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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Only in a person rich in the love of man can the love of the nation flourish, abetted by that person’s nobility and his greatness in spirit and deed”

(Orot HaKodesh 4:405)

Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
” May the Favor of the L-rd Our G-d Rest Upon Us “

With the completion of the Tabernacle, it was brought to Moses: “All the work of the Communion Tent Tabernacle was then completed…. They brought the Tabernacle to Moses” (Exodus 39:32-33). Rashi explains:
“Nobody was able to set it up because of the weight of the boards which no human strength was capable of setting up on end. Moses, however, succeeded in placing it in position. Moses said to G-d: ‘How is its erection possible by human beings?’ G-d answered him: ‘You do your part with your hand!’ He appeared to be erecting it, but in fact it set itself on end and rose of its own accord. This is why the Torah says, ‘The tabernacle was erected’ (40:17). It was erected by itself” (Rashi on Exodus 39:33).
It was erected by itself; in other words, with G-d’s assistance.
Indeed, man’s strength is limited. Sometimes he faces formidable tasks that are as hard to carry out as the Tabernacle boards were to lift up. Yet let him not despair. We also have to take into account that G-d assists us. Our rule of thumb is that “if someone sanctifies himself a little bit, doing whatever he is capable of by his own efforts, G-d will sanctify him greatly, providing him with divine assistance” (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato in Mesilat Yesharim, Midat HaKedushah).

Today, ours is the generation of the reestablishment of our national home, the ingathering of the exiles and the consolidation of our hold on the land of our life’s blood. This era is fraught with difficulties, complications, struggles and wars. Sometimes we face harsh, complicated challenges affecting our survival, our security and our economic welfare. No less difficult are the tasks we face in the social and spiritual realm, like imbuing the People of Israel with Jewish tradition, or the unity of our people. Let us not despair. Quite the contrary, we must strive and struggle, and G-d will then help us. We will erect the “heavy Tabernacle boards” of our Jewish State, and we will then enjoy the blessing of Moses when he erected the Tabernacle, that the Divine Presence will come to rest upon our handiwork. “May the favor of the L-rd our G-d rest upon us. O L-rd, consolidate for us the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17).
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom

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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Bet El


I would like to mention a new-old doctrine: the doctrine of brotherhood. We, the entire Jewish people, are all brothers. So were we created and so were we born.

When we left Egypt, we were sunken at the bottom of the 49th level of impurity (Zohar). Everything that we learned from our father Abraham was almost forgotten (Rambam, Hilchot Avodah Zarah, end of Chapter 1).
Yet a number of things still remained – the main things: we remained brothers; we didn’t change our names, language or dress; and we didn’t speak evil gossip. By the merit of all these we were redeemed.

It is true that Moses said, “‘Indeed the matter is known!’ (Exodus 2:9) – now I understand why we suffer. It is because of evil gossip. I saved the Jew from the Egyptian who was smiting him, but evil people spread this news, and now I’m in danger” (Rashi).
Yet we didn’t all speak evil gossip. And those that did speak evil gossip, either didn’t leave Egypt or dropped out along the way. They simply were not brothers.

In the Pesach Haggadah, the evil son is told, “Had you been there you would not have been redeemed.” How then did the evildoers leave Egypt? The answer is that the evildoer who would not have been redeemed was one who, like the evil son of the Haggadah, has “removed himself from the Jewish People.” If he was an evildoer in many ways, yet remain tied with brotherhood to the Jewish people, he would have left Egypt.

The brotherhood formed in Egypt is rectification for the groundless hatred that broke out between the brothers against Joseph, as well as the arrogance of the sons of Rachel and Leah to the sons of the maidservants. In Egypt, we were all in the same boat. We became brothers. And this rectification appeared in all its glory in the case of Moses: “He went out to his brothers” (Exodus 2:11). This is the foundation of Israel existing as a people. On the other hand, our sages expounded as follows: “There was an opaque darkness…. People could not see each other” (Exodus 10:22-23). When a person does not see his friend, that is the greatest darkness there is. This is the foundation of the Sabbatical year.

Obviously, the First Temple was destroyed because of bloodshed, idolatry and sexual sin. These are terrible, heinous crimes. But was it destroyed because of the Sabbatical year? Could it go that far? Our master, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains in his introduction to his book “Shabbat Ha’Aretz” and in his article “Nechamat Yisrael” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah) that the theme of the Sabbatical year is love. We no longer say, “Mine is mine and yours is yours,” but rather, “Mine is yours.” We say, “Take, my brother. The harvest belongs to us all. It is for all of us to eat, and not for sale, and not to be destroyed. It is not even for making medicines. For if we become brothers, we won’t be sick.”

The land is very pleased with this. Then it too participates and yields three times as much progress as usual. Cain was cursed. G-d said, “When you work the ground, it will no longer give you of its strength” (Genesis 4:12). Cain had jeopardized brotherhood. During the Sabbatical year, brotherhood returns, and then the blessing of the Land returns.

In the Mussaf Shemoneh Esreh we say, “Because of our sins who were exiled from our land.” The Second Temple was destroyed because of groundless hatred (Yoma 9b). We had jeopardized our brotherhood. Now, brotherhood had returned, and we have returned to our land. Yes, brotherhood has returned! Our nation is full of love! Yes! Obviously, there is a small minority of haters. In every camp there are several haters. Yet that is a negligible minority. If our nation has 50,000 haters, that is just 1%. Yet in all walks of life, people are talking to one another. There is brotherhood.

In every family there are Jews of different types and from different streams – and they love one another and help one another. And in every workplace, there are all sorts of workers, and they work together amicably. And especially in the Army, there is brotherhood. If there were no mutual love between comrades-in-arms, you could close down the army. Love between comrades-in-arms means that a person is ready to be killed for his brother. Is that not groundless love? And we find it not just amongst Israel’s heroes who were decorated for bravery after the last Lebanese war and Israel’s wars that preceded it, but in every fighter.

We are not uniform, but we are united. In our opinions we may be divided, but not divisively so. We can fight for our views, but let us not forget that we are brothers. Let us not say, “Cut the baby in half!” nor, “Let neither you nor I have it.” (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah) 20.

The Committee for Finding Flaws in Others is not us. We are not members! The very idea is crazy. It’s devisive. It’s impure. Instead of casting blame – build! Build the Land! Build the nation! Build up brotherhood.

Rabbi Azriel Ariel

Moses Blessed Them

The end of the Tabernacle work is described in great detail: “All the work on the Communion Tent Tabernacle was thus completed…. They brought the Tabernacle to Moses” (Exodus 39:32-33). In response, “When Moses saw that all the work had been done exactly as God had ordered, he blessed all the workers” (verse 43).
That was a great moment of exaltation. Two-and –a-half months of exerted effort had come to an end. The time had come to fulfill the purpose of the exodus – “I, the L-rd their G-d, brought them out of Egypt to make My presence felt among them” (Exodus 29:46).
The Israelites had met the challenge. No longer were they building golden calves, but building the Tabernacle and its vessels. Precisely as G-d commanded, so did they do. Therefore, they received Moses’s blessing. And what is the appropriate blessing for the situation, for this feeling?
The Midrashim, and Rashi in their wake, bring the formula of Moses’s blessing: “Moses said to them: ‘May it be G-d’s will that the Divine Presence should rest upon your handiwork.'” This blessing has two facets to it: One is that the Tabernacle should indeed fulfill its purpose, of which it says, “They shall build me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8). Yet Moses’s words have another facet to them. He does not make do with a blessing that the Divine Presence should rest upon the Tabernacle, but upon “man’s handiwork”. The Tabernacle has value precisely due to its being Israel’s handiwork. Here is what our sages said in Ketuvot 5a:
Bar Kapara expounded, “The deeds of the righteous are greater than the works of heaven and earth, for regarding the works of heaven and earth it says, “Yea, My hand has laid the foundation of the earth. My right hand has spread out the heavens” (Isaiah 48:13); and regarding the deeds of the righteous it says, “The place You dwell in is Your accomplishment, O L-rd. The shrine of G-d, Your hands have founded” (Exodus 17:17).
In the creation of the world, only one hand was involved – the hand of G-d. By contrast, regarding the Tabernacle construction, two hands were involved – the hand of G-d and the hand of man, working in partnership. More precisely, both hands were divine: there was the hand of G-d working directly, by way of miracles, and the hand of G-d working in the world by way of the body and personality of man, by way of nature.
The meaning of Moses’s blessing is very deep: that the Divine Presence, so heavenly, should rest upon the handiwork of those building the Tabernacle, human and mundane. Precisely because this is an earthly, human activity, it is appropriate to have G-d’s presence rest on it, for the entire purpose of the Divine Presence is the fulfillment of G-d’s word on earth.
In light of this we can understand the continuation of Rashi’s words, with assistance from the allusions of our master, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook (Shemoneh Kevatzim III:348). Moses’s blessing does not end with this utterance. He adds to it the last verse from Psalm 90:17: (Tefilah LeMoshe): “May Your pleasantness, L-rd our G-d, rest on us. Establish for us the work of our hands. The work of our hands establish.”
This is what this verse is talking about – the affinity between man’s handiwork (the work of our hands) and G-d’s revealing Himself (G-d’s pleasantness). This affinity is part of the foundation of the building of the Tabernacle. The creation of the world is called “melacha”: “With the seventh day, G-d finished all the work [melacha] that He had done. He thus ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had been doing” (Genesis 2:2). Likewise, the building of the Tabernacles is also called “melachah”: “When Moses saw that all the work had been done exactly as God had ordered, he blessed all the workers” (Exodus 39:43). Yet Adam’s sin in Eden placed a curse on human labor. “The ground will be cursed because of you” (Genesis 3:17). Adam was banished from the divine Garden of Eden after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – and after imposing his ego on his mission. Once human activity was not performed for the sake of heaven, “so that the world would continue to function” (Genesis 2:3), the curse then rested upon it.
The construction of the Tabernacle served to return man to the lost Garden of Eden, to Adam’s mission of “tending it and preserving it” (2:15) from before the expulsion. The rectification came about by the fact that everything that was done, was done precisely “as G-d commanded Moses” for the sake of heaven, without introducing human, egocentric tendencies and aspirations. All this being the case, when Moses sees the work, and sees that they have done it as G-d commanded, he immediately blesses them with the words, “”May Your pleasantness, L-rd our G-d, rest on us. Establish for us the work of our hands. The work of our hands establish.”
The “pleasantness” is the return to the Garden of Eden. Toiling for the sake of Heaven brings that same feeling of pleasantness. As Rav Kook said (Olat Re’iyah II:44), “Divine pleasure and pleasantness are the most lofty content. They appear out of the divine light which is revealed over the entire system of life and existence.” Under these circumstances, man’s deeds are exalted and consolidated, being directed towards the world’s being perfected under the sovereignty of the Almighty. Their perfection has two facets: “Establish for us the work of our hands” – by us, through our effort. And “the work of our hands establish” – by dint of the divine content stored within them.
By such means does the construction of the Tabernacle perfect man’s labors in every place and time, restoring him to the Garden of Eden. For that reason, when the Sabbath exits, and we return to the workaday world, we once more request:
“May Your pleasantness, L-rd our G-d, rest on us. Establish for us the work of our hands. The work of our hands establish.”

Translation: R. Blumberg

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