Vol 16.33 - Terumah 2          Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5740) The difference between the three offerings - the offerings for the sockets, the offerings of the Shekalim and the offerings for the Altar ( Beg. of Parsha Ex. 25:1 : "you shall take My offering"). In spiritual Avodah (Torah, Avodah and Gemillat Chassadim)


Three Forms of Terumah - Three Forms of Spiritual Service

In the Torah portion Terumah , the Jews are commanded to bring Terumah , offerings, for use in the Mishkan. The command is repeated three times: “They shall take unto Me Terumah ;” “you shall take My Terumah ;” “This is the Terumah that you shall take.”5

Our Sages comment6 that the Torah is referring here to three different offerings: The first reference is to the offering used in constructing the sockets for the Mishkan ’s beams; the second refers to the donation of silver half-shekels for the purchase of communal offerings; the third refers to general offerings for the construction of the Mishkan.

Of these three, only the last is described here in detail; the first two are only hinted at, and are described at length in later portions.7 Since all three Terumah offerings were for the sake of the Mishkan , why were they not all described here in detail?

The Mishkan was built in order to provide a dwelling place for G-d in this world — “And you shall build for Me a Sanctuary so that I may dwell in your midst.”8

The building of a Mishkan foreshadows the transformation of the entire world into a dwelling place for G-d. This is accomplished through Torah, Divine service, and deeds of kindness — the “three pillars” upon which the world stands.9

Since the transformation of the world into a Mishkan is connected to the building of the physical Mishkan , it can be understood that these three pillars played a part in the construction of the Mishkan as well.

Torah is the root and foundation of all spiritual service. Every level and manner of serving G-d through mitzvos and good deeds is rooted in and based upon Torah, for every aspect of Judaism has its foundation and beginning in Torah.

In the construction of the Mishkan , Torah is alluded to by the Terumah for sockets, since they served as the underpinnings of the entire structure, just as Torah serves as the underpinning of all Judaism.

The Terumah used for the purchase of communal sacrifices relates to Divine service, for “Divine service” involves sacrificial offerings10 and prayer — prayer having been substituted for offerings.11

The general Terumah for the Mishkan , which included gold, silver, copper, etc., corresponds to the service of mitzvos — all of which are known by the term “deeds of kindness”12 — for they are performed with physical objects similar to those used in constructing the Mishkan. This third manner of service — “deeds of kindness” — possesses a quality lacking in the first two. Torah and prayer relate to an individual’s spiritual occupation with himself. Consequently, they are only able to affect the individual; uniting a person with G-d’s wisdom.

“Deeds of kindness” — the service of mitzvos — however, requires one to be involved with physical matter. Here a person is able to transform physical things — by using them in the performance of mitzvos — into holy objects.

It is specifically through man’s transforming of the world into a Mishkan that the Divine intent of creation is fulfilled, for “G-d earnestly desired a dwelling place in the nethermost level,”13 i.e., this lowly physical world.14 But in order for this manner of service to be proper and complete, man must also possess the attributes of Torah and prayer.

Since all aspects of spiritual service are reflected in the Mishkan , the Torah portion details only the general Terumah — man’s service of mitzvos — for that is the ultimate intent.

(From  http://congregationlubavitch.org/page.asp?pageID=%7BFD4933DE-417E-4A17-81E3-0654BE118A41%7D&displayAll=1)


4. Eruvin 13b and places cited there. 
5. Shmos 25:2-3. 
6. Yerushalmi, Shekalim 1:5. 
7. The first Terumah in Pekudei , 38:25ff; the second Terumah in Sisa, 30:13ff. 
8. Shmos 25:8. 
9. Avos 1:2. 
10. Commentary of Rashi and Bartenura et al , Avos ibid. 
11. Berachos 26b; See also commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah to Avos ibid. 
12. Likkutei Torah, Re’eh 23c. 
13. Tanya ch. 36, based on Tanchuma, Naso 16. 


1. The command to take Terumah (an offering) from the Yidden (for the service of the Mishkan/Tabernacle) is repeated three times in the beginning of our Parsha:

· "(have them) take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה) (25:2)

· “From every person . . you shall take My offering (תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי) (25:2)

· “And this is the offering that you shall take from them” (וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ) (25:3)

The Sages state that of the three times the word תְּרוּמָה is mentioned:

· "Take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה) - refers to the Terumah of the sockets (Adanim) (the beka (half-shekel) per head, from which they made the sockets).

· “From every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering (תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי) - refers to the Terumah of the Shekalim (the beka per head for the (community) coffers, from which to purchase the communal sacrifices).

· “And this is the offering that you shall take from them” (וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ) - refers to the Terumah of the Mishkan (each Israelite’s donation).

However, there is a difference how the three Terumah’s are mentioned here:

· The first two are just stated in general, and alluded to (however the specifics regarding them - are first mentioned in the later Parsha).

· However the Terumah of the Mishkan is spoken of, in our Parsha, with specifics and at length.

One must understand:

Since all the three Terumah’s are because of the service of the Mishkan

(even the Terumah of the Shekalim which was used to purchase the communal sacrifices – for according to the ruling of the Rambam - the Mitzvah of building the Mikdash is that it should(not only) be a ”House for G-d” (״בית לה׳) (but that it should be) ”prepared for sacrifices to be offered within”. Therefore, it comes out that the command “make Me a sanctuary” includes even the preparations which are necessary for the Avodah of the sacrifices (עבודת הקרבות), even using the Terumah of the Shekalim to purchase the communal sacrifices) -

all of the three Terumah’s should have been stated with the specifics and details in our Parsha?

Even if one would answer that, regarding the Terumah of the Shekalim – Shekalim are not actuality connected with (actual) construction of the Mishkan,

but rather that it is just a preparation to the Avodah in the Mishkan and therefore, here (Parshat Terumah) is not the place to discuss the specifics concerning this offering (Terumah) –

nevertheless it still is problematic regarding the Terumah of the Adanim – which are a part of the construction of the Mishkan.

Therefore why is this Terumah not stated clearly and with specifics, in our Parsha?

2. There is another difference in the wording of the verse here concerning the three Terumah’s:

· By the Terumah of the Adanim it states: “take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה)

· And by Terumah of the Shekalim it states “take My offering" (תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי)

· And by the Terumah of the Mishkan it states: “And this is the offering that you shall take from them” (וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ)

In other words:

· By the first Terumah (of the Adanim) – the relationship of the Terumah to G-d is emphasized by a separate word :”(take) for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה)

· By the second Terumah (of the Shekalim) – the relationship to G-d is emphasized within the word ”Terumah” itself -”My offering (תְּרוּמָתִי)”

· By the third Terumah (of the Mishkan) it does not state, at all that it is an offering for G-d – it just states, plainly: “this is the offeringוְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה)).

3. There is also a puzzling thing that is found in the Midrash in our Parsha:

On the verse:

“And this is the offering that you shall take . . gold, silver, and copper”,

the sages state that

  • Gold – refers to the kingdom of Bavel
  • Silver – refers to, the kingdom of Madai (Media)
  • Copper – refers to the kingdom of Greece
  • Ram skins dyed red – refers to the kingdom of Edom

This is very puzzling:

What connection is there between the four kingdoms and the offering for the Mishkan?

On the contrary - the four kingdoms brought the four exiles and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash – which is the antithesis of the offering for the Mishkan – whose aspect is ‘"Make for Me a Sanctuary” (the building and erecting of the Mishkan)?

4. One can understand this by prefacing that the spiritual Avodah of "Make for Me a Sanctuary” (making an abode for G-d in this world (דירה לו ית׳ בתחתונים) – is divided into three categories – pillars: Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim.

And since this is so, it is understood that these three general categories are alluded to in the aspect of the Mishkan:

One could say that this is the inner reason (טעם פנימי) why there were three Terumah’s - and not one (general) Terumah for all the needs of the Mishkan – because the three Terumah’s correspond to the three pillars: Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim.

· The foundation and source for all the aspects of Avodat HaShem is (the pillar of)”Torah”. All the specific levels and manners of serving G-d through Mitzvot and good deeds (מעשים טובים) are founded and built on Torah, Every aspect of Judaism and fulfilling Mitzvot has its source and beginning in Torah – and this is alluded to in the Terumah of the Adanim, which are the foundation of the Mishkan.

