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

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Vol. 21   No. 19

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Parshas Terumah

Some Thoughts on the Menorah
The Mishkan and the Creation

"And you shall make a Menorah of pure gold, beaten it shall be made …" (25:31).

Citing the Medrash Tanchuma, which compares the construction of the Mishkan with the creation of the world, the Oznayim la'Torah explains how the order of the major vessels, as Betzalel constructed them and as they appear in the Torah, follows the order of the creation.

First, the Torah discusses the Aron - corresponding to the Torah, which preceded the world. Then comes the Shulchan, with the Lechem ha'Panim, which symbolizes sustaining the world - corresponding to the creation of the vegetation and the fruit-bearing trees, which were created on the third day; and that is followed by the Menorah, which illuminated the Mishkan - corresponding to the creation of the sun and moon, which were created on the fourth day.


Moshe's Problem


"Commenting on the words "The Menorah shall be made", Rashi explains that Moshe had difficulty with the instructions that he had received at Sinai, so the Menorah constructed itself (so to speak).

It wasn't just the fact that the Menorah, together with all its accesories had to be made out of one piece of gold that stymied Moshe, the Oznayim la'Torah explains. It was also the fact that, other than that the overall measurement was one Kikar, he had not been given any specifications - regarding its height, its width, its base, branches or any of the ornaments that were to enhance it.



"Three goblets with pictures" (25:33).

This is how Rashi translates the word "meshukodim".

According to other commentaries (the Rashbam, the Ib'n Ezra and the Rambam) "meshukodim" means with almonds carved into them. Bear in mind that 'shekeidim' are almonds.


The Wrong Order?

"Their knobs and branches shall be (carved) from it (the lump of gold)" 25:36.

Surely, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, the Torah ought to have first mentioned the branches - an intrinsic part of the Menorah, before mentioning the knobs, which are merely ornaments! Moreover, one might add, why mention the knobs, over and above the goblets and the flowers (that also adorned the Menorah)? The author therefore reminds us that the three knobs on the stem of the Menorah served as the base to the three sets of branches, and that would have to be shaped before the branches.


The Lamps and the Lights

" … you (Moshe) shall make its seven lamps, and he (Aharon) shall kindle its lamps so as to shine towards its face" (25:37).

The Oznayim la'Torah remarks how the Torah switches here, from the second person to the third; and he explains that although Moshe was commanded to oversee the construction of the Mishkan and all its accessories, it was Aharon who kindled the Menorah.

Rashi explains that the face of the Menorah is the middle stem with the lamp on top. And when the Torah writes "to kindle its lamps so as to shine towards its face", it means that the three wicks on either side of the middle one, should fact the middle one.

The Oznayim la'Torah, citing the Ra'm, poses the well-known question, as to why the Torah refers to "the seven lamps", since it was only six lamps that turned inwards to face the middle one?

On the basis of this Kashya, the author concurs with the Ha'mek Davar, who disagrees with Rashi. He explains that the 'front of the Menorah' refers literally, to the side of the Menorah where the Kohen stood when kindling it - on the east of the Menorah closer to the entrance of the Mishkan, facing the west. What the Torah therefore means is that all seven lamps had to face the east, irrespective of whether the Menorah was placed from north to south or from east to west. In fact, the author points out, this conforms with the Gemara in Menachos (27) which states that whenever the Torah uses the word "P'nei" it refers to the east. It is also logical to learn like this, because now that the lights faced eastwards, away from the Kodesh Kodshim, it removed the possibility that people might say 'le'Oro Hu tzorich" (that G-d needs its light). Because seeing as the lights faced the entrance of the Heichal, it was clear that the ones to benefit from its light were the Kohanim who entered the Heichal from the Azarah.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

A Change of Destiny

"And G-d spoke to Moshe saying … Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and they shall take for Me a gift …" (25:1 & 2).

This Parshah, says the Oznayim la'Torah, was said to Moshe when he ascended Har Sinai the first time. It was said to him appropriately, after hearing from G-d "When My angel will go before you and bring you to the land …" (in Mishpatim 23:23).

What G-d was telling him was that it would no longer be necessary to ascend Har Sinai to communicate with Him, because after entering Eretz Yisrael, they would 'build Him a Mikdash in which He would dwell' and they would communicate there (See Pesukim 8 & 9).

This was the original plan, and, had Yisrael not worshipped the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabeinu would have returned to the camp, the two Luchos in hand, they would have entered Eretz Yisrael and taken it over - with Moshe Rabeinu at their head, without drawing a sword from its scabbard. They would then have built the Beis-Hamikdash, which would have stood forever. And, it would appear, that this would have been the era of Mashi'ach.

This is what could have happened - what would have happened, had Yisrael not worshipped the Golden Calf.

But they did worship the Golden Calf, and everything changed.

Moshe passed on the initial message, not in Tamuz, as was originally intended, but in Tishri (a day after Yom Kipur), three months later. By then, Yisrael's fate had been sealed; they would all die in the desert, after wandering there for forty years, and as a result (albeit an indirect one) Moshe would ultimately be denied entry into Eretz Yisrael too.

Consequently, they would build, not a Mikdash (yet), but a Mishkan, which would accompany them on their travels until they entered the Land and settled down in it many, many years later. And consequently, even the Mikdash that they would build would not stand permanently.


When One Gives to Hashem

"… and they shall take for Me a gift" (Ibid.)

The question that everybody asks is that, what the Torah ought to have said is not "and they shall take for Me (ve'yikchu Li) a gift", but 'they shall give to Me (ve'yitnu li) a gift'?

A popular answer is that we never really give G-d anything. All we can really do is repay a little of the kindness that He does with us, 'every day, at all times and every hour'.

The Oznayim la'Torah explains that this is particularly true of T'rumos and Ma'asros (bearing in mind that the Torah refers to the current gift as 'T'rumah'), about which the Navi in Mal'achi (3) writes "Bring all the Ma'asros to the store-house (in the Beis-Hamikdash), and let it be sustenance. Test Me with this, if you will, says Hashem … See if I do not open the skylights of the Heaven, and shower you with endless blessings" (3:10).

Whenever one gives T'rumos and Ma'asros, one receives B'rachos in exchange.


Facing Each Other, Facing the Kapores

"And the K'ruvim (the Cherubs) … facing each other, towards the Kapores (the lid of the Aron) shall the faces of the K'ruvim be" (25:20).


The Rashbam explains that looking towards each other was synonymous with looking towards the middle of the lid of the Aron, which housed the Luchos. The Oznayim la'Torah elaborates. Chazal explain that when the Torah writes in Parshas Yisro that Yisrael encamped ("vayichan", in the singular) opposite Har Sinai, it is teaching us that this was the only occasion when Yisrael encamped of one accord 'like one man, with one heart'.

Yisrael is a nation that comprises strong-willed individuals, and the sole force that unites them is the Torah. That is why the Torah writes (in Ki Savo, in connection with Kabolas ha'Torah) "Today you became a nation".

And the author cites Rabeinu Sa'adya who also writes that our claim to nationhood is through the Torah, and only through the Torah. Without the Torah, we are not only scattered among the nations, as Haman told Achashverosh, we are scattered (disunited) among ourselves.

And that is the lesson of the K'ruvim - It is only when we look towards the Torah that we are really looking towards one another and merge into one united nation.


Torah & Avodah

"And into the Aron you shall place the Testimony (the two Luchos)" 25:16.

The Oznayim la'Torah explains that, on the one hand, the Beis-ha'Hamikdash was the epicenter of Avodah (both regarding the Avodas ha'Korbanos, and the Avodah she'ba'Lev (Tefilah), as Shlomoh ha'Melech stated in his prayer following the completion of the Beis-Hamikdash ("And You will listen to the prayers of Your servant and of Your people, when they will Daven to you to this place"). Whilst on the other, the holiest area in the Beis-ha'Mikdash and therefore the most important, was the Kodesh Kodshim, which housed the Aron and the Torah.

The major activity may have taken place in the Azarah (the courtyard), but the decisions (concerning the wellbeing of Yisrael) took place in the Kodesh Kodshim. This indicates that the Avodah can only achieve its purpose when the Torah is in the Kodesh Kodshim.


The one day in the year, when the status of the Avodah is placed on a par with that of Torah, is on Yom Kipur. On Yom Kipur, the Kohen Gadol enters the Kodesh Kodshim (the location of Torah) and performs the Avodah there. Then he goes into the Azarah (the location of Avodah) and reads the Torah there. On Yom Kipur, Torah and Avodah merge into one.


The K'ruvim on the Paroches

And the Mishkan you shall make, ten curtains …K'ruvim, the work of a craftsman (ma'aseh choshev) you shall make them" (26:1).

Commenting on the words "ma'aseh choshev", Rashi explains that pictures were woven into them, one on either side of the curtain - a lion on one surface and an eagle on the other.

The Oznayim la'Torah, quoting the Ra'm, explains that Rashi is merely giving an example to illustrate the meaning of "ma'aseh choshev", but that it was not necessarily a lion and an eagle that were woven into the curtains. And this indeed, is what Rashi himself comments in Shabbos.


On the other hand, it may well be that the Medrash (which Rashi is presumably quoting) should be taken literally, and that the pictures are meant to depict the holy creatures that support G-d's Kisei ha'Kavod. These represent the Throne of Glory [man, king of the world], lion [king of the beasts], eagle [king of the birds] and ox [king of the animals].

Man was depicted on the faces of the K'ruvim, the lion and the eagle, and on the facades of the curtains, whereas the ox was omitted, so as not to be reminiscent of the sin of the Golden Calf.

* * *

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