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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Terumah

Parshat Terumah

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Terumah 4th of Adar I, 5776 | February 13, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rabbanit Amit Yaghou



"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Terumah
4th of Adar I, 5776 | February 13, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbanit Amit Yaghoubi
The Roller Coaster Ride

Yechiel, a young boy of eight years old, had just entered second grade. He had a wonderful life and lovely spirit, greatly enjoying the classes of his Rebbe and Morah. However, he would come home from school every day telling his mother he had very bad stomach aches. His mother attributed it to beginning-of-the-year jitters and the adjustment to school, but the stomach pains did not disappear. He would even sometimes call from school and wish to return home.

But with the hustle and bustle of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot rapidly approaching, nobody paid much attention to it. After Sukkot, when matters began to calm down and Yechiel kept on complaining about his stomach, his mother decided to take him to the doctor for a check-up.

Undergoing tests and examinations, the unfortunate news was broken to Yechiel and his mother that it wasn’t just a stomach ache. Cancer was discovered in the little boy’s stomach. Overnight, this happy second grader exchanged his desk, books and friends for hospitals, needles and nurses. He now faced the drama of a terrible illness.

The year was fraught with difficultly as the doctors remained uncertain of what the outcome would be. Yechiel was closely monitored throughout the many treatments he received, being granted permission to return home once in a while for a short period of time and then return to the hospital. His second grade year was primarily spent in the hospital.

Towards the end of the year as the weather began to improve, Yechiel’s treatments were finally completed. As the doctors administered a final body scan, to everyone’s relief, the cancer was completely removed. Retaining him for one more week to make sure everything was fine, the doctor at last called Yechiel’s parents and said, “Your son is healthy and the cancer is in remission.”

The doctor however expressed a different concern. “Right now we are very worried about his emotional stability. Second grade is a very important year for a child to create social connections and bonds, and he has not been with friends. We encourage you to enroll him in a camp where his friends will be.” His parents, looking over at their little boy who was now skinny and frail, were unsure. “You want us to send him to camp?” “Look,” explained the doctor, “we are going to monitor him very closely to insure his health will not be compromised. For his emotional well-being, however, we feel he should be put in an atmosphere with boys his age where he can learn to interact and socialize.” And so Yechiel’s parents accepted the advice and enrolled him in a regular camp after a long and complicated year.

As the head of the camp was informed that Yechiel, who at this point had lost his hair, would be joining, he called together the counselors. He briefed them regarding Yechiel’s condition and explained how he had been through much trauma. “I am not sure how he is going to react,” explained the head of the camp, “but we will hope for the best.” The counselors followed suit in telling the other campers of the little boy who would be joining them. “Everybody should be sensitive and view him as perfectly normal,” clarified the counselors. “He has just been through a very difficult past year, and no one should make fun of him.”

Upon arriving at camp, Yechiel had a huge smile on his face. To everyone’s delight, he was lovable and joyful. Instead of making everyone feel uncomfortable, he was the one bringing comfort to everyone else. Making jokes about his hair and how he could not run as fast as the other kids, he put everybody at ease. Quite quickly, Yechiel became one of the most popular kids in camp. He was not only well-liked by his peers, but as well by the counselors. No one could get enough of this little boy’s refreshing energy.

Without question, the summer was a tremendous success. Nearing the end of the summer, the camp prepared to take their big end-of-the-summer trip. The entire camp was overly excited that they would be going on an overnight trip to an amusement park with all sorts of activities. There was a safari, roller coasters and waterslides. The camp planned on renting out the entire park just for the campers. The boys were ecstatic to no ends.

As they drove to the amusement park and talked about their upcoming adventures, such as which boys would walk around the amusement park together and which attractions would be visited, they turned to Yechiel. “Where do you want to go?” “I only want to go on the roller coasters,” Yechiel replied. “You only want to go on the roller coasters? There are so many other things to do!” “I know, but I only want to go on the roller coasters,” Yechiel repeated.

