The Sages of Mussar on the Parsha (Terumah)

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Attracting the Light of HaShem

The Shechinah, i.e., the holy Divine Presence, dwelt in the Tabernacle that the Children of Israel built in the desert. Our sages tell us that the various vessels and structures that comprised the Tabernacle symbolized various attributes of man. For instance, the outstretched wings of Cherubim represented the lungs of man. The breathing process pours life into a person, which is reflected in the ‘spirit of prophecy’ which issued from the Cherubim. The ark that housed the luchos (the ten commandments), symbolized the heart as per the verse, “Write the words of Torah on the panels of your heart.” The seven branches of the menorah alluded to the five senses, speech, and thought.

The secret of the Tabernacle’s holiness is its likeness of man, i.e., the image of HaShem. In turn, the goodly attributes of man reflect the goodness and sanctity of HaShem. 

Axiomatically, the created beings seek their Creator, just as the Creator yearns to draw close to His creations. The more a creation resembles HaShem, the more HaShem reveals Himself to that entity. Of all the creations, the attributes of man, the very image of HaShem, is most like HaShem. Therefore, HaShem reveals Himself to man, as per the verse, “Build for Me a Tabernacle so that I may dwell amongst you,”

The vessels of the Tabernacle were mere representations of man. Nevertheless, these inanimate symbols were powerful enough to draw the Shechinah to dwell amongst them.

How much more so, does man – the living image of HaShem – have the capacity to draw the Divine Presence upon himself. The highest attribute of HaShem is compassion. So too, compassion is the attribute of man that most resembles HaShem. Accordingly, the more compassion and mercy that we show to our fellows, the more the Divine Presence will dwell amongst us.

In this light, we understand why the Presence of HaShem rested upon our Patriarchs – their hearts and minds overflowed with mercy, kindness, and love. May we shine forth with goodness and compassion. In turn, the Shechinah will dwell upon us and illuminate the entire earth with light and joy. (Based on Da’as Torah of Rav Yerucham HaLevi)

Today: Show compassion to others and know that you are drawing closer to HaShem.

A Pure Heart

HaShem instructed Moses to ask the people of Israel to donate materials towards the assembling of the mishkan (Tabernacle). The implication of “donate” is that they were being asked to give voluntarily (i.e., only if they so desired)-Moses was not to take by command.

Taking into consideration all the miracles that G-d had performed for the nation of Israel, as well as, the tremendous wealth they amassed at the Red Sea from the Egyptian booty-it is inconceivable that they would not want to participate in this great Mitzvah. Moreover, the giving was for their benefit-because it resulted in the Shechinah (Divine Presence) dwelling amongst them.

If so, why was this Mitzvah, as in contradistinction to all other Mitzvos, not expressed to them as a commandment? Why did the donation of materials for the Mishkan have to “come from the heart”-not as the result of a Divine injunction?

When G-d desired to dwell amongst the Jewish people His intention was absolutely pure. His only intention was to bestow the ultimate loving-kindness upon them-the revelation of the holy Shechinah-which would enrich their souls with the highest spiritual delights and deepest joy.

Just as G-d’s desire to dwell amongst the people of Israel was pure, so too, they reciprocated with an untainted desire to welcome the Divine Presence to dwell into their midst. The radiant example of G-d’s pure love inspired the Children of Israel to go beyond the ulterior motives which are typically mingled with human giving: They gave their gifts with no intention other than their love of G-d.

We see that G-d’s example of love inspired the People of Israel to respond in kind. Correspondingly, the most meaningful way that we can influence others to act with love and kindness is by bestowing acts of loving-kindness and compassion upon them. (Based on the Ohr Rashaz, of Rav Simchah Zissel, article 298)

Perform — and enjoy — a pure act of goodness.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and The Salant Foundation

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