Friday, February 04, 2011

Terumah 5632 First Ma'amar

1.  The parsha begins, "דבר אל בני ישראל ויקחו לי תרומה מאת כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו .../speak to the children of Israel and have them take for me a contribution from every man whose heart impels him …" (Shmos 25:2)  The purpose of this command is for the people to give towards the building of the Mishkan.  Why then does the Torah use the word "ויקחו/have them take", instead of "ויתנו/have them give"? 

The first Midrash[1] on the parsha addressing this issue associates this pasuk with a pasuk in Mishlei (4:2), "כי לקח טוב נתתי לכם תורתי על תעזובו/For I have given you a good teaching.  Do not forsake my Torah."  The word לקח/teaching has the same root as the word מקח/purchase.  The pasuk is advising us to remain connected to the Torah for it is a good purchase.  Unlike other purchases, the Torah contains everything as we find, "תורת ה' תמימה .../God's Torah is complete …" (Tehillim 19:8).  Furthermore, the seller – God – comes with the purchase.

The Sfas Emes explains.  We are incapable of understanding the depths of the Torah.  However, we can merit understanding even though we do not have the tools to do so.  How?  By constantly "taking" the Torah – by constantly trying to understand, God gives us the gift of understanding.  This is the meaning of "על תעזובו/Do not leave it."

The Midrash relates to learning Torah.  The Sfas Emes expands this concept to include all of our activities.  Whenever we "take" anything for ourselves, anytime we want to commence an activity, make a purchase, start a program, our intent should be to give to God.  We should have in mind that our action give nachas ru'ach/satisfaction to God.  When this is our intent, we will find that events conspire in our favor so that we succeed as Koheles said, "טוב אחרית דבר מראשיתו .../The end of a matter is better than its beginning …" (Koheles 7:8)

We can also understand this from the pasuk, "ויקחו לי תרומה מאת כל .../Take for me a contribution from everything …"  By taking for ourselves in order to give to God, we elevate everything to God.

We find another allusion to the concept of doing everything for God in the Zohar[2] on the words, "כל איש/every man."  The Zohar interprets this as, "the entire man."  The Torah is telling us that whatever we do, our intent should be to do it for God with our entire being.

Another allusion to this idea can be found in the drasha from which Chazal[3] learn that a wife can be acquired with money as in fact, we do today by giving the bride a ring.  The pasuk states, "כי יקח איש אשה/When a man takes a wife …" (Devarim 22:13)  The pasuk that relates Avraham Avinu purchasing Efron's field states, "נתתי כסף השדה קח ממני/I have given the price of the field, take it from me …" (Breishis 23:13)  Since both pesukim use the word קיחה/taking, Chazal learn from one to the other.  Just like Efron's field was purchased with money, so too, a wife can be acquired with money.

Money in Hebrew – כסף – has the same root as the word for pining – כיסופין.  The woman in the pasuk is a metaphor for the Torah[4].  When we pine for God we are able to feel His presence in our lives.  We "acquire" Him, as it were.  Purchasing a field is a metaphor for physical activity.  We learn from the desire we have regarding worldly activities how to fulfill God's will as well with all our heart.

The same concept is alluded to in the first Midrash[5] of our parsha.  The Midrash relates an allegory of a king who gives his daughter in marriage to a prince who will take her to a far away place.  The king cannot bear to leave his daughter but also does not want to prevent the marriage.  The king resolves the problem by asking the prince to build a room for him so that he can visit.

As before, the daughter is a metaphor for the Torah.  The king represents God and the prince represents each member of the nation of Israel.  To the extent that a person is connected to the Torah he can merit living with the Divine presence just like the king in the allegory could not bear separating from his daughter.  The Sfas Emes broadens this concept to include all activities for the sake of God.  And this is the meaning of the pasuk from Mishlei mentioned earlier, "תורתי על תעזובו/Do not leave my Torah."  If the pasuk tells us not to leave the Torah, we can infer that being connected to the Torah is a continuous lifetime job that affects and influences everything we do.

2.  From the pasuk, "... כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו .../… every man who's heart impels him …", we also learn that there are two components to success.  The first component is that each should person do what his heart compels him to do, "... אשר ידבנו לבו .../as his heart impels him …"  But this is not enough.  Certainly each of us is unique and was created for a unique purpose.  Still, fulfilling that purpose alone is not enough.  We also need to identify with the nation of Israel.  Our unique purpose is not only for us alone.  It is also for the nation.  This is alluded to by the words, "מאת כל איש/from every man," as we find in parshas Nitzavim, "אתם נצבים היום כולכם ... כל איש ישראל/You are standing today, all of you … every man of Israel." (Devarim 29:9)

To succeed the nation needs each person to fulfill his unique mission, his raison d'être.  Each person also needs to identify with the nation.  This is the meaning of, "... כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו/… every man who's heart impels him."  The Chiddushei Harim notes that this is also the meaning of a Mishna in Avos (1:14), "אם אין אני לי מי לי וכשאני לעצמי מה אני/If I am not for myself, who will be for me and if I am only for myself what am I."  Each of us needs to "be for himself" – to accomplish that unique thing the reason for which he was created.  But we must do it as a part of the nation of Israel.

[1] Shmos R. 33:1
[2] Zohar 2:134b
[3] Kedushin 2a
[4] As in the first Midrash of the parsha mentioned later.
[5] Shmos R. 33:1

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