Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Power of Vav

The Yalkhut Shimoni on Parshas Pekuday describes that when the work of the Mishkan was finally completed, Moshe gathered Benay Yisrael to make an accounting of all the money raised and spent on the Meleches Hamishkan. He opened the books counting all of the credits and debits while the entire Kelal Yisrael surrounded him. He went through the books and 1775 Shekel was not accounted for which at current prices would be $918,893.36. Moshe got very distressed and nervous because he said that now of all of Benay Yisrael would say that Moshe was skimming off the top and pocketing the money myself. Then Hashem showed him the ווים לעמודים the hooks, caps, and inlaid hoops that held together the pillars of the Mishkan. The ווים לעמודים were valued at exactly 1775 Shekel. Moshe at first did not notice them since they are hidden behind the curtains.

What message is the Medrash transmitting? The Power of Vav. The ווים לעמודים are the clasps that hold the Mishkan together. They are named after the letter Vav which means “and” and is often called the וו החיבור, it holds words together. Hashem by showing Moshe the ווים לעמודים was transmitting that the most important aspect of the Mishkan was the “and” the fact that we cannot only work as individuals but as an interconnected whole.

We see that this power of Vav was embedded into the very framework of the creation of the world. Adam and Chavah were created on the sixth day of creation the Gematria of the Vav because it is humanity that joins everything together. Furthermore, after Cain killed Abel, the Torah tells us that Hashem made an אות, a mark of Cain. The Medrash interprets this אות literally as a letter which was taken from Hashems name and placed on Cain’s forehead. The Tikkunei Zohar asks which letter was it? The answer that is given is the letter Vav was written on Cain’s head. Rav Meir Shapiro the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin explains this. Cain asked השומר אחי אנכי “am I my brother’s keeper?”. His ethos was the ethos of the individual. Every person is his own world and only watches out for himself. Hashem attached the Vav from his name to Cain’s to teach him that you are your brother’s keeper. You have to care for others besides yourself. You are “and”. We are all interconnected.

The Rema in Shulchan Aruch Yorah Deah 373 records a Hidur in Kesivas Sefer Torah that every column of the Torah should start with the letter Vav. Why? Because the most important Kelal in Judaism is to create a community that transcends itself and stands for something that is not only us but includes others as well, this is “and”. Sometimes the ווים לעמודים are hidden and taken for granted but we have to highlight them and shine a spotlight on them.

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