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Tuesday, Adar1 28, 5779 / March 5, 2019


This week's Parsha, Pekudei, concludes the second book of the Torah, the Book of Exodus (Shemot).  In most years, the two Parshiot, Vayakhel and Pekudei are read together.  But this year, being a leap year, they are read seperately.


In the previous Parsha, Vayakhel, we read that the Jewish people donated so generously for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and it’s contents, that Moshe had to make an announcement not to bring any more contributions. 


In this week’s Parsha, Pekudei, we read how Moshe gives the Jewish people an exact accounting for all the gold, silver, and copper that was donated and for what these precious metals were used. Moshe did this to eliminate any doubt among the people that he personally gained from the contributions.


A Jew is commanded to be very careful in his dealings, so that people should not doubt his honesty. 


According to Jewish law, when one collects for charity and at the same time receives payment for a personal loan, he should not put the personal money given to him in his own pocket, as someone who sees him putting the money in his pocket may suspect that he is taking charity money for his personal use. Instead, the money paid to him should be put in the wallet where he puts the charity money. Only when he returns home and is out of sight, is he allowed to take out whatever is his.


In Europe, Rabbis would travel from place to place to deliver Torah sermons. They were called magidim. They would be paid for their efforts by the villagers who collected money for them. 


Once, a Magid came to the city of Premishlan, where Rabbi Meir was Rabbi.  The Magid delivered a brilliant sermon on Shabbat. After Shabbat, he was presented with the amount of money that the villagers collected.  However, he wasn't pleased with the amount.


Before leaving town, he visited Rabbi Meir's home. He noticed that people came to Rabbi Meir to ask his advice and receive his blessings. In return, they left generous contributions so that Rabbi Meir could help the poor and needy .


"I don't understand," remarked the Magid to Rabbi Meir, "Why do people reward you so generously, while for my sermon, they gave very little?"


"It's simple," replied Rabbi Meir with a smile. "When a person learns from a Rabbi or Magid, he becomes the role model and the person strives to be like the Rabbi or Magid. The townspeople know that I have no desire for money and that I give it all away to the poor.  As a result, they too are willing to give their money away. But you give sermons so you can make money. When the townspeople see that you want money for yourself, they imitate you and they too desire the money for themselves!"