(Torah Portion Terumah) Warm Up!
Our Kaballah teaches us that fire is one of the main ingredients G-d used to create the Heavens, earth and mankind. We all are aware that fire has its constructive and positive purposes and also its destructive and harmful consequences as well. Fire also represents spiritual force; for the basic nature of a flame is that no matter which direction it is positioned, it always turns upward, towards Heaven.
Just as fire provides us with heat, so too, our spiritual engagements bring us warmth, uplift and contentment, which enriches our bodies and souls. Thus, when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, it was accompanied with holy fire; in fact our Torah itself is described as an illuminating fire. It is therefore no surprise that many functions in the Holy Temple had components of fire or heat associated with them.
The Menorah – the seven branched golden candelabra – was lit with flames each evening.
The two Altars which consumed the various offerings had a fire on top of them.
The Table that held the twelve loaves of the Showbread retained the warmth of the bread throughout the week.
The Holy Ark which contained the Ten Commandments and a Torah Scroll was the embodiment of a spiritual fire due to the nature of the holy items that it contained.
Resting on top of the Holy Ark was a flat, thick, gold cover that had Cherubs with angelic wings emerging from the cover.
Our Sages teach us that one of the faces of the Cherubs was a male and the other was a female. They faced each other with their heads slanted down towards the Ark.
Commentators explain that the symbolism of a male and female facing each other and looking at the Ark represents the peaceful and loving unit of husband and wife who focus on the Torah and tradition as their guide.
In fact, our Sages teach us that when there is Sholom – peace and harmony – between husband and wife, the Holy Shechina – G-d’s presence – dwells among them. This is also apparent in the construction of the Hebrew words of man and woman, Ish and Isha. The word “Ish – Man” contains the letter Yud, and the word “Isha – Woman” contains the letter Hey which together spells a name of G-d, representing G-d’s presence in their relationship. Yet, if peace does not exist, and the letters that form the name of G-d are eliminated, then each of the words turn into what spells out Aish – fire! The destructive fire of strife, anger and conflict consumes the lives and family of the couple.
The Cherubs on the Holy Ark in the inner sanctum of the Temple, the holiest place on our earth, remind us how vital the spiritual ingredient is for a healthy and loving relationship.
The Torah speaks about the various contributions that the Jews in the desert donated towards the construction and functionality of the Temple.
One of the contributions was a flat tax of a half Shekel coin that each adult male had to contribute. The Talmud tells us that our leader Moshe had difficulty understanding this command, until G-d took out a coin of fire from beneath His Heavenly Throne and showed it to Moshe. He was then able to perceive the Mitzvah.
The question is apparent; what was it that was so difficult for Moshe to comprehend and why did G-d take a coin of fire from beneath His Throne?
Commentators explain that Moshe couldn’t comprehend how simple currency that is used to purchase mundane objects could achieve such lofty goals such as acting as atonement and constructing G-d’s abode on earth.
G-d showed Moshe a coin taken from His Heavenly Throne engulfed in spiritual flames showing that an ordinary half Shekel coin can be emblazoned with spiritual energy and transformed to have the power to reach His Throne!
All our energy that we put forth and expend in accordance with the Divine Will is transformed into intense spiritual energy – that makes it way to the highest realms of the Heavenly Abode!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks