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Thursday, February 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Purim / Tetzaveh

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

 

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

As we have discussed on a number of occasions, the juxtaposition of certain parshios to certain events in the calendar is no coincidence and there is often an underlying message to be found. In almost every non-leap year, the Shabbos before Purim, Shabbas Zachor, falls out on parshas Tetzaveh. In anomalous years such as this, it falls out on Terumah, with Purim itself running right up against Tetzaveh (or on it, for Shushan Purim.) There must be a connection between these parshios and Purim.

 

As we know, HaShem's name is completely missing from the text of the megillah. But I find that in addition to that, the megillah also lacks a strong historical context. From the text itself, we know very little about the story's place in history, what preceded it, what followed it, and even some explanation of the events recounted. Who was Achashveirosh? What was his relationship with the Jews? What was his party all about? Perhaps the only inkling of historical context in the megillah is the brief biography of Mordechai, in which we are told that he was part of the final exile at the end of the first Temple. For "the rest of the story," we must turn to our sages.

 

Over the course of the megillah, we go to great lengths to demonize the evil Haman, and rightfully so. We make loud noises at the mere sound of his name and then stick in a good curse for him and his wife in the Shoshanas Yaakov song that follows the reading. But what about Achashveirosh? Where does he fit in? There's no mention of him in the song. And we certainly don't make noise for him. (Would the reading ever end if we did?) But we are told in the gemara that the Jews had already begun rebuilding the beis haMikdash. It was Achashveirosh who put an abrupt halt to the reconstruction. There was a well-known prophecy by both Yirmiyahu and Daniel that the Jews would go through 70 years of exile after which they would return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the beis haMikdash. Belshatzar, a previous ruler, had come to the conclusion that 70 years had passed and rejoiced that the prophecy would not come true. His calculation was erroneous and he was dead by the next morning. Achashveirosh made some adjustments to the calculation and determined that now according to his enhanced calculation, which would also prove to be erroneous, the 70 years had passed and there was no more hope for the Jews (Megillah 11b.) This was the cause for celebration. The keilim mikeilim shonim (1:7) were in fact the vessels of the beis haMikdash

 

It is understandable that Esther could not have written anything in the megillah itself that would shed a negative light on her husband, the king. But the midrashim make it quite clear what Achashveirosh was all about. Perhaps the juxtaposition of parshios Terumah and Tetzaveh are meant to help preserve that historical context. We spend two complete parshios detailing the beauty and the splendour of the mishkan and the men who were tasked with doing its work. That special beauty was even enhanced in the edifice constructed by Shelomoh to be the permanent dwelling place of the Holy Presence. After nearly 70 years since its destruction, we were ever so close to getting it back. The beauty and the splendour would return once again. The story of Esther chronicles the hurdles and obstacles we needed to overcome to finally reach that moment.

 

Purim samei'ach and good Shabbos!

Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'simchah

 

Please see my Purim archives for some more insightful (not inciteful) thoughts on Purim.

 

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Dikdukian Posts on Megillas Esther

Dikdukian: Ner Tamid

Dikdukian: Of Plurals and Singulars

Dikdukian: The Lord and the Rings

Dikdukian: Tarshsih veShoham

Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah

 

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

Friday, February 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

As I have done for my other grandparents, I am dedicating the shtikles during this year le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

After detailing the structure of each component of the mishkan, the Torah explains their arrangement. When dealing with the placement of the shulchan and the menorah, the pasuk states (26:35) "And you shall place the shulchan outside of the curtain and the menorah opposite the shulchan, on the southern side of the mishkan. And the shulchan shall be placed on the northern side." This pasuk could easily have been condensed to only mention the shulchan once. Why was the placement of the shulchan mentioned before and after the placement of the menorah?

The menorah traditionally represents Torah and spirituality while the shulchan represents wealth and sustenance. Sifsei Kohein bases his explanation on the mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:17) "Im ein kemach, ein Torah. Im ein Torah, ein kemach." Without flour (sustenance), there can be no Torah and without Torah, there is no flour. The shulchan was brought into the mishkan first and placed in front of the curtain as a reflection of the first phrase, that there can be no Torah without sustenance first. However, its position on the northern side was not fixed until after the menorah was placed in its spot on the southern side, this to reflect the second phrase, that without Torah there is no sustenance.

Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, explained the Sifsei Kohein based on the GR"A's explanation of the mishnah. When the mishnah tells us that without sustenance there can be no Torah, it means that we need sustenance in order to achieve Torah. However, when the mishnah says that without Torah, there is no sustenance, it means without Torah as the ultimate goal, the sustenance is futile and purposeless. That is why although the shulchan is brought into the mishkan first, it is only placed in position after the menorah is first placed in its position, to show that in the end, the Torah must be the central focus with the sustenance only a means to that end.

