|This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-HaRav Gedalia Dov Ben Perel
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Yechiel Baruch HaLevi Ben Liba Gittel
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
וַיַּקְהֵל-פְקוּדֵי ● Vayak’hei-Pekudei
החודש ● HaChodesh
This week, I’m going to share a seemingly ironic, Parsha-related reflection on the new buzzwords which are on everyone’s minds, mouths, and newsfeeds this week: “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” “pandemic,” “outbreak,” “quarantine,” “social distance,” and so on.
Exiled from the Temple
The news of the worldwide plague finds us in the Pashiyos of the Mishkan, Klal Yisrael’s first Beis Avodah1, or “House of Worship.” This week’s Parshiyos, Vayak’heil and Pekudei, discuss the completion of that Temple. The irony is that, this week, due to the rapid spreading of the pandemic, we have been forced into quarantine and social distance, and have been effectively exiled from our modern-day Temples—our Shuls and Batei Midrash—each of which Chazal refer to as a Mikdash Me’at, a miniature Temple.2
Those who proceed to Daven at home naturally feel that exile. We now feel as though our performance of Avodas Hashem is unideal. Things are not the way they should be. We belong Davening together with a Minyan, in our Shuls, with an Aron HaKodesh and Sifrei Torah. Maybe, this is a semblance of what Avodas Hashem felt like in the times of the Crusades or the Holocaust, L’Havdil.
If we’re feeling this way, it is certainly appropriate, but perhaps, in a certain respect, our reaction time is a little late.
Our reaction time is late because, for generations now, we have been exiled from the true Beis HaMikdash in Hashem’s Holy City of Yerushalayim. Even if we have been following Halachah perfectly—that is a majorly unlikely “IF”— our Avodas Hashem has nonetheless been unideal for some time. Without the actual Beis HaMikdash, we have been unable to engage in the Avodah SheB’Mikdash (Temple service) and offer the Hashem the requisite Korbanos which He delineates for us in His Torah. In the meantime, we have literally just been talking about the services in our Tefilah, just hoping that He should allow “our lips to compensate for bulls.”4
Maybe, we have never thought about this when Davening Musaf every passing Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and Yom Tov, but each Musaf service we pray describes the offerings which we should be serving Hashem but cannot due to the lack of that Beis HaMikdash, which we know, is the result of our excess of sin—to G-d and fellowman. Even the most angelic, most rehearsed, most inspiring and musical Musaf we have ever heard on Yom Kippur is but a screenplay at best of the lost Avodah, dictated by an unworthy, non-Kohein Gadol to say the least.
Maybe, we have never been truly bothered by this, but there is Someone Who has been. Maybe, we were comfortable in our Mikdashei Me’at, but there is Someone Who still yearns for the rebuilding of His Beis Olamim, His Eternal Home.5 Indeed, though we only feel it naturally now because we have only recently left our own comfort zones, for generations, the reality has been that “Shechinta B’Galusa”-“the Divine Presence [too] is in exile.”3
There are many ways we can reflect on the current circumstances. Perhaps one such idea we ought to meditate on during these trying and “unideal” times is not only the opportunity we had to serve Hashem in makeshift Batei Mikdash, but the yearning we must have for the ideal Beis HaMikdash. Now is also a time to think about what Galus means to the Shechinah, and how we could improve the situation by yearning and striving for the highest ideal of Avodas Hashem.
Social Distance vs. Kibutz Galiyos
Another idea which we can reflect upon at this time is the social aspect, Bein Adam LaChaveiro. Considering that this new exile is marked by “social distance,” we have to look into our interpersonal relationships and think of creative ways to close the gap, to be more sensitive, more compassionate, and more kind to one another.
Of course, this idea sounds elementary; certainly, most of us are not sociopaths. But, that just makes our jobs in this area much more difficult, not easier. That is because, as decent as we are, we are not ideal in this area either, for if we were, we would have the Beis HaMikdash again. In all probability, if we take an honest look into our souls, we will find, perhaps in a most subtle way, an area in Bein Adam LaChaveiro where we are lacking as well. Perhaps we possess one or more toxic Midos that must be expunged—whether it is Achzariyus (brazenness), Ga’avah (arrogance), or Ka’as (anger). The barriers created by these personal flaws will require far more than a “Zoom” session to overcome.
If the exile is marked by “social distance,” we have to work overtime to completely reverse that distance and generate “Kibutz Galiyos,” a literal and spiritual “Ingathering of the Exiles.”
As we also enter the Shabbos of Parshas HaChodesh, we are at the cusp of Chodesh Nissan, the month of Nissim which, Chazal teach, is also the month of our redemption.6 As it is the month of Pesach, it also has the special potential to be the month of liberation from our individual and national prisons.
Though we have a monthly prayer of Kiddush HaChodesh, this month’s is perhaps the most crucial and poignant. B’Ezras Hashem, this month, that Tefilah should be fulfilled:
“Hu Yigal Osanu V’Karov V’Kabeitz Nidacheinu MeiArba Kanfos HaAretz Chaveirim Kol Yisrael V’Nomar Amein!”-“He should redeem us soon and gather our dispersed ones from the four corners of the earth—all of Yisrael as friends; and let us say Amein!”
May it be fulfilled with our full Geulah, our return to Hashem’s eternal Beis HaMikdash, and the arrival of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Chazak! Chazak! V’Nischazeik! Have a Great Shabbos HaChodesh/Mevarchim Nissan/Chazak!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂
- This is how Rambam describes the Beis HaMikdash in Sefer HaMitzvos, Mitzvah Aseih #20.
- Megilah 29A
- This phrase can be found in Rabbeinu Bachya to Bereishis 39:20 and Midrash HaGadol to Bereishis 22:16.
- Hoshei’a 14:3
- f. Melachim Aleph 8:13
- Rosh HaShannah 11A