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02/16/2024 10:50:54 AM


Mazal tov to Michael and Maggy Rubin on the marriage of Benjy to Maya Arussi, an Israeli/American who represented Israel internationally in Taekwondo.

A big yish’ar koach to Bob Kraft, for sponsoring the ad against antisemitism on the Super bowl. His father Harry a”h was the beloved leader of the “Children’s Congregation” which I attended in my pre-Bar mitsvah years on shabbos mornings in Boston. 


Shulamis Foxman observes yahrzeit for her father, Rav Mordecai Singer, on 10 Adar.

Charles Stein observes for his mother Giza on that day.


This week’s parasha talks about the “mishkan,” or tabernacle (oops!I shouldn’t say that word in Quebec!) The haftarah, taken from Melachim I, refers to the building of the Temple in the time of Shlomo. It begins by telling us of Solomon’s wisdom. Shlomo had a treaty with Hiram, the king of the country which would be in modern day Lebanon. There was significant trade between Shlomo and Hiram. Thus, Hiram was able to supply good quality wood for the construction of the Bet HaMiqdash. The chapter describes [before the beginning of the haftarah] how everyone in Israel under Shlomo lived in peace and prosperity. As Radak explained: this was a strong and permanent peace. 

And then….the haftarah continues: “vaya`al ha-melech mas” usually translated as “and the king levied a tax.” This was not a tax of money, but a levy on people. As Radak explains, this is exactly what Shmuel had warned the people about in the book of Samuel: the dangers of a king, who would be empowered to tax and conscript. Shlomo was brilliant in his international relations, but his taxation eventually led to the splitting of the kingdom in the time of his son Rehaboam. I would like to suggest the following interpretation of the word vaya`al.  When we were in the first grade, our teacher told us that the conjunction v means and. However, I can bring a lot of examples to show that sometimes it means “but.” In other word, Shlomo was brilliant when it came to international relations, but he made a serious mistake in dealing with his people through taxation. So translate “but the king levied a tax.”

Perhaps an interesting lesson for contemporary rulers.. 


Some of you might remember Surie Fellig/Leveloff, a dear friend/student of my late wife.  Surie grew up in Montreal, but now lives in South Florida, where she is known as “Morah Music.” She wrote that during mid-winter break, a 3rd grade student of hers went to Argentina, and took part in a special project to plant trees for the zechut of releasing the hostages. Every child had a different hostage. Her hostage was Fernando Simon Marman. She davened that he be released.  Two weeks later, we see the fruit of her labour. Surie pointed out: the girl’s name is Ilana! We see that every mitsvah counts!


Let’s hear good news this week!!

Shabbat shalom, Shalom `al yisrael.   Rabbi Menahem White 

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784