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This Issue's Halacha Article

Parshat Pekudei

1 Adar Bet 5768

March 8, 2008

Vol.17 No.25

In This Issue:

Full Circle

by Rabbi Darren Blackstein

The Ramban, in his introduction to Sefer Shemot, tells us that the book is the story of the first exile and redemption. We were exiled to and redeemed from Mitzrayim. How do we know that by the end of Sefer Shemot we had been redeemed? We know this because the Torah tells us at the end of Parashat Pekudei that the Cloud of Hashem's Glory filled the Tabernacle. This event was similar to the presence of Hashem in the tents of the Avot. Therefore, we understand that by the end of this Sefer, we had returned to the status of the Avot.

Perhaps a literary observation can be made to align with and support the above contention. Parashat Pekudei begins with the phrase "Eileh Fekudei," which, according to some translations, means, "These are the reckonings." To reckon means to count or to compute. This formulation is used in another prominent place in the Torah. In Sefer Bereishit (21:1), the Torah states, "VaHashem Pakad Et Sarah." Here, "Pakad" means to remember. Upon further reflection, a connection between the two episodes might exist.

In Sefer Shemot, as the Tabernacle was made ready for use, Bnei Yisrael reached the climax of the exodus from Mitzrayim. We had suffered for an extended period, cried to Hashem, and been deemed worthy of redemption. The redemption itself was a process culminating in the plagues and the splitting of the sea. The "reckoning" is then made with the details and building of the Tabernacle. Hashem had calculated that we were deserving of hosting His Presence. In Sefer Bereishit, a childless Sarah suffered and waited through the episode of Sedom and Amorah and her abduction by Avimelech. Afterwards, Hashem remembered and calculated that Sarah was worthy of His Presence, whereupon she conceived.

This seems to support an assertion made by the Ramban. Hashem's Presence is drawn by our ascension. Through the progress and incremental growth in our lives, we work diligently for a spiritual connection to the Almighty. Our experience in Mitzrayim was a crucial ingredient in our achieving a level worthy of a Tabernacle. All of the details of the building reflect all of the details of our experiences that define our worthiness. Similarly, all of the details of the difficulties and achievements of Sarah's life could be reflected in her worthiness to experience Hashem's Presence, be remembered, and allowed to conceive. Bnei Yisrael, with the Tabernacle, had been deemed worthy of Sarah's status and redemption. May it be the will of Hashem that our collective experiences and growth be calculated and weighed so that we too may be deemed worthy of, as the Ramban says, the fourth and final redemption.

The Key to Kedushah

by Shimmy Auman

Parashat Pekudei, the Torah states, "VaYechas HeAnan Et Ohel Moeid UChvod Hashem Malei Et HaMishkan," "And the cloud covered the Ohel Moeid, and the Glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan" (Shemot 40:34). Bnei Yisrael gave many donations for the construction of the Mishkan; every Jew assisted, offering as much as he could. And when the construction was done, even though the physical building had been completed, the Mishkan was not entirely finished, as the purpose of the Mishkan had not yet been fulfilled. The goal of the Mishkan was to be a place for the Shechinah to rest amongst Bnei Yisrael. Since this had not occurred, the Mishkan's purpose had not yet been realized.

After its physical construction, when all the work and preparations had been completed and the Mishkan was spiritually prepared as well, the purpose of the Mishkan was instantly realized, as Hashem's Magnificence filled the Mishkan. The Seforno comments that while Hashem's Glory filled the Mishkan, it was not yet noticeable outside the building. Outside the Mishkan, one saw only a beautiful structure, but not the Shechinah. Rav Moshe Reis explains that although the Shechinah was capable of greater exposure, It was confined to the Mishkan to edify us that if one seeks Kedushah, he must enter a Makom Kadosh, a holy place, and not merely observe that place. Only once one is there will he be able to feel the Shechinah upon him. One must try to take the initiative and pursue the holiness by physically entering a holy building in order to gain the desired inspiration. A quick glance does not suffice. When the first step is taken, one will be able to experience the light of Kedushah and all of its glory.

Wine on Purim

by Yonah Rossman

As there is a Mitzvah to begin learning about a holiday thirty days before that holiday, Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheini is a good time to learn about Purim. Rava makes a very controversial statement: "Mechayav Inish LeVesumei BeFuriya Ad DeLo Yada Bein Arur Haman LeVaruch Mordechai," "A person is obligated to get intoxicated on Purim until he does not know the difference between 'Cursed is Haman' and 'Blessed is Mordechai'" (Megillah 7b). Many Poskim ponder upon this statement. Immediately following this statement, the Gemara records the story of a Seudat Purim that Rabbah and Rabi Zeira had together. Rabbah got drunk and killed Rabi Zeira. Many Poskim derive from this story that Rava's Halacha of intoxication applies only at the Seudat Purim. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 695:2) seems to follow this opinion, as he cites this Halacha within the section of the Halachot of the Purim meal. The Baal HaMaor cites the opinion of Rabbeinu Ephraim that this story follows immediately after Rava's Halacha because this story serves as a refutation of that Halacha. Though originally there was an obligation to become inebriated, the rule was rescinded when the Rabbanan saw the dangers of its implementation.

The Shulchan Aruch codifies Rava's statement; however, it is still not exactly clear what the Halacha is. The Beiur Halacha cites a Machloket (dispute) between the Meiri and the Chayei Adam as to whether one must use wine specifically to fulfill this Halacha. The Meiri believes that the Mitzvah is simply to be happy, while the Chayei Adam holds one must use wine to appropriately commemorate the miracle. The Beiur Halacha also points out that although getting intoxicated is generally looked down upon in Tanach, we require it on Purim because the Purim miracle happened through all of the parties (at which wine was a central feature) and Achashveirosh getting drunk. The Rama writes that in order to fulfill the Mitzvah, one can drink a little more than usual (to fulfill the drinking part) and then go to sleep, because in one's sleep one will not know the difference between "Cursed is Haman" and "Blessed is Mordechai." Regardless of which Pesak is correct, all Poskim who rule that one should drink believe that he should drink wine only LeSheim Shamayim, with the purest of intentions and only if it does not undermine one's safety, dignity and observance of Torah Law.

Editor's Note: For a full Halachic discussion of the obligation to drink on Purim, see Rabbi Jachter's article on this subject, which is available at and in Gray Matter (pp. 234-238).

Seudat Purim on Shabbat

by Dani Yaros

The Mishnah Berurah (429:1) states that one should study and discuss each holiday in the thirty days leading up to it. Seudat Purim is one facet of Purim that is subject to a debate between the Talmud Bavli and the Talmud Yerushalmi. The Bavli states that one celebrating Purim on Shabbat should eat his Purim Seudah on Sunday rather than on Shabbat. Conversely, the Gemara Yerushalmi disagrees and asserts that one should eat his Purim Seudah on Shabbat. The generally accepted Halacha, offered by the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 688:6), is that we rule in accordance with the Gemara Bavli, due to the concept of Halacha KeBatrai, which dictates that in an argument between the Bavli and the Yerushalmi, we follow the Bavli because it was complied after the Yerushalmi (see the comments of the Rosh to Chullin 2:6).

However, the Pri Chadash believes that ideally one should accomodate both opinions by eating a meal both on Shabbat and on Sunday. The question arises: since it is not very difficult to have two meals, one on Shabbat and one on Sunday, why did the Shulchan Aruch not offer this suggestion as well?

Perhaps the Shulchan Aruch understood that the Bavli had a fundamental problem with the Yerushalmi's view of having a Purim Seudah on Shabbat and felt that not only is it not a Mitzvah to eat the Purim Seudah on Shabbat, but it is in fact prohibited. The reason for this could be due to the concept of Ein Mearvin Simchah BeSimchah, one should not combine two festivities together. This rule would dictate that it would be inappropriate to have a Seudat Purim, one festivity, on Shabbat, a festivity in its own right. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch disagreed with the Pri Chadash and felt that it is not preferable to conduct the Purim Seudah on Shabbat, but it is in fact prohibited according to Halacha.

Outside of the confines of a walled city, this Halacha is very impractical, as Purim never coincides with Shabbat. However, within a walled city, such as Yerushalayim, residents will be faced this Purim with the decision of whether to follow the Shulchan Aruch or the Pri Chadash. Unfortunately, we no longer maintain Jewish residence in all of Yerushalayim and many of us do not live there anymore. Ideally, we will all be in Yerushalayim this Purim and be able to participate in deciding this complex Hachic issue.