Parshat Terumah 5779: The Mishkan, Motivating Man’s Heart, and Bringing Hashem into Our Lives

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Terumah is being sponsored anonymously in memory of Rebbetzin Doba Shapira a”h. To the annonymous sponsor and family, blessings and many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Terumah 5779: The Mishkan, Motivating Man’s Heart, and Bringing Hashem into Our Lives

by Moshe Burt

Commentaries vary in their understanding as to the chronology concerning Moshe Rabbeinu’s ascendance upon Har Sinai after Matan Torah and B’nei Yisrael’s receiving the Asseret HaDivrot (the Ten Commandments).

Parshat Mishpatim enumerates laws ranging from the eved Ivri, the focus of last week’s vort on Parshat Mishpatim, sale of one’s daughter, penalties for murder and man-slaughter, circumstances of accidental or unintentional killing with allusion to cities of refuge, laws regarding money lending and free loans, justice in the judicial process, Shabbos each week and the Shemittah year (the seventh year), the Shalosh Regalim (the three festivals where we ascend to Jerusalem) and the laws of Pesach, the Divine Promise to B’nei Yisrael of the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Parshat Mishpatim concludes by informing of Moshe’s ascendance upon Har Sinai for forty days and forty nights.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” (page 207) opens his analysis of Parshat Terumah with a summary of the Parsha:

Hashem lays the next foundation of the Jews’ thought and law at Sinai, as He moves the focus from the courtroom to the Sanctuary [the Mishkan].

Parshat Terumah opens as Hashem instructs Moshe to collect offerings of various materials for the creation of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the desert and the precursor of the Temples in Jerusalem.

With the dramatic commandment, “And they shall make for me a Mishkan so that I may dwell within them…,” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posuk 8 as rendered to English by “The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi Commentary”) Hashem launches the plans for the Mishkan’s construction.

The Parsha… outlines in great detail the plans for the various utensils to be used in the Mishkan service…

In detailing plans for the various utensils of the Mishkan service, Torah opens our Parshat Terumah:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and let them take for Me a Portion [Terumah], from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My Terumah, This is the Terumah that you shall take from them….” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posukim 1-3 as rendered to English by The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (page 445) renders Terumah:

The true sense of the word has no English equivalent. It implies a separation of a portion of one’s resources to be set aside (Rashi) for a higher purpose. The root of the word is “room” [Reish, Vov, Mem Sofit], to uplift (R’ Hirsch). Thus, the effect of these contributions was to elevate the giver and his concept of the purpose of the wealth with which Hashem had blessed him.

One of the approaches which Rabbi Goldin brings in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” (pages 215-216):

The Torah does not state “that I may dwell within it” because Hashem does not dwell in the Mishkan nor will he dwell later in the Beit Hamikdash.

Centuries later, in his historic address on the occasion of the dedication of the First Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem, Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) makes this point clear:

Will Hashem indeed dwell on earth? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built? Turn, therefore to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication… that Your eyes will be open towards this house night and day… And You will listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your nation Israel that they shall pray towards this place… (Rabbi Goldin, sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” citing Melachim [Kings] 1 Perek 8, posukim 27-30)

The Torah states, “that I may dwell within them,” to stress that the purpose of the Mishkan [and later, the Beit Hamikdash] is to bring Hashem into the lives of the people. Whether a sign of Hashem’s reconciliation with the nation after the sin of the golden calf [egel zahav] or a corrective for that sin or an originally mandated symbol of continued Divine presence, the Mishkan serves to represent Hashem’s constant accessibility to man.

The B’nei Yisrael…. are thus instructed to create a place for Hashem to “dwell within them” — in the hearts of the individual members of B’nei Yisrael and their descendents. (Rabbi Goldin, sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” citing Malbim on Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posuk 8)

Bearing the above in mind, we return to a phrase of our opening posukim: “from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My Terumah.”

What motivates a man’s heart? What is each person’s concept of the purpose of the wealth with which Hashem had blessed him? Is it toward the emulation of the ways of Hashem, or toward some other purpose?

The Shem Mishmuel (Translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat 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.

There is an oft-repeated (on this blog)Torah Gems citing of the Ibn Ezra on Parsha Yithro regarding the appointment of a judicial system, and the application of that lesson to all of us:

“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)

The above citing of the Ibn Ezra would seem to apply to Parshat Terumah as well, as the point of Terumah seemingly goes beyond the construction of the Mishkan and the Mizbeiyach and beyond the Mishkan’s treasury and into all facets of the mundane. And this author would seem to get some additional mileage from again citing (as in Parshat Va’eira) this classic scene from the Burt Reynolds movie of the late 1970s, “The End.” Reynolds, swimming far from land, and afraid for his life, cries out:

“I could never make it…Help me make it, Lord, Please…., I’ll give you 50% of everything I make, that’s 50% Lord, I wanna point out nobody gives 50%, I’m talkin’ gross, Lord….”

And as he manages to make it close to land, he says:

“I think I’m gonna make it. You won’t regret this, Lord…. I’m gonna start donatin’ that 10% right away. I know I said 50%, Lord, but 10% to start….”

In his Sefer “Majesty of Man”, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz writes on Parshat Terumah citing The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 231):

…Elevate our physical actions to a spiritual plane by focusing on these actions as a means to the ultimate goal of Torah and mitzvot….

We need not live “dual lives” — spiritual in performing our religious obligations and secular in fulfilling our mundane needs. If we purify our intentions and aim for our ultimate goal of serving Hashem in everything we do, we can infuse the physical world with holiness and harmonize our entire lives into one grand… praise to the Creator.

This author can think of many examples, here in Eretz Yisrael and in Chutz L’Aretz, too numerous to elaborate in this vort, of righteous people giving as their heart motivates them. But to cite just one:

This author’s former auto mechanic, an observant Jew and a Tzaddik back in Philadelphia, was one such example of a great, righteous person who seized opportunities to uplift and sanctify his parnossa. He always kept a few shop loaner cars available so that when people brought their vehicles in for major repairs, that they were able to borrow a loaner car, free of charge, for work so as to not be inconvenienced while the work on the vehicle was being completed. He also made his loaner cars available, again free of charge, to people when they came to Philadelphia from out of town. He was also a Shul president and active in communal affairs throughout his life.

May we, the B’nei 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 and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of four plus years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone 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, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov! Good Shabbos!
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.