Parshas Terumah begins a series of Parshiyot that deal exclusively with the building of the Mishkon. For the next five weeks up until the end of Sefer Shemos every detail and every item connected with the Tabernacle is recorded. This great length and attention to detail may seem very odd when we consider the Tabernacle was only a temporary structure.
The answer seems to be quite profound. If we look at the history of Israel to this point we find a long series of complaints. They complained right from the start as soon as Moshe began to intervene which made their situation worse. They complained at the crossing of the Red Sea, and again when there was a lack of water. Within weeks of the revelation at Sinai they made a golden calf. If all of these miracles were unable to bring these people to a mature response what could? Then Hashem said let them build something together. This simple command transformed a nation. During the entire time of the construction of the Tabernacle there were no complaints. The people contributed gold, silver and bronze. Some gave their time and skills. They gave so much that Moshe had to order them to stop. It thus comes out that it is not what G-d does for us that transforms us. It is what we do for G-d. The building of the Mishkon was the first project Israel undertook together. It gave them a chance to give back to Hashem a little of what He had given them. This concluded the birth of our nation and is perhaps the reason it concludes the book of Shemos.
This week’s Parsha begins the instructions for building the Mishkon. The Shelah Hakodesh writes that originally when Hashem created the world His principal residence was in this world. Because of that He provided unification between heaven and earth. This allowed for an unimpeded communication and transfer to our world of sources of blessing from the inexhaustible pools of the upper regions. This is alluded to in the verse (Bereishis 2:1) Vayechulu Hashomayim V’ha’aretz V’chol Tzivo’om- Hashem concluded the creation and all of their array.” This means that each part of the lower universe was also a part of the higher universe and thus contributed to the other’s existence. The conduits supplying sources from one region to the other worked perfectly without hindrance.
All of that changed when Adom sinned with the Eitz Hadas Tov V’ra. The balance between the two worlds became disrupted. This resulted in the conduits between heaven and earth being broken; the sources of supply to earth were interrupted and Hashem’s presence withdrew creating a separation between the upper and lower regions. For ten generations this withdrawal continued with the presence of Hashem moving further back from the terrestrial region until the advent of Avraham Avinu who began the process of mending the tear in the spiritual universe. Once again, the Presence of Hashem was drawn towards earth step by step. The book of Shemos is called the book of redemption. But that redemption was not complete with the mere freeing of Israel. Only with the restoration of the Divine presence on this world could the process be deemed a success. The building of the Mishkon continued the process of reuniting these two worlds and preparing a place for Hashem’s presence to once again reside on this world.
The parsha begins with the command “Vayikchu Li Teruma Me’ase Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo-Take for me Terumah from every man whose heart will motivate him.” Hashem wants to dwell in each and every heart. Therefore only money received with the purest of intentions could be collected. This would begin the process of mending the separation between heaven and earth caused by the sin of the Eitz Hadas Tov V’ra. The Gamatria of the words Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo (972) is equal to M’eitz Hadas Tov V’ra.
(25:2) "Vayikchu Li Terumah Me’ase Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Leibo-Take for me Terumah from every man whose heart will motivate him.” The verse should say "give for me Terumh" not “take Terumah? What it means is that when you give, it's as if you are the one receiving because the giving is going towards such an important cause, building a structure to house the presence of G-d!
The Kli Chemdah writes that since there wasn't enough gold for all of the various vessels Hashem made it that what they gave went according to what was in their
hearts. It became more, based on their desires. Therefore the term "Take for Me" refers to the strong desires to do the will of Hashem.
(25:5) "Oros Tachoshim-Tachashim skins" The Tachashis was an animal that only lived during that period then became extinct. Why did this animal become extinct? The multicolored skin of this single horned animal was so beautiful that Hashem had it removed from this world so that it would not ever be used for secular purposes.
(25:8) "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom-Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you." The Ohr Hachaim asks why the Torah refers to the Sanctuary as "Mikdosh " in one place and as "Mishkon " in another? He answers that the command to build a place for the Shechina is not limited to one period of time but it's really incumbent upon us all, at all times. However once the Beis Hamikdosh was built it became forbidden to create alternate sites to serve Hashem. Speaking about the Tabernacle that was built in the Midbar, the Torah uses the term "Mishkon" to infer that this was a temporary situation.
(25:8) "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom-Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you." The Torah goes to great length detailing the construction of the Mishkon. Why do we need all of these details?
The answer lies in another phrase of the Torah. One that is mentioned in the Torah no less than twelve times!
"El H'mokom Asher Yivchar Elokechah L'shakein Shemo Shom-The place I shall choose to rest my name." The actual place where Hashem says He will rest His presence is never mentioned. Shiloh or Jerusalem, places where the Divine presence eventually did rest, are never mentioned. Perhaps the idea is as follows. Hashem wanted to dwell in each and every individual heart of man. When the Posuk says "V'Shochanti B'sochom" it means literally in You! This is why no specific place is mentioned. Twelve times an offer was made for each tribe to rise to the challenge of being worthy to house the Divine Presence. When none were found, plan B was to build the Mishkon.
This is perhaps why the numerical value of the words " "V'asu Li Mikdosh V'Shochanti B'sochom- Build for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in you” are equal to the phrase "'El H’mokom Asher Yivchar Elokechah L'shakein Shemo Shom-The place I shall choose to rest my name." (2120-2121)
The Mishkon was a microcosm of a perfect universe. Every item represented another opportunity to reach perfection. All of the detailed materials used, are mentioned to enable Klal Yisroel to correct particular character flaws.
Gold, the purest metal, symbolized purity of the heart. Physical pleasures should be with proper intention. As one comes closer to Hashem there is a progression from copper to silver to gold.
Linen represents the plant world. Plants vegetate all day. They eat and produce.
Wool represents the animal world,
Sheep the more developed mammal, dyed with the blood of a worm, a lower form of life. This represents the animal world from the highest to the lowest.
Animals have brains, but they mostly think about food and reproduction. That’s why their heads are on the same level as their bodies because that’s what they think about.
The human being stands erect, with the mind above the body.
The Outer courtyard prepares us to come closer to Hashem. We symbolically slaughter the animal in ourselves, we sprinkle blood (our life force) on the altar, dedicating our lives to serving Hashem.
The Ramp is in the upward direction, symbolizing raising ourselves to Hashem.
The inner sanctuary:
The Table symbolizes the physical development of the nation.
Wood symbolizes constant growth.
Bread represents the basic necessities of life.
Incense are the luxuries of life, all dedicated to Hashem.
The Menorah symbolizes the spiritual development of the nation. Made of solid gold with completely pure intentions. The Menorah is in the form of a tree with branches and flowers depicting our spiritual growth.
The Torah included all of these details because by learning about the Mishkon we can understand what it takes to bring Hashem into our midst.
In the last years of his life, Sir Issac Newton mastered the Hebrew language and
was studying the details of the construction of the Tabernacle to gain insight into the secrets of the cosmos. His notes on this subject can be found today in the Israeli Museum.
(25:11) "V'tzipisah Oso Zahav Tohar M'Bayis Umichutz-You shall cover it with pure gold within and without." The Ark was constructed of three boxes. Gold was used as the outer and inner box, while wood was at the core in between. Pure gold would not have been strong enough to withstand the tremendous weight of the cover with the two Cheruvim upon it. It was therefore necessary to have wood at its center for support. On a deeper level the Kli Yakar writes that the wood alludes to the phrase referring to Torah as a Tree of Life to those who hold on to it. "Eitz Chaim He L'Machazikim Bo" It does not say L'lomedcha-to teach Torah but rather L'Machazikim to strengthen, support Torah learning. Coating it with gold within and without refers to the revealed and hidden parts of the Torah. The coating alludes to the fact that not everyone can comprehend the depths of the Torah however this teaches that every person can still have a share in Torah either through learning or supporting Torah.
(25:24) "V'tzipisah Oso Zahav-And it should be covered in gold." The table should covered in gold. The word "Zahav" is an acronym for the three blessings of Bircas Hamozon. Zayin for Zon, Hey for H'aretz and Beis for Boneh. (Rabeinu Bachya)
After listing the thirteen materials to be collected for this purpose the first thing the Torah commands is to build the Aron, the cabinet which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments. On top of the Aron two gold Cherubim were placed. The pair was made of one block of gold. They had an angelic appearance with their spread wings touching, and they faced one another. It was from the space between the two Cherubim that G-d communicated with the Jewish people. They had wings pointed upward; they faced each other and had faces like children. The reasons are as follows. The wings represent the laws pertaining to man and his creator. They faced each other to represent the laws between man and their faces were like children to show that the chinuch of the children is above everything.
It is somewhat strange that Judaism should prescribe a pair of Cherubim, rendered in human form, in the holiest of places. After all, what is the difference between the Cherubim and the golden calf? Why should one represent Divine communication, and the other desecration?
Rashi teaches us that the reason that the Cherubim were not idols was that G-d commanded us to construct them. This teaches us that the reason that the Cherubim were allowed was that G-d commanded us to construct them. Conversely, the reason that the golden calf was considered idolatry was that G-d did not command us to construct it. The word mitzvah means "command"; the phrase avodah zarah means "strange worship," that which was not commanded. What was the significance of the Cherubim? The first mention of Cherubim in the Torah is in the verse describing the eviction of man from the Garden of Eden: (Bereishis 3:24) “Man was evicted and Cherubim were placed East of the Garden of Eden, and a revolving burning sword was placed in order to guard the path to the Tree of Life.”
As a result of man's sin, the Cherubim enter the world, in order to protect the Tree of Life. We have noted the identification between the Tree of Life and the Torah. It is therefore interesting to note that in the Mishkan the Cherubim protect the Ark which contains the Torah, and in Eden the Cherubim protected the path leading to the Tree of Life/Torah. Before the sin of Adom and Chava, the Cherubim were unnecessary; they appear only as a result of the sin. Perhaps we may draw the following conclusion - the Cherubim represent none other than Adom and Chava themselves, young and innocent and naked in the Garden of Eden. Only as a result of their sin did they become aware of, and embarrassed by, their nakedness. The new, "sophisticated" perspective of Adom and Chava, born of partaking of the forbidden fruit, gave them a different, perhaps distorted view of the world. After the sin, they knew that they were naked; they needed to clothe themselves, to hide from G-d.
It is fascinating that the Hebrew word for clothing is beged, which shares the same root as the word "rebellion." The clothing which man wears is a reminder of the
rebellion and the resultant distancing from G-d. At the top of the ark, in place of this couple, pathetically attempting to hide from G-d, now stood a male and a female, representing Adom and Chava before the sin in a state of total innocence before G-d. Specifically from this place would the word of G-d emerge and reverberate.
The two Cherubim were made of one piece of gold, just as Adom and Chava were initially joined together as one. The Cherubim therefore symbolize the ultimate return to one's self. Throughout the generations the Kohen Gadol would enter into the Holy of Holies, on Yom Kippur, the day on which the Jews were finally forgiven for the sin of the golden calf. Yom Kippur, more than any other day, symbolizes rebirth, regained innocence, as the Kohen Gadol saw before him this perpetual message of innocence - a hope for the future through the image of the past.
The Midrash writes that the donations given to the building of the Mishkon relates to the Posuk “Torah Tzivah Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehilas Yakov.” What does this have to do with the giving towards the Mishkon? The word Morasha (inheritance) can be read as Morasah, as a marriage to the Torah meaning that the Torah is married to Klal Yisroel. But what does this really mean? When a person is engaged he is always at the parent’s house. After the wedding they receive visits from the parents. This is a Moshel to the giving of the Torah. Before the giving of the Torah we had to come to Hashem. After the Torah was given the Torah is here for us. Moshe would have to go up to the mountain to receive the Torah. It was Moshe's Avodah that brought Hashem close.
Before the Torah there were people who knew Hashem. A person could work on himself to see insights into the creation. Avraham knew Hashem by studying the world. He understood that there must be a Baal of the universe, a master. This world did not come about by itself. He had to delve into the physical world to realize the spiritual. This was the only way for a person to have any kind of recognition of Hashem. But it was only on the level that the person could attain. Now that we have the Torah, Hashem is always with us. We don't need to dwell on our own in thought. Through learning a person can develop an understanding of the world. There is a Moshel of a king who was marrying off a daughter. He wanted to stay close to her so he said build a room for me where you live so that I can visit you there. This is the Moshel for the Mishkon. That we make a place for Hashem to be among us since the Torah is in our midst.
The incident with the Eigel actually took place before the commands to build the Mishkon. Why then are these Parshiyos of Terumeh and Tetzaveh placed before Ki Sisa? The Oznayim L’Torah says that this is to inform us of Hashem’s way of supplying the cure before inflicting the plague. But why is this Parsha right after Mishpatim? Benei Yisroel heard the Halochos of returning loans and wanted to go back to Egypt to return the gold and silver they had borrowed. Hashem said they should donate to the Mishkon instead. Had there been any question as to their right to keep these possessions Hashem would not have allowed their use for the construction of his place of dwelling.
There were three crowns of gold that were in the Mishkon. The Aron - the Ark, the Mizbeach -the Altar and the Shulchon- the Table. The Aron represents the crown of Torah, the Mizbeach represents the crown of Kehunah - the Priesthood and the Shulchon represents Avodah-the Temple service. Each one is mentioned differently in the Torah. When the Aron is described all of the measurements are in fractions. When the Mizbeach is mentioned the measurements are all whole. By the Shulchon there is a combination of both whole and fractioned measurements. The Kli Yakar explains the reason for this. The Aron has fractions because since it represents the Torah and man must never feel as though he has completed his learning. The Mizbeach has measurements that are whole because by offering sacrifices the Mizbeach serves to make man whole through the pardoning his sins. The Shulchan was a combination of whole and fractions because it was the source of Brachas-blessings in the world. A person should always feel happy with his lot in life (whole) and on the other hand (as a fraction) always strive to be more complete.
The Posuk says they should use the skins of the Tachash. Rashi explains that this
It says that any animal that is to be used for Hashem has to be able to be one that can be eaten. They ask then why this Tachash is not listed with the animals that are permitted to be eaten? They answer that it is not listed because it’s sole purpose was for Mishkon, having fulfilled that purpose it was destined to become extinct.
The Lechem Haponim was on the Shulchan. The Ramban says that when Hashem created the world, he created something from nothing. That was the only time. After that all miracles were done by using existing matter and transforming it or expounding upon it, rather than creating something from nothing. When Hashem places Bracha into the world he uses existing matter to bring out the Brachas. Man did not have to work. All of his needs were attended to. But after the Chet not only was he cursed but the earth was cursed as well. In committing the Chet man took what was Hashem’s Bracha and perverted it. He took the physical blessing of the material and misused it. This is why the earth was included in the curse.
Through the Mitzvos we are commanded Hashem allows us to be partners in restoring the world to what it once was. In fulfilling His will we reveal Godliness once again to the physical world. The word Mitzvah contains the letters Mem Tzaddik Vav Hey. If we take the first two letters and transpose them through Atbash (A form of Gematria that replaces the first letters of the Aleph Beis with the last letters. Aleph=Tuf, Beis=Shin) we have the letters Yud Hey. Combined with the last two letters, Vav Hey, reveal Hashem's name
Hashem created the physical world for Yisroel and they were to use the Torah to instill spirituality into the material. They were to fix up the Chet of the world. The Mishkon was to be a place of pure Kiddusha. A model of how a perfect world should be. The Lechem Haponim was the source of all Parnosa in the world. Hashem used it as the root through which his Brachas could materialize.
(25:31) “V’Asisa Menoras Zahav Tohar-You shall make a Menorah of pure gold.” When Moshe was told to make the Menorah, Rashi says he didn’t understand how it should be done. Hashem told him to put the gold in the fire and it would make itself. Later on Rashi says when Moshe couldn’t make it Hashem showed him a vision of the Menorah in fire. It would seem to be a contradiction. The answer is that they are both right. First Hashem showed him the vision. Moshe had to begin the process. When he still couldn’t make it Hashem made it form by itself. The Menorah represents the light of knowledge. This lesson applies to any person who attempts to learn Torah, first he must make the initial effort to learn, then Hashem gives him the needed help to acquire the knowledge.
The obvious question asked by the Sefas Emes is that if the Menorah was impossible to make, why did Hashem tell Moshe to make it, and why did He show Moshe a diagram of it in fire? The answer holds one of the keys to the universe. A key of which the secular world is totally unaware. It is the secret of Ratzone-Will or desire. By Hashem showing Moshe the Menorah He ignited within him the desire to accomplish even the impossible. Only after he had acquired that Ratzone was he able to attempt the impossible. The secular world is opposed to us reaching our true potential. They wish to limit our desire to become something more, or to ask the question: “What can I do to advance myself in the eyes of my creator.” As a result we live in fear of expressing our desires for something better.
By turning on that Ratzone a person is able to connect with a reality beyond our limited selves. To a reality of connection with Hashem where anything becomes possible. Thus the expression “Aiyn Dover Omed Lifnei HaRotzone-Nothing stands in the way of desire.” This is the lesson Hashem was teaching Moshe Rabeinu. Ratzone is the secret to the success of Am Yisrael.