Kinder Torah - Parshat Terumah
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
Dedicated in Loving Memory of Ruchoma Bas Yitzchak HaLevi O"H
Yahrtzeit 5th of Adar I, 5736
Ark, Table, Altar
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) had many kelim (vessels). Three of them were fitted with golden crowns: the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark), the Shulchan (Table) and the Mizbeach HaZahav (Golden Altar). (It may be helpful at this point to open a book with pictures of these vessels.) The Keli Yakar zt"l analyzes these three vessels and the deeper meaning of their structure. They represent the three "crowns" that a person is capable of achieving. The Aron symbolizes the Crown of Torah. It is two and a half amos (cubits) long, one and a half amos wide and one and a half amos tall. Its measurements are all fractions. A person must always look at himself as "fractional" or incomplete in matters of Torah learning. He should look at those greater than he, and use them as a motivation to increase his learning. As we say, "Jealousy among scholars increases wisdom" (Bava Basra 21a).
In worldly matters, our attitude is completely different. The Shulchan represents the Crown of Malchus (Royalty). It is two amos long, one amo wide, and one and a half amos tall. It has two whole measurements and one fractional. In matters of wealth and honor, we must always look at ourselves as complete. As Yaakov Avinu said to Eisav, "I have everything" (Bereshis 33:11). The secret is to look at those who have less than we do. We will then be happy with our portion, because we see that we have much more than others. One of the measurements of the Shulchan is incomplete to show us that a person never satisfies his desires and must endeavor to "break" them.
In matters of holiness, we can reach completion. The Mizbeach HaZahav represents the Crown of Kehuna (Priesthood). It is one amo long, one amo wide, and two amos tall, whole numbers. The Copper Altar also had all whole measurements. A person can receive atonement for his mistakes by way of the sacrifices that he brings upon the Copper Altar. And the Golden (Incense) Altar brings atonement to the soul.
Hashem gave us a Torah that is deeper than the sea. There is so much Torah to learn. The more we know, the more we realize how much more there is to know. If our great Torah scholars speak about how little they know, then what can we say. We must do our best and learn as much as we can. Try to think of ways to find a little extra time to learn something new every day.
Look at how much we have! So many people do not have as much food as we do. Or they have a smaller home than we do. Or their toys or clothes are not as nice as ours are. We have to thank Hashem every day for all of the good things that He has given us. The Bircas HaMazone (blessing after eating a bread meal) is a good time to think about all Hashem's kindness and thank Him.
Open Your Heart
"Yitzy, just one more mouthful and your finished your cereal. Open up Yitzy! Here comes the airplane! Zoom! Wonderful Yitzy! Yum yum! You finished the whole thing!"
Yitzy's mother is surely the happier one when he eats all of his cereal. Rav Leib Chasman zt"l points out the irony in this little scene. The eating is surely good for the baby. He needs the nourishment, not the mother. Yet, we see how the mother has to coax him to eat his food. He needs persuasion to do something for his own good!
This is also the situation with the Jewish people, continues Rav Chasman. In Egypt we were poorer than poor. Yet, we left with great wealth. Each Jew took along eight donkeys laden with gold, silver, and precious stones. Who bestowed this wealth upon them? Hashem. Now He is asking us to give a small part of this wealth to build the Mishkan, a structure that will house the Shechina (Divine Presence) upon this earth. This will be a great zechus (merit) and kapora (atonement) for us. Yet, how does He instruct Moshe Rabbeinu to ask for the donations? "Speak to the Bnei Yisrael and let them take for Me Trumah, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take Trumah" (Shemos 25:2). The tone is a soft request, not demanding in any way.
Why is the soft approach necessary? Hashem knows how strong the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) of selfishness is. People do not want to give up their money for anything. Therefore, they needed coaxing, even to build the Mishkan, whose holiness and purity was solely for their good.
What will happen when this Mishkan is built? "And I will dwell in your midst" (Shemos 25:8). That is the power of opening your heart and overcoming the Yetzer Hara. Just taking a little money out of your pocket can bring the Shechina to dwell among us.
Rav Chasman concludes, "How many 'pockets' does a man have? The 'pockets' of jealousy, desire, and honor. All of them need coaxing to open up. Take heart! If the opening of one pocket to give a little charity has the power to bring down the Shechina, just imagine how much kedusha (holiness) a person can generate if he overcomes all of his Yetzer Haras and serves Hashem with his whole heart."
Do not let an opportunity to give tsedaka (charity) pass you by. Whenever you receive a gift, make sure to set aside some of it as tsedaka for poor people. Similarly, it is important to share your possessions with others. Lend your toys to other kinderlach. This will open your heart and make you more generous. We do not want to be coaxed to give. We want to learn to give freely, and bring down the Shechina!
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