Hashem is here Hashem is there, Hashem is truly everywhere- up - up - down - down - right - left all around here, there, everywhere - that's where He can be found.LESSON:
Hashem is truly everywhere, yet His 'Shechinah' (Presence) is concealed from us and we go through life without "seeing" Hashem. There are times and places that Hashem makes His Presence felt. Hashem desired to have a place in this world to live. The Mishkan was the place in which Hashem decided to 'live.' The entire book of Shemot deals with the idea of Hashem designating His place in this world which He created.
Let's list the Parshiot in Sefer Shemot and show how Hashem placed Himself in this world; Shemot, Va'aira, Bo & Bishalach, discuses Hashem placing Himself within a people. These Parshiot deal with Hashem's choice of B'nei Yisroel as the nation, for it is they who bring G- dliness into the world. The next Parsha Yitro, is the way by which Hashem places Himself within the people, through His Torah which is upheld and learned by them. Then Parshat Mishpatim teaches us the way to judge cases according to the ultimate truth of Torah, which infuse truth into a world of deception. Hashem's essence is truth and through a life of truth, Hashem's presence is brought out.
Hashem's presence was concealed after B'nei Yisroel made the 'Eigel HaZahav' (golden calf) and Hashem will now place his Shechinah (Presence) in the Mishkan The Mishkan will serve a means of duplicating the experience of Hashem's revelation at Har Sinai. The privilege of being given the Torah was due to our belief in Hashem and our commitment to follow the Mitzvot that were about to be given to us. We didn't have to do anything. We didn't have to work for it, it was handed to us on a silver platter. Now, after we made the Eigel HaZahav we will have to actively contribute to the construction of the Mishkan. Now, We will earn the relationship Hashem wants to have with us.
That which a person has to give up for, is earned and it becomes meaningful. Any relationship that a person never had to 'give up' something for, is not a very strong relationship. Hashem is giving us the opportunity to give of ourselves. Now we will have a part in the Mishkan When Hashem created the world, He desired to have a 'place' in this world to 'live.' The Mishkan will be that place.MARVELOUS MEDRASH:
The Medrash compares this to a king who had a daughter he loved very much. He was overjoyed when he heard she is engaged to be married and the young couple will live in the king's palace for a few years. And so it was, after several years that the princess and prince lived in her father's palace, it was time for the couple to move to a distant land. The king called for the couple to bid farewell. "I cannot stop you from going, but I have one request; Wherever you live, set aside a room for me to visit."
The king is Hashem; The daughter is Hashem's Torah that travels with the prince, the Jewish nation. Hashem wants to be close with his Torah and His children who travel with it, so he designated a place (the Mishkan) for Himself wherever we might be.
It's so difficult for us to understand why Hashem took 5 'Parshiot' (Trumah, T'tzaveh, Ki-Tissa, Vayakhail, Pekudei) to illustrate the construction of the Mishkan (and the clothing of the Kohanim), and applied to one era in our history [For thousands of years, we've had to observe the Shabbos, yet we don't even find those laws in the Torah?!] Obviously, there are many deep mysteries to the Mishkan that we don't know. We believe that this part of Torah is just as important as the rest.
Q- Why do we learn about all these details about building something that we aren't going to build?The Mishkan benefited B'nei Yisroel in 3 ways -
A#1- Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to build the Mishkan for the purpose of having Hashem dwell amongst the people and within the heart of each person. Hashem wants us to make ourselves holy people for Him to live in. We learn all the details to remind us of this lesson, that our purpose in this world is to transform ourselves into miniature sanctuaries Mishkan & bait Ha Mikdash)
A#2- The Mishkan is a representation of the human being. There are an infinite amount of details to man, more than all the information that exists in every book ever written. The study of the Mishkan reminds us of the complexity of man. The Mishkan is a model of the world, man is a miniature world. Every aspect of the Mishkan is important as is every aspect of man & the world.
A#3- When we learn about the Mishkan and the Korbanot (sacrifices), Hashem considers that as if we actually constructed the Mishkan and offered up those Korbanot. This can help us appreciate the time & effort spent on learning about these.
A#4- We learn about the Mishkan because it was through the Mishkan that Hashem let his 'light' into the world. The Mishkan was not only a model of the Jewish person, it was also the model of the 'world' above where Hashem dwells. Looking at the Mishkan would be like looking at a map. The map looks very different than the area it represents, yet studying it, is an opening to knowing about the area. When we learn (& read) about the Mishkan we actually bring down the holiness that is hidden in it. We become holier people when we learn about it. The Mishkan was the way a Jew rose above the lowly world and became attached to Hashem. Learning about it has that effect.
1- It provided protection for them.LESSON:
2- It was a source of inspiration, that brought them closer to Hashem.
3- The miracles that took place in the Mishkan is a reminder to us (and the rest of the world), that Hashem really loves us, even after the incident with the Eigel HaZahav
No matter what we do, we'll always be the children of Hashem. As a father loves his child regardless of how angry he is towards the child's actions, Hashem will always love us and wait for us to return to Him. The Parsha opens with Hashem's command to Moshe Rabbeinu to tell B'nei Yisroel: "Anyone who wants to contribute, should take an offering (present)." Huh? A contribution is given- not taken? Shouldn't the Torah have written; "Whoever wants to contribute should give?" You see, whatever you think you have, is only what Hashem gave you to use for His service (support a family, give Tzeddaka...). If you win $1,000,000,000 in the lottery (you never know), that gift from Hashem can always be taken back (often in the form of taxes). But if that money was given back to Hashem (in the form of Tzeddaka), the reward (which is priceless) will never be taken away. So a person owns only those things that he gave back to Hashem. In reality, by giving, you're actually getting. There was a movie where a person was given a large amount of cash to spend in one day. If he was unable to get rid of the money by purchasing things for himself, all the money would be lost. This is a good illustration of this point.LESSON:
As long as the money wasn't given to Tzeddaka, there's always the possibility of losing it. The Mitzvah is eternal. It's never lost. Imagine a guy who has $1,000 in his wallet and gets pick-pocketed. If he didn't give Tzeddaka he's suddenly left with nothing. Imagine if he would have given a ten dollars to a Yeshiva. That would last for all eternity. No one can take that away. Through that $10 donation would have acquired that $10. Giving is getting.
Another reason the Torah uses the term 'take' instead of give; Each person who donated to the Mishkan was taking the light of Hashem from the higher worlds, and bringing it down to this world, to create a dwelling place for Hashem.
Now we know about the concept of giving, we will understand why this Parsha is placed after Parshat Mishpatim. We learned in last week's Parsha many laws regarding honesty in with money. A contribution of money for the Mishkan has to be money that was made honestly.
Hashem doesn't want His holy dwelling place made from money that was earned by violating the Torah's laws.
Another interesting point is found in the wording of the Possuk; "Whoever's heart brings him to give, should." We learn from this that it's not just the contribution that Hashem wants.LESSON:
Hashem wants us to want to give of ourselves. Imagine how much more precious a gift is when given with the thought of wanting to give. It's the thought that counts.STORY:
Rav Eliyahu Lopian was walking past a road in Israel being repaired. Rav Lopian said; "This person is performing a mitzvah of building the land of Israel. What is missing? The thought that he is actually performing a command of Hashem. There can be so much gained if people would realize that they're actually fulfilling a mitzvah." Here we see the value of giving (doing) for the sake of the mitzvah. It all depends on what's in your mind. It's mind over matter.
Every aspect of the Mishkan is significant. Every type of material used, is significant. Every measurement is significant. There are many deep meanings behind all this, we will mention a bit of fascinating insights that we can understand on a basic level. The 3 metals that were used were: Gold, silver & copper.GOLD
- The gold was meant to atone (bring forgiveness) for the Eigel HaZahav (golden calf). The gold corresponds to [and sanctifies] the highest and most exalted part of the person- the soul. The mind of the person that houses the soul.
- The silver was meant as an atonement for the sale of Yosef (for 20 silver pieces). The silver (KeSeF) corresponds to [and sanctifies] the desires and longings (KiSuFim) of the person that's housed in the heart.
- The copper was meant to atone for the impurities of the hearts of the people (copper is an inferior form of metal). The copper corresponds to [and sanctifies] man's actions, which are performed by the limbs. This is the most basic part of the person. These 3 metals (that were contributed to the Mishkan's construction) correspond to the 3 levels of giving Tzeddaka.
