The seventh of Adar is the birthday of Moshe, our teacher; it is also the anniversary of his passing. In most years we read the portion of Terumah on the Shabbos which occurs close to the seventh of Adar. This year, Shabbos Terumah is on the sixth of Adar, the eve of the seventh, and it leads into the seventh, starting tonight.
What connection is there between the 7th of Adar and Terumah?
The theme of the portion Terumah is clearly expressed in G-d's command to Moshe:
Have them bring Me an offering.... They shall make Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell among them. (Shemos 25:1,8)
This theme also played a major role in Moshe's personal Divine service, as the Midrash explains that starting with Avraham seven Tzaddikim caused the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) to descend and return to the material world, and Moshe, the seventh, brought the Shechinah to rest in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). This was accomplished when Moshe built the Mishkan.
Being Moshe's yartzeit, the 7th of Adar has the power that in it:
All his doings, his Torah and the Divine service which he served all the days of his life...becomes revealed and radiate in a manifest way...and effect salvation in the midst of the earth. (Iggeres HaKodesh 27-28)
This is the essence of creating a Sanctuary to bring G-dliness "in the midst of the earth."
Furthermore, the connection between Terumah and the seventh of Adar also expresses itself in relation to Moshe's birthday.
Moshe died on the same day as he was born 120 years later, thus, G-d completed the years of his life from day to day. Many great Tzaddikim did not die on their birthdays which points to the special quality of Moshe's life. This term, "perfect years," indicates that the full potential which existed at the time of birth was realized at the time of passing, so that the yartzeit expresses the kinetic quality of the original birthday. That which was present in a potential, hidden and sequestered manner at the time of birth came to full manifestation and bloom at the time of passing.
Therefore, the seventh of Adar epitomizes Moshe's accomplishments of making the dwelling place for the Shechinah, both as a fulfillment of the potential of birth and as the fulfillment attained at the time of death.
This contrast between the day of birth and the day of death, as a form of concealment and revelation, comes to light especially on the seventh of Adar.
The Gemara relates that when Haman's lot fell on the month of Adar he rejoiced because he knew that Moshe, our teacher, died in Adar -- but he did not know that Moshe was also born in Adar [the fact which ultimately generated the shield of protection for the Jewish people].
Why was the date of Moshe's yartzeit well-known while his birthday was not? The yartzeit was revealed since it is relatively easy to deduce the day of his death from the verses of the Torah. The birthday was concealed as it is not referred to at all in the Scriptures. We know the date of Moshe's birthday only through Midrashim. For whatever reason, Haman knew one and not the other, which stresses the relationship between birthday and yartzeit that one reveals what the other conceals.
We may now elucidate more clearly the connection between the portion of Terumah and the seventh of Adar through the perspectives of Moshe's birth -- which carries a loftier quality than a yartzeit.
Let us see how our sages view these two phenomena. The Gemara relates:
When the lot fell on the month of Adar he rejoiced greatly, saying, "The lot has fallen for me on the month in which Moshe died. He did not know however, that Moshe died on the seventh of Adar and was born on the seventh of Adar. (Megillah 13b)
Rashi discusses the birth of Moshe and states: "His birth was worthy enough to atone for his death." (loc. cit.) Just as the joy of birth supersedes the negative aspects of death, so, too, will it transcend the positive qualities of a yartzeit. Not only did Moshe's birthday afford protection from Haman's decree to annihilate the Jews, but is also caused a "turn around" -- so that Purim became a holiday, and the whole month became a month of joy.
Moshe's role in engendering the revelation of the Shechinah on earth began at Mattan Torah, for then "G-d descended on Mt. Sinai." This represented the abandonment of the decree which had kept the upper and lower worlds apart. Later, when Moshe built the Mishkan the presence of the Shechinah on earth was increased because he provided a "house" for the Shechinah. According to the Rambam the commandment to build the Mishkan included the later construction of the first and second Temples, as well as the ultimate Third Bais Hamikdosh.
In each of the Sanctuaries we can discern a unique quality:
The Tabernacle -- this was the first manifestation of G-d's command, "They shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them." It was realized through the "Mishkan that Moshe built."
The First Temple -- This was the first realization of the requirement for a permanent house, not a temporary tent.
The Second Temple -- Although it lacked five items which the first Temple had, it was still described in glowing terms: "The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former." (Chagai 3:9) And, although when it was rebuilt it was seen as the continuation of the first Temple, nevertheless, our sages tell us that when it was subsequently rebuilt by King Herod it took on a new grandeur as the Talmud relates:
He who has not seen the Temple which Herod built has never seen a beautiful, (glorious [Sukkah 51b]) building.
(B. Basra 4a)
The Future Temple -- It will represent and embody the ultimate perfection of G-d's Tabernacle and Sanctuary: "The Sanctuary which Your Hand O L-rd has established." (Shemos 15:17)
All this was included in the general directive given to Moshe: "They shall make Me a Sanctuary."
This idea of a "House of G-d" has a very real implication. In human practice a house provides a place where a person may be uninhibited, and where he can reveal himself. The House of G-d would be analogous to a human's home where G-d, so to speak, would dwell and reveal His G-dliness without any "shades" of concealment. The essential essence of G-dliness would be manifest in G-d's House without any covering "garments."
When such a Sanctuary is constructed using the materials listed in the Torah, we actually create a House of G-d which satisfies the goal of creation. For the Holy One, Blessed be He, desired a dwelling place among the lower worlds. And from the Sanctuary there radiated a light which illuminated the whole world. The House was established as the dwelling place for G-d's essence and from it the essential G-dliness revealed itself in the world. This is described in Tanya in great detail.
Now, this revelation of G-dliness, which represents the essential goal of the Sanctuary, is related to the seventh of Adar -- distinctly in the aspect of the birth and death of Moshe. For the day of birth and death are the times for revelation of the essential being of the person. As expressed by Scripture: "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there." (Iyov 1:21) Thus, allegorically speaking, the days of birth and death represent the same aspect of revelation as the indwelling of the Shechinah in the Tabernacle, the revelation of the essence.
The association between the Sanctuary and Moshe goes further; both possess the three pillars that encompass the full range of Divine service: Torah, prayer and charity.
In the Sanctuary:
Torah -- The first directive after the injunction to build a Mishkan dealt with the Ark of the covenant:
Make an ark...It is in this ark that you will place the testimony [The Tablets of the Ten Commandments].
Nachmanides writes, "The main purpose of the Tabernacle was to contain a place in which the Divine glory rests, this being the ark" (commentary on the Torah, beginning of Terumah).
Prayer (Divine Service) -- When the Temple stood this referred to the service of the sacrifices: "...a house unto the L-rd, designed for the offering of sacrifices...." (Rambam, Laws of the Temple 1:1) It is also a house of prayer which takes the place of the sacrificial offerings:
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. (Yeshayahu 56:7)
It is the place where all the prayers rise up to the spiritual heavens.
Charity -- The table which stood in the Tabernacle held the Showbread which alluded to the goodness and kindness that the Holy One, Blessed be He, bestows upon the Jewish people and the whole world.
In relation to Moshe we can also find emphasis on the three foundation pillars of Torah, prayers and charity.
The Gemara relates:
Three good leaders had arisen for Israel, namely, Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam and for their sake three good things were concurred upon Israel namely the Well, the Clouds (of Glory) and the Manna; the Well for the merit of Miriam; the Cloud for the merit of Aharon; the Manna for the merit of Moshe. When Miriam died the Well disappeared.... When Aharon died the Clouds of Glory disappeared,... The two returned because of the merit of Moshe, but when Moshe died all of them disappeared as it is said: "And I cut off the three shepherds in one month." (Zechariah 11:8) Did they then all die in one month?... This therefore is meant to teach you that the three good gifts which were given because of their merit were nullified and they all disappeared in one month.
In each case of these three blessings there was the merit of Miriam, Aharon and Moshe individually and then there was the collective merit of Moshe, alone, in all three.
In analyzing the spiritual essence of each of these blessing we will reveal the three pillars -- three paths -- of kindness, service and Torah: The well of water signifies kindness, the path which leads to acts of loving-kindness; the Clouds which were associated with Aharon, the ultimate Kohen -- servant of G-d -- represents Avodah (sacrifices, prayer, etc.) and; the Manna came in Moshe's merit, who sacrificed his life for Torah.
After the passing of Miriam and Aharon, Moshe himself included all these aspects as they were projected in his merit alone.
On this Shabbos, the eve of the seventh of Adar, it is appropriate and auspicious for us to increase all activities geared to making a Sanctuary.
True, the Temple is no longer here -- but we can make a Mini-Sanctuary -- Synagogues, Study Halls for Torah and, especially, the individual Mini-Sanctuaries in our homes and in our hearts.
In a Chassidic discourse in the year 5704, the Previous Rebbe discussed the meaning of the Midrashic dictum:
Wherever "unto Me" [or "Mine"] is said, it refers to something that shall never cease either in this world or in the world to come. (Vayikra Rabbah 2:2)
In the case of the Tabernacle the Torah states: "They shall make Me (unto Me) a Sanctuary." How can it be that the Sanctuary never ceases -- we see that we do not have a Bais Hamikdosh now? The meaning however is that the true Sanctuary is in the inner heart of every Jew. And all of the furnishings of the Tabernacle may be found, allegorically speaking, in the Jew in all eras and in all places. Since we no longer have the physical Bais Hamikdosh it is logical to say that precisely in the time of the diaspora the eternity of the Tabernacle in every Jewish heart is projected more clearly. And specifically in contemporary times is it necessary to make our homes Mini-Sanctuaries through Torah, prayer and acts of loving-kindness.
In today's study section of Torah we find the command: "Make the courtyard of the Tabernacle." In man's Divine service the difference between the Sanctuary and the courtyard would be seen metaphorically, as the difference between serving G-d with permitted matters and serving G-d through Torah and mitzvos. One may serve G-d faithfully with the permitted, mundane aspects of life, as expressed in the verses: "All your actions should be for the sake of heaven" and "Know Him in all your ways." Conversely, one may serve G-d primarily in the area of Torah and mitzvos and other holy occupations.
Just as the courtyard of a house keeps out unwanted things from the home and helps one prepare to enter, so, too, the order of Divine service is first to dedicate your physical actions to "heaven," second, to find G-d in everything, and finally to make a Sanctuary in your life for the Holy One, Blessed be He.
Thus, the total Tabernacle included all of these aspects.
From this Shabbos onwards everyone may draw new strength to enhance the personal Mini-Sanctuaries so that G-d will dwell within everyone.
Children should make their rooms, cots, or desks places of Torah, prayer, and acts of loving-kindness by placing a Chumash, Siddur and Pushka there, and by using them regularly. Since this involves the training of children, the parents and educators must direct their attention to this matter to encourage the children to use the books and Pushka, and from time to time to question them on their compliance and diligence.
And in the merit of making a Sanctuary may we see very soon the building of the Third Bais Hamikdosh in the chosen place, the chosen city, in the chosen land, and then we will see the truth that G-d's Shechinah never leaves the Sanctuary. Especially, as the future Temple is actually ready and built, waiting only to be revealed and descend from the heavens -- so may it be -- speedily and truly in our days.
In all aspects of life and Torah life there are general occurrences and rules as well as particular, detailed situations. In Torah study and in the application of Torah law and custom we also discern this dichotomy.
Often, when people are involved in certain good practices of a broader nature there is the potentiality for the details to be lost or overlooked. In a person's true Divine service G-d desires both the overriding broad feeling, devotion and commitment, as well as the careful attention to detail. This is true in putting on Tefillin, teaching other Jews and observance of all mitzvos.
The careful attention to detail should in no way detract from the intensity of the broader intention or devotion. Just as a person may care about his general health and at the same time put his immediate attention into eating a nourishing meal, so too, will he not lose any of his broad commitment to G-d when he is especially careful about the specific details of mitzvah observance.
With so much emphasis being placed on the important project of making our homes Mini-Sanctuaries there is the possibility that the important project of Mivtza Purim might not be given the proper attention.
I therefore wish to reiterate that Mivtza Purim is a project that must be activated at this time and must be given the proper attention while in no way minimizing any other activities.
Another point to be made. In motivating the children to create Mini-Sanctuaries in their rooms, the parents must realize their own vital role as role models for the children. Kids have the uncanny knack and talent to be able to discern when adults really mean something and when they are just paying lip service to a particular principle.
Furthermore, we know the universal law that when you want the protege to absorb and accept a certain level of commitment, the mentor and "role model" must show a much stronger example. Only then can you hope that perhaps a percentage of the teacher's commitment will rub off on the student.
The message is clear -- you parents must be truly dedicated and you must set a shining example for the kids to follow. Make your homes Mini-Sanctuaries by study, prayer and acts of loving-kindness and don't forget about Mivtza Purim which will bring joy and celebration, and the ultimate joy beyond all measure, the true redemption, so that we may truly celebrate, this year in our Holy Land, Yerushalayim, the Holy City on the Holy Mount, in the Third Bais Hamikdosh, in true reality.
At the beginning of this week's portion, Terumah, the Torah lists the raw materials needed for the construction of the Tabernacle and tells Moshe to advise the Jewish people to donate these items:
The offering that you take from them shall consist of the following: sky-blue wool, dark red wool, [wool dyed with] crimson worm, linen, goats wool, reddened rams skins, Tachash skins, acacia wood, etc. (Shemos 25:3-5)
Rashi deals with several of these items, explaining their properties to us. On several of these Rashis some queries have been raised:
The Rashis and the questions:
- The Rashi:
V'shesh (Linen) That is what we call linen.
(Rashi, loc. cit.)
The word shesh appears in Scripture back in Bereishis: "He had him dressed in the finest linen (shesh) garments." (Bereishis 41:42) If indeed there is a need to explain that shesh is linen why did Rashi wait for the construction of the Tabernacle to inform us of this meaning, he should have explained it back in the story of Yosef.
- The Rashi:
- And acacia wood -- But from where did they get it in the wilderness? Rabbi Tanchuma explained this: Our father Jacob foresaw by the gift of the Holy Spirit that Israel would build a Tabernacle in the wilderness: he therefore brought cedars (acacia is a kind of cedar) to Egypt and planted them there and bade his children to take these with them when they would leave Egypt.
This bears some clarification:
- This explanation is clearly not the plain meaning of the verse, rather, it is a homiletic exegesis. If so, why not give the simpler explanation that they purchased the acacia logs from caravans which transversed the desert?
- Rashi usually leaves his quotes anonymous, unless the name of author is germane to the understanding of the verse; why does he cite R. Tanchuma here?
- Why does Rashi use the term "Rabbi Tanchuma explained (piresh)," rather than "expounded homiletically" (darash)? Since we are dealing with a homiletical interpretation, it would be more appropriate to say he "expounded." "Explained" points to a commentary that is basically the simple meaning of a verse -- which is what Rashi usually does, but not when he quotes a complete Midrash?
- The Rashi:
Tachash -- was a kind of wild beast. It existed only at that time (when Israel built the Tabernacle). It was multicolored and therefore it is translated in the Targum by sasgavna, [and it is so translated] because it delights (sass) and prides itself in its colors. (Rashi, ibid)
It is clearly necessary for Rashi to explain what techashim were, because the five-year-old Chumash student never heard of a tachash. When the Torah says "tachash skins" he knows that it was a living being, he still does not know whether it was a bird, wild animal or domestic beast. So Rashi tells us it was a wild animal. Rashi must also inform us that it became extinct, since we do not know of any animal called tachash today.
But, why must Rashi say that it was multicolored? Is this the plain meaning of the verse? And why must Rashi quote the Targum which says that "it prides itself in its colors"? Since when does Rashi explain the intent of the Targum?
- The Rashi:
Argaman -- wool colored with a kind of dye the name of which is argaman (i.e. purple). (Rashi, ibid)
Why does Rashi ignore the other explanations, that argaman is deep red -- (The Ibn Ezra and Rambam both use that meaning) -- and opt for "a dye the name of which is argaman"?
When we study the terminology used by Scripture to direct Moshe to take the contributions for the Tabernacle from the people, we find a singular emphasis. All of the verbs used refer only to the simple act of "giving" or "taking": "...have bring Me an offering... Take My offering... The offering that you take from them."
The inference is that all the necessary items requested by G-d were already in the possession of the Jewish people. All they had to do was deliver these items to Moshe or his representatives.
If the case were not so and the Jews would have had to search for some items, then the Torah would have approached the subject in a much broader way. After all, the people would have been required to send out "buyers" and "agents" to meet with the caravans and suppliers of the different raw materials, and only after procuring the items could they then have donated them to the Tabernacle.
Consequently, when the Torah directs Moshe to take certain items, it was tantamount to saying that from all the various objects in their possession they should take only these.
With this in mind, we may understand that one of Rashi's goals is to explain how, in fact, certain exotic items were to be found in the possession of the Jewish people at that time.
Regarding gold, silver and copper the Torah told us that the Jews borrowed gold and silver vessels from the Egyptians before they left Egypt, and Rashi has noted that the Egyptian war chariots that chased the Jews into the sea were embellished with gold, silver and precious stones which the Jews gathered at the shores of the Red Sea.
Wool, goats hair and rams skins were readily available, for the Jewish people left Egypt with a multitude of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats.
However, when Rashi comes to shesh, he must tell us that it is linen, so that when we think about its source we will realize that flax grows in Egypt and when they left Egypt they took linen cloth and fibre with them.
Back in Bereishis, however, when Yosef was clothed in shesh, it was irrelevant for us to know that shesh was linen, just as we did not know how many wheels his wagon had. All Rashi told us there was that shesh was valuable.
In the case of techashim, since they no longer exist Rashi must tell us that they were of a species of animal which existed and was available at that time. Therefore, the people had techashim skins. At the same time Rashi tells us that they existed only for a short period of time so that in the portion of Shemini the Torah need not list it among the kosher animals. It became extinct quickly since it was needed only for the construction of the Mishkan.
When we know that it was created by G-d especially for the purpose of the Tabernacle, Rashi must further tell us what was so special about this animal -- for which reason G-d especially made it. So Rashi tells us that it had many colors -- certainly a worthy quality and exceptional beauty -- worthwhile to be utilized for the Mishkan. So much so, that the animal itself prides and preens itself because of its beauty.
In translating argaman Rashi actually sticks to his professed duty to explain the plain meaning of every verse. Although the Ibn Ezra and Rambam call argaman red -- Rashi cannot -- because he sees the word "red" as red! This is so in the case of the reddened rams skins. Simply put -- red is not argaman. Therefore Rashi must say that it is another color called argaman.
Another point comes to light here. The Ravad says that argaman was a blend of several colors. Rashi indirectly negates this interpretation by telling us that the tachash was multicolored, in effect implying that it was so beautiful that anything else with varying hues would be simply unattractive. Argaman could obviously not be a multicolored cloth.
In studying Rashi we find that generally Rashi does not introduce his explanation by asking an (obvious) question. Rashi usually goes right into the exposition. This is consistent with the system of teaching a five-year-old Chumash student. Do not start with questions, just give the correct and clear meaning right from the outset.
In Rashi's commentary on the acacia wood, however, we see that Rashi introduces his explanation with a query: "But from where did they get this in the wilderness?" Clearly, Rashi adopts this unusual approach in order to stress the importance of his commentary. In searching for the source of the wood we have several possible explanations: We might say that Ya'akov foresaw the need and two hundred years earlier carried cedars to Egypt. This narrative, however, is more exegetic -- Midrashic -- not the plain meaning. The simple definition would suggest that they bought the necessary wood from the caravans, or other peddlers they came in contact with along the way.
Rashi must therefore ask the question, since we have established that all the required items for the construction of the Tabernacle had to be in the possession of the Jewish people and had just to be "taken" -- "where did they get the wood from"?
In response Rashi says, although this answer may not sound like plain meaning, in fact they had the wood because Ya'akov foresaw the need and told them that upon leaving Egypt they should cut down the trees which he was planting and they should carry the ready cut beams with them into the dessert, because there G-d would require it of them.
For this reason, Rashi also substitutes the term "explained" (pirush) instead of the more usual darash, which means he gave a homiletical exposition. For here Rabbi Tanchuma's exegesis must be taken as the plain meaning of the verse.
Here the sharp student protests: Why was it necessary for the beams of the Mishkan to be provided in a manner that Ya'akov had to plant them in Egypt over 200 years earlier; this seems like a very strange explanation!?
In anticipation of this ponderation Rashi tells us that it was R. Tanchuma who rendered this commentary. We must see Rashi's choice as an aspect of his deep insights in Torah. For the name Tanchuma has the same root as the word tanchumin -- consolation. Thus, it was R. Tanchuma who saw Ya'akov's action as the source of the beams of the Mishkan. Why? Because it provided a source of consolation for the Jewish people.
In the long years of Egyptian bondage, in their inhuman servitude, which included the barbaric decree of drowning the baby boys in the river, what gave them strength to endure? Certainly, the original promise given to Avraham that G-d would redeem his children, and some physical manifestation of that ultimate salvation would be needed along the way. When Ya'akov planted the cedars he had in mind that in the future his offspring would turn around in Egypt and see the cedar trees which would provide the walls of the Sanctuary.
True, wood could have come from many sources, but it is not just wood, but the concomitant feeling of consolation which emanated from the fact that Ya'akov planted trees in Egypt for all to see -- and they represented the ultimate redemption of Israel.
This leads to the consolation in the present diaspora.
In the darkness of golus, in the wilderness of the nations of the world, a place of danger and thirst -- and in the double darkness of the times before Moshiach, R. Tanchuma tells us not to be influenced by the darkness, for we know that our purpose and goal is to build a Tabernacle in the desert; to convert the wilderness to a Sanctuary of G-d, a dwelling place for the Shechinah on the world. This will lead to the construction of the Third Bais Hamikdosh.
The Holy One, Blessed be He, has promised to redeem us and the predestined dates have long since passed; what remains for us to do is to repent! Now we also have the merit of teshuvah, as the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya; if so, why has Moshiach not come yet?! We must cry out: "How long?"
And the only response from G-d must be the redemption! The actual, true redemption.
This is why Rashi says that R. Tanchuma gave us the plain meaning of the verse. (pirush and not derush).
When the Rebbe Maharash asked the Tzemach Tzedek about one of the supposed dates for Moshiach which had come and gone with no redemption, the Tzemach Tzedek responded that the Likkutei Torah had been printed, which revealed the inner teachings of Torah. To this the Rebbe Maharash responded, "All is good and well, but the Jewish people want and need Moshiach in the real sense, true and down to earth."
May this discussion bring us to the true consolation -- the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach -- then we will truly be consoled for the golus. And then we will merit to see the kindling of the Menorah in the Third Bais Hamikdosh which will be built speedily in our days.