The RBSO’s House
Last week: The Yiddin were given 53 mitzvois of which 30 were loi sah-says and by now, a week later, a healthy number of you have already mistama violated a good number of them- rachmono litzlon and oy vey.
This week: Parshas Teruma contains but one mitzvah ah-say (positive commandment), namely the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), ober this mitzvah is what we call a super mitzvah since it contains many parts, including big wood and soon enough you’ll chap why. Lommer lernen parsha. The Yiddin are instructed to build a Mishkan for the RBSO who has very specific ideas about its construction, design and materials to be used.
Welcome to parshas Teruma where if you are a shtikel metro sexual, not that there’s anything wrong with that, you are in parsha heaven. And if you are in denial about your tendencies or are stam azoy drawn to architecture and interior design, you will still very much enjoy. Just two weeks ago (parshas Yisroy), the Yiddin married the RBSO and received His heylige Toirah as a wedding present. Esfarshteytzich (it’s plainly understood) that following the wedding it’s time to move in together and this week the RBSO is doing just that. Says the heylige Toirah (Shemois 25:8) azoy: And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst. Volumes have been written about this sentence and even more, about the list of unusual contents the RBSO instructed the Yiddin to secure in scavenger hunt fashion, for this building project. We will explore this topic soon. And mamish just as we discussed last week, kimat (nearly) every parsha has a letter, word or sentence that has everyone up in arms. This week, it’s this very instruction. We are to build a house for the RBSO and not just any house. And as you can only imagine, this one possik (verse) is arguably the most famous one in the gantze parsha. Who are we to build a house for the RBSO and what does that mean? The very idea is almost absurd and taka asks the Michilta: How can the RBSO who is unlimited and creates all existence ‘fit’ into a house? If the RBSO is infinite, and avada He is, wouldn’t building Him a house, mean the opposite? Ver veyst. Says Rashi: the Mikdash (sanctuary) must be solely dedicated to the RBSO. “And they shall make in My name a house of sanctity.” And what does that mean? The purpose of the Mikdash, was seemingly to create a consecrated environment wherein finite man can encounter infinite Hashem. Shoin!
For 87 pisukim (verses), the heylige Toirah explains lengths and widths, types of wood, metal or yarn, sockets and rings, and intricate metal work and design. The Yiddin will need to find 13 different types of materials, many rare and exotic. Included on the blueprints and design scheme were items such as gold, silver, copper, linen, goat’s hair, wool with purple dye, wool with blue dye, the skin of the Tachash, spices, olive oil, Shittim wood, and fourteen precious gems to be used in this major construction project. And where in a desolate midbar, devoid of everything mamish, were the Yiddin to magically appear with huge quantities of these items? Nu, vart a minute (wait a minute, soon you’ll chap the entire scheme and the RBSO’s grand master plan for the Yiddin. Lommer lernin inaveynig (let’s learn the verses from the text.)
|1. “The Lord spoke to Moishe saying:||א. וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:|
|2. “Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering.||ב. דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי:|
|3. And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper;||ג. וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת:|
|4. blue, purple, and crimson wool; linen and goat hair;||ד. וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים:|
|5. ram skins dyed red, tachash skins, and acacia wood;||ה. וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים:|
|6. oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense;||ו. שֶׁמֶן לַמָּאֹר בְּשָׂמִים לְשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וְלִקְטֹרֶת הַסַּמִּים:|
|7. shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen.||ז. אַבְנֵי שֹׁהַם וְאַבְנֵי מִלֻּאִים לָאֵפֹד וְלַחֹשֶׁן:|
Efsher you’re taka wondering where on earth and especially in the midbar, the Yiddin were going to source these items and especially so in the quantities the RBSO described (later in the parsha) in such great detail. Taka an excellent kasha ober mistama you know or you should, that the RBSO gave orders for the Yiddin to begin the first ever Amazing Race and scavenger hunt, only after first strategically making sure that all entrants would be winners. Seemingly, all the items found their way into the hands of the Yiddin through divine intervention, what else is new? Avada you recall that after 210 years of slavery where the Mitzrim mistreated the Yiddin, tortured them and killed their baby boys, they suddenly became benevolent and offered the Yiddin, on loan of course, unlimited amounts of gold, silver, and copper. And because of their magnanimous gestures with such precious items, the Yiddin had no time and mistama little interest, to bake or pack the bread for their supposed three day journey. Shoin: though they were taka hungry for bread, the Yiddin got Pesach instead and zicher since that time, Yiddin never go hungry on Pesach. Veyter. And zicher you recall from a few weeks back that when the sea swallowed up the Mitzrim, more gold, silver, and copper were washed ashore in the form of the Egyptian chariots. Seemingly Paroy used only his finest chariots to chase down the Yiddin in order to bring them back.
