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

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Vol. 24   No. 19

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
R' Tzvi Meir ben R' Shimon Baruch Itzkowitz

Parshas Terumah

The Mishkan and Matan Torah

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and they shall take for Me a gift (in the form of thirteen raw materials with which to construct the Mishkon) from every man whose heart is willing you shall take My gift". This is what the pasuk says: "Because I have given you a good acquisition - My Torah - don't forsake it!" (Tanchumah)

It is, at first, difficult to understand as to why G-d deems it necessary to dwell with us here on earth, a place of sin and impurity. Would it not have been more befitting for Him to fix His abode, so to speak, in the Heaven together with the pure and righteous Angels? Unless, of course, He found it difficult to part with "His beloved daughter", the Torah.

Indeed, the Medrash gives a parable of a king who was marrying off his only daughter - of whom he was extremely fond. "I entreat you," he implored his future son-in-law, as the wedding day approached, "prepare me a room near my daughter, as I cannot bear to part from her."


It was because Hashem was about to hand over the Torah to the B'nei Yisroel, that He asked them to build Him a Mishkan - a central dwelling for His Shechinah, so that He could dwell in close proximity to His "daughter", and automatically, in so doing, he would create the triumvirate of Yisroel, Torah and G-d - here on earth. In this way, Klal Yisroel and Torah would be united - and that unity would be forever guided by the Divine Spirit. (This idea, incidentally, does not concur with Rashi's interpretation of the Mishkan as being purely an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, but rather with that of the Ramban, who views the construction of the Mishkan as a positive, intrinsic Mitzvah, to replace Har Sinai as the chosen central location for G-d's Divine Presence.)


The Medrash Tanchumah, which we cited earlier, now becomes clear. The giving of the Torah was indeed the very reason that Hashem ordained the construction of the Mishkan.

We can also now understand the hint cited in the Ba'al Ha'turim. 'The letters of "Terumah",' he explains, 'spell 'Torah Mem' to tell us that Yisroel were commanded to construct the Mishkan, because of the Torah that was to be given in40 days."

What we still need to understand however is what Klal Yisroel did to deserve the unique privilege of having Hashem in their midst? We know that Divine Inspiration always follows in the wake of an arousal on our part. What form did that arousal take, there in the desert?


The answer lies in another Medrash. The Tanno de'Bei Eliyohu writes that no sooner had the B'nei Yisroel proclaimed "Na'aseh ve'nishma", than Hashem said to Moshe: "And they shall take for Me a Terumah" (to construct the Mishkan).

The chief prerequisite required for Hashro'as Ha'Shechinah, explains the Yokor Mi'poz, is "self-nullification", for this is what the prophet Yeshayoh writes (66): "The Heaven is My Throne and the earth is My foot-stool. What sort of a house will you build for Me and where will My resting place be? I will look to the humble man and to the one broken in spirit and who trembles to carry out My word". In other words, he explains, it is because of the humble man and the man of broken spirit, who totally submits himself to the will of G-d, that it is possible to build a central dwelling for Hashem's Divine Presence. When B'nei Yisroel proclaimed "Na'aseh ve'nishma", accepting willingly and unconditionally whatever Hashem demanded of them, without having the least idea of what that would entail, they negated their own will before the will of Hashem, thus earning themselves the exclusive right to build a House for G-d, to bring the Shechinah down into their midst. In this way, the building of the Mishkan did not only coincide with the giving of the Torah, but was also inextricably linked to it, for it was the manner in which they received the Torah, the total self-nullification, that sparked off the building of the Mishkan.


It is possibly the proximity of the Parshah of Terumah, containing as it does the construction of the Mishkan, to that of Na'aseh ve'nishma at the end of Mishpatim, which led Chazal to the above connection. But in any event, we see from here that the manifestation of G-d's Divine Presence is linked to the acceptance of the Torah, and is therefore confined exclusively to the only nation to accept the Torah as was hinted in the first Medrash that we cited. And we see also that that acceptance must be total and unconditional, for should the slightest reservation prevail, Torah becomes subject to human limitations and, in that capacity, Hashem's Divine Presence cannot be justified.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the G'ro)

Adding - Subtracting

The Gemoro in Sanhedrin (29a) brings a proof that, in the realm of Torah and Mitzvos, someone who adds actually detracts, from the pasuk in this week's Parshah which writes (25:10) that the length of the Oron should be two and a half Amos.

