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Parshas Terumah - Vol. 11, Issue 19
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Chazal teach that the relationship between Hashem and Klal Yisroel is a marriage, with Hashem as the groom and the Jewish people as the bride. However, in order for a marriage to take effect, an act of kiddushin (betrothal) must take place. The Mishnah (Kiddushin 2a) teaches that kiddushin can take place in one of three ways: through kesef (the giving of money), shtar (a document), or biah (relations). Where was the kiddushin between Hashem and the Jewish people?
The Baal HaTurim (Shemos 19:4) explains that Hashem betrothed us as His bride using all three methods. The kesef was the bizas ha'yam, spoils that the Jewish people received at the Yam Suf after the Egyptians drowned. The shtar was the Luchos (Tablets) that Hashem gave Moshe at Mount Sinai. The biah was through entering the Mishkan, where Hashem's Shechinah (Divine Presence) dwelled, as we find that the Beis HaMikdash is described (Melochim 2 11:2) as cheder ha'mittos - the bedroom, the place for the actualization of the relationship between Hashem and Klal Yisroel. In addition to all three forms of betrothal, there was also a chuppah (marriage canopy) at Mount Sinai, where Hashem raised up the mountain over our heads as we accepted the Torah (Shabbos 88a).
In the introduction to his sefer HaMakneh, Rav Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz, better known as the Hafla'ah (the name of his work on Kesubos), notes that Rashi writes (Devorim 34:12) that Hashem praised Moshe for breaking the Luchos, but he doesn't explain what precisely was commendable about his actions. The Hafla'ah explains that when the Jewish people sinned with the golden calf, their legal status was that of a married woman who was unfaithful to her husband, an action which is punishable by death. In order to save them, Moshe shattered the Tablets in order to dissolve the kiddushin they represented, so that Klal Yisroel would once again be considered unmarried, and the magnitude of their sin would be lessened.
However, although Moshe's action terminated the betrothal that was performed through the Luchos, there nevertheless remained the kiddushin of kesef that was effected at the Yam Suf, in which case Moshe's attempt to assist the Jewish people would seem to be inadequate. The Hafla'ah suggests that the kiddushin via kesef was conditional on the Jewish people agreeing to accept and obey the Torah, so when Moshe broke the Luchos, he retroactively nullified the conditional betrothal of the bizas ha'yam, since the attached stipulation wasn't fulfilled.
However, Rav Moshe Aharon Friedman of Yeshivas Mir in Yerushalayim notes that this explanation raises a different question: If the original kiddushin between Hashem and the Jewish people was conditional and became annulled, how did we regain what we lost, in order to regain and cement a permanent relationship with Hashem?
Rav Yonason Eibeshutz explains that the new betrothal was effected when Hashem told Moshe to command the Jewish people v'yikchu li terumah - take for me a portion, and the money and possessions that the Jewish people donated to the Mishkan constituted a new and enduring kiddushin. Even though Jewish law normally requires the groom to give the money to the bride and not vice-versa, as would seem to be the case here where the bride (Klal Yisroel) gave money to the groom (Hashem), there is one exception to this rule.
The Gemora (Kiddushin 7a) teaches that if the groom is an importance and respected man who doesn't normally accept gifts, his willingness to take a present from the bride gives her the same pleasure as if she had received it from him, and in such a case, the kiddushin is legally valid. In our case, giving a gift to Hashem certainly qualifies for this exception, and therefore the contributions of the Jewish people for the Mishkan constituted a legitimate form of kiddushin.
Extending this concept, Rav Friedman notes that when betrothing a woman, a man says to her harei at mekudeshes li - behold you are betrothed to me. The Arizal points out that the first and last letters of the word Yisroel can be rearranged to spell li, alluding to the bond of kiddushin that exists between Hashem and Klal Yisroel. For this reason, just before the giving of the Torah (19:6), Hashem told the Jewish people v'atem tihe'yu li mamleches kohanim v'goy kadosh - you shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation, emphasizing the word li to hint to this special relationship between us. However, after the sin of the golden calf, Hashem told Moshe (32:10) v'atah hanicha li - And now, leave Me to take away the li, the kiddushin that bound Me to Klal Yisroel. As explained by Rav Yonason Eibeshutz, this split was only rectified when the Jewish people contributed to the building of the Mishkan, which Hashem alluded to by telling them v'yikchu li terumah - give your donations to the Mishkan in order to restore the kiddushin represented by the word li.
In the Haftorah for Parshas Balak, the prophet Micha exhorts the Jewish people (Micha 6:8) v'hatzne'ah leches im Elokecha - go with tznius (modesty) with your G-d. Rav Shimon Schwab points out that the emphasis on going modestly im Elokecha - with Hashem, as opposed to lifnei Elokecha - before your G-d, implies that Hashem also conducts Himself in a modest manner. As Hashem lacks a physical body, in what sense does He act tzniusly?
Rav Schwab explains by pointing out that the Mishkan, the dwelling place that Hashem designed for Himself on earth, contained several holy vessels that are described at great length in the Torah - the Menorah, the Shulchan, and the Altar - yet who was able to actually see them and appreciate their splendor? Only Aharon and his two sons saw the vessels when they entered the Mishkan to serve there, while the Aron was hidden away in the Holy of Holies and was viewed only once a year by Aharon on Yom Kippur. The rest of the Jewish people did not enter the Ohel Moed.
It wasn't only the inside of the Mishkan that was concealed from public view, as even its magnificent walls that were made from gold-covered kerashim (planks) weren't externally visible. The walls were hidden by several layers of yerios (curtains), and even though the first covering was a curtain made from fine turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, this layer was concealed by an additional covering on top of it that was made of goat hair (26:7). As a result, if somebody approached the Mishkan to gaze upon its holiness and beauty, all he would see was the walls covered with a blanket made from goat-hair., hardly a structure that inspires the awe and respect we would expect for such a lofty edifice. As far as the entrance to the Mishkan, Rashi writes (26:9) that the curtains were folded and hung over part of the opening, similar to a modestly covered bride.
Rav Schwab explains that Hashem did this intentionally in order to teach us that part of conducting ourselves modestly is hiding away our most valuable possessions from public view and refraining from showing off our achievements. In enjoining us to walk modestly with Hashem, Micha is encouraging us to emulate His ways, and even if we are blessed with impressive spiritual accomplishments and possessions, the proper approach is not to ostentatiously flaunt them, but rather to enjoy them privately in the confines of our homes.
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Why is Parshas Mishpatim, which contains the Torah's code of civil law, juxtaposed to Parshas Terumah, which discusses the Mishkan and its utensils? (Maharsha Kesuvos 67, Beis HaLevi, Oznayim L'Torah)
2) As gold is more precious and valuable than wood, why was the Aron made of wood instead of gold like its coverings (25:10-11), which would seem to give more honor to the Torah housed therein? (Daas Z'keinim, Chizkuni, Kol Dodi)
3) From where did the Jewish people obtain the wood for the bri'ach ha'tichon - the middle bar (26:28) which miraculously turned (Shabbos 98b?) to run inside of the kerashim (planks) along the lengths of all three of the walls of the Mishkan? (Targum Yonason ben Uziel, Daas Z'keinim 25:5, Rav Muller quoted in Peninim Vol. 3)
4) The Yerushalmi in Shabbos (12:3) derives from 26:30 that the planks for the Mishkan were labeled so that they would always be used in the same area of the Mishkan each time that it was reassembled. May one derive from here that a person should similarly label the boards of his sukkah so that each of them should always be in the same place? (Be'er Heitev Orach Chaim 630:6, Bikkurei Yaakov 630:16, Bishvilei HaParsha, Chavatzeles HaSharon)
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