· The Terumah of Shekalim, which were used to purchase the communal sacrifices is the pillar (קו) of ”Avodah” (which is the Avodah of the sacrifices – and Prayer was enacted in place of the sacrifices (תפלה שבמקוט קרבנות תקנום)).

· And the Terumah of the Mishkan – which included all the physical things (gold, silver, and copper etc.) from which the Mishkan was built, corresponds to the Avodah of Mitzvot (which is accomplished through gold etc.), and whose general category is Gemilut Chasadim (as is known that Gemilut Chasadim is the “entirety of Mitzvot (״כללות המצות״)”.

According to this explanation in the divisions between the three aspects of Avodah, as aforementioned, one can understand the reason for the aforementioned differences (Par. 2) by the three Terumah's.

5. The difference between the three pillars (קוין): Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim – is:

Torah is –

“I was a nursling beside Him, and I was (His) delight every day, playing before Him at all times” (וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלוֹ אָמוֹן וָאֶהְיֶה שַׁעֲשֻׁעִים) –

G-d’s “hidden treasure” (חמדה גנוזה) that preceded the creation of the world by two thousand years, before a Yid learned it.

(Which is not so by Mitzvot – for the nature (גדר) of a Mitzvah is only applicable when there is someone who can fulfill the Mitzvah). The entire aspect of Mitzvot (commands) is a directive (אנזאג) to a person).

And also when Torah comes down into this world and is studied by a person - it, nevertheless, remains

(in the words of the Sages):”My words are like fire” (״דברי כאש״) (of G-d), which does not change through being enclothed in man’s intellect and speech. It remains

G-d’s wisdom which is incomparably higher than the person studying it.

The aspect of “Avodah” (sacrifices – Prayer) is:

”(if) a man among you will bring an offering” (״אדם כי יקריב מכם״) – which means

that the person brings himself closer to G-d,

as is known that the word “korban/sacrifice” is from the word ”Kiruv” – to bring close (as it states) :”Why is it called a korban – because it draws near” which means “drawing one’s powers and abilities” to G-d.

And Avodat HaTefila (prayer) (which was enacted in place of the sacrifices) - is the service of the heart (עבודה שבלב) – a person raising himself (by his (own) powers) to G-dliness, so much so that “its head reached the heaven” (״ראשו מגיע השמימה״).

And since this is the Avodah of the person, therefore even though he can only raise himself as much as is possible within his power as a created being, he nevertheless becomes united (מיוחד) with the holy light to which he prepares .

In these two Avodah’s – Torah and Mitzvot - there is a common factor – for in both of them there exists engagement (התעסקות) of the person performing the Avodah - in and within himself. Also their accomplishment (אויפטו) is only in the person

 (that his intellect becomes united with the intellect of Torah, G-d’s Wisdom).

However there is no engagement with physical things – that they should also become articles of holiness (תשמישי קדושה), a thing of holiness – In other words that a material object (חפץ גשמי) should become the article of a Mitzvah (חפץ מצוה), permeated with the light of holiness.

(Even with the Avodah of the actual sacrifices, which one sacrificed a physical animal on the Altar – it, however, was not in a manner that one offered the physicality (גשם) the way it existed in its present state. But rather, one had to first sanctify it - meaning that

(“Sanctify” – from the word “separation” (קדושה פון לשון הבדלה))

one had to separate and lift it up from its lowliness. Only then was he fitting to offer it up on G-d’s Altar).

And this is the advantage of the third pillar (kav) - Gemilut Chasadim which includes the fulfillment of all the Mitzvot (כולל קיום כל המצות) – namely, to effect (אויפטאן) (primarily) within the material object

(with which one is performing the Mitzvah) that just as it is (outwardly) as it is

in its form of a physical lowly object, (as it is ) in its “physicality/gashmiyut” - that it becomes an article of a Mitzvah (חפץ מצוה).

Because of this. Mitzvot specifically exist with boundaries and limitations –

not like Torah, of which it states: “Longer than the earth is its measure etc. (ארוכה מארץ מדה), or Prayer whose epitome of completeness is when one is uplifted, through it, to the ”Heaven”. This is the Avodah of “with all your might (״בכל מאדך״)” of Mesirat Nefesh –higher than measure and limitations.

