Points to Ponder – Terumah 5774

From each person who shall donate from his heart (25:2) – The implication is that the donations here were to be volunteered. Yet, when it comes to the Adonim which served as the base for the Mishkan, Rashi notes that they came from the mandatory donations of the Chatzee Shekel coins. Why? Rav Yehuda Amital ztl. notes that while at the eye level, the spirit of volunteerism and donation is important to foster, at the core of Judaism and Torah life must be a sense of commitment. Calling it anything but mandatory will imply that it is unnecessary for life to follow through. Torah lifestyle demands a commitment which can only come from a sense of obligation.

And they will make me a Mikdash (25:8) – Why is the phrase “Mikdash” used if the building was going to be known as the “mishkan”? Rav Dovid Povarsky ztl. noted that unlike a regular building, that once built, it stands for year even without ongoing building maintenance, a Mishkan needs constant guarding to make sure it is always ready to be there for the Shechina. Hence the word Mikdash which implies a perpetual goal of kedusha instead of the more mundane Mishkan which implies a place for resting or living.

And I will dwell among them (25:8) – The concept of a Mishkan is strange to Judaism. After all, isn’t Hashem truly everywhere? Why would he need a Mishkan? (This issue, notes the Yalkut Shimoni, was one of the three things that Moshe heard and it bowled him over backward)  Rav Schachter Shlita explained (in the name of Rav Soloveitchik ztl)  that in truth Hashem does not need the Mishkan. He allowed himself to be Mitzumtzam – to dwell among us. He wanted to be in the place where his beloved people knew that they could just “walk next door” and “knock on his door” when they needed him. This is different than Tefillah whereby one must prepare and specify what it is he wants and requires more effort.

The poles shall remain in the rings attached to the Aron, they shall not be removed from it (25:15) – The Talmud (Sotah 35a) notes that not only were the poles not removed from the Aron, those who “carried” the aron were also not changed from their roles. Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriah ztl. once asked why is it specifically those who carry the Aron and the poles for the Aron that must always be attached to it? He answered that a lesson can be derived from boards of Yeshivos and directors who run the operations of the Yeshiva. When the director thinks that he is stronger than the institution and makes decisions that do not reflect the Torah values of the Yeshiva, then he loses his importance and significance because in that moment he is separated from the Yeshiva and the Torah it represents. However, the beauty and value of the director is when he upholds the Yeshiva. With dedicated people like that, who never detach themselves from the mission of Torah teaching, the opportunities for growth and success are infinite.

And you will make Kerashim for the Mishkan out of standing cedar wood (26:15) – The Talmud (Sukkah 45a) derives the rule that one should perform a mitzvah in the best way possible based on this possuk. How? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that when one does a Mitzva with a full heart instead of trying to be “Yotzai” it is apparent that he gets the idea that everything is from Hashem and giving to Him is the ideal way to go in life. By using the standing cedar wood, one is showing that the ideal wood should be used in the ideal way as a donation for the Mishkan and Hashem.

Two hands per beam (26:17) – Rav Ephraim Greenblatt ztl. notes that the Kerashim are symbolic of Torah and the two hands mentioned refer to the two hands – left and right – which are used in relating and relaying Torah to the people. Sometimes you need the left which is representative of the need to push away, while at other times you need to stress the right which is associated with coming close. Both are needed and one needs to know when and in what measure to apply each one.

And the Paroches shall separate for you between the kodesh and the Kodesh Hakodashim (26:33)Rav Bernard Weinberger (Shemen HaTov) notes that both the Paroches and the Kappores contain the same letters. The Paroches separates horizontally between the Kodesh and the Kodesh HaKodoshim and the Kappores which rested on the Aron separated between the Aron and the upper airspace. Why the need for the separation? Rav Weinberger quoted Rav Zalman Sorotzkin’s Hesped for the Brisker Rav ztl who noted that when the Luchos are separated in their Aron, it is clear that they are an Eidus – a testimony to prevent forgery in the world of Torah.   

Haftorah: (Shabbos Rosh Chodesh) Will I begin the birth process and not complete it (Yeshaya 66:9) – Rav Shimon Schwab ztl. used to quote the Gra who noted that the references of Geulah and their comparison to birth is not haphazard. For like birth which in the final stages involves a pain bearable only due to the knowledge that there is a good end, so too, the Galus and its extra intensity prior to the end is bearable because of the knowledge that there will be a new dawn of Geulah.