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Unity Through Being Unique
Sichos In English
Shabbos Parshas VaYakhel-P’kudei;
27th Day of Adar, 5750

1. This Shabbos is a particularly opportune time for the coming of Moshiach. Every day, we must have faith in Moshiach’s coming and wait for him, as the Rambam states, “I will wait for him every day that he come.” This is particularly true in the later generations, when “all the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have passed,” and especially in our generation, which, according to all the signs mentioned by our Sages, is the last generation of exile and the first generation of redemption. Hence, in the present generation, we must have strong faith in Moshiach’s coming and await his coming with genuine yearning.

Although this is true at all times, there are specific times when this faith and yearning receive greater emphasis. The present Shabbos is certainly one of those times. The weekly Torah portion and the time of the year share an intrinsic connection with the Redemption. This week’s Torah portion, Parshas VaYakhel-P’kudei, describes the fashioning and the erection of the Sanctuary, a “dwelling for G-d” within this earth. The ultimate expression of this dwelling will come in the Messianic Beis HaMikdash, the “Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands.”

There is another allusion to this concept in the opening verse of Parshas P’kudei. Rashi explains that the repetition of the word “Mishkan” (sanctuary) alludes to the fact that the Beis HaMikdash was taken twice as a mashkon (security) until the Jewish people would improve their behavior. Once a debt is repaid, a security is returned in its entirety to its owners. Similarly, when the Jewish people atone for the sins that caused the destruction of the first and second Batei HaMikdash, the Beis HaMikdash will be returned to us in the Messianic era.

In that era, we will also witness the ultimate va’yakhel, the gathering together of the Jewish people, when “a great congregation will return here,” with the ingathering of the exiles…

2. The above concepts are also related to the subject matter discussed in the portion of the Mishneh Torah which is associated with the present day, the conclusion of Hilchos Kilayim and the beginning of Hilchos Matanos Aniyim. The subject discussed in these halachos is connected with the mitzvos to be fulfilled in Eretz Yisroel, which will be fulfilled in the most complete manner in the Messianic age. Beyond that, there is a deeper connection, dependent on the homiletic meaning of the halachos.

There is a connection between hilchos kilayim and hilchos matanos aniyim. Hilchos kilayim deals with forbidden mixtures. There is a natural order established by the Creator and it is forbidden to mix together two species which G-d has defined as different. Similarly, in regard to hilchos matanos aniyim, one should not mix together two types of funds, i.e., funds which G-d has given for one to support his individual family and funds G-d gave for safekeeping with the intent that they be given to others.

There is, however, a further point of connection that can be derived based on an analysis of the final halacha in Hilchos Kilayim. That halacha states: Priests who wore the priestly garments while they were not involved in actual service, even if they were in the Beis HaMikdash, are punished by lashes because of the sash which contains kilayim (a forbidden mixture of species). They are permitted to wear the priestly garments only while they are actually serving, for then [they are fulfilling] a positive command, similar to tzitzis.

It appears that the Rambam concludes Hilchos Kilayim with this law to conclude with a positive matter, i.e., to conclude not with the prohibition against wearing kilayim, but with the description of a situation where the prohibition is waived and it is possible to use kilayim for a positive intent.

There is, however, a deeper dimension: Rabbeinu Bachaye explains that the reason for the prohibition against kilayim stems from the fact that every thing in this world has a unique spiritual source. When G-d created the world, He ordained that each entity would be grouped into a specific species. Thus, by mixing two species, one disrupts the order of creation and acts against G-d’s will.

Rabbeinu Bachaye also explains this concept in mystical terms: When a species reproduces according to its kind, there is a great revelation of peace in the spiritual realms. But mixing species spreads discord in the spiritual realms, disrupting the order of the spiritual powers. Accordingly, “kilayim” also means ‘holding back,’ meaning that kilayim prevents the expression of the spiritual powers.

This explanation, however,  raises a question: Why was the sash from the priestly garments made with this fabric? Since such a garment is from a forbidden species, if a priest wears it while not involved in the service of the Beis HaMikdash, he commits a transgression. Why then include it at all among the priestly garments? How could it be used for the service of G-d?

Rabbeinu Bachaye also attempts to resolve this issue, explaining that in the Beis HaMikdash, the revelation of G-d’s presence brought about the nullification of individual identity, allowing the possibility of the unity of opposites. Chassidus explains a similar concept with the Sages’ explanation of the phrase, “He establishes peace in His heavens,” which is that the revelation of G-dliness establishes harmony between “Gavriel, the angel of fire, and Michael, the angel of water.”

This unity, however, does not nullify the difference between the different beings. On the contrary, each expresses its unique character and, in this manner, is able to fulfill the Divine mission with which it was charged, be it a service of chesed (kindness) or gvura (severity).

[We see a parallel in the services of VaYakhel and P’kudei. P’kudei, a “reckoning,” alludes to the recognition of the particular contribution of each individual. VaYakhel, gathering together, alludes to the manner in which the individual transcends his particular identity to assume a communal consciousness. For example, a Jewish community is made up of Kohanim, Leviim, and Israelites. Each has a different identity and a different role to play. (Indeed, there is a prohibition against one carrying out the services of another.) Nevertheless, we are one nation. The particular differences are actually expressions — not contradictions — of this fundamental oneness.]

This explanation, however, does not appear to reflect the Rambam’s position. The Rambam emphasizes that even in the Beis HaMikdash it is forbidden to wear the sash except while involved in the priestly service. This implies that the permission to wear the sash is not a result of the revelation of G-d’s presence in the Beis HaMikdash, but rather, it has another explanation.

