Parshat Terumah 5771: The Mishkan, Terumah and the “Crown of a Good Name” — Revisited and Revised

by Moshe Burt

Back in Philadelphia, in the “old country”, R’ Moshe Ungar would speak about the Mizbeiyach in terms of both the Beit HaMikdash and in terms of the personal Mizbeiyach which burns eternally in our hearts. And there is the well-known wish to a Chosson and Kallah that the fire of the personal Mizbeiyach burn eternally.

In our Parsha, we begin learning about the construction and the contents of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

The Shem Mishmuel [Parsha Terumah, pg. 169-172) cites R’ Shimon who said;

These are the three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of Kehunah and the crown of Malchut. But the crown of a good name is greater than them all.

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), discusses the symbolic significance of the Mishkan in his Sefer Sh’mos, pages 538-540:

The construction of the Tabernacle, which begins here in Sh’mos [in our parsha (author)], is followed by Torah Kohanim [in Parsha Tetzaveh (author)], the series of laws whose purpose is the sanctity of the Temple [Mishkan, Beit Hamikdash (author)] and the sanctification of life.

Hashem does not grace us with HIs Presence, protection, and blessings merely upon the scrupulous construction and upkeep of the sanctuary, but only upon the sanctification of our entire national and private lives and …dedication to the fulfillment of His Commandments.

Shem Mishmuel goes on to enumerate the four primary objects of the Beit HaMikdash; the Aron HaKodesh, the Shulchan and the Mizbeiyach which all had rims; and the Menorah, “which represents the good name attainable by every member of the Klal Yisrael” who is connected to pure Divine influence, which was without rims.

He then defines the loshen for crowns, for rims: zer — the decorative crowns on the sacred objects in the Mishkan which signify rising above human desires to a holier, more spiritual realm and related it to the nazir, one who dedicates his life to kedusha “by abstaining from wine and certain other things for a designated period.”

He cites a Mishnah — Rosh Hashanah 1:2 which states:

At four junctures of the year the world is judged: on Pesach for the grain, on Shavuot for the fruit, on Succot for the water…

He notes that Shabbos does not contain the element of judgement and is, therefore, analogous to the Menorah which has no zer.

Shem Mishmuel notes further, citing the Arizal’s philosophy:

There is no potential for abuse present in the atmosphere which prevails on Shabbos; everything can be used for spiritual progress on that day.

So, it would seem that, like the Menorah and like the Shabbos, a good name is an intangible — one can’t touch or put one’s hands on it, or discern it with one’s other bodily senses. A good name seems a product of one’s intentions and fulfillment thereof (i.e. Terumot, honest business dealings, honesty — one toward his brother, etc.), which cannot be ascertained by ones’ appearance and clothing, speech or outward actions.

R’ Hirsch renders translation followed by commentary in the new Hirsch Chumash on Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 22, posukim 21-23 (pages 470-473) which seems symbolic of this spirit of sanctification of our national and private lives as well as dedicated to fulfillment of His Commandments:

Posuk 21: “You shall not let any widow or orphan feel their dependent state.”

Posuk 22: “Woe [to you] if you, too, should let them feel their dependent state! For if they must cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

Posuk 23: “And then My anger will grow hot and I will let you die by the sword, and then your wives will become widows and your children orphans.”

Stand up for them and uphold their rights…

Woe unto you, if their only resort is to cry out to Me; for I will assuredly hear their cry; I will make the state and society pay dearly for it, if their weakest members must appeal to Me to find justice.

Therefore, it would seem to follow that numerous contemporary so-called national and local “leaders” of many stripes, sectors and levels of prestigious visability, as well as members of the legal profession — all of whom seem sooo assured of their own self-rectitude, as well as all of us — should take heed of the spiritual parallels and implications inherent in their intentions and how those intentions impact on the development of a good and pure name.

And finally, this point, repeated yet again, from Torah Gems citing of Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro, regarding the appointment of a judicial system, to all of us with consideration for and intellectualization of attaining the “crown of a good name”:

“The Torah did not mention ‘G’d-fearing men’ because only Hashem knows what is in man’s heart.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Yithro, page 131)

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and to prevent the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim” — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos! Good Chodesh!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.