Parsha Encounters



Parshas Vayakhel - Pikudei - HaChodesh :

Required Blessing

Rabbi Moshe Menachem Liberman

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

In parshas Pikudei the Torah states, “Moshe saw the entire work and behold, they had done it as Hashem had commanded, so they had done; and Moshe blessed them.” (Shemos 39:43)

Rashi explains that Moshe gave them the following blessing, “May it be Hashem’s will that the Divine Presence rest upon your handiwork.”

Why was it necessary for Moshe to bless them when Hashem had already answered them, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them.” (25:9) ?

Similarly, in parshas Shemini, the Torah states, “Moshe and Aaron came to the Tent of Meeting and they went out and blessed the people. And the glory of Hashem appeared to the entire people.” (Vayikra 9:23)

Rashi explains that it was the end of the inauguration of the Mishkan, but the Divine Presence was yet to dwell in it. This caused much distress to B’nei Yisroel because all their work and efforts invested in the construction of the Mishkan was so that the Divine Presence would dwell among them. Therefore, Moshe and Aaron blessed them, “May it be Hashem’s will that the Divine Presence rest upon your handiwork.”

Why was their blessing necessary to cause the Divine Presence to dwell among them? What happened to Hashem’s promise in Shemos 25:9?

In parshas Shemini the Torah states, “Moshe said, ‘This is the thing that Hashem has commanded you to do; the glory of Hashem will appear to you.” (Vayikra 9:6)

The Midrash explains that Moshe said to B’nei Yisroel, “Knowthat this is the evil inclination. Remove it from your hearts and you shall be in unison together as one in fear and service of Hashem.”

The Netziv explains that already in the days of Moshe there were groups of people whose desire for love of Hashem knew no bounds. They were prepared to reach that goal even if it meant compromising the parameters set by the Torah. Therefore, Moshe told them, “Know that this is the evil inclination and remove it from your hearts.”

With this we can understand why it was necessary for Moshe to bless B’nei Yisroel. The Torah wants to teach us that when we do something with the purpose of coming close to Hashem, it is important to receive the blessing of our teachers or rabbis as a prerequisite to its success. Only then can we be sure that we are not misguided in our approach and that what we are seeking to do is indeed in the spirit of the Torah.


Rabbi Liberman, a Kollel alumnus and former coordinator of the Parsha Encounters publication, learns daily in the Kollel Boker program.

Halacha Encounters


Rabbi Ari Friedman

With the wheels of technology always turning, there are constantly new halachic questions arising. Our topic this week relates back almost to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when the Torah World first grappled with relating to modern innovations through the eyes of the Torah. In 1838, Rabbi Isaac Zinger, living near France, invented the first matzah machine. He introduced this novelty to the Rabbaim of France who were quite impressed with its cleanliness and efficiency, and offered their enthusiastic approval. Machine matzos rapidly gained the approval and support of many of the German kehillos and spread throughout Central and Western Europe. When this modern technology hit Eastern Europe (i.e. Poland and Galitzia), it was met with fierce resistance, mostly from the Chassidic leaders of that time. Among these leaders were the Chidushei HaRim of Ger and the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. 1 Aside from their opposition to a new-fangled approach to a most hallowed mitzvah, they had a number of halachic concerns as well.

One of the primary concerns regarding machine matzah is whether these matzos would meet the requirements for the “matzos mitzvah” necessary for the seder night. The Gemara tells us that the matzos used for the seder night must be “watched” with the specific kavanah for the sake of the mitzvah. This means that at the very least, while the dough is being kneaded, one must have in mind that these matzos are being prevented from becoming chametz in order to be used as “matzos mitzvah”. 2 The question is whether matzos kneaded by a machine can be considered as being done for the sake of doing a mitzvah, since the machine itself cannot have any intention. Or, does it suffice that the person operating the machine has the kavana, “l’shem mitzvah?” The above issue has been thoroughly discussed by the poskim, with some permitting the use of the machine matzos for the seder and other poskim not. 3

The other concerns regarding the use of machine matzos related to the actual ability of these machines to produce chametz-free matzos are the following:

1) During the process, dough may get stuck in cracks or stuck to the machine and go unnoticed.

2) Oils used to grease the machine may come into contact with the dough which might cause the dough to immediately become chametz.

3) If large quantities of dough are processed by the machine at once, there is a concern that not all the dough is constantly being worked upon, but being left idle which may cause it to become chametz at an accelerated pace.

4) As the machine feeds the long strips of dough into the oven, there is the concern that the heat of the oven may warm up the dough that is not yet in the oven thus causing the dough to become chametz at an accelerated pace.

To address these issues, the matzah machines popular today are operated in a manner which attempts to alleviate any of the above concerns.

  • Machines are immaculately clean and all operations cease every eighteen minutes for another thorough cleansing.
  • All parts of the machine are kept cool and the oven itself is insulated so as not to give off heat to any of the dough outside of the oven.

In light of the above, the various minhagim today, whether or not to use the machine matzos on Pesach, largely depend on minhag rather than halachic concerns. As Pesach is a holiday in which the concept of minhag plays an important role in the way the Yom Tov is observed, people tend to adhere to the minhag even if there may not seem to be a compelling halachic basis to do so.

Another interesting issue which relates to year-round use of machine matzos is whether they can be used for lechem mishna on Shabbos or Yom Tov. In many factories, the long strips of dough are first baked and then cut into individual matzos. Some wonder whether these matzos may be considered “whole” since they have actually been cut after baking. The consensus among the poskim is that since they were baked originally with the intention to be cut and have the appearance of a complete matzah, they may be used for lechem mishna. 4


1 Divrei Chaim 23

2 .Pesachim 38B

3 See Hilchos Chag B’Chag page 335

4 Beer Moshe 6-76 Tzitz Eliezer 11-24,25

Rabbi Friedman is a full-time member of the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters

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