Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parashas P'kudei

(Exodus 38:21-40:38)

"And you [Moshe] shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the Tabernacle, and everything in it (Exodus 12:41)

Moshe was commanded by Hashem (G-d) to personally erect the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Neither the Mishkan's physical structure, its many vessels, nor its ministering priests were considered complete or spiritually functional until they were anointed with the sanctified anointing oil (shemen hamishcha) that Moshe had been commanded to make from various fragrant oils and spices. What was so special about this oil that the Mishkan and the service that was performed within it would be invalid without that initial anointing? What feature did the shemen ha'mish'cha add that made the Mishkan service holy and valid? Since everything that is written in the Torah is applicable for all time, what practical lessons for daily living can we derive from the requirement to anoint the Mishkan and its vessels with this special oil? The Talmud writes that the oil that Moshe made in the desert to sanctify the Mishkan, despite its extensive use, was miraculously preserved, not being diminished at all over the time. In the centuries and generations that followed, the oil was used only to anoint kings, high-priests, and the priests who led Israel's military campaigns, but not to sanctify the Mishkan. (Talmud: Kerisos: 5B) If the oil was used in subsequent generations to anoint kings and high-priests, what connection, does the shemen ha'mish'cha have with the common person and why give such a detailed description on how Moshe anointed each item of the Mishkan?

The Talmud makes a slight connection between the shemen ha'mish'cha and the common Jew as follows: "Rebbe Shimon [bar Yochai] said, 'All [persons from the nation of] Israel are as royal children [and therefore are considered as anointed].'" (Talmud:128a) The Medrash says: "The Jews are likened to oil; just as oil gives light, so the Jews are the light of the world [for they teach the world about Hashem]." (Medrash: Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:20) To further reveal and understand the purpose of the shemen ha'mish'cha and its connection to a Jew's daily life, let us learn some of the teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his leading disciple, Rav Noson.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

King David wrote, "Hiney mah tov u'mah na'eeim, shevet acheem gain yachad... Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers in unity. Like precious oil upon the head." (Psalms 133:1) Based on this verse, the Sages say that there is no higher spiritual level than unity and peace amongst the Jews. The Sages emphasize, in many places throughout the Torah writings and commentaries, that peace amongst the Jews is above all else. The source of every Jewish soul originates from Hashem's Throne of Glory, [kesay HaKavod]. This indicates that the entire Jewish people are one entity. If there is even the slightest iota of hatred or disunity amongst them, it causes Hashem's kesay hakavod to be incomplete. The rectification and nourishment of a Jew's soul and eternal life are entirely dependent on returning to the source of his soul, the kesay HaKavod. The only way for one's soul to reunite with the kesay HaKavod is through the performance of mitzvahs (Hashem's commandments), which influences Jews to love and be at peace with one another. Korach, Moshe's first cousin, who was a gifted sage, a wealthy man, and Levite, greatly damaged Israel's unity, while they were in the desert. Despite all of his talents and gifts, Korach was not given a position of power or leadership which irked him to no end. So he incited some of the leaders and most of the common Jewish people to rebel against Moshe.

Korach was one of the bearers of the holy ark, which contained the two stone tablets that Hashem Himself had given to Moshe. The holy ark was a spiritual machine. The laws of physics and space did not apply to the ark. The ark was partly physical and partly spiritual in nature. and was able to bridge the gap between this world and the upper worlds. This is why the ark was eventually placed on the traditional foundation stone of the world, (the first material thing that Hashem created. out of which, the rest of the world came to be), in the kodesh ha'Kedoshiln (Holy of Holies) of the bais HaMikdash (Temple). The foundation stone and the kodesh ha'kedoshim possessed the same properties as the holy ark, they were both beyond the laws of physics and they bridged this world to the upper world, as the verse says, "...the built-up Jerusalem [especially in the area of the foundation stone in the kodesh hakedoshiml is like a city that is bound together [Jerusalem is the point where heaven and earth meet spiritually, through which all heavenly blessings are sent to earth (Talmud: Kidushin 69a)]." (Psalms 122:3) The spiritual leader of each generation (the Tzaddik Ha'Emes) incorporates all the Jewish souls of his generation and is the focal point of the world, as the verse says, "And the Tzaddik is the foundation of the world." (Proverbs 10:25) When there is peace and harmony amongst the Jews, the Tzaddik Ha'Emes is able to partially elevate every Jewish soul above the laws of physics by connecting them spiritually to the holy ark and the place of the foundation stone. [This is why the laws of nature and history have never applied to the Jews. The Jews have survived and flourished despite centuries of exile, massacre, and oppression, whereas other much more mighty powers and empires have long since become extinct]. At the time of the Exodus, all Moshe had to do to link the souls of the Jewish people to their upper world roots was to connect them spiritually to Korach. Since Korach was appointed to be one of the bearers of the ark, his soul was connected to it. If only Korach would have recognized and accepted his true position, this great rectification could all have come through him. However, Korach became jealous of Moshe. He wanted to be the initiator of this process and not just a mere vessel, so he rebelled. The more souls that are connected to the Tzaddik Ha'Emes the more spiritual power he has. Therefore, the first step that Korach took in trying to overthrow Moshe was to break his power source. Therefore, Korach tried to sever the Jews' spiritual links to Moshe. Korach knew that all the common people were connected spiritually to the nasi'im (princes) of their respective tribes and, accepting Moshe's authority as spiritual leader, they were spiritually bound to him as well. This enabled Moshe to elevate and spiritually nourish the people all together. The holy Ari says that the prince of each tribe was the leading soul of his respective spiritual root. Therefore, all of the followers of a particular nasi (prince) were bound to and received their spiritual nourishment from him. As long as the nasi'im were loyal to Moshe, all of Israel was connected to Moshe through them. As soon as any one of the nasi'im rebelled against Moshe, not only did they spiritually disconnect themselves from Moshe, but all of their followers became disconnected as well. Therefore, to undermine Moshe's spiritual power, Korach persuaded several of the nasi'im of Israel to join him in rebellion. Every nasi who joined Korach in his rebellion, severed his own, and thus all of his followers', spiritual links to Moshe, diminishing Moshe's spiritual power, as mentioned above.

Korach's rebellion caused untold spiritual damage. Once the souls of the rebels had become disconnected from Moshe's soul, the primary soul of all Israel, their souls also became severed from their spiritual roots in the upper worlds, and thus became subject to the laws of physics and space, diminishing their sanctity and spiritual power. Therefore, the downfall of Korach's followers came through the incense offering, because the only pleasure that the soul derives from this world is smell. Only the fragrances of sweet smelling substances have the ability to merge with the soul. The spiritual energies contained in fragrant things used in holiness connects one to the hereafter, as the verse says, "...the smell of my [Isaac's] son [Jacob] is as the smell of the field [the Garden of Eden (Rashi)] which Hashem has blessed." (Genesis 27:27) Therefore, holy fragrances have the ability to elevate the soul to a higher spiritual plane. This is why the most effective ingredient in each sacrifice to elevate the sinner to a higher spiritual plane was the fragrance which it emitted, as the following verse - just one of numerous similar verses - says, "A burnt offering made by fire, a pleasant fragrance to Hashem [only the fragrance elevates the one who offered the sacrifice, to Hashem]." (Lev. 1:17) The incense offering, which consisted of eleven different spices, was at least eleven times more potent than any other sacrifice, which only emitted one type of fragrance. Therefore, it was the most powerful offering of all. Furthermore, the numbers one through ten are connected to the realm of holiness, since there are ten emanations of Hashem in this world called sefiros. The number eleven is one beyond the realm of holiness, and is spiritually connected to the realm of evil. Therefore, the incense offering, which consisted of eleven spices, spiritually had the ability to go into the depths of the realm of evil and elevate them back to the highest realm of holiness, restoring all holy soul fragments that had fallen and become trapped there. Prideful Korach felt that he too possessed the spiritual power to elevate fallen souls and therefore, he would be a suitable replacement for Moshe. However, only true Tzaddikim (saints) like Moshe and the Moshiach (Messiah) have this ability. Therefore, the followers of Korach who offered the incense all died as a result. Through the eleven spices contained in the incense offering, they spiritually descended into the realm of evil, but because of their rebellion and thus, being disconnected from Moshe, they did not possess the spiritual power to elevate any of the souls trapped there including their own, and were unable to extricate themselves from the realm of evil. Therefore, they were swallowed up by the forces of evil and died.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

To be able to elevate fallen souls from the depths of the realm of evil, one must be connected to the upper worlds, and be above what is known as "the place of the world" i.e. transcend physicality, for it is the connection to the material world that binds one to the forces of evil, as the verse says, "[Hashem said] Cursed be the ground [and everything material in it, since everything in this world is dependent on the ground] for your [Adam's] sake [because of your sin]. [Therefore, this world is strongly connected to the realm of evil and it is man's mission to sanctify and elevate physicality.]" (Genesis 3:17) Therefore, it is extremely beneficial to pray at the graves of Tzaddikim. When a Tzaddik expires, his soul goes to the highest spiritual realms and his body remains in the earth. This connects and elevates the earth to the highest spiritual realms, raising it to a status of being "above the place of this world". Since Tzaddikim elevate their bodies and all of their material world connections to the upper worlds, praying at their graves enables one to connect himself and his prayers to "above the place of this world", just like the Temple site in the holy of Holies. Therefore, Korach's punishment was to be swallowed up alive into the earth. Hashem punished Korach in this way to demonstrate that not only was Korach's body connected to the earth, as is the case with all humans, but his body had pulled his soul down to the depths of the material world into the realm of evil. Therefore, his soul and body were swallowed alive, because he had severed his spiritual link to Moshe, who was "above the (material) place of this world". Moshe was the link between this world and the upper worlds. Only those who connected themselves to him by submitting to his authority could also elevate this world to the upper worlds.

Now we can understand the verse in Psalms mentioned above. "Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers in unity. Like precious oil upon the head." (Psalms 133:1, 2) The oil mentioned in this verse refers to the aforementioned holy oil used to sanctify the Mishkan and all its vessels forever. It is the oil of brotherhood and unity which actually sanctified the Mishkan, and, as mentioned above, the Mishkan was not functional without this oil. Hashem commanded that only Moshe should make and pour the anointing oil. The Mishkan, like the Bais HaMikdash (Temple), connected and elevated the material world to the upper worlds. Therefore, Moshe, who was above the materialism of this world, was the one chosen to initially erect and anoint the Mishkan to make it a functional apparatus to connect this world with the next. All of the Jews spiritually connected themselves to the soul of Moshe by subjugating themselves to him, obeying his every command. Not one person from the many different segments of the Jewish people protested when Moshe alone anointed and erected the Mishkan. Therefore, Moshe's act was one of total unity and brotherhood. This is what Hashem truly desires above all else and is what truly constitutes the ultimate goal in serving Hashem. The spiritual energies of the anointing oil contained the spiritual energies of unity which connected all the Jews to Moshe, and thus to the upper worlds. Unity is, therefore, the essential ingredient in doing Hashem's will. The Mishkan's service was invalid without it. The Talmud tells us that the second Temple was destroyed due to unwarranted hatred amongst the Jews. This attitude nullified the effects of the anointing oil, and therefore the Temple was subsequently destroyed with the Jews remaining in exile ever since. Therefore, the Moshiach (Messiah), which means the anointed one, will come when the attitude of hatred amongst the Jews is resolved. He will be anointed with the oil of unity and brotherhood amongst all people. Amen! (Lekutai Halachoth: Choshen Mishpat: Hilchoth Ah'Raiv 5:40-44)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Moreover, this anointing oil emitted a fragrant smell. As mentioned above, a fragrant scent, used for holiness, has the ability to elevate the soul of even the biggest sinner and connect him to the upper worlds, restoring the fallen soul to the realm of holiness. Anointing the Mishkan and all its vessels with this oil instilled the entire structure of the Mishkan, when used in conjunction with the sacrificial service, with the ability to elevate even the biggest sinner to the realm of holiness. The Mishkan was comprised of many different parts and materials, all of which contained many different spiritual energies. These various energies had the potential for causing disunity amongst the Jews. Therefore, it was necessary to spiritually link all those spiritual aspects of the Mishkan through the anointing oil, which would serve to spiritually unify the Jews, since as mentioned above, the anointing oil possessed the spiritual energies of unity. So although there were many different components that went into the Mishkan's construction, the one thing they all shared was being anointed with the shemen ha'mish'cha and that the man of unity, Moshe, anointed them all. (Lekutai Halachoth: Choshen Mishpat: Hilchoth Pe'rika Ooh'Ti'ee'naw 4:38)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The message of the anointing oil is that no matter how high an individual has reached in his personal religious standards and practice; if he hates or looks down upon Jews who do not meet his standards, then all of his noble practices are rendered invalid because they lack the oil of unity, peace, and love for one's fellow Jew. As the Radak explains, oil is a lubricant that prevents friction - the friction of hatred between people. This is why both the king and high priest were anointed with oil, to indicate that they should live in peace and harmony with each other. In the future, may it be near, the King Messiah will live in total harmony with the high priest of his day. Amen!


We mentioned above how important unity and love between Jews is to Hashem. It is unity that makes our service acceptable and valid. The following true story shows us how the most important holy book of all time was compiled through the joint efforts of two great sages, representing two major and divergent groups of Jews. It was ordained from heaven that such a book should be a joint venture, just as the building of the Mishkan was a communal project.

The heavenly court decided that it was time for a holy book to be introduced into the world on Jewish law; a book which would stir the entire Jewish world, and which would be used daily in all future generations. It was decided from above that this work would be based on the teachings of the thousands of sages from all generations. There had been three candidates to possibly author this work, all of whom were equal in their knowledge and all named Yosef - Rav Yosef Taitazak, Rav Yosef Ben-Lev, and Rav Yosef Caro. The heavenly court choose Rav Yosef Caro to author this monumental work because he was the most humble of the three. Rav Yosef Caro, also called Maran, was then given the Divine Inspiration which enabled him to write the most important Jewish law book of all time, The Shulchan Aruch, (The Prepared Table), so named because it presented all the laws in an orderly fashion, just as an orderly and set table presents food to the eater.

Around the same time, a young Ashkenazi (Jews who come from central and eastern Europe) scholar from Crakow, Poland, Rav Moshe Isserles, known as the Rama, became highly impressed with Rav Yosef's earlier book called the Beth Yosef. He could appreciate the complexity of the legal decisions rendered by Rav Yosef. He was amazed at Rav Yosef's clear and simple language, and decided to write a book also, the Darchei Moshe, based on the style of the Beth Yosef. When the Shulchan Aruch (Prepared Table) was published in 1565, the Rama wrote a commentary on it and called it, appropriately, Hamappah (The Tablecloth). This work cited the legal decisions and customs of the Ashkenazi Sages which were not included in the Shulchan Aruch, for Rav Yosef, being a Sefardi Jew [Jews from the Middle East and North Africa], only included those legal decisions that pertained to Sefardi Jews. The Rama's book, HaMappah, was included as marginal notes to the Beth Yosef's decisions in the Shulchan Aruch.

The Rama and the Beth Yosef became close friends and developed a deep respect for each other's scholarship, frequently corresponding with one another. Together, the two great sages, one the leading Sefardi Rabbi and the other the leading Ashkenazi Rabbi, merged these two, major, divergent groups of Jews together. The Maran Beth Yoscf and the Rama made the Shulchan Aruch the most accepted legal work among all of the Jews of all time. Today, all Jews are Divinely bound to live according to the legal decisions of the Shulchan Aruch and HaMappah, for the laws they contain are the words of the living G-d. When there are differences between Sefardi and Ashkenazi opinion and practice, each Jew must follow either Maran or the Rama based on the origin of his family. (Stories of Maran Bet Yosef)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman strongly urged his followers to talk daily to Hashem in the manner that one would confide in his best friend, in seclusion, in a language and style with which he feels most comfortable. In these sessions, one can openly discuss anything and everything with Hashem. One can praise Him, unload and unburden his feelings, aspirations, problems and wants on Hashem Who has unlimited patience to listen and Who actually craves these encounters, as mentioned by Rashi in the book of Genesis. These encounters not only strengthen one's faith in Hashem, relieve stress and worry, help to accomplish goals, sharpen the mind and build an intimate and personal relationship with Hashem, but they cultivate the notion that Hashem really exists and can be counted on for all one's needs. The following is an example of a Hisbodeduth session:

Master of the Universe Who is good to all, You created Your world in order to benefit us, for our good, in order that we may reach the final true and good goal, the definitive goal of all goals [the hereafter] therefore, with Your great mercy, help us to fulfill Your will and merit to be involved in serving You always in truth, and with a full heart. Help us to sincerely and completely turn away from evil so that we can merit to reach the true, final goal. Everything we do should be for the purpose of reaching the true final goal [the hereafter]. Prevent us from saying or doing anything which will adversely affect us from reaching the true goal. (1 Likutai Tifelos: 18)


Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone must study at least one law from the Codes, the "Shulchan Aruch", daily, without fail. This study is a great spiritual remedy. A legal conclusion determines what is permitted or forbidden after sifting through the various opinions. Study of the codes help separate and rectify the evil of one's sins. (Sichot Haran 29)

Someone who sees his fellow drowning in the sea, or being attacked by armed robbers, or wild animals, or in any other dangerous situation, must try to save that person himself or hire people to save him. If he hears of a plot to harm his fellow he must inform him of the plot or try to appease and convince those who plan to attack not to do so. All of the above mentioned cases fall under the commandment, "Do not stand [idly] by the (spilling of the blood of your fellow [Jew]." (Lev. 19:16) If it cost the rescuer money to save the person, the saved person, is required to repay the rescuer, according to his means. (Orach HaShulchan: Choshen Mishpat: Siman 426:1)

Volume 3, Issue 22