Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayakhel

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Simcha's Torah Stories

Parshat Vayakhel


Hi Chaim. How many raffle tickets have you sold?


Wow, you are doing better than I am. I have only sold five.

We still have two weeks to go till the raffle drawing Avi. We have to sell our book of ten by then. Here comes Mr. Weiss. Let's see if he is interested. Hi Mr. Weiss!

Hi boys. How are you doing?

Great Mr. Weiss. Did you know that our school is running a raffle to raise money to buy more books for the library?

I didn't know that.

Would you be interested in buying a ticket? We hope to raise enough money to buy several sets of books, many biographies of Torah Giants, and children's storybooks.

Boy's this is a great cause. I will do more than buy one ticket. Right before the raffle drawing, bring me all of your unsold ticket books and I will buy them all.

The boys' eyes widened.

Really Mr. Weiss?

Really. I will see you in a couple of weeks boys. Remember, any raffles that you do not sell, I will buy.

The boys are so excited that they cannot wait to get to school to tell the librarian.

Rabbi Sofer we have great news!

Yes, boys.

We found someone who will buy all of the unsold raffle tickets!

Boys, that's wonderful! However, we still must try to sell as many as we can. After all, we must be fair and not take advantage of this very generous person. Keep up the great work boys. We'll have that set of Mishnayos and Rambam for our library quicker than you can say, "Sholom Aleichem Rebbe".

Over the next two weeks, Avi and Chaim manage to sell all of their tickets. The big day finally arrives. Sure enough, every one of the raffle tickets is sold. The boys see Mr. Weiss on his way to the raffle drawing.

Hi boys! What's doing? How many tickets am I going to buy today? I want to make a nice donation to really help the school library.

Ummm. Well. Uh.

What's the matter boys? Are you afraid that there are too many unsold tickets left? Don't worry. I told you that I would buy all of them. Now, how many are there.

Ummm. Well.

Come, boys. Let's not waste time. The drawing will be very soon. Now, here is my checkbook. How much should I write on the check?

Mr. Weiss, you are not going to believe this.

Believe what?

All of the tickets were sold.


Yes, really.

Boys, I must say that I am disappointed. However, I should have known this was going to happen.

How could you possibly have known?

I'll tell you boys, the same thing happened three thousand two hundred years ago. It happened to our ancestors in the desert. And it is even in this week's Torah portion.

Did they really have a raffle for the school library in the desert Mr. Weiss?

No, boys, of course not. However, they had a tremendous fund-raising drive for the materials to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle). All of the Jewish people contributed. The princes of the twelve tribes wanted to give an extra-special gift. They waited for the end, just as I did, in order to donate whatever was lacking. Guess what?

Nothing was missing.

Exactly boys. The Jewish people were so generous that they had to be told to stop giving. There was nothing left for the princes to contribute. I should have known better. We were then, and are now, a nation of people who open their hearts generously to give. The princes learned their lesson and so will I. At the inauguration of the Mishkan, they were the first ones to bring their offerings. The next time you have a fundraising drive boys, come to me first. I want to be the first one to give not the last.

Mr. Weiss, we have all learned a lesson in doing things quickly. If you wait till the end, you end up in last place.

Simcha's Talmudic Quiz


"It's your fault!"

"No it is not. You should have been more careful."

"What's going on here? What are you two arguing about?"

"Do you see this box of broken pottery? He has to pay for it."


"We were walking along, he was first and I was behind him. Suddenly, he tripped and fell down. I tripped over him and fell. I dropped this box of pottery that I was holding and everything broke. Now he must pay for it. If he hadn't fallen first, I would not have tripped over him."

"You are responsible for your own falling. You should have watched where you were going. I don't have to pay for anything."

The question is who pays for the broken pottery and why.

(This puzzle is from Tractate Bava Kamma, page 31a).



"Jack, you're a great carpenter."

"Why thank you Mr. Shore."

"I have a job for you, if you are interested. Here is some wood that I bought. I would like you to make a chair out of this wood."

"No problem, Mr. Shore. Come back in a few days and it will be ready."

Mr. Shore returns a few days later.

"Hi Jack! How are you?"

"Fine, Mr. Shore. Your bench is ready. It's right over there."

"Bench? What bench?"

"The bench that you asked me to make from the wood."

"I didn't ask for a bench, Jack. I asked you to make me a chair."

"I'm so sorry Mr. Shore."

The question is who keeps the bench, Jack or Mr. Shore.

If Jack keeps it, does he pay for it? If so, how much?

If Mr. Shore keeps it, does he pay for it? If so, how much?

(This puzzle is from Tractate Bava Kamma, page 101a).

The Answer is:

This is actually a dispute between the Tannaim Rebbe Meir and Rebbe Yehuda.

The Tanna Rebbe Meir does not penalize Jack for his mistake. If Mr. Shore wants the bench, he must pay Jack his full wage for it. If he does not want the bench, Jack must only pay Mr. Shore the cost of the wood. Jack can then sell the bench for a profit.

The Tanna Rebbe Yehuda penalizes Jack for his mistake. He is not allowed to keep the bench. Mr. Shore must buy it from him at the lowest possible price: either the expenses of making it or the market value of the bench, whichever is lower. (Rashi adds that he can pay Jack's wage if that is the lowest amount.)

The Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 306:3 rules like Rebbe Yehuda.

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