"Shoham stones and stones to be set in the efod and in
the choshen" (Shemos 25:7).
The Or HaChaim asks: Why were these stones written in the
Torah after all the other eleven items that Hashem wanted to
be donated for the Mishkan? Wouldn't it have been more
fitting to write them even before the donations of gold and
silver, since they were more precious than gold?
In his last answer to this question the Or HaChaim writes
that the gemora (Yoma 75a) tells us that the
nesi'im did not need to find or purchase the shoham
stones since the Anonei Kovod brought them to
their houses. Since the nesi'im did not have to exert
themselves or spend money for their contribution, unlike
bnei Yisroel, the Torah placed it later than all the
contributions of bnei Yisroel.
HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt'l, the rosh yeshiva of
Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, (Sichos Mussar II:22)
learned from this a salient principle about the importance of
toiling over a mitzvah. It was not an accident that the
Anonei Kovod brought these precious stones only to the
dwellings of the nesi'im and not to all of bnei
Yisroel. The nesi'im were zocheh to receive
them because of their great tzidkus. Nonetheless,
HaKodosh Boruch Hu did not hold these stones in great
esteem since the nesi'im did not toil over them.
The more a person toils over something, the more he cherishes
it. "A person wants his own kav more than nine
kavim of another person" (Bovo Metzia 38a).
Rashi (s.v. kav shelo) explains, "He cherishes it
because he toiled over it, and he wants the kav that
remains more than nine kavim of another person that he
can buy if that person would sell them to him."
Hard work to earn something ties it firmly to a person and
makes it especially dear. This hard work was missing in the
shoham stones of the nesi'im. The Torah
therefore values the contributions of silver and copper that
their owners worked for, more than the precious stones of the
nesi'im that they gained easily and were brought to
them by the Anonei Kovod.
Rabbenu also cites another gemora (Brochos 63b), "`Be
attentive and hear, O Yisroel, this day you have become a
people to Hashem, your G-d' (Devorim 29:9). Were they
given Torah on that day? Actually they were given Torah forty
years previously. This comes to teach us that every day
Yisroel cherishes the Torah just like the day it was given
from Mt. Sinai." Laboring over Torah study makes one feel the
same limitless feeling of love for Torah as at Mattan
Torah when bnei Yisroel first received the
"Rav said . . . studying Torah is greater than building the
Beis Hamikdosh. As long as Boruch ben Neriyah lived,
Ezra did not leave him to ascend [to Eretz Yisroel]"
(Megilloh 16b). Rashi (ibid., s.v. Shekol)
explains, "We could be amazed why Ezra didn't ascend [to
Eretz Yisroel] with Zerubovel at the time of Koresh . . . The
Medrash teaches us that he studied Torah with Boruch
ben Neriyah in Bovel and Boruch did not ascend from Bovel,
and died there during these years."
How dear was Torah study for Ezra! At the time the Beis
Hamikdosh was supposed to be built Ezra still refused to
ascend to Eretz Yisroel. Why? It was only because he viewed
studying Torah as being greater than building the Beis
Hamikdosh. Ezra reached a sublime level of cherishing
Torah study and did not want to abandon his rov as long as he
was alive, as long as he could learn Torah from him. His love
of Torah was exactly like the love of bnei Yisroel at
Mattan Torah when everyone felt a boundless love to
Just as the aim of the Beis Hamikdosh was the dwelling
of the Shechinah in this world, so also his studying
Torah was a sort of Beis Hamikdosh that was bringing
the dwelling of the Shechinah even before it was
Dear fathers. HaKodosh Boruch Hu has bequeathed to you
precious sons. Doubtless the educators are doing all they can
to raise your sons, their talmidim, to a wonderful
level of love for Torah. They want these boys to feel the
sweetness of the Torah so that they will never leave it.
Nonetheless we, the parents, also have a considerable part to
play in their education.
We live today in a world of "illustration." Children are
exceptionally motivated by stories about great people who
live nowadays, by real anecdotes of gedolim from our
times. How indispensable it is for a father to tell his son
moving stories about what happened to him when he studied in
yeshiva: the mishmar on Thursday nights, the nights of
Shavuos, the incredible hasmodoh in the yeshiva, and
stories about gedolei Torah who studied together with
him in the same yeshiva and grew and reached true
I would describe to my sons and grandsons the kevod
haTorah that I saw on Simchas Torah by Maran HaRav
Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik zt'l of Brisk. The Brisker
Rov at that time would stand like a king with his army of
bnei Torah dancing for hours around him. I would sing
to my sons the songs the yeshiva students would sing at that
time. I would sing to my offspring how we then sung
Hashiveinu, and describe to them how we clung to
Hashem while singing Keili, Keili, lomoh azavtonu and
Tzomo Lecho nafshi. You cannot imagine how this
How moved were they to hear of the kovod haTorah of
Maran HaRav Yechezkel Sarna zt'l, the rosh yeshiva of
Hebron Yeshiva, on the night of Simchas Torah when he
would come from his house to the yeshiva's beis
medrash after a deep shmuess. How he was
surrounded with love and admiration, with all his
talmidim dancing and singing around him!
When I studied in Ponovezh Yeshiva I was not privileged to
see the famous visit of Maran the Chazon Ish zt'l to
the yeshiva on the night of Simchas Torah, when he was
carried on the shoulders of the talmidim with singing
and dancing, with Maran singing and dancing together with
them. Many people saw this holy event. Why should they not
use the talents that Hashem gave them and describe at length
such instructive stories, to inspire our dear sons to cherish
And in conclusion, let us not forget how important it is that
a father will, once a week, go over a chosen sugya
that his son learned that week in yeshiva or cheder
and tell him some interesting commentaries that will instill
simchah within them both, the father and son. Every
week they should write down their combined chiddushim
in a special notebook for the family's chiddushim. At
the end of the year they should bind it and hold a family
celebration in honor of that notable event.
This brings the father and son closer, and makes the son
honor his father more. The father has become his son's rosh
yeshiva and also his chavrusa, and both of them
together are working out the sugya and developing
chidushim. This approach also prevents many of the
problems that bother us so much lately.
Please, my dear brothers, try what I am suggesting. Please
use some of the points that I wrote about in this article.
May Hashem help that we will be zocheh to love the
Torah "just like the day it was given on Mount Sinai."