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Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Hebrew Academy of Cleveland

Parshas Truma

And let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him. (25:2)

Parashas Terumah is preceded by Parashas Yisro and Mishpatim, both parshios that focus on the halachic aspects of our lives. Parashas Yisro details the Revelation at Har Sinai and the Aseres Hadibros, Ten Commandments. Next is Parashas Mishpatim, containing many laws, most of which focus upon man's relationship with his fellow man. Parashas Terumah follows with Hashem's command that everyone is responsible to contribute towards the building of the Mishkan. A lesson can be derived from the sequence of the parshios. In order for Torah to survive, we must be willing to sustain it. Hachzokas ha Torah, sustaining those that study Torah, supporting those institutions in which Torah is taught and studied, ensures Torah's future.

The Midrash tells us that Klal Yisrael uttered the words, "Naase v'nishma", "We will do and we will listen," indicating their overwhelming dedication to the Torah. Hashem responded with the enjoinment, "V'yikchu Li Terumah," "and they shall take for Me terumah." Simply, Hashem was telling them: If you want to guarantee that the Torah which you have just accepted will remain a part of your future, then you must be willing to give terumah, to give up something to support the Torah.

The notion of donating towards the Mishkan reflects a deeper perspective. Indeed, as the commentators ask: If Hashem was asking for a contribution, the Torah should have said, "V'yitnu," "and they shall give." Why does it say, "V'yikchu," "and they shall take"? Horav Eliyahu Schlessinger, Shlita, cites Horav Eliyahu E. Dessler, zl, in the Michtav M'Eliyahu, who teaches us a profound lesson regarding the concept of "giving." It is commonly accepted that in order to achieve a relationship of affection, one must receive gifts from the other. For instance, children love their parents when they receive gifts from them; people develop an affection for others who give them gifts - regardless of the nature of the gift. Horav Dessler opines that this is not correct. It is the converse. One develops a feeling of affection for someone whom he has helped or bequeathed a gift on. When one devotes himself - his strength, effort, skill, his valuable time - to somebody, he develops a feeling of closeness, a feeling of kinship, a feeling of love. No, it is not by taking, but rather by giving, that one achieves this level in a relationship.

In the Talmud Bava Metzia 38a, Chazal say, "A man wants/would rather have his own kav (a small measure) than nine kavim of someone else's." Rashi explains that even though what he has is very little - it is still his; he has worked for it. We develop a relationship with the object of our own personal effort. In the Talmud Shabbos 88b, Chazal tell us that Hashem raised Har Sinai over the heads of Klal Yisrael saying, "If you accept the Torah, it will be good, but if you do not, here will be your grave." According to Chazal's statement, the original acceptance of the Torah was under coercion. We are taught that on Purim, Klal Yisrael accepted the Torah willingly and unequivocally. For a complete treatment of this concept, we would have to dedicate another paper. Suffice it to say: Klal Yisrael's original acceptance of the Torah is enigmatic. One can be forced to accept those mitzvos that are action- oriented. This is not true of those mitzvos that are heart-oriented, that focus upon one's emotion, such as loving Hashem and believing in Hashem. How can one be pressured to act in a way which comprises a response to a spontaneous emotion? Either one feels the emotion or he does not.

Horav Schlessinger explains that this was the underlying reason for the command to "take terumah" for the Mishkan. By availing Klal Yisrael the opportunity to give towards the Mishkan, Hashem was giving them the opportunity to develop ahavas Hashem and ahavas Torah u'mitzvos. The love would develop as they gave from their pockets and of themselves. By giving, one establishes a bond with the recipient. The Mishkan atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf. The origin of the sin lay in their lack of love for the Almighty. Had they manifest true ahavas Hashem, they would not have sinned.

