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Terumah
Building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) vs. building the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) Print E-mail
Friday, 16 February 2018

In Parshat Trumah, we read about how B’nai Yisrael gave generously of their own volition for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) as it says in Shmot 25:2, “Have them take for Me a Trumah offering. From every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall you take my Terumah offering.” It was the generosity of B’nai Yisrael which brought the nation to bring the materials needed for the building of the Mishkan. In Shmot 36:5-7 we see that B’nai Yisrael were so enthusiastic and brought so much that there was enough and they were told not to bring anything else.

In Shmot 38:8 we see that the women donated the copper for the basin by giving away their personal mirrors and in Shmot 35:25-26 we read “And every wise hearted women spun with her hands; and they brought the spun yarn of greenish-blue wool, crimson wool and fine linen. And all of the women whose hearts inspired them with wisdom, spun the goat’s hair.

It is clear from here that the entire nation was excited about the construction of the Mishkan and happy to volunteer their skills and possessions.

In contrast, Rabbi Yisaschar Yaakovson points out that when we read the Haftara from Melachim (Kings I 5:26-6:14) we find in sentences 27-28 that “King Solomon imposed a levy from all Israel; the levy consisted of thirty thousand men. He sent them to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand each month; for one month they would be in Lebanon and for two months each would be at home. Adoniram was in charge of the levy.”

This levy conjures up images of the levy that was placed on B’nai Yisrael by Pharaoh in Egypt. The difference is that this time the levy was placed by the King of Israel.

Another contrast is that the Mishkan was built in the desert solely by members of B’nai Yisrael who volunteered and in Shlomo’s time the Beit HaMikdash was built together with Hiram as they were at peace with Tyre.

We can see a big difference between the grassroots building of the Mishkan out of love, sincerity and spirituality and the building of a fancy Temple along with a foreign ruler where forced labor was imposed upon the nation.

The model of the building of the Mishkan seems like a better model for us to follow today. It is better for the community to get excited about a cause and take part in creating it together as opposed to being forced into building a fancy and expensive building.

It is interesting to note that in Parshat Trumah it says (Shmot 25:8) “They shall make a sanctuary for Me and I will dwell in their midst” while at the end of the Haftarah (Melacim I 6:13) it says: “I shall dwell among B’nai Yisrael, and I shall not forsake My people Israel.”

In the end, even without the beautiful building, if we are worthy God will dwell among the nation of Israel.

 
When is the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) in effect? Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 March 2017

In Parshat Trumah we find the commandment to build the Sanctuary (Shmot 25:8) “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”

Sefer HaChinuch (95) points out that this mitzvah is in force when the majority of Israelites (Jewry) are settled in their homeland. It is not a mitzvah that is imposed on any individual but rather on the entire community. When the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt speedily in our days a positive mitzvah will be fulfilled.

The Kuzari (5:27) writes: "Yerushalayim can only be rebuilt when Israel yearns for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust."

Tehillim (102:14) states: "You shall arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favor her, the set time has come. For your servants take pleasure in her stones and embrace the dust thereof."

We pray three times a day for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash but how many people have kavana (intent) when they say those words and really want it to happen?

The first step in rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash will be the return of the majority of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

Last Sunday, Nefesh B’Nefesh held a mega event in New York which attracted over 1500 people who are considering making aliya (resettling in Israel). This year’s fair had the largest turnout ever. This gives us an indication that aliya is on the rise and on the radar screen of American Jewry.

I have been living in Israel for 12 ½ years and Israelis still ask me why I would leave New York to move to Israel. My answer is that Israel is the place that the Jews have yearned to return to for 2000 years and it was an opportunity that we could not pass up.

In order to hold on to Israel we need more Jews to come on aliya which will eventually bring us closer to fulfilling the mitzvah of rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash.

 
How do we increase joy in Adar? Print E-mail
Friday, 12 February 2016

In Memory of Hadar Cohen z”l who was murdered while protecting Jerusalem

The Talmud, Taanit 29a states: Mishenichnas Av mamitin b’simcha, when the month of Av begins, we curtail joy.  Mishenichnas Adar marbin b’simcha, when the month of Adar begins, we increase joy.

 

The Magen Avraham states that in Av we not only curtail joy, we eliminate it as that was the month when the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed.

 

According to Rashi, in Adar we increase joy in commemoration for the miracles of Purim which took place in Adar and in honor of the miracles of Pesach which took place in the following month of Nisan.

 

How do we increase joy? On Purim itself we have a feast with good food and wine. We also deliver Mishloach Manot (food packages) to friends and Matanot L’Evyonim (gifts to the poor).

 

Our joy is increased when we receive gifts. Is our joy also increased when we give to others?

 

In Parshat Trumah, B’nai Yisrael are asked to bring gifts to contribute to the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). They are asked to give their most precious possessions knowing that they can’t be replaced in the desert. We see in Parshat Vayakhel that in fact both the men and women are honored to contribute. Although their possessions will not be returned to them, they find joy in the satisfaction of being part of the construction of the Mishkan. Although they are giving away material possessions they are rewarded with the spirituality that will rest in the Mishkan.

 

The same can be said when giving Mishloach Manot and Matanot L’Evyonim. Although we are physically giving something up, our reward is the satisfaction in knowing that we are bringing joy to others.

 

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, in Michtav Me’Eliyahu states: “Man has been granted the sublime power of giving, enabling him to be merciful, to bestow happiness, to give of himself. That which a person gives to another is never lost. It is an extension of his being. He can see a part of himself in the fellow-man to whom he has given. This is the attachment between one man and his fellow to which we give the name ‘love’. When a happy person is attached to God, they want to do good and make others happy.”

 

On Purim, each one of us is commanded to be both a giver and a receiver. As Rav Dessler explains: “He is the giver whose giving flows from the goodness in his heart and whose receiving immediately fills his heart with gratitude – in payment for whatever he receives.”

 

If these mitzvot are only observed on Purim, then how do we increase joy during the entire month of Adar (and this year over an extra month of Adar as well)?

 

One way is to start by thinking of who we want to give to and preparing our special gifts.

 

In Jerusalem, there are border patrol soldiers, both men and women who need to see our appreciation every day and especially on Purim. At the funeral of Hadar Cohen z”l the 19 year old female border patrol soldier who was murdered while protecting the Old City of Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin quoted Yishayahu 62:6: “Al Chomotayich Yerushalayim Hifkadeti Shomrim Kol HaYom Vikol HaLayla”,  “I have set watchmen upon your walls, Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day or night.”  President Rivlin explained that these words no longer refer only to the “shomrim”, male guards, they also refer to the “shomrot”, female guards putting their lives on the line to keep Jerusalem safe.

 

We must also keep in mind the poor elderly residents in Jerusalem, many of whom were founders of the State of Israel, who don’t have the money or the energy to prepare Mishoach Manot packages yet are grateful to receive them.

 

Adar is the time to get excited about Purim and spread joy and happiness to those around us.

 

If you would like to contribute Mishloach Manot for the Border Patrol Soldiers and Matanot L’Evyonim for Jerusalem’s Elderly Residents go to www.toratreva.org.

  

 
Bringing Light into the World Print E-mail
Friday, 27 February 2015

Light is a central theme in Judaism.

In Parshat Trumah we read about the construction of the Menorah and in Parshat Titzaveh we are commanded to light a ner tamid, an eternal flame.

Although the Beit HaMikdash no longer stands, we still light an eternal flame in every synagogue.

Every Shabbat and holiday is brought in by the lighting of candles and every holiday has a connection to light.

During the Hebrew month of Elul and through the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah, we recite Psalm 27, L’David HaShem Ori V’Yishi, God is my light and my salvation. We recite this psalm with the hope that on Rosh HaShana God will help us see the light and repent.

Another name for Chanuka is Chag HaUrim, the festival of lights, which commemorates the Jewish people winning the war against the Syrian Greeks, rededicating the Beit HaMikdash and lighting the Menorah. We light our own personal chanukiot to remember the victory.

On Purim we read in Megilat Esther 8:16, “LaYehudim hayta ora vesimcha visason viykar”, “The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor”.

In what way did they have light?

Amos Chacham, the author of Daat Mikra’s commentary on Megilat Esther explains that the word “ora” could be a figurative light. The troubles are compared to darkness and the salvation is the transformation from darkness to light. “Ora” can also be a literal light. When people are happy and rejoice they turn on the lights both inside and outside of their homes.

We recite that same verse from the megila (The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor) each week while holding a multi-wicked candle as part of the Havdala service and we add the words “ken tihye lanu”, “so may it be for us”.

At the Pesach seder, we commemorate the journey of B’nai Yisrael from the darkness of slavery to the light of redemption.

On Shavuot, we are reminded of the Revelation at Sinai. In Shmot 19:18 we read: “All of Mount Sinai was smoking because God descended upon it in the fire. The smoke ascended like the smoke of the furnace and the entire mountain shuddered exceedingly.”

In Mishlei (Proverbs) the Torah is compared to light and the mitzvot are compared to a candle. Mishlei 6:23 states: “Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah or”, “For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah a light”.

Shmot Rabah 36:3 asks the question: What is the meaning of the verse: “For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah a light”? Whoever performs a commandment has kindled a lamp before God and revives their soul as it says in Mishlei 20:27, “Ner Hashem Nishmat adam”, “The soul of man is the lamp of God”.

When we light a yahrzeit candle, a ner neshama, literally a candle of the soul we are showing that the souls of the departed live on.

This week, Israel lost two very special people, Member of Kneset Uri Orbach who passed away from a serious illness at age 54 and Adele Bitton, a four year old who was hurt in a rock throwing terrorist attack in 2013 and never recovered. The entire nation was asked to pray on their behalf and although many of us did not know them personally we were affected by their untimely deaths. As their shiva candles flicker we must take the time to learn about and appreciate the contributions that they made during their short lives and help their legacies live on.

 
What Came First the Command to Build the Mishkan or the Sin of the Golden Calf? Print E-mail
Friday, 31 January 2014

When we read the parshiot in order, first we read Trumah followed by Tetzave and Ki Tisa. The commandment to build the Mishkan is in Trumah and the Sin of the Golden Calf is in Ki Tisa. If we follow the order in the Torah then the command to build the Mishkan comes before the sin of the golden calf.  According to Ramban, this is the order in which the events took place.

 

However, Rashi and Sforno both go by the principle of Ein mukdam umeuchar BaTorah, the Torah is not necessarily in chronological order.

 

According to Rashi (Shmot 31:14), the story of the Golden Calf took place many days before the command to make the Mishkan, since the tablets of stone were broken on the 17th of Tamuz. On Yom Kippur (the 10th of Tishrei), God was reconciled with Bnei Yisrael and the next day they began to bring voluntary offerings to the Mishkan which was erected on the 1st of Nisan.

 

Rashi continues (Shmot 33:11), on the 17th of Tamuz the tablets were broken, on the 18th he burnt the calf and meted out punishment to the sinners, on the 19th he ascended Har Sinai... He stayed there for 40 days and interceded…On the 1st of Elul he was told to receive the second tablets and stayed there for 40 days…On the 10th of Tishrei God became reconciled to Israel in joy and with a perfect heart and said to Moshe: “I have forgiven them”, handing him the second tablets. Moshe then descended and began to give the order for the construction of the Mishkan. They completed it on the 1st of Nisan.

 

Sforno feels that the Mishkan was an afterthought that was only given once God saw that Bnai Yisrael sinned with the golden calf and needed something tangible to help them relate to God.

 

In Yirmiyahu 7:22-23 we read: “For I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them saying: ‘Listen to My voice and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and walk in all the way that I commanded you, that it may be well with you.’”

 

We learn from these psukim that the sacrifices were never meant to be the most important part of the religion.

