Money Laundering: Making Sure Donations To The Mishkan Are "Clean"
The first pasuk [verse] in Parshas Vayakhel [Shmos 35:1] refers to an
assembly of the Children of Israel. The first Rashi in the parsha informs
us that the assembly took place on the day after Yom Kippur, when Moshe
descended for the final time from Har [Mt.] Sinai. Although Parshas Teruma
and Tezaveh, which deal with the construction of the Mishkan, precede
Parshas Ki Sisa, which deals with the sin of the Aigel Eigel Hazahav
[Golden Calf], Rashi follows the opinion that the sin of the Eigel
occurred prior to the building of the Mishkan, and that the building of
the Mishkan in fact atones for that sin.
The sin of the Eigel occured on the 17th of Tamuz. On that day, Moshe
descended from Har Sinai for the first time and broke the Luchos
[Tablets]. Moshe went up for a second 40-day period to plead with the
Almighty that He not destroy the Jewish people because of this sin. The
Almighty granted forgiveness and Moshe went up for a third 40-day period
- beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul -- in which he received the second set
of Luchos. The third descent was on Yom Kippur. On the morrow of that day
the announcement went forth to build the Mishkan.
It is interesting to note another incident that occurred on that same day.
In Parshas Yisro [Shmos 18:13] the pasuk says "And it was on the next day"
in reference to the incident where Yisro saw Moshe Rabbeinu sitting in
judgment over the people "from morning until evening." Rashi quotes the
Sifrei that this event also happened "on the morrow of Yom Kippur."
It appears that according to Rashi, both the "sitting in judgment the
whole day" and the announcement to collect money for the building of the
Mishkan happened on the very same day. The Shemen haTov points out that
this is not coincidental. The two events dovetail with each other.
If Moshe wanted to ask people to donate funds to the Mishkan, the first
thing he had to determine was that the money in fact belonged to them. It
was only after Moshe was able to validate that everyone's money was free
of any suspicion of theft or extortion that he was able to ask for
donations to build the Mishkan.
This is reminiscent of the famous Maharsha in Tractate Kesubos, who
decries the custom of people who donate to charity only for the honor they
gain, when the money is not legitimately theirs. The Maharsha bemoans the
fact that people acquire money through deceit and through theft from
non-Jews, thereby desecrating the Name of G-d. They give large sums of
such ill-gotten money to charitable causes and expect honor and prestige
from the recipients of these funds. The Maharsha proclaims such action to
be in the category of "mitzvah ha'ba b'aveirah" [a good deed coming about
through sin] and warns that such money will not last.
Before a person contemplates how much money he has available to give or
where he should give it, he must first contemplate if the money is
Medrash Links Pasuk In Pekudei With Teaching of Darkei Shalom
There is a difficult Medrash Tanchuma in Parshas Pekudei. The Torah states
that the Mishkan and all of its keylim [vessels] were brought to Moshe
[Shmos 39:33]. The Medrash seemingly makes a very strange comment that
many things were enacted for reasons of preservation of peace (darkei
Shalom) and that in this case, Moshe enacted the proscribed sequence for
calling up people to read from the Torah -- Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael.
We can easily understand the concept of preventing fights by having an
orderly sequence for calling up Jews for Aliyahs. However, what is the
connection Moshe's enactment and the pasuk teaching that the Jews brought
the Mishkan and its vessels to Moshe?
Maharal Diskin gives a beautiful interpretation. He asks why the people
brought the various components of the Mishkan to Moshe. Why didn't Moshe
go to the people to collect these components? The Maharal Diskin explains
that Moshe hesitated to go to the people to collect because of the dilemma
Whom would he go to first? To avoid this problem he instituted the rule:
"You come to me." This was an example of Darkei Shalom [a peace-inducing
method]. That is why the Medrash on this pasuk cites the wide spread
practice of Chazal to implement procedures which embody Darkei Shalom,
such as the order of Kohen Levi Yisrael in the Torah readings.
The Shemen haTov cites a practice amongst a number of prominent Chassidic
Rebbes that if one of their Chassidim wants them to be Mesader Kiddushin
(officiate at their marriage) the rule is "You come to me" rather than
vice versa. The Choson-Kallah must come to the Rebbe's house or the
Rebbe's courtyard and he will officiate there. The Rebbe does not accept
invitations to perform weddings away from his "home-base".
The Shemen haTov explains that this rule to is designed to avoid machlokes
[arguments; insult]. If the Rebbe had to decide which wedding invitation
to accept and which to reject, which he could attend and which were too
far away, then there would be fights and resentment among the Chassidim.
This is the same theory as "they brought the Mishkan to Moshe" (rather
than having Moshe go around collecting the pieces from each and every
Great is peace. We must always look creatively for ways to enhance peace
amongst Klal Yisrael.
This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher
Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion.
The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas
Vayakhel-Pekudei are provided below:
Tape # 047 - Pikuach Nefesh: To Save a Life
Tape # 090 - The Melacha of Carrying.
Tape # 138 - The Melacha of Tying Knots
Tape # 185 - The Melacha of Writing
Tape # 231 - Making A Siyum
Tape # 275 - Electricity in Halacha
Tape # 321 - Leap Year and the Second Adar
Tape # 365 - The Melacha of Tearing
Tape # 409 - The Melacha of Melabain (Laundering)
Tape # 453 - Wearing a Watch on Shabbos
Tape # 497 - The Tefillah of B'rich Sh'mei
Tape # 541 - Learning Kabbalah
Tape # 585 The Melacha of Trapping
Tape # 629 Sitting in Judgement on Shabos
Tape # 672 The Mishebeirach in Halacha
Tape # 673 Putting a Sefer Torah in the Aron
Tape # 717 - One Hundred Brochos a Day
Tape # 761 Killing Two Birds With One Stone
Tape # 805 Baruch Sh'omar Ashrei, and Yishtabach
Tpae # 849 Saying L'shem Yichud A Good Idea?
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the
Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511.
Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit
http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.
RavFrand, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Torah.org.
Rav Frand Books and Audio Tapes are now available for sale! Thanks to www.yadyechiel.org and Artscroll.com.