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Nineteen Blessings 5771

Rav Pesach Siegel

Parshat Pekudei

Mar 4, 2011

Parshas Pikudei 5771

 These are the pikudei haMishkan. The word pikudei means “countings.”  Indeed, that seems to be the entire theme that runs through the parsha. An accounting is given of all the raw materials used in the construction of the Mishkan. The Torah informs us of the sum total of all the donations. It continues to relate what was fashioned from the materials. Then, the Bnei Yisroel bring the finished products to Moshe Rabeinu. Hashem commands Moshe to assemble the Mishkan. The Torah tells us that Moshe Rabeinu faithfully follows the command of Hashem and assembles the Mishkan.


 The vessels, bigdei kehunah, and the building materials of the Mishkan have been discussed in the previous parshiyos of Terumah and Tezaveh. What is the lesson to be learned from the constant repetition?

 After each stage the posuk states that the work was done, “Ka’asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe.” (Just as Hashem commanded Moshe). Of course, the work was done as Hashem commanded. Why would one think otherwise?

 The phrase, “Ka’asher tzivah Hashem,” appears nineteen times in the parsha. Wouldn’t it have sufficed had it appeared only once at the very end of the process of construction? 1

 Background/Deeper Understanding

 Rabeinu Yaakov Ba’al HaTurim explains the significance behind the number nineteen. The nineteen times that the phrase, “Ka’asher tzivah Hashem,” appears corresponds to the nineteen blessings of the Shmoneh Esreh. When the Anshei K’nessess Hagedolah instituted the formal Shmoneh Esreh, they patterned it after the verses in this parsha. 2

 It would appear to be reasonable, that a correlation must exist between the verses of the parsha and the varied blessings of the Shmoneh Esreh.

 Let us explore.


 The first blessing is the blessing of Avos. Hashem sends his blessings to this world due to the presence of the Avos and their descendants. Avrohom Avenu, in his time, was likened to the kohen gadol of the world. 3 It was his avoda (life’s work) of chessed that made the world a worthy place. He acted in the role of a kohen, when offering up his son upon the altar at the future place of the Beis HaMikdash. Yaakov Avenu, as well, offered sacrifices at the place of the Beis HaMikdash. In his dream, he was shown, that the life bestowing blessings that sustain the world come about due to his bond with both worlds, heaven and earth. Yaakov Avenu wore the clothes of the kohen gadol. He was the Kohen Gadol of the world. 4

 This is a direct parallel to what is written when all the material had been brought before Moshe Rabeinu. Hashem instructed Moshe Rabeinu in the construction of the Mishkan, and concludes with the command to anoint, purify and sanctify Aharon, (the father), and his sons, and hand over the Mishkan to their hands. The blessings of heaven would now reach this earth through the avoda of Aharon and his sons.


 The blessing of techiyas hamaysim follows. The belief in techiyas hamaysim is predicated upon the fundamental belief that Hashem directly created the physical body of Adam HaRishon. It is meant to serve as a utensil in the hands of the soul to act within this world. Although it is imbued with physical properties, it is not to be discarded. It is part and parcel of G-d’s will, and G-d’s will is forever. The world was created in order to reveal the holiness that can be attained even by one who has a physical body. 5

 Similarly, the parsha talks of bigdei kodesh (sacred garments). These are not the bigdei kehunah worn by the kohen when performing the avoda. These were made as a cover for the vessels of the Mishkan during travel. One was not permitted to see or make contact with the vessels during this stage, upon pain of death. 6  They had to be covered, buried, and obscure. And the coverings were not just mundane garments. They were bigdei kodesh (sacred). The actual vessels are likened to the soul. They have spiritual properties attributed to them. The Aron did not take up space, the showbread upon the Shulchan remained fresh, the westernmost light on the menorah never extinguished, as well as the fire on the mizbe’ach. The cloth that covered them was ordinary, but not so ordinary. It is like the body that is bonded with the soul. It serves the vessels within, and so it is kodesh.


 The next blessing is Ha’Kel HaKadosh.  G-d is above and beyond. And so the phrase, ka’asher tzivah Hashem, appears after the section dealing with the tzitz hazahav. Upon the tzitz is inscribed the words, “Kodesh LaHashem


 The bracha of chonen hada’as contains the words, chaneinu me’itcha chochmah, binah, vode’ah.”  The posuk tells us how Betzalel ben Uri fulfilled his charge exactly as Hashem commanded Moshe.  About Betzalel it is written that Hashem filled him with chochmah, tevunah, and da’as. 7


 In birchas hashiveinu, we beseech Hashem to help us repent and bring us back to his Torah. This parallels the Aron HaBris. In the Aron are the broken fragments of the first luchos along with the second set of luchos. Although we seemingly broke the covenant of the first tablets, Hashem created a way for us to return to his Torah by giving us a second set of tablets.


 In the bracha of s’lach lanu, G-d is described as the gracious G-d who forgives with abundance. The phrase ka’asher tzivah Hashem is placed after discussing the priestly garments of the kohen hedyot, the pants, shirt, hat, and girdle. The gemorah tells us how each one of the garments atoned for a different sin, hence abundant forgiveness. 8


 In the bracha of re’eh ve’anyanu, we reach out to Hashem and ask of Him to see our pain, and redeem us swiftly. The passage in the parsha that deals with the menorah and its illumination, also ends with the words ka’asher tzivah Hashem. It is the avoda of the menorah that gives us the merit for our pain to be seen by Hashem.


 When a plague was set upon the Bnei Yisroel in the aftermath of Korach’s rebellion, Moshe Rabeinu sent Aharon HaKohen among the sick and dying. He sent him with a fire pan filled with ketores. Ketores wards off the plague. This secret was imparted to Moshe Rabeinu by the angel of death, himself, when Moshe ascended Har Sinai. 9

 The work of the Mizbe’ach Haketores would match up naturally with this bracha.


 In the bracha of mevarech hashanim we pray for blessing to descend upon our efforts towards physical sustenance, our daily bread. In the time of the Mishkan this blessing reached the world through the avoda of the shulchan and the show-bread placed upon it. Ka’asher tzivah Hashem is stated by the passages dealing with the shulchan, as well.


Teka bishofar gadol licheiruseinu vi’sa nes lekabetz galuyaseinu. We pray for the time when all the dispersed of our nation to be gathered together and come as one to artzeinu hakedosha, to Yerushalayim, and the Beis HaMikdash. The posuk says ka’asher tzivah Hashem at the point when the Bnei Yisroel finished all the work. They gathered the finished items and brought them together, to Moshe Rabeinu, to be formed into the Mishkan.


 We pray for the return of our judges, so that they can guide us with their wise counsel, as before. This can be linked with finishing the work of the choshen hamishpat. It was through the choshen hamishpat that the Kohen Gadol judged those who came before him in judgment. The letters inscribed upon the stones lit up, prophetically, revealing G-d’s wisdom. 10


 When Moshe Rabeinu saw all that was brought before him, he saw that all was done exactly as Hashem had commanded, ka’asher tzivah Hashem. He then blessed the people. Our sages instituted a blessing to be said in order to counter the effects of the heretics, (birchas haminim). 11 The minim are those who have departed from the pathway laid down by Hashem through his servant Moshe. They have their own agenda. They speak falsely in the name of G-d. And they are to be cursed to oblivion. Birchas HaMinim is the mirror image of Moshe Rabeinu’s blessing.


 In this bracha we pray for the welfare of the tzadikim. May G-d’s compassion be upon them. In the parsha it tells of the avnei shoham. These were two stones worn upon the shoulders of the Kohen Gadol. The shoham stones were represented in the actual choshen hamishpat as well. In the choshen, the shoham is the stone of Yosef, 12 who is known as Yosef Hatzadik.


 It would be quite clear that the blessing of boneh Yerushalayim is a parallel to the passage discussing the actual construction of the Mishkan, by the hands of Moshe Rabeinu.


 In the bracha of es tzemach Dovid, we refer to the salvation as a growing plant. Just as a plant’s growth is not noticeable, its growth is gradual, so too, Hashem brings us towards the ultimate redemption bit by bit. 13 Just as a plant yearns for nourishment, so too we should be filled with yearning for the growth of geulah. 14

The passages dealing with the nourishing waters of the kiyor would seem to be a fitting parallel for this bracha.


When Hashem completed his work of creating the world, Adam HaRishon opened his eyes for the very first time. What sight presented itself to him at that time? Barrenness, total desolation. All the plants and greenery were waiting beneath the surface of the earth. They were awaiting the one who would experience the total void of his needs, turn his heart towards shamayim, and pray. 15

In the posuk dealing with the completion of all the work of the Mishkan by the hands of the people, the posuk states, ka’asher tzivah Hashem. They finished all the physical labor, the hishtadlus, now is the time for prayer.

Hence the bracha, shma koleinu.


In the bracha of hamachazir shechinaso litzion, we beseech Hashem to return the burnt offerings, and so, in the initial construction of the Mishkan, by the hands of Moshe Rabeinu, he erected the mizbe’ach hanechoshes and brought the olah and mincha scarifices.


The blessing of modim anachnu lach, is a verbal declaration, acknowledging Hashem’s role in every aspect of our existence. The word “modim” refers specifically to an expression of sound. 16

Of all the begadim of the Kohen Gadol, the me’il was the only one that produced a sound. The tinkling of the bells sewn into the me’il acted as atonement for one who abused the power of speech. 17


We pray to Hashem for shalom, the shalom of being together as one with each other, the shalom of basking in the light of our father in heaven. Shalom means totality. It means being as one with our Creator.

When the Torah discusses the ayfod of the Kohen gadol, it states ka’asher tzivah Hashem. The gemora tells us that the Kohen Gadol wore the ayphod as atonement, atonement for the sin of avoda zara. Avoda zara is the polar extreme of shalom.


The word tzivuy (command) is related to the word tzavsa. Tzavsa means to bond, it means to accompany.  18

This is the lesson to be gained from the words of this parsha. There is not a single repetition. The Torah is showing us that there are nineteen ways that we can connect ourselves, heart and soul, to our Maker. We do so by being aware that we are here to perform His tzivuy. That is the ultimate connection, His wish is our command. There exists an unbreakable bond between us and our Maker. Even though he grants us the choice to break away from Him, we refuse to do so.

Due to our sins, we no longer have the Holy Temple, its vessels, and ministering kohanim. We have prayer. When we utter the words of the bracha of avos, when we do so with all of our hearts, we are in place of Aharon and his children. We become the kohanim of the world. And so, for each and every bracha.

The Ba’al Haturim adds, that if one would add up the number of words contained in the nineteen phrases where is says ka’asher tzivah Hashem, the sum total would be 113. This is the exact amount of words contained in the endings of the blessings of the shmoneh esreh. When one prays with a full heart, one enters the Mishkan. Thus, the word lev appears in the Torah 113 times.

1 Perek 38, Posuk 22; Perek 39, Posuk 1, Posuk 5, Posuk 7, Posuk 21, Posuk 26, Posuk 29, Posuk 31, Posuk 32, Posuk 42, Posuk 43; Perek 40, Posuk 16, Posuk 19, Posuk 21, Posuk 23, Posuk 25, Posuk 27, Posuk 29, Posuk 32.

2 Ba’al HaTurim, Perek 40, Posuk 21

3 VaYikra Rabbah, Parsha 25, Piska 6

4 Ba’al HaTurim, Parshas VaYeitze, Perek 28, Posuk 20

5 Derech Hashem, Chelek 1, Perek 3

6 Parshas BaMidbar, Perek 4, Posuk 19

7 Perek 35, Posuk 21

8  Meseches Zevachim 88b

9 Meseches Shabbos 89a

10 Meseches Yoma 73b

11 Meseches Brachos 28b

12 Bamidbar Rabbah, Parsha 2, Piska 7

13 Sefer Yosher Divrei Emmes, Os 44

14 Sefas Emmes

15 Rashi, Parshas Breishis, Perek 2, Posuk 5

16 Minchas Chinuch, Mitzva 364

17 Meseches Zevachim 88b

18 Meseches Brachos 6b

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