Kenneth Cohen

Acquiring a Jewish Soul

The commentators of the Torah look for messages contained by the order of subjects presented in the text. This is called סמיכות הפרשיות, the connection between chapters.

Last week’s Parsha ended with a description of how Moshe Rabbeinu’s face had such a glow, that he needed to cover his face with a veil. This is what happens to a holy person. There is a certain aura connected with how he looks.

The Baal Haturim wrote that the connection of subjects to this week’s Parsha of ויקהל-פקודי, is that the first subject discussed is Shabbat. The Rabbis said the face of one who observes Shabbat is different from all of the other days of the week. The extra soul that one acquires, can be seen in his face. This is why we are sad to see Shabbat leave, as we must say good by to this special holiness.

In my twenty-five years of involvement with helping people convert to Judaism, I have witnessed a similar phenomenon. This applies to all converts, regardless of their country of origin. And my converts have come from all over the world.

When they finish the long conversion process, with their immersion in a Mikva, there is an incredible transformation. They look different than they did before. They have acquired a Jewish soul that will remain with them for eternity. Their faces have a different glow to it.

This is what happens when one elevates himself spiritually. This was seen in Moshe, and is seen in holy Jews every Shabbat, and is seen by those individuals who choose to embrace Judaism.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at