web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshas Pekudei – Shekalim: Forge On

Staum-022814

 “There is a cemetery not far from my house, with graves that date back to the nineteenth century. I have never seen anyone come there to lay a flower. Most people just wander through, read the engravings and say, ‘Wow. Look how old.’ “That cemetery came to mind as I sat in the rabbi’s office, after he quoted a poem both beautiful and heartbreaking. Written by Thomas Hardy, it told of a man among tombstones, conversing with the dead below. The recently buried souls lamented the older souls that had already been forgotten:

They count as quite forgot
They are as men that have existed not
Theirs is a loss past loss of pitiful breath
It is the second death.

“The second death. The unvisited in the nursing homes. The homeless found frozen in the alleys. Who mourned their passing? Who marked their time on earth?

“Once on a trip to Russia,” the rabbi recalled, “we found an old Orthodox synagogue. Inside, there was an elderly man, standing alone, saying the mourner’s kaddish. Being polite, we asked for whom he was saying it. He looked up and answered, ‘I am saying it for myself.’”

The second death. To think that you died and no one would remember you. I wondered if this is why we tried so hard to make our mark in America. To be known. Think of how important celebrity has become… It’s as if we are screaming: Notice me! Remember me! Yet the notoriety barely lasts. Names quickly blur and in times are forgotten.”[1]

 

—————-

“And it came to pass in the days of Achashveirosh… in those days when King Achashveirosh sat on his royal throne which was in Shushan the capital. In the third year of his reign, he made a feast…”

The Gemara[2] explains that Achashveirosh made his grand feast in the third year of his reign when he felt that his monarchy was secure.[3] The world was respectfully aware that Yirmiyahu HaNavi had prophesized[4] that the Babylonian exile would only last seventy years, after which the Bais HaMikdash would be rebuilt.

Achashveirosh was frightened that when the Bais HaMikdash would be rebuilt his kingdom would be disbanded. But in the third year of his reign, the seventy years passed, and the Temple had not been rebuilt. He was sure that the prophecy was incorrect and his monarchy was secure.

The Gemara explains that Achashveirosh was so confident that at the party he donned the Holy vestments of the Kohen Gadol which had been looted from the Bais HaMikdash prior to its destruction.

Seven years earlier the wicked Babylonian king, Balshatzar, was also convinced that Yirmiyahu’s prophecy had been flawed.[5] To celebrate, he arranged a tremendous feast during which he donned the Bigdei Kehuna. It was an act of brazen sacrilege that no one had dared to do before. His retribution came swiftly. By morning he was dead, and his kingdom immediately invaded and conquered, relegating the mighty Babylonian Empire to the history books.

Achashveirosh, too, did not go unpunished for his brazenness. By the day’s end his beloved Queen Vashti – his only legitimate connection to royalty[6] — was dead,a consequence of his own inebriated fury.

It seems from the Gemara’s discussion that Achashveirosh and Balshatzar were only blameworthy because they had miscalculated the seventy years. However, had they been correct in their calculation they would not have been worthy of punishment. Why should the status of the Bigdei Kehuna be based on whether the seventy years were over or not?

About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Parshas Pekudei – Shekalim: Forge On”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
PM Netanyahu
Netanyahu Attacks the Iran Nuclear Deal as “Unconscionable” [video]
Latest Judaism Stories
Jewish Holidays' Guide for the Perplexed by Yoram Ettinger

German poet Heinrich Heine: “Since the Exodus, freedom has always been spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

More Articles from Rabbi Dani Staum
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.

Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.

Often in life we become stuck – stuck in the morass of our habits and the rote of our comfort level.

The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”

After listening to the driver’s incredible story, Rabbi Levenstein asked him, “What about you? After seeing such a miracle why didn’t you became Torah observant?”

Twelve of the greatest leaders of the nation, one from each shevet, were dispatched to survey the land. The results of that mission were catastrophic.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshas-pekudei-shekalim-forge-on/2014/02/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: