In From The Four Corners Of The World
of the 24th of Adar I, 5752
Our Rabbis taught, “Begin with blessing.” The greatest blessing
possible is the fulfillment of the promise alluded to in this week’s
Torah reading, Parshas VaYakhel, namely, that the Jewish people will be
gathered in from all four corners of the world.
foretaste of the fulfillment of this promise is already being
experienced at present, for Jews from many different nations are
gathering together in our Holy Land. Furthermore, this ingathering of
exiles is being carried out “with mercy and kindness”; instead of
having to secretly flee from those countries, the Jewish people are
being allowed to leave openly.
are still countries, however, wherein Jews are not granted permission to
emigrate, and they must instead risk their lives in attempt to escape.
Nevertheless, the ingathering of those Jews allowed to reach Eretz
Yisroel in a peaceful manner has a positive effect on those whose aliya
at present involves danger. The spiritual influences generated ensure
that ultimately, these Jews will also be released from danger and safely
reach Eretz Yisroel, where they can live with prosperity and peace of
mind. Indeed, the present immigrants to Eretz Yisroel have found
prosperity and peace of mind compared to their standard of living in the
countries from which they have left.
circumstance in the world at large must also be reflected in microcosm
within the personal world of every individual Jew and be applied in his
Divine service. Thus, the concept of the ingathering of the dispersed
members of our people must be reflected in an inner process of gathering
in and unification, binding together our ten conscious powers as a
single, holy unit.
process is alluded to in the Torah reading of the previous week, Parshas
Ki Sisa, which is also directly related to the Torah reading of the
present week, for the first passages of that parasha are read
again this week as Parshas Sh’kalim. Parshas Sh’kalim relates how
“atonement for one’s soul” is attained by giving ten geira.
Nevertheless, these ten geira are half of “a holy shekel.”
beyond the ingathering of one’s own potentials, there is also a direct
allusion to the importance of joining together with other Jews in the
spirit of “Love your fellow man as yourself.” For a Jew is required
to give only a half-shekel, and indeed, is forbidden to give more:
“The rich may not give more...than a half-shekel.”
is the reason for this command? To teach us that our ten soul powers are
only half a shekel, and in order to be a complete entity, one must join
together with another Jew.
half-sh’kalim were given for the census of the Jewish people. A census
emphasizes the unique importance of each individual. Together with that
emphasis, however, is the concept that every Jew’s true existence is
bound up with that of his fellow man. Only when he fulfills the mitzva
of “Love your fellow man as yourself” can he reach personal
fulfillment. The Alter Rebbe highlights the importance of love of
one’s fellow by placing the declaration, “Behold I accept upon
myself the fulfillment of the mitzva ‘Love your fellow man as
yourself,’” at the very beginning of the prayer service.
half-sh’kalim were used to bring the communal offerings on behalf of
the entire Jewish people. Herein the emphasis is also on completion and
perfection, for the offerings and the utensils used to bring them were
required to be “perfect and complete.”
also serves as an allusion to the imminence of the time when we will
again bring these offerings in the perfect and complete BeisHaMikdash,
“the Sanctuary of G-d established by Your hands.” At that time, the
communal sacrifices will again be purchased from the half-sh’kalim the
Jewish people will then give.
we are in exile at present, we can still perform a service
representative of the giving of the half-sh’kalim – giving to tzedaka.
Indeed, it is customary to give three half-sh’kalim to tzedaka
before Purim. This custom is fulfilled by those who are 20 years old and
even those who are bar mitzva. And it is fitting that children be
trained in its fulfillment and that they give of their own funds for
this purpose. (Their parents, in turn, should help them so that they can
make these gifts without feeling strained.)
gifts will hasten the coming of the time when, as mentioned at the
beginning of Parshas Sh’kalim, “the heads of the Jewish people will
be uplifted.” Similarly, as the conclusion of Parshas Ki Sisa
mentions, “Moshe’s face shone,” and since there is “a spark of
Moshe within every Jew,” this phenomenon will be reflected in the
countenance of every Jewish man, woman, and child in the era of the
Redemption. Their faces will shine, and there will be no need for a
veil, for G-d’s essence will be revealed throughout the world.
this take place in the immediate future and may it be hastened by the
distribution of money to be given to tzedaka at present, for
Friday is a day particularly appropriate for giving tzedaka.
importantly, the present time is particularly auspicious — in fact, it
is the most appropriate time that could be — for the Redemption. Then
“Moshe will gather” — i.e., Moshe, “the first redeemer and the
ultimate redeemer” — every single Jewish man, woman, and child: “a
great congregation shall return there.” We will proceed “with our
youth and with our elders...with our sons and with our daughters” to
Eretz Yisroel, to Jerusalem, and to the Third (and threefold) Beis
HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.