THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
In this week's parsha, Pikudei, the Toirah tells us that the Eiphod made by Am Yisroel was knitted out of gold thread, Techailess, Argomon, scarlet yarn, and fine linen. (In fact I'm ready to convert to Yushka after all this Mishkan talk the last few weeks.) However, what is unusual is the rather graphic description of how the golden thread was manufactured. An obvious question arises: Why does the Toirah bother to tell us the graphic details of how to make the thread? Does the Aimishteh expect me to do this in my spare time? I can barely fold up my tallis by myself!
A gemara in Baba Basra discusses this and says that the Toirah uses this language to stress the male role in the Mishkan. If I only knew that there was sewing involved, I would have assumed that women had a critical role in preparations of the Mishkan. But since the possuk tell of "beating the gold...cutting it...working like a craftsman," I know that the real labor was done by men. Real men, who wore tallis and tefillin, learned sixteen hours a day, and still found time to work hard and make a living. The women simply had to do a little weaving, and didn't even get a mitzvah, since they were talking about reality TV the whole time. Shoyn.
But Maseches Bayuh (Baitzuh) brings down a medrish which offers a more complete version of the possuk. According to the medrish, as the Jews beat the gold, they developed a spool of thread that was long enough to circle the earth seven times. However, the amount of thread needed for all the sewing in the Mishkan was the length of one time around the earth. So what happened to the vast majority of the thread? Rav Chiyah holds that Aron Hakoihain, the minuval, used it for the Eigel Hazohov. But Rav Ashi holds that Aron embezzled it, using half to start a carpet business, and depositing the other half in a secret Babylonian bank account.
The Kutzker Rebbe had a beautiful interpretation of this possuk. The Kutzker would often tell his followers that we learn from this possuk that no matter how poor you are, even if you are a nomad living in the desert, you have to spend as much money as you possibly can to look better than your neighbors. If they wear Pierre Cardin, you wear Ralph Lauren. If they eat chicken on Shabbos, you eat roast beef. If they add on an extra room to their house, you knock down your own house and build the largest house on the block.
However, this possik remind me of a maiseh shehoya. Many years ago my more free spirited daughter, Bracha Levatalah, was knitting a yarmulkah for the goalie of the local yeshiva hockey team. I said to her, "Brachaleh, voos iz givehn a yarmulkah foon de shaygitz? First he will take the yarmulka, then he'll try to take your bisulta!" She then assured me that while this was the first yarmulka she was knitting for him, she had already made yarmulkas for six other members of the team.
Very troubled, I called my Rebbe, and told him I was concerned my daughter was becoming a pupke. He pointed out a story in the Zohar about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who felt that because he had seven daughters, each married to a great tzaddik, he was like a four cornered garment without tzitzis on it. This is understood to mean that any Ruv who does not have at least one promiscuous daughter has not ignored his family enough and has therefore not adequately met the needs of his congregants.
Happily, I returned home and asked my Bashert to make sure that my daughter went to live in the Stern College dorms, where she could put out as much as she wants without getting my neighbors talking.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval.
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess