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Sep 26

Transparency!

(Torah Portion Pekudai) Transparency!

The Torah lists the exact calculations where all the contributions to the Temple were appropriated in order to show that the gift of every person, given for sanctified purposes, is special and accounted for. Also, people want to know where their money is going and see that it is distributed in an honest manner.

Our leader Moshe gave a precise accounting for every single contribution, and the Torah urges us to follow this example.

In contrast, when making the sinful golden calf, the people came forth and contributed, yet despite the fact that in proportion to their gifts the calf was very small, as Rashi explains, nowhere do we find that anyone cared. Additionally, they didn’t pay attention to where their money went.

We see from this an interesting insight into human nature. When it comes to things sacrilegious, people spend without hesitation and don’t check its credibility. Yet regarding endeavors of a holy nature, people are very calculated placing the endeavor under much scrutiny.

The Talmud relates that a family possessed the tradition concerning how to bake the special and skillfully made Showbread that was placed on the Table in the Temple. Another family possessed the special skill and knowhow to create the incense offered on the Altar in the Temple.

These families were extremely careful not to divulge their skill or the ingredients, fearing the information would fall into the wrong hands and might be used for idolatrous purposes.

The Talmud also relates that the family that created the Showbread never used fine flour at home so that no one would accuse them of using the Temple’s ingredients for personal use. The same applied to the family that possessed the ingredients for the incense. None of the women in the family would apply perfume (even on their wedding day) so that they would not be suspected of using the Temple’s aromatic ingredients for their personal use. They accepted upon themselves a heightened level of accountability in order to preserve G-d’s honor and not be suspected by others.

While almost all the contributions toward the Temple had no limitations, there was one area of construction of the Temple that came from a specific and equal collection. That was the silver sockets that were the base for the pillars of the Temple. They were made only from silver collected from the adult males, each of whom contributed a half Shekel silver coin.

The Temple required 100 sockets, and the Zohar, our Kabalah, connects the 100 silver sockets to our requirement to recite 100 blessings each day. (100 blessings are met by reciting our three daily prayers, blessings connected to food and over our bodily functions.)

The Chidushai Harim elucidates the relationship between the 100 sockets and 100 blessings.

Just as the sockets served as the foundation for the beams of the edifice of the Temple – G-d’s abode on this world, so too, the 100 blessings we recite daily that display verbally our appreciation and recognition of G-d’s Mastery and beneficence upon the world, act as a foundation to sanctify ourselves making us a repository for G-d’s presence.

The Torah refers to the 100 Sockets as, “Me’as Adonim.” The similarities of the word the Torah uses to describe the sockets – Adonim and the name of G-d – Ado-noy / Master, that we express when reciting blessings, further solidifies the connection between the 100 sockets and the 100 blessings.

The Ben Ish Chai explains that by human nature when one initially embarks on a project there is great enthusiasm and energy, but as the job progresses the original passion begins to diminish.

However, that wasn’t the case when the Jews were involved in contributing and building the components of the Temple; the Torah attests that their original high energy level and excitement remained with them throughout the two months of its construction.

Impressed by their dedication and loyalty, Moshe blessed them that G-d’s presence should rest upon all that they do.

Moshe’s special blessing applies to all who serve G-d with enthusiasm, energy and devotion!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks