For the week ending 20 February 2021 / 8 Adar 5781

Parashat Terumah and Purim

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Hashem commands Moshe to build a Mishkan (Sanctuary) and supplies him with detailed instructions. The Jewish People are asked to contribute precious metals and stones, fabrics, skins, oil and spices. In the Mishkan's outer courtyard there is 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. Entrance to the innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies, was permitted only for 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 which Hashem gave to the Jewish nation on Mount Sinai. All of the utensils and vessels, as well as the instructions for the construction of the Mishkan, are described in great detail.


Throw Away Your Mask!

“You shall place in the Ark the Testimonial-tablets that I shall give you.” (25:16)

The holiday of Purim is about throwing away your mask.

There is an ancient custom for us to wear masks on Purim. Queen Esther masked her Jewishness. Her husband, King Achashverosh, did not know that she was Jewish. But at the crucial moment, when the Jewish People were threatened by Haman's genocide, she removed her mask and counted herself as a Jew. By doing this, she saved the Jews of Persia and everywhere from annihilation. By being proud of her Jewishness, she saved her nation.

Do not think that our enemies will be persuaded that we are good by listing the vast contributions that Jews have made to civilization. The hatred of the anti-Semite is illogical, and something that defies logic cannot be reasoned with. The Jew-hater hates us because we are “the filthy rich and the filthy poor, the bastions of the bourgeoisie and rootless cosmopolitans, the communist and the capitalist. The only thing that the Jew-haters of the world can agree upon is their hate.

We will never ingratiate ourselves among the nations by aping them. Never was the cause of assimilation stronger than at the turn of the nineteenth century in Germany. The more the Jew pushes to be like everyone else, the more everyone else will turn around and remind us that we are different — sometimes with murderous results.

Do not expect the love of the Nations of the world – but we will earn their respect by being what we are supposed to be. The Midrash says that when Hashem was giving us the Torah, everything stopped. Everything was silent. The nations of the world, fearing another giant flood, sent for Bilaam, their prophet, to ask him what was happening. Bilaam replied with the words of Psalm 29, that Hashem was not bringing a flood or destruction, but "Hashem was giving "Oz" — the Torah — to His People. To which the Nations replied, "May Hashem bless His people with peace."

When we, as proud Jews, throw away our masks and sanctify the name of the Torah, the whole world will proclaim, "May Hashem bless His people with peace."

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