Netziv in Ha'ameik Davar also deals with this issue and offers an alternate explanation. The shulchan has, in fact, a two-tiered symbolism. On one level, it represents sustenance and blessing insomuch as is needed for everyday livelihood. This is represented by the lechem hapanim, the bread that was placed on the shulchan. The structure itself, however, represents wealth and majesty. It is for this reason that it is placed in the north. In order to facilitate the efficient emersion in Torah, one needs only achieve the first level of sufficient sustenance. The next level of wealth and majesty can only be reached through the merit of Torah. Therefore, the shulchan is brought into the mishkan first but is put in its place after the menorah and that is why the pasuk must mention it twice.

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Al Pi Cheshbon: Amudei HeChatzeir
Dikdukian: Venahapoch hu

Dikdukian: Watch out for that kamatz

Dikdukian: Kikar Zahav

Dikdukian: The Lord and the Rings  


Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

Friday, February 12

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishpatim / Adar

This past Wednesday, 28 Shevat, marked the 8th yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, R' Yitzchak Yeres. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yitzchak Chaim ben Moshe Yosef HaLevi, z"l.

 

This coming Sunday, 2 Adar, marks the 15th yahrtzeit of my Zadie, Rabbi Yaakov Bulka. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak, z"l.

 

The city of Baltimore in particular and the world at large is saddened by the passing of HaRav Sheftel Neuberger, dean of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel. He carried the legacy of his father, Rav Herman Neuberger, but will probably best be remembered for his powerful and inspiring davening, laining, and singing at just about every occasion. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Sheftel Meir ben Naftali HaLevi, z"l.

 

This past Erev Shabbos, the matriarch of our family, Oma Jakobovits, passed away at the age of 93. She lived a full life in which she faced many daunting challenges – notably, leaving her parents at the age of 11 to flee Nazi Germany, the loss of her daughter (my mother) and numerous battles with cancer. Through it all, her faith in HaShem and devotion to yiddishkeit never wavered. This article which covers a talk she would give to Bais Yaakov girls detailing her experiences escaping Germany was recently republished from 2009. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Chayah Sarah bas Zechariah Chaim, z"l.

 

As Rosh Chodesh is already upon us, a true hesped is not in order. Perhaps a more uplifting thought is appropriate. Our calendar puts us in quite a conundrum. With the onset of Adar, we are expected to increase (perhaps infinitely, as we've previously discussed from my Zadie,) our happiness. But this date also represents a very significant checkpoint in the timeline of events over the past year. If we think back to last year's Rosh Chodesh Adar, everything was normal, for the most part. The threat of the virus was known but appeared distant. By Purim, that had already drastically changed. Now, we look back at a year of sorrow and loss, only accentuated by the events of the past week.

 

So how do we move forward? How do we enter Adar with the appropriate mindset after everything we've been through over the past year? This is indeed the perfect time to take a lesson from the life my Oma lived. One of her hallmarks was her ability to overcome just about any challenge to attend a family simcha no matter where – North America, England or Israel – even well into her later years. Every simcha was automatically enhanced by Oma's presence. Nachas and love were the fuel that powered her and propelled her across the world, time and time again. Simply put, Oma would not let anything get in the way of a simcha. And so, as we enter Adar, neither should we. No matter what the challenge, she always lived with a constant appreciation of the miracles that allowed her to live the life that she had. As much as we have suffered over this past year, we must gaze upon the miracles of Purim and Pesach and be inspired in the same way.

 

By way of observation, there is another interesting nuance in the specific wording. We are commanded in the Torah to be happy on the chagim. Even when we are told to purchase items for our wife and children, it is simply so that we can facilitate their fulfillment of their own obligation to be happy. With regards to Adar, however, it is stated marbim be'simchah. We need to elevate simchah. This means that we are to extend ourselves to increase happiness and joy in general – not only our own but that of everyone around us. Perhaps focusing this effort outward, instead of inward, will help us achieve this task more wholesomely – this year in particular but in any year, really.

 

Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'simchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup

Dikdukian: Tricky Vowels

Dikdukian: Answer vs. Torture
Dikdukian: Give it to me
Dikdukian: Ha'isha viladeha

Dikdukian: Jewish Milk

Dikdukian: Three Strikes and you're out

Dikdukian: The Ox and his Friend

Al Pi Cheshbon: 10,000 Kikars