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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Keep It Honest

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd or of the flock.”

The word used for “any Man’ in the Torah is ADAM. The usual noun used for man is is ISH - so why does the Torah say ADAM?

Rashi tells us that there is an important lesson here: when one brings a sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem one should recall ADAM - the first man. Adam couldn’t steal anything, because everything was his. He couldn’t be unethical because he was a lone inhabitant. Anything that he would set aside as a sacrifice to G-d was pure and holy - nothing was tainted. So too when we consider making a sacrifice; we should only sacrifice our honest own. What we bring should be holy and pure.

Sometimes one wishes to absolve and exonerate oneself from his or her guilt so they take a bad thing like non-kosher money and attempts to make it into a good thing. Whatever the psychology is - the money is tainted. It isn’t kosher and in the words of Rambam (Isurei Mizbeach 5;7) G-d actually hates it!

We find a similair phenomena in last weeks Parsha with the building of the Tabernacle.

The Seforno comments that the greatest manifestation of God’s presence occurred not during the very grand First or Second Temple in Jerusalem, but rather during the Mishkan in the desert.

The reason was that the Mishkan was fashioned and built by people of the highest caliber - God-fearing, devoted, and of inspired hearts. It was built with absolute purity. The builders were pure and the gold and silver that were used in its construction was untainted and pure. The Mishkan was relatively simple; but it was pure.

“By contrast, was the Temple erected by Solomon. Since most of the work was performed by laborers from Tzor, it was eventually destroyed, all of it having been lost totally. The building itself was in need of regular, almost annual, repairs, The second Temple was built by a dream that a gentile named King Cyrus dreamed that it was his duty to build a temple to the G’d in heaven.None of it lasted .” (Sforno Pikudei)

The Maharsha (Ketubos 88) speaks of people that would amass non-kosher money (such as through gezel akum) and then donate it to synagogues and places of Torah learning. He tells us that these structures will not last; they will not work.

When the idea to build the great Yeshivah of Volozhin was first conceived, the Vilna Gaon told Rav Chaim of Volozhon, that if all the money that goes into this building is brought from pure sources, it would be impossible for anyone who enters the building to have a wrong thought. No one will utter an idle word, and it will last forever.

This is true when we build our Synagogues, schools, our homes and when we make the sacrifices that we all make. Make them pure and they will last; make them pure and they will work.

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