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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel | 5768

An Individual Donation

Parshat HaShavuah

The Torah relates: “Every man and woman whose heart volunteered (nadav) them… brought a donation (nedava) to Hashem” (Shemot 35:29). The midrash (Shemot Rabba 48:8) says that the donation was a remedy for the spiritual destruction brought on by the sin of the Golden Calf. It connects the good will that flowed from this event to the pasuk from the haftara of Shuva: “I will forgive their iniquity; I will love them voluntarily (nedava)” (Hoshea 14:5). The midrash says that Moshe pleaded to Hashem to hold off on destroying the nation and let them prove themselves with donations to build the Mishkan, as they redeemed the sin of giving nezamim (nose rings) for the Calf by giving nezamim for the Mishkan. What is the significance behind the nezem that makes its use such a fitting atonement?

The following approach to the issue is based on Assufot Ma’arachot, by Rav Chaim Y. Goldwicht. The Sefat Emet has an important explanation of the mishna in Avot: “If I am not for me, who is for me, and when I am for myself, what am I?” Every person has a unique role that only he can play. Thus, if he is not himself, no one will be him. On the other hand, when he focuses his efforts only on his own development, he misses the point. A person’s service of Hashem should be focused on the joint development of the nation, all of whose members are focused on the one goal of serving Hashem, even as their methods differ.

When sinning, one focuses on personal desires. People team up only to maximize the desire. Idol worship appears to be an exception to this phenomenon, as one gives of himself to a perceived deity. In truth though, one chooses an idol and views it in a manner that appeals to him. Thus, when Bnei Yisrael stumbled through idol worship, they desired many forms of idolatry. The basic purpose in making the Golden Calf was to find an alternative way to serve Hashem. However, they did it in a way that showed their individual desires rather submitting to serve Hashem as He prescribed.

The solution that brought out the proper approach was symbolized in the giving of their jewelry. Jewelry’s function is to accentuate a person’s individuality. They had given it up before, but with an intention to serve their personal desires. Now they took the opportunity to give nezamim to nullify their personal desires and follow Hashem’s specific designs.

Another pasuk in Hoshea (2:1), which the midrash brings in relation to this repentance, brings home this idea. “The number of Bnei Yisrael will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted, and it will be at the place that it will be said to them, ‘you are not My nation,’ it will be said to them, ‘the sons of a live G-d.’” In other words, the nation is made up of countless individuals. When they sin, they lose national unity; when they refocus, the multitudes will at once all be sons of Hashem and will not be counted as separate units but as a unified force.    


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


 Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of

Max and Mary Sutker

 and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

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