For since Mitzvot are enclothed in lowly physical things,

(so much so that the Mitzvot of the duties of the heart (תובת הלבבות) must be fulfilled in a manner that the physical heart should be affected with a feeling of Love and Fear etc., so much so that it is recognizable in the flesh of the heart (בשר הלב) –

they have a limitation.

6. This is also the explanation in the aforementioned difference in the wording of the verses:

· “Take for Me an offering” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה) alludes to the pillar of Torah, as aforementioned. Because of this reason it states “Take for Me an offering” –

not that “They should give to Me an offering” (״ויתנו לי תרומה״) – meaning that the person below gives to the Above, to Me, as it were.

But rather “Take for Me” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי) means that the person below takes that which was given to him from Above - the Me (לִי), as it were.

For the Avodah of Torah is (not from the direction of below to above, but) from the direction of Above to below. Through Torah, one takes and draws down G-dliness (G-d’s Wisdom) from Above to below.

The Avodah of Torah is in a manner of “Take (וְיִקְחוּ)” - one “takes” (and draws down) G-dliness from Above to below.

And since the Torah and G-d are all one (אורייתא וקוב״ה כולא חד), therefore the verse emphasizes “Take for Me” – which depicts the Essence and Being of G-d – for through Torah one “Takes” G-d’s Essence and Being itself, as the Sages state: “You are taking Me”.

However, on the other hand, since a Yid’s ”Taking” G-d’s Essence, through Torah is

(Primarily - not the product (אויפטו) of the person studying it, but rather)

Because G-d implanted” (אריינגעשטעלט) Himself, as it were, in Torah

(In a manner that Torah is: “My words are like fire” (״דברי כאש״))

therefore the drawing down of G-d’s Essence remains as if it were removed (אפגעטראגן) from the person studying it –

(so much so that there can be a case where the Torah can be studied by a person who is not pure (בלתי טהור) – for even then there exists the “Take for Me” (וְיִקְחוּ לִי) - the drawing down of G-d’s Essence through Torah – however the person is not, at all, at a level that the Me (לִי) should be illuminated in him visibly)

This is also the reason that why it states “for Me an offering” (ולִי תְּרוּמָה) in two separate words – to hint that the “Me” (the drawing down of G-d’s Essence through Torah) and the ”Terumah” (the Avodah of learning Torah) are not one “word” – thing - since the drawing down of G-d’s Essence remains removed (אפגעטראגן) from the person studying it.

· However with the Terumah of the Shekalim, the “Avodah” (of sacrifices – Prayer) it does states the word: “My offering (תְּרוּמָתִי) –

For the physical sacrifice itself is elevated and included in its source and root Above – in G-dliness. The same is with Avodat HaTefila (prayer). The person is raised until “the Heaven”, as aforementioned. He prepares himself to such a level where the G-dly light is visibly illuminated within him. Therefore it states “My offering (תְּרוּמָתִי) – which depicts that the connection between ”Terumah” (Avodah) and Me (לִי), (drawing down G-dliness through the Avodah) is in a manner that is recognizable, revealed and felt in the Avodah.

· However by the third Terumah - the Terumah of the Mishkan – which is the Avodah with physicality itself, as it is in its material state (בגשנזיוחו), the drawing down of G-dliness, in the Avodah is concealed. Therefore it states “offering” (תְּרוּמָה) plainly – not mentioning explicitly that it is a Terumah for G-d – because in this Avodah, the relationship to G-d is not recognizable.

7. Even though Mitzvot are enclothed in physical objects, nevertheless the intent of the creation of the world –

that ”G‑d desired an abode in the lower realms” –

is accomplished specifically through the Avodah with them.

For the Alter Rebbe emphasizes that the word “Abode” for G-d means this lowest physical world where ”there is no lower (world) than it”.

However, in order for the Avodah to be proper and complete, the person must also possess the pillar (and foundation) of Torah and the pillar of “Avodah”.

And since all the aspects of Avodat HaShem were here, as aforementioned, in the Mishkan – this was also alluded to in the construction of the Mishkan.

Therefore the reason that the Torah speaks explicitly in our Parsha, only regarding the Terumah of the Mishkan is because this is the primary purpose and intent. And the other two Terumah’s are only mentioned in general and alluded to as a hint. Because they are (in the primary intent) just a preparation and preface (and completion) to making the Abode.

8. This is the explanation of the words of the aforementioned Midrash (Par. 3) that
“gold and silver etc.” correspond to the four kingdoms:

Since the aspect of the Terumah of the Mishkan is to make an Abode for G-d in this world in the lower realms (to make a Mikdash and Mishkan for G-d from the material things) – the completeness of this aspect is

(not so much in the construction of the Mishkan, where one saw with physical eyes, that the Shekinah dwelled, but rather)

in the Avodah during the time of Galut, when the physicality of the world is at its strength. And through the Avodah of transforming this very physicality - one refines this lowest physical world

where “there is no lower (world) than it”.

And the virtue of this Avodah will be in the Future, for then the virtue of “deed” (״מעשה״) will be revealed.

For as it is known, at that time “deed will be greater” (״מעשה גדול״) (which is why the main element in the Mikdash (which is a glimmer of the Future World) was mineral (דומם).

And this is as it has been explained regarding the aspect of Yosef and Yehuda – that Yehuda represents the Avodah of deed

(“Yehuda” from the word ”Hoda’ah/Bitul” which is synonymous with Mineral which “acutely possesses the level of Bitul”)

for in the Future, Yehuda will be higher than Yosef – (as it states “And My servant David shall be their prince forever”.

m’Maamer s.v.”VaYikchu li Terumah” 5735

Synopsis 2:

G-d instructs the Jewish people to erect the Tabernacle in the desert, and to donate funds for its purposes.  The instructions for these donations vary, however. This Sicha explores the differences of each, and brings a deeper understanding to the three modes of serving the Almighty.

This week’s Torah portion begins with G-d commanding the Jewish people concerning the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that was to be erected. The Jewish people were instructed to donate both materials and funds toward the construction of this G-dly sanctuary.

Text 1

Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take (for) Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering. And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper…

Shemos 25:2-3

In delineating how the Israelites should consecrate their possessions to provide the materials for this sanctuary, the verse repeats the term “offering” (terumah) three times. The verses state: “take (for) Me an offering,” “you shall take My offering,” and again repeats, “And this is the offering that you shall take.”

The Sages explain that each of these three expressions alludes to a different type of donation needed for the building and upkeep of the Mishkan.

Text 2

The word terumah, mentioned three times, denotes that three offerings are mentioned here. One is the offering of a beka half-shekel per head, from which they made the sockets, as is delineated in (Parshas) V’eileh Pekudei.  Another is the offering of a beka per head for the community coffers, from which to purchase the communal sacrifices, and another is the offering for the Mishkan, each one’s Israelite’s donation.

Rashi, Shemos 25:2

Each mention of the word “offering” (terumah) refers to a separate type of donation that was given for the building of the Mishkan.

The first mention of the word is in reference to the half-shekel of silver that every individual donated. These were used to build sockets that were to serve as foundations for the walls.

The second use of the word “offering” was in reference to another half-shekel, which was donated for the purpose of communal sacrifices.

The third reference of the word “offering” is mentioned in regard to any other materials that were needed for the construction of the Tabernacle.

Why only hints?

Although all three of these various offerings are mentioned in Parshas Terumah, there is a distinctly different manner in which they are each enumerated. While all three types of offering are stated in the parsha, only the last is focused on in detail.

The first two types of offerings are only hinted to in the words, “take for Me an offering,” and “you shall take My offering.” The third category however, expressed in the words, “And this is the offering that you shall take,” is enumerated with its particularities.

The Torah says:

Text 3

And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple, and crimson wool; linen and goat hair; ram skins dyed red, tachash skins, and acacia wood; oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense;  shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen.

Shemos 25:3-7

All the specific materials that the Israelites were to bring for the building of the Tabernacle are mentioned in great detail. While the Torah brushes over the other forms of offerings to the Mishkan, it discusses this one at great length.

Notwithstanding the brevity in which the Torah mentions the first two types of offerings, all three of these donations were in fact exceedingly important for the Mishkan to properly function.

The donation for the sockets: These were an actual element in the edifice of the Tabernacle.

