Length: 38 minutes
Pesach is the Yom Tov of distinction between the Jews and their oppressors, while Purim is characterized by a blurring of distinctions. In the month of Adar, it is not so clear which events are terrible, and which are great. This difference is characterized in the dissimilar outcomes when Sarah and Esther were taken to the house of kings- while Sarah left untouched, Esther remained in the palace for the rest of her life. Although everything that led up to the Purim story did not seem to be great events for a miracle to occur, in the end, the entire situation completely turned around. This is the avodah (work) of the month of Adar-to use difficult situations to grow, and try to find the simcha even in difficult circumstances, like those of the Purim story.
Length: 55 minutes
In the first aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah, Hashem instructs the Jewish people about building the mishkan, commanding them to make an aron with images on it. This seems to contradict the many strict warnings against making images of gods of silver and gold! However, Hashem specifically instructs Bnei Yisroel to build the mishkan, and they followed His specific guidelines. It served as a place where Hashem showed His connection to and relationship with the Jewish people, as a concrete and constant presence after the one-time revelation at Har Sinai.
Length: 1 hour 3 minutes
In the second aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah, the kapores (cover of the ark), keruvim, shulchan, and menorah are described. The shulchan symbolizes wealth, while the menorah represents chochmah (wisdom). These two different pursuits seem to be opposites, but are intertwined through the duality of the aron. While wisdom is an eternal pursuit, wealth is a fleeting one- the two must be properly balanced and understood in order to receive the bracha (blessing) of Hashem.
Length: 54 minutes
In the fourth aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah, the physical structure of the mishkan is discussed, with specific details regarding the adanim (prongs) and the kerashim (beams). The kerashim were made out of atzei shittim (cedar wood), playing a role as an antidote to the sin of Bnei Yisroel in Shittim, following their drives to serve Ba’al Peor (Moabite idol). The adanim were made out of silver from the collection of the half shekel, from a prescribed, regimented routine. When serving Hashem, we need to find the balance between those two-using solid commitment and routine to take our drives and use them for good.
Length: 51 minutes
The fifth aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah mentions the structure and function of the paroches, the dividing barrier between the Kodesh (Holy) and Kodesh Hakedashim (Holy of Holies). During the times of the Beis Hamikdash, we were able to see the presence of Hashem when we went to Jerusalem on Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos and the paroches was moved aside. This is in stark contrast to the times of the mishkan when even the Bnei Kehas, who had the job of carrying the vessels of the Kodesh Hakedashim, were only able to see the vessels after they had been covered. The Beis Hamikdash was Hashem’s permanent home, where He invited us so to speak, as opposed to the Mishkan which was a temporary dwelling place used while traveling. The permanent home bespeaks a certain level of comfort, which is why we were able to see Hashem’s presence and maintain that intense closeness.
Length: 50 minutes
The sixth aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah mentions the differences between the Mizbeach Hazahav (Golden Alter) and Mizbeach Hanechoshes (Copper Alter). The Mizbeach Hazahav was located outside, and the Mizbeach Hanechoshes was located inside. The language used to describe the building of the Mizbeach Hazahav is “luchos”, reminding us of the original tablets with the ten commandments. Those luchos were engraved in such a way that both sides were able to be read. Our avodah in the month of Adar is that our insides and outsides should be the same – the way that the luchos were engraved on both sides, and the way that the Mizbeach was built with gold on the inside and outside of the wooden box that provided the structure of the vessel.
Length: 59 minutes
The first aliyah (section) of Parshas Terumah discusses the gifts that the Jewish People brought to contribute to the building of the mishkan. Bnei Yisroel were so excited about the opportunity to give, that they gave and gave until Moshe had to stop them and tell them it was enough. At this moment they were mimicking the middos of Hashem, Who is the Ultimate Giver. Hashem desires to give to us ad bli dai, until we say “dai – it’s enough!” We see this concept again with Matan Torah, where the Jewish People rushed to accept the mitzvos. In both places there was a groundswell, where Bnei Yisroel in their excitement to give back to Hashem jumped on the opportunity. This idea comes up again with the Purim story, as we celebrate our victory by giving gifts to our friends and neighbors and gifts to the poor. The mikdash itself was a place of giving – we provided a resting place for the Shechinah and gave korbanos to please Hashem. Today our avodah (service) is quite the opposite, as our tefillos which replaced the service in the Beis Hamikdash, are centered around asking for our needs. The giving type of avodah is one which we yearn to return to. The core of the human being is to give, rather than to get. This is the G-dliness inherent in each of us, which we try to tap into by inspiring that natural generosity that lies within.
Length: 1 hour 5 minutes
The mishkan and mikdash are referred to as the bayis (house) of Hashem. The concept of a bayis is connected to the roles of a wife, who is described as a bayis. She is the connecting element that joins parts of the house together to form one unit, just as the mikdash unties all of the Jewish people. Bayis also refers to the inside. The woman’s role inside of her house is what enables her to create the pure, wholesome atmosphere of the home, with the proper priorities. Similarly, the Beis Hamikdash created a sense of focus and enabled people to realign priorities when they were oleh l’regel. As the akeres habayis (mainstay of the home), the woman has both of these significant roles.
Length: 1 hour
When building the mishkan, Bnei Yisroel were not commanded to give materials, but rather to accept from any person whose heart moves him to give. This prerequisite of nedivas halev, when a person’s heart moves him, is essential to tefillah, which is called avodah shebilev (the spirit of the heart). Although there are certain requirements and regimented aspects of tefillah, a person needs the lev (heart), which introduces the presence of Hashem into their midst, just as it does in the original building of the mishkan.
Length: 48 minutes
We continue our studies in the Gur Aryeh, the commentary of the Maharal on Rashi.
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