Saturday, February 14, 2015

T'rumah 5775

The Torah Portion of "T'rumah" 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l

Why does Torah Portion of T'rumah (in English: an offering or donation), immediately follow the Torah Portion of Mishpatim (in English: judicial laws and ordinances)?  

The Beit Levi explains that in the beginning before a man does the Mitzvah of giving Tzedaka (charity) wiith his money, he needs to see to it that his money was earned lawfully without the slightest dishonesty.  For if he doesn't do that, the Tzedaka that he gives will not be effective for him at all.  Similarly a Lulav which is stolen is disqualified, because it would be a Mitzvah which comes about by means of doing an Aveirah (transgression).  Therefore the Torah told them first about"Mishpatim" (judicial laws and ordinances) and afterwards about the donation for the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

"And they shall take (to) Me an offering". (Shemot 25:2)   

The commentators ask, shouldn't it have been written "And they shall give"?  The Sages say that more than the rich person gives to the poor person, the poor person gives to the rich person.  By virtue of the poor person's acceptance of a donation from the rich person,  the rich person is able to fulfill the great Mitzvah of Tzedaka.  This is the explanation of "And they shall take" -- that the act of giving is in its very essence an act of taking.

"And they shall take (to) Me an offering". (Shemot 25:2)  

It is written in the Tanach that "Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold" (Chaggai 2:8).  It would therefore seem that it is not appropriate to speak of giving an offering to the Holy One Blessed Be He, since all the money really belongs to Him.  But the explanation is that the main thing that the Holy One Blessed Be He requests from the Children of Israel is that when we give an offering to Hashem, we should give it with a full heart.  That is why it is written "whose heart makes him willing" (Shemot 25:2).  The physical act of donating  is in itself not doing anything, since "Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold", but the act of giving with a full heart is the main point of the donation.

"From every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering."  (Shemot 25:2)

At the time when the Chafetz Chaim was about to construct the building for his Yeshiva, a Jew came to him and said "Rabbi!  Hashem graced me with wealth and I want to merit the great Mitzvah of constructing the Yeshiva  entirely from my funds."   The Chafetz Chaim answered him: "Your intention is praiseworthy, and Hashem should reward you for your good thoughts, but I cannot accept your offer.  The building of a Yeshiva, a place of Torah, is a Mitzvah, and it is necessary to give every Jew the possibility of participating.  Thus we find in the case of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  The Holy One Blessed Be He said 'From every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take (to) Me an offering'.(Shemot 25:2)  According to the Sages, every single person in Israel had the financial capability to build the Mishkan all by himself.  Nonetheless, the Torah commanded: 'From every man', so that every person in Israel would have a portion in the construction of the Mishkan."

"And they shall make Me a Mikdash (Sanctuary), so that I may dwell among them". (Shemot 25:8) 

Why was it written "among them"? Shouldn't it  have said "within it", that is to say, within the Mikdash?  The Alshich Hakodesh explained that the intention of this verse is that each one of us needs to make a Sanctuary within his own heart, so that it should be a dwelling place for the Shechina (Divine Presence).  Thus, when the verse says "so that I may dwell among them", it  means "within the heart of every single person".

"And they shall make an Aron (in English: Ark)" (Shemot 25:10) 

Regarding the ark it is written "And they shall make", in the plural.  Regarding all the other vessels, it is written "And you shall make", in the singular.  The reason the Ark is different is because the Torah was within the Ark, and the intention of this verse is to show us that all of us are equals when it comes to the Torah, since every single person has a portion in it. (from the Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh)

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood;  two and a half Amot (in English cubits) shall be its length, and one and a half Amot shall be its width, and  and one and a half Amot shall be its height." (Shemot 25:10)  

All the measurements of the Ark are not whole numbers: two and a half Amot, one and half Amot,  and one and a half Amot.  This is to hint that someone who learns Torah needs to regard his position as being at only  the half-way point in his journey, and that he has not yet reached wholeness and completion. 

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood...And you shall overlay it with pure gold". (Shemot 25:10-11)  

Wood is a plant substance which continually grows; it develops without stopping and it also bears fruit.  In contrast, gold is the substance which is most stable; it doesn't rot or get rusty, and it preserves its qualities against every external influence.  The ark hints at the Torah, which has both the qualities of gold, in that it is eternal, and as well as the qualities of wood, in that it grows and causes others to grow.  The person that occupies himself with Torah renews himself and grows without stopping because he finds within it an infinite depth.

"And they shall make an Ark of accacia tree-wood...And you shall overlay it with pure gold". (Shemot 25:10-11)  

They made the ark of wood and gold.  This is a hint that the Torah belongs to everyone equally, whether we are poor or rich.  The wood hints at poor people and the gold hints at rich people.

"...from inside and from outside you shall cover it..." (Shemot 25:11)

The Ark hints at Talmidei Chachamim (Torah Scholars). Thus, what is meant by the phrase "from inside and from outside you shall cover it" is that a Torah Scholar needs to be the same on the inside as he is on the outside, as is discussed in the Gemara.  Also on the outside and also on the inside it needs to be recognizable that he is a Torah Scholar.  In addition the Beit Halevi explains, that one should not say, it's sufficient for the Torah Scholar if I provide him with essentials such as food so that his heart can be turn towards his Torah studies, but why does the Torah Scholar need to be glorified, and why should I increase my spending for him so that he should be dignified?  On this, a hint comes to us from the verse "from inside and from outside you shall cover it...".  That is to say, he should also look nice on the outside, for when one supports a Torah Scholar, he should financially cover both the "inside" and the "outside"; he should have inside his house what to eat, and also on the outside, he should look nice in the eyes of people in his clothing, and his apartment, and in all his matters.

"The staves shall remain in the rings of the Ark; they shall not be removed from it." (Shemot 25:15)

The Ramban wrote that the reason it is forbidden to remove the staves is because of the great holiness of the Ark, so that one should not carry the staves when it is not necessary.  And there are those who say that the Ark hints at those who learn Torah, and the staves hint at those who support the learning of Torah (such as by financial means, emotional encouragement, etc.).  And this is the intention of this verse, that it is necessary to continue to support the learning of Torah without any interruption.

"And the cherubim shall be spreading out wings above, screening with their wings over the ark-cover..." (Shemot 25:20)

The cherubim had the appearance of young children, and this is a hint to the Tinokot Shel Beit Raban (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers), who learn Torah.  And that is the explanation of "screening with their wings", that they (the young children) are defending all of Israel and all of the world by means of their Torah learning, as the Sages stated: "The world would not exist except for the merit of the breath of the mouths of the young children learning Torah."

"...their faces one towards another..." (Shemot 25:20)

In the Gemara it is clarified that if Israel does the will of Hashem, then the faces of the cherubim are towards one another, but if G-d forbid they don't, then their faces are not pointed that way.  And there is a hint in this verse that the intention of "doing the will of Hashem" is precisely "their faces one towards the other"; that each of us needs to worry not only about himself, but also about other people.  But if he worries only about himself, then that is called "not doing the will of Hashem", G-d forbid.

"...and He placed  at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim..." (Breisheet 3:24)

Rashi says that the cherubim in this verse in the Torah Portion of Breisheet are angels of destruction, and in connection with the Aron the cherubim are a hint to Tinokot Shel Beit Raban (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers). This is because if the child is outside, we have  "angels of destruction", and if he is inside the Mishkan (Tabernacle) he is holy, and we have "Tinokot Shel Beit Raban" (young children in the house of their Torah Teachers).

