Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Vayakail/Pekudai) Spiritual Dividends
Our leader Moshe was supposed to be in Heaven for 40 days studying the entire Torah from G-d. A segment of the people erroneously calculated that the 40 days had passed and believed Moshe would not return. They panicked and started to rile up a crowd around Moshe’s brother Aaron, who had been placed in charge of the nation in Moshe’s absence.
Chur, a nephew of Moshe and Aaron, tried desperately to calm the crowd from their confusion, yet frenzy broke out and Chur was murdered.
Recognizing the violent nature of the crowd, Aaron tried a different tactic. He stalled for time until Moshe would return. However, the revelers swiftly created a golden calf and began worshipping it.
One might ask: Did Chur then give his life up for naught? After all is said and done, they created and worshipped the idol!
Rabbi Ahron L. Shteinman explains: After the incident of the golden calf, G-d was so upset with the Jews that he wanted to wipe them all out and begin a new nation through Moshe. Moshe prayed profusely on behalf of the Jews and eventually G-d forgave the nation.
A major factor why the nation achieved atonement was Chur’s sacrifice of his life while trying to prevent the idol from being formed.
This idea can be seen from the fact that after G-d forgave the Jews for the sin of the golden calf, He instructed them to construct a Temple – Tabernacle. The head architect appointed to develop and construct the Temple was a brilliant thirteen year old who the Torah describes as, Betzallel the son of Uri who was the son of Chur. Chur is mentioned to underscore that because of his devotion and sacrifice G-d allowed His presence to dwell in the Temple and because of him, his grandson Betzallel was endowed with the wisdom necessary to head the construction of the Temple.
One can never underestimate the positive effects of our personal or ancestral devotion and self-sacrifice. Just as we understand that one puts away and invest money for their children and grandchildren’s future, so too, one invests spiritual merits for them as well. Because at times spiritual benefits only become manifest in future generations. G-d is the trusted record keeper of all our deeds.
Seventeen years ago, the Jewish people united and prayed for kidnapped Israeli soldier, Nachshon Wachsman, hoping for his safe release.
I vividly recall that Nachshon’s mother asked through the extensive media coverage that all Jewish women have her son Nachshon in mind and light an extra Shabbat candle in order to merit his safe return.
Many secular Jews were so touched by this request that they decided to light Shabbos candles that Friday. In fact, of the 30,000 letters the Wachsman’s received, thousands of women expressed how they furthered their devotion to Judaism as a result of Nachshon’s capture.
Unfortunately, Nachshon was murdered during a rescue attempt.
Nachshon’s father’s greatest concern when burying his son was that his death would cause a crisis in faith. He was worried that people would feel that all their prayers and spiritual commitments were apparently ignored. He asked the officiating Rabbi at the funeral to tell everyone, including the vast media, “Just as a father would always like to say "yes" to all his children's requests, yet though the child might not understand why, sometimes he had to say "no". So too, our Father in Heaven heard our prayers, and though we don't understand why, His answer was "no."
Currently, with our limited spiritual capacity, we are not privy to the benefits brought about through Nachshon’s incident (or any other act of devotion). However, we know and believe that our loving Father in Heaven always rewards and compensates at the time when He feels it is right.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks