Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat Pekudei
WHEN WILL WE STOP EATING GRASS??????
Parshiyot VaYakhel and Pekudei are basically repetitions of Parshiyot Terumah and Tetzaveh. This naturally gives rise to the often-asked question: How can the Torah, which we know is never redundant, go ahead and "waste" so much space with all these extra verses? Why not simply state, as the Torah frequently does, "And the Children of Israel did as Moses commanded them"?
Interestingly, when the Torah devotes a lot of space to the details of other mitzvot, no one finds it strange. On the contrary, many people feel that MORE space should be devoted to various mitzvot. Why? Because everyone understands that without the mitzvot, there is no Torah.
And therein lies the answer to our question. For just like there is no Judaism without the mitzvot we fulfill today, so too there is no Judaism without the Temple and the sacrifices, which account for over one-third of the 613 mitzvot! In other words, our sense of proportion regarding what Judaism considers truly important is warped. It's true that many of us feel completely disconnected from the Temple and the sacrifices, but the fact that the Torah is uncharacteristically verbose in describing them should tell us something about their centrality in Judaism.
With this in mind, let us address our obligation to rebuild the Temple and renew the sacrifices. In general, this idea is met with immediate opposition. There are no shortage of excuses, each camp offering its own explanation why we can't build the Temple today. Some say, "The Temple will fall from the sky, and it is none of our business." Others argue, "The Temple is a project for the Messiah." And then there is this gem: "We are on too low a level to deal with such a lofty topic."
For all these excuses, there are clear and powerful answers. In this limited space, we cannot cite them, but there really is no need to do so since rebuilding the Temple is one of the 613 commandments. Case closed. Have you ever heard anyone suggest that eating matzah on Passover is a task for the Messiah? Has anyone ever said, "Family purity - what for? Family purity will descend from heaven!" Or how about, "Study Torah? A lowly sinner like me should study the holy Torah?!"
Of course these excuses are absurd. We do not seek ways to avoid performing mitzvot, all the more so a mitzvah which literally causes the Divine Presence to dwell amongst us. (Dear friends, did G-d allow us to conquer the Temple Mount 30 years ago so that the Arabs could continue to desecrate His Name on our holiest site, only now under Jewish sovereignty? Shouldn't we feel that this is the very last mitzvah to ignore?)
Many say that since there were mitzvot in the Exile which served as substitutes for the Temple service, it is not so terrible if we make do with these substitutes in Israel as well. But in the Exile, WE HAD NO CHOICE, and G-d will forgive us for neglecting the mitzvot pertaining to the Temple. But now, when we control our own fate, how can we possibly make do with substitutes?
This is similar to a man who eats grass instead of food. People ask him, "What are you doing?" He asnwers, "Look, I was once struck in the wilderness without food. I found some grass and ate it to survive." They tell him, "Fool!!! Then, you had no choice; you were FORCED to eat grass. BUT NOW?? You have REAL FOOD, so why are you still eating grass????"
And we? WHEN WILL WE STOP EATING GRASS???
Darka Shel Torah, 1999
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