Rashi explains that this refers to the words "amosayim va'chetzi orko" (two and a half Amos is its length), and if one were to omit the Alef in "Amosayim", it would read "mosayim" meaning "two hundred". So we see that one can add (many amos on to the two of the Torah), and in doing so, one actually detracts from the Torah's intention.

The Maharsho asks on Rashi that it would have been senseless to omit the alef from "amosayim" , because then we would not know whether the Torah was referring to two hundred amos, two hundred tefochim or two hundred finger-breadths. He therefore explains the Gemoro differently.

The G'ro explains that the Gemoro is referring, not to the alef in "amosayim", but to the vov in "vochetzi", which, if the vov were missing, would read "amosayim chatzi orkoh" - meaning "two amos equals half the length", in other words, the full length of the Oron should be four amos; and that is the addition to which the Torah is referring.


The Keruvim

The Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim, explains that the Keruvim symbolised the angels. The reason that there were two, was in order to negate the idea of Divinity, since G-d alone is one. Nor is it likely that people will now ascribe Divine power to two G-ds (chas ve'sholom) because, by spreading their wings upwards, the angels were demonstrating that they drew their supernatural attributes from above - in other words, the influence that they were bringing to bear upon the physical beings was not self-generated, but was received from a source that was superior to themselves, namely that of G-d.

The importance of the angels, the Rambam explains, is second only to the importance of Hashem Himself. Why is that?

Because the angels are responsible for presenting prophecy into the mouths of the prophets. In other words, G-d's communication with us, through the words of the prophets, is possible only through the medium of the angels.


In similar vein, one could also apply the explanation of Rabeinu Bachye, regarding the ladder in Ya'akov's dream, which he explains, represented the way in which all of Hashem's decisions were implemented through the angels to this world, via the world of the sun, moon and stars - the heaven.

Similarly here, the Oron represented G-d's throne, the Keruvim, the angels, to teach us that although everything that transpires in this world, comes to us through the angels, ultimately it is G-d who is Master of the world and who is directly responsible for all that transpires.


The above explanation explains G-d's communication with us. But how about our communication with Him?

That too, is symbolised by the Keruvim, but in a completely different way.

Rabeinu Bachye writes how Chazal depict the two Keruvim as demonstrating G-d's love towards Yisroel, and the unifying force that binds them together. And in one of two explanations he explains how the purpose of that demonstration was to arouse Yisroel to daven directly to Hashem, and not through a medium. At one and the same time, the Keruvim on the Oron served as a reminder that Hashem's communication with us comes through the angels, and that our communication through to Him is direct.


All Hands on Deck

The Mishnah in Shekolim gives the measurements of the Poroches as forty amos by twenty, adding that three hundred Kohanim used to tovel it when it became tomei.

Indeed, the Gro explains that that was precisely the number of Kohanim needed to tovel it. How is that?

The area of the Poroches amounted to 120 amos. Since the vessels of the Beis Ha'Mikdosh were made of amos consisting of 5 tefochim, the area of the Poroches in tefochim was 600. Considering that each Kohen had two hands, that would allow exactly 300 Kohanim to help hold it as it was being tovelled. It appears that, in their eagerness to participate in the mitzvah, every Kohen who was able, held on to the Poroches to assist in the tevillah, there would have been room for exactly three hundred Kohanim to participate.

The Tiferes Yisroel in Shekolim queries the G'ro from a Gemoro in Chullin (90b), where it includes this Mishnah in one of three Chazal which it calls an exaggeration, and Rashi explains that it certainly did not require so many Kohanim to tovel it and that that is the exaggeration to which the Gemoro is referring.

The G'ro himself, however raises this point, and he explains that it is not the number of Kohanim which is the exaggeration, but the number of 820,000 threads (or, some say, the number of girls that helped to weave it), to which the Mishnah also refers, that is the exaggeration of which the Gemoro is speaking.

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