Raiders of the Holy Ark, Hemorrhoids, and Mice
What are hemorrhoids and mice doing in our parsha which is dedicated entirely to the building plans of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) which was to be erected in the Midbar and which contained, among other items, the holy Oroin (Ark)? We shall soon find out and let’s begin here. As mentioned in last week’s review, the heylige Toirah will dedicate four of the next five parshas to the design and building of the Mishkan, the RBSO’s abode here on earth. The emes is that even portions of parhas Ki Sisa which features the eygel (golden calf) fiasco, the RBSO’s intent to hit the factory reset button, wipe out all the Yiddin and start all over again, before allowing Himself to be talked down by Moishe, also has a good number of pisukim dedicated to the Mishkan project. And the question is azoy: why taka is so much space in the RBSO’s heylige Toirah dedicated to a temporary structure? This question is even more highlighted when we consider that the entire story of creation is covered in just over 30 pisukim. Other seminal events including the entire slavery in Mitzrayim, is covered in one perek, the actual exodus is covered in but two pisukim, and even Matan Toirah (Revelation) is covered in a few short pirokim (chapters). What’s taka pshat? How long was the Mishkan and its appointments in use? And what happened to it? We shall find in the paragraphs below.
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!
Nu, if the RBSO is coming and moving in, the house zicher needed to look good, and be custom built. Seemingly the RBSO didn’t trust the Yiddin to build one of their own designs and instead gave Moishe very specific instructions. He provided incredible detail about the materials to be used, and had very specific ideas about its construction, size and design. No detail was omitted and none left to the imagination of the mortals that would be charged with its construction.
After hearing and digesting 53 mitzvois just last week and the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments) two weeks ago, this week, here in Parshas Teruma and as we welcome in Adar Rishoin, we’re down to a more manageable mitzvah count; three in total which include one big ah-say (the building of the Mishkan) and two loi’s. Seemingly even this number of loi-sah-says (thou shall not do) will prove to be problematic for the Yiddin as we will sadly learn in two weeks.
Did the RBSO mamish need a house, one built by mere mortals? Avada not! And many have pontificated over this very question; why taka did the RBSO need or want the Yiddin to build Him a house? Could pshat be something quite simple? Was the RBSO merely creating yet additional jobs and professions? Ver veyst? Could this entire project to which the heylige Toirah dedicates large portions of five different parshas all have been part of a shtikel, or, maybe even a major midbar stimulus plan to keep the Yiddin busy and out of trouble? Ver veyst! Taka, when you read the mamish intricate instructions, the varied building materials, the exact measurements, the design specs down to the curtains, you will mamish chap, how this midbar mishkan project could lead to a job stimulus. This was not a job for one person, Es ken zyn (could taka be) that the RBSO chapped, and of course He did, that not all the Yiddin could or would be busy studying the newly minted heylige Toirah day and night. At least a shtikel of the Yiddin, maybe even a big shtikel, weren’t cut out to be yeshiva bucherim, Toirah scholars, and were efsher better suited to be hockers and kloppers. Some chevra do very good work with a hammer, if you chap.
Last week, with the 53 civil laws handed down, the RBSO gave His chosen people new jobs and professions. Brand new industries mamish which included the legal and medical professions were created. And just like that a portion of the Yiddin had a parnoso (livelihood). Ober can everybody become a doctor or a lawyer? Seemingly not! And this week, mamish from the goodness of His heart and because He knew what giferliche bums many of you would turn out to be, people who had no interest in sitting and hurrving (fully engaging yourselves) over the newly minted Toirah, the RBSO again showed His benevolence. From architects, to craftsman, to interior designers and people who could hock and bang, the project was a givaldige opportunity for artisans who showed flair, to get involved in the big midbar project. And big it was: A full 87 pisukim in this week’s parsha, another parsha (next week) dedicated in part to the design and wardrobes the koihanim would don during the avoido (service) and another two parshas (Vayakhale and Pikudei) where we will again learn about all the material and the masterful job the Yiddin did with all of the RBSO’s instructions, are all Mishkan related. All told, the heylige Toirah dedicates nearly 4 complete parshas, some say five, and that’s quite a bit to the Mishkan project.
Efsher (perhaps) you’re wondering why the heylige Toirah which does not have one extra letter, word or thought, would dedicate so much space to this project. Why taka does the heylige Toirah provide such color and detail? Did the Yiddin need all this information for a structure that was to last less than forty years? Grada (so happens) that this question will again be relevant in a few weeks when we learn parshas Vayakhale which repeats kimat every detail of the project found in our parsha. Taka an excellent kasha!
Ober says the medrish mamish so gishmak azoy: This was the RBSO’s way of telling the Yiddin to “stop and pay attention!” The devil is in the details and that no real achievement is possible without attention to detail. The RBSO didn’t want the Yiddin rushing through the job by hocking a few trees together into a hut. The RBSO knew that His Yiddin were an impetuous bunch, with little patience. That behavior deficiency was nebech (sadly) manifested when Moishe went missing (according to their count) for but one day. The results were mamish disastrous resulting in the Eygel (golden calf). This pshat would fit in perfectly with those that suggest that the Eygelmyseh (incident) though recorded in two weeks, actually predated the order to build the Mishkan which was built, according to some, to atone for that debacle. Did the Oisvorfer just confuse you by telling you that the Mishkan project predated the Eygel about which we will learn in two more weeks? Indeed he did and of course, when these instructions were given, is avada subject to a shtikel machloikes (disagreement.)
Ober still we’re left with the same question: why would the RBSO, Master of the gantze (entire) universe, want a smallish portable structure of approximately 30 amos in size, especially when compared to the expansive space up in shomayim, down on earth and why one in the midbar? Why not wait until the Chosen People made their way over to the holy land where a more permanent structure could be built in all its glory? Was heaven overcrowded? Were the malochim (angels) and the few righteous taking up too much room? Were they so annoying with their bakoshois (requests) on behalf of relatives left behind to a point where the RBSO needed a shtikel down to earth get-a-way? Ver veyst.
Seemingly, the Mishkan was the portable version of the Beis Hamikdash which the Yiddin used in the desert. Says the medrish azoy: when Moishe was commanded to build the Mishkan, he asked the RBSO as follows: “How can a man make a house for the RBSO if even the heavens cannot contain You?” Good question, no? Ober answered the RBSO azoy: “I do not ask them to make anything commensurate with My capacity. I ask of them only that they build in accordance with their own capacity.” Similarly, Moishe later asked, “If all the animals in the world were assembled would that then be considered a fitting enough sacrifice to You?” The RBSO answered: “It is not as you think, for Me one lamb a day will suffice, for the rich man an ox and for the poor man a sheep. But if a rich man brings that which is fitting for a poor man to offer, it is a desecration.”
Nu, it turns out that the Mishkan is the first of a series of abodes for the RBSO’s presence and from reading the heylige Toirah and Tanach, it appears that the RBSO had more than one such dwelling place here on earth amongst His people. The Novee will teach us that after 39 years in the midbar (desert), the Mishkan was set up in Gilgal, where it stood for 14 years. Then, a stone roofless structure, which had the curtains of the Mishkan over it, was erected over in Shiloi, where it stood for 369 years. Afterwards, a sanctuary was established in Nov, followed by Giv’oin, for a total of 57 years. Finally, Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) built the first Beis Hamikdash over in Yirusholayim. Years later, the second, was built by the few returning exiles from Bovale (Babylon), and according to at least one medrish, the third, the future Beis Hamikdash, the final one that will mark the coming of the Moshiach, may not be built at all. It won’t? Says one medrish azoy: the thirds will fall out of the sky fully built and operational. Why not, is the RBSO not capable? Zicher He is!
And after all that planning and construction, and after being eventually replaced by the First Beis Hamikdash built by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), whatever happened to the portable traveling Mishkan and its appurtenances? Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 9A), azoy: the Mishkan was dismantled and the relics of this holy traveling Mishkan were hidden and stored deep in the earth in the subterranean passages under where the new Temple was erected. Ober, is that emes? Is that what happened? Let’s find out. Says the Novee Yihoishua 18:1 (Joshua), azoy: the traveling Mishkan the Yiddin built in the Midbar did indeed travel with the Yiddin throughout their sojourns in the Midbar. And then? The Yiddin -under Yihoishua’s leadership- crossed over the Jordan and found themselves in the Land, in a place called Gilgal. There, they again assembled the Mishkan, and there it stood for fourteen years. From there they traveled to Shiloh (Sheloi) and there they built a permanent Tabernacle using stones instead of wood. That edifice stood for 369 years. Says the medrish (May’am Lo’ez): in addition to different walls, the Mishkan in Shilo was covered with a curtain of cloth and skins. So far so good, ober what happened to the first traveling Mishkan? Did the Yiddin dismantle it? Was it preserved? Destroyed? Buried?
Says the heylige Gemora (Migillah 16B), aozy: recall that when Yoisef and Binyomin were reunited for the first time, they cried on each other’s necks. Why? We are told that Binyomin wept because he foresaw that the temple, to be in the future erected on Yoisef’s portion of the Land (apportioned by Yihoishua), the tabernacle of Shilo, was destined to be destroyed.
What went wrong? Did the Oroin lose its magical powers? Why did the RBSO allow so many Yiddin to perish and for the Ark to be captured? Lommer lernin: The medrish provides several reasons as to why the RBSO allowed the Philistines to beat the Yiddin and capture His Holy Ark. Ersthens: the Yiddin were still attracted to and still worshiping avoido zoro (idols). The entire point of the Mishkan following the sin of the eygel (golden calf), was to get the Yiddin weaned off idol worship, ober, sadly, many were still hooked. Shoin: 210 years of slavery and surrounded by hot Mitzi girls was hard to forget. Another reason proffered goes like this. The Novee Yihoishua (Joshua) tells us that when the messenger (Shaul) delivered the news to Eli, he told him first that his two sons had perished, and also that the Ark was taken captive. Medrish therefore concludes that the two are connected and that perhaps the Ark was taken because of the sins of the two boys. Alternatively, the Oroin was taken out of the Tabernacle and to the front lines without the RBSO’s permission. Seemingly, they did not consult the Urim-Vitumim and acted without proper authorization. Or, efsher the RBSO was upset because the Yiddin fighting the Plishtim did not daven (pray) to the RBSO for help before waging war. Instead they assumed that the RBSO would not allow His people to be harmed and zicher no harm would ever come to the Holy Ark.
And listen to this: what taka happened to the Ark in captivity? Did it taka lose its magical powers? Farkert (opposite is true). The Novee tells us that the Philistines suffered greatly while holding onto the Holy Ark. The RBSO continued performing miracles.
Says the Novee Shmuel (Samuel I) in perek 4, azoy: At some point in our history the Plishtim (Philistines) were warring against the Yiddin. The Yiddin, in a panic over the losses being sustained on the battlefield, ran back to camp and had the idea to take the Oroin (Ark) out of the Mishkan (now erected in Shiloh) and take it to the battlefront for protection. It did after all contain the second set of Luchis (Ten Commandments) Moishe brought down. It was the Holy Ark and through it, the RBSO proofed many a miracle for the Yadkin. Sadly, the RBSO was not on board with their plan. In addition to heavy losses sustained -tens of thousands- the Oroin was captured by the Philistines, to be returned seven months later. The story as recounted in Shmuel Aleph, is actually much sadder as Eli the Kohen’s two son’s were killed in battle, Eli died when he heard the news of the Oroin being taken, and Eli’s pregnant daughter-in-law, also died in childbirth.
What happened following the capture of the Holy Ark? The Novee (Shmuel 1) tells us azoy: the Plishtim first placed the Ark alongside their own idol. The RBSO then caused their idol to fall down. The next day, their idol, having been erected by the Plishtim, again fell. This time, its head and arms fell off. When the Plishtim refused to recognize the power in the RBSO’s Holy Ark -they, thinking that it had lost its magical powers and that the RBSO had spent all His miracle capabilities- the RBSO continued to punish the Plishtim. Says the Novee (Shmuel I, Ch. 5:6), azoy:
|6. And the hand of the Lord became heavy upon the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them, and He smote them with hemorrhoids, Ashdod and its borders.||ווַתִּכְבַּ֧ד יַד־יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶל־הָאַשְׁדּוֹדִ֖ים וַיְשִׁמֵּ֑ם וַיַּ֚ךְ אֹתָם֙ בַּטְּחֹרִ֔ים (כתיב בַּעְפֹלִ֔ים) אֶת־אַשְׁדּ֖וֹד וְאֶת־גְּבוּלֶֽיהָ:|
The RBSO did what? He struck them with a bad case of “Tichoirim.” What is Tichoirim? Seemingly, He struck the Plishtim with hemorrhoids. Just when they thought the RBSO had used up all His miracles with the ten plagues He brought upon the Mitzrim, He unleashed a bad case of hemorrhoids upon the Plishtim. Says the Radak: the hemorrhoids were both painful and embarrassing. No kidding! Says Rashi and who knew or chapped better than did he: while the Plishtim were relieving themselves, mice would make a rear entry, if you chap, and pull out their bowels. After seven months, the Plishtim had seen enough and were relieved, if you chap, to return the Oroin to the Yiddin.
The bottom line: One should never anger the RBSO. He can smite in innumerable ways. Top, front, sideways and also your bottom.
And again we ask azoy: how could it be that the RBSO who created the heavens and the Earth, the One who took His people out of Mitzrayim with miracles never again seen, would not just build his own home? Vusepes (why) did He want our donations and labor? Why did the RBSO, the one who arranged for the ‘ananey-hakovoid’ (clouds of glory and protection) for His people, the one who arranged for Munn delivery daily (except for shabbis of course), need or want the people to donate their recently acquired riches to this house project and to build Him a home in their camp?
One answer given is that He did not! Really? Zicher the RBSO could have conceived the Mikdash, and it would have been there. Ober it appears that His people efsher did need this Mishkan to be built. Taka why? Seemingly the Yiddin needed to give of themselves to feel connected. The Yiddin wanted to partake and to give, to show they took ownership of the project. Had they not given and had the Mishkan suddenly appeared, it would have been viewed as yet one more miracle they were witness to and perhaps they would have missed the opportunity to internalize the project and its meaning. Moreover, let’s not forget that this campaign came following the big sin of the Eygel; they were mamish feeling guilty.
It so happens that guilt always works and that’s zicher one of the major tactics used by our shuls and schools as they invoke the mishkan project to raise capital funds for new structure and/or renovations. It seems to produce results. When we donate to a project, we take a shtikel ownership interest, we feel connected mamish. And the donations to the mishkan, especially from their newly acquired wealth after 210 years of slavery when they had little, was mamish what connected the Yiddin to the Mishkan and by extension to the RBSO. Gishmak mamish. Zicher not everyone can give the same amount and in the same ways. It’s seemingly important from the wording the RBSO chose, that everyone give epes something.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv