 understands the Shechina of Hashem resting within those whose handiwork was and continues to be a part of the Mishkan. Today’s Mishkan is represented in every community shul. Moshe blessed them for this world when the Jews of the desert built the Mishkan. HaKadosh Baruch Hu will bless us for Olam Haba when the upkeep of the Mishkan/Sanctuary/Shul is maintained.

The book of Shemos ends with the completion of the Mishkan’s building. At the conclusion of each sefer we call out the words ‘Chazak Chazak V’Nischazeik: Be strong, be strong, and be strengthened’. With the accomplishment of building the Mishkan, the Jews became stronger, strengthening their identity and connection to Hashem. When one takes out time and puts forth effort to build something, he cherishes it and creates a deeper, stronger bond between the builder and its occupant. Subsequent to the construction comes the upkeep and maintenance, whether it was for the Mishkan, Beis Hamikdash or for every Beit HaKnesset / Shul in today’s day and age. The ongoing commitment to maintain and beautify the Mishkan strengthened those who did the work and again bonded with the occupant of the Mishkan, namely God.

Our Mishkan - our Shul - is built and stands as the place in which Hashem resides. We can strengthen the physical building by donating to fix, repair and maintain the physical structure. We strengthen our commitment through those acts. Secondly, when we take the time to tidy up our shul, especially after Shabbos we strengthen ourselves and form an ever-deeper love and commitment to Hashem. If we all participate in both segments, each one will ‘Chazak’ – strengthen - ourselves in two ways so that collectively we ,as a Shul, a community and people, will reach the level of ‘V’Nitchazeik’ and we will all come to be strengthened by each other’s involvement and care for God’s home away from home.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


*Rabbi Sholom Mordechai Schwadron (1835–1911) was known by his acronym Maharsham. He was a foremost halachic authority whose main works "Shailos Uteshuvos Maharsham" and "Daas Torah" are widely studied sources of practical Jewish law. Among his prominent works are Mishpat Shalom on Choshen Mishpat. He was well known as a very lenient rabbi. He also authored Techeiles Mordechai, a three-volume commentary of the Torah.

He was born in 1835 in Złoczów to Moshe Schwadron, a Torah scholar, and studied under Rabbi Yoel Ashkenazy. After his marriage he was bequeathed a wood business and was hesitant to become a rabbi. However, he did so at the age of 31. It is known that after each din Torah (case in a rabbinical court), he would explain to the loser the reason he lost until he understood clearly. If the person was unable to understand, he would tell him, "You must have a good friend or family member that is a Torah scholar. Send him to me and I will explain it to him so you will feel that you were done justice." He lived in Berezhany where he acquired the nickname Gaon of Berezhany. He died there in 1911. His grandson, Rabbi Sholom Schwadron, was known as the "Maggid of Jerusalem".


Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780