The donation of the half-shekel: The purpose of the Mishkan was for it to be a place that was “prepared for sacrifices to be offered within it.1” The half-shekel that was donated for the purpose of communal sacrifices enabled the Mishkan to serve in this capacity.

The donations to the Mishkan: These included all the various materials that were important for the Mishkan’s assembly and for fashioning the priests’ special garments.

This begs the question: If all three expressions found in the beginning of Parshas Terumah were indeed important for the construction of the Mishkan, why then, is the contribution regarding the actual materials of the Mishkan the only one clearly enumerated in the parsha and the rest only hinted to?

It cannot be said that the reason for this was that the Torah wished to recount only those details that were important for the actual building of the Mishkan—and for that reason it only hinted to the donations that were to be given towards the communal sacrifices—as that was not the only offering that was left out. The sockets were integral to the construction of the actual edifice and they too were only alluded to and not explicitly stated.

It is therefore understood that there must be another reason as to why only one form of donation was clearly expressed and the others were only inferred from the extra words “offering” mentioned in the verse.

Variant expressions

Upon observing the language that the Torah employs when mentioning the various donations, one notices distinctions between each of the three expressions.  The expressions, “take (for) Me an offering (li terumah),” “you shall take My offering (terumasi),” and “this is the offering that you shall take,” are each worded slightly differently.

Each of them mentions G-d in a variant manner.

Take (for) Me an offering: In reference to the half-shekel that was used for the sockets, the verse says, “(for) Me an offering.” In Hebrew this is stated as, “li terumah,” the expressions for “Me” and “offering” are separated as two different words.

You shall take My offering: Concerning the donation for communal sacrifices, the Torah calls it, “My offering.” The Hebrew word that is used here is, “terumasi.” In this case, the terms “My” and “offering” create one word.

This is the offering that you shall take: In regard to the materials that were used for the construction of the Mishkan, all reference to G-d is completely left out.

What is the significance of the structural differences that the Torah uses in referencing these various offerings?

The Medrash

Pertaining to the materials for the Mishkan’s construction (gold, silver, copper, etc.), the Medrash explains that the specific substances that were used correlate to the various exiles that the Jewish people endured.

Text 4

Gold, corresponding to the Babylonian Empire, as it says,2 “You Nevuchadnetzar are the head of gold.” Silver, corresponding to the Persian Empire, as it is written,3 “ten thousand silver talents which Haman offered to Achashveirosh, on behalf of the destruction of the Jewish people.” Copper, corresponding to the Greek Empire, for it is the least valued of all of them, and ram skins dyed red, corresponding to the Edomite Empire, as it says,4 “And the first one Esav emerged ruddy.”

Medrash Tanchuma, Terumah 7

The association between the materials used to build the Mishkan and the various exiles seems extremely perplexing. Why, when discussing the substances that were used in building of Mishkan, the forerunner of the Temple, would we reference those very nations that later brought about the Temple’s destruction?!

Three pillars

While G-d specifically commanded the Jewish people to erect a sanctuary for Him in the form of the Mishkan, G-d as well wished that we should create a sanctuary for Him within the entire world. G-d desires that we should transform the Earth completely, and make it into a “dwelling place” for Himself.

In order to create a dwelling place for G-d here in the physical world, there are three ways through which this is attained: the study of Torah, the service of G-d and the performance of kind deeds.

Text 5

Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great Assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.

Pirkei Avos 1:2

These three facets through which the world is transformed into a G-dly place are hinted to in the three offerings through which the physical sanctuary for G-d, the Mishkan, was built as well.

It was for this reason that the Almighty did not simply request that the Jewish people give one large donation to provide for all of the Mishkan’s needs. Instead, He divided the gifts into three diverse types, as each of these three donations were indicative of a separate way by which to transform the world.

The connections between the three donations and the three manners of spiritual service are as follows:

Sockets: These served as the foundation of the Mishkan’s structure. The basis and foundation of all of Judaism is rooted in the Torah. All the various ways of serving G-d stem from the Torah. Similar to the sockets that upheld the walls of the Mishkan, the Torah upholds all of Jewish life.

