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Dvar Torah Questions and Answers on Terumah

Dvar Torah Questions and Answers on Terumah


"ויקחו לי תרומה"
“Let them take for Me an offering.” (25:2)

QUESTION: The word “li” — “for Me” — seems to be superfluous, would it not be sufficient to say, “Veyikchu terumah”?

ANSWER: The first offering the farmer separates from his harvest is terumah, which he gives to the Kohen. According to the Torah, one can fulfill the mitzvah of terumah by giving a very small portion, even one grain of wheat for a huge pile (Chullin 137b). However, the Rabbis instituted that a generous person should give 1/40th (two and one half bushels of every 100), an average person should give 1/50th (two bushels of every 100), and a stingy person should give at least 1/60th (one and two thirds bushels of every 100).

The word “li” (לי) has the numerical value of 40. Hashem is telling Moshe that when a Jew gives terumah to the Kohen, he should be generous and give him one fortieth.

(פנינים יקרים)

"ויקחו לי תרומה"
“Let them take for Me an offering.” (25:2)

QUESTION: According to Rashi, the word “li” teaches “lishmi” — “for My name.” What is the connection between terumah and Hashem’s name?

ANSWER: In Bamidbar (5:11-31) there is a discussion of the laws of a sotah — a woman suspected of being unfaithful to her husband. When she denies any wrongdoing, the husband is required to bring her to the Kohen. To determine her guilt or innocence, the Kohen erases this portion of the Torah, which also contains Hashem’s name, mixes it with water, and gives it to the woman to drink.

Immediately preceding these pesukim is a discussion about giving gifts to the Kohen. According to Rashi the juxtaposition implies that when a person does not recognize the Kohen by giving him what the Torah allocates, he will eventually have to come to him with a wife under suspicion.

Thus, giving the Kohen his portions eliminates the possibility of having to erase Hashem’s name for the sotah. Therefore, Rashi says that the giving of terumah is “lishmi” — “for the sake of My name — to avoid erasing it.”

(ילקוט האורים)

* * *

The Gemara (Pesachim 50a) says that the name of Hashem is not to be pronounced as written. However, in the Beit Hamikdash Hashem’s name was in fact uttered.

The purpose of the collections discussed in the parshah was to build a Sanctuary for Hashem. Therefore, Hashem told Moshe, “Take up a collection so that they can build a Sanctuary ‘lishmi’ — for the sake of being able to recite My name as written.”

(באר מים חיים)

* * *

The four-lettered name of Hashem is spelled ",י-ה-ו-ה" and it teaches the correct manner of offering tzedakah. The "י" represents the coin being given. The "ה" is the hand (five fingers) giving the coin. The "ו" is the poor man stretching out his hand to receive the coin, and the final "ה" is the receiving hand. However, if a poor man first stretches his hand out and asks for tzedakah, the name of Hashem is not in order (ה,ו,ה,י).

Rashi is teaching us that the proper way to give tzedakah is “lishmi” — in the order of the spelling of My Name.


"ויקחו לי תרומה"
“Let them take for Me an offering.” (25:2)

QUESTION: The people gave donations to the building of the Mishkan. Why does it not say “veyitnu” — “and they should give”?

ANSWER: When a Jew gives tzedakah he is not only giving but also receiving, because when the poor man accepts the tzedakah, the giver receives a zechut for the mitzvah, through which he will get back from Hashem ten times as much as he gave. Regarding the words “Aseir te’aseir” — “You shall surely tithe,” (Devarim 14:22) the Gemara (Ta’anit 9a) says, “Aseir bishevil shetitasheir” — “By giving ten percent to tzedakah, you will become rich.”

Thus, by giving for the Mishkan, the Jews were “taking” from Hashem much more than they actually gave.


"ויקחו לי תרומה מאת כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו תקחו את תרומתי"
“Let them take for Me an offering, of every man whose heart is willing, you shall take My offering.” (25:2)

QUESTION: Why does the pasuk start with the word “terumah”an offering — and conclude with the word “terumati”My offering?

ANSWER: Sometimes people do not contribute to charitable causes wholeheartedly because they have to use money designated for another purpose when a collector for charity arrives unexpectedly.

It is therefore advisable to have a special box or account in which one deposits at least 10 percent of one’s earnings marked “charity distributions.” Thus, when a collector comes for a charitable cause, one will contribute willingly, because the money was already set aside exclusively for tzedakah.

In this pasuk the Torah imparts the following important advice: Hashem told Moshe to inform the Jewish people that the first thing each Jew should do is “Veyikchu li” — “Take from their earnings a portion for Me and set it aside as ‘terumah’ — money to be used for tzedakah causes. After doing this, you can be sure that when the time comes to take from them an offering for the Mishkan (or any other charitable cause), they will give it graciously. Because ‘tikchu et terumati’ — they will not feel that you are taking their money, but instead they are giving tzedakah from that which was already designated as My offering.”

(כלי חמדה)

"ויקחו לי תרומה מאת כל איש אשר ידבנו לבו...וזאת התרומה אשר תקחו מאתם זהב וכסף ונחשת...שמן למאור בשמים...."
“Let them take for Me an offering, from everyone whose heart is willing...and this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold and silver and copper...oil for lighting, spices....” (25:2-3)

QUESTION: 1) The word “veyikchu” means “they shall take,” and it sounds as though Hashem is the giver and we are taking it from Him?

2) Why are each of the first enumerated items connected to the next with a vav”: "זהב וכסף ונחשת ותכלת" — “gold and silver and copper” while there are no “vavs” connecting "שמן למאור בשמים לשמן המשחה...אבני שהם" — “oil for lighting, spices... shoham stone” (25:6)?

ANSWER: According to Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (35:27), Hashem sent heavenly clouds to the Nile river in order to bring up the precious stones from the sand under the water and throw them near the Jewish camp. He also sent heavenly clouds to Gan Eden to bring the spices and olive oil. The heads of the tribes picked them up and brought them for the Mishkan.

Therefore, Hashem is saying the following: “veyikchu li” — “you should take from Me” — “terumah” — My contribution to the Mishkan. In addition, “mei’eit kol ish asher yidvenu libo” — “[You shall also take] from every Jew whose heart directs him to contribute gold and silver, etc.”

The first eleven items mentioned all have a “vav” connecting one with another, because all these items were contributed by the people. Starting with shemen lama’or — oil for lighting — there are no “vavs” because the items mentioned from there on, were contributed by Hashem.

(נחל קדומים)

"וזאת התרומה אשר תקחו מאתם זהב וכסף ונחשת"
“And this is the offering you shall take from them: gold and silver and copper.” (25:3)

QUESTION: Why is the most valuable metal, gold, called “zahav” (זהב), the cheaper metal, silver, named “kesef” (כסף), and the least valuable metal, copper, called “nechoshet” (נחשת)?

ANSWER: The word "זהב" is an acronym for זה הנותן בריא — one who gives his contribution while in good health. "כסף" is an acronym for כשיש סכנת פחד — contributing due to fear caused by danger. The word "נחשת" is an acronym for נתינת חולה שאמר תנו — a severely ill person who directs his family to give. He is unfortunately very sick and unable to give himself, but he instructs his family to give for him after he passes on.

In regard to giving tzedakah it is important not what one gives, but how one gives. Giving tzedakah just for the sake of the mitzvah and without any ulterior motive is similar to gold. When one is motivated by deep fear and gives money to diminish his fears, it is of lesser significance and considered like silver. To bequeath charity is the lowest level of giving charity and therefore equivalent to copper.

(ר' מאיר מפרימישלאן זצ"ל)

Alternatively: “Zahav” (זהב) — “gold” — is an acronym for "זה המביא בעצמו" — the person knows of a charitable endeavor and, before even being asked, he brings his contribution; “kesef” (כסף) — “silver” — is an acronym for "כשהגבאים סובבים פתחו" — the individual makes pledges but is not prompt in redeeming them. Only after the supervisors of the charity fund come to his house to collect, does he pay his pledge; “nechoshet” (נחשת) — “copper” — is an acronym for "נתן חלקו, שכפאוהו תחילה" — he gives only after being forced.

(משכנותיך ישראל)

"וזאת התרומה אשר תקחו מאתם זהב וכסף ונחשת...ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם"
“And this is the offering you shall take from them: gold and silver and copper...and let them make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among them.” (25:3,8)

QUESTION: Why were our forefathers instructed to use silver and brass and not exclusively gold?

ANSWER: G‑d commanded the Jews to build the Mishkan in order that “veshachanti betocham” — “I will dwell in them.” Grammatically it should have said “veshachanti betocho” — “I will dwell in it.” According to the Shelah (Sha’ar Ha’otiot, ot lamed) this indicates that in addition to building the physical Mishkan, Hashem wants every Jew to make himself and his home a holy place so that He can dwell among every Jew.

Among the Jewish populace there exist various levels. Some Jews are very pure (holy) like gold; others are compared to inferior metals such as silver and brass. The building of the Mishkan was for all Jews; regardless of a person’s level, he must make himself a proper dwelling place for Hashem.

(כ"ק אדמו"ר)

"ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם"
“They shall make for Me a Mishkan and I will dwell among them.” (25:8)

QUESTION: Since, they were building the Mishkan (tabernacle) and not the Beit Hamikdash, should it not have said “ve’asu li Mishkan”? Furthermore, it should have said “betocho” — “in it” — instead of “betocham” — “in them”?

ANSWER: The first Beit Hamikdash lasted 410 years, and the second Beit Hamikdash 420 years. This pasuk is hinting at this by saying “ve’asu li Mikdash — “They shall make for Me a Beit Hamikdash.” The word “veshachanti” (ושכנתי) — “and I will rest” — can be read as two words: "ושכן" — “and I will rest [in it]” — "ת"י" — 410 years (ת = 400, י = 10). The word "ושכנתי" can also be rearranged to read "ושני ת"כ" — “and the second, 420.”

Since the pasuk is alluding to Hashem’s dwelling in the first and second Beit Hamikdash, it says “betocham” — “in them.”

(בעל הטורים)

"ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם: ככל אשר אני מראה אותך את תבנית המשכן ואת תבנית כל כליו וכן תעשו"
“And let them make Me a Mishkan that I may dwell among them. Like everything that I show you, the form of the Mishkan and the form of all its vessels, so shall you do.” (25:8-9)

QUESTION: Do not the words “vechein ta’asu” — “so shall you do” — seem superfluous?

ANSWER: When Hashem conveyed through Moshe the commandment to build a Mishkan, He said, “They shall make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell, “betocham” — “among them” (25:8). Grammatically, “betocho,” in the singular, should be used. The Shelah explains that, in addition to the physical Mishkan, Hashem requests that each Jew should transform himself into a Sanctuary, so that He can dwell in them — in each and every Jew. Thus the Torah adds, “vechein ta’asu,” to indicate that in addition to the construction of the physical Mishkan, “so shall you do” — make yourself a Sanctuary for Hashem.

This is accomplished by living a life in accordance with the significance of all the details of the Mishkan. The Sanctuary contained the Ark, menorah, table, and altar. The Ark represents Torah study, the menorah symbolizes mitzvot (neir mitzvah), the table alludes to hospitality and kashrut, and the altar signifies mesirut nefesh — dedication. Likewise, the home of every individual should have seforim and Torah study, the performance of mitzvot, a table with kosher food and guests, and mesirut nefesh to maintain the highest standards of Yiddishkeit.

The Jew who builds such a home can be assured that just as G‑d abides in the Mishkan, so He will also dwell in the home.

(שפתי כהן)

"ועשו ארון"
“And they shall make an Ark.” (25:10)

QUESTION: Why for all the vessels made for the Mishkan such as the table, menorah, etc. does the Torah command in a singular form — “ve’asita” — “And you shall make,” while only for the Ark and eifod (apron) does it say, “ve’asu” — “And they shall make?” (28:6)

ANSWER: The Ark contained the Tablets and represents the idea of studying and observing Torah. The word “eifod” (אפד) has the numerical value of 85, which spells the word “peh” (פ=80, ה=5) — “mouth” — and is a hint for Torah Sheba’al Peh — the Oral Torah. With the plural expression, Hashem is alluding to the fact that both the Written and Oral Torah belong to Klal Yisrael. Each and every Jew has a share in it, and no individual can claim ownership of Torah.

(קרבן העני)

* * *

Alternatively, it is incumbent upon every Jew to learn Torah full-time — day and night. Since this is impossible for everyone to accomplish, two Jews can enter into an agreement: One will learn Torah full time and the other will work and support him and receive a share in his mitzvah of learning Torah. This is known as the “Yissachar-Zevulun” arrangement. Yissachar learned Torah full time, and Zevulun did business and supported him. The Ark, which housed the Tablets, represents Torah study. Since most individuals cannot achieve maximum Torah study on their own, the command is in the plural.

(כלי יקר)

* * *

In the Torah there are 613 mitzvot. Some mitzvot can only be performed by Kohanim, others only by Levi’im and others only by Yisra’eilim. Since it is impossible for a single Jew to fulfill all 613 mitzvot, the making of the Ark, which represents Torah, is commanded in the plural.

(אור החיים)

"ועשו ארון עצי שטים אמתים וחצי ארכו ואמה וחצי רחבו ואמה וחצי קמתו"
“They shall make an Ark 2 1/2 cubits in length, 1 1/2 cubits in width, and 1 1/2 cubits in height.” (25:10)

QUESTION: Why did all the measurements of the Ark include fractions?

ANSWER: The Ark, which contained in it the Tablets, represents Torah study. The measurements teach that people who learn Torah must always bear in mind that regardless of how much they learn, they do not master it all. The extent of their knowledge is only a fraction of the vast teachings and depth of the Torah.

(כלי יקר)

* * *

It is also for this reason that the first page of every Gemara is daf beit (folio 2) and not daf alef (folio 1). This reminds the Torah student not to arrogantly think that he has mastered it, for he still lacks knowledge of the first page.

"ועשו ארון...ועשית שלחן...ועשית מנורת זהב טהור"
“You shall make an Ark...a table...a menorah.” (25:10,23,31)

QUESTION: Why are the items for the Mishkan listed in this order?

ANSWER: In the pesukim concerning the making of the Ark every letter of the alef-beit is used except the letter gimel. An explanation for this is that “gimel” in Hebrew alludes to “gemul” which means “reward” (see Shabbat 104a). Since the Ark represents Torah study, the gimel is omitted to emphasize that a person should not study Torah to receive a reward.

The table and the bread on it represents material affluence. The menorah represents spiritual light and warmth.

The order in which these three items are listed in the Torah conveys an important lesson. When one learns Torah lesheim Shamayim — without anticipation of personal gain, but only to fulfill Hashem’s command — eventually he will be rewarded with a table and menorah — material and spiritual abundance.

(כלי יקר)

"ועשו ארון...וצפית אותו זהב טהור...ועשית בדי עצי שטים וצפית אתם זהב"
“And you shall make an Ark...and cover it with pure gold. And you shall make poles of cedar wood and cover them with gold.” (25:10-11,13)

QUESTION: Why were the poles which carried the Ark covered with ordinary gold, while the Ark itself was covered with pure gold?

ANSWER: The Ark, which housed the Tablets, alludes to the one who studies Torah. The poles, which carry the Ark, represent the people who support the scholars dedicated to Torah study.

Torah should be studied lishmah — for the sake of Hashem and without ulterior motives. Tzedakah, however, may be given with personal gain in mind. According to the Gemara, even if one gives charity on the condition that his child should live, it is “tzedakah gamurah” — the highest form of charity — and the giver is considered a tzaddik gamur” — a “perfect tzaddik” (Rosh Hashanah 4a, see Rabbeinu Chananeil).

Consequently, when speaking of the Ark, which represents Torah study, pure gold is required, to emphasize that Torah study should be totally pure of ulterior motives.

(קרבן העני)

"בטבעת הארן יהיו הבדים לא יסרו ממנו"
“In the rings of the Ark shall be the poles; they shall not be removed from it.” (25:15)

QUESTION: Instead of “mimenu” — “from him” — why does it not say “They shall not be removed, meihem” — from them (the rings)?

ANSWER: The Ark housed the Tablets and represents the Torah scholar. The poles represent the philanthropists who support the Torah scholar and enable him to study in tranquillity.

At all times it is incumbent upon the benefactors to stand alongside the Torah scholar and never leave him without financial resources. (Mimenu can mean either “from him” or “from it.”)


"ועשית שנים כרבים זהב מקשה תעשה אתם ...אל הכפרת יהיו פני הכרבים"
“And you shall make two keruvim of gold...toward the Ark cover shall the faces of the keruvim be.” (25:18-20)

QUESTION: According to Rashi,“They had the form of the face of a child.” However, in another reference to keruvim the Torah relates, “So He drove out the man and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the keruvim, and the flaming sword which turned every way” (Bereishit 3:24). Rashi comments that the keruvim were “destructive angels.”

It is enigmatic that the exact term should have such contrasting interpretations?

ANSWER: Rearing children has always been a challenging and difficult task over which parents have agonized. In contemporary times, we live in an atmosphere of turbulence and confusion, in an era when statistics indicate gloomy prospects for children continuing their parents’ religious lifestyles. We hear of a generation gap and the estrangement and alienation of our youth. Many parents ponder the question, “What have I done wrong? Why was I unsuccessful with my children?”

Keruvim are children. They can be wonderful faultless angels, or vicious and destructive. It is important to always bear in mind that it depends on where we put them, and to what we expose them.

If we choose to expose the child to the “cherev hamithapechet” — the contemporary “swinging swords” of materialism, secularism, and modernism — we must then be prepared to suffer the consequence that the keruvim — the faultless children — may turn into destructive angels.

However, if one resolves to attach his children to the Holy Ark, teaching them to look toward the Ark and the Torah for guidance, he can then anticipate the reward of the keruvim — spiritually pure children who will be a source of “Yiddishe nachat to their parents, family, and the entire Jewish people.

"מן הכפרת תעשו את הכרבים על שני קצותיו"
“From the Ark-cover you shall make the keruvim on its two ends.” (25:19)

QUESTION: The keruvim were to be hammered out simultaneously with the making of the Ark-cover (Rashi). Why weren’t they made separately and attached afterwards to the cover?

ANSWER: The keruvim had the faces of small children (Rashi). They were placed on the cover, gazing down at the Ark indicating that that Jewish children should be exposed to and directed to the teachings of the Torah.

A father and mother of a two-year-old child once argued about when they should begin the Torah education of their child. The father contended that when the child reached school age, they would send him to yeshivah. The mother argued, that they should wait until he was more mature. Unable to resolve their argument, they agreed to consult a Rabbi. After listening to them, the Rabbi inquired, “How old is your child?” They responded, “Two years old.” The Rabbi looked at them and said, “I regret to tell you that you are already two years late.”

The Torah is teaching us that as soon as the child is born, there should be no delay, and he should immediately be given a Torah education and raised in a Torah-true environment. Do not wait to “attach” him at some later date.

(לקוטי בתר לקוטי מהדו"ת)

"ופניהם איש אל אחיו אל הכפרת יהיו פני הכרבים"
“And their faces shall look one to another; towards the Ark-cover the faces of the keruvim shall be.” (25:20)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Bava Batra 99a) asks why in the Mishkan the keruvim faced each other, whereas in the Beit Hamikdash “ufeneihem labayit” — their faces were to the walls of the house” (II Chronicles 3:13). The Gemara answers: When the Jews fulfilled Hashem’s wish, the keruvim faced each other. When they conducted themselves contrary to His will, then the keruvim faced the wall.

What is the connection between the direction of the keruvim and the will of Hashem?

ANSWER: The Gemara’s explanation of the direction the keruvim faced may be explained as a metaphor: “Each man facing his brother” (the literal translation of “ish el achiv”) can be taken as a symbol of the brotherly relationship between one Jew and another. This complies with the will of Hashem, who desires that a Jew always be concerned for a fellow Jew.

“Facing the walls of the house” means that one turns his back on the other and is totally preoccupied with what takes place within the walls of his home. Such selfish behavior is contrary to G‑d’s will.

(כתב סופר)

"ועשית שלחן עצי שטים אמתים ארכו ואמה רחבו ואמה וחצי קמתו"
“You shall make a table of acacia wood two cubits long, one cubit wide, and one cubit and a half in height.” (25:23)

QUESTION: Why was the width of the table less than the height?

ANSWER: Inviting guests and feeding the needy is highly commendable. Unfortunately, often people go overboard on lavish table expenses in order to make an impression. Their extravagance creates huge debts and may be at the expense of giving tzedakah or paying tuition. The Torah teaches us that the width (“breitkeit” — expansiveness) of one’s table should not exceed one’s “material height.”

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר)

"ונתת על השלחן לחם פנים"
“Set upon the table lechem happanim — show-bread.” (25:30)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that panim means “face” — the bread’s sides faced and saw the sides of the Mishkan. (Some explain “panim” to mean “sides” because each loaf had 12 sides, and others explain it to mean “hollow inside” — see commentaries on Mishnah Menachot 11:6.)

Why were the lechem hapanim “U”-shaped (like a square “U,” an open box with both ends removed)?

ANSWER: The table represents the mitzvah of hospitality and feeding the needy. Unfortunately, often when a person is blessed and sated, he is insensitive to the needs of others. His success and wealth prevent him from “seeing” the needs of the poor. The Torah therefore prescribes that the bread on the table be “U”-shaped. A normal loaf of bread is a solid, opaque mass, but one could look through the hollow in the lechem hapanim loaf. This suggests that one’s bread, i.e. one’s success, should not block one’s vision. The needs of the poor must always be visible.

“Lechem hapanim” can be translated literally as “bread of the face,” possibly alluding to the importance of “seeing” the poor man’s imploring face.

"ונתת על השלחן לחם פנים"
“On the table you shall place showbread be for Me always.” (25:30)

QUESTION: The show-bread was prepared on Friday and rested on the table until the following Shabbat. Miraculously, it maintained its warmth and freshness. This miracle was a sign of Hashem’s love for the Jewish people. When Jews made the pilgrimage on Yom Tov, the table would be lifted up for everyone to view the miracle of fresh loaves of bread (Chagigah 26b). There were many miracles that occurred in the Beit Hamikdash, as mentioned in Pirkei Avot (5:5). Why was particularly this miracle (which is not mentioned among the others in Pirkei Avot) demonstrated to those who made the pilgrimage?

ANSWER: When King David was in the wilderness of Yehudah, he sang to Hashem, “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you in a barren land and weary with no water. Just as I have beheld You in the Sanctuary to see Your might and Your glory” (Psalms 63:2-3). Simply understood, King David is expressing his yearning now to be as close to Hashem as he was within the Sanctuary.

The Ba’al Shem Tov provides a Chassidic explanation that King David is actually praying that he should retain this thirst and yearning he now has for Hashem while in a barren and distant land, also when he is actually within the Sanctuary.

People typically yearn for things that seem distant and inaccessible. Once obtained, however, the object of desire often loses its appeal. Thus, a child away from home yearns to see his parents, and as the days approach for his return home, his excitement increases greatly. However, when he is finally home, he neglects his parents and takes them for granted.

Therefore, King David expresses the wish that even after he is granted the opportunity of again being close to G‑d and beholding G‑dliness in the Sanctuary, his aspiration and strong desire for G‑dliness should not be lessened.

The Jews were shown the show-bread to demonstrate that just as the freshness of the show-bread was constantly maintained, so their desire and longing for Hashem before the pilgrimage should be retained once they are in Jerusalem, and even after leaving.

"ועשית מנרת זהב טהור מקשה תיעשה המנורה"
“You shall make a menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the menorah be made.” (25:31)

QUESTION: Rashi writes that Moshe had difficulty understanding the making of the menorah. What couldn’t Moshe comprehend about the menorah?

ANSWER: One of the esoteric interpretations of the menorah is that it symbolized Klal Yisroel. (See Likkutei Torah, Beha’alotecha.)

The menorah was kindled with pure olive oil. According to the Gemara (Menachot 85b) olive oil is associated with knowledge.

Throughout the long exile, the Jewish people were scattered to all corners of the world. Wherever they sojourned, the country benefited immensely from their wisdom, intellect, and creativity. Nevertheless anti-Semitism usually prevailed, and the Jewish people, who enhanced the country, were beaten and persecuted.

This strange phenomenon puzzled Moshe. The Jewish people, who have contributed so much to humanity through their intellect and wisdom, should be cherished and appreciated by all. Instead they were being persecuted!?

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)

"וששה קנים יצאים מצדיה "
“And six branches going out of its sides.” (25:32)

QUESTION: What is the significance of the middle branch and the six branches emerging from it.

ANSWER: The menorah represents Torah, as the verse states, “For a candle is a mitzvah and Torah is light” (Proverbs 6:23). The Torah consists of a Written part and an Oral part. The central branch of the menorah represent the Written Torah and the six branches emerging from it represent the Oral Torah, which consists of six segments of Mishnah (and Gemara) that expounds the Written Torah.

(שפתי כהן עה"ת)

"וששה קנים יצאים מצדיה שלשה קני מנרה מצדה האחד ושלשה קני מנרה מצדה השני"
“And six branches going out of its sides; three branches of the menorah out of its one side, and three branches of the menorah out of its other side.” (25:32)

QUESTION: In what position were the branches and cups?

ANSWER: The Rambam wrote a commentary on mishnayot in Arabic which was recently newly translated to Hebrew in the Kapach Edition. This newer, more precise translation includes the Rambam’s own drawing of the menorah (Menachot 3:7). Evidently, the branches (kanim) of the menorah were not curved like semi-circles, but instead were straight and extended diagonally upwards. (Rashi too is of this opinion.) The cups (gevi’im) were on the branches for beauty and were inverted with the wide end downward.

* * *

The popular image of the menorah with curved branches stems from the menorah which is engraved on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Titus was the Roman general who conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the second Beit Hamikdash. It was customary in those days to build a special gate through which the victorious soldiers would enter upon returning to their homeland.

On the Arch are engraved various scenes to commemorate the victory, and included is the menorah which he defiled. The craftsmen made the menorah according to a general idea of how it looked. However, according to the Rambam the menorah on the Arch is an inaccurate replica of the one in the Beit Hamikdash.

(לקוטי שיחות חכ"א)

* * *

Some sources state that the cups were put with the wide end upwards in order to catch any dripping oil.


"ועשית את הקרשים למשכן"
“And you shall make the boards for the Mishkan.” (26:15)

QUESTION: The boards for the Mishkan were made of acacia wood from trees which Yaakov planted in Egypt and instructed his children to take with them upon leaving (Rashi).

These boards were over 200 years old. Why didn’t the Jews send messengers to a nearby country to buy fresh wood?

ANSWER: In every generation it is the goal of young people to construct their own homes. Often, the younger generation becomes accustomed to modern ideas. To demonstrate their so-called progress, they bring their modern ideas into their homes and in so doing may detach themselves from the ways of Torah.

By mentioning the antique boards prepared by Yaakov, the Torah teaches us that a true Jewish home should reflect the “styles” i.e. the tradition and heritage, of our forefathers. Such a home is a miniature Sanctuary in which Hashem desires to dwell.

"והבריח התיכן בתוך הקרשים מברח מן הקצה אל הקצה"
“And the middle bar in the midst of the boards, which shall pass through from end to end.” (26:28)

QUESTION: How did the Jewish people get wood for the middle bar?

ANSWER: The middle bar was 70 amot (approximately 110 feet) long and encircled the three walls of the Mishkan (Gemara Shabbat 98b). When the Jews passed through the Red Sea, angels cut down the tree Avraham planted many years ago in Be’er Sheva. They cast it into the waters, and it floated on the surface of the sea. The angels proclaimed, “This is the tree planted by Avraham in Be’er Sheva, and there he called in the name of G‑d” (Bereishit 21:33). The Jewish people took it and used it for the middle bar.

(תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל)

* * *

According to another opinion, it was Yaakov’s staff with which he crossed the Jordan (Bereishit 32:11).

(דעת זקנים מבעלי התוס' ר"פ תרומה)

* * *

A miracle occurred, and when the Mishkan was constructed, the bar encircled the Mishkan like a resilient snake. When the Mishkan was dismantled, the bar reverted back to its original form.

(תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל - ועי' מס' שבת צ"ח ע"ב)

"כל עמודי החצר סביב מחשקים כסף וויהם כסף ואדניהם נחשת"
“All pillars of the court all around shall be filleted with silver and their hooks of silver, and their sockets of copper.” (27:17)

QUESTION: In the Mishkan the pillars were covered with gold, and the sockets were of silver. Why in the courtyard were they covered with silver with the sockets of copper?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Chagigah 9b) says: “Poverty is a beautiful thing for the Jewish people, just as a red ribbon is to a white horse.” Commentaries explain that this seemingly strange statement implies an important lesson. A horse is dressed up only when it is taken out to a fair for show, but not when it is in the stable. Likewise, in our homes we may have riches, but to the eyes of the world, the Jewish people should manifest poverty and appear very modest. Demonstrating it on the exterior would arouse the jealousy and eventual hatred of the gentile world against us.

Inside the Mishkan, everything was lavish and beautiful but on the outside, the top was covered with goatskin, the pillars were filleted with silver, and the sockets were of copper. There was no show of extravagance, only modest simplicity.

(לקוטי בתר לקוטי מהדו"ת)

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky has been a pulpit rabbi for over thirty years, and is author of more than ten highly acclaimed books on the Parshiot and holidays. His Parshah series, Vedibarta Bam, can be purchased here.
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