Crowned Jews

Before telling us about the actual building of the Mishkan (sanctuary), its vessels, and the priestly garb, the parsha talks about Sabbath observance and opens with the words, "And Moshe gathered the entire "Adas" (congregation) of the children of Israel, and he said to them, these are the things that Hashem commanded "La'asos" (to do), six days "Tey-uh-seh" (do) work, and on the seventh day it will be "Shabbos Shabboson" (a day of solemn rest; Ex. 35:1-2).

There are a number of questions that can be raised by the wording of these verses.

1) Why did the Torah have to use the word "Adas"? The verse could have just said, "Moshe gathered the Children of Israel." The word "Adas" could have been left out, and we would still have a complete sentence.

2) Why does the mitzvah of Shabbos observance, mentioned in the verse, have an entire introduction to it? It says, "These are the things that Hashem commanded to do." The Torah could have left out this introduction and instead it could have just begun with the words, "Six days do work, etc."

3) Why does it say that for six days "Tey-uh-seh" work? Grammatically speaking, the word "Tey-uh-seh" implies that work should be done for you by others. How could God command us to have others do work for us? Apparently, it should have said, "Ta'aseh", which tells us "to do" our own work.

4) Why does the verse use the term, "Shabbos Shabboson"? This seems repetitive. It could have just said that the seventh day will be "Shabbos" and we would get the idea.

The Tiferes Shmuel (vol. 1, Rabbi Shmuel Kaufman, Rebbe of Kaminker, b. 1863 Ukraine, d. 1938 USA) begins addressing these questions by quoting a Gemara that teaches us that when the Jews said, "Na'aseh V'nishma" (We will do and we will listen; Ex. 24:7), 600,000 ministering angels descended from heaven and crowned each Jew with two spiritual crowns, one corresponding to "Na'aseh" and the other corresponding to "Nishma."

However, once the Jewish people sinned with the Golden Calf, 1, 200,000 destructive angels descended from Heaven and tore those crowns off our heads. Rebbi Yochanan says that those crowns were given to Moshe (Shabbos, chap. 9, "Amar Rebbi Akivah", pg. 88a). Rashi says that this is where the beams of light that emanated from Moshe's face came from (Ex. 34:29).

The Arizal adds that Moshe returns these crowns to us every Shabbos. This explains why the Shabbos morning Silent prayer says, "Yismach Moshe B'matnas Chelko" (Moshe is happy with the gift of his portion). Meaning, Moshe is happiest when he just has his crowns, because this means that everybody else gets their own crowns back. What makes Moshe happiest is when everybody else benefits from all the good that there is to be had.

Perhaps we could add parenthetically that this explains why on Shabbos we do not require "Panim Chadashos" (new faces; people who were not at the wedding) who are usually needed for the recitation of the seven blessings during the celebration of a marriage called Sheva Berachos (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer, "Hilchos Kiddushin", chap. 7-8). Maybe the reason for this is because on Shabbos everybody has a "new face" on account of the crowns that are returned to us each and every Shabbos. On Shabbos, we all have a special glow on our faces due to the crowns. These new faces of ours were not present at the wedding. Therefore, Sheva Berachos may still be recited on Shabbos even if all of the people present were already at the wedding.

In any case, the Zohar (Parshas Pinchas) states that a Talmud Chacham (Torah scholar) is called "Shabbos" even during the week. This means that a Talmud Chacham maintains a very high Shabbos type of spiritual status even during the weekdays. Therefore, just as there is no work done on Shabbos, rather, others volunteer to do the Sabbath's work for her, similarly, a true Talmud Chacham will merit that others will volunteer to do his work for him, meaning that he will not have to do his own work.

Based on this, it is safe to assume that Moshe Rabbenu returns a Talmud Chacham's crowns to him every single day, because to the Talmud Chacham, every day is Shabbos (Tiferes Shmuel).

Now all the questions that we raised above, will become clarified, because everything that we have mentioned is hinted to in the opening verses of our parsha.

When it said that Moshe gathered the entire "Adas" of the Children of Israel, it was necessary to add the word "Adas". This is because the word "Adas" is related to the word "Eidei" which means ornaments or crowns.

Therefore, in last week's parsha, Ki Sisa, when the Jews engaged in the sin of the Golden Calf, they lost their spiritual crowns. Those crowns did not disappear, rather, they went to Moshe.

This week's parsha picks up from where we left off in last week's parsha. After the sin of the Golden Calf in last week's parsha, when the Jews lost their crowns, this week's parsha begins, "And Moshe gathered the entire "Adas" of the Children of Israel." On a deeper level, this means that Moshe gathered all of the "Eidei" (crowns) of the Jewish people.

However, Moshe is not happily hording everybody else's crowns. What makes Moshe happiest is when the Jews receive their own crowns back and benefit from them. Therefore, Moshe continues to say to the people, "These are the things that Hashem commanded 'La'asos'" (to do). This sentence is not merely an introduction to the mitzvah of Shabbos, but rather, it serves as a way of helping the Jews reobtain their own crowns. This is because one of the meanings of the word "La'asos" is to "fix", as it says by an Eishes Yifas Toar (A beautiful woman captured by Jewish soldiers in battle), "V'asta Es Tziporneha" (She must fix her nails by making them look less attractive; Dt. 21:12). So, Moshe told the Jews that there is still something that can be done to "La'asos" (fix) the situation.

Moshe went on to instruct the Jews as to what could be done. Moshe said that during all six days, "Tey-uh-seh" work, meaning, have others volunteer to have your work done for you. How can one accomplish this? The answer is to become a Talmud Chacham who is like Shabbos. Just as others always volunteer to take care of Shabbos's needs, similarly, others will volunteer to do the Torah scholar's chores. In this way, Moshe will be able to return the Jewish people's crowns to them every single day.

Now we can understand why the verse uses the double lingo of "Shabbos Shabboson." Once the people take Moshe's advice to become Talmidei Chachamim, then, when Shabbos comes, they will experience a double Shabbos. One Shabbos in so far as the day is concerned, and one Shabbos in so far as the person is concerned.

Perhaps we could add that there is one way that we could all merit being crowned with these two spiritual crowns every single day. A pair of Tefillin represent the two crowns. The box worn on the arm represents the crown of "Na'aseh" (we will do), because our arms and hands are the tools for doing in this world.

The box worn on the head represents the crown of "Nishma" (we will listen and obey), because the sense of hearing is found on the head and the decision making of obeying is dependent on the brain which sits in the skull.

By wearing Tefillin, we are attempting to connect with the two spiritual crowns. However, not everybody wears Tefillin, and even those that wear Tefillin, do not wear them all the time. How then, are we all supposed to benefit from Tefillin all the time?

One answer is as follows. The Talmud (Succa, chap. 2, "Hayashan Tachas Hamitah", pg. 28a) reports to us that some of our sages, such as Rabban Yochanan be Zakai, never walked even four cubits without Tefillin on their bodies. The difficulty with this is that there are times when it is forbidden to don Tefillin, for example on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Additionally, there are places where it is forbidden to wear Tefillin, such as in a bathroom. What did those sages do on Shabbos and Yom Tov? What did they do when they had to relieve themselves?

The Berditchever Rebbe (Kedushas Levi, preface, pg. 18) answers this question based on the Gemara which says that Hashem wears Tefillin (Berachos, chap. 1, "Meiaymasai", pg. 6a, Rav Avin bar Rav Ada quoting Rebbi Yitzchak; Isa. 62:8; Psa. 29:11; Dt. 28:10). The Talmud asks, "What is written in God's Tefillin?" The Gemara answers that in God's Tefillin it says, "Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on Earth" (Rav Chiya bar Avin, Chr. 1, 17:21).

In other words, Hashem's Tefillin speaks about the greatness of the Jewish people. Therefore, when it says that certain sages never walked four cubits without Tefillin, it means that they never went anywhere without the Tefillin of God on them. This means that they always kept the positive aspects of others in their minds. If a person only sees the beauty in others, he will always defend them. Such a person is considered to be "wearing" God's pair of Tefillin.

Hashem's Tefillin may be worn even on Shabbos, Yom Tov and even in the bathroom. God's Tefillin may also be worn by anybody and it can be worn all day long. If we were to adorn ourselves with Hashem's Tefillin, we would be crowned with those two spiritual crowns.

So, practically speaking, each day, let us declare that we hereby accept the essence of God's Tefillin upon us in order to see only the good in others. In this way, we will not only be credited with wearing Tefillin all day long, but we will also merit wearing the two spiritual crowns.

So, may we Adas Bnei Yisrael be blessed to become true Tamidei Chachamim by clothing ourselves in Hashem's Tefillin, thus seeing only the good points in others, and thereby cause the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash (Temple) ushering in a Yom Shekulo Shabbos Shabboson.