As the bus moved along, the other boys figured that Yechiel was exaggerating. He didn’t really mean that he only wants to go on the roller coasters. There were so many other attractions to visit; why would he want to miss out on everything else? But after going on a few roller coasters and seeing that Yechiel was not willing to do anything else, they realized he was serious. He literally only wanted to go on roller coasters. He finally told his friends, “Go ahead by yourselves; don’t worry about me. Go do whatever you like and I will meet you later.” And so the day went by with Yechiel literally going on roller coaster after roller coaster after roller coaster.

As the day neared its end and the campers met together for dinner, the counselors looked around at the boys who were half exhausted and half filled with excitement. Of the many counselors who beheld the sight of so many boys enjoying themselves, one sat down next to Yechiel. “Yechiel, did you have a good time?” Yechiel looked at him and said, “I was able to accomplish my goal.” “You had a goal in the amusement park? What was it?” asked the counselor. “I wanted to go on every roller coaster and I did just that. It is the only thing in the whole park which has any meaning.”

Being told by an eight year boy that roller coasters have meaning, the counselor was unsure what exactly Yechiel meant. “What do you mean that roller coasters have meaning?” asked the counselor. Yechiel explained:

When you are on a roller coaster moving, falling, twirling and looping at such high speeds in so many directions, there is a tremendous thrill. On the other hand, if you were in a car and experienced those same motions, what would you feel? You would be frightened for your life. Similarly, if you were on an airplane and experienced those motions as you do on a roller coaster, you also would be terrified. With your stomach dropping and the wind blowing in your face as you travel faster than a speeding bullet, you would feel the fear of death. But when you are on a roller coaster, that fear is transformed into excitement. It is scary, but it is exciting. Nobody ever sits on a falling airplane and says, “This is such an enjoyable ride!” But on a roller coaster that same feeling elicits happiness and exhilaration.

And then Yechiel became very quiet. Turning to the counselor with tears in his eyes he said, “Last year my life was like a roller coaster. I would go up and I would go down. This year I am scared of what is going to be. I am afraid of what my future holds in stock. I therefore wanted to remind myself that on a roller coaster you are not scared to die because you have the safety belt strapping you in. On a roller coaster it is fun because you know that you are safe. I wanted to tell myself that in the roller coaster of my life I am safe. G-d is holding onto me like a seatbelt. I can choose to be afraid for my life or I can choose to smile and enjoy the ride. And I would rather choose to enjoy the ride.”

Throughout our lives we are to remind ourselves that we are riding on Hashem’s roller coaster. Although we may be unsure of the future, we are to comfortably sit back and feel secure in the hands of our loving Father in Heaven. The roller coaster of life contains ups and downs, but with Hashem guiding our course of travel, we most certainly can take solace when we face those bumps. He will always watch over us, safely securing us as we maneuver.

HaRav Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt”l
The Ins and Outs of the Mishkan

Upon comparative analysis of the parallel Torah portions of Terumah/Tetzaveh and Vayakhel/Pekudei, one finds an almost identical elucidation of the Mishkan’s layout and accompanying vessels. With slight nuances, the respective Parshiyot appear to provide a mirror image of one another. However, such repetition and nuance is not mere triviality, but in fact carries tremendous significance.

Rashi citing the Gemara (Berachos 55a) explains that Moshe Rabbeinu and Betzalel, the architect of the Mishkan, differed as how to proceed in its building. While Moshe instructed Betzalel to first fashion the vessels of the Mishkan and only then erect the actual structure, Betzalel disagreed. “Is it the way of the world to craft a building’s furnishings and only then construct the building itself?” It was only after hearing Betzalel’s line of reasoning that Moshe Rabbeinu realized where he was coming from and finally acquiesced. “You are right,” Moshe said, “you must have stood ‘B’tzel E-l,’ in the shadow of G-d (hence Betzalel’s name), as He commanded me about the Mishkan. That is how you know what I was told.” And indeed, that was how matters proceeded. First the actual structure of the Mishkan was built and only then the various vessels.

But this was not the only discrepancy that existed in regards to the Mishkan’s construction. The Torah itself differs in its presentation of the order of the Mishkan from Parshiyot Terumah/Tetzaveh to Vayekhel/Pekudei. While Terumah/Tetzaveh first describes the fashioning of the vessels (Aron, Shulchan, Menorah) and then the actual structure (the curtains and planks), Vayakhel/Pekudei reverses the order and first speaks of the structure and only then the vessels.

In order to properly understand the rationale behind these disparities, it is imperative to first appreciate the dual purpose of the Mishkan. First of all, it was to provide the Jewish people with a place to serve Hashem. With an established site to perform daily ritual sacrifice and ceremonial tasks, the Mishkan supplied the foreground for Klal Yisrael to engage in wholehearted service and dedication to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

On the other hand, as the Ramban makes clear, the Mishkan was also used by Hashem. It served as the channel and means whereby Hashem would communicate to the Jewish people. As Chazal state, “Hashem’s voice would first descend to between the Keruvim, and then travel outwards to be heard by Moshe in the Tent of Meeting” (see Rashi, Shemos 25:22). It was in the Mishkan that Hashem’s Divine Presence dwelled and appeared to Klal Yisrael. This is in fact why the Mishkan is referred to as the Ohel Moed, “The Tent of Meeting.” It was the meeting point between Hashem and the Jewish people. Hashem, so to speak, descended from above to down below, while Klal Yisrael spiritually ascended from down below to up above.

Considering these two functions served by the Mishkan, we can begin to understand the nature of the aforementioned discrepancies. Moshe Rabbeinu, the representative of Hashem and His perspective, instructed that the Aron, Shulchan and Menorah be fashioned first and then the curtains and planks. This non-coincidentally is the progression whereby Hashem’s voice travels to reach Klal Yisrael. First descending to the Aron, it eventually arrives at the outer Courtyard with its surrounding curtains and planks.

Conversely, Betzalel, as the architectural emissary of the Jewish nation and representative of their perspective, felt that the makeup of the outer Courtyard should take place first and only afterwards the inner vessels. Congruent to the manner in which Klal Yisrael relates to Hashem –first entering the environs of the outer walls and then moving towards the Aron, Shulchan and Menorah – so was the order they were to fashion the Mishkan.

In essence then, Moshe Rabbeinu and Betzalel’s respective vantage points as what to build first reflected what they viewed as the primary function of the Mishkan. For Moshe Rabbeinu, reflecting Hashem’s point of view, the main use of the Mishkan and dwelling place of the Divine Presence began from the inner vessels and worked its way outwards. Contrarily, for Betzalel, reflecting the Jewish nation’s outlook, the use of the Mishkan began in the outer extremities and culminated at the Aron. Both from a geographical and spiritual standpoint, Klal Yisrael’s relationship to the Mishkan took them from its outer walls until they reached the climax inside the Holy of Holies.

With this in mind, we can now fully understand the reason for the incongruity between the Parshiyot. Terumah/Tetzaveh details the command Hashem gave Moshe Rabbeinu in constructing the Mishkan. In view of the fact that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was communicating how the Mishkan was to be made, that which is mentioned first are the various vessels. Since that was both the starting and focal point of the Mishkan from Hashem’s perspective, their figurations are enumerated first. On the other hand, in Vayekhel/Pekudei which centers on how the Jewish nation practically carried out the construction of the Mishkan, the outer physical structure is given precedence. Since that is where Klal Yisrael’s initial contact with the Mishkan began, it is mentioned first.

While the many aspects of the Mishkan’s building and utensils may be difficult to relate to nowadays, we must nevertheless strive to become well-familiarized with all its detail. As we read in the Haftorah of Parashat Tetzaveh, “Tell the House of Israel… the form of the Temple and its design; its exits and entryways and all its form… and all its statutes, forms and laws explain to them…that they may remember all its form…” (Yechezkel 43:10-11). Mentioned in this Pasuk four times is the word “tzura,” form, alluding to the four times the Temple is described throughout Tanach – three instances of the First, Second and Third Beis Hamikdash and one of the Mishkan. We are to learn in great depth and breadth the ins and outs of these four structures.

Similar to the manner in which learning about the various sacrifices is comparable to actually offering one (Menachos 110a), the same holds true of learning about the Mishkan. By delving into the many particular aspects of the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash, we reconnect ourselves to their immense holiness. And indeed, through our in-depth study of the many facets which comprise these edifices, we will surely merit the final building of the Third Beis Hamikdash, speedily in our days.

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