Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Parshas Terumah - "Walking the Walk"

Quickie/Funfact: The Torah relates all of the materials that people donated for the Mishkan. The Torah lists GOLD, SILVER, AND COOPER. TURQUOISE, PURPLE, AND SCARLET WOOL. LINEN AND GOAT HAIR…SHOHAM STONES AND STONES FOR THE SETTINGS FOR THE EPHOD AND THE BREASTPLATE. (25:3-7) The list seems to be in descending order of value beginning with gold and working its way down to the less valuable items. Why, then, does it mention the expensive shoham stones and the setting stones at the end of the list?

The Or HaChaim HaKadosh answers that the Shoham and setting stones differed from the other items donated to the Mishkan. Since they were on the garments of the Kohein Gadol, they could be used for non-holy purposes when the Kohein was not on duty. (See Yoma 68b) Everything else donated to the Mishkan was halachically holy and not usable for a secular purpose. Therefore, the items which were less holy were relegated to the end of the list.*

*From R' Dov Lipman

Shemos 25:2 "Speak to the children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion."

"At the moment that Bnei Yisrael said, Naaseh V'nishma, immediately thereafter Hashem said, Vayikchu Li Terumah" – Medrish

After the Revelation at Sinai, Bnei Yisrael made an astounding declaration, "we will do and we will hear". In essence, Bnei Yisrael, as a cohesive unit made the decision that anything and everything that was commanded of them at Sinai, they would accept upon themselves as part of the yoke of heaven.

This proclamation however was not just a slip of the tongue, but it was a well thought out and sincere announcement to the Ribbono Shel Olam that his creed was their one of choice.

There is a Midrash at the beginning of Parshas HaAkeida (Tanchuma Vayeira Perek 18) that brings down a discourse that happens between Yishmael and Yitzchak. At first Yishmael claims, "I am greater than you, for I went through excruciating pain when I was circumcised at the age of thirteen; you however, experienced no pain while being circumcised at the negligible age of eight days." Yitchak Rebutted, "You are right my brother, I did experience only minimal pain at the time of my circumcision, nonetheless, you only sacrificed a little bit of pain, for I would be willing to give up my life for Hakadosh Baruch Hu if it was asked of me."

Immediately after this discourse, the Torah continues with, "VaYihi Achar Hadivarim HaEleh". After Yitzchak's honest and powerful proclamation of solidarity to the Ribbono Shel Olam, Hashem tested him, by having Avraham take him to the Akeida.

After hearing a similar proclamation of solidarity from Klal Yisrael at Har Sinai, why did Hakadosh Baruch Hu put them through such a minimal challenge like that of Terumah. One would assume that Hashem would put them through a cataclysmic test that would stand as a true testament of their loyalty, similar to that of Yitzchak?

Harav Eliezer Simcha Weiss of Kfar Roeh answers that the test of Terumah was in fact a true challenge of Klal Yisrael's sincerity and loyalty. Fore after leaving Mitzrayim, Bnei Yisrael were downtrodden and penniless. Nonetheless Hakadosh Baruch Hu awarded them by giving them the worldly possessions of their Egyptian oppressors both before their Exodus from Egypt as well as on the Shores of the Yam Suf after the astounding miracle of the splitting of the sea.

After the making of the Proclamation of "Naaseh Vinishma", Hashem realized that Klal Yisrael was mesmerized and under the trance of materialism that worldly pleasures bring. Similar to the Nisayon of Yitzchak, Hashem asks Bnei Yisrael to give of themselves ( Nidava – a voluntary contribution) for the upkeep of the Torah by giving Terumah. The Test of Terumah was in fact the ultimate challenge for Hashem to measure the true sincerity of Klal Yisrael to His Torah.

Just like Yitzchak made the proclamation that he would give his entire life for Hashem, and Hashem tested him on his statement. Klal Yisrael made the proclamation of "Naaseh Vinishma", so Hashem also tested them on their willingness not only to listen but to live his Torah. Realizing that Klal Yisrael was in a state of prosperity, Hashem tested them on a mitzvah that one would assume they would be most reluctant to observe, the giving of Terumah.

Seemingly the challenge posed to our forefathers at Sinai is everlasting and is still very much existent today. It is not enough for us to simply accept the yoke of heaven upon ourselves verbally, but we must take action when the challenge is posed, we must both defend and proactively practice the words of the Torah as our primary and integral focus of life.


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Karl Marx said...
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