Parshas Pekudei

ADAR II, 5779

 Interpreting Artifacts

As in the gift of Manna, so it is in the memory of artifacts

After the exodus from Egypt, Hashem gifted the Jews with manna, ’heavenly bread’, to consume during their travels in the wilderness.

Hashem furthermore commanded Moshe:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֗ה זֶ֤ה הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה הֹ' מְלֹ֤א הָעֹ֨מֶר֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם לְמַ֣עַן יִרְא֣וּ אֶת־הַלֶּ֗חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶֽאֱכַ֤לְתִּי אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם

“Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded: Let one omerful of it be preserved for your generations, in order that they see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of Egypt.”

Like the saved Manna, the Torah is providing us with a template to preserve the meaning of the Holocaust artifact.



Dear Friend,

The Dubno Maggid, Rabbi Yaakov Kranz of Dubno, Poland (1741-1804), was an eminent rabbinic scholar who was famous for his parables designed to teach or illustrate instructive lessons based on Jewish tradition.


The pasuk in this week’s parsha states:  

אֵ֣לֶּה פְקוּדֵ֤י הַמִּשְׁכָּן֙ מִשְׁכַּ֣ן הָֽעֵדֻ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר פֻּקַּ֖ד עַל־פִּ֣י משֶׁ֑ה עֲבֹדַת֙ הַֽלְוִיִּ֔ם בְּיַד֙ אִֽיתָמָ֔ר בֶּן־אַֽהֲרֹ֖ן הַכֹּהֵֽן

“These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moshe’s command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen.”

The Dubno Magid explains the flow of the beginning of this passuk with the following parable:

There are those who buy jewelry as a gift for their loved ones. Others will buy jewelry as an investment, for example, a safety net to use in the future if necessary. If it is a gift, the return is immediate, by way of receiving the pleasure of having made their loved one happy. If it’s an investment, the return will be gained at a later time. At a later date, after the jewelry has appreciated in value, he will feel secure that he has the means to access other monies if necessary. The way to determine what the purpose of the jewelry purchase was for lies in whether the purchaser recorded the value of the jewelry at the time of purchase. One who is buying a gift has no need to record the value, as he giving it to his loved one immediately. However, if it is bought as investment, then the purchaser will be careful to record the value of the jewelry at the time of purchase in order to track the worth of his investment in the future.

This, explains the Maggid, is the meaning of this passuk. “These are the numbers of the Mishkan,” is the Torah telling us that Hashem considered the items brought by Klal Yisrael for the building of the Mishkan as an investment on behalf of Klal Yisrael; not as a gift. Hence, the Torah refers to it as “the Mishkan of the Testimony”. The word “mishkan” can also be read as “mashkon – deposit”. As the Sages tell us, that the Mishkan was the security net for Klal Yisrael to atone for them if they ever sinned.




וּמִן־הַתְּכֵ֤לֶת וְהָֽאַרְגָּמָן֙ וְתוֹלַ֣עַת הַשָּׁנִ֔י עָשׂ֥וּ בִגְדֵֽי־שְׂרָ֖ד לְשָׁרֵ֣ת בַּקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֞וּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵ֤י הַקֹּ֨דֶשׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לְאַֽהֲרֹ֔ן כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה’ אֶת־משֶֽׁה

“And out of the blue, purple, and crimson wool they made the meshwork garments to serve in the Holy, and they made Aaron's holy garments, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”


There was a family in Kovno that had a sefer Torah handed down from son to son over a period of 300 years. When the Nazis invaded, they forced the family to burn the sefer Torah. However, the son of the owner was able to save the mantel (Torah scroll cover). After the war, the son wanted to donate the mantel to his shul. However, it was an unusual size, and therefore did not fit any sifrei Torah in the shul. He asked if after the mantel was altered and shortened; could he use the left over pieces of the mantel to make a tefillin bag for his son’s upcoming bar mitzvah?


The issue is reducing the kedushah of the Torah mantel. Since it was used as a cover for a sefer Torah, the mantel acquired the highest level of kedushah, and to now use it as a tefillin bag reduces its level of kedushah. If there were no other use for the mantel, it would be permissible. However, since the remaining fabric can be doubled over to the underside of the newly sized mantel, it is not permissible to cut the fabric and use for a tefillin bag.

 ממעמקים / חלק ב' / סימן כב

 Click here to read the whole Teshuvah

Rabbi Ephraim Oshry (1914–2003), was a rabbi and posek in the Kovno Ghetto. After the war, he compiled the shailos and teshuvos (halachic questions and responsa) that he answered during the Holocaust, and published it in his sefer, Mima’amakim (From the Depths).


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