Halacha for Friday 5 Adar II 5784 March 15 2024

Parashat Pekudei

A ma’amar from HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, Maran’s zt”l grandson
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

How By Making the Effort we can Achieve, Hashem will then Take us to Unimaginable Heights

It states in this week’s Parashah following the completion of the preparation of the Mishkan and its artefacts, “They brought the Mishkan to Moshe” (Shemot 39:33). Rashi z”l explains that they were unable to erect it due to the weight of the Mishkan’s beams. Since Moshe hadn’t done any work towards the Mishkan, Hashem let him have the merit that he will erect the Mishkan. So, Hashem said to Moshe, “Moshe! Busy yourself with your hands and it will appear as if you are erecting the Mishkan, however it will be erected and established by itself!”

Therefore, it states later in the Parashah, “In the first month of the second year [of the Exodus], on the first of the month, the Mishkan ‘was erected’” (ibid. 40:17). Not that Moshe Rabbeinu erected it, but rather it “was erected” on its own, through a miracle.

HaGaon Rav Yaakov Galinski zt”l (1920-2014) makes a wonderful comment. He made careful calculations and worked out that each of the Mishkan’s beams, which were very large and plated with gold, were approximately 3.6 tonnes! A huge weight. Therefore, without a doubt there was a great miracle that Moshe was able to erect the Mishkan.

However, if so, he asks, how is it at all possible to say that “Moshe erected the Mishkan” (ibid. 40:18), with all of Moshe’s tremendous strength, that he was mighty, as the Gemara (Nedarim 38a) says that Moshe himself spread the tent over the Mishkan, yet despite this, the actual Mishkan, the wooden beams, he didn’t erect! He only “made out” as if he had erected it, but in the Torah it states he literally erected the Mishkan? How can this be?

Rebbi Yaakov zt”l explains that in truth the true Mishkan, is built in the heart if  a person! As it states, “They shall make Me a Mishkan, and I will dwell in them” (ibid. 25:8), and likewise it states in Tehillim (78:60), “…the tent where He dwelled among men”, and as the Gaon Rebbi Elazar Azikri z”l (1533-1600) the author of the work “Chareidim” (and also the author of the poem “Yedid Nefesh”) sings, “In my heart, I will build a Mishkan for His splendour”, and also this Mishkan, is very challenging to establish!

But “Busy yourself with your hands and it will appear as if you are erecting the Mishkan, however it will erect and be established by itself!” You just have to do what you are able to and from Heaven they will assist you to merit to complete the work.

A person must constantly aspire to do slightly more than their capacity, they should yearn for it, they should crave, and beseech Hashem that He help them, and one who come to purify, they help them! [See Yoma 38b.] Also, if it appears very very difficult, when a person truly wants and they pray for spirituality and make an effort based on their current ability, they then merit to great levels!

I will relate a story, which I brought in volume 2 of my work “Abir HaRoim”. The story is about the Gaon Rebbi Moshe  Zaruk z”l (1909-1981), who was one of the chachamim of Yeshivat Porat Yosef, he was an example and an exemplar how a person may reach high levels despite his living conditions being very difficult, and it didn’t appear that he had any hope.

In the year that Rebbi Yosef was born (1909), in the State of Libya, the midwife saw him that he had no life in himself and with great pain they informed his mother, your son has died. His mother sobbed and she made a vow and said, “Hashem, Master of Legions, if You take note of the suffering of Your maidservant, and You remember me, and do not forget Your maidservant, and give Your maidservant male offspring, then I shall give him to Hashem all the days of his life…[see Shmuel I 1:11], I will guard him to plant him in the courtyard of Hashem’s house, to knock on the doors of Torah and Divine service all the days of his life!” As the words left her mouth, suddenly one of the midwives noticed weak signs of life in the baby and she immediately lifted him up and revived him. Everyone thanked Hashem Yitbarach who raises the dead who granted the woman her request which she had beseeched Him.

However, with the effects of stress and fatigue, it became forgotten from the child’s family his mother’s vow, that she had said that she will dedicate him purely for Torah study. Therefore, when he grew up a little, his father would take him to his shop. There he would play with him and teach him a little about commerce and similar things.

When he was five years old, a rubella epidemic spread through Rebbi Yosef Zaruk’s city The child Yosef was also infected with the disease, and he lost sight in one eye and his second eye only had limited sight. His parents heard of a doctor in another city who had the ability to heal the child and to renew the sight in his eye which hadn’t yet become fully blind. However, when they travelled to the doctor, one of the travelers slapped the child on his eye and he totally lost his sight. However, during the examination conducted by the specialist doctor he informed the child and his parents that the child had become blind, and he will never be able to see for the rest of his life.