 

According to Abravanel, when Bnai Yisrael left Egypt, it was more important to focus on faith in God and civil laws. However, after they made the calf, God had to provide an antidote to their spiritual infirmity. They would not have been commanded to sacrifice had they not sinned. At Har Sinai they were not commanded concerning “burnt offering and sacrifice” rather they were commanded to be obedient to Me that I may be your God and you will be My people and steadfastly follow the faith I commanded you.

 

If this is so then the question is, when the Third Beit HaMikdash is built speedily in our days will we still need the sacrifices? If we follow the opinions of Rashi, Sforno and Abravanel that the sacrifices are an antidote to the sin of the golden calf then maybe we won’t need them anymore.

 

However, if we follow the view of Ramban that the events in the Torah did in fact take place in chronological order and that the commandment to build the Mishkan did come before the sin of the golden calf then there is a good chance that the sacrifices will return.

 

Now we will just have to wait and see.

 
The Mitzvah of Building the Beit HaMikdash Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
In Parshat Terumah (Shmot 25:8) we read: “And let them make me a sanctuary”.

 

Sefer HaChinuch, the Book of Mitzvah Education, teaches us that it is a positive mitzvah to build a House for the sake of God, which means that we will offer sacrifices there to Him and there will be where B’nai Yisrael ascend on the Shalosh Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot) each year.

 

Sefer HaChinuch continues: The building of the Beit HaMikdash is in order to prepare our hearts for the worship of God, not because God needs to dwell in a house of human beings and come under the shelter of their roof…For heaven and the heavens cannot contain Him…It was all meant for making our physical selves worthy. For the physical self becomes qualified through its actions. As good actions are multiplied and as they are continued with great perseverance, the thoughts of the heart become purified, cleansed and refined.

 

Even though we unfortunately don’t have the Beit HaMikdash right now, we must remember this message. We must do good deeds, perform the mitzvoth and bring ourselves closer to God. We must do what we can to protect our holy sites.

 

Although the holiness of Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount in its state of ruin is not to be compared to its holiness in its inhabited condition, in the mean time we must appreciate the fact that we have the State of Israel and the opportunity to visit many holy sites which we were only able to access after the Six Day War in 1967.

 

May we be worthy of seeing the Beit HaMikdash rebuilt speedily in our days!

 
The Menorah Print E-mail
Friday, 24 February 2012
Parshat Terumah gives us a very detailed description of what the Menorah should look like. Is there any significance to all of the details- the seven lamps, the six branches, the three almond shaped cups on each branch etc?

 

Although we don’t know God’s reason for all of these details, some will try to find allegorical interpretations while others will say that it is not even worth trying to guess.

 

Abravanel explains: I personally am convinced that it is pointless to look for significance in every detail of the Tabernacle or Temple’s construction, be it as measurements, the flowers, the cups and other minutiae. They were merely necessary parts of the construction.

 

Abravanel does, however, explain the allegorical significance of the articles in the Mishkan: There are two kinds of reward: material- wealth and honor- corresponding to the table and showbread and the reward for wisdom and attaining greater spiritual heights- the Menorah symbolized this. The Lamp of the Lord is the soul of man. The seven lamps symbolize the seven degrees of wisdom to be found in the Divine law. All the lamps turned inwards to the middle one, towards the Holy of Holies symbolizing that true wisdom must harmonize with the fundamentals of the Torah, housed in the ark. The Menorah was made of pure gold implying that wisdom must not be tainted by alien ideas. The cups, knops and flowers symbolize the various sciences which branch out from each other. It was “beaten work” out of one piece, symbolizing that all the various types of sciences have one common source.

 

You could say that Abravanel believed in Torah U’Mada, a term coined by Yeshiva University to mean that Torah and the sciences can coexist.

 

Rambam says that the Menorah was placed in front of the curtain to enhance the glory and splendor of the house. For an abode illuminated by a continual light concealed by a curtain, makes a deep psychological impact.

 

Rambam is not paying attention to the details but he is still teaching us what can be learned from the Menorah and curtain in a more general way.

 

Although we may never understand the details that went into making the Mishkan and even though we don’t have the Beit HaMikdash or vessels today, as we hope and pray that the Third Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt speedily in our day, the idea of the Menorah can teach us about spirituality and the importance of bringing light into the world.

 
All of the Jewish People Have a Share in Torah Study Print E-mail
Friday, 04 February 2011

There are thirteen psukim devoted to the making of the aron (ark). Why does the aron get more attention than any of the other objects that were being prepared for the mishkan (tabernacle)?

 

An answer can be found in Midrash Tanchuma:

 

When God instructed Moshe to build the mishkan, He used the expression “veasita”, “you shall make”. However, with regard to the aron, He said “veasu”, “they shall make”.

 

Why does God talk about all of Am Yisrael in relation to the building of the aron?

 

God wished to stress that the command applied to each and every Israelite alike. No one should have the excuse to say to his fellow: I contributed more to the aron so I have a greater stake in the Torah than you, since you hardly contributed anything you don’t have a share in the Torah.

 

For this reason, the Torah is compared to water (Yishayahu 51:1). Just as we are not ashamed to ask for a drink of water so too we should not be ashamed to ask to be taught Torah. No one should be able to say: I am a Torah scholar and the Torah is my hereditary privilege because my ancestors too were scholars but your ancestors were not scholars.

 

That is why it is written (Devarim 33:4) “Torah tziva lanu Moshe, morasha kehillat Yaakov”, “The Torah that Moshe commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov”.

 

Any Jewish person who devotes himself to Torah has as much share in the Torah as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).

 

Is it a coincidence that the making of the aron is stressed thirteen times, a lucky number in Judaism, the age that a boy officially commits himself to Torah and mitzvoth regardless of his background or who his ancestors were?

 
God Dwells in our Midst Print E-mail
Friday, 19 February 2010

In Parshat Terumah we read the words (Shmot 25:8): “V’Asu li Mikdash v’Shachanti Bitocham”, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will then dwell in their midst”.

 

Abravanel asks the following question:

 

If God is everywhere, not limited in space, then why does the Torah say that once B’nai Yisrael build the sanctuary then God will dwell in there midst?

 

Abravanel answers:

 

The Divine intention behind the construction of the Tabernacle was to combat the idea that God has forsaken the earth and that his throne was in heaven and remote from humankind. He commanded them to build the Tabernacle as if to imply that He dwelt in their midst, that they should believe that God lived in their midst and His Providence was ever with them.

 

Different people find spirituality in different ways. Some have more Kavana, intent and awreness of God’s presence when they pray in a synagogue. Others feel uplifted at the Kotel, the Western Wall. There are those who feel closest to God during Hitbodedut, spending time contemplating God outdoors. Each of these paths are valid.

 

Without the Tabernacle, some may have felt that they were not able to connect with God.

 

Now that we don’t have the Tabernacle or the Beit HaMikdash, synagogues have taken over temporarily as a Mikdash Me’at, a small Temple. Yet we must remember that God is everywhere and prayer does not need to be limited to the Synagogue.

 

Just last week, I had the opportunity to go to the “Kotel Katan”, the small Kotel, an extension of the Western Wall. The Kotel Katan is much smaller, quieter and more secluded than the large Kotel Plaza which can often have many distractions and become a social scene. The Kotel Katan is a place where you can feel the Divine Presence resting, where you can really come to understand the meaning of “V’Asu li Mikdash v’Shachanti Bitocham”, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will then dwell in their midst”.

 

May each and every one of us have the opportunity to connect with God and experience God’s presence resting upon us!

 *********************************************************************Send Mishloach Manot/ Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts for Purim and Gifts for the Poor) to Jerusalem’s Impoverished Elderly!As Purim approaches Torat Reva Yerushalayim is busy preparing Mishloach Manot/Matanot L’Evyonim packages which will be hand delivered to the neglected elderly of Jerusalem on Shushan Purim (the day that Purim is celebrated in Jerusalem ). The packages will include healthy snacks, gifts and Purim treats. Right now we have enough packages for ½ of a nursing home. Please help us reach our goal of providing packages to two full nursing homes so that no seniors will feel left out! 

The packages that Torat Reva Yerushalayim delivered last year to Jerusalem's elderly residents were the ONLY gift packages that these individuals received!

 According to the Rambam in his Mishneh Torah: “gifts for the poor deserve more attention than the seudah (festive meal) and mishloach  manot (gifts for friends) because there is no greater, richer  happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans,  widows and proselytes.”
A donation of $18 covers one package, $180 covers packages for an entire floor of a nursing home.
 Please click on the following link to donate on line
http://toratreva.org/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7&Itemid=7
Or mail a check payable to Torat Reva Yerushalayim to:
In the US
Torat Reva Yerushalayim, 75 Berkeley Avenue, Yonkers NY 10705
In Israel
Torat Reva Yerushalayim, 12 Israel  Eldad #19, Jerusalem 93399

Feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested.
*********************************************************************
Purim Party & Family Megilla Reading for Parents, Babies,Toddlers & Preschoolers

in the German Colony, Jerusalem

Date: Sunday, February 28 

Time: Begins at 5:00 pm with a Costume Party and Mini Carnival for the kids, Plenty of Sushi and Dessert followed by Maariv and Megilla

Cost: 100 Shekel donation per family

Leave the groggers at home and bring your rattles instead. No scary costumes please.

RSVP for exact location: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 052-534-6260

 
Give First and Think About it Later Print E-mail
Saturday, 28 February 2009

In Parshat Terumah (Shmot 25:1-2) it says “God spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to B’nai Yisrael and let them take for me a portion (terumah)…”

 

According to T’na D’Bei Eliyahu, immediately following the words of B’nai Yisrael “Naaseh V’Nishma”, “We will do and we will listen”, God asks B’nai Yirael to bring Terumot, contributions for the Mishkan (tabernacle).

 

The Ba’al Shem Tov said that if someone arose to do a mitzvah, we must help provide them with an opportunity to perform a mitzvah, otherwise they will loose momentum and they will never end up performing any mitzvoth.

 

Sde Margalit adds that the excitement that a person feels about wanting to be involved must transform into the actual performance of the mitzvah. Therefore it was crucial for B’nai Yisrael to have the mitzvah of Terumah to perform immediately after they received the Torah.

 

R.S Alter adds that the mitzvah of tzedakah must be done “naaseh v’nishmah”, without thinking too much. First you give and then you can think about it after because if you think about it too much about giving the money before you make a donation, you may never end up giving at all.

 

Yesterday, I received an email from a family who will be participating in our Mishloach Manot/ Matanot L’Evyonim project (Gifts for Purim and Gifts to the poor- see below) which read: “I sent a donation for your mishloach manot project. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives”. 

May we have many opportunities to help others on Purim and throughout the year.

 
We Can Bring Peace Through Acts of Tzedaka Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 February 2008

Parshat Teruma begins with the words (Shmot 25:1-2) “God spoke to Moshe saying: ‘Speak to B’nai Yisrael and have them take for me a Teruma (portion of their resources) offering. From every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall you take my Teruma offering.’”

Why does the pasuk say “take for me” rather than “give me”?

According to Sforno, this commandment was directed to the gabbaim (leaders) of B’nai Yisrael who were directed to take (collect) voluntary contributions rather than levy a tax.

In the Talmud, Masechet Bava Batra 9a we learn the following: Rabbi Elazar said : “The one who causes the performance of charitable deeds is greater than one who actually performs the deed”. This is adduced from the statement in Isaiah 32:17 “And it will be that the act of charity will bring peace; and the work of charity will bring everlasting tranquility and security”.

According to Ritva and Maharsha, genuine peace is a greater blessing than tranquility or security.

