Points to Ponder

Terumah 5775

Intro to TerumahRav Yerucham Levovitz ztl. would often point out in order to learn Parshas Terumah correctly, one needs to approach it in the same way that he approaches other Mitzvos that he does not understand completely. Using the example of square Tefillin – wherein, one does not understand fully why Tefillin MUST be square but understands that there are certain reasons for the precision in the Mitzva – one chooses to follow that precision fully. The same is true within the specificity of Parshas Terumah in creating the Kli HaMishkan. Rav Wolbe ztl. adds that like the Pharmacist who must be precise and cannot choose to give more medication in order to speed up the process. The same is true in the Mishkan – the precision of the measurements is a necessity in order for the Mishkan to be a place for Hashraas HaShechina.

Speak to Bnei Yisrael that they should take a Terumah for me (25:2) – The Yalkut Shimoni explains that Hahsem used the more appeasing “Daber” here since He realized that everyone has a hard time dealing with financial giving. Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro ztl. noted the amazing power here – that the important mission of constructing a Mishkan was not to be built on the backs and pains of those who were not ready to donate. Endeavors of holiness need to be built not by treading on others but rather by working not to cause others to be in pain. The same is true for all matters of holiness – not to be built on the back of someone else.

And you should make me a Mikdash (25:7) –  Yechezkel prophesizes that Hashem will provide a Mikdash Miat for the Jews. The Gemara interprets this to refer to shuls.  Rav Schachter Shlita would often remind us that the two are parallel but not exact. For in regard to the Mikdash there is a Mitzva of Mora while in regard to the Shuls it is a Mitzva of Kavod. The Chayei Adam notes that part of the Mitzva of Kavod is that one cannot discuss Sicha Beteilah there. The Noda B’Yehudah notes that Shuls used to be built in a rectangular shape to make it similar to the Mikdash – that comparison should be preserved.

And you will place in the Aron the testimony that I shall give you (25:16) – The Eidus refers to the Torah. The Lutzker Rav ztl. asks why a Sefer Torah needed to be placed in the Aron if it will never be read. Wouldn’t it be better served if it were not there? He answers that when a Torah is in a holy place, it guarantees that one not be able to create a forged copy and declare it to be authentic. By having a Sefer Torah that was known to be in the Mikdash, it was obvious that one could not falsify the Torah and attempt to pass it off as real. (Similar to the Brisker Rav ztl.)

And the Keruvim shall have their wings spread out (25:20) – Rav Meir Shapiro ztl. explained that the Keruvim were the only Kli that could not be made from any metal other than gold. The reason, he said, was because the Keruvim were symbolic of children. For children to be hanging out by the Aron, a reference to the teaching of Torah and the transmission to the next generation, one cannot water down the teaching in order to save a few dollars. Torah transmission must be authentic and complete – only the best will do.


And you will make The Menorah from pure gold (25:31) – Chazal describe the specificity in the menorah and its ornate design in a manner so difficult that Moshe could not fashion it. The Midrash continues that Hashem told him to take a single piece of gold and cast it into a firmament and immediately, the Menorah was formed. Rav Chaim Druckman Shlita explains the Menorah as a wonderful metaphor for the Mishkan in its entirety and for life on the whole. The goal of the menorah (and the Mikdash in general) was to provide light in order to enlighten man to Hashem’s spirit in the world. This light was to emanate outward (hence the windows in the Beis HaMikdash were narrow inside and wide outside). The light was to be turned toward the center and focus on the centrality of Hashem. All other knowledge (or as Sfas Emes says, other pursuits on the other days of the week) were to be focused on the center – Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It was this idea – that everything CAN relate back to a single place that was overwhelming to Moshe. Hashem told him to put it into the fire which is a metaphor for Torah and out came the menorah – like all keilim – its central place is as a Kli to be used in service of Hashem.

 And you will make Kerashim for the Mishkan from cedar wood (26:16) – The Midrash comments that if not for the need to make beams for the Mishkan, they would not have been created. HaRav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht ztl. explained the Midrash by highlighting the overwhelming size of Shittim wood and that things that are overwhelming tend to be used for evil. Shittim in this case led to Zenus with Bnos Moav. However, the antidote to things that are overwhelming and huge is to use them for the Glory of Hashem.

Haftorah – The mikdash and the Mishkan – While the Mishkan was built from donations, the Mikdash came about from a tax levied by Shlomo HaMelech. The Rogachover adds the the mishkan’s construction was a Mitzva while the Mikdash was not. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm Shlita notes that the difference between the Mikdash and Mishkan is that the Mikdash was founded by Shlomo based on his overwhelming Middah of Chochma which does not require commitment as it is a gift from Hashem. The Mishkan was built by Moshe with his intent of Kavod –which requires everyone to contribute to make it happen.