Sunday, February 03, 2008

Terumah 5631 First Ma'amar

A recurring theme throughout the Torah is that God reveals Himself to us according to our level of belief in Him. A person, who believes that God gives existence every moment to every thing and every action, will experience God’s presence in every thing and every action.

We see this idea regarding learning and understanding Torah, particularly תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה/the Oral Law. The Torah can be understood on many levels. Each person understands it according to the intensity of his desire to understand it.

The reason this idea applies to learning Torah is because the Torah itself is a revelation of God. Explaining this, the first Midrash in the parsha , expounding on the pasuk, “ ... וְיִקְחוּ־לִי תְּרוּמָה .../… take for Me a contribution …” (Shmos 25:2), says that after a sale, the seller no longer has any ties to the object he sold. The Torah is different. God, as it were, sold us the Torah and Himself with it. So, the more a person wants to understand, the more God reveals Himself to that person through the Torah.

The same motif clearly applies to serving God. The pasuk in Tehillim (37:3) states, “בְּטַח בַּֽה' וַֽעֲשֵׂה־טוֹב שְׁכָן־אֶרֶץ וּרְעֵה אֱמוּנָה׃/Trust in God and do good so that you may dwell in the land and nourish yourself with belief.” Chazal tell us that according to the strength of our belief, God reveals Himself to us by helping us to be successful in serving Him. Trusting in God means being sure that He will help us succeed in our service towards Him. Many times, a person thinks regarding giving tzedakah, “If I give now, what will I have tomorrow?” Chazal tell us that believers give knowing that God will give them more. It is specifically because they give today, that they are blessed with more.

The Chidushei HaRim explains the pasuk, “בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּֽה' וְהָיָה ה' מִבְטַחֽוֹ׃/Blessed is the man who trusts in God, then God will be his security” (Yirmiyah 17:7) along the same lines. According to the level of man’s trust in God, God will be his security.

We find this same idea in this week’s parsha. “וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָֽם/Make me a sanctuary so that I may dwell amongst them.” (Shmos 25:8) The Hebrew root of the word מִקְדָּשׁ/sanctuary, is the same as the Hebrew word for holy – קָדוֹשׁ. קָדוֹשׁ/Holy also connotes separated. When we say that God is holy, we are saying that he is separate, hidden. According to the level of our belief that He is hidden in every thing and every action, He will dwell amongst us. We will merit an awareness of God in every thing and every action. In this sense, God’s revelation is dependent on us.

Chazal hint at this when they say, “בְּמִידָה שֶׁאָדָם מוֹדֵד מוֹדְדִין לוֹ/A man is measured according to his own measurement.” God is infinite and everywhere. But He is hidden. He is revealed in this world in measured doses. According to the measure of a person belief in God’s providence, he is granted an equal measure of awareness of God’s presence. God’s revelation is Truth. Truth becomes revealed based on our belief. Then the revealed Truth nourishes and helps our belief in a cycle.

This is also the meaning of the pasuk in Tehillim (23:1), “ה' רֹעִי לֹא אֶחְסָֽר/God is my shepherd I shall not lack.” Proportionate to my belief that God is my shepherd, I will merit an awareness of His providence and I shall not lack. Similarly, according to the Rav of Neschiz, David HaMelech is praying that he not lack saying that God is his shepherd. The Sfas elaborates that if a person forgets that God is his shepherd, God will not be his shepherd. God will hide from him and he will not experience God’s providence.

We find the same concept regarding Shabbos. God is more revealed on Shabbos and more hidden during the week. According to how much we work on our belief during the week, the workdays, we will experience God’s presence on Shabbos. Shabbos then nourishes and supports our belief. That’s why the Zohar calls the Shabbos meals, “סְעוּדְתָא דִמְהֶימְנוּתָא/meals of belief. The Chidushei HaRim explains that the Shabbos experience affects how we believe during the coming week.

In the Midrash we find that God says, “…make me a room that I can dwell among you.” The word for “I will dwell” in Hebrew is “אַדוּר.” The Chidushei HaRim notes that אַדוּר/I will dwell, has the same root as the word for strength as in, “'אַדִּיר בַּמָרוֹם ה/God is strong on high” (Tehillim 93:4). It is encouraging and strengthening to know that everything in a person’s life comes from God. This is the key behind the month of Adar which also has the same root as the Hebrew word for “strength” and “dwell.” It is appropriate during this month to submit ourselves to God’s will, understand and work on our belief that everything that happens to us comes from Him and that He is the power behind everything including our own actions. The Sfas Emes is teaching us that we can be secure in the knowledge that when we “do good” by serving Him, by giving tzedakah and by putting ourselves out for Him, He is there for us and will help us succeed.

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