Parshat Terumah 5784: The Crown of a Good Name, Motivation and Credibility

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Terumah is being co-sponsored both anonymously dedicated for Hatslucha to children of the community and by Rabbi Tully and Hindy Bryks of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Hindi’s Father, Moshe Zev ben Yosef, z”l. Both co-sponsors also dedicate this vort for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their return home whole physically, mentally and spiritually. To our anonymous co-sponsor and to Mishpachat Bryks, 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 5784: The Crown of a Good Name, Motivation and Credibility

by Moshe Burt

This author often cites points from previous vorts on a Parsha, or vorts from other Parshiyot if they seem applicable to make a certain point in a current vort. This is true regarding our vort on Parshat Terumah for 5784.

The Shem Mishmuel (Translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat Terumah, pg. 169-170) cites R’ Shimon and comments;

“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.” (Shem Mishmuel citing R’ Shimon on Pirkei Avos 4:13)

Three of the four primary objects in the Holiest part of the Beit HaMikdash had crowns, that is golden rims decorating them. The Ark of the Covenant [the Aron containing the two tablets given by Hashem to Moshe corresponds to Torah], the Golden Altar [the Mizbeiyach on which the Kohanim offered the incense corresponds to the Kehunah] and the Golden Table [the Shulchan on which the special bread was placed which corresponds to Malchut] all had rims. (Shem Mishmuel citing Rashi on Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posuk 11, Perek 30, posuk 3, and Perek 25, posuk 24)

The Medrash tells us that the Menorah, which had no crown, corresponds to the crown of a good name. (Shem Mishmuel citing Bamidbar Rabbah 14:9)

Each of these three gifts to Klal Yisrael — Torah, Malchut and Kehunah — need special attention to ensure that they are only used for holy, rather than self-seeking purposes [ or self-serving, i.e. arrogance, feelings of superiority, or overrating oneself as king].

However, the Menorah, … [representing] the good name attained by every member of Klal Yisrael, has no rim. The brightly burning lamps of the Menorah shine forth with the glow of Hashem’s Light, which can be received and internalized by all who seek it. There is no potential bad associated with this pure Divine influence, only good for those who are prepared for it. Thus, the Menorah, alone among the vessels in the Beit HaMikdash, has no golden rim.

Perhaps related to Menorah’s representation of a good name 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 also apply to Parshat Terumah, as the point of Terumah seemingly goes beyond the construction of the Mishkan and the Mizbeiyach and beyond the Mishkan’s treasury, to words and deeds and motivations that match, are just and uplifted. And this author would seem to get some additional mileage from again citing 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. By… being fit and alert to learn Torah and perform Mitzvot, we transform the mundane into the sublime. Earning a livelihood, thereby enabling us to serve Hashem, becomes a spiritual endeavor.

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’s former auto mechanic, Tzaddik L’Vracha, an observant Jew and a Tzaddik back in Philadelphia who had previously served as a mechanic in Israel maintaining the few planes of Israel’s then nascent [adjective: beginning to exist or develop] air force, was one such example of a great, righteous person who seized upon 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.

This author cited Rabbi Mordechai Katz, from his sefer, “Lilmode U’Lamed” (p. 81-82) in a Parshat Hashevua (Parshat Mishpatim) several years ago. Rabbi Katz cites Yerushalmi Bava Metzia, Perek 2, Choshen Mishpat 266) a story about Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach which sets a standard for Jewish sincerity in his dealing with with others and with Hashem:

It seems that one day Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach needed to purchase a donkey for traveling. He purchased the donkey from an Arab. At that time, neither he nor the Arab noticed that the donkey bore a small package in it’s saddle.

Sometime later, a student of the Rabbi found the package and opened it. He was amazed by it’s contents. Rabbi Katz writes that the dialogue between Rabbi Ben Shetach and his student, and the story’s conclusion went something like this:

“It’s a diamond, Rebbe… A perfect diamond. It must be worth an enormous amount. Sell it and you’ll never want for money. Imagine all of the Mitzvot you will be able to do with the new-found money.”

Rabbi Ben Shetach shook his head and responded “I may be able to perform many Mitzvot with the money … but they will never cancel the demerit that will be mine if I keep property which is not mine. No, I will return the diamond to its rightful owner, the Arab.”

But the student responded, “why not keep the diamond? The Arab will never know of his loss.” Rabbi Ben Shetach responded, “But Hashem will know what I have done. I did not earn the diamond and so it is not mine.”

Rabbi Ben Shetach was as good as his word and returned the diamond to the astonished Arab. “I don’t believe that anyone could be that honest” said the Arab. “The Jews must have wonderful laws. Blessed be the G’d of Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach.”

Rabbi Ben Shetach’s strict adherence to Mishpatim, to common decency to his fellow man created a great Kiddush Hashem and should serve as an example for all to follow, to fulfill all of Hashem’s Mitzvot with equal zeal.

So what is the point that this author is trying to bring in this vort by these seemingly divergent [adjective: differing] citings? The opening posukim of our Parsha read:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, ‘Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.'” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 25, posukim 1 and 2 rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

On these posukim, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin comments in his Sefer, “Growth Through Torah” (pages 201 – 202) :

Your motivation is a major factor in the ultimate value of what you do.

When you do something with pure motivations, your action is elevated. Work on your thoughts to have positive motivations when you do positive acts.

Rabbi Moshe Aharon Stern related that he was once walking with Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian in Yerushalayim. Upon seeing someone repairing the street, Rav Elya commented, “See how this person is constantly engaged in a Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (building of the Land of Israel). What is missing? Only the motivation for the sake of a Mitzvah! If someone only thinks about making a livelihood and nothing more, he loses all the wonderful benefits of fulfilling a Mitzvah. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin citing Sefer Lev Eliyahu, Volume 1, page 30)

The points this author is making; that words and deeds and motivations that match, are just and uplifted, relate to questioning the moral and halachic efficacy [noun: the capacity for producing a desired result or effect] of the highest levels of Israel’s current governance as well as the top brass of Israel’s military relating to events leading up to 7 October, as well the conduct of this Milchamat Shel Torah. What is meant here relates to the hubris of top generals in demeaning those who repeatedly reported on the preparations, the tunnel-building and training of the barbarous terrorist animals which led to savage, murderous attacks of 7 October and the seizing of hundreds of Jewish and foreign hostages. In one case, a general threatened a subordinate with legal proceedings if another word of warning was spoken.

What is also meant is questioning the government’s words and deeds in their conduct of the war in light of the government’s possible subservience [a servile or excessively submissive quality or manner] to the Biden administration in conduct of this war and many discoveries made by our brave Chayalim in the field of battle, i.e. the apparent conspiracy and collaboration between the United Nations UNRA personnel in Gaza’s hospitals and schools and Hamas and their terrorist buddies as well as apparent instances where Gazan so-called “innocent civilians” took part in the attacks and seizing of hostages. Words are critical and there are vast differences in word and deed between words like destroy and eradicate re: Hamas and all terrorists, and “return” and liberate relating to the remaining hostages. (definitions below) Further, there is concern as to whether the lessons of Gaza of 7 October are being internalized concerning two other potential fronts: the PA in Yehuda and the Shomron and Hezbollah in South Lebanon.

And this author could not conclude without questioning the words and deeds and motivations of certain Jews in positions of power in the American administration.

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious and return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine 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 see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!

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.


Destroy [to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains], i.e. leaving segments or remnants of terrorists to strike again.

Eradicate [to remove or destroy utterly].

“Return” which implies from previous recent experience — 1 hostage for every 3 incarcerated terrorists.

Liberate which indicates freeing the hostages by the hand of the IDF as was the case at Entebbe.