The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

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Friday, February 22

The Weekly Shtikle - Ki Sisa

Moshe Rabbeinu, in his defence of B'nei Yisrael, pleads with HaShem (32:13) to "remember Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov to whom You vowed by Your Self..." Rashi explains Moshe's plea. "You did not swear to them by something that is perishable and impermanent, not by the heavens, not by the earth; not by the mountains and not by the hills, but by Your Self."


Rashi to Devarim 32:1 explains that when Moshe Rabbeinu gave B'nei Yisrael their final discourse, the song of Ha'azinu, he made the heavens and the earth the witnesses for he will ultimately pass from this world but the heavens and the earth are everlasting. With these two Rashis presented beside each other, the difficulty is rather obvious. Here the heavens and earth are considered to be passing entities with no lasting life and suddenly, in Devarim, they become eternal.


I found a simple, practical answer in the Silberman Chumash. In Devarim, the heavens and earth are being compared to Man. They are surely more everlasting than Man. However, here they are being compared to HaShem, who is surely far more everlasting than the heavens and the earth. (Another reader has pointed out that heaven and earth are chosen to serve as witnesses against Man. But here, their task would have been to hold HaShem accountable, for which they would be inadequate.)


Perhaps another way to resolve this discrepancy is that the heavens and earth may very well be eternal, everlasting entities from a practical perspective. However, what Moshe is saying here is that their very existence is at the whim of HaShem's will. Although in all likelihood they will never cease to be, they very well could if HaShem so desired. And that lends a special significance to the fact that HaShem swore by His very Self to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Kol Annnos
Dikdukian: Yeiaseh vs.Taaseh by Ephraim Stulberg
Dikdukian: Velo Shasu
Dikdukian: Minimizing Sin

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Friday, February 8

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

Yesterday, 2 Adar, was the 13th yahrtzeit of my Zadie, Rabbi Yaakov Bulka. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak, z"l.

A special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my cousin Simcha Bella (née Seliger) and Yochanan Rose on their recent marriage in London which I had the pleasure of attending. Mazal tov to the extended Seliger, Rose and Jakobovits mishpachos and special mazal tov to Oma Jakobovits.


A number of years ago, I posed the following question and received back a number of nice suggestions which I would like to share.


At the beginning of the parsha (25:3-7) Moshe is told to collect numerous different materials for the purpose of building the mishkan. He is told to collect gold, silver, copper and various other materials without any indication as to what they will be used for. Then he is told to collect oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and the ketores and stones for the eifod and choshen. Why is the specific purpose listed for these materials but not for the others?

1.       The relative value of the metals and fabrics was known to be greater and thus their importance was easily understood. It was more difficult for the people to understand the importance of the oil and the spices. They therefore needed to be informed right away of the important tasks for which these items were needed. (This answer would not suffice for the stones, however.)

2.       This week's parsha deals at length with the construction of the mishkan using the wood, the metals, and the skins. The oil, spices and stones are not dealt with more thoroughly until the next parsha. Since their purpose isn't discussed until later, it is mentioned briefly at the outset.

3.       The other materials were more readily available to B'nei Yisrael. The oil, spices and stones took greater toil to seek out. As in answer 1, they needed to be informed of the special purpose they would serve in order to motivate them to find the materials and bring them in.

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.


Eliezer Bulka

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 

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Friday, February 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishpatim

This coming Sunday, 28 Shevat, marks the sixth yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, R' Yitzchak Yeres. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yitzchak Chaim ben Moshe Yosef.

Among the many monetary laws governing interactions between a Jew and his neighbour, we are introduced to some guidelines regarding loans. The section begins, (22:24) "im kesef talveh es ami." Very simply read, if you are to lend money to My people. As Ohr HaChayim quotes, Rabbi Yishmael states in the midrash (Mechilta) that all instances of the word im are to be translated as "if" and imply that what follows is optional. Our pasuk, however, is the one exception as it is to be understood as when, not if. We are required to lend money to a fellow Jew in need. Ohr HaChayim questions why, if this is meant to be mandatory, is the word im even used?

Ohr HaChayim offers a fascinating explanation. When one observes individuals who have been blessed with tremendous wealth well beyond their own needs, he might be led to question why HaShem would run the world in this way. Why isn't everyone provided exactly what they need? After all, Yaakov beseeched of HaShem only (Bereishis 28:20) "bread to eat and clothes to wear." But some people to do not merit to receive all of their allotted needs directly from HaShem. Rather, these provisions have been redirected to others such that he will have to be sustained indirectly, by the hand of Man.

This pasuk therefore teaches: im kesef – if you find yourself with an abundance of cash, more than you need for yourself, you should use the extra to provide for others because that is why you have been provided with this excess in the first place. (Gramatically, the pesik, vertical line, between the words kesef and talveh lend extra support for this approach.)

I found this idea to particularly pertinent to another recent current event. Howard Schultz, the Jewish former-CEO of Starbucks, recently announced that he is seriously considering running for President in 2020. Almost exactly 17 years ago, he published an article for in which he details an encounter he had with R' Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt"l, the Mir Rosh Yeshivah. He told the following Holocaust story:

"As they went into the area to sleep, only one person was given a blanket for every six. The person who received the blanket, when he went to bed, had to decide, 'Am I going to push the blanket to the five other people who did not get one, or am I going to pull it toward myself to stay warm?'"

And Rabbi Finkel says, "It was during this defining moment that we learned the power of the human spirit, because we pushed the blanket to five others."

And with that, he stood up and said, "Take your blanket. Take it back to America and push it to five other people."

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup

Dikdukian: Tricky Vowels

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

Dikdukian: Jewish Milk

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The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on