Weekly Reading Insights: Teruma 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Teruma

To be read on 4 Shvat 5766 (March 3-4)

Torah: Exodus 25:1-27:19; Haftorah: Kings I 5:26-6:13 (details of building the First Temple)

Teruma is the 7th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 19th overall, and 43rd out of 54 in overall length.

Teruma primarily concerns the preparations for building the tabernacle. the Jews were commanded to offer the necessary material for the tabernacle. Specifications were given for the construction of the ark, table, showbread, menorah, sacrificial altar, and their accompanying equipment; the outer and inner curtains, coverings, beams, pillars, and outer encompassing enclosure of the tabernacle.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:1966/Truma)

But an atmosphere of holiness is not like that; it [is acquired] only when one pays the full price, with much intense effort, purification of one's body and one's home, and with the will of the heart and the soul. If only [every]one could earn [the privilege] of having the Holy Blessed One making His dwelling within him[2]. In this regard it states, "[...have them take Me an offering] from every man" - from whoever is called "a man" [in Hebrew, "ish"] - i.e. one who has conquered his inclination to evil.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:1966/Teruma)

Similarly, when we remove the Torah [scroll] from the ark [in the synagogue], we are [in effect] removing the Torah, i.e. chochma, from the ark, i.e. malchut of bina. We then take it to the reader's platform, i.e. malchut.

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From Rabbi Moshe Alshich (O:1966/Teruma)

A similar concept of man's actions being matched in celestial spheres, is expressed in Bamidbar Rabba 12:12: We are told there that when Israel erected the Tabernacle, G-d told the angels to erect a celestial counterpart. That sanctuary is called the "Tabernacle of the youth Metatron"; there the souls of the righteous would be offered during the period Israel is in exile, as atonement for the Jewish nation.

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"They shall take to Me an offering." (25:2)
Our Sages stated: "Money is more dear to the righteous than their own bodies." At first glance this seems wholly inappropriate. How can wealth be so important to a truly righteous person? However, the Maharam of Lublin explained that only the righteous perceive the true power of money and the great good that can be done with it. How many mitzvot can be accomplished, how many poor people fed and Jewish educational institutions maintained!
(Maayana Shel Torah)

"They shall make an ark of shittim wood, two-and-a-half cubits its length, one-and-a-half cubits its breadth, and one-and-a-half cubits its height." (25:10)
The dimensions of the ark were measured in "halves" to teach us that a Jew must be humble and "brokenhearted" when learning Torah, as the Talmud states (Sukka): "Words of Torah endure only in one who makes himself as if he does not exist."
(Rebbe Moshe Leib of Sasover)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"They should take for me (li) teruma" (Ex. 25:2)
Our sages taught that wherever G-d says "for me", it means that it will last
forever. It is also written "li" regarding the kingship of the House of David, the Holy Temple, the altar, the anointing oil, and Teruma. When Mashiach comes, we will give Teruma in order to build the third Holy Temple.

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1966/Teruma)

May this Torah essay merit the fast and complete recovery of Devorah Gittel bas Baila

This week's Torah reading is about the commandment to build the Tabernacle, our traveling Temple and main vehicle for connecting to G-d during the time we were in the desert (and our first four centuries in Israel). There are three different opinions about when the commandment to build Tabernacle was given:
1) Zohar (II: 224a): the commandment (as well as the bringing of the contributions to the Tabernacle) was immediately after the giving of the Ten Commandments, before the sin of the Golden Calf (40 days later).
2) Midrash (Tanchuma, Teruma, chapter 8): the commandment and contributions were at the time of the first Yom Kippur, after the sin of the Golden Calf, to make it known to all of the nations that we had been forgiven.
3) Zohar (II:195a): G-d commanded Moses before the Jewish people sinned with the Golden Calf, but Moses did not give it over until after Yom Kippur.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that each opinion presents us with a radically different image of the stance of the Jewish nation at the time of the making of the Tabernacle. According to the first opinion, that the command was before the sin of the Golden Calf, the Jews were totally righteous, because the process involved in the escape from Egypt and the giving of the Torah totally cleansed them from any impurity acquired during their sojourn in Egypt.

According to the second opinion, that it was after Yom Kippur, the Jewish people had atoned for the sin and were "baalei teshuva", literally "masters of return"; a baal teshuva is someone who has "tasted the world" and chosen to return to a greater all-encompassing connection to G-d. The third opinion, that the giving of the command was before the sin, yet the fulfillment was after the atonement, means that even during the interim, when the Jews were in an evil and disgraceful state, the commandment to build a dwelling place for G-d was in force.

Each of these opinions teaches us something unique regarding our own journey to serve G-d:

(1) When a person is on the level of a tzadik, a totally righteous person (or even someone who simply sees himself well established in Judaism), it might be presumed that he does not need a Tabernacle, something to help them serve G-d on this plane. He might assume that one can be divorced from the physical, involved only in spiritual matters like prayer, contemplation and Torah study. But think again! The Torah commands, "Make Me a Tabernacle, so that I can dwell among you." Even a tzadik needs to take the physical and transform it into a vehicle to serve G-d.

(2) On the other hand, a baal teshuva could think that since the world already tripped him up, it would be best to disconnect, for some amount of time anyway, throwing oneself totally into spiritual actions, so as not to fail again. We are told that even a baal teshuva has to transform the physical into a spiritual environment. In fact, this makes his return to G-d even more secure and powerful!

(3) But what about the wicked person, someone still grounded in negative behavior. We would think that certainly he has no place building G-d a sanctuary until after repenting. For this reason, the third opinion comes to teach us that the command and need to build a sanctuary was not nullified even at the time of the sin of the Golden Calf. The obligation and the ability to take the physical and transform it into something spiritual existed even during the darkest time, before the Jews repented.

Is a person so absolutely distant from G-d still commanded to do the most sublime divine act, to build a sanctuary for G-d? The answer is that even a Jew enmeshed in evil, if he or she will turn, even a bit, towards the truth that is accessible to each of us with just a little effort, G-d helps him or her to complete the personal transformation.

Shabbat Shalom , Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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