Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 18   No. 19

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Parshas Terumah

The Menorah
The Seven Planets

Citing the Medrash, Rabeinu Bachye explains that the Menorah, with its seven branches, corresponds to the seven planets (Shabsa'i, Tzedek, Ma'adim, Chamah [the sun], Nogah, Kochav & Levanah [the moon]). These planets not only light up the sky; they also influence the world upon which they shine and have a direct bearing upon the events that occur there both by day and by night. That, he explains, is why the Menorah shines both by day and by night (like the opinion of the Rambam, who maintains that it is a Mitzvah to kindle the Menorah during the day as well at night-time [footnote]).

The middle lamp corresponds to the central planet 'Chamah', and by the same token, it was on Wednesday (the middle day of the week) that the sun was created.


The Twenty-Two Letters

Alternatively (in his explanation marked 'logically speaking') Rabeinu Bachye links the Menorah with Torah, which is called 'light', as the Pasuk writes in Mishlei "For Mitzvah is a lamp, and Torah, light", and its seven branches with the seven areas of knowledge, which are all contained in the Torah. The six branches that extended from its side, symbolize the six directions of the world, which exists on the merit of the Torah, which was given on the sixth of Sivan, as the Navi writes in Yirmiyah (33:25). Its twenty-two patterned goblets (three on each branch plus four on its center stem) represented the twenty-two letters of the Torah (and the twenty-two thousand angels that descended upon Har Sinai at Matan Torah) and the twenty-two components which form the world (wind, water, fire, the seven planets, and the twelve Mazolos [constellations]), as well as the twenty-two major components of a man's body (the head, the heart, the kidneys, the seven cavities in the head [two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth] and the twelve main limbs (the two hands, the two feet, the spleen, the liver, the gall, the 'first stomach', the stomach, the craw and the B'ris Milah [See footnote]).

We also find three ornaments carved on the Menorah - a ball-shaped knob, a goblet and a flower, representing the three worlds, as we will now explain. The knob (a never-ending circle) corresponding to the world of the Angels, who derive a never-ending stream of pleasure from the glory of the Shechinah (and it is regarding the very same concept of endless pleasure that Chazal refer to the pleasure in the World to Come as a circle around which Tzadikim will dance). The goblet, a receptacle into which one pours wine, from which one then waters and satiates others, corresponds to the world of the constellations, which receive their influence from the world of the angels before passing it on to the inhabitants of this world. Whereas the flowers correspond to this world, where all kinds of plants, flowers and blossoms grow.


The Oral Torah

To understand the difference between the Aron ha'Kodesh and the Menorah, both of which seem to represent Torah (as the word Aron, itself a derivative of 'Or', indicates) ha'Gaon R. Baruch Horvitz suggests that whereas the Aron symbolizes the written Torah (which it housed), the Menorah symbolizes the oral one. That is why the Aron, like the written Torah whose interpretation is hidden and is only revealed by means of the study of the oral Torah, is hidden behind a curtain.

The six branches of the Menorah represent the six 'orders of the Mishnah', whilst the center lamp pointed towards the Kodesh Kodshim, towards the written Torah in the Aron, upon which it is based and from which it draws its light. Perhaps the above-mentioned Pasuk "For Mitzvah is a lamp and Torah, light" can be explained in this light too, if we interpret "Mitzvah" as the written Torah, and "Torah", as the oral one.

In any event, we learn from the above corollary between the two Torahs, that they are not two separate entities, but rather that they form one indivisible unit; for even as the written Torah requires the oral Torah to fathom it, it casts its light on to it, enabling those who study it to decipher it (the written Torah) through it (the oral Torah)!

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Riva)

The Staves Shall Not be Removed

"In the rings of the Aron the staves shall be (placed), they shall not be removed from it" (25:15).

To reconcile this Pasuk with the Pasuk in Bamidbar (4:8)" and they (the B'nei K'has) shall place its poles" (implying that the staves were not affixed to the Aron), the Riva, citing the Gemara in Yuma, explains that, on the one hand, they fitted loosely into the rings of the Aron, in that they were thin and could be moved along, whereas on the other, the ends were thickened, so that they could not be removed from the Aron. What the Pasuk in Bamidbar therefore means is, not that the B'nei K'has placed the staves, but that they positioned them in the rings in a way that the front and back sections that protruded from the Aron were equal in length.

The Ram from Coucy however, commenting on the current Pasuk (without entering into the above discrepancy) explains that the staves needed to be firmly wedged in the rings, so that when climbing a hill, the weight of the Aron should not slide down the pole and hit those who were carrying it at the back (and those in front when they descended).

In view of Chazal however, who explains that the Pillar of Cloud flattened all the mountains and hills in their path (see Rashi Parshas Chukas 20:22), it is unclear which hills the Ram from Coucy is referring to!


Obeying G-d's Instructions

"And you shall place in the Aron the (Luchos of) Testimony which I will give to you" (25:16).

How could Moshe justify breaking the Luchos, asks the Riva quoting the Ib'n Ezra, since by doing so, he contravened G-d's specific instructions to place them into the Aron?

Perhaps, he suggests, that is what prompted Moshe to place the broken Luchos inside the Aron too, as Chazal have taught, thereby fulfilling that command after all.

Alternatively, he explains, Moshe fulfilled the Mitzvah when he placed the second Luchos in the Aron.


The Menakiyos
(The Side-Frames)

"And you shall make its bread forms its half-tubes and its side-frames " (25:29).

Rashi explains that the golden side-frames protruded above the Shulchan, riding above the height of the six Loaves that comprised one row of Lechem ha'Ponim. Each one contained six clefts, on which they placed the ends of the half-tubes, which in turn, held the six loaves, thereby preventing each loaf from weighing down on the loaf below, causing it to break. That is why Unklus translates it as 'Mechiloseih' (which means to bear/support the weight).

The Riva, cites a question that he heard. Why, the questioner asked, were six clefts needed? Why would five not have sufficed, seeing as the bottom loaf rested on the Table, as Rashi himself explains in Parshas Emor (24:6)?

And even if we take on that the half-tubes needed to be placed under the bottom loaves, to allow air to circulate (to prevent them from going bad, as Rashi explains here with regard to the other loaves), the cleft would have been unnecessary, seeing as they would have rested on the Table, and unlike the other half-tubes, would not have needed the clefts in the side-frames to support them?

The Riva answers by pointing out that, the sixth cleft was not for the bottom half-tubes, but for the top ones, as we shall now explain.

Each row of loaves had one bowl of Levonah (frankincense), which the Kohen placed on top of the top loaf. And it was to hold the bowl of Levonah that they placed two half-tubes (instead of the usual three) above the top loaf. And it was to hold those two half-tubes that they added the top cleft in the side-frames.


The Goats'-Hair Curtains

"And as for the overhang of the curtains of the Tent (the goats-hair curtains), half the curtain (comprising two Amos) you shall hang over the back of the Mishkan (26:12).

Rashi explains that this was to cover the two bottom Amos of the planks that were visible (i.e. that were not covered by the first set of curtains).

This is not completely correct, says the Riva, since the bottom Amah of the planks were carved to fit into the silver sockets. Moreover, he explains, Rashi's statement follows the opinion of the B'raisa cited earlier by Rashi himself. But according to the Gemara in Shabbos (also cited by Rashi) the bottom curtains covered the planks completely, and it was only the sockets that were visible.

Either way, the Riva concludes, the goats'-hair curtains extended down to the ground, covering the sockets at the back of the Mishkan (in the west), although they did not do so on the northern and southern sides of the Mishkan, where the sockets remained exposed. This, the Riva explains, was in deference to the Shechinah, which was housed in the Kodesh Kodshim on the west side.

* * *


"And they shall make the Aron" (25:10).

By all the other 'Keilim', says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. the Torah writes "And you (Moshe) shall make ". Only here does it use the expression " they shall make!" This is because the Aron housed the Torah, and when it comes to Kavod ha'Torah, everybody is obligated to participate.

How much more so, he adds, are the residents of a city obligated to honour the local Talmidei-Chachamim, by seeing to all their needs, thereby enabling them to spend their time studying Torah, as the Gemara explains in Yuma (72:).

Another reason for the communal participation in constructing the Aron, he adds, is to enable everybody to receive a share in the reward that the Torah which it housed has to offer.


" Inside and outside you shall overlay it (with gold)" (Ibid.)

Based on this Pasuk, Rava teaches us that a Talmid-Chacham whose inside does not match his outside (i.e. his behaviour is not consistent with his learning) is not a Talmid-Chacham.


"And you shall make on it a golden rim" (25:11).

It seems, comments the Da'as Zekeinim, that this rim was purely ornamental, and that it resembled a crown.

It is a hint, he adds, to the Crown of Torah, and he cites the Gemara in Yuma (72a), which refers to the three rims, representing the three crowns; the rim of the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav - representing the Crown of Kehunah (which was taken by Aharon); the rim of the Shulchan - representing the Crown of Malchus (which was taken by David), and the rim of the Aron - representing the Crown of Torah (which lies open and is available to anyone who studies it).


" and you shall place into the Aron the Luchos which I will give to you" (25:16).

The Da'as Zekeinim points out that the command to place the Luchos inside the Aron comes later, in Pasuk 21, and that the Torah only mentions it here, to explain the previous Pasuk, which forbids the removal of the staves from the Aron. This Pasuk now ascribes that prohibition to the fact that the purpose of the Aron was to house the Luchos. Consequently, it had to be treated with the utmost respect; and this included leaving the staves intact and not being able to move them around. See Parshah Pearls,


"And the K'ruvim shall spread their wings upwards (above their heads)" 25:20.

Because this is how one stands before G-d (whose Shechinah 'lived' in the Kodesh Kodshim), the Da'as Zekeinim explains - with a combination of humility and awe.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 474:
To Designate Ma'aser Oni

It is a Mitzvah to separate Ma'aser Oni in the third and sixth years of the Sh'mitah cycle, as the Pasuk writes in Re'ei (15:28) "At the end of three years you shall take out all the Ma'asros of your produce in that year and place it within your gates". In that year Ma'aser Oni actually replaces Ma'aser Sheini that one gave during the preceding two years. A reason for the Mitzvah the author already wrote in Mishpatim (Mitzvah 66) 'To lend money to a Poor Man'.

Some Dinim of the Mitzvah Chazal have said that the owner of a field who is approached by poor people must give to each Ani enough from his Ma'aser to satisfy his hunger, as the Torah writes "and they shall eat within your gates and be satisfied". And how much is considered enough to be satisfied? The minimum quantity is half a Kav of wheat; a Kav of barley; one and a half kabin of spelt; dried figs, a weight of twenty-five sela'im; half a lug (three revi'is) of wine; a quarter lug of oil; a quarter kav of rice; vegetables, a litra weight; carobs, three kabin; ten nuts, five peaches, two pomegranates and one esrog If someone has only little Ma'aser and there is a large number of poor, he simply places it in front of them, and they divide it among themselves. If the Ma'aser oni is distributed in the barn, the owner does not have 'Tovas hana'ah' (the right to choose to whom to give it); he must give to whoever comes. Should a man and woman both come simultaneously, he must give the woman first The remaining details of this Mitzvah are to be found in Pe'ah, Ma'asros, D'mai, as well as in other parts of Zera'im, in Machshirin and Yadayim (and in the Rambam, Perek 7 of Matnos Aniyim). The author will discuss in Parshas Shoftim (Mitzvah 507 - 'To Separate T'rumos and Ma'asros') where and when the Mitzvah applies.


Mitzvah 478:
Not to Be Tough on a Poor Man

We are not allowed to withhold kindness and charity from our Jewish brothers; how much more so from our relatives, as long as we have the means to assist them, as the Torah writes in Parshas Re'ei (15:7) "Do not shut your heart and do not close your hand from your needy brother"; In other words 'Do not let the characteristics of miserliness and meanness rule over you; but rather train your heart in the Midos of generosity and pity. Nor should you think that you will suffer a financial loss (by giving him), since, as the Pasuk continues, "it is on account of this thing that G-d will bless you" - and one brief moment of His blessing is worth more than numerous treasuries filled with silver and gold.

A reason for the Mitzvah of Tzedakah the author already presented in the Parshah of "Im Kesef talveh" (Mitzvah 66), in Mishpatim, together with some of the Dinim and issues surrounding it.


Mitzvah 479:
To Give Tzedakah According

to One's Means

It is a Mitzvah to do tzedakah with Simchah and with a good heart to one who needs it to give from our money to those who do not have, and to assist a poor man in whatever he is lacking Parnasah-wise as much as we possibly can, as the Torah writes in Parshas Re'ei (15:8) "You shall surely open your hand (poso'ach tiftach) to him". It is from the double expression that the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (38b) learns "poso'ach tiftach" - even many times. Furthermore the Torah writes in B'har (25:35) " and you shall hold on to him, both the Ger and the native, and he shall live with you". And moreover it says (Ibid. 36) " and your brother shall live with you".

A reason for the Mitzvah the author already presented in the Mitzvah of lending a poor in his hour of need (Mitzvah 66), in Parshas Mishpatim.

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