Ober the RBSO wasn’t quite done and many of the other items listed above were also acquired through miracles. Efsher you’re taka wondering how the Yiddin were to source the fourteen precious gems ober, again let the Oisvorfer remind you that the RBSO makes it all look mamish easy, He can! Zicher you recall learning the Medrish that tells us azoy: when the RBSO had Mun (mana) delivered to the Tzaddikim (righteous people), it came with a special promotional give- away. This Mun came encrusted with precious gems. And is just so happened that these precious gems were exactly the kind required for the Mishkan, and the Tzaddikim, who received this special Mun shipment, gladly donated them to the cause. Nu, what could be better and nicer than gold encrusted Mun, gishmak mamish! Disneyish, Fantasy Island, ver veyst? Wait, there’s more. And yet another moshol (example) of the RBSO’s magnificence and thoughtfulness while working behind the scenes, as He seemingly always does, was the sudden appearance and/or acquisition through a neys (miracle) mamish of the skin of the Tachash. What the hec is a Tachash? Nu, soon we’ll cover or uncover the Tachash. Says the heylige Medrish: the RBSO created but one of these unique animals, and He created it to appear in the desert exactly when the Yiddin happened to be passing by. Its multi-colored coat was needed for the Mishkan.
Nu, while your minds are wandering and you’re drawing closer to the RBSO as you read of each miracle the RBSO performed in the magical Midbar, efsher it’s beginning to make sense why the Yiddin stayed 40 years: who would want to leave a place where life was a living miracle? Says another Medrish azoy: Even Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, our heylige Ovois (forefathers), had a hand in making sure the Yiddin would be able to properly source the materials for the grand design and construction of the project. Avada as you were making your way through the materials, you noticed that the Yiddin needed Shittim wood, a very particular wood, not the type you source daily, if you chap. And efsher you’re also wondering where in the Midbar, one found such wood. Nu, believe it or not, about three hundred years earlier our zeyde Yaakov Oveenu saw with Ruach Hakoidesh (divine spirit) that the Yiddin would need Shittim wood for their project. Is that taka what happened, and what’s taka so special about shittim wood?
What the hec is a Shittim tree and where did the Yiddin find it in the midbar? Mistama (likely), you’ve been wondering where the Yiddin were going to find a 72 Amah (about160 foot) wooden beam. Not just one, but 48 of them. Says another medrish: Avraham Oveenu who planted this tree and, in its shade served his Malochim guests and davened, was the original source of Shittim wood. 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. Long wood is always useful, if you chap and seemingly size matters. Sure enough, this tree was destined to be the middle beam of the Mishkan- nu- gey veis (go know).
Says the Yalkut azoy: Yaakov Oveenu saw prophetically that the Yiddin would have to build the Tabernacle. He therefore took large acacia trees from the Holy Land to Mitzrayim and planted them there. Yaakov left a command for his descendants that when they left Egypt, they should take those trees with them, since such wood could not be found in the midbar. The Yiddin of course did this, and therefore had shittim wood with which to build the Tabernacle.
Speaking of Shittim wood, here’s a pshat that will blow you away These trees are called shittim because they were planted along the Shittim Brook. This brook had a quality that whoever drank its water would become sexually stimulated and immoral. The Sodomites used to drink from this brook regularly, and were taka a bunch of chazerim perverts, oy vey. Nu, one could easily chap, especially after drinking from its waters, how this could become a popular brand, When the Moshiach arrives (from Crown Heights), this brook will dry up completely. Nu, thankfully you’re safe until then. You hear this chevra? Long before Viagra and other such stimulants, there was the Shittim brook. Not FDA approved but seemingly still gave wood!
And this is why Yaakov took some of these trees with him when he went to Mitzrayim. He wanted his descendants to use the wood to build the Tabernacle, and in that zechus (merit), the power of the urge that leads to sexual misconduct would be weakened. Yaakov also realized that when the yiddin would leave Egypt, they would stay at this Shittim Brook. Ober (but) if the shittim trees were used to build the Tabernacle, the water would not lead them to sexual temptation. Seemingly, the brook had magical powers. Nice plan, unfortunately it didn’t work out too well and you oisvorfs are living proof!!
Says the Medrish veyter: It is for this reason that the only ones who sinned at Shittim Brook were members of the Eruv Rav (mixed multitude) by sexual misconduct with the Moabite girls (Bamidbar 25:1). The emesdike (true) Yiddin did not sin; mistama they weren’t thirsty, had epes better control of the wood, or preferred Diet Coke. The shittim wood that they carried out of Mitzrayim to build the Tabernacle subdued their evil urges and prevented them from being overcome by passion. Or, perhaps they were so tired from schlepping the (about) 160 foot wooden beams, that they had no koiach for sexual activity, even with the Moabite shiksas. If not for the miracle powers of this tree the Yiddin too would not have survived, since the RBSO gets mamish quite angry and hates sexual immorality and severely punishes those involved in it. And let this be a warning to all of you: wood or no wood, you must overcome your desires and stop laying pipe and blame at the Shittim Brook for your perversions.
It’s takah emes (seemingly true) that the RBSO was angry with the Yiddin in the Midbar and hit them with a plague (Bamidbar 25:4,9). Why were they punished if they didn’t partake in the forbidden relations? Excellent kasha. Apparently, this was their punishment because they did not do anything to prevent the Eruv Rav (mixed multitude) from sinning; maybe they were too busy watching, ver veyst? Is that so giferlich? Says the heylige Toirah, that the only thing that stopped the plague was the bravery of Pinchas, who subdued the RBSO’s anger. But let’s not run ahead, we’re only in Shemois. If the Yiddin themselves had sinned however, nothing would have helped and we’d all be wiped out, loi olainu. Why we’re still here, I don’t know. For this reason, the Tabernacle, the Ark, the Shulchon (Table), and the sacrificial altar were all made out of shittim wood. From here we taka see that wood has many uses, holy and not.
It was obviously a givaldige neys (great miracle) that the Yiddin were able to carry all this wood. The Medrish suggests that they mamish carried it across the Red Sea at night. The pillars made out of the shittim wood were ten cubits long and quite heavy, and logically it would have been impossible to carry them, even with wagons, had these been available. And there were not merely two or three such huge pillars, but as the parsha describes, there were 48 in the Tabernacle itself, four used to hold the cloth partitions, and fifteen cross poles and boards. 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. As I said before, the midbar was like Disney word, a magical place with daily miracles- don’t you wish you had been there?
Says another Medrish: Mamish because of Yaakov Oveenu’s ruach hakoidesh, he did for his descendants a givaldige groise toiva (very great favor) in instructing the Yiddin to take the trees from the Shittim Brook to Mitzrayim. Moreover, having these trees with them while there for 210 years, also weakened their evil urge for sexual misconduct in Egypt with the hot mitzri shiksas. Avada you all know that Egypt was known to be a place of very loose sexual morality, mamish like Bangkok, Thailand, kismoy keyn hu, if you chap. Nevertheless, although the Yiddin were there for more than 210 years, they were never involved in such immorality and for this reason they deserved to be liberated. Ok, maybe not never but most of the time, ver veyst? And how this medrish reconciles with one that tells us that the Yiddin descended to the lowest levels of Tuma and the Malochim were arguing against their savior, ver veyst. In any event, the Medrish is still beautiful, no? Says the heylige Gemora (Succah) ‘atzei shitim l’adU’ li-olam;’ that the atzei shitim will stand forever. Aren’t we taught that if wood stands more than four hours, we should consult with a physician? What’s pshat? Says the Gemora: this was special wood and since the Mishkan was built by Moishe Rabaynu it lives forever. (The Mishkan never got destroyed like the batei mikdashim (holy temples) did…it was swallowed up and is hidden-still ’standing’). Nu, do I have to say more?
