Halacha for Friday 24 Adar 5782 February 25 2022

Parashat Vayakhel - Why Did the Tribal Leaders on One Occasion Donate Last and on the Other Donate First? – Learning to Utilise the Moment and not to get too Carried Away With Dreams

From HaGaon Rav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, The Head of Halacha Yomit
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

This Shabbat, we shall read about the “Dedication of the Altar”, which is the first time that Am Yisrael offered sacrifices on the altar and because of that they were required to prepare all of the cohanim’s requirements, which included their unique garments.

It states in the Parasha, “The tribal leaders brought the sardonyxes and other precious stones for the ephod and breastplate” (Shemot 35:27). In the beginning when all of Am Yisrael donated to the work of erecting the Mishkan, the tribal leaders didn’t rush to donate together with Am Yisrael. Yet here when it talks about donating to the dedication of the altar, the tribal leaders rushed to be first, and they donated the sardonyxes and other precious stones. Why is this?

Rashi addresses this in his commentary and he too asks why did the tribal leaders donate first towards the dedication of the altar, whereas in the construction of the Mishkan they weren’t first? This is what the tribal leaders said when the Mishkan was erected, let the congregation first donate everything that they want and then afterwards we shall see what is missing and make up the difference. Meaning, the tribal leaders thought to consider what unique items may be lacking for the erection of the Mishkan and then they will fill the void.

But in the end, when Am Yisrael finished bringing their donations, the tribal leaders saw that nothing was missing and there was nothing left for them to donate. Therefore, afterwards when the altar was dedicated, they hurried to be first to donate the precious stones for the ephod and breastplate.

HaGaon Rav Yaakov Galinski zt”l (1920-2014) explains (see the work V’higadata) in the name of the Chatam Sofer (Rav Moshe Schreiber z”l 1762-1839) that in truth the tribal leaders were tzaddikim and they delayed in donating to the erection of the Mishkan since they knew that there is a spiritual advantage in being the one who finishes and completes, as our chachamim said (Sota 13b), “a mitzvah is called after the person who completes it.”

However, really what they did was wrong based on the response of the Gaon the Chacham Tzvi (Rav Tzvi Hirsch ben Yaakov Ashkenazi z”l 1656-1718) (siman 106) concerning a person who was imprisoned and they gave him permission to be released for just one day. That person asked should he go out immediately at the first opportunity so that he may fulfil a mitzvah, or is it better to wait and go out only after a certain date arrives such as “Shabbat Zachor”. For then he will be able to hear the reading of Parashat Zachor in the Bet Kenesset, which is  a Torah mitzvah?

The Chacham Tzvi answered him that he should go out at the first opportunity to fulfil a mitzvah because “enthusiastic people rush to fulfil mitzvot” (Pesachim 4a), and that the enthusiasm in fulfilling a mitzvah is a greater beauty and a choicer way to act.

Therefore we may deduce that likewise the tribal leaders should have rushed to donate to the construction of the Mishkan as soon as was possible and not to have waited until the donations had been amassed in order to complete what was lacking.

What is the reason that enthusiastic people rush to fulfil mitzvot? Our chachamim said (Avot 2), “Don’t say when I have spare time I will study Torah, for perhaps you won’t ever find the spare time.” Therefore a person should always be enthusiastic! Not to talk too much and to arrange programmes, but rather to enthusiastically grab the chance for mitzvot!

On this point Rav Chaim of Sanz z”l (1793-1876) related a story:

There was a lady from the village who was poor and destitute. She had sons and daughters, pulling at her apron and asking for bread. But this poor lady had nothing to give them. She gazed heavenward and said, “Ribono shel Olam! I beg of you, give me food for my children!” Hashem heard her prayer. He revealed to her a freshly laid egg, warm and fresh, and she found it. The poor woman was so happy! She lifted up the egg and waved it in front of her children. “Listen children! I found an egg!”

The children were so happy! The joy of the poor! How much may they eat of just one egg? But nevertheless they were joyful and they stretched out their hands to the egg. But the mother lifted the egg away and said to her children, “No! We shan’t eat the egg, rather we shall request from our neighbour to place the egg under his hen to incubate it! Afterwards we shall then have a chick!”

The children were happy and shouted, “Hooray! We will have a chicken!”

“No children!” Said the mother. “The chick will grow to become a chicken and then she shall lay more eggs.” The children replied and then every day we shall eat an egg! What joy!”

“No” said the mother. “We shan’t eat that egg either! We shall let the hen incubate them and many chicks shall hatch. We shall have a flock of chickens!”

“How beautiful!” Called out the children. “We shall eat meat every day!”

“You haven’t understood,” said the mother. “The chickens will lay many eggs, they will rear another generation of chickens, and then we shall sell all the chickens and buy a small calf. We will then rear her until she becomes a cow. She will produce milk and bear more calves until we have an entire herd! Then we shall sell some of them and buy ourselves a home with a plot of land. We will sow seeds and reap the crops and then we shall want for nothing and we shall have many good things!”

The children’s eyes sparkled, they forgot their hunger and the poor mother played joyfully with the egg. But it fell from her hand and smashed!

The whole dream spilt on the ground…

The intention isn’t to discourage incubating the egg and acting in a wise way, rather the intention is not to get overly carried away with dreams, rather one must get up and do something. Either cook the egg or send it for incubation. We must utilise the present opportunities, instead of dreams about the future!

Shabbat Shalom!

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha

Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

Frying Fish in a Meat Pot, Baking Fish and Meat in the Same Oven, and Maran zt”l’s Custom

There is a well-known prohibition of eating fish and meat together, as discussed by the Gemara and Poskim. Cooking Fish in a Meat Pot Although it is prohibited to cook a dairy dish in a meat pot as we have discussed in a previous Halacha, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writ......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha