Mi’shenichnas Adar Marbin B’simcha!!!!
With that introduction, we begin with the very exciting news that Shmuli Brecher, still shtiging over in Yirusholayim, son of our very close friends Mandy and Rubin, got engaged to Bracha Bruce, daughter of Refoel and Tonya Bruce of Melbourne, Australia. Mazel tov to the entire Brecher mishpocho and a special mazel tov to Shmuli’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Brecher of Brooklyn –may they be well till 120- and to Mr. and Mrs. Charlie and Esther Spirgel (Charley, the Oisvorfer’s 8th grade teacher a few decades back). Wedding details to follow, all are invited.
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
The first mobile home-
Did you know that in 2013 the US RV (recreational vehicle industry) shipped 32,127 units, a gain of 12.4% over the previous year? And did you know that the (RV) market is forecast to increase 4.8 percent annually to $10.7 billion in 2017? And that travel trailers will remain the largest product category, while motor homes and campers and camping trailers will be the fastest growing? Of course you didn’t know: only goyim need to and know this information. And why is the Oisvorfer mentioning RV sales in the first paragraph? Because generations later, the goyim who decided to read the heylige Toirah or what they call the First Testament, came to parshas Teruma and read how the RBSO instructed Moishe to build Him a home that traveled along with the Yiddin while they were in the midbar, the first ever mobile home. And shoin, this was one instance where Yiddin didn’t chap the proper exploitation of the mitzvah and let the goyim run away, or more aptly put, drive away with the business opportunity. The goyim taught other goyim that when traveling, especially through a desert, it’s best done in an RV or motor home. Many more generations later, the Yiddin would discover the mini-van but it’s epes not the same. More on the RBSO’s mobile home below ober ershtens (firstly)…
Not to worry; besides giving the goyim a business opportunity, it’s specifically in this week’s parsha that the RBSO was also very good to His chosen people and created for them multiple business opportunities. This week, as a result of the instructions for the grand Mishkan Project, the Yiddin became architects, builders, carpenters and decorators. Of course not all the Yiddin; only those who showed little interest in learning the newly minted heylige Toirah; in other words, the oisvorfs! It would take until the 21st century for modern day yeshivas to figure out that not everyone is cut out for learning and that we taka need carpenters, electricians, plumbers and handymen. Shoin, though this is our 5th time around the parsha, and though we have previously discussed some of the items the RBSO ordered for the project, what would an Oisvorfer review be like without some honorable mention to a few of the more exotic materials the Yiddin needed to source and how these items magically appeared in the midbar?
Two weeks ago back in parshas Yisroy, the RBSO got married to the Yiddin. As married couples should, it was time to move in together, or at least nearby, ober how could the RBSO, who according to most, has no physical features, possibly move in and live amongst the Yiddin? That notwithstanding, this week, in parshas Teruma, the RBSO will give Moishe very detailed instructions about the construction of His house. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 25:8) azoy:”You will make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them” – meaning He will dwell amongst the Yiddin. Of course these words and many others in this week’s parsha have kept the writers of the Midrash quite busy. Time permitting, we’ll circle back to a few. The RBSO wasn’t just moving in anywhere and into any house or sanctuary. He had very definitive ideas and will lay out every detail of its architecture, size and materials to be used, furnishings, interior design and colors. Even pots and pans and other utensils will be specified. The RBSO’s instructions were thorough and intricate. They set out materials, dimensions and who should be on the design team. They included blueprints for the ark that will hold the commandments and the table for sacrifices and the poles for lugging and the rings that hold the poles and the curtains and the lamps and the curious gold cherubim that will adorn the Mishkan and the enclosure that will surround it. Moishe will have but a few tasks: select the contractor, source the requested materials and secure the funds needed to complete the project. Every project requires funding and this one was funded by what the heylige Toirah calls a Teruma (a gift). Today we know this as a tax or an assessment. This project planning and execution, will occupy a healthy number of parshas in sefer Shemois.
Nearly every parsha is enhanced by colorful midroshim whose authors envisioned what may have taken place as they masterfully take on challenging text but, if any parsha or topic cries out for midrashic interpretation and some colorful imagination to help us chap what the RBSO had in mind, it’s this week’s parsha of Teruma wherein the RBSO asks that the Yiddin build for Him a mobile home.
And as we will soon learn, the Mishkan (Sanctuary), the traveling “House of G-d” built by the Yiddin in the desert, was an elaborate structure built of royal and expensive materials. Reading the pisukim (passages) that describe its construction, one could easily ask azoy: What does such a grandiose gold laden building have to do with the RBSO? Does the RBSO need material things? That’s for Madonna! Lihavdil! Ober as we learn, the mishkan was the epitome of Divine presence; it’s where the RBSO’s essence could be found at times. Some of you may be wondering why the RBSO needed or wanted a structure built; isn’t He everywhere? Avada He is. Ober says the medrish so gishmak azoy: it’s taka emes that the RBSO is always among us, but the Mishkan back then and the Mishkans of today in the form of shuls, help us notice.
And taka R. Yitzchok Abravanel asked this very question: why did the RBSO needs a physical home? Why did He command the construction of the Tabernacle, when He said, “…that I may dwell among them”, as if He were an object demarcated and limited in space? Isn’t the opposite the real emes? Moreover, we are taught that the entire Mishkan which traveled along with the Yiddin on their 40 year midbar sojourn was no longer in use once they entered the Land. It was to be replaced with more permanent structures. Still, for reasons that are hotly debated, that’s what He asked for, demanded, and that’s what He got.
Some say the Mishkan was ordered to be built as atonement for the sin of the eygel (golden calf). Others, especially those who argue that the instructions to build the Mishkan were given before the big sin, suggest that the Yiddin built the Mishkan to keep the experience, emotions, and encounter of Matan Toirah on Har Sinai alive and to evoke the RBSO’s presence continuously—to insure that revelation continues. Gishmak. Though the RBSO didn’t physically move in, His essence was at times present.
Ober said the Malbim so gishmak azoy: the physical structure of the Mishkan was not an end in itself, but rather a model of the inner, spiritual sanctuary we should strive to construct in our hearts. In other words: Each one of us needs to build for the RBSO a Mishkan in the recesses of our hearts, by preparing ourselves to become a Sanctuary for G-d and a dwelling place for G-d’s glory… thus it should be for all generations.
Shoin, you all know that the project required many different materials. The elaborate list (found mamish at the beginning of the parsha, 25:3-7) included “…gold, silver, and copper; and turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool; linen and goat hair; red-dyed ram skins, tachash skins, shittim (acacia) wood; oil for illumination, spices for the anointment oil and the aromatic incense; shoham stones and stones for the settings, for the eyphoid and the choishen (breastplate).” For a people who were recently freed from more than either 210 or as much as 400 years of slavery, this was an ambitious task to say the least. What made this even more challenging was that the RBSO’s list did not include run-of-the-mill materials to build these important objects. Did you see a request for bricks, cement, sheetrock or even aluminum siding? Was there a Home Depot efsher nearby? Punkt farkert (quite the opposite)! His instructions were very specific and did not allow for substitute materials. And even more harrowing for Moishe was that the RBSO expected that all of these items would be donated by “every person whose heart inspires him to generosity.” When was the last time you saw anyone inspired to give away gold?
And speaking of procuring the various materials for this massive midbar project …when the Oisvorfer was a child, he so looked forward to this and next week’s parsha because the rebbe made us purchase a booklet called Hamishkan V’kaylov (the Mishkan and its Utensils) which contained many illustrations, not yet in color, of each of the materials, and the entire structure in its completed stage. If memory serves correctly, this booklet cost approximately $0.15 and was well worth the price. Bazman hazeh (in our times), Art Scroll and many others have more colorful and detailed depictions of these items. And back then, who gave a second thought as to how all these materials were procured in the desert. Ober as we get older, we begin to rethink the enormity of this undertaking and each year as this parsha rolls around, we are left bewildered as to how this project was undertaken and how it was possible that the midbar contained these resources, mostly unnatural.