Rabbeinu Gershom and the Malbim add that Rabbi Eliezer derives from here that one who motivates another to perform an act of charity is even greater than the one who makes the donation.

During these troubled times in the State of Israel, we need all of the help that we can get to ensure that we have tranquility, security and ultimately true peace.

 
Building A Holy Sanctuary Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 February 2007

The Gemara in Eruvin 2a-b states that the words Mikdash (Temple) and Mishkan (Tabernacle) can be used interchangeably. If that is the case, then why does the Torah need to use both words?

The words Mikdash and Mishkan have different connotations. The root of the word Mikdash is Kadosh, holy, while the root of the word Mishkan is Shechina, Divine Presence. In Parshat Terumah, Shmot 25:8 we find the words "Ve.Asu Li Mikdash V.Shachanti Bitocham", "They shall make a Sanctuary (a holy place) for Me and then I (My Divine Presence) will rest in their midst."

According to Sforno, God.s Divine Presence will dwell among B.nai Yisrael and receive their prayers in the same way that Moshe experienced the Divine Presence at Mount Sinai. However, God wants us to do our part and work for this privilege.

This is not only true of the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple in Jerusalem) and the Mishkan (Tabernacle in the desert). The Rebbe of Amshinov once said that by bringing Kedusha (holiness) into our private homes, each of our homes can become a Mishkan HaShem, a sanctuary where God.s presence will reside.

If we do our part to make ourselves and our surroundings holy, both in and out of the synagogue, then God.s presence will rest on us wherever we go.

 
True Blue Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 March 2006

In the beginning of Parshat Trumah, Shmot Chapter 25, God tells Moshe: "Speak to B'nei Yisrael and have them take for me a terumah (donation) offering.gold, silver and copper, techelet, argaman (purple), tolaat (crimson), fine linen and goats hair, red-dyed ram's skins, tachish skins and acacia wood, oil for the lamp, spices for anointing oil and for the incense of aromatic spices, onyx stones and filling stones for the ephod and breastplate.

What color is techelet and what makes it as important as gold, silver and copper?

According to Rashi, techelet is wool that is dyed with the greenish blue blood (mucus) of the chilazon (a marine mollusk). The Gemara in Menachot 44a states that the color of the chilazon's body is similar to the sea and his anatomy is similar to a fish. This is a rare mollusk that lives in the section of the Mediterranean Sea between Haifa and Tyre (Lebanon) and swarms out of the water onto land once every seventy years. Since the chilazon's appearance is so rare, techelet is expensive.

The curtains and the parochet (veil) for the mishkan (tabernacle) were made with techelet, argaman and tolaat as well as the ephod (apron), breastplate and coat that the kohen wore.

Techelet and argaman were the universal colors of royalty as we read in Megillat Ester 8:15: "And Mordechai left the king's presence with royal raiment, techelet and white and a huge golden crown and a wrap of linen and argaman and the city of Shushan shouted and rejoiced."

Why did God specifically choose techelet as the thread on the tzizit, hakanaf p'til techelet, that we refer to every day in the Shma?

The Gemara in Menachot 43b answers that the blue color of techelet reminds us of the blue of the sea and the sea reminds us of the sky and the sky reminds of God.

Over time, we have lost the tradition of which marine mollusk the chilazon is. However, the Jewish people never forgot the importance of techelet and what it symbolizes. Many tallitot were decorated with blue stripes in memory of the techelet. Recently, there have been attempts to recreate techelet for use in tzizit. Near Jerusalem, there is a factory that makes tzizit with blue strings using the dye from the snail murex trunculus which they believe is the chilazon. Some have taken it upon themselves to wear these tzizit.

Ludwig Austin Frankl (1810-1894) an Austrian Jewish poet believed that based on the tallit, blue and white should be the Jewish nation's colors. When it was time to come up with a flag, David Wolffsohn (1856-1914) said that the tallit, blue and white should be the backdrop.

May we merit the opportunity to reveal the true chilazon so that the mitzvah of tzizit can be performed in the manner prescribed in the Torah.