Communal offerings: The purchase of the communal sacrifices represents the concept of the service of G-d. The concept of prayer as well relates to the service of the Almighty, as it was instituted in place of the communal sacrifices.5

Materials for construction: These resources included all sorts of physical materials used to build a sanctuary for G-d. This is as well the concept of all of the mitzvos—to take the physical substances of the world and to use them for a G-dly purpose.

Connecting to G-d

Though the study of Torah, service of G-d, and physical mitzvos are all necessary elements in the service of the Almighty, they each highlight a different aspect of our Divine service.

Torah: While the entire concept of mitzvos exists as commandments for the Jewish people, Torah, however, is separate from the existence of the Jewish people and existed prior to the world’s creation. This is expressed in the following verse in which King Solomon described the Torah:

Text 6

I was then His nursling, I was then His delight every day, playing before Him at all times.

Mishlei 8:30

The Torah is called “His nursling,” and “His delight,” and that which plays “before Him at all times.” Torah is the delight of G-d. It exists separately and was present prior to the creation of the Jewish people.

Even after the Torah has already been given to the Jewish people and is learned by them, it remains somewhat removed from them. Torah is not human intellect but rather G-dly wisdom that is distant from human understanding. This is expressed in the halacha (law) stating that a person can learn Torah even when they are in a state of impurity. This is so, because Torah remains separate from the individual and does not become impure when an impure individual studies it.

Text 7

It has been taught: R. Yehudah ben Baseira used to say: “Words of Torah are not susceptible of uncleanness.” Once a certain disciple was mumbling over against R. Yehudah ben Baseira. He said to him: “My son, open your mouth and let your words be clear, for words of Torah are not susceptible to uncleanness, as it says,6 ‘Is not My word like as fire?’ Just as fire is not susceptible of uncleanness, so words of Torah are not susceptible of uncleanness.”

Berachos 22a

Although Torah becomes enclothed in human intellect, it remains a G-dly wisdom and separate from man.

Service of G-d: The idea of the service of G-d is expressed through the sacrifices in the Mishkan and through prayer. In both of these acts the intent is for the individual to become close to G-d. This concept is conveyed in G-d’s instruction concerning sacrifices. The verse says:

Text 8

When a man among you brings an offering to G-d.

Vayikra 1:2

While the translation reads, “When a man among you brings an offering,” a literal translation of the Hebrew reads, “When a man brings close.” The spiritual concept of sacrifice (and prayer) is that an individual brings himself closer to G-dliness.

The idea of prayer is that a person should reach—through his own efforts—the greatest spiritual levels that are attainable to him. Although the levels that man can reach on his own are considerably lower than the spiritual levels of the Torah, there is an advantage to prayer over Torah. For, whereas in Torah learning man is separate from it, and no matter how much he studies its knowledge, Torah remains a G-dly wisdom, with prayer, man himself becomes fused with the spiritual levels that he has attained and identifies with them.

Good deeds: The performance of mitzvos is not only a personal mode of serving G-d, but it affects the world around him as well. The purpose of mitzvos is to transform the physicality itself into holiness.

While the spiritual intensity of Torah and prayer are more amplified than in the performance of mitzvos, there is an advantage to service of G-d through mitzvos over that of Torah and prayer.

Torah and prayer share a common denominator, in that concerning both, the person’s service of G-d is strictly personal. When the individual studies Torah, his intellect becomes permeated with G-d’s wisdom, and when he prays he becomes spiritual.7 The world around him however, does not change.

Not so with serving G-d through the medium of the mitzvos. The intent of the mitzvos is to take the physical as it remains physical and to transform it into a mitzvah.

The three expressions

From the above elucidation, the differences between the phrasings of the three instructions for the offerings in the Mishkan can now be understood as well.

“Take (for) Me an offering” references Torah. The idea of Torah is expressed in the word “take,” as opposed to the word “give.” Being that Torah remains separate from man, it is a G-dly wisdom that a person takes and understands (to an extent) in his own mind.

When a person learns Torah he takes “Me.” When an individual studies the Torah, he takes G-d Himself, as Torah and G-d are completely one.

Text 9

… Because the Torah and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are one. The meaning of this is that the Torah, which is the wisdom and will of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and His glorious Essence are one, since He is both the Knower and the Knowledge and so on, as explained above in the name of Maimonides….For the Holy One, blessed be He, has compressed His will and wisdom within the 613 commandments of the Torah and in their laws, as well as within the combination of the letters of the Torah, the books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa, and in the exposition thereof which are to be found in the Agadot and Midrashim of our Rabbis of blessed memory.

Tanya, Ch. 4

The wording, “Take (for) Me” indicates that through the study of Torah one is actually “taking” the Almighty Himself, so to speak, in His essence!

This also explains why the words “vayikchu li,” (take (for) Me) are separated into two distinct words.

When a person “takes” G-d during his Torah study, it is not because the individual has accomplished any grand achievement. It is rather because G-d is enclothed in the Torah, that an individual who studies Torah is able to “take” G-d. The person who “takes” G-d through the study of Torah remains separate from G-d to an extent, as he did not truly merit on his own the awesome levels that he is “taking.”

“My offering” (terumasi) expresses the opposite point. When a person prays, he raises himself to the Heavens and he himself becomes one with the spiritual levels that he has reached.

It is for this reason that the word the Torah uses is “terumasi,” a composite word meaning “My offering.” This represents that when a person prays, he becomes united with G-d.

“And this is the offering that you shall take” describes the mitzvos. When the Torah discusses mitzvos, the reference to G-d is not even mentioned.

This is because when a person does the mitzvos, he does not focus on the spiritual and instead focuses on the physical. When a person fulfills mitzvos, the connection to G-d is not readily apparent, and therefore the verse makes no mention of G-d.

Explicit vs. hinted

Though the mitzvos are performed through physical objects, and are least expressive of G-d in a revealed way, it is specifically through mitzvos that G-d’s ultimate intent and final plan for the universe can be fulfilled.

Text 10

Shmuel bar Nachman said: “At the time when the Holy One, Blessed be He created the world, He desired that there should be an abode for Him in the lower worlds just as there is in the higher worlds…”

Medrash Tanchuma, Naso 16

It is the action of revealing G-dliness in the lower realms, and elevating the mundane to reach a holy state, that accomplishes the Almighty’s true desire—the wish for the lowest of the worlds to be permeated with His Presence.

However, in order for this to be achieved in its proper way, it must be predicated by the two initial steps of Torah and prayer. When a person is permeated with G-dliness through Torah and prayer, it ensures that he will permeate the physical with G-dliness as well. Transforming the world into a sanctuary for G-d is accomplished through mitzvos after the preface of Torah and prayer.

Since the material construction of the Mishkan and the performance of physical mitzvos is the main and ultimate goal, its donations are spoken of in an explicit manner, while Torah and prayer are only hinted to and not enumerated at length.

The preceding two gifts—those of the sockets and the communal offerings—correspond to the modes of service that merely build up to and prepare for the fulfillment of transforming the physical into a G-dly abode through the mitzvos. They are therefore only alluded to in Parshas Terumah, as they are not the ultimate intent.

Revealing G-d in exile

This is also the meaning of the Medrash’s comparison of the Mishkan’s materials to the four exiles, because it is specifically in exile where we transform the most mundane physicality into G-dliness.

It is during the times of exile, when physicality is felt much stronger than during the Temple times, that we fulfill G-d’s wish in transforming this mundane world into a sanctuary.

When this goal is accomplished, we herald in the times of Moshiach. In the times of Moshiach, the advantage of the physical over the spiritual will be most strongly expressed, as conveyed in the fact that the future Temple that will be built will be constructed from inanimate objects. Thus expressing that the ultimate expression of G-dliness in objects that are the most physical.

May it happen speedily in our times!

(http://www.neirot.com/parshah/in-depth-sicha/parshas-terumah-three-gifts-three-pillars-2 by Rabbi Dovid Markel.)

1 Rambam, Beis Habechirah 1:1.

2 Daniel 2:38.

3 Esther 3:9.

4 Bereishis 25:25.

5 Talmud, Berachos 26b.

6 Yirmiya 23:29.

7 Regarding physical sacrifices, their intent was not to bring G-dliness into the mundane but to elevate and transform the physical from its natural state. It was for this reason that first the individual would consecrate the animal, and only then could he bring it as a sacrifice.





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