On that day their world darkened, and the parents and their son’s hearts were severely shattered when they heard this bitter news, that their son had lost his sight and become blind. As is the way of righteous women, the mother sat and began to think about her actions, why had this tremendous calamity befallen her? Whilst she was thinking, she clapped her hands, as she remembered that which had been forgotten. She had vowed to her G-d to dedicate her son to His service and the matter had been forgotten by her for all the days that the child had been with his father in the business. Therefore, the mother sobbed greatly with her bitter heart, saying that now that her son is considered dead [see Nedarim 64b], to collect the debt.

At that time, the child’s parents unanimously agreed to promise to pay and to take their son to the Talmud Torah, to sit him with other children, perhaps the child will be able to grasp something from what he studies. However, within a few days the teacher informed the child’s parents that due to his condition he cannot grasp anything which he is studying and even the little Torah that he had previously learnt has been forgotten from him due to his illness. Despite the teacher’s efforts to teach him, he brought up pottery in his hands.

Rebbi Yosef’s father heard and broke into a bitter cry, and with supplications from the depths of his heart, he implored the teacher that he continues with his son in the Talmud Torah. After a discussion between them the teacher agreed to sit the child at the side of the classroom. But he informed his parents that he won’t teach him individually, only if he grasps something from the learning environment it will be good for him, for the teacher cannot hold back the pupils due to one student.

From that day onwards the child’s parents prayed with tears and supplications before Hashem Yitbarach that He enlighten their son in His Torah. In addition to this his father hired two teachers that would teach him one-to-one in the morning and evening. However, the child found it extremely difficult to grasp, and only after great effort was he able to understand a little after he had studied it with a great desire.

When his father saw his anguish, that he tried so hard in his studies and didn’t understand, a fear entered his heart, lest his son fall into depression out of sadness. So, he came up with an idea that he will teach his son to play the violin and through that joy will enter his heart. However, when he suggested this to his son, he replied to him that nothing will strengthen his spirit other than Torah-study for he wishes to dedicate his whole life only for its study. And so, he would pray before Hashem Yitbarach that He enlighten his eyes in Torah, one thing I asked of Hashem, that shall I seek, would that I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life [see Tehillim 27:4].

During that time, the child Yosef’s father sought a doctor for his son. He would send enquiries to distant countries, perhaps they can save his son. When his son was eleven and a half years old his father was informed of a great Italian doctor who could heal his son’s eyes. To that end an appointment was arranged with the doctor and the father and son began packing their suitcase for the long journey.

On hearing this great news, the child rejoiced to no end that when he will be able to see like any other person, he will be able to study Torah as his soul desires. So he joyously continued and with great hope, until the last night arrived before the day that he was going to travel to Italy.

On that night, the child Yosef went to the Bet HaKenesset near to his home and with tremendous emotion he opened the doors of the Aron HaKodesh. At that moment he felt as if the gates of Heaven were open before him and he began to cry bitterly before Hashem Yitbarach, with loud cries and pleas from the walls of his heart that the Eternal Living G-d who gives sight to the blind hear his prayer and see his great anguish to restore his eyesight. And so Rebbi Yosef related that he said in his prayer, “Please Hashem, please have mercy on me your lowly servant Yosef, and open my eyes so that I may be able to see the letters of the Torah so that I may study without any barriers and restrictions.” With this the child fell asleep next the Aron HaKodesh.

In his dream, and behold he saw Eliyahu HaNavi may he be remembered for good, and his face was akin to an angel of Hashem, and he stood and rejoiced with other people in Heaven. Eliyahu came to him and said to him, “Know my son, that in Heaven they have seen your great pain and have given you two choices, either be healed but with this your unique ability will be removed and you will be just like anyone else, or you may stay blind, and you will merit to spiritual insights that you will master the entire Torah.” The child joyously responded that he agrees to the second option. He awoke from his sleep and behold it was a dream.

The next day the child Yosef went to the Talmud Torah. The teacher asked a question and there wasn’t one of the pupils who was able to answer. The child Yosef stood and said that he wished to answer. The teacher rejected him until he saw his persistence and allowed him to say what he wanted. The child stood and related the whole Gemara off by heart and explained the rav’s commentary on the Gemara and answered the question which had been just asked. And the doctors failed to find a cure for his condition.

When Rebbi Yosef Zaruk related this in his old age, he concluded, “From that day onwards, whatever I studied and heard I remembered, it did not leave my memory”.

He was one of a kind amongst the chachamim of the yeshiva, he was an exceptional master of Torah, and he was also an avid supported and fan of Maran zt”l, who also busied himself many many times to assist Rebbi Yosef with his livelihood. Already in 5720 (1960) Rebbi Yosef was amongst the rabbanim who supported with all their strength the appointment of Maran zt”l to serve as the Rishon Liziyon. His soul will rest in goodness, and his offspring will inherit the land [See Tehillim 25:13].

May these words also be a refuah sheleimah for his grandson, K’fir Chaim ben Miriam, who has been severely wounded during the Gaza war. May Hashem send His good word and heal him with a complete healing, long days and healthy years.

Shabbat Shalom!

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