All of the mitzvos that Hashem grants us are to fulfill this goal: to develop our ahavas Hashem. By performing His mitzvos, our love for Him becomes greater and more pronounced. This is consistent with the famous words of Chazal: Rabbi Chananya ben Akashiya says, "Hashem wanted to confer merit upon Yisrael. Therefore, He increased for them Torah and mitzvos." Hashem sought to give His nation the opportunity to love Torah and mitzvos. To accomplish this, He granted them a multitude of mitzvos. The more one performs mitzvos, the greater will be his desire and love for Him. Unfortunately, the converse is equally true.

They shall make an Ark of shittiim wood...You shall cover it with pure gold...and you shall make on it a gold crown all around. (25:10,11)

Three of the four primary Klei haMishkan, appertenances of the Mishkan, had crowns/ golden rims, decorating them: the Aron HaKodesh; Ark; the Shulchan, Table; and the Mizbayach, Altar. The Menorah, candelabra, did not. This fact corresponds with the words of Chazal in Pirke Avos, 4:13, "There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of Kehunah, priesthood, and the crown of malchus, kingship. The crown of shem tov, a good name, is greater than them all. " The Aron HaKodesh, which contained within it the two Luchos upon which were inscribed the Aseres Hadibros, Ten Commandments, corresponds with the kesser Torah, crown of Torah. The Mizbayach Hazahav, Golden Altar, upon which the Kohanim offered incense, corresponds to the kesser Kehunah. The Shulchan, upon which the special shewbread was placed, corresponds to the kesser malchus. The Menorah had no crown. It is parallel to the kesser shem tov, which uniquely does not need a crown. Why is this? What distinguishes the Menorah/shem tov from the other primary Klei Hamishkan?

The Shem Mishmuel offers a profound explanation, which is based upon an understanding of the concept of the "crown", that is represented by these objects of holiness. The Torah uses the word "zer" for the decorative crown. This word is closely related to the word "nazir," as in the nazirite who vows to dedicate his life to holiness. He maintains a sublime lifestyle, abstaining from wine and avoiding contact with a corpse for the designated period of nezirus. The reason for this is stated by the Torah, "For the nezer (crown) of G-d is upon his head." (Bamidbar 6:7) Ibn Ezra explains that while all human beings are subject to their earthly desires, the Nazir, who bears the crown of G-d, transcends these desires. He is a true king, for he reigns over himself. The "zer" signifies transcendence. It implies one's ability to raise himself above the common desires which captivate the average human being. As the crown of a king sits above his head, so, too, does the spiritual diadem set a person above the behavior pattern typical of the mundane physical world.

The three vessels which are surrounded by a zer: Aron - Torah; Shulchan - Malchus; Mizbayach - Kehunah, all suggest areas in which the individual must rise above potentially harmful elements. The foundation of Jewish life and observance is Torah study. Yet, this lofty experience can present a compelling challenge for one who is insecure. Superiority in Torah erudition may lead to arrogance and feelings of false superiority. The king also might permit the respect and honor accorded to him to go to his head. He might overrate himself so that he expects -- or even demands -- undeserved deference from his subjects. The Torah places specific restrictions upon the Jewish king in order to circumvent this risk. The Kohen also holds a position of importance. The community needs his spiritual guidance, his atonement and service in the Bais HaMikdash. To the unscrupulous, this can be an opportunity to take advantage of others. Whenever one has power, he has the potential for abuse. Thus, these three gifts to Klal Yisrael demand special safeguards to prevent their misuse. The crowns on the Aron, Shulchan and Mizbayach represent this constant challenge.

The Menorah which represents the shem tov, good name, which is attainable by everyone , has no crown. The lamps of the Menorah shine forth with the glow of the pure Divine light for all who wish to share in its brilliance. No potential for impropriety is associated with the Menorah. It is inherently good, shining its light for those who are prepared to receive it. Hence, the Menorah does not need the protective nature of the "zer."

The Shalosh Regalim, Three Festivals, are each associated with judgement. The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah 1:2 tells us that the world is judged at four junctures of the year: On Pesach for the grain; on Shavuos for the fruit; on Succos for the water. The Shem Mishmuel applies this thesis to the three festivals vis-a-vis Shabbos. Each of the Festivals can be related to one of the crowns. On Pesach, Klal Yisrael achieved nationhood. They became a royal nation, as a result of their unique relationship with the Almighty King. Thus, the crown of malchus is linked to Pesach. Shavuos, the Festival commemorating Kabolas HaTorah, corresponds with the kesser Torah. Succos, by its nature, represents the all encompassing embrace of the Almighty for all Jews. Succos is closely connected to Aharon HaKohen who embraced all Jews equally. Furthermore, the Ananei Ha'kavod, Clouds of Glory, which were granted to Klal Yisrael as a result of Aharon's merit, are commemorated by our succos until this very day. In these ways, Succos and Kehunah are strongly linked to each other.

As a result of the risk of danger associated with the three concepts, we must take care to ensure that one does not "lose it" on Yom Tov. The possibility for spiritual abuse is greater during these times. Thus, the need for constant introspection, and the added knowledge that Hashem is scrutinizing our behavior, lends an air of solemnity to the Festival.

In contrast, Shabbos contains no element of judgement. Shabbos is similar to the Menorah that has no golden rim, whose light shines pure and clear to all who seek it. Indeed, the Arizal states that there is no potential for abuse in the atmosphere that prevails during Shabbos. It is a day during which one can experience a feeling that is me'ein Olam Habah, of the spiritual pleasure of Olam Ha'Bah. Everything can be used for spiritual growth on Shabbos. May we all merit that day when this experience will be enjoyed by all of Klal Yisrael.

You shall make the planks of the Mishkan of shiitim wood. (26:15)

The Midrash Tanchuma tells us that these wooden planks were actually the result of Yaakov Avinu's foresight. He anticipated that his descendants would one day erect a Mishkan. Aware that such lumber did not exist in the wilderness, he brought them with him to replant them in Egypt. He instructed his children that when they would be liberated from the Egyptian exile, they should take these trees along with them. Yaakov taught his children that the future edifices of Klal Yisrael must be built upon the foundations of the past. We must keep in mind the mesiras nefesh, devotion to the point of self-sacrifice, of our ancestors as we build for our children. The dedication of those who lived before us should serve as a beacon of light to guide and inspire us.

We suggest another reason for Yaakov's decision to bring along the the shittim trees. Yaakov sought to underscore the importance of hakoras ha'tov, appreciation/ gratitude, for what others have done for us. All too often we conveniently forget who has helped us when we needed it most. We must always remember the origin of the atzei shittim, as well as the mesiras nefesh involved in transporting and caring for them. With this in mind, we will view every aspect of the Mishkan, which is a microcosm of the world, as a source of Hashem's beneficience. We will then be imbued with a sense of hakoras hatov to Hashem for all that we receive from Him. What better foundation blocks could there be for any edifice than the attribute of hakoras hatov?


1. How many terumos were there?

2. a. How many Avnei Shoham were there?

b. How many Avnei Milluim were there?

3. What was the distance between the Badei Ha'Aron?

4. Which of the Klei Ha'Mishkan had zeirim, rims/crowns?

5. What difference was there between the hooks used for the Yerios Ha'Mishkan and those of the Yerios Izim?

6. How many Badim were there in the Mishkan?

7. What prohibition applied to one set of the Badim?


1. Three;

a. The half-shekel designated primarily for the adanim. b. The half-shekel to purchase the Korbanos Tzibur. c. Terumas Ha'Mishkan, which included the thirteen items listed in the Torah that each individual donated according to his heart's desire.

2. a. Two Avnei Shoham b. Twelve Avnei Milluim

3. Two and one-half amos.

4. Aron, Shulchan, Mizbayach Ha'zahav

5. The ones used for the Yerios Hamishkan were made of gold, while the ones used for the Yerios Izim were made of copper.

6. Eight. Two for the Aron; two for the Shulchan; two for the Mizbayach Ha'Zahav; two for the Mizbayach Ha'Nechoshes.

7. The Badei Ha'Aron were never to be removed from their rings.

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