Yearly as this parsha gets close, the Oisvorfer receives email from readers asking for a refresher course on the shittim wood. Readers want to chap how the medrish understands its availability for the project. Does shittim (acacia wood) grow in the midbar? And not just one tree but enough wood for a 72 Amah (about160 foot) wooden beam? Not just one, but 48 of them? Here we go. Shittim trees do not grow in the midbar! Ober not to worry; the medrish (Tanchuma 9) has an incredible pshat as to how 20 tons of wood mysteriously appeared in the midbar just at the right time. Seemingly, our forefather Yaakov Ovenu, who mamish longed to participate in the building of the future house of the RBSO, received a nevuah (prophecy) that his descendants, while in the desert hundreds of years in the future, would be instructed to build the mishkan for the RBSO. And he was also given a list of required materials. While in Israel and mistama on days off from his four wives, Yaakov, who knew from wood, if you chap, planted saplings and instructed his children to diligently transplant them to Mitzrayim (Egypt). Shoin, hundreds of years later, once freed, while packing up to leave, they, instead of schlepping bread for the journey, decided to carry an entire forest of shittim wood just in case. In fact, they carried so much wood; it would later supply the mishkan with at least 800 cubic feet, or twenty tons, of usable wood. Seemingly, wood always come in handy, if you chap. Another medrish will tell us that Yaakov knew something else about these trees; we’ll get to that later.
Yet another medrish will tell us that it was Avrohom Oveenu who planted the shittim tree, and in its shade served the Malochim (Angels) who visited him following his bris a meal. Seemingly he also davened under the shittim tree. Over time, the tree grew and during Kriyas Yam Suf (splitting of the Sea) the Malochim (maybe even the same ones) cut it down and dropped it on the shore. The Yiddin figured that such a large tree could be used for something important so they brought it with them. Sure enough, this tree was destined to be the middle beam of the Mishkan. Nu- gey veis (go know).
And why were they called shittim trees? Because they were planted along the Shittim Brook. Simple enough ober this was no ordinary brook. The medrish tells us that the shittim brook (way before the advent of the blue pill), acted as a natural aphrodisiac. Whoever drank its waters would become sexually stimulated and immoral. The Sodomites used to drink from this brook regularly, and they were taka, as we know, a bunch of chazerim vilde chaya perverts. Says the medrish: When the Moshiach arrives (from Crown Heights), this brook will dry up completely. Nu, thankfully you’re safe until then. Not FDA approved but seemingly still gave wood!
And this is taka why Yaakov took some of these trees with him when he went to Mitzrayim. He wanted his descendants to use this very wood to build the Tabernacle, and in that zechus (merit), the power of the urge that leads to sexual misconduct and immorality, would be weakened. Yaakov, through prophesy, saw that when the Yiddin would leave Egypt, they would stay at this Shittim Brook. He was hopeful that if the shittim trees were used to build the Tabernacle, its waters would not lead them to sexual temptation. Seemingly, the brook had magical powers. Shoin: It was taka a nice thought ober when we get to Sefer Bamidbar, we will learn that his plan did not work out as intended. The Yiddin, still in the midbar, would encounter the Midianite and Moabite shiksa mydlich (girls) and all hell would break loose.
Ober not to worry because yet another medrish will tell us that not all the Yiddin drank the magical potion at the shittim brook; only the bad apples, the Erev Rav, remember them? Says the Medrish veyter: the only ones that sinned at the shittim brook were members of the Eruv Rav (mixed multitude). It was that group that partied hearty, and whose sexual misconduct was on display with the Moabite girls (Bamidbar 25:1). The emesdike (true) Yiddin did not sin; mistama they weren’t thirsty or preferred Diet Coke, ver veyst. The shittim wood that they carried out of Mitzrayim to build the mishkan (Tabernacle) subdued their evil urges and prevented them from being overcome by passion. Or, perhaps they were so tired from schlepping the 160 foot wooden beams, that they had no koiach for sexual activity, even with the Moabite shiksas, ver veyst? What really happened and did the shittim brook really have magical powers and did it mamish produce large wood, ver veyst? Ober let this be a warning to all of you: wood or no wood, you must overcome your desires and stop laying blame at the shittim brook for your chazerish behavior.
Grada this medrish holds some water, if you chap, and avada we all recall that the RBSO was taka quite angry with the Yiddin over the Moabite mydlich affair and schmeissed them with a plague (Bamidbar 25:4,9). Ober why were the rest of the Yiddin punished if they didn’t partake in the forbidden relations? Taka an excellent kasha. Apparently, they were punished because they did not do anything to prevent the Eruv Rav from sinning; maybe they were too busy watching, ver veyst. Says the heylige Toirah: the only thing that stopped the plague was the bravery of Pinchas, who subdued the RBSO’s anger. But let’s not get too far ahead, we’re only in Shemois. Ober had the other Yiddin partaken in the water festivities and sinned as a result, nothing would have helped and we’d all have been wiped out, loi olanu (heaven forbid). Why we’re still here, ver veyst? Seemingly, for this reason, the Tabernacle, the Ark, the Shulchon (Table), and the sacrificial altar were all made out of shittim wood. And the take-away? Wood has many uses, some holy and others, not so.
