Pop Quiz: Which was tallest: the aron, the shulhan or the mizbe'ah?
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Cedar wood, standing erect" (Shemot 26:15)
We were told to take cedar wood trees for use in the Mishkan as beams. The word "omdim" is taken by the Midrash to mean "standing forever", that the beams and all components of the Mishkan will never fall into foreign hands. Even when not in use, they will be hidden until the great revelation, and they will then be put in use again! Why did these objects merit to be safeguarded from all our enemies while the two Batei Mikdash did not have this zechut?
The Rabbis tell us that to give for the Mishkan or the Temple is really not necessary since Hashem owns all the gold and silver in the world. He can construct anything He wants. In fact, the third Temple will come down from Heaven already built! The reason He wants us to build it is that He wants our hearts and souls behind the actual giving! Hashem desires to see if we will carry out His will and the attitude in the giving makes the donation last forever. Moshe and Bnei Yisrael were able to give with all their hearts and souls so their donations lasted forever.
We are a most generous community. We give and give, Baruch Hashem, for many causes. We have to make sure that if we're giving anyway, we should give with our hearts. Our attitude should be positive and we should especially not cause grief to the one collecting by making him wait and come back again and again! If we're going to give anyway, let us give in a way which will make our donations last forever!
DO THE BEST YOU CAN
Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And they shall make a Sanctuary for me" (Shemot 25:8)
Our perashah tells us that Hashem commanded Moshe to build a Mishkan, a physical home that will contain the Shechinah, the Presence of Hashem. Moshe reacted with shock. How can man build a structure that can contain Hashem's Presence? Hashem's glory fills the entire world! Hashem answered him that he didn't mean that Moshe should build Hashem's house on Hashem's standards, but on Moshe's standards. Twenty wooden beams on the north wall and twenty beams on the south wall, etc. Later Hashem commanded Moshe to bring a korban (sacrifice). Hashem called it "a food offering for Me." Again Moshe was shocked. Even if he brings all the animals in the world it wouldn't be enough. Hashem answered again, "Bring it on your standards, one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the afternoon."
The Hafess Hayim learns from this a lesson of life. Hashem doesn't come to make man stumble. He doesn't ask man to serve Him beyond his capabilities, but only according to his own abilities. He doesn't ask a man to attain a level of perfection of someone else who has greater abilities than him. We should only do the utmost according to our abilities. Everyone is required to set time aside to learn Torah. Some can learn Gemara (Talmud), some can learn Mishnah, some halachah. At times a person feels he is too tired to learn well, and makes a decision not to learn at that time at all. This is like a woman who has prepared a plain dinner for her family and is ashamed to invite someone for dinner because it is not fancy enough. In the meantime, that guest who needs a meal will go hungry that night - a real tragedy. Do the best you can, when you can. That is all Hashem asks. Shabbat Shalom.
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim
The Talmud states (Baba Batra 10a) that when Rav Papa was going up a flight of stairs, he slipped and almost fell. He felt disappointed. He said, "Those who are executed by stoning, such as idolaters and desecrators of the Shabbat, are first thrown to their death from a height. I almost died such a demeaning death." Chiya bar Rav of Diftei said to him, "Perhaps a poor man came to you and you did not help him (and that is why you deserved such a punishment)." This response requires explanation. What is the connection between failure to support the poor and idolatry or Shabbat desecration?
The Maharal explains by citing the verse, "Lest there be something unruly in your heart, and your eye will be miserly toward your destitute brother" (Debarim 15:9). When one is in distress, his brother's mercy will naturally be aroused. His mercy shows that he considers him like a brother. But if he turns his eyes away from him, it indicates that they are not the sons of the same man. In the Shabbat Minhah prayer we say, "You are One, and Your Name is One, and who is like Your people, Israel, one nation upon earth." We are all one nation in our feeling of unity and brotherhood because of "G-d is One, and His Name is One," and He is the Father in Heaven of all of us. When a Jew doesn't show mercy to another Jew, he implies that he doesn't perceive him as a brother. This in turn implies, Heaven forbid, that he denies belief in G-d as Father to all the Jewish people, even though the Torah calls us all His children. Thus, when Rav Papa turned away from the poor man seeking assistance, his punishment was like that of an idolater.
Giving charity is an unparalleled means of helping us solve our problems and put an end to our troubles. As we say in the High Holiday prayers, "Repentance, prayer and charity remove the harsh decree." Moreover, it brings merit not only to the one who gives, but to all the nation of Israel, and speeds up our Redemption, as it says, "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and its captives through charity." Shabbat Shalom.
"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the Children of Israel that they take for me an offering" (Shemot 25:1,2)
The portion of Terumah follows the portion of Mishpatim to teach us an important lesson. The concept of Mishpatim is that a person's money must be his according to the dictates of justice and the letter of the law. Terumah deals with donations to charity. Before a person gives money to charity, he must be very careful that his money was not acquired by cheating anyone else. If a person gives charity by stealing from others, his charity is not considered charity. A misvah that someone would fulfill by means of violating other commandments is not considered a good deed.
When it comes to good deeds, the ends do not justify the means. Both the ends and the means must be in accordance with the dictates of the Torah. (Growth through Torah)
Answer to Pop Quiz: The mizbe'ah was 3 cubits high, while the aron and shulhan were each one and a half cubits high.
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