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Parshas Terumah

Vayik'chu li teruma me'eis kol ish asher yid'venu libo tik'chu es terumasi (25:2)

Amru Raboseinu shalosh terumos amoros kan - achas terumas beak l'gulgoles she'na'asu meihem ha'adanim k'mo shem'furash b'Eileh Pekudei, v'achas terumas ha'mizbeiach beak l'gulgoles l'kupos liknos meihen korbanos tzibbur, v'achas terumas ha'Mishkan nid'vas kol echad (Rashi)

In his Oznayim L'Torah, Rav Zalman Sorotzkin relates that there once reached a point when the yeshivos of Poland were so strapped for cash that they were unable to pay for even the most basic necessities. A meeting of leading Rabbis was called in Warsaw to discuss the issue, and in order to publicize the dire straits, representatives of a number of leading newspapers were also invited. After Rav Sorotzkin finished his speech detailing the financial difficulties and appealing for emergency aid, one of the reporters asked him how Rav Meir Shapiro had recently succeeded in collecting so much money to build magnificent building to house his yeshiva in Lublin. He responded by quoting the comment of Rashi on our verse and questioning why with regards to building the Mishkan no donations were mandatory and Hashem relied on the magnanimity of the Jews to supply the necessary materials, while with respect to the communal sacrifices He obligated every Jew to contribute and wasn't willing to trust that voluntary contributions would suffice? The opposite would seem more logical, as the sacrifices brought in the Mishkan represent its entire purpose and were more precious to Hashem than its physical structure, which was merely the means to this end. He answered that Hashem recognized that when it comes to collecting funds for the building of impressive edifices, people are quick to donate, but when additional funds are needed to maintain the buildings and help them accomplish their objectives, the money supply suddenly dries up. Indeed, when it came to building the Mishkan, we find that so much gold and silver were voluntarily donated within a few short days that it was more than was necessary and Moshe was actually forced to announce that they should stop bringing any more (36:5-6). Nevertheless, were it not for a requirement that every Jew donate money for the purchase of communal sacrifices, Hashem recognized that the donations wouldn't be sufficient to maintain the daily functioning of the Mishkan. Similarly, the function of yeshivos is the study of Torah, with the buildings merely serving as a means to enable this learning to occur. Nevertheless, people are quick to contribute money to dedicate rooms, entrances, and windows to create the physical structure, especially when that donation can be immortalized with a gaudy plaque, but few are those who are interested in giving money to pay for ephemeral needs such as food, utilities, and salaries. He concluded that with this psychological insight, we now understand that Rav Meir Shapiro was so successful in his fundraising campaign because the money was going toward his beautiful new building, but when it will be finished in a few years, he will unfortunately have the exact same difficulties covering his daily operating expenses that the other yeshivos are currently experiencing and with which they so desperately need your help!

V'asu li Mikdash v'shachanti b'socham (25:8)

In Shir HaShirim (3:11), Shlomo HaMelech uses the phrase b'yom chasunaso uv'yom simchas libo - on the day of his wedding and on the day of his heart's rejoicing. The Mishnah in Taanis (4:8) homiletically interprets the wedding day as referring to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which represents the wedding between Hashem and the Jewish people, and the day of the heart's happiness as referring to the building of the Beis HaMikdash. Rav Shach explains the comparison by questioning how Shlomo HaMelech could refer to the day of his heart's gladness separately from his wedding day, as if to imply that he didn't rejoice at his own wedding? Although he was certainly happy when he married (after all, he did so 1000 times!), his joy was limited to the extent that he knew his bride and recognized her positive qualities. Many people get engaged after dating for just a few short weeks or months and get married following an engagement of not much longer. While this is often a sufficient amount of time to determine that one has indeed found his life partner, this time period, both due to its brevity and the unnatural relationship that exists, isn't particularly conducive to fully appreciating the greatness of one's fianc? nor to forming a deep relationship based on mutual trust and understanding. It is only through years of living together, raising a family, and jointly confronting life's issues and challenges that one comes to a genuine awareness of what a wonderful decision he made in choosing his spouse. While it is unlikely that any single day or event will ever bring the same monumental sense of excitement and joy that one felt at his wedding, Shlomo HaMelech is hinting to us that nevertheless, the lasting period of true and deep inner happiness resulting from a genuine bond lies in the future. Similarly, at Mount Sinai the Jewish people demonstrated great faith toward their "Groom" in unanimously declaring na'aseh v'nishma - we will do and we will listen - committing themselves to doing His will without even knowing what it is, and for this they were appropriately rewarded by being selected as His chosen people for all time. Nevertheless, there was a certain lacking in the closeness of the bond, as the "bride" (the Jews) was yet to recognize the greatness of the "Groom" (Hashem). It was only after the "wedding," when Moshe Rabbeinu taught them the mitzvos and they began to perform them, that a deeper relationship began to develop. The pinnacle of that closeness came when the bride built a magnificent dwelling place where she could come to draw near to her Groom, first in the form of the Mishkan and later the Beis HaMikdash, which allowed for a full recognition of the tremendous fortune she had in being selected as Hashem's bride. As the Ramban writes in his introduction to Sefer Shemos, the Mishkan was indeed the spiritual culmination of the Exodus from Egypt, as the relationship which had begun centuries earlier with Avrohom Avinu and continued through the Exodus and the "marriage" at Mount Sinai was finally consummated with the event which would bring true rejoicing to our hearts.

V'tzipisa oso zahav tahor mibayis umichutz t'tzapenu (25:11)

Rav Chaim Volozhiner once came to ask his teacher, the Vilna Gaon, to help him understand a difficult passage in the Zohar HaKadosh, the explanation of which continued to elude him. The Gaon responded by noting that with regard to the Aron, which was made out of wood, the Torah writes that it should be covered with gold on the inside and on the outside. However, Rashi explains that first the wooden box was placed inside the larger golden box, and the smaller golden box was then placed inside of both of them. According to this, it comes out that the Aron was first covered on the outside (by the larger golden box) and only afterward on the inside (by the smaller golden box). If so, why did the Torah write it in reverse order, instructing that it should be covered first on the inside? Rather, we must re-interpret our verse as referring not to the wooden Aron but to the golden coverings. With respect to the golden boxes, we find that the covering occurred in the order prescribed by the Torah, as the wooden Aron first covered the inner walls of the larger outer box and subsequently covered the outer walls of smaller inner box. However, we now must understand why the Torah chose to write the instructions in such a convoluted manner. The wooden Aron, he continued, symbolizes man, who is compared to a tree (ki ha'adam eitz ha'sadeh) and the two golden boxes represent the Torah (ha'nechmadim mizahav), the outer one corresponding to the revealed Torah and the inner one to the mystical secrets of Kabbalah. The Torah wrote our verse in this confusing way to hint to us that just as the revealed Torah is covered by the Aron (representing man) on its inside, so too are we able and expected to penetrate to its deepest depths of understanding. However, when it comes to the hidden areas of the Torah, the Aron only covers the external side to teach us that it is impossible to completely plumb its innermost secrets and we sometimes must content ourselves with whatever superficial understanding we are able to attain. With that, he dismissed his surprised student to reflect upon this unexpected "answer" to his question regarding the esoteric passage!

V'nasata el ha'Aron es ha'Eidus asher etain eilecha (25:16)

HaTorah she'hi l'Eidus beini u'veineichem she'tziveishi es'chem mitzvos hak'suvos ba (Rashi)

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin questions the value of having a Sefer Torah placed in the Aron in the Kodesh Kodashim, a place where it would never be used or even seen as nobody was allowed to go there. The Medrash (Devorim Rabba 9:9) suggests that even so, the fact that every single person was aware that hidden deep in the inner recesses of the Beis HaMikdash was a 100% authentic Sefer Torah written by Moshe Rabbeinu himself acted as a powerful deterrent to any would-be forger. Anybody who would entertain the possibility of denying some of the mitzvos and attempting to write a falsified Sefer Torah which leaves them out to support his claims would refrain due to the recognition that if he did so, it would be possible to bring out Moshe's genuine Torah from the Aron to compare, thus proving him wrong and exposing his malicious intent. In a eulogy on the great Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, Rav Sorotzkin suggested that the Brisker Rav had similarly isolated himself from most of the world, confining himself all day to the learning and teaching of Torah to a few select students in his house. Although he eschewed a public and social role, his value as the last remaining vestige of the Torah-true Judaism of Brisk was inestimable. As long as the Brisker Rav was alive, anybody who dared question the smallest custom and attempted to alter the mesorah (tradition) from Europe knew that his claims would be immediately and sharply rebuffed by the Brisker Rav, the authentic Sefer Torah who was no longer.

V'asisa shnayim keruvim zahav miksha ta'ase osam mishnei k'tzos ha'kapores (25:18)

Although the Torah specifies that the various utensils used in the Mishkan are to be made from gold, the Mechilta rules that this isn't an absolute requirement but rather the preferable way for them to be made. If for any reason they have already been made from a different metal, they don't become disqualified and it is permissible to use them, with one exception. With respect to the Keruvim which rest on top of the Aron, the obligation to make them from gold is absolute, and should they be formed from any other material for any reason, they are invalid for use in the Mishkan. Rav Meir Shapiro explains that the Keruvim symbolize Jewish children, as Rashi writes here that they had the faces of young children, and their placement on top of the Aron represents their Torah learning and upbringing. Should there be a time in the future when money is scarce and gold cannot be attained due to financial constraints, Hashem is willing to overlook His honor and glory with respect to the construction of the utensils used to serve Him even in His Holy dwelling place, but when it comes to educating our children, who represent the future of the Jewish people, second-best is completely unacceptable as there can be no possible excuse for sacrificing the quality of their education!

Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1) If the book of Shemos is known as the Book of the Exodus and revolves around the theme of the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt, why does it discuss the building of the Mishkan and the garments of the Kohanim at such great length instead of ending after the splitting of the Red Sea or the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai? (Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Shemos)

2) Hashem showed Moshe the form which the Mishkan was to have and commanded him that such should be its appearance in all generations, such that if one of the vessels was ever lost or damaged, it must be rebuilt precisely according to the specifications of the original one used in the Mishkan (Rashi 25:9). How can this be reconciled with the fact that each Beis HaMikdash was built with various changes in dimensions and appearance from what preceded it? (Shu"t Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 236, Radak Melachim 1 8:6, Mas'as HaMelech 25:9) 3) Rashi writes (25:40) that Moshe Rabbeinu had diffic

ulty understanding the appearance of the menorah, so Hashem showed him a fiery illustration of how it was supposed to look. However, Rashi writes previously (25:31) that even so, Moshe had difficulty making it and ultimately Hashem told him to simply throw a block of gold into the fire and the menorah miraculously "made itself" and emerged complete. If Hashem knew that in the end Moshe would be unable to make it, why did He initially need to show him the fiery image and teach him all of the intricate laws regarding the appearance of the menorah? (S'fas Emes, Mishmeres Ariel, Nesivos Rabboseinu, Shemen HaTov?)

4) Hashem tells Moshe that the Mishkan should have curtains of goat hair to be an "ohel" (tent) over the linen curtains that formed the roof of the Mishkan (26:7). There is a Talmudic maxim (see Shabbos 138b) that ein ohel pachos mi'tefach - to be called a tent, there must be at least one tefach (3-4 inches) beneath it. If so, how could this second covering be referred to as an "ohel" when it was placed directly on top of the curtains underneath it? (Ha'emek Davar)

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