And how were the Yiddin able to transport this amount of wood? Through yet another neys (miracle), just one of many in the magical midbar. The medrish tells us that they carried the wood across the Red Sea at night. The RBSO helped them bring the wood all the way from Egypt while they were being pursued by their enemies who wanted to kill them. Shoin: as we have stated in the past on many an occasion, the midbar was like Disney word, a magical place with daily miracles; don’t you wish you were there?
Earlier we learned that Yaakov knew that the shittim trees that came from the shittim brook, had magical powers of seduction. And because he had ruach hakoidesh (Divine Prophesy), he chapped how dangerous the waters could be to overall emotional well-being of the already fragile Jewish people. He knew the Yiddin would stop off at the brook for a drink or more. What to do? Says the medrish: he instructed his descendants to take the trees from the Shittim Brook to Mitzrayim. He was hopeful that having the trees with them while there for 210 years would over time weaken their evil urges for sexual misconduct with the hot Mitzri shiksas. Avada you all know that Mitzrayim was known to be a place of very loose sexual morality, mamish like Thailand today. You didn’t learn that in Yeshiva? Ok- now you know. And the medirsh concludes by telling us that as a result of having transported the trees over to Mitzrayim, the Yiddin, who were around the mitzri shiksa for approximately 210 years, were never involved in such immorality. And for this reason they deserved to be liberated. Did that happen? Ver veyst? It’s medrish, why not?
Let’s quickly meet the tachash, the skin that was used for the outermost covering of the Mishkan- “oros techashim milmalah.” What is it? And where in the desert did they find this product? Ershtens: it’s not what it sounds like, chazir that you are, ober let’s review what Rashi and several others imagined it to be and how it also magically appeared.
Says Rashi: “this was a kind of animal that only existed during that time, and it had many colors…“ Said the Ibn Ezra: “This was a kind of animal that was known in those days, as it is written in Yichezkel (Ezekiel) 16:10: ‘I gave you sandals made of tachash.” Ober what is it? Said Reb Aryeh Kaplan: the tachash was made from “blue-processed skins,” and he lists all the animals that have been attributed to the word ‘tachash’ over the years. The possibilities include the weasel, squirrel, badger, wild ram, antelope, okapi, giraffe, seal, sea cow and the dugong, whatever that is. Which was it? Ver veyst?
Ober says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 28b) azoy: The tachash of Moishe’s day was a separate species, and our chachomim (Sages) could not decide whether it belonged to the genus of wild beasts or to the genus of domestic animals. Moreover, it had one horn on its forehead, it only existed for Moishe for that moment. He used it for the mishkan and then it was (forever) hidden. And says the Yirushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud- shabbis 2:4) azoy: the RBSO created a type of pure wild (non-kosher) animal for Moishe in the desert, and once it was used for constructing the Sanctuary, it disappeared. Mamish? A horn in the middle of its head? And it only existed for a moment and then was hidden forever? Was the mythical unicorn not such a myth after all?
Others argue that if the tachash taka had a single horn in the middle of its forehead, we could then surmise that it was indeed a kosher animal. How so? Shoin, there is a tradition that the animal sacrificed by Odom Horishoin (Adam) was also a one-horned kosher animal. Would Odom have sacrificed a non-kosher animal? Avada not! Eat forbidden fruit maybe, but zicher he wouldn’t dare patchka with non-kosher. Who are we to argue with tradition? This same animal magically appeared for Moishe for the project. And says the medrish (Bereishis Rabbah) azoy: when the RBSO evicted Odom and Chava out of Gan Eden, He fashioned clothing for them and this clothing also came from the skin of the tachash. Seemingly the tachash made cameo appearances from time to time. Efsher you’re wondering, why, if the tachash was only created for a moment in time, did chazal (our sages) devote so much space and discussion to explain exactly what kind of animal it was? As we stated earlier; the instructions in this week’s parsha cry out for further color and elucidation and who better than the heylige Gemora and the medrish to provide the possibilities.
A gitten shabbis and choidesh-
The Oisvorfer Ruv