And the lesson in all this? Avada you recall that the Oisvorfer has told you over and again, the RBSO always has a plan. At times, the Yiddin chapped it immediately, at others, the plan became illuminated only much later. Lemoshol (by way of example), efsher you’re epes wondering why the RBSO would want a Mishkan built in the Midbar when the Yiddin who just received the heylige Toirah on Har Seenai are supposedly on their way, after hundreds of years and many promises to our forefathers, into the Promised Land? Wouldn’t a nice home in Yerusholayim have been more preferable? Taka an excellent kasha, ober the teritz (answer) is even more givaldig. Actually, there is more than one and lommer lernin.
Nu, it could efsher be the case, though zicher we don’t know for sure, that the RBSO already knew that the Yiddin would quickly fall prey to avoido zoro (idol worship) in the form of a golden calf, that they would rebel over and again, that they would insist on sending spies to raconteur the land and that He would ultimately punish them severely by having them valger (roam about aimlessly) in the midbar for 40 years. And to keep the Yiddin busy and away from each other’s wives, the RBSO created a tremendous capital improvement project. Zicher this was the first time any construction project took place in the Midbar and taka efsher the forerunner for what only the Yiddin even generations later, have taka achieved in the Midbar. What to do? The RBSO asked that the Yiddin build Him a home, and why not? If the RBSO had to watch over the very fickle and hard headed Yiddin day and night and also feed them and otherwise be occupied with them 24/7, He taka needed a decent home and shoin, the Mishkan project was inaugurated. And like most capital and construction projects especially those run by religious institutions, one cannot build unless one has enough capital in the form of cash and or pledges – cash is avada better. What to do?
Avada you recall that just last week, in Mishpotim, the RBSO in his magnificence, also created the first ever stimulus plan, (not the type you watch on the Internet, chazerim that you are) and gave us new jobs and professions. Entire industries were created that included the legal profession with thousands of lawyers and judges, the seedlings of the entire kashrus gesheft, mashgichim (mafia), kosher catering and more. And just like that a healthy portion of the Yiddin had a parnoso (livelihood). Nu, what follows income? Taxes!! And in this week’s parsha of Terumah, in the very second posik, we are introduced to the first ever system of taxation, though – thinly veiled as a ‘donation’ to the RBSO.
In fact the first possik of the parsha begs the question of whether the charity referred to was given voluntarily or taken, or taxed and collected as the words seem to indicate. Nu, no lesser a Torah giant than Reb Moishe Feinstein (ZTL) suggests that these ‘donations’ were taken by force and not given voluntarily. You hear this? Grada this makes good sense- have you ever seen a Yid volunteering taxes to the IRS or even to pay sales tax? It’s mamish a tarta di-sasra (mutually exclusive).
And how could the same item be considered both a donation and a tax? Nu, excellent kasha but avada there’s a logical explanation, isn’t there always? Pshat is that the word Teruma appears 3 times (below) and since each word in the heylige Toirah counts, we can learn as follows. Says Rashi azoy: There were a total of 3 terumas. One was an involuntary donation (read: Head tax) of silver sockets, (Adonim) which were ultimately used to sustain the wall boards. Avada those were needed to hold the entire edifice together. Next: there was terumas mizbeach yet another involuntary tax of a ½ shekel collected yearly for sacrifices. And there was a third Teruma- this one totally voluntary and the goods collected went to build the Mishkan and its accoutrements.
And for a final thought: efsher you’re left wondering why the RBSO gave Moishe such exact measurements and was so very specific about each detail of the Mishkan project. Couldn’t He have let the Yiddin just figure it out on their own? It’s not like they were so busy on their devices. Nu, avada the medrish has many theories but efsher this is pshat? Efsher the RBSO was sending the Yiddin this message: could pshat be that it’s not just the results that count, but the details and hard work of the tasks we accomplish along the way. Ver veyst!
Mishinichnas Adar Marbin B’simcha
A gittin Shabbis and a gittin Choidesh Adar
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv