Torah Weekly

For the week ending 9 March 2019 / 2 Adar II 5779

Parshat Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Book of Shemot concludes with this Torah portion. After finishing all the different parts, vessels and garments used in the Mishkan, Moshe gives a complete accounting and enumeration of all the contributions and of the various clothing and vessels which had been fashioned. The Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to G-d’s specifications. Moshe blesses the people. G-d speaks to Moshe and tells him that the Mishkan should be set up on the first day of the first month, i.e., Nissan. He also tells Moshe the order of assembly for the Mishkan and its vessels.

Moshe does everything in the prescribed manner. When the Mishkan is finally complete with every vessel in its place, a cloud descends upon it, indicating that G-d's glory was resting there. Whenever the cloud moved away from the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisrael would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.


Remember to Forget

“These are the reckonings…” (38:21)

Every year on erev Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Stephen Ammon’s wife would go to her mother’s grave at the Staten Island Jewish Cemetery. One year she knew that she wouldn’t be able to go, but it happened that a couple of weeks before Rosh Hashana she was driving with her husband past the freeway exit to the cemetery. Seeing as they were so close, Rabbi Ammon suggested that they turn off and go. They pulled off the freeway and drove to the cemetery. It was completely deserted. They were able to pull up right by the grave. They prayed there for a while. Rabbi Ammon was waiting for his wife to finish praying when he turned around and noticed that a hearse and a couple of cars had pulled up at an open grave a couple of rows behind them. One of the funeral party came over and asked if Rabbi Ammon could be “a tenth man” so they could say Kaddish. “Sure!” said Rabbi Ammon. He went over, helped them put the coffin into the grave, and they said Kaddish. After that they started leaving. Rabbi Ammon said, “One minute. You didn’t bury him!” “Oh, don’t worry,” they said, “we got the tractor to do that. We don’t do that.” And they left.

Rabbi Ammon suddenly remembered learning in yeshiva that the concept of met mitzvah — literally “a mitzvah of the dead” — doesn’t apply only when you find a dead person someplace and there is no one else to bury the body. Rather, this important concept also applies when the burial is left incomplete. So he went over to the person driving the tractor and said, “Would you mind lending me a shovel? I’ll do the burial for you. You can go and I’ll bury the person.” The tractor driver said he didn’t mind, and Rabbi Ammon set about the mitzvah of bringing a Jew to Kever Yisrael, to a Jewish burial. Rabbi Ammon spent an hour-and-a-half completing the burial until the grave was completely full. He was just about to stick the grave marker in the ground when he paused, took note of the name, and wrote it down. The entire way driving to Brooklyn he was thinking to himself, “Why, why, why?” Why had he just happened to be there? Why out of the blue did this hearse turn up in a deserted graveyard and he just happened to be “number ten”? And why was he the one to end up burying him? Rabbi Ammon decided to make some enquiries and find out who this person was.

One of the people whom Rabbi Ammon called was his mentor, Rabbi Herman Neuberger (zatzal), the executive director of Ner Yisrael Yeshiva — the yeshiva Rabbi Ammon went to. When he told Rabbi Neuberger the name, the Rabbi almost dropped the phone. Rabbi Neuberger told Rabbi Ammon that 40 years previously, when Rabbi Ammon was a young boy and had enrolled in the yeshiva, his father couldn’t meet the expense of keeping him there, and so Rabbi Neuberger tried to find someone who could sponsor the young Rabbi Ammon. Rabbi Neuberger said over the phone, “The person you just buried was the very same person who paid for all of your years in the yeshiva.”

Rabbi Ammon suddenly remembered that one of the sections of the Talmud that he had learned in Ner Yisrael was the sugya of met mitzvah.

“These are the accountings…”

In the liturgy of the Rosh Hashana service, we say that G‑d “remembers all that is forgotten.” Rabbi Yisrael of Rhizhin said, “When you forget, G-d remembers, but when you remember, G-d forgets.” This means that when you remind everyone of all the favors you did for them, G-d “forgets,” so to speak. He says, ‘Well, if you remember so well, I can forget about it!’ But if you “forget” — if you don’t remind people that they owe you because you did something good for them — then G-d remembers and takes care of all your accountings, down to the last shovel full of earth.

§ Sources: heard from Rabbi Yoel God www.inspireclips.com

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