1. Today comprises several aspects: 1) Shabbos; 2) Rosh Chodesh; 3) Rosh Chodesh Adar; 4) Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon — which indicates that this year is a leap year, and, in addition, is of the longest possible duration (385 days) that a year can be.

Each of these aspects provide directives for service to G‑d. Further, the coincidence of these aspects on the one day also teach lessons, for when a number of holy things coincide, a synergistic effect takes place.

Although there are many lesson to be derived from the above, and many levels, commensurate to each person’s spiritual status, on which to learn these lessons, the first lessons should be those which affect actual deed — for “deed is paramount,” and all Jews are equal when it comes to deed. In respect to the devotions and thoughts a Jew has when he performs mitzvos, differences exist commensurate to the different levels in Jewry, ranging from “the heads of your tribes” to “the hewers of your wood and the drawers of your water.” In respect to doing the mitzvos, however, all Jews are equal. For example, the simplest Jew puts on tefillin in the exact same manner as Moshe Rabbeinu did when this mitzvah was first given at Mt. Sinai.

In truth, every aspect of service to G‑d, even the most lofty, is applicable to all Jews — just as every part of Torah is relevant to all Jews. Every Jew is obligated to learn all parts of Torah, for the entire Torah was given to all Jews, as stated, “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Ya’akov.” It therefore follows that the lessons derived from concepts in Torah (in our case, from Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, etc.), even the most lofty, apply to even the simplest Jew.

But because not all Jews are able, as yet, to engage in the loftier aspects of service (although such aspects do apply to them), the lessons derived from today should be in the sphere of actual deed, in which all Jews are equal.

We proceed, then, to explain, in simple terms comprehensible to all Jews, the lessons for actual deed to be derived from the various aspects comprising this day.


The idea of Shabbos is explicitly stated in Scripture (Shemos 31:17): “In six days the L‑rd made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.” In turn, G‑d desires that a Jew do likewise, and cease from work and rest on Shabbos.

Cessation from work is not a total stoppage of creativity, for this would mean that man does useful work on weekday and nothing on Shabbos -which would imply a deficiency in Shabbos. Nor is mere rest from work an advantage, for useful work is the purpose of man’s creation: “Man is born to work.”

We therefore conclude that a Jew does do useful work on Shabbos. Indeed, the work on Shabbos is much loftier than that of weekday, for a Jew’s service on Shabbos is in the realm of speech and thought, prayer and Torah.

On weekday, man’s work is in the realm of deed, as stated, “The L‑rd your G‑d will bless you in all that you shall do,” and “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” On Shabbos, a Jew is free of his weekday occupations, and engages only in lofty and holy matters, such as reciting Tehillim, praying at length, and studying the weekly Torah portion.

Such conduct is similar to G‑d’s on Shabbos, when “He ceased from work and rested.” The Divine resting on Shabbos is certainly not inferior to the work of creation of the previous six days, for Scripture explicitly states, “G‑d blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” Indeed, the work of creating the physical world is a “descent” for G‑d, so to speak. On Shabbos, when G‑d rests from such work, he engages in matters which are more fitting for Him, so to speak.

The lesson from Shabbos, then, is that a Jew must utilize this day to increase as much as possible in Torah and mitzvos, holy matters.

Rosh Chodesh

“Rosh Chodesh” means the “Head of the month” (and not the “Beginning of the month”). Just as a person’s head encompasses the vitality of the rest of the body’s limbs, and leads them, so Rosh Chodesh encompasses the days of the month: a person’s conduct during the month is consonant to the resolutions he undertakes on Rosh Chodesh.

More particularly, each Rosh Chodesh is the “head” of a particular month in regard to the service unique to that month. Each month’s service is different than another’s, for each month possesses a different combination of G‑d’s Name.

The lesson from Rosh Chodesh is that since this day is the “head” of all the days of the month, and it possesses special powers, the service performed on Rosh Chodesh must be in a lofty manner — to the extent that the resolutions undertaken on this day affect the entire month.

Rosh Chodesh Adar

Adar is a month auspicious for success (“mazal”). This stems from Purim, which affects the entire month, as the Megillah states concerning the miracle of Purim: “The month was transformed from sorrow to joy.” We find, therefore, that “When Adar approaches, we increase in joy” — the unique nature of Adar starts not just from Purim, but from the beginning of the month.

The auspicious nature of this month affects a Jew’s material concerns, and certainly his spiritual matters, including the fulfillment of his mission, “I was created to serve My Maker.” Thus, a Jew enjoys extra success (“mazal”) in his service of Torah and mitzvos.

Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon

That today is Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon indicates that this year is a leap year, with a second Adar. The above distinction of Adar — that it has special “mazal” — lasts for only 29 days in a regular year, whereas in a leap year, Adar lasts for 59 days — thirty days of Adar Rishon and 29 days of Adar Sheni. The successful “mazal” of Adar therefore applies to all these days.

We learn from this that we must fully utilize for Torah and Mitzvos the unique nature of Adar, particularly in a leap year when this unique nature extends for 59 days — and most specially this year when the leap year is for the longest possible duration.

In addition to the above lessons derived from each aspect present today, there is a lesson to be derived from their coincidence on this day. Each aspect lends its particular distinction to the day: Shabbos — rest from weekday work and involvement in holy matters; Rosh Chodesh — strength granted for service of the month; Rosh Chodesh Adar — special success and “mazal”; Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon — the greatest number of days in which this “mazal” is present. The day on which all these things coincide is therefore certainly an extremely lofty one, and a Jew must therefore utilize it completely.

2. There is a further connection between the lesson derived from the leap year and the lessons derived from Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh.

Shabbos is a day of the week, and the week is associated with the sun’s movements. Rosh Chodesh is a day of the month, and a month is associated with the moon’s movements. A leap year reconciles the solar year with the lunar year.

The sun sheds an equal amount of light each day. The amount of light shed by the moon varies from day to day: On erev Rosh Chodesh, the moon is not visible at all; on Rosh Chodesh, the moon is born; and from day to day it waxes. The moon is constantly changing, constantly being renewed.

The natures of the sun and moon correspond to two types of service to G‑d. 1) Constant, unchanging service (sun); 2) changing, fresh service (moon). Prayer is a good example of these two types of service. The first and last three blessings of the Amidah is the same throughout the year, on weekdays as on Shabbos, festivals, and the Days of Awe; they are constant, unchanging. The intermediate blessing changes, that of Shabbos different from that of the festivals and that of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Moreover, even the prayers on weekday contain an element of newness — although the text of the blessing is the same each day. The Rambam writes that the idea of prayer is that “a person ... requests the necessities that he needs.” When a person needs something extra, he must increase in his requests in prayer.

Each type of service — unchanging and changing — possesses advantages. Unchanging service has the advantage that because it is steady, it becomes part of the person’s very nature, and it is durable. Service in a changing fashion has the advantage that because it is constantly a new service, it is performed with special enthusiasm and life.

Service to G‑d is whole when each of these types aid the other. New service should have durability, and regular service should be done with enthusiasm. Prayer again serves as an example. Although the first and last three blessings of the Amidah are the same throughout the year, on weekdays as on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a person concentrates more, and has loftier devotions in these blessings, on the Days of Awe than on weekday. Thus, the special sanctity of the Days of Awe (“new” service) permeates and affects the first and last three blessings of the Amidah (“regular” service). This then extends to the rest of the year, enabling regular service to be performed with enthusiasm and life.

Conversely, since an element of newness permeates regular service, a reverse reaction also takes place: new service acquires the durability of regular service.

But there is a yet loftier type of service, alluded to in the idea of a leap year. Not only do the above two types of service aid each other, but they become one — just as a leap year reconciles the solar and lunar years, eliminating any difference between them.

When the two types of service merely aid each other, they still remain distinct, individual services. There is, however, another type of service loftier than both, which, transcending the differences between regular service and new service, can reconcile the two former ones. That service is mesirus nefesh, service with “all your might,” above all limits. This service applies regardless of whether a thing is regular or new.

May it be G‑d’s will that everyone translate the above into actual deed. Through completing our service in the exile, we speedily merit the complete and true redemption through our righteous Moshiach. Then we shall see the fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned in the Haftorah of this Shabbos (Yeshayah 66:23): “And it shall be that on every Rosh Chodesh and on every Shabbos, all flesh shall come to bow down before Me.” This means, as the Yalkut explains, that in the future era Jews will make pilgrimage to the Bais Hamikdosh on every Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh.


3. The Alter Rebbe taught that a Jew must “live with the times,” meaning he must live according to the directives drawn from the weekly parshah. There are thus additional lessons to be derived from this week’s parshah, Terumah.

There are an infinite number of concepts in parshas Terumah — as there are in every parshah, and indeed, in every detail of Torah. However, since it is impossible to learn everything at once, we shall concentrate on just one — the lesson derived from the name of the parshah.

Parshas Terumah talks about the offerings given by the Jews for the construction of the Mishkan — “They shall take for Me terumah.” There are two meanings to “Terumah.” 1) Separating; 2) Uplifting. When a Jew separates (i.e., sets apart) from his money a portion to be used for the construction of the Mishkan, that money now becomes sanctified, belonging to the Mishkan. This transformation of the mundane into the sacred is effected through man’s efforts. Through a person saying (or, according to some opinions, it is enough to think) that he is giving something to be used for the Mishkan, it automatically becomes holy. Whence this power to make something holy? G‑d has given a Jew the ability to sanctify something that of itself is not holy, as stated: “You shall make yourselves holy and you shall be holy, for I am holy.”

“Terumah,” “Separating,” therefore means that a Jew, with the ability bestowed by G‑d, infuses sanctity from Above into a corporeal object below.

A higher level is that represented by the second meaning of “Terumah” — “Uplifting.” Sanctity is not just drawn into an object, but the object is uplifted, elevated to Above. In slightly different words: “Separating” means that the object remains in the same sphere and retains the same status as before it was separated; the only thing that has happened is that sanctity from another place (Above) has been drawn into it. It is therefore “separated” from other things in the same category. “Uplifting,” in contrast, means that the thing itself is elevated to another sphere and status.

Both these concepts apply to the terumah of the Mishkan. First, “They shall take for Me terumah,” meaning that a Jew, by giving part of his possessions for the erection of the Mishkan (“separating”), infuses holiness into that part. But, the separated possessions are still in the realm of “below.” Afterwards comes the “uplifting,” as the verse continues: “And they shall make for Me a Mikdosh (Sanctuary)” — meaning, the separated possessions (gold, silver, etc.) are used to contrast the Mishkan and its vessels, thereby elevating them to become part of the Mishkan.

These two concepts are present in man’s service to G‑d. A Jew must first set apart some of his matters to G‑d; then he must also elevate them. There are many different levels to this: Some things need both “separation” and “uplifting;” others need only “uplifting” since they are already separated.

Time serves as a good example. When a Jew sets apart a portion of the day for holy matters -prayer, Torah study or fulfillment of mitzvos -the time set apart has become an auspicious time for holy matters. The actual time, however, still remains in the same category as it was before it was set aside. When the Jew actually engages in holy matters in this time, then that time is elevated to an infinitely higher level. It has become holy.

In plain terms: Although a Jew has set time apart for holy matters, nevertheless, before he actually engages in these matters, that period of time remains the same as the rest of the day. The only thing that has happened is that because man has separated the time for holy purposes, it becomes a time auspicious for good things. When he actually performs Torah and mitzvos in that time, that time is elevated to a higher level because of the sanctity of the Torah and mitzvos performed.

But this is relevant only for weekdays, when time must be set aside for holy purposes. On Shabbos, however, time need not be set apart for holy purposes, for Shabbos is sanctified of itself without man’s service. A Jew’s task is to elevate this time by performing the mitzvah of “You shall call Shabbos ‘delight.’“ That is, a Jew adds to the delight of the Shabbos’s sanctity.

The two concepts of “separating” and “uplifting” apply to all aspects of man’s service to G‑d, just as they do to the idea of time. They apply particularly to the service of G‑d represented by the making of the Mishkan talked of in our parshah — “They shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within them.”

A Jew’s task is to make a Sanctuary for G‑d within himself; and with this strength, he also makes his actual home a Sanctuary. This, too, possesses the above two aspects of “separating” and “uplifting.” First, a Jew must ensure that his home is separated and distinct from all other houses in the neighborhood, country, and indeed, the whole world. It is a Jewish home, and it and what it contains must be set aside for holy purposes. Then a Jew must elevate his home by making sure that it is permeated with the actual performance of mitzvos and study of Torah. The house is thereby elevated to the status of the Mishkan: The beams, walls, and roof of the house, for example, correspond to the beams and coverings of the Mishkan, and the table and lamp correspond to the shulchan and menorah in the Mishkan.

Through our service of making a Jew’s house into a Sanctuary, we will speedily merit the building of the third Bais HaMikdosh.


4. On the verse (25:8), “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh (Sanctuary), and I will dwell within them,” Rashi, quoting the words “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh,” comments: “They shall make for My name a house of holiness.” Rashi is apparently explaining that the words “for Me” in our verse means “for My name,” and the word “Mikdosh” means a “house of holiness.” The verse would thus read, “They shall make for My name a house of holiness.”

There are several difficulties in Rashi’s interpretation.

1) Rashi only comments on a verse when there is a difficulty in its interpretation. In our case, what is difficult to understand about the phrase “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh,” that Rashi need interpret it?

2) Rashi interprets “for Me” to mean “for My name.” Why does he choose this interpretation and not that of our Sages, who say that “for Me” means “from Mine” — that the wages of the craftsmen who work on the Mishkan should be paid from the Sanctuary funds. Our Sages’ interpretation is consonant with the plain interpretation of the verse, for in another place, Rashi has interpreted the words “for Me” to indeed mean “from mine.” When Rivkah told Ya’akov that he should be the one to take food to Yitzchok (instead of Esav), she said (Bereishis 27:9): “Go to the flock and take for me from there two good kids.” Rashi, on the words “take for me,” comments that this means “they are mine, and are not stolen.” Why then in our verse does Rashi interpret “for Me” to mean “for My name” and not “from Mine.”

3) Rashi interprets “Mikdosh” to mean “a house of holiness.” The word “Mikdosh” has appeared in Scripture in a previous verse — “the Mikdosh, O L‑rd, which Your hands have established” (Shemos 15:17). Why does Rashi find it necessary to say what it means in our verse specifically?

4) The words from the verse which Rashi quotes — upon which he makes his comment — are exact: Rashi never quotes extra words. In our verse, Rashi quotes the words, “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh.” The words “They shall make” seem to be unnecessary, for Rashi interprets only the words “for Me” and “Mikdosh.” He therefore should have quoted only the words “for Me a Mikdosh,” and not also “they shall make.” Moreover, Rashi adds the same seemingly extra words in his comment: “They shall make for My name a house of holiness.”

Rashi always explains any difficulty in a verse, or writes “I do not know” what is the explanation. Yet there are some difficulties in this verse which Rashi does not comment on.

1. Our verse states “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh.” The verse immediately following says, “According to all that I show you, the pattern of the Mishkan ... so shall you make it.” Why the different terms? We cannot answer that the term “Mishkan” is used as a continuation of the previous phrase, “I will dwell among them,” which in Hebrew is “V’Shochanti” — i.e. it shares the same root as “Mishkan” — for Rashi himself says this is not so. On the words “According to all that I show you,” Rashi comments: “This verse is connected with the verse before it — “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh according to all that I show you.” In other words, Rashi says explicitly that the phrase “According to all :hat I show you” refers to the words “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh,” and not to the words “I shall dwell within them.”

Further, this question is not just why different terms are used, but also that it seems different concepts are being discussed. In parshas Beshallach (Shemos 15:17) it talks of “The place for You to dwell in,” which Rashi interprets to mean “The Mikdosh below;” and in the same verse it also says, “The Mikdosh, O L‑rd, which Your hands have established.” Both these Mikdoshes refer to the Bais HaMikdosh in Eretz Yisroel (the former referring to the one that will be built when Jews enter Eretz Yisroel, and the latter to the one of the future era). The word “Mikdosh” in Beshallach does not refer to the Mishkan in the desert (which our verse talks about). Why, then, does our verse say “They shall make for me a Mikdosh” when it refers to the Mishkan in the desert?

2. Why does the verse say, “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh and I will dwell within them” -plural tense? Surely the singular tense — “I will dwell within it” — is more appropriate.

The explanation

The question which prompts Rashi to make a comment on this verse is why does it first state “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh,” and then in the next verse say “According to all that I show you, the pattern of the Mishkan” (as we asked above).

Rashi’s answer is that the “Mikdosh” in this verse does not refer to the Bais HaMikdosh (since the whole of parshas Terumah talks only of the making of the Mishkan). Instead, says Rashi, “Mikdosh” here means “a house of holiness,” “Mikdosh” stemming from the root “kedushah,” holiness. Rashi knows that it means “a house of holiness” — and not any other object, such as a vessel — from the context of the verse which states, “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh ... according to all that I show you, the pattern of the Mishkan...”; and “pattern” can refer only to a “house,” not to vessels.

Rashi interprets “for Me” to mean “for My name” and not “from Mine” (as to Talmud does), for the context of the passage in which this verse is found forces him to do so. The beginning of the passage is the verse (25:2), “Speak to the children of Israel, that they should take for Me an offering,” and Rashi interprets “for Me” to mean “for My name.” In this verse, it is impossible to say “for Me” means “from Mine,” for the verse relates G‑d’s command to Jews to give an offering to the Mishkan from their goods and money. It would therefore be absurd to say that “They should take for Me” means “They should take from Mine” — the exact opposite of the plain meaning of the verse.

Since in this verse “for Me” must mean “for My name,” it is logical that the words “for Me” in our verse, which is a continuation of the subject, also mean “for My name.”

According to this explanation, however, another difficulty arises. Since in the beginning of the passage it has already been said “for Me — for My name,” why is it repeated in our verse?

In response to this question, Rashi quotes the words “They shall make” as well as the words “for Me a Mikdosh” as the words on which he bases his interpretation. With this, Rashi emphasizes that there is another detail that must be done “for Me — for My name”: the construction of the Mishkan (“They shall make”). The beginning of the parshah talks of the giving of the offerings to the Mishkan, which must be “for My name.” Our verse tells us that the construction of the Mishkan must also be “for My name.” And to emphasize this even further, Rashi in his interpretation also writes the words “They shall make.”

The reason why the verse says “I will dwell within them” and not “within it,” is found in Rashi’s comment on the words “according to all that I show you” — that “This verse is connected with the verse before it, ‘They shall make for Me a Mikdosh according to all that I show you.’“

Rashi with this comment means to tell us that this verse is connected with the words “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh,” and not with the words “I will dwell within them.” Rashi emphasizes this by writing that the verse in effect reads, “They shall make for Me a Mikdosh according to all that I show you,” omitting the words “I will dwell within them.” In effect, Rashi is saying that the words “I will dwell within them” is a parenthetical insertion.

Rashi infers this from the words “I will dwell within them” — plural tense. If the words “I will dwell within them” were to refer to G‑d’s dwelling in the Mikdosh, it should not have stated “within them,” for “Mikdosh” is singular tense. Rashi therefore concludes that these words are a parenthetical insertion, referring to Jews to whom the command, “They shall make Me a Mikdosh” was said. In other words, through making the Mikdosh, which will be situated between the various camps of the Jews, G‑d’s presence will dwell among Jews — “I shall dwell within them.”