R’ Apelbaum- Parshas Teruma: How to make your home Hashems home. (Print version)

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Harav Yisrael Apelbaum Shlitah

Rosh Yeshiva – Yeshiva Tiferes Chaim

Parshas Teruma 5778

(וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ” (שמות כה, ב”


When Klal Yisroel was told to donate money to help build the Mishkan, there was one condition attached. Only someone who had good will, who desired to donate voluntarily, was told to donate.


Why was this one of the conditions for giving to the Mishkan? Shouldn’t everybody have been commanded to donate no matter what their motives were? Why was this mitzvah specifically given to be fulfilled voluntarily? We find in other places as well, that there are voluntary mitzvos, for example, a korban nedava (voluntary). The Steipler (Rav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky) in Birchas Peretz Vayikra asks, if a voluntary mitzvah is important for a person’s avodas Hashem, then why is it voluntary? If it’s not important, then why should we do it?


The answer can be, that when a person desires to do something for Hashem on his own accord, it shows that he has a tremendous love for Hashem. When someone isn’t required to do something for someone, yet he does it anyway, it demonstrates a true love for the recipient. Giving for the sake of giving is the definition of true and sincere giving. Not only does this come from an existing love, but it actually can create and develop love, and a bonding relationship. Ahava comes from the word “hav” which means to give. Thus, the whole purpose of building the Mishkan was in order to create within us a love for Hashem, as the passuk states in Shir Hashirim 3:10 “תּוֹכוֹ רָצוּף אַהֲבָה” (its interior inlaid with love). The Kruvim in the Mishkan represented our loving relationship with Hkb”h, and that love starts through giving to Hkb”h. These donations were only going to the base of the Mishkan, but the Mishkan had to be built on a foundation of love and giving to Hashem. This can explain why Hashem wanted that the donations for the Mishkan should be voluntary.


We say in Sh’ma, “וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ד’ אֱלֹקיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ”. One must sacrifice in every possible way, with his heart, soul, and money, in order to develop a love for Hashem. The purpose of sacrificing a korban to Hashem is to develop a closeness with Hashem. Korban comes from the word “karov” (close), the only way to come close to Hashem is to sacrifice. This is the way to build a relationship with Hashem, and it’s the way to build a relationship with anybody in life. Just like the Mishkan which is a home for Hashem can only be built on giving, so too every home which is a place for the Shechina has to be built on giving. Everybody is seeking the secret to a happy home, a peaceful home. The way to attain that, is to build the home on the foundation of loving others, thinking about others, and giving to others. A husband has to do for his wife, the wife for the husband, and parents for their children. In that home they can be guaranteed tranquility and happiness.


Hashem says “build for me a Mishkan and I will dwell in them”. What does it mean that He will “dwell in them”? There is only one Mishkan! The answer can be, that when a person has a giving heart, and he sacrifices for Hashem,  his heart has now developed a true appreciation of giving, and a dedication to Hkb”h. When a person gives of his heart for Hashem, his heart is now a different heart, his heart is now a fitting place for the Shechina to dwell.  With this we can explain the words “וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה” (and have them take for Me).  How are we taking if we are giving? The answer is, that when we dedicate our heart to give to Hashem, and make it a place where the Shechina can dwell, we are in essence taking. We are taking the Shechina in to us. We are giving for the purpose of building Hashem a home, but we are taking Hashem in to our hearts. When we develop a heart of chesed, we never lose. We only gain, for when we bring Hashem into our lives, we develop a lasting relationship with Him.

Rabbi Apelbaum Parshas Mishpatim- “How to do Sinai Chesed”


Harav Yisrael Apelbaum Shlitah

Rosh Yeshiva – Yeshiva Tiferes Chaim

Parshas Mishpatim 5778

וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים“(שמות כא א)

And these are the laws”

מה הראשונים מסיני אף אלו מסיני” (רשי)

Parshas Mishpatim starts off with the laws of interpersonal laws. Rashi explains that just like the Ten Commandments were given at Har Sinai, so too were these laws given at Har Sinai. Why is it important to inform us of this? Isn’t it obvious that all of the laws in the Torah were given over by Har Sinai?

