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Haftarah: Melachim I 5:26 - 6:13

FEBRUARY 8-9, 2008 3 ADAR I 5768


"Speak to the Children of Israel and they shall take to Me a portion" (Shemot 25:2)

Our perashah begins with the command to Moshe to notify the Israelites that they may donate funds and materials to construct the Mishkan. The word used to describe these donations is terumah (which is also the name of the perashah). Rashi explains that the term means something that is set aside. In other words, they should set some of their money aside for Hashem as a contribution. That takes care of the literal meaning of the word. However, that word is also familiar to us in another context. When a Jew has a harvest of grain, he is required to separate a certain amount of grain and give it to a Kohen. That separated amount is called terumah. The farmer can consume his harvest only after he separates the terumah. So in a sense, the remainder of the harvest becomes "improved" and is his to enjoy after he gives the terumah. Before the terumah is given, his grain is not really his, it is Hashem's. The Torah uses the same term, terumah, to describe a donation. So let us apply the same idea as real terumah. By one giving his donation he doesn't only perform a misvah with that money given, but he also improves the remainder of the money. It now becomes fully his to enjoy. May Hashem bless our earnings to be plentiful and a source of blessing. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Our sages were able to derive beautiful and practical lessons from the Mishkan and the utensils therein. The Hatam Sofer quotes his Rabbi, R' Nosson Adler who said that the Aron (Ark) symbolizes Torah study in this world. The Luhot (Tablets) it contained represented Torah, the Cherubim symbolized its students and the poles (badim) which were used to carry the Aron symbolized its supporters.

Let us develop this analogy further. The two Cherubim faced each other, underscoring the respect scholars afforded each other. At the same time, the Cherubim's faces were directed toward the Cover of the Aron containing the Tablets. This suggests that whatever differences may arise in scholars' interpretations of the Torah, those differences are based on each scholar's genuine attempt to interpret the Torah, as contained in the Tablets behind the Cover.

The poles of the Ark symbolize the supporters of the Torah, those who provide the financial wherewithal for the Torah's students. It is particularly significant that the poles were not functional. They remained in a stationary position, attached to the Aron even when it was resting. This teaches us that those who perceive that they are upholding the Torah are in reality being upheld by it. The poles did not support the Aron; the Aron upheld the poles. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And you shall overlay it with pure gold, from within and from without you shall overlay it" (Shemot 25:11)

The Bet Halevi infers that the Aron Hakodesh symbolizes the talmid hacham, Torah scholar. Just as the Aron was the holy receptacle which contained the Torah within it, likewise the Torah is contained within the talmid hacham. He is the embodiment of the Torah. The Bet Halevi posits that the Aron must be covered internally and externally with pure gold. Similarly, the material needs of the talmid hacham should be sustained both within and without. In addition to supporting the talmid hacham within his home, the community is likewise responsible for ensuring that he be "presentable" to people. He should not be relegated to dress or live in an impoverished manner.

The Bet Halevi's admonishment strikes at the core of our perspective. How often do we hear that the ben Torah or Kollel student has no "right" to live like "everyone else"? Who is to say that one who devotes his life to Torah study must be treated as a second class citizen. and that he and his family are not "permitted" to clothe themselves in the fashion accepted by contemporary Othodox society? Must their homes be tiny and unattractive in order to be acceptable as a Torah scholar's home? Undoubtedly, anyone who devotes his life to spiritual endeavor has negated materialism. Nonetheless, he has the right to certainly live in a comfortable, unostentatious manner, as befitting his station in life. (Peninim on the Torah)


"And the Kerubim shall be spreading out their wings on high…with their faces one towards another" (Shemot 25:20)

Every Jew must strive to attain both attributes which are implied by the Kerubim. He should "spread his wings upward," making every attempt to consecrate his whole being to Heaven. At the same time, however, it is necessary to maintain "their faces one towards another," concerning himself with his fellow Jews' welfare and seeking ways to be of service to his friends during their times of need.

These two behavioral patterns must be integrated into the personality of a Jew. Rather than being contradictory, they complement each other.

The Talmud (Baba Batra 99a) questions the disparity between two pesukim. The pasuk in our perashah describes the Kerubim as facing one another, while the pasuk in Dibrei Hayamim 2 (3-13) depicts them stating "Their faces were to the house." The Talmud responds that when B'nei Yisrael fulfilled Hashem's will, their virtuousness was reflected in the Kerubim embracing one another as a sign of Heavenly approval. When they did not properly uphold Hashem's misvot, however, the Kerubim turned away from one another. We may suggest that the Kerubim were not merely indicating Hashem's displeasure, but rather they were also portraying the source of his disappointment. When Jews are loving and caring to one another, they are fulfilling the will of Hashem. This effects a favorable response, represented by the Kerubim's embrace. When Jews turn away from each other, on the other hand, each one is concerned only with his own little world. This source of displeasure is likewise portrayed by the Kerubim. Our relationship with our fellow Jew reflects our orientation towards Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)


The Keli Yakar teaches that if we study the dimensions of the various items in the Tabernacle, we can learn some valuable lessons. Three items in particular which he discusses are the Aron (Ark), Shulhan (Table) and Mizbah Hazahab (Golden Altar).

The Aron was 2-1/2 by 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 amot (handbreadths). Note that all three dimensions are 'broken' (no one side is a whole number). Since the Aron represents spirituality, this teaches us that one must always look at himself as if he is only half-way there spiritually. He should never feel as if he's reached his goal and there is no room for improvement. He will then always strive to grow in Torah and misvah observance.

The Shulhan, which represents all the material blessings from Hashem was two amot by one amah by 1-1/2 amot. From the 'whole' sides, we learn that each person must be satisfied with the amount of blessing which Hashem has given him. He must believe that he has everything he needs, and that he lacks nothing. At the same time, the 'broken' side teaches that a person should not seek to fulfill all his desires. Rather, he should try to 'break' his hunger for material things.

The Golden Mizbeah's three dimensions were complete: one amah by one amah by two amot. The purpose of the Mizbeah was to atone for the sins of the people. Hence, it filled in what was lacking in them. The smoke which rose up from the incense on the Mizbeah repaired the damage to the soul and made it complete again. (Lekah Tob)

Answer to Pop Quiz: One hundred amot (cubits) by fifty amot.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

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