Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 2014 5774

We read this week about instructions given to Bnei Israel through Moshe to build a Mishkan or sanctuary for Hashem. The Torah says: וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ, “They shall make a sanctuary for Me…” (Ex. 25,8) The next verse reads: כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ, “Like everything that I show you…”. That means that definitive instructions were given about every detail of the construction of the Mishkan.

There is another sanctuary that every Jew builds when he gets married. The new home that is established should also be a Jewish sanctuary. Here there are no detailed instructions given anyplace. The reason for that is that to build a home that will radiate Judaism and one in which children will grow up with respect for others and adherence to Jewish principles depends on numerous factors.

Not every situation is the same. To reach the desired results depends on the background of the parents, the temperament of the children, the environment in which the family lives, and many other factors. To generate the ideal home depends on the dynamics of the family. Although the exact instructions are not given, the guidelines, nevertheless, are found in the teachings of Judaism.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 5773 2013

The theme of this week’s Sidra is the construction of the משכן or Tabernacle in the Wilderness. This was later to serve as the model for the בית המקדש or the Temple in Yerushalayim. In the משכן there were two rooms, one of which was called קודש or Holy and one was called קודש הקדשים or Holy of Holies. Certain functions by the Kohanim were carried out in the room called Holy. The Holy of Holies was reserved only for the High Priest to enter once a year on Yom Kippur. There was a partition separating these two rooms.

Among the items in the Holy room were a table that contained the “Show Bread” which was replaced every week and the Menorah which was lit every day. Harav Kook, the first chief Rabbi of Israel, points out that these two items represent the blessings of prosperity in the world. The table represented the material and physical blessings. The Menorah represented the spiritual blessings of the world.

The Rabbi indicated that there was no partition between them. This suggested that both the material and spiritual matters in the world need not be relegated to different parts of our lives. They can exist with each other simultaneously without conflict. That is why there was no partition between them.

This room was separated, however, from the Holy of Holies with a curtain. The Holy of Holies contained the Torah. It was separated from everything else because it was sacrosanct and stood above all else. It was the word of Hashem and was not to be on a level with our material needs nor even with our spiritual requirements.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 5772 2012

The construction of the Mishkan and the various items that are to be included in it are described in great detail. One of the items is הָאָרֹן, or the Ark. The Torah calls this ark אֲרוֹן הָעֵדֻת, “…the ark of testimony…”.(Ex.25,22) Why is the Ark given this name?

The Torah itself answers this question. It gives two reasons. First, Moshe was told: וְנָתַתָּ אֶל הָאָרֹן אֵת הָעֵדֻת, “You shall place in the Ark the Testimony…”. (Ex. 25,16) The tablets of stone, containing the Ten Commandments, were to be placed in the Ark. These tablets serve as the testimony that our people stood at Mt. Sinai and heard Hashem proclaiming the commandments by which we Jews have lived for centuries. This is one reason why the Ark was given the designation הָעֵדֻת or “testimony”.

The Torah gives us another reason. וְנוֹעַדְתִּי לְךָ שָׁם, “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the Ark cover…” (Ex. 25,22) The Ark is thus being designated as the meeting place between Hashem and Moshe who represents the Jewish people. This is another explanation why the Ark was called הָעֵדֻת or “testimony”. The name is so designated to remind us of a past event and to emphasize our closeness to Hashem.

Interestingly, the three major Jewish holidays are also called in the Torah מועדים and in singular מועד or “testimony”. The word הָעֵדֻת and מועד stem from the same root, עד, meaning “testimony”. We celebrate these holidays to remind us or to testify to the fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt. On each of these holidays, when the Temple stood in Yerushalayim, the Jews were instructed to journey to the Temple and to appear before Hashem.

The holidays serve the same purpose as the Ark. They testify about events of the past and demonstrate our closeness to Hashem.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 5771 2011

The Portion we read discusses the instructions given to Moshe concerning the TERUMAH or contributions Bnei Israel were to give to build the Mishkan. Chazal make a very perplexing statement when they say that for righteous people their money is more precious to them than their bodies. (Hul. 91a)

Rabbi Shapiro of Lublin (who started the practice of the Daf Yomi) explained it very simply. He said that righteous people use their money to help others. With money you can help the needy have food. With money you can help others establish themselves in business. With money you can help students obtain an education. These are things you cannot do with your body.

Money is a wonderful tool to accomplish many things. It is important only if you use it for the proper cause. It is not for your use alone. Rather, it is important for what you can accomplish with it for others.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 5770 2010

We read in this week’s Portion the instructions given to build the Mishkan. Naturally it was necessary to have all the supplies required for this project. Where was all the money, materials, and the work to come from? Hashem tells Moshe to ask the people to contribute these items. How much was each person expected to contribute? Hashem says: KOL ISH ASHER YIDVENO LIBO, “…every man what his heart motivates him…” (Ex. 25,2)

There was no prescribed amount. Everyone gives whatever he feels he should give. In the Book of VaYikra we will read about the sacrifices that were to be given in the Mishkan. We are told specifically what each individual must give for various transgressions. When it comes to the upkeep of the Mishkan nothing is left to chance. We are told explicitly a person’s obligations. It is not left up to his heart’s motivation. Why the difference?

The Torah recognizes human nature. The Torah knows that people are ready to give money and support the building of new facilities where they can put up a plaque or some other means of honoring or memorializing a name. Upkeep, on the other hand, has no way of showing who gave the donation or who is supporting the operations. We see this when a synagogue or a school is being built. People contribute generously, but when support is needed to keep functioning it is difficult to get people to contribute.

Hence, to build the Mishkan it was not necessary to tell people what to give. When it came to keep the Mishkan functioning with the sacrifices they were given specific instructions what each individual must contribute.

Dvar Torah Parshat Terumah 2009 5769 דבר תורה פרשת תרומה

One of the items that was constructed to be used in the Mishkan was the Menorah. The Menorah had six branches and a stem. The unique feature of the Menorah was that it had to be constructed MIKSHA, “hammered out”.. (Ex. 25,31) Rashi explains that this means its parts were not to be created separately and then attached the way many of the other utensils were created.

A Rabbi once suggested that there was a significant reason for this. The branches represented different factions of Jews. They corresponded to diverse kinds of Jews, each living his Judaism in a different style. Though this is not the ideal situation and preferably Jews should live by observance of the Torah, nevertheless, all Jews, whether they observe or not, are part of the Jewish people.

Thus the different branches of the Menorah symbolized the various types of Jews, but the Menorah had to be constructed and hammered out from one solid piece. This was to emphasize the strong belief that all Jews comprise the Jewish peop

Dvar Torah Terumah 2008 – 5768 דבר תורה תרומה

In Mishpatim which we read last week we learned the laws of Judaism and they included laws dealing with business matters. In Judaism, business law is also considered religious law. In this week’s Sidra we are told about making contributions for the Mishkan, who had to contribute and how much and what was acceptable and what not.

A Torah commentary once asked, what is the reason for this particular juxtaposition of passages and why did Mishpatim precede Terumah. His answer was extremely meaningful for Jews to learn and adhere to.

We are being told that when we conduct ourselves in business we must do so with the greatest moral and ethical principles. We were first given the laws so we should know unequivocally how to behave and how to treat our fellow men. In every walk of life and in every one of our transactions we must bring to play our Jewish ethics so that people will recognize the wisdom of Judaism.