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by Daneal Weiner
Based on the Torah of Rav Moshe Wolfson.
After having accepted the Torah the people of Israel now became a nation worthy of the Hashem’s presence dwelling amongst them. Towards that end this week’s
begins the instructions for the building of the Mishkan- Sanctuary and the holy articles within, the Aron- Ark of the Covenant, the Menorah and the Shulchan- Table for the Show-breads. Of these three, two of them had a crown of gold. Atop the Aron was a hammered out gold cover with a crown all around with two Keruvim- Cherubs, statues with an angel-like appearance and the faces of a male and female baby. The Shulchan was made of acacia wood, covered in gold with a crown all around and supporting two sets of shelves to hold the loafs Hashem wanted displayed on a weekly basis, as He commanded (25:30), “And you will place on the Shulchan the show-bread, before Me, always.”
The Gemorah Menachos brings the dispute as to what Hashem meant by ‘always’. One opinion says a day could not pass without the breads present. The other opinion says not even for a moment. What is at the bottom of their dispute? The articles of the Mishkan (and Temple) were channels through which all the worlds spiritual and physical sustenance flowed down from Heaven. The dispute was with regard to the metaphysical reality of the system. The Shulchan was the channel for all physical sustenance of all creation. Would the world endure even a momentary break in the flow or would we have just short of 24 hours to bid our farewells? And what do we do now, exiled with no Temple? However it worked then, today, every Jewish household built on a foundation of Torah and with the sanctity of Israel is a Mishkan to Hashem that sustains all creation.
The Gemorah says that the show-breads were baked on Fridays and placed on the Shulchan on Shabbos. They sat till the following Shabbos when the new show-breads would replace them. When they came off the Shulchan they were just as fresh and warm as when they came out of the oven 8 days prior! With what merit did they stay fresh for so long?
When Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil he brought death to the world. This doesn’t mean only things with life would die. It means e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g experiences death, or a death-like condition. Wear, deterioration, mold, and even getting cold and stale are all by-products of the sin of Adam. So sharpening our question, it’s not why did the show-breads stay fresh but why were they not affected by the sin of Adam?
In the Mishkan, the Holy of Holies was the room wherein Hashem manifested a presence. In fact, it’s this week, by the instructions of the cover of the Aron, when Hashem says to Moshe, “It is there where I will set My meetings with you and I shall speak with you from atop the cover.” The space to be used by the Creator of all space was outside the nature of space. In other words, if one measured the distance between the Aron and each wall it would come out that the Aron took up no space at all. A similar idea was manifest with regard to the Shulchan. While all creation was subject to some form of death, the show-breads in the Sanctuary of the Creator remained outside the nature of death. They did not get cold and stale. 8 days later they were as warm and fresh as when they came out of the oven. Let’s shelf this for a moment and have a look at Purim.
The Gemorah Megilla expounds on the verses of Megillas Esther. Vashti just rejected Achashveirosh’s invitation and Achashveirosh is seeking advise. He wants to do something to her but he doesn’t want it to be his idea. He turns to his 7 advisors. About them the Gemorah says something remarkable. Their names are all references to sacrificial offerings!
Esther 1:14, “Those closest to him were Karshinah, Sheisar, Admasah, Sarshish, Meres, Marsinah, Memuchan.” The Gemorah Megilla explains Karshinah= Karim ben Shanah- year old lambs, Sheisar= Shtei Sorin- two turtledoves, Admasah= Mizbe’ach Adamah- alter of earth, Tarshish- one of the gemstones of the breastplate of the High Priest, Meres- meresu badam- stirring the blood (before sprinkling on the alter), Marsinah= meresu b’mincha- mixing the Mincha offering (flour and oil) and Memuchan= hechinu Shulchan- they prepared the Shulchan.
Esther 1:16 tells us which of the 7 advisors spoke up. “And Memuchan said.” About this the Gemorah say, “Memuchan is Haman. Why is he called Memuchan? Because he is muchan l’paranios- prepared for punishment!”
As an aside, why would Achashveirosh have 7 advisors named with sacrificial references? Bereishis 21:8 says, "Avraham made a great feast on the day Yitschak was weaned." Our Rabbis say the soton (prosecutor) said to Hashem, "Look at his self- indulgence! Does he offer anything to You?" Hashem said, "Avraham would offer even his own son to Me!" The soton asked to be able to test Avraham and G-d allowed it. Belshatsar, a predecessor of Achashveirosh, made a great feast and that’s when he saw the writing on the wall. That night he died.
Avraham had a feast, it nearly got his son killed. Belshatsar had a feast. It did get him killed. Achashveirosh has plans to make the biggest feast of all. He was not going to make the same mistake as those who went before. It’s during his feast that we are introduced to his 7 advisors, all named as a tribute to Hashem.
There is another way to explain it, of course. Whenever the Megilla says “King” without “Achashveirosh” it can be understood to mean the King of kings! In verses 1:13 it says only “King” and 1:14 continues as we saw, “Those closest to Him [the King of kings] were Karshinah, Sheisar, Admasah, etc.” With this insight the Megilla is telling us that although Haman is about to make the first move of his rise to power which will ultimately threaten the existence of Israel, don’t worry, because closest to the King of kings, are the sacrifices Israel offered before the destruction of the Temple. So no matter what Haman’s plans are, the King’s plans will play out. Memuchan thinks he’s preparing to get his daughter in as queen. But Memuchan is Haman because he is being prepared for punishment!
Getting back, the Gemorah had said Memuchan alludes to the preparation of the Shulchan and then it says it alludes to the preparation of Haman’s punishment! How can both be so?
The numeric value of nachash- snake is the same as Mashiach- messiah. An equal numeric value between two things can mean they are the same or it can mean they are diametrically opposed to one another, two ends of the same spectrum. The snake was the influence which lead man to sin and brought ‘death’ to the world and the Mashiach will be the influence that will elevate man beyond sin and bring the world back to ‘life’.
The snake was the influence that led man to transgress G-d’s will and eat from the tree. Haman was the influence that led Israel to transgress G-d’s will and eat from Achashveirosh’s feast. Haman parallels the snake.
The Gemorah Megilla asks and answers, “Where do we find Haman in the Torah? In the verse, ‘Hamin ha’ets…’- [G-d asks Adam, ‘] From this tree…[did you eat?’]” Hamin are the letters, Haman. The first place a thing appears in the Torah, the blueprint of creation, is where its essence lies. Haman emerged out of the original sin. The show-breads of the Shulchan were outside the nature of death that had resulted from that sin. Memuchan is hechinu Shulchan- preparation of the Shulchan AND Haman, who was muchan l’paranios- preparation for punishment, because they are opposite ends of the same spectrum.
Even more than this, according to the insight whereby “King” means Hashem and the 7 advisors are 7 references to sacrifices, Memuchan awakens in Hashem, so to speak, the accusation against Haman, that because of him only the show-breads remain outside of the nature of death.
Being exacting in the language of our Rabbis regarding the 7 references to the sacrifices, each one was a thing itself, or a service, accept for the show-breads!? We have a year old lamb, two turtledoves, the alter of earth, the Tarshish stone, mixing the blood, mixing the Mincha and then its “preparing the Shulchan.” Everything needed some kind of preparation. Why does only the Shulchan get this unusual representation?
Hashem is not interested in our sacrifices, or in any of our mitsvos for that matter. He is interested in our interest in the mitsvos! This title of this week’s parsha, Teruma, means donation. Israel is commanded to give a donation towards the building of the Mishkan. It won’t be for a few more weeks till we read that Israel donated so much, Moshe had to order them to stop. A commentary, the Oheiv Yisrael, says that upon hearing the order to stop, Israel let out a krichs. “Oy! I was just about to bring…” “Ach! A still wanted to give…” The Oheiv Yisrael says that desire was worth more than the donations themselves.
A story I remember from my earliest years in Yeshiva is of two neighbors, one a scholarly individual and one a simple business owner. Each day they would arrive home from work at the same time, the scholar from his toiling in Torah and the businessman from his 9-5, and they’d smile and nod. As the scholar turned to put his key in the door he let out a ‘harrumph’ at the businessman. The simpleton! Doesn’t he know he can’t take it with him!? But the businessman turned and let out a sigh. Oyyhhh! If only I could be a scholar like him. If only I could find the time to learn.
