Taking or Giving

(Torah Portion Terumah) Taking or Giving!

The Torah portion begins with a call from G-d to Moshe to instruct the Jewish people to contribute thirteen categories of items towards the construction of a Mishkan – Temple.

It is interesting that rather than asking them to give contributions, the Torah says, “they should take for Me contributions”. Of course this begs an explanation.

The classical answer given is that the Torah wants to impress on us and capture for us the essence of giving. When we give to a worthy and sanctified cause, ultimately we are the ones that take and benefit from the great merits of the Mitzvah of giving.

The Torah also tells us that when the Jews contribute they are to do so for the sake of and with the intention of the name of G-d.

The famous Kabalist, the Arizal, points out something fascinating: Even during the implementation and exercise of the act of giving, we find the name of G-d spelled out.

The way we express and pronounce G-d’s name in prayer and blessings is Ado-noi – my Master. When we refer to G-d in a non-sanctified manner we don’t even mention G-d’s name, rather, we refer to Him as Hashem – which means – the Name.

G-d’s name is actually written in the Torah and printed in our prayer books with four letters which we are not permitted to pronounce. The letters are Yud, Hey, Vuv and Hey.

Let us now see how the Arizal demonstrates how G-d’s name plays out when we give Tzadakah.

The first letter of G-d’s name is a Yud. A Yud is the smallest letter of the Alef-Bet. It could be represented by a coin (and all forms of money) which is likened to the Yud. The next letter of G-d’s name is a Hey. The numerical value of Hey is five. The giver takes the money (Yud) with his five fingers (Hey). The next letter of the name of G-d is Vuv. A Vuv is written as a straight line. The extended arm of the giver represents the letter Vuv. He then places the money into the hand (five fingers) of the receiver which is represented by the final letter of G-d – Hey.

Thus, the name Yud,Hey, Vuv and Hey is created during in the act of giving.

Letters, numbers, materials and sizes are all extremely significant in our tradition, particularly with the creation of G-d’s dwelling place on earth, the Temple.

The actual configuration of the Temple was a rectangle which consisted of three walls. There were three coverings that served as the roof of the Temple. The first covering consisted of two five panel ornately woven spreads. The two panels were attached by 50 golden hooks and spread over the Temple.

Commentators point out that the two five panel spreads, represented the two tablets which contained the Ten Commandments. The panels were attached together by hooks to signify that the laws engraved on both tablets, the five laws pertaining to our relationship with G-d and the other five laws which pertain to law regarding man to man are essentially one, and we are equally accountable for them by G-d.

The second covering was made from goat’s wool and was larger in size, both in width and in length. The length had an extra panel. Thus, one spread contained five panels and the other spread had six panels. The two panels were attached by fifty copper hooks and covered the Temple.

Commentators point out that the one spread of five panels represented the Torah, the five Books of Moshe and the other six panels represent the six tractates of the Oral Tradition that Moshe taught to the Jewish people.

Both the five panels and the six panels were attached together to signify that the Written Torah and the Oral Law are one. They are interdependent on one other and neither one can be understood without the other.

The Torah tells us that the function of the Temple was for G-d’s Shechinah – presence – to dwell upon the Jewish people.

The Torah, when describing our leader Moshe’s reunion with his wife Tzipora after the Exodus says that they entered their tent. Onkolus, in his Divinely inspired Aramaic translation, translates that they entered their Mishkona, which is the same word, Mishkon, which the Torah uses for the Temple.

The idea and message here is that a home which upholds and continually aspires to further attach itself to the laws and values of the Torah, acquires the brand and label of a sanctified Mishkan – dwelling place of G-d, and becomes a reservoir of all of G-d’s blessings!

Have a most enjoyable, restful and peaceful Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks