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Parshas Terumah - Vol. 12, Issue 19
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Parshas Terumah introduces us to the Mishkan that Hashem commanded the Jewish people to build as a resting place for the Divine Presence. The Medrash teaches (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:21) that in the absence of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash, our prayers take the place of the Divine service that occurred there (Bamidbar Rabbah 18:21). Accordingly, in the introduction to his sefer Iyun Tefillah, Rav Shimon Schwab writes that as we open the siddur and progress through the prayer service, we are in a sense entering and traversing through the Beis HaMikdash, until we ultimately reach the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies). By envisioning this process as we daven, we can infuse our prayers with greater meaning and significance.
Rav Schwab begins by pointing out that there were 15 steps leading up to Sha'ar Nikanor, the gate that opened into the Chatzer (Courtyard) of the Temple. These steps correspond to the Birchos HaShachar, the 15 blessings that we recite each day at the beginning of the morning prayers. As we say these blessings, we can picture ourselves ascending the steps to the Beis HaMikdash, accompanied by the sweet music of the Levites who stood there. Upon entering the Courtyard, one would encounter Kohanim offering sacrifices on the Altar there. Today, when we are unable to do so, we follow up Birchos HaShachar with Korbanos, in which we read the passages in the Torah and Gemora that describe the various offerings and the laws that governed them.
After walking through the Chatzer, one enters the Ulam - Vestibule. The Mishnah teaches (Middos 3:7) that the size of the doorways through which one entered and exited this hallway was massive. The Ulam corresponds to Pesukei D'Zimra (Verses of Praise), and the two doorways represent the Boruch SheAmar and Yishtabach blessings that we say respectively before and after Pesukei D'Zimra. During this portion of our morning prayers, we should therefore imagine ourselves standing in this grand entranceway.
Upon exiting the Ulam, one entered the Heichal (Sanctuary), where many of the Klei HaMikdash (Temple vessels) were located. In the Heichal, one would encounter the Menorah, which represents spirituality and the light of Torah, and the Shulchan, which symbolizes bread and physical needs. Before we recite Shema each morning, we first say two blessings: Yotzer Ohr, which discusses Hashem's creation of the physical world and therefore corresponds to the Shulchan; and Ahavah Rabbah, which focuses on Torah study and parallels the Menorah. The Heichal also contained the Golden Altar on which the Ketores (incense) was offered as a rei'ach nicho'ach l'Hashem - beautiful smell to Hashem. Our morning recital of Shema and its accompanying acceptance of the yoke of Heaven provides a similar rei'ach nicho'ach to Hashem and is analogous to this Altar. As we proceed through this section of the morning prayers, we should envision ourselves in the Heichal amongst the Menorah, Shulchan, and incense Altar.
Continuing to traverse the Beis HaMikdash, one next reaches the Paroches, the curtain that separated the Aron from the Heichal and served as the entrance to the Kodesh HaKodashim. The Paroches parallels the blessing of Go'al Yisroel Who redeemed Israel) that we say after Shema, which similarly leads us directly into Shemoneh Esrei, which corresponds to the Holy of Holies, as the Gemora (Berachos 30a) teaches that during Shemoneh Esrei, a person's heart should be aligned with the Kodesh HaKodashim.
In Tehillim (134:1), Dovid refers to avdei Hashem ha'omdim b'beis Hashem ba'laylos - servants of Hashem who stand in the house of Hashem in the nights. Why would a person go to the Beis HaMikdash at night when there was no Divine service taking place at that time? Rav Schwab suggests that these people were so enthusiastic to enter the Beis HaMikdash as soon as it opened in the morning that they lined up at night eagerly awaiting the sublime opportunity to be inspired and uplifted. During this time, they prepared themselves by discussing Torah and singing songs of praise to Hashem. This concept parallels the way we prepare ourselves to pray by waking up early to study Torah, and by saying Mah Tovu, Adon Olam, and Yigdal even before we begin Birchos HaShachar. This powerful, eye-opening insight has the ability to completely transform our perspective on prayer, and the intensity and concentration with which we daven.
One of the blessings commonly given to a newly-engaged couple is "Der zivug zohl oleh yafeh zein." While it may be customary to rapidly rattle off the words, an examination of the English translation - the match should be one that "goes up well" - reveals that the wording is awkward and the deeper meaning is difficult to grasp. What is the underlying intention behind this curiously-worded blessing?
The Satmar Rebbe Rav Yoel Teitelbaum brilliantly explains that the word "oleh" is often used to connote the numerical value of a phrase. If so, we may re-interpret the blessing as stating that the new match should have the numerical value of the word "yafeh," which comes to 95, but what is the significance of this seemingly arbitrary number?
The Sefer HaChinuch discusses the laws and reasons for the 613 mitzvos, listing them in the order of their mention in the Torah. He counts the 95th mitzvah as the commandment "V'asu li Mikdash v'shachanti b'socham" - and they shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell amongst them. This is a most appropriate blessing to give a new couple embarking on the establishment of their own personal Mikdash Me'at (miniature Sanctuary).
The Gemora in Sanhedrin (29a) seeks a source for the claim that "whoever adds to something actually takes away from it." One opinion claims that this statement may be derived from our verse, which states that the Holy Ark was to be made of acacia wood and should be 2.5 cubits long. However, the Gemora is cryptically terse; how does one sees from here that something which was added had the net effect of detracting from the original amount?
Rashi explains that the Torah requires the Ark to be "amasayim vacheitzi arko" - 2.5 cubits in length. However, if the letter aleph wasn't present, the Ark would need to be "masayim vacheitzi arko" - 200.5 cubits - significantly longer. Therefore, by adding the letter "aleph," the overall size of the Ark was actually reduced.
However, the Maharsha challenges Rashi's explanation by pointing out that if the letter aleph is removed, the Torah no longer specifies to which units of measurement it refers. The verse would require the Ark to be 200.5 long, but there would be no way of knowing with which units this should be measured. It would be quite possible that it would be measured using a smaller unit than cubits, such that 200.5 of the smaller units would actually be less than 2.5 cubits. In this case, adding the letter aleph would have the effect of increasing the size of the Ark, and the Gemora's claim couldn't be derived from here.
The Vilna Gaon brilliantly suggests an alternative understanding of the Gemora's derivation. Unlike Rashi, he explains that the Gemora refers to the addition of the letter vav at the beginning of the word "vacheitzi." In the absence of this letter, the verse would read "amasayim chetzi arko" - two cubits is half of the length of the Ark. In other words, the Ark would have been four cubits long, but by adding the letter vav, its length was reduced to 2.5 cubits, thereby providing an ideal source for the Gemora's claim that adding on to something actually takes away from it.
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Hashem commanded Moshe to collect donations for the Mishkan from every individual whose heart desired to contribute (25:1-2). Were women also permitted to give donations toward the building of the Mishkan? (Meshech Chochmah, Mishmeres Ariel)
2) Rashi writes (25:5) that the tachash was a beautiful, multi-colored animal which Hashem created at the time of the construction of the Mishkan and which then became extinct. How can this be reconciled with the verse in Koheles (1:9) which teaches that ein kol chadash tachas ha'shemesh - there is nothing new beneath the sun - which the Gemora in Sanhedrin (110a) understands to mean that Hashem doesn't make new creations after the original six days of Creation? (Ayeles HaShachar)
3) The Gemora in Shavuos (15b) rules that the Temple may only be built (25:8) during the day. Is this merely a requirement regarding the preferable way to build it, or does it actually invalidate any portion which is built at night? (Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1, Tosefos Sukkah 41a, Minchas Chinuch 95:5, Mikdash Dovid 1:1, Kehillas Yaakov Shavuos 10, Ma'adanei Asher 5769)
4) The Aron was covered with gold on the inside and on the outside (25:11). Were the other vessels in the Mishkan similarly covered with gold on both sides, or only on the outside? (Paneiach Raza, Tosefos Chagigah 26b, Rabbeinu Bechaye 25:39, Abarbanel, Bechor Shor, Shiras Dovid 25:24)
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