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P’nei Menachem: Vayakhel: The Heart’s Hand

The 16th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Pinchas Menachem (ben Avraham Mordechai) Alter, the Pnei Menachem of Ger (1926-1996). The fifth son of the Imrei Emes, Rav Pinchas was born in the resort town of Palinitz, Poland when his father was 60 years old. Along with his father and other family members, he escaped to Eretz Yisrael during World War II. In  1946, he married his cousin, and two years later, his father passed away. Three of the Imrei Emes’ sons became Rebbe of Ger: Rav Yisrael (the Beis Yisrael, niftar 1977), Rav Simcha Bunim (the Lev Simcha, niftar 1992), and Rav Pinchas
Menachem (the Pnei Menachem). However, Rav Pinchas Menachem was Rosh Yeshiva of Sefas Emes of Ger in Yerushalayim from the time he was 30, and was head of Agudas Yisrael after the petria of Rav Yitzchak Meir Levine.

“With double loaves and the great kiddush, with abundant delicacies and a generous spirit.” (Friday Night Zemirot) There is an idea of “a generous spirit,” and a separate idea of one, “whose heart lifts him entirely to his service of God.” We find in this week’s portion, “and all the women with wise hearts wove with her hand.” It does not say they wove with their hands but rather that she wove with her hand. This indicates that the hand does not refer to her physical hands, but to the hand of her heart. When she wove she was able to weave with her entire being, her entire heart. This goes beyond generosity of spirit. This takes us to one whose heart raises his entire being.

It is also important to note that when the Midrash teaches us that the women spun the wool directly from the sheep, it should not be taken literally, but it should understood to mean that any physicality was removed from the weaving. All was done with wisdom of heart, with a sense of spiritual greatness.

We should strive to serve God with more than a generous spirit; our goal should be that our heart, connected to God, should carry our entire being and make it part of our effort.

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