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by Daneal Weiner
Hello and thank you for joining us again. I’ve got to tell you right now, I haven’t a clue what I’m going to tell you. Ok, I have a clue. It will be Torah related. Let me share with you the very first d’var Torah I ever wrote on
It went something like this: This weeks parsha describes the building of the Mishkan. It is only the microcosm of the universe but reading the text it appears to be just a bunch of measurements. Don’t be fooled! Due to it’s importance, Rabbi Fox spent all week discussing the physical layout of the Mishkan. I fell asleep every day in shiur. (This space for rent) Baruch Hashem, many things have happened since then. I now nap, for example. But enough of the chit chat.
We just finished the 6 weeks called 'Shovevim', an acronym of the first letters of the first 6 parshas of the book of Shmos. These parshas describe the time when G-d took Bnei Yisrael from the spiritual depths of Egypt to the heights of the Revelation. Just as it was in their day, so too, in our day this is a time for strengthening ourselves in Torah and mitsvos. Now that we have reinforced our attachment to Hashem, the very next parsha is the building of the Mishkan, the ‘dwelling place’ for the Shchinah amongst the Jewish people. Shabbos afternoon we read the first few paragraphs of the following weeks parsha so last week, at the twilight of the 6 weeks we already merited G-d’s command to build Him this Sanctuary and the Arone, the holy Ark.
Our parsha opens with G-d saying (25:2) “Let them [Bnei Yisrael] take for Me a trumah”- a portion. It is the beginning of the collection of materials from which will be built the Mishkan. The question is asked, shouldn’t G-d have said, “Let them give to Me..” rather than ‘take for Me’? The Sforno answers in a practical sense saying the command was for the Sanhedrin, the High Court to collect the contributions. From a hint later on in the parsha the Sforno continues that the people did not wait and rushed to bring their trumah directly to Moshe.
On a deeper level, I’m reminded of a story about the Baron Rothschild. He was once asked by a colleague how much he was worth. He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a ledger and showed it to his guest. Flipping through the pages he asked, “This is an accounting of all your contributions to charity??” The Baron answered, “Tomorrow, the government can come and take everything away from me. But what is written in that book they can never touch. There is my worth.” Giving to charity is really a taking.
I saw in one of the US ragazines that Bill Gates gave the most money to charity last year. Of the billions he’s worth, he gave a couple hundred million away. The richest man in America and in real terms he’s virtually worthless.
I sit in Yeshiva all day, baruch Hashem. I am surrounded mostly by young men living off their savings, what their folks may send them, or what they earn from the few hours of work they squeeze into their schedule. The rest are Kollel men, making an average of $450 a month. At any hour of the day you will find people walking the isles asking for charity. All kinds of people and for all sorts of hardships, G-d have mercy on them. (One guy has been collecting for a pair of orthopedic shoes for the last 6 months!) These people don’t go to the malls where money spills through fingers by the millions. They don’t go to office buildings or industrial areas where the incomes are incomparably higher. They come to the Yeshivas. Because they know within it’s walls they’ll find the richest people on earth.
On this opening verse the Bair Yoseph brings a Midrash with a different twist. Hashem seems to say not “take for Me” but “Take Me!” It then quotes a verse from Proverbs 4:2, “For I [Hashem] have given you a good acquisition, do not forsake My Torah.” It then brings more verses to illustrate how great a value the Torah is. Now the Midrash continues with Hashem saying to Bnei Yisrael, “I have sold you My Torah, I have sold you Myself with it," k’v’yachul.[“k’v’yachul” an expression we say when we say something about Hashem we really can’t say but say anyway in order to understand an idea we otherwise couldn’t understand. Understand?] Next comes a parable. A king has an only daughter. He marries her off to a prince from a distant land who then asks permission to return home with his new wife. The king says to him, “I can’t separate from her. To ask you to leave her I can’t do either because she is your wife. Do me this favor. Where ever you go, prepare a room for me that I might live with you.” This Hashem said to Bnei Yisrael. “I gave you My Torah. I can’t separate from her. To ask you not to take her I can’t do either. Where ever you go, build for Me a house that I might live with you.” As it says in the verse, “Make for Me a Sanctuary.” A beautiful Midrash.
The Bair Yoseph asks what is the connection between the opening of the Midrash, regarding the good acquisition, and the parable at the end of the Midrash about building the Mishkan? It seems to have switched topics? Oh contrare’! He answers that the only relationship between the king and the prince is the daughter! If the prince decides to move into a summer home in Boca but leaves the daughter in the villa in France, the king won’t be calling AAA for maps of the Florida Turnpike. The opening of the Midrash is to impress upon us how invaluable the Torah is! Because only then will we take it with us where ever we go. And once we do that, we are guaranteed that Hashem will always dwell amongst us. And that is what the Midrash came to teach. “Take Me!”
Next the parsha describes the Arone, the Ark. The Maharal and the Rabbeinu Bachya tell us the Hebrew ‘Arone’ is from the root ‘ohr’ which means light. As much as we’ve talked in the past about light symbolizing Torah, it is really from this parsha that the connection is made.
The Arone’s measurements were 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 1 1/2. The only article of the Mishkan with a 1/2 measure in all directions. The message is that no matter how much one learns, one can never learn it all. There will always be something else. And at the same time a vessel of Torah is created!!! The awareness, or rather the humility in comprehending that the more which is learned, the more it is understood how little is known, that makes one a vessel for Torah. Who has such a potential?
(25:10) “V’asu li Arone”- And they shall make for Me an Arone. By all the other articles the Torah says “va’asisa”- and you shall make. The Midrash itself asks why is it plural here? Rav Yehuda bar Shalom answers, "Hashem said, 'Let all come and busy themselves in the Arone so that all will have merit in Torah.'" The Midrash continues with another answer; "What does it say above? ‘V’asu li mikdash.'-And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary (also plural). Hashem said to Yisrael, ‘You are My sheep and I am your Shepherd. Make Me a shelter that I may come and tend to you. You are My vineyard and I am your Watchman. Build Me a booth that I may come and guard you. You are My children and I am your Father. Honored are the sons who are by their Father and honored is the Father Who is by His sons. Build me a house that I may reside by you.’ As it says, ‘And they shall make me a sanctuary.’”
Again the Bair Yoseph asks, what is the connection between the opening question and the end? Also, it was talking about the Arone and suddenly the Sanctuary seemed to take over? The Bair Yoseph explains that the words in question, “And they shall,” transcends time and place. It refers to all Jews of all generations in all locations. Hashem’s words 'Let all come and busy themselves’ implies the Gemorah Brachos and Avos which say “Even to the individual who busies himself in Torah, the Shchinah will reside with him, as it says, ‘Where ever is mentioned My name I will come and bless you.’” Understood from this are the Synagogues, the study halls, one who acts according to halacha and one who is busy with Torah. The Sanctuary, the place where the Shchinah resides, can be with anyone, anytime, anywhere. We all have that incredible potential.
The Bair Yoseph then explains how the Midrash anticipates and answers, “Anytime and anywhere?” What if we are like sheep? Wandering for food? Everyday a different place? No where to call a home? Prone to attack on all sides? Hashem says, “You are My sheep and I am your Shepherd. Build Me a shelter and I will tend to you.
What if we finally settle on foreign soil? If we plant our roots there? If we grow and blossom as abundant grapes on the vine? Become a source of sustenance for the gentiles? Become accepted? Begin to assimilate? Such a situation will not last. The more we mix in, the more that anti-Semitism will sort us out. Hashem says, “I am your watchman. Build Me a booth that I may come and guard you.”
For the last 2000 years we’ve been in one of these two situations. It was neither honorable for Hashem nor for us. What we wait for is the third case. The final redemption. To be back in Erets Yisrael as a nation of Priests. A light unto the nations. Then there will be honor given to Hashem and for us. We will build Him a house and He will reside by us. That is why the Torah says, “And THEY should build me an Arone.” A message for all Jews, in all places, at all times.
Speaking of an Arone, the Shulchan Gavohah brings a story of Rav Chaim of Velozhin asking his Rav, the Gaon of Vilna (the Grah) to explain a shver (difficult) Zohar to him. The Zohar is a book on Kabbalah. The Grah asked him back from our parsha; (25:10-11) “Make an Arone of acacia wood...cover it with pure gold inside and out.” On verse 11 Rashi says don’t think one wooden box was plated but three boxes were made and nested together. Two of gold and one of wood. Rashi says the wooden went into the gold and the gold went in the wooden. "You with me Chaim? Wake up! Rashi has it backwards!!! The verse says cover it “INSIDE and OUT”! Rashi said “put the wood box into the gold” which covers the OUTSIDE and then the gold box into the wood which covers the INSIDE! That’s “outside and in” not “inside and out”???
The Maharil Diskin helps straighten out our understanding of Rashi. Each of the three boxes has an inside and an outside, not only the wooden. So when the wooden box was stuck inside the golden box, the INSIDE of the GOLD box was covered by the wood. Then, when the smaller golden box was stuck inside the wooden, the OUTSIDE of that GOLD box was covered by the wood. Read the verse, not “...cover it with pure gold inside and out” but “...cover it, THE pure gold, inside and out.” Rashi explains that very well. All we need now is to know what it means. Back to the Grah!
Man is the wooden box. The two boxes of gold represent the two types of Torah, the revealed and the hidden. The revealed being the outer gold box and the hidden being the inner gold box. We begin our education with the revealed Torah. The outer gold box. But even the Revealed Torah has it’s more secretive side. It’s inside. With effort, we, the wood, will come to know what’s hidden in the revealed. That is the wooden box first going into the outer gold box and covering its inside. Next is the hidden Torah.
The Hidden Torah, the inner box has it’s outside and inside too. The outside is the Kabbalah which is comprehendable to the Kabbalists. The inside, the hidden of the hidden none we will ever come to know (in this world). That’s where the Tablets themselves sit. The source, so to speak. Putting the inner gold box into the wood, covering it’s golden outside, represents the extent of the hidden Torah one may come to learn. “So the message to you Chaimke” says the Grah, “DON’T ASK SHVER ZOHARS!” If you don’t get it, then you don’t get it!” Got it?
On this topic- Kabbalah means ‘something received’. All Torah is handed down father to son, teacher to student, Rav to talmid. It’s all received! Authentic Judaism is only that which was handed down from Mt. Sinai. Not something thought up over a Reuben Sandwich. So why is only the hidden Torah called “Kabbalah” if , again, it is all received? Because regarding Kabbalah, the reception is not from tuning in to a local channel. It can only come from the Big Transmitter in the sky. The Grah was telling the young Rav Chaim that he couldn’t explain the Zohar even if he wanted to. It doesn’t work that way. Anyone who thinks they're learning Kabbalah, not having gone through the aforementioned process of all revealed Torah first is just receiving a conversation from the neighbors wireless phone. But I digr...wait, wait...hold on....yes, I copy. Over. It has been confirmed. I digress.
Next! Jumping over the Cruevim, is the Shulchan. The Table for the Showbreads. The Shulchan was the channel for bringing sustenance into the world. Facing west and entering the Mishkan, the Shulchan was to the right, near the North wall. Chazal- the Sages, tell us that during the Shmoneh Esray, the Silent prayer, one should stand, facing the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount. And, if one wishes to introduce into his prayers an overall plea for sustenance, the head should be turned slightly to the north, to ‘route’ the prayer through the influence of the Shulchan. This is not a blanket statement for all congregations, depending on their physical layout and where their Arone Kodesh is. One should check with a competent Rabbinical authority.
Manifest of the Shulchan’s power for prosperity, every Friday 12 breads were baked and placed onto the Shulchan on Shabbos day. The ‘week old’ breads just removed were divided up amongst all the Kohanim- the Priests. The breads were as hot and fresh on day 8 as they were coming out of the oven two Fridays prior!. When Adam and Chava ate from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, they brought death to the world. Not just to mankind. To the world. Animals and plants would die. Even food was affected in it’s own way. It became subject to souring and spoilage. The Showbreads in the Sanctuary, before G-d, were not subject to the changes in nature after the sin. Not only this but every kohain who ate even the smallest piece of the Showbreads was completely satisfied from it!
Rav Wolfson brings in Megillas Esther. Verse 1:14 names 7 officers of Achashveirosh. “Carshna, Shesar, Admasa....and Mimuchan.” The Gemorah Megilla expounds on it. Rav Levi says, “This verse refers to the sacrifices! The Angels said to Hashem, pleading on behalf of Bnei Yisrael, ‘Carshna’ is ‘Carim ben shana’- year old lambs. Did the enemies of Bnei Yisrael ever offer the yearling lambs? ‘Shesar’ is ‘Shtai Sarin’. Did their enemies ever offer You two turtledoves? ‘Admasa’ is ‘adama’. Did they ever build You an earthen alter?.... ‘Mimuchan’ is from the word ‘hachana’ which means ‘preparation’. Have they ever prepared a Table before You?” The table is the Table of the Showbread. This last of the 7 officers, Mimuchan, was Haman before his rise to power. The Gemorah asks, “Why was he called Mimuchan? Because he was destined/prepared for punishment.”
The Gemorah Megilla also asks were Haman is hinted to in the Torah. The idea behind the Gemorah’s question is that the first place something appears in the Torah is the root of it’s essence. It answers, (Breishis, 3:11) “Hamin ha’aits ...”- from the tree... In this verse G-d is asking Adam if he ate from the tree which he was told not to. ‘Hamin’ is spelled the same as Haman. So the snake, the symbol of the evil inclination, entices Adam and Chava to eat. Death is brought to the world. Generations later, Eisav becomes the symbol of evil, a crown passed on to his descendant, Amalaik. Haman, a descendant of Amalaik, who’s name is rooted in the episode of the sin of eating, now entices the Jews to sin again by eating by the feast of Achashveirosh. This same Haman is also known as Mimuchan, an allusion to the Showbreads of the Mishkan and Temple which were breads not subject to the curse in nature brought about by the sin which Haman’s great great grandpa, Slimey the Snake, caused to occur!!!
Lastly we’ll talk about the Menorah! The influence of the spirtuality of Bnei Yisrael. It was by the south wall. Those who wish to ask for assistence in their studies should turn their heads, while praying, slightly to the south. See disclaimer above by the Shulchan.
What can we say about the Menorah, the giver of light in the Mishkan? The symbol of Torah? All Torah- the revealed outer, the outer-inner, the inner-outer and the inner inner, infinity + 1? What can I say? I can tell you what the Ramban said. On verse 25:30, the last verse regarding the Shulchan the Ramban adds something to the effect of, "As for the Menorah, too deep for me! It’s got 6 branches coming out of the stem. That we can understand." He then skips the next 8 verses which deal with the Menorah. With out saying anything he said it all. Have a Shabbot Shalom.
[There are grave desecrations going on in Israel. Aside from being a tremendous disgrace to the neshamos of these Jews, it is also against the law. The police are protecting the archeologists from the protestors. Everyone PLEASE contact your local Israeli embassy and let them have it with both barrels!! Tell them you have a cousin in Jerusalem with a shovel on his way over to Rabin's grave!]
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