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Home » Terumah

Terumah: Food for Thought at your Dinner Table

Submitted by on February 3, 2008 – 1:40 amNo Comment | 2,751 views

Sunday: Take and Take Again

We have many motives to give charity. Some give out of peer pressure. Some give for purposes of self aggrandizement. Some give out of a sense of duty. Some give out of a sense of shame. In all the above examples the motive is self-centered; seeking to satisfy a personal need. To avoid these inappropriate motives, one should determine the amount one wishes to give in the privacy of one’s own chambers, free of all forms of social pressure. By designating this sum for charity it is consecrated, gifted to G-d. This way, when one actually donates the money it is not one’s own money with which the mitzvah is performed, but G-d’s.

This is the deeper meaning of the text, “And they shall take for me a contribution, from every man whose heart inspires him to give shall they take my contribution.” Why does the verse instruct us to take the contribution two times? The first collection is done by the donors in the privacy of their rooms. They take it from their own possession and give it to G-d. The second taking is done by the collectors, who collect from those whose hearts inspired them to give rather than a form of social pressure. Toras Moshe (Alshich)

Monday: A Golden table

“You shall make your table of pure gold”. How can we fulfill this instruction today, when the temple is no longer in existence? The Hebrew word for gold, zahav, is comprised of three letters, zayin, hei and vav. These letters form an acronym for the three sections of the blessings we recite after a meal. The zayin alludes to the first blessing, hazan. The hei alludes to the second blessing, ha’aretz. The bet alludes to the third blessing, Boneh Yerushalayim. When we recite these blessings with full concentration and thank G-d for the food he bestowed upon us, our table is precious as gold in G-d’s eyes. Rabbeinu Bachye

Tuesday: Clandestine and Humble

The covers over the tabernacle draped down from the roof to the ground and completely covered the north and south walls. Our sages taught that wisdom is found in the south of Israel and wealth is found in the north of Israel. The draperies that concealed the north and south walls transmitted a message to the people: The only way to succeed in the endeavors of the north and the south, Torah study and benevolence, is to do so in an understated manner; without fanfare. If we seek aggrandizement we forfeit the blessing of G-d. Toras Moshe Alshich

Wednesday: Truth or False

The walls of the tabernacle were made of wooden beams. The Hebrew word for a beam is is Keresh. The Hebrew word for falsehood is sheker. The Hebrew language is eminently precise. That two words share root letters is an indication of a link between the two.What is the possible link between beams and falsehood? Furthermore, why would the tabernacle be made of materials linked to falsehood?

We live in an illusion of G-dlessness. The physical world seems real enough, but when we think of G-d we cannot be certain of his existence. We rely on argument, intuition and faith. In haven, the world of truth, reality is slightly different. G-d’s existence is embraced as absolute and the existence of creation is debatable. The tabernacle was the one place on earth where G-d was clearly visible. In other words, the object of the tabernacle was to transform the false premise under which we labor here on earth and reveal the truth.

Transforming the sheker, falsehood, of our illusions is the underlying purpose of the tabernacle. It is the reason for its existence, the keresh, the beam, that holds it in place. Sefer Mamarim 5710

Thursday: The Investment

“You shall place the table on the outer side of the curtain and the candelabra opposite the table.”  At first glance, the verse seems curious. The table, where the show-bread was kept, acted as a conduit for sustenance. The candelabra, the source of light, acted as conduit for the inspiration and illumination of Torah. Why does the Torah place the blessing for sustenance ahead of the blessing for Torah?

The Mishna teaches, if there is no bread there can be no Torah. We can only succeed in Torah study if we have first secured our sustenance. The table comes before the candelabra because if there is no table, if the bills can’t be paid and we can’t put food on the table, there is no way to study Torah.

Yet, after the Torah instructs us on the placement of the candelabra the Torah returns to the location of the table. The verse begins and ends with the table, but breaks away in the middle to speak of the candelabra. Indeed, our main goal must always be the study of Torah. Even as we work for a living, we must pause at every opportunity to study Torah. Torah must remain our top priority lest we immerse ourselves utterly in work and slowly begin to neglect the Torah. Divrei Yisroel

Thursday: Five and Five

The alter was five cubits long and five cubits wide. The Hebrew numeral for five is the letter hei. The hei has two vertical lines and one horizontal line that extends above them with a slight gap in the upper left corner between the horizontal and vertical lines. This shape holds relevance to the altar.

The world is similar, in concept, to the letter hei. There is a vast opening below through which sinners stumble, slip through and dip down below the intended margin. However, sinners can also repent. What inspires repentance? Humility. In as much as sin is caused by arrogance – forgetting our dependence on G-d, repentance is stimulated by humility – recalling our dependence on G-d. The small opening at the top of the hei allows for the hot air of arrogance to escape.

The hei has two openings. One for sinners, the other for penitents. This is why the altar was five, or hei, cubits tall and five, or hei cubits tall. The first hei represented the sinners, whose sacrifices were offered on the altar. The second hei represented the penitent, whose remorse was stimulated at the altar. Toras Moshe (Alshich)

Saturday: Ancient Hebrew

Modern Hebrew letters are different form the ancient letters archaeologists have discovered in Israel. It is commonly assumed that Moses received the Torah in the ancient Hebrew, but the Talmud disagrees.

Raabi Yehudah maintained that Moses used the letters that we know today. The letters that archaeologists have discovered were used for several centuries during the first temple era, but were discarded when the original ones were restored. Rabbi Elazar maintained that the letters never changed. He cited the biblical word for hooks, vavin, as proof. A hook attaches to the beam on one side and to the curtain on the other. It’s shape is similar to the Hebrew vav. That the Torah uses the word vav, to describe a hook indicates that the original, biblical, vav was similar in shape to the modern vav.

There is a conceptual link between hooks and letters. Hooks are implements that connect curtains to beams. The wide curtain signifies the expanse of parchment upon which the Torah is written. The tall beam signifies the deep concepts found in the Torah. The hook connects the beam, the idea, to the curtain, the parchment. The medium, or hook, through which ideas are imparted unto parchment is, of course language. In other words, letters. Panim Yafos