Torah Weekly

For the week ending 24 February 2007 / 6 Adar I 5767

Parshat Teruma

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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G-d commands Moshe to build a Mishkan (Sanctuary) and supplies him with detailed instructions. The Children of Israel are asked to contribute precious metals and stones, fabrics, skins, oil and spices. In the Mishkan's outer courtyard are an altar for the burnt offerings and a laver for washing. The Tent of Meeting is divided by a curtain into two chambers. The outer chamber is accessible only to the kohanim, the descendants of Aharon. This contains the table of showbreads, the menorah, and the golden altar for incense. The innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies, may be entered only by the kohen gadol, and only once a year, on Yom Kippur. Here is the Ark that held the Ten Commandments inscribed on the two tablets of stone that G-d gave to the Jewish nation on Mount Sinai. All of the utensils and vessels, as well as the construction of the Mishkan, are described in great detail.


A Little Rain

“You shall make a table of acacia wood…” (25:23)

They say that into every life a little rain must fall.

Sometimes, however, we feel that “little rain” is a full-blown downpour drowning us and leaving us reeling, searching for answers.

Sometimes we feel we’re sliding down the slippery slope to who-knows-where, that we are being engulfed by darkness and uncertainty.

For those of us who have visited those unattractive spiritual tourist attractions, we should know that however bleak and desolate our spiritual lives may seem, there is a little candle at the end of the tunnel that can never go out.

In Yiddish it’s called the pintele Yid. The Jewish Spark.

And a spark that can never go out never needs to be more than a spark. For the greatest blaze can be ignited with just one spark.

After the original creation of the world G-d creates nothing ex nihilo; rather every new creation has to have a pre-existing conduit from which it can flow.

In Hebrew, the word beracha (blessing) always connotes “increase.” A blessing always takes some pre-existing state and infuses it with expansion. G-d uses a pre-existing vessel and then injects blessing to swell and amplify what is already present.

In this week’s Torah portion the Torah describes the shulchan. The shulchan, which was an ornamental table, was the conduit through which material blessing flowed to the Jewish People.

And similarly, on our tables, when we say the blessings after a meal, Jewish Law requires us to leave the bread on the table so that it should be a vessel to receive G-d’s blessings from above.

Another example of this is when the prophet Elisha helped a penniless woman. He asked her what she had in her home and she replied that all she had was a small jug of oil. Elisha told her to borrow as many jugs and pots from her neighbors as she could. Then she was to start pouring from this tiny jug of oil into the first container. Miraculously, that little jug kept on pouring oil until all the borrowed vessels were full.

And in our own spiritual lives we should never despair, because there will always be that pintele Yid, that eternal spark that will re-kindle our hearts even when we are running on empty.

  • Sources: Ramban, Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe

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