Thursday, February 22, 2007

Parshas Terumah II

וְעָשׂוּ אֲרוֹן, עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים: אַמָּתַיִם וָחֵצִי אָרְכּוֹ, וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי רָחְבּוֹ, וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי, קמָתוֹ.

“And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.” (Sefer Shemos, 25:10)

The Baal haTurim comments that when you look at the dimensions of the Aron/Ark, none of them are whole numbers; they all have ½ attached to the end of them. With the Aron symbolizing the Torah (as it was used to store the Torah), the Baal haTurim says that we see from the dimensions that anyone that is interested in learning must have humility. Just as the number ½ isn’t a whole number, one who learns must realize that they, themselves, are not whole and that they should be constantly striving towards the goal of being complete.

The Gemara in Megillah (26a) discusses the different territories that each of the 12 tribes inherited. The Gemara says that among the land that was inherited by Binyamin was the area where the Mizbeach/altar stood. However, there was a small strip of land on which a small part of the Mizbeach stood that was actually in the land of Yehuda – so it wasn’t ALL in Binyamin’s territory. Apparently, Binyamin, through Ruach haKodesh, saw that this was to be the case (that he wasn’t going to have 100% of the Mizbeach), and that caused him pain; everyday of his life. This pain was caused by a healthy yearning for shlaimos/wholeness; Binyamin always strived for more spirituality. To make up for this pain, the Gemara notes that Hashem subsequently placed in his territory the “Ushpizchei L’Shchina”, which Rashi says is the Aron.

It makes perfect sense why Hashem gave Binyamin the Aron in light of what we said before. Again, the Baal haTurim teaches us that one should realize that they aren’t yet complete and that they should constantly be striving for more spirituality and this was exactly what was happening with the daily pain of Binyamin by the fact that he didn’t have 100% of the Mizbeach. Again, since Binyamin imbued this attribute of yearning, he received the inheritance of that (the Aron) which symbolizes yearning.

The Vilna Gaon, in a different understanding of the words “Ushpizchan L’Shechina”, leads us to another lesson from this Gemara in Megillah. He says that the term doesn’t refer to the Aron, as Rashi posits, but that Ushpizchan is from the same Lashon as Ushpizin/guests. So what is the reference to guests that the Gaon is referring to? This refers to all of the alternate places where the Mizbeach was held. While the Mizbeach was usually situated in Yerushalayim, there were other times throughout history where the Mizbeach was a “guest” in other parts of Israel (ie, Nov, Givon, Shiloh). Hashem’s gift to Binyamin for his yearning for all of the Mizbeach was the gift of all of the lands where the Mizbeach would be a “guest”, as hinted to in the words “Ushpizchan L’Shechina.”

The lesson to glean from this is that Yiddishkeit isn’t who were just when we’re playing on our “home court.” There are situations in life that may come about that may be less than ideal for our Yiddishkeit. Work, school, etc, all pose challenges for our Yiddishkeit. Anyone can be Jewish when they’re in Shul on Shabbos morning. The greater challenge is to be a Yid when you’re playing an away game – whether that be at work, school, or whatever - when our Yiddishkeit may seem like a "guest."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi- i found your blog by accident... i'll have to check it out now, but in the meantime do you have a recommendation for a nice bottle of shnapps i can give as a purim gift in the $75 range? thank you so much!

4:08 PM, February 27, 2007

Blogger AlanLaz said...

In the $75 area, I'd check out Highland Park 18, Glenfarclas 17, Talisker 18, Glenlivet 18, or perhaps Macallan Fine Oak 17.

5:10 PM, February 27, 2007


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