After 120 years the scholar and the businessman found themselves standing before the heavenly court. On the scholar’s scale of merit where golden towers of Talmud study. Sapphire-brick buildings from toiling in the commentaries. And the mitsvos he performed, the stringencies, with enhancements! The load of merit was insurmountable!
And next to him was the businessman and his scale. He had merits. He heard the Rabbi in shul and never walked out or went to sleep. He had the merits of his mitsvos, as he understood to do them, as his circumstances allowed. But they certainly could not outweigh the hundreds of thousands of annual sins, unavoidable to any businessman who is not expert in the Jewish laws of commerce. Each man’s judgment seemed self-evident.
But then the soton brought out the scholar his “harrumphs.” Each passing day the cameras re-played, and with every “harrumph” that broke the silence of the courtroom, it was surely followed by the stressed, metallic groaning of the Scale of Justice as the scholar’s insurmountable mass of merit was slowly lifted into the air.
And then they brought out to the businessman his “sighs”…
There is probably going to be a lot of sighing going on this week. Unfortunately, we learn when Hashem’s appointment of the craftsmen of the Mishkan, “I have filled them with Divine Spirit, with wisdom and insight and a knowledge of every craft.” Wouldn’t we expect that “Divine spirit, wisdom and insight” comes complete with “a knowledge of every craft”? The verse is telling Hashem bestowed two gifts on these men. The second gift was craftsmanship. The first was the divine ability to look at a donated item and know HOW the person donated it! With reverence, humility, selflessness or with regret, self-interest or haughtiness. Only the purest donations went into the vessels within the sanctuary. If we couldn’t fool the craftsmen with the size of our donation, we certainly can’t fool the heavenly court the breath of a sigh. We have to mean it.
So Memuchan, meaning the preparation of the Shulchan is one of the seven to teach that the intent behind a mitsva is as important as the mitsva! A great indication of the value given to an object or action is the preparation that goes into it.
The showbreads were put on the Shulchan and they sat there till they were eaten. All the Shulchan was was a preparation! That was its service. It had on it bread and incense. After a week the priests would eat the bread and the incense would be burned on the alter of gold. The Shulchan’s purpose was to show the value of preparation.
We said the Shulchan was the channel of all physical sustenance. Of course. Because, as we say two to four times a day, in the Shema, “And it will be that if you listen to My commandments…I will provide rain for your lands…that you may gather in your grains, your wine and your oil.” Our sustenance is directly proportional to our mitsva observance. And our mitsva observance is proportional to our mitsva preparation. The more we put in, the more nature puts out.
Memuchan is Haman. Hamin ha’ets- From the tree…did you eat? We had only one mitsva and yet we blew it and we were cursed to work the ground for our bread. Memuchan is the preparation of the Shulchan, the antidote to Hamin ha’ets hazeh. Doing mitsvos properly can bring relief from the curse. And Memuchan is muchan l’paranios- prepared for punishment. Haman thought he was condemning us, but he was condemning himself. All enemies of Israel these past 2500 years thought they were condemning us, but they are condemning themselves.
Hashem showed Adam all human history and Adam saw a miscarriage to which he gave 70 years of his life. That infant which cheated death was King David. The Gemorah Shabbos said King David learned all day on Shabbos. When his 70 years were up, it was a Shabbos. The angel of death had no power against him because Torah was constantly on his lips. The angel made a noise in the yard and when King David came out to inspect it he stopped his learning and the angel took his soul. The Gemorah Shabbos records that the now King Solomon sent an inquiry to the elders of the Beis Hamidrash- the House of Study. He said, “My father is dead and is lying in the sun and the dogs of my father’s house are hungry?” The Rabbis sent back, “Cut up a carcass and place it before the dogs. And regarding your father, place a loaf of bread or a child on him and carry him [into the shade].” A troubling Gemorah, in many ways.
According to Jewish law, a corpse can not be moved on Shabbos. But it is unduly dishonorable to the host of a soul to leave it in a place where it will come to shame. So Jewish law says place an object on the body that is of necessity and for the sake of the object the body can be moved. King Solomon knew the laws of Shabbos. Why did he ask this question?
Now that his father had died Solomon had inherited everything. Why did he say the dogs of “my father’s house” are hungry as apposed to “my” dogs are hungry? Furthermore, food for pets needs to be prepared before Shabbos. David died on Shabbos. Where was the dog food that the servants already prepared? And what do these questions have to do with each other that Solomon actually asked about his father’s honor and the dogs in one breath?
Just prior to this page of the Gemorah, telling of David’s death, David asked Hashem if he was forgiven for his sin regarding Bat Sheva? Hashem answered he was forgiven. [Without going into an explanation of the sin of David by Bat Sheva, I’ll say one thing. What most people think is the sin is wrong. Shmuel II, 11:4 says, “David sent messengers and took her, she came to him and he lay with her, she had been cleansing herself of her impurity, she then returned to her house.” The Prophet is telling us Batsheva was not in nidah. Could Shmuel possibly be testifying that Bat Sheva was spiritually clean to allay fears that David committed adultery with an impure women?! Even the uneducated, who know nothing beyond the text on the page, would have to agree this verse is problematic. Getting back,] David asked Hashem if a sign of His forgiveness would be granted in his lifetime? Hashem said no, but soon afterwards, during the life of Solomon.
When Solomon completed building the Temple, they wanted to get in. You can imagine. They couldn’t open the doors. Solomon offered 24 prayers that the doors should open. They didn’t. Not until Solomon asked that Hashem remember the good deeds of David, His servant, did the doors open. And at that moment, the Gemorah tells us, anyone who had slandered David regarding Bat Sheva, their face turned soot black. These were the lucky ones. Mystical writings tell us that the souls of ba’alei lashon horah- maligners and slanderers are sent back down to this world in dogs!
Many stories are heard from more or less reliable sources but I heard first hand from a friend that for a period of time, when he left home in the morning, a cat was there. When he arrived at night, the same cat was there. But what really made him nervous was that any local walks around the neighborhood were in the company of that cat. After discussing his predicament with certain people, the next time he saw the cat he said, “I forgive you!” and he never saw it again. The dogs of the house of David were most likely people who had maligned him on twos but were now back on all fours. They clung to him in hopes of reparation.
A verse in Isaiah compares fraudulent leaders to dogs because, “The dogs are greedy, they don’t know satiation.” Dogs, slanderers and politicians know no limits. We recently learned that due to the tremendous piety of Pinchas ben Ya’ir and his meticulousness in tithing, his donkey would refuse to eat any grains offered it that weren’t properly tithed. The belongings of a person are an extension of the person and ones’ conduct affects his belongings.
When the dogs were by King David, they did know satiation! And that Shabbos his household prepared food for the dogs but in the amount they were accustomed to by the merit of David. When David died, the dogs fell to Solomon and he did not have his fathers merits. The dogs ate their prepared portion and were still hungry. In praise of his father, Solomon inquired from the House of Study, “My father is dead, his dogs are now hungry.” They weren’t hungry when he was alive. They are now, now that he’s dead. Extolling David’s merits by way of his dogs would also send a message to the two legged creatures barking out slander of his father. A man who knows satiations does not seek another man’s wife. These people can put a leash on it now… or one will be put one them later.
Solomon first emphasized his father’s merits by saying, “My father is dead and is lying in the sun, [what should I do]?” He knew how a corpse could be moved on Shabbos but he also knew that the corpse of King David would not rot. Perhaps he should be left in the sun because moving him would be for no purpose! This also would be a rolled-up-newspaper slap in the face to those who ridiculed him. But the Beis Hamidrash sent back that he should be moved. Why?
There is a dispute, again in Gemorah Shabbos, about an incident between King David a Mephivoshes. David had inquired if anyone remained from the house of Saul so that David might show him kindness for the sake of Jonathan, Saul’s son. He summoned a servant of Saul’s, named Ziva, who said a crippled son of Jonathan’s is alive. That’s Mephivoshes. David summoned Mephivoshes, he returned to him Saul’s entire estate and invited him to eat every meal at the king’s table.
A time later, when David was on the road in battle, Ziva came out to greet him. David asked where Mephivoshes was? Ziva said that Mephivoshes had said David will die in battle and the Kingdom will be rightfully returned to the house of Saul. On the spot David declared all that Mephivoshes owns now belongs to Ziva. It seems he heard slander of Mephivoshes and accepted it as truth.
When King David returned to Jerusalem, Mephivoshes came out to greet him. Mephivoshes was dirty and disheveled. Not the condition of one who expected to become king. David asked why he had not come out with Ziva. Mephivoshes said Ziva convinced him that being crippled, it was not wise. He then heard how Ziva betrayed him since then he refused to bath nor launder his clothes till his master, David, returned safely from battle. And since he was anyways doomed, being a descendant of Saul, every kindness David showed him was totally undeserving. Why should he complain that Ziva took away from him something he did not deserve anyway? On the spot David declared that Mephivoshes and Ziva should split the estate of Saul. At that moment it was decreed On High that the house of King David would also be split.
Some commentaries say David split the estate because he did not know who to believe, Ziva or Mephivoshes. Other say lashon horah is so destructive that even with wanting to believe Mephivoshes, he was only able to bring himself to split the estate. In the Gemorah Shabbos, Rav says David accepted Ziva’s slander which not only cause his house to be split [10 tribes vs. 2], it also caused Israel to fall to idolatry and to eventually be exiled from Israel. Shmuel says David did not accept the lashon horah.
To tie this all in to our question of why the Beis Hamidrash said to bring David’s corpse into the shade, the Gemorah Bava Metsiah tells of the greatness of Rebbe Eleazar ben Rebbe Shimon. On his death bed he told his wife the Rabbis were mad at him and would not tend to his burial. He said when he died she should put him up in the attack and not worry about him. The Gemorah says he was there between 18 and 22 years. Everyday his wife ascended to see his condition. If even a single hair had fallen out, blood welled up in the pore. One day his wife saw a worm in his ear and it troubled her greatly. Rebbe Eleazar came to her in a dream that night and said it was nothing. He had once heard someone insult a Torah Sage and did not protest. For that he was punished with the one worm in the ear. Nothing else would happen.
The Rabbis sent back to Solomon to move David because, granted, he was a tremendously righteous individual, but it may be that he accepted lashon horah. If he did, it’s best not to leave him in the sun as not to give an opportunity for reparation that might publicly shame him.
According to Rav who says David did accept the slander, how could that one incident cause all that it did? Israel being split, serving idols and eventually exiled?
Sometimes due to the sins of Israel Hashem may chose to bring a sin to the hands of their righteous. Since Adam’s eating the fruit, the Brother’s sale of Yosef and Moshe’s striking the rock, Israel was destined to exile. Hashem possibly subjected David to an episode of lashon horah and possibly he’d experience an iota of decomposition because of it.
Shmuel, however says David did not accept the lashon horah from Ziva. Then why did the Beis Hamidrash say to bring him in? Because of a principle in law called a lo ploog, figuratively translated as no exceptions. Some laws allow for exceptions but some laws, if appropriate exceptions were allowed, in a short time people will be making inappropriate exceptions. A person may appear to have lived a righteousness life, but only Hashem knows what intentions were behind the actions. If King David were left in the sun, having died there on Shabbos, some other family or community my conclude to leave their revered loved one in the sun, only he might not be so worthy.
But, the way they suggested to move him, by way of a placing a loaf of bread or a baby on him, with all the moveable objects that would be available to Solomon in his palace, why suggest these? A loaf of bread would become too disgusting to eat and what mother wants to volunteer their infant to sit upon a corpse?
Two articles of the Mishkan were instructed to be built this week with a crown of gold all around. The Aron and the Shulchan. When we think of a crown, we think of the monarchy of King David. These two articles and their crowns were made from gold donated with only the purest of hearts and intentions. The Aron of Torah existed outside the nature of measure. Likewise, with Torah on David’s lips his life would have had no measure. The Shulchan was outside the nature of death. And having been given 70 years from Adam, David defied death at birth, and again 70 years later. More than this, he was a reparation for Adam’s sin which brought death and deterioration into the world. This is why the Rabbis suggested placing bread or a baby on King David. Because King David was like the Shulchan upon which bread was prepared. And he was a vessel of Torah, like the Aron, upon which stood the Keruvim, formed with the face of a baby. And a baby does not bear the iniquity of sin.
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