"On three things does the world stand, on Torah, on Avodah, and on Gemilut Chasadim." (Avot 1:2)

In the Mishkan we find  hints to the three things which the world stands upon: Torah, Avodah (Divine Service), and  Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Kindness).  There were 48 boards within the Mishkan, in parallel  to the 48 ways of acquiring the Torah.  The sacrifices represent Divine Service.  And the middle bar (in Hebrew: Briach HaTikon) hints to Acts of Kindness.  The Sages explain that the middle bar was made from the Eshel  (tree) of Avraham Avinu a"h, where he received guests.  It is written in the Targum of Yonatan Ben Uziel that the angels cut down the Eshel of Avraham and threw it into the sea, where it floated on the face of the waters.  The angels shouted that the wood was from the Eshel of Avraham, so the Children of Israel took it and made the middle bar from it.  There were many miracles associated with the middle bar; its measure was 70 Amot and it entered into the walls of the Mishkan from its three sides completely, like a snake.  All this comes to hint to us that if we do these three things (Torah, Divine Service, and Acts of Kindness), this will bring about the revelation of the Shechina (Divine Presence), just like in the Mishkan.

The Mishkan vs. The Second Temple

The Sages say that within the Mishkan which was in the Wilderness, the revelation of  Shechina occurred on a daily basis,  just like on the day of Yom Kippur.  Aharon the Cohen HaGadol was able to enter the Holy of Holies every day just like on Yom Kippur, and so was Moshe Rabeinu.  But in the Temple of Hordus (in English: Herod), even though the Sages said that someone who did not see the building of Hordus never saw a beautiful building all his life, nonetheless  the Kohen HaGadol was only able to enter within the Holy of Holies on the day of Yom Kippur.  The revelation of the Shechina which occurred on Yom Kippur, did not occur every day.  We see from this that even though from an external viewpoint the Temple  was much more beautiful than the Mishkan (which was built from wooden boards and curtains); nonetheless, the main point is the internal aspect and not the external aspect.

The Three "Crowns" in the Mishkan

There were three Crowns in the Mishkan: the Golden Crown of the Ark which represents the Crown of Torah, the Golden Crown of the sacrificial Altar which represents the Crown of the Kehuna (i.e., the Cohen or Priestly class), and the Golden Crown of the Table which represents the Crown of Kingship.  (from Rashi)  Similarly, there are 3 times that the word "V'Nishma" (in English: "And we will hear") occurs in the Torah, in parallel to these three Crowns.  "Naaseh V'Nishma" ("We will do and we will hear") - this corresponds to the Crown of Torah (regarding the acceptance of the Torah in the Portion of Yitro and the Portion of Mishpatim, Shemot 24:7).  "Y'Nishma Kolo" ("And its voice will be heard") - this corresponds to the Crown of the Cohen (in the Torah Portion of Tetzaveh, Shemot 28:35, regarding the M'eil, the Robe of Aharon HaCohen HaGadol).  "V'Nishma Pitgam HaMelech" ("And the king's saying will be heard") - this corresponds to the Crown of Kingship (from Megillat Esther 1:20).

"And you shall make it a border" (Shemot 25:25)

Regarding the Table, it is written: "And you shall make it a border" (Shemot 25:25).  This comes to hint to us that at the table of a person during his meal, he needs to make a border around it, so that he doesn't fulfill all of his physical desires.  (from Kli Yakar)

"And the Menorah opposite the Table" (Shemot 26:35)

"And the Menorah opposite the Table" (Shemot 26:35) The Menorah hints to Torah, as it written, "A Candle is a Mitzvah and a Torah is Light".  The Table hints to Parnassah, a Livelihood.  And this is the intention of "And the Menorah opposite the Table", one thing faces the other.  For if there is no flour (Parnassah) there is no Torah, and if there is no Torah there is no Parnassah. (from Meforshim)

"And the Menorah opposite the Table." (Shemot 26:35) 

It is written by the Ramban, that by virtue of the Menorah there is an emanation of blessing and satisfaction to all of Israel, just as in the story about the prophet Elisha (Melachim II:4) -- by virtue of the cruze of oil, all of the vessels were filled with oil.

The Torah Portion of "T'rumah" has 96 verses, 2 positive commandments and 1 negative commandment. There is a one week break in the four special Torah Portions that we read for Maftir (last Shabbat we read Shekalim and the Shabbat after this one we read Zachor).The Haftorah is "V'Hashem Natan Chachmah" (Melachim Aleph 5) 

We say Borchi Nafshi.

"M'shenichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha"
"When Adar begins Happiness Increases"
May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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