A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Terumah 6 Adar 5764 February 28, 2004 Vol.13 No.23
In This Issue:
Food For Thought
Rabbi Chaim Jachter
week’s Kol Torah has been sponsored by the Brodsky Family to
commemorate the yahrzeit of
beloved mother and grandmother, scholar and teacher, Bernice Sherman
The Art of Talking
by Rabbi Hershel Solnica
Parshat Terumah begins with the phrase, “Viyikchu Li Terumah,” “Take for me a tithe.” Many commentaries think that the language of the Pauk should have been “Viyitnu Li Terumah” “Give for me a tithe. My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, explained that there is a deeper meaning in giving charity. When we pay a bill or give Tzedaka, it is natural for our Yetzer Hara to make us wish that we didn’t have to write this check. When the Mishkan was being built, Hashem wanted Moshe to teach Bnei Yisrael “Viyikchu, Shebiyatzro Hatov Vilimud Torato Umaasav Upaal Shetabao Veyihiyu Tov, “And they shall take: that their desire and philosophy should be that giving is like taking.”
The Gemara states, “Tanna Dibay Eliyahu Bishaa Sheamru Yisrael Naase Vinishma Miyad Amar Hakadosh Baruch Hu Viyikchu Li Terumah” “When Bnei Yisrael said ‘We shall do and we shall hear’ immediately Hashem said ‘Take for me Terumah.’” The Al Hatorah explains that one must learn this lesson of devotion to Hashem by immediately realizing that we are not givers but we are takers.
Too often, we take our health for granted, our Nachat as assumed but thought our wealth as a sign of our brilliance. This is absurd! It takes only one second and we become important in our health, joys and personal life.
In Kriat Shema we say “Veahavta… Bechol Levavicha” “And we must love… with all our hearts.” Rashi comments “Bshnei Yitzrecha,” “With both our Yetzer Hara and Yetzer Hatov.” How do we love Hashem with our Yetzer Hora? I believe that by realizing the tendency to attribute all of our successes to our own efforts, we can saddle our Yetzer Hora and turn it into a Yetzer Tov. Since we are all taking from Hashem, we should give Tzedaka or Chesed in the spirit and in the art of taking.
One Step Ahead
by Chanan Strassman
In Parshat Terumah, the Torah goes into great detail describing the Mishkan's construction. However, the Parsha leaves us with a question. The question is not who built the Mishkan because we know that Bezalel was selected as Hashem's "special contractor." The question is definitely not what materials were to be used or how the Mishkan was to be constructed because the Torah spends the whole Parsha describing what was needed to build the Mishkan and precisely how to proceed with its construction. The issue is where the Mishkan was built. In order to build the Mishkan, many rare and exotic materials were needed. Included on the blueprints were items such as gold, silver, copper, linen, goat's hair, wool with purple dye, wool with blue dye, the skin of the Tachash, spices, olive oil, Shittim wood, and fourteen precious gems. If Bnai Yisrael are in the middle of a desert, where are they going to come up with all of the necessary materials?
The above items found their way into the hands of Bnai Yisrael through Hashem's divine plan. For example, all of the gold, silver, and copper came from the Egyptians. Chazal teach that during the plague of darkness, Bnai Yisroel were allowed to enter the homes of their Egyptian masters to seek out any treasure that may have been kept hidden. This way, when they left Egypt, Bnai Yisrael would know exactly what to ask for from the Egyptians as compensation for their long years of slavery. Of course, the Egyptians complied and parted with their beloved belongings. Also, Chazal teach that the sea engulfed the Egyptians at Kriat Yam Suf and more gold, silver, and copper were washed ashore in the form of the Egyptian chariots.
Many of the items listed above were also acquired through miracles. A good example would be the fourteen precious gems. When Hashem brought the Mann to a Tzadik, a righteous individual, He included special bonus features. One such bonus was that the Mann came encrusted with precious gems. Coincidentally, these precious gems were exactly the kind required for the Mishkan and the Tzadikim gladly donated them. Another good example of acquisition through a miracle was the skin of the Tachash. Hashem only created one of these unique animals, and He created it to appear in the desert exactly when Bnei Yisrael were passing through. Its multicolored coat was needed for the Mishkan.
Even the Avot had a hand in making sure Bnei Yisrael acquired all the necessary requirements for the Mishkan. For instance, a question might have aroused where Bnei Yisrael were going to find the Shittim wood. The answer, according to Chazal, lies about three hundred years earlier when Yaakov Avinu saw with Ruach Hakodesh that Bnei Yisrael would need the Shittim wood for the Mishkan. He therefore planted the seeds for the Shittim tree all over Egypt and told his children that when they left Egypt in the future, they should bring the Shittim wood with them. You may also have been wondering where Bnei Yisrael were going to find a 72 Amah (approximately 103 foot) wooden beam. The answer goes back to Avraham Avinu. He planted this tree and, in its shade, served his guests and prayed. The tree grew over time and during Kriat Yam Suf the Malachim cut it down and dropped it on the shore. Bnei Yisrael figured that such a large tree could be used for something important so they brought it with them. Sure enough, this tree was destined to be the middle beam of the Mishkan.
From here we see how Hashem takes care of everything. If He took care of such a big thing as the Mishkan, then surely He will take care of the smaller things in life as well.
by Duvie Barth
“On the table you should place showbread before Me always.”
The showbread was prepared on Friday and it rested on the table until the following Shabbat. Incredibly, it maintained its warmth and freshness. This miracle was from the love of Hashem to the Jewish people. When the Jews made the pilgrimage on Yom Tov, the table would be lifted for everyone to view the miracle of the fresh loaves of bread. There were many miracles that occurred in the Beit Hamikdash as mentioned in Pirkei Avot. Why was it particularly this miracle that was established in front of those who made the pilgrimage?
When King David was in the wilderness of Yehudah he sang to Hashem “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh yearns for you in a barren land and tired with no water. Just as I beheld You in the Sanctuary to see your might and your glory.” Simply understood, King David is expressing his yearning now to be as close to Hashem as he was within the Sanctuary. The Ba’al Shem Tov provides a Chassidic explanation that King David is actually praying that he should keep his thirst and yearning he now has for Hashem while in a barren and a faraway land, also when he is actually within the Sanctuary. People typically crave for things that seem faraway and out of the way. Once obtained, however the object of desire often loses its appeal. Thus, a child away from home yearns to see his parents, and as the days approach for his return home, his excitement increases greatly. However, when he is finally home he neglects his parents and takes them for granted. Therefore, King David expressed the wish that even after he is granted the opportunity of again being close to God and beholding Godliness in the sanctuary, his aspiration and strong desire for Godliness should not be lessened. The Jews were shown that the showbread was always maintained, so their desire and longing for Hashem before the pilgrimage should be retained once they are in Jerusalem and even after leaving.
by Chaim Strauss
The Parsha describes in great detail how Hashem instructed Bnei Yisrael to build the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that would accompany the Jews along their journey in the wilderness, and house the Shechina, Hashem’s divine presence. “Speak to the children of Israel in these words; Of every man whose heart makes him willing, you shall take for me my gift. And this is the gift which you shall take from them: gold and silver and brass” (25: 2-3). Why does the Torah use the words “take for me” instead of “give to me”?
Rav Akiva Aiger believes that Hashem felt that the Terumah which every person gives towards the Mishkan needs to be only from every man whose heart makes him willing. It is only enough if he has a generous heart and good intentions. In addition, the Terumah which should be collected for the Mishkan must be made of gold, silver, and brass. However, if it is given without the heart, it is considered Bnei Yisrael’s gift and not Hashem’s gift.
The Torat Moshe offers more knowledge on this topic. He says that in actuality, all the gold and silver on earth belong to Hashem. As it is written, “Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold.” Therefore, when a person offers these things to Hashem, the gift he gives is not the wealth, because the wealth is not really his to give away, but rather his gift is his willingness to give, and the good intentions that encouraged him to make the offering. These qualities are truly his own. However, one who does not make his offering of silver and gold in this nature has really given nothing, because the quality of his willingness, which would have been the true gift, is lacking. This is the meaning of the specification “of every man whose heart makes him willing.” Therefore, the Pasuk should be read as, “only from a person who gives willingly and with good intentions, shall you take My offering.”
Terumah is the beginning of the building of the Mishkan, a place where Hashem dwells among the Jews as they traveled in the desert. To build the Mishkan, Hashem commanded the Jews to collect several types of materials. After listing all the metals, wools, hairs, skins, and wood that amounted to the thirteen materials that were to be used for the construction of the Mishkan, the Torah tells us that they collected oil for illumination and spices for the anointment of the oil and incense.
It is only for the oil and spices that an explanation about their use is given. Why does the Torah suddenly need to tell us what the materials were to be used for, when it hasn’t discussed it thus far? One possible answer is that there are two differences between the characteristics of the other materials and those of the oil and spices. First, while the other materials were important, they required no effort in being produced, while the oil and spices had to be produced and maintained. Those people that did not have the precious stones to donate to Mishkan still had the opportunity to contribute their efforts instead. Additionally, both the oil and the spices, were the most “giving” used materials used in Mishkan. The oil was used to light the Menorah, which gives off light to everything around it, and the spices give off a beautiful smell to its surroundings.
In addition, all of the other materials used to construct the Mishkan were finite. A set amount of these items were required, on a one-time basis. Once the Mishkan was completed, there was no further need for them. The oils and spices, however, were used constantly after the construction of the Mishkan was complete, and the supplies had to be replenished on a regular basis.
Oil represents the Torah. As oil provides light to the menorah, so does Torah provide light to the Jews. Spices were used as incense for the sacrificial offerings, which in our time is represented by Tefillah, prayer. Without oil for the Menorah to light the Mishkan, and spices to promote sacrifices, which at the time were a basic part of worship, the Mishkan, would have been useless.
by Jerry M. Karp
1) Why does the Torah not give the dimensions of the Kesot (shelves) and Menakiot (pillars) of the Shulchan?
2) Why is the phrase “Kaftor Tachat Shnei Hakanim Mimenah” written three times, but the phrase “Shlosha Gevi’im Meshukadim” written only twice?
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