The gemara says that there are different types of mitzvos in the Torah. Chukim are mitzvos whos reason is not readily understood. Mishpatim are mitzvos that we do understand. It’s possible that a person might err and think that only the major mitzvos like Shabbos, Kibbud av v’eim, Anochi Hashem, were given at Sinai, but the laws of interpersonal relationships, were not given at Sinai as they are logical laws that we derived on our own. In order to prevent someone from thinking this way, the Torah specifically states that the interpersonal laws were also given at Sinai. We also find this idea mentioned in Pirkei Avos. Pirkei Avos starts off with “משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי”, Moshe received the Torah at Sinai. The same question arises as to why it has to mention the obvious, that Moshe received the Torah at Sinai. The Raav explains that one might think that Chazal conceived these laws and ideas themselves. Therefore, the Mishna has to tell us that even these laws were given to us at Sinai from Hashem. What is unique about the Torah laws of interpersonal relationships? At face value we might think that there is no need for the Torah to instruct us about these laws. All modern day societies and cultures have a set of laws which include these laws, so we can figure them out by ourselves. But that’s a mistake. We have to realize that the Torah’s laws of personal interaction are not merely another set of logical ideas identical to the laws of all other civilized cultures. These are elevated Godly laws, “Sinai laws”.

This is illustrated by the first law in the Parsha. It starts off with the laws of owning a slave. The Torah tells us that we must be very careful with our treatment of a slave. If we have only one pillow, we must give it to him. We must support him, and his family! One might think that since the reason that he became a slave in the first place, is because he commited a crime, he’s not deserving of any special treatment. But the Torah tells us otherwise. We have a responsibility to take care of all his needs, and all of his family’s needs. No secular law would ever requiere this, but these are not regular laws. These are “Sinai laws”, a higher sublime type of laws.

The Midrash relates a story about Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach who purchased a donkey from a non jew. A precious stone was later found hanging on the donkey’s neck and people thought that this was a blessing from Hashem. But the Rabbi responded, “I purchased a donkey, not a precious stone!” So he went and returned the gem to the non jew who exclaimed, “Blessed is the G-d of Shimon ben Shetach!” (Devorim Rabbah 3:3) Nobody expected him to return it, but the Torah expects more of us. This is a fundamental foundation of Yiddishkeit. We must go out of our way to represent Hashem in all of our actions. That means doing chesed, but a higher level of chesed. The whole Torah is built on chesed, and we have to ingrain this trait in ourselves.

The gemara (Sotah 14) says that the Torah starts and ends with chesed. It starts with chesed in that Hashem clothed Adam Harishon. Rav Scheinberg zatzal asks, wasn’t the creation of the world the first act of chesed? He answered that of course the creation of the world was an act of chesed. But that was the kind of chesed that all cultures would consider chesed. Making clothing for Adam Harishon however, was a higher level of chesed which the non jewish cultures can not understand. Adam had just sinned against Hashem, and was completely undeserving of Hashem’s kindness! Even so, Hashem had mercy on him, and clothed him. This is “Toras Chesed”.

Rav Yisroel Belsky zatzal was asked by a man for assistance in getting his job back. He had been fired by someone who was a former talmid of Rav Belsky. Rav Belsky graciously called the mans former boss and asked him to rehire him. The boss couldn’t believe it. He told Rabbi Belsky that the reason why he had fired this man, was because he repeatedly spoke badly of Rabbi Belsky! After warning him several times, he had fired him. Now he had asked Rav Belsky himself to get him his job back?! Rav Belsky wouldn’t hear of it. “If you care about my honor”, he said, “rehire him”. “A Jews parnasa is more important to me than my honor”.

That is “Sinai chesed”.