LEVEL 1- GOLD;
This is when a person gives Tzeddaka when his family is all well. There is no selfish reason to this contribution. This is compared to gold.LEVEL 2- SILVER;
This is when a person is ill and therefore gives Tzeddaka. This is a lower form compared to silver.LEVEL 3- COPPER;
This is Tzeddaka that's given when a person is about to die.
The value of this type of contributing is compared to copper. Whatever the level of one's giving is, these are all accepted and dear to Hashem.
|Zayin||Seventh day of the week - shabbos||Kof||(Yom) Kippur||Nun||(Ner) Chanukah|
|Heh||Fifth day of the week - Thursday||Samach||Succot||Chet||(Rosh) Chodesh,
also includes Rosh Hashonah
|Bet||Second day of the week - Monday||Peh||Pesach||Shin||Shavuot,
Let's explore the vessels of the Mishkan and get a glimpse at their significance...
The Aron is the first part of the Mishkan instructed to be built. It even preceded the instruction to construct the actual Mishkan This is so because the Aron symbolizes the holy Torah and the people who learn it. Hashem created the world as a home for His Shechinah (Presence) [so the Mishkan is a model of the world], and the Torah was created long before Hashem created the world. It would there-fore make sense, that the Aron be created before the Mishkan.STORY:
The Aron was placed in the holiest part of the Mishkan (and the world), the Kodesh Kedoshim'' (Holiest of Hollies). This inner-most section of the Mishkan was visited once a year, by the Kohain Gadol on Yom Kippur. The Aron was placed in the central point of the Mishkan since it's the Torah that's the essence of the Jewish people. Without it we are nothing- with it we are everything. The Torah is the focal point of our lives.
[The Aron contained in it the Luchot, the Sefer Torah which was written by Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon's staff (the one that the almonds & flowers sprouted from), the jug of Mann and a jug of the Shemen HaMishcha (anointing oil) used to anoint the Kohain Gadol and kings.]
The Aron was made of 3 boxes, one within the other. The 3 boxes corresponded to the books of the written Torah 1. Chumash 2. Navi & 3. Ketuvim. The outer & inner boxes were made of gold, whereas the middle box was made of Shittim wood. The Torah is compared to pure gold as well as to a tree of life.
[The Aron symbolized the Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) who has to be gold on the outside, as well as gold on the inside. The student of Torah has to be genuine. A person who appears to be a Talmid Chacham, but in the inside, lacks the Middot (personality traits) & Yirat Shomayim (awe of Hashem), isn't a Talmid Chacham.]
The middle box being made out of wood, eased the transporting of it. This teaches us that Torah should be taught and transmitted in an easy way. Also, the Torah teaches us to lighten the burden of another Jew.
The great Tzaddik, Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld was the head of the 'Diskin Orphanage' in Yerushalayim. His doctors advised him to live where the air is better. He rented a room in the orphanage and insisted on paying, even though he was the president of it. He made sure never to stay longer than 30 days. During the last year of his life, he left the orphanage to move back home. When he was asked why, he explained that he will die shortly, and doesn't want to trouble the Chevra Kadisha burial society to carry him too far to the cemetery.STORY:
Even though a Talmid Chacham is pure gold, he also is a human being made of the same flesh & blood (symbolized by the wood) as everyone else. Every person begins life with an ordinary body, but the Talmid Chacham makes his existence golden.
Not only was the Aron made of gold, but to top that, it was covered with a gold cover. That just about covers it ...NO wait! There was also a golden rim that surrounded the top. This was a crown for the Aron, to represent the crown of Torah given to the Jewish people.
We learned that the Aron was filled to the rim, but I forgot to tell you about a special feature that made the Aron a head (or 2) above the rest.
Two golden angels with their wings spread above the Aron. The Aron was the most beloved part of the Mishkan and was modeled after the throne of Hashem. Hashem's Throne has angels surrounding it, so the Aron had too. These were no ordinary golden figures, they were the 'speaker phone' for Hashem to speak to Moshe Rabbeinu. It was through the Kruvim that Hashem's voice came through. Furthermore, the faces of the Kruvim were that of a baby boy and girl. When the Kruvim faced one another, it meant that Hashem was happy with the way we were living. If they were turned away from one another, it was a sign that we turned away from Hashem and caused Hashem to turn away from us. This was the way we were encouraged to continue living according to the Torah, or the way we were warned to change to that of a Torah life. This was a sign from Hashem that He watches over us and cares.