The resolution according to the Rambam can be found in the explanation of a law in the beginning of Hilchos Matanos Aniyim, which describes the mitzva of pei’a. Pei’a also involves a mixing of the rights of two different portions, those of the owner and those of the poor man. The Rambam explains that a person can designate his entire field as pei’a. But this law is problematic for the following reasons:

a) The Rambam defines pei’a as meaning “the ends.” If one designates the entire field as pei’a, then the pei’a will not be at the end of the field.

b) By giving away the entire field, the owner appears to deny his rights to his own property. Though a portion of his property is given to him for safekeeping so that he will distribute it to the needy, a portion does belong to him. Why does the Torah allow the poor to be given the owner’s portion?

These difficulties can be resolved based on the mystical dimension of the mitzva. In Hebrew, pei’a, is numerically equivalent to G-d’s name, Elokim (86). Thus, pei’a is given to the poor, for this name is associated with the quality of gvura, which is reflected in contraction, the ultimate source for the existence of poverty.

The quality of contraction expressed by the name Elokim has two dimensions: a) The intention of the process of contraction is to bring about revelation. Through the process of contraction, G-d’s unbounded light can be revealed within this world. b) The process of contraction reveals that G-d is totally unlimited, that He is not restricted to the dimension of revelation, but can also express Himself in concealment.

Similarly, we find that the name Elokim has two dimensions:

a) It is a medium for the revelation of the name Havayeh, as evident from the verse, “as the sun and its shield, are Havayeh and Elokim.” This means that in order for the infinite revelation of Havayeh to be expressed in this world, it must pass through the medium of the name Elokim.

b) The name Elokim is one of G-d’s holy names. It expresses a dimension of G-dliness, revealing how He is totally unbounded, above not only finiteness, but also infinity.

These two dimensions of the name Elokim are reflected in two approaches to giving pei’a (its numerical equivalent). One is when pei’a is given to allow a person to enjoy the remainder of his field (i.e., the notion of contraction for the sake of revelation) and the other, in which giving pei’a becomes a self-contained service. Thus, one’s entire field can be designated for this purpose.

To explain these concepts in terms of our individual service of G-d: The first approach relates to the service of “all your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.” A person is involved in the material world, ultimately generating benefit for the service of holiness. The second approach is reflected in the service of “knowing Him in all your ways,” in which involvement in the material world itself is a revelation of the knowledge of G-d.

Similarly, service for the sake of Heaven is limited, as reflected by giving only a portion of one’s field as pei’a. In contrast, “knowing G-d in all your ways” is an unlimited service. This service is reflected in the designation of one’s entire field as pei’a. When one makes such a commitment to G-dliness, one establishes a connection that encompasses the totality of one’s being. At this level, one has no individual identity, and hence, it is irrelevant to talk about the portion of the field the remains for him.

Based on the above, we can appreciate why kilayim are permitted in the priestly garments and in tzitzis. The process of contraction and Divine self-limitation associated with the name Elokim is the source for the potential of sin. Even this potential, however, ultimately exists for the purpose of revealing G-d’s glory.

There are two ways G-dliness can be revealed in this manner: a) Negating its influence by refusing to use a forbidden object. This reveals G-d’s glory, demonstrating that in a world where potential exists to disrupt the order of creation established by G-d, a Jew chooses not to do so. b) Refining and elevating the forbidden object, transforming it into an article used for a mitzva. This shows how the force concealing G-dliness can be used as a medium for expressing G-dliness. This is clearly expressed by the fact that before and after the forbidden combination is used for a mitzva in the priestly garment and in tzitzis, it is prohibited to be worn. This clearly emphasizes that the combination is a concealment of G-dliness. Nevertheless, even this concealment can, under certain conditions, be used to express His will.

The potential to reveal this quality lies in the essence of the soul, which relates to the essence of G-d. This level totally transcends the concepts of revelation and concealment. Thus, it transforms a medium of concealment into a source of revelation.

This ultimate level of service is reflected in the sash and in tzitzis. The sash is 32 cubits long, which is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word leiv (heart). The essential point of the soul is revealed in the heart. Furthermore, the sash winds several times around the priest’s body, implying that the essential connection to G-d found within our hearts must encompass a person in his entirety. Similarly, the mitzva of tzitzis alludes to an essential connection to G-d that extends beyond the revealed levels of the soul. Therefore, the potential for the transformation of forbidden combinations is revealed through these mitzvos.

3. The above concepts relate to the imminence of the Messianic redemption. One of the fundamental aspects of the Messianic age will be the complete refinement of the material world (which was brought into being by the name Elokim), making it into a dwelling for G-d. The concealment of G-dliness will be nullified, demonstrating that the purpose of the concealment was the revelation. Furthermore, the G-dly intent of the concealment will be revealed, and even the seemingly negative dimensions of our world will also become a dwelling for G-d.

The same applies to the concept of exile. Not only will the exile be nullified, it will become transformed into a component of redemption. The revelation of the positive dimensions of limitation will come about through the revelation of G-d’s essence, a potential that is above both limitation and transcendence.

The above must be reflected in activities that reflect our yearning for the coming of Moshiach, including the spreading outward of the wellsprings of Moshiach, for these efforts will hasten his coming. Also, there must be an emphasis on gifts to tzedaka, as our Sages declared, “Israel will only be redeemed through tzedaka.” In particular, this applies to giving maos chittim, tzedaka for Pesach necessities…

May these efforts hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption and may we merit a month of redemption. May it be in the immediate future.



Unity does not nullify the difference between beings. On the contrary, by each expressing its unique character, it  is able to fulfill its Divine mission.



The force concealing G-dliness can be used as a medium for expressing G-dliness.



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