I don't want to get carried away, but I must tell you about the Badim. These were the gold coated poles that were used for carrying away the Aron, when it was time to travel. They remained in the Aron at all times and ran through 4 gold rings, each side having two. These Badim supported the Aron and represented the supporters of Torah. People who support others who learn, have to be supportive always. This is illustrated by the Badim that remained in the Aron at all times. This also teaches us that the Torah, which was given at Har Sinai (which the Mishkan and specifically the Aron represent), was meant to travel with every Jew, regardless where he/she is. For this reason, there is no holiness to Har Sinai, for the holiness of the Torah exists wherever a Jew learns it.
Furthermore, the Badim were kept in the Aron whereas the Badim of the other vessels were removed, The Aron was place in the Kodesh Kedoshim, which was entered only once a year (on Yom Kippur by the Kohain Gadol) therefore they didn't inconvenience anyone.
We learn a great LESSON: Make other people's life easier.
When the Gadol HaDor, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski was at the health resort, he was about to rent a certain cottage for himself. He noticed that the living room is far from the kitchen. Since this would effect the maid, he asked her for her opinion.
Let's now take a look outside the Kodesh Kedoshim and learn about the 3 vessels which stood in the Kodesh (the bigger part of the Mishkan where the Kohanim performed most of their service) There was the Shulchan (the table that contained the Lechem HaPonim -show bread), the Menorah (you know what that is) and the Mizbayach HaZahav (the small golden altar which the incense was burned on).
The Shulchan was a wooden table that was covered with gold and supported the shelves with the 12 Lechem HaPonim (bread). The top of the Shulchan was crowned with a golden rim. The Shulchan represented the crown of Malchut monarchy or kingship or royalty, that the descendants of King David were crowned with.
Q- What's the connection between the Shulchan's representation of worldly wealth & sustenance, and the King of Israel?
* The Shulchan...
brought Hashem's blessing of material wealth and sustenance- The King...used the wealth of the monarchy for the people. All Kings of Israel hosted the poor at their table daily [This sort of practice was unheard of by the other kings of the world].* The Shulchan...
was made of wood that was covered with gold- The king...displayed wealth on the outside, but was modesty & feared Hashem at heart.* The Shulchan...
was surrounded by a border to prevent the Lechem HaPonim from falling out- The king...was guarded by Talmidei Chachomim from falling away from the Torah's way.* The Shulchan...
was 2 'Amot' long- The king...functioned on 2 levels. 1- He conducted war. 2- Enforced justice.* The Shulchan...
had a circumference of 9 'Amot' - The king...was given 9 special Mitzvot. 1-few wives, 2-horses & 3-not too wealthy. 4-Can't bring us to Egypt, 5-be too arrogant & 6-turn heart away from G-d & 7-His Mitzvot. 8-Must write Sefer Torah and 9-read it all his days.SHABBOS PUTS THE BREAD ON THE TABLE
The Shulchan was also the object that Hashem used to shower His blessing for food and wealth in this world. It was on the Shulchan, that the Lechem HaPonim were placed. Similarly, the ability to make money (symbolized by the Lechem) during the 6 days of the week are influence by the Shabbos. Both Shabbos and the Shulchan are the source of man's 'bread' which is earned during the week. [For this reason the Zohar says that bread should remain on the table during the entire Shabbos. Y.L.] The Lechem HaPonim were baked Erev Shabbos and remained in the Shulchan till the following Erev Shabbos. Well, imagine how stale that bread was after sitting out for 7 days straight. Actually, these breads remained fresh and even warm for all 7 days! When B'nei Yisroel would visit the Bait HaMikdash, (Pesach, Sh'vuot & Sukkot) the Kohain would show the nation the warm, fresh bread & proclaimed, "see how much Hashem loves you!"STORY:
There was a Jew who escaped from Portugal during the Inquisition and moved to Eretz Yisroel. He attended the rabbi's speech in Shul, where he spoke about the Bracha that came to the world through the Shulchan. This simple unlearned Jew wanted to contribute his own Lechem HaPonim to Hashem. He asked his wife to prepare challot for him on Erev Shabbos to bring as an offering. He took the challot to the Shul and placed it in the Aron Kodesh. He davened to Hashem that his challot should be accepted. He joyfully left Shul to prepare for the holy day of Shabbos. The shamash (gabai-caretaker) of the Shul was very poor. He entered the Shul to daven to Hashem for food to feed his starving family. He cried and davened and wanted to open the Aron Kodesh to continue his emotional t'fillah. Sure enough, his prayers were answered, as he found 2 warm challot. He too left Shul joyful, and went home with his gift from Hashem to show his family. This practice continued every Erev Shabbos. The matter was finally revealed. The Jew found out about who was really getting the gift and the gabbai found out where his challot were coming from. The reality is, that Hashem was accepting the simple Jew's offering, by having the gabbai take it. Hashem was the one who provided the food for the poor gabbai by having the Jew place them into the Aron Kodesh. The holy Ari-z"l (the great Kabbalist in Tzefat, Israel) said that there has been nothing more pleasurable since the Bait Ha Mikdash was destroyed, than the challot that this simple Jew gave to 'Hashem' every week.
Let's shed some light on the Menorah. The Menorah was made out of one piece of gold. It had 3 branches which extended from both sides of the middle branch which was its' base. The Menorah was decorated with flowers, round balls (as opposed to square ones) and cups. All the lights faced inwards towards the central light. We'll soon see why.MARVELOUS MEDRASH:
Moshe Rabbeinu found Hashem's instruction of the Menorah's construction difficult. Hashem told him, "You throw in one piece of gold into a fire, give it one blow with the hammer and I'll do the rest." Moshe Rabbeinu followed Hashem's words and threw in the towel gold, davened to Hashem to do with it as He wishes, and sure enough, the completed Menorah emerged.LESSON:
Whatever we want to succeed in, we need to Daven for. Although Moshe Rabbeinu was following Hashem's instruction, he realized that any success, including success if following the word of Hashem, needs His help. Daven for success in learning, Mitzvot and even DaveningSTORY:
A man once came to the Kotzker Rebbe (Rav Menachem Mendel from Kotzk) saying he doesn't know what to Daven for. The Kotzker replied, "Daven to know how to Daven."
The Menorah was the symbol of Torah scholars and the wisdom of the Torah, which is compared to light. The light of the Menorah provided the spiritual light which every Jew has within. It's through the Menorah that our eyes our illuminated to see the true path of Hashem.
The 6 outside branches represented the 6 wisdoms of the world (science, math...) which faced the center light, the light of Torah which is the purpose of the other wisdoms. The other wisdoms were given to help us understand the Torah.
Let's explore how the Menorah symbolizes Torah- wisdom:
The Menorah... was made from one piece of gold
The Torah...has many different subjects, yet it is all one unit.
The Menorah... was made from pure gold
The Torah...is the pure word of Hashem.
The Menorah... had 7 branches
The Torah...has 7 books within it (when "Va'yhi Binso'a" is counted as a separate book).
The Menorah... had 6 outer branches and one branch which was its' base
The Torah...has 6 sections of Torah sh'b'al peh and the center of Torah is Awe of Hashem.
The Menorah... had 22 cups decorating it
The Torah...has 22 letters which the words of it are made up of.
The Menorah... was placed opposite the Shulchan (which represented material support)
The Torah...needs financial support for its' learning to flourish.
Outside, in the courtyard of the Mishkan was the copper Mizbayach This was used for the animal sacrifices which were brought by the Kohain. The Mizbayach represented all of 'Klal Yisroel' the Jewish people and their merits.
The Mizbayach measured 5 Amot (a measurement) by 5 Amot. This represented the 5 Dibrot on each of the Luchot Its' height was 3, symbolizing the 3 leaders, Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. Its' corners had 4 protrusions, representing the 4 gifts rewarded to us at Har Sinai;
Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu, regarding the Mizbayach that a fire should constantly burn upon it. Moshe was surprised, after all, the fire will melt the copper then burn the wood which it was made of. Hashem said, "Have no fear, I am here!" Actually, Hashem did say that there is no need to fear, for what is 'natural' in this world, is so because Hashem says so. If Hashem wants a fire to burn constantly on the Mizbayach it will. Not only that, the fire was never extinguished by rain for all the years. Not only that, but a wind never carried the smoke to any direction, it rose straight up.The letters of Mizbayach tell us of its' function for the Jewish people.
© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
R' Matis Friedman's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
R' Matis Friedman's main page
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