וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵֽאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחֽשֶׁת
And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper. Rabbeinu Ephraim has a beautiful insight into this pasuk which categorizes three different manners of giving Tzedakah. He explains that the most noble manner of giving is one that gives when all is fine and good. A remez to this is ז”ה ה”נותן ב”ריא – one that gives when he is healthy and fit, the roshei teivot(beginning of the words) of זהב . The second category is כ”שיש ס”כנה פ”ותח – when tragedy strikes he opens his wallet to give hoping to remedy his situation, the roshei teivot being כסף .The third and lowest level of giving is נ”דר ח”ולה ש”יאמר ת”נו – the promise of a sick person that says give as he’s ready to do anything to heal himself and better his situation, seen in the roshei teivot of the word נחשת.
Rabbi Baruch Simon in his sefer Imrei Baruch teaches an important lesson relating to our relationships with others that can be learned from the words of Rabbeinu Ephraim. We shouldn’t wait until a difficult situation arises to improve our relationships with others but instead we should work to get along and be at the level of זהב one that has a good relationship with others when all is good and does not wait for a tragedy or some other event to cause togetherness and friendship. This is especially true as we see communities can at times be so disparate or have differences which can run deep and divide but when tragedy strikes all come together to support each other similar to the Tzedakah given on the level of נחשת .
Another possible idea can be suggested relating to each individuals relationship with Hashem. Many of us may relate to Hashem as a figure we turn to when in need of help whether it be difficult times with earning a living, raising children, or G-d forbid when someone is sick. This person turns to Hashem with Tefillah hoping to beseech Hashem for a favorable outcome. The problem with this relationship is that Hashem wants more to do with us. We are His joy and pride and He wants to be close with us. He loves us and wants us to make Him a part of our lives during both the good and challenging times. This is similar to a child that only speaks to his father when he needs money or some other immediat need but other than that will never just let the father know how he is or thank him for the good he is provided with. The same is true with Hashem. Our relationship must be one with depth where we live with Hashem daily and speak with Him about the good in our lives in the same manner we plead with Him when things don’t go our way. We need to bring Hashem into our lives and speak with him constantly so the relationship is not just one which is needs-based.
The Torah tells us after the sin of Adam and Chava the snake that enticed them to sin was cursed to crawl in the dust and eat the dirt of the ground. The Chidushei HaRim asks, since dirt is always available and easy to come by, why was this curse considered a punishment for the snake? It would seem that the snake was rewarded to have an endless amount of food easily obtainable? However, it is not so explains the Chidushei HaRim. Hashem cursed the snake by making his food so easily accessible and in effect severing His relationship from the snake that now had no need to ask Hashem for his sustenance. This was his punishment being rejected from having a relationship with Hashem. In essence the snake was now on his own with no connection to Hashem.
Perhaps we can now have a deeper understanding to Rabbeinu Ephraim’s remez to the word נחשת .As discussed above, נחשת alluded to the lowest level of giving Tzedakah, waiting for the difficult situation to arise and only then taking action. This idea is similar to the individual that seeks no relationship with Hashem until the need occurs and he then searches for Hashem out of desperation. The root of the word נחשת is נחש the snake that was cursed and lost the opportunity to be close to Hashem. The message is not to be like the נחש, the snake,that was cursed and banned from the privilege of having a relationship with Hashem. We should look to make Hashem a part of our lives and speak to Him daily since after all He is providing us with all of our needs and not just those we ask Him for. We shouldn’t wait for misfortune to prompt this bond instead let us join the category of ז”ה ה”נותן ב”ריא one that looks to forge a relationship with Hashem when he/she is healthy and well, resembling a true father/child relationship.
Rabbeinu Ephraim ben Shimshon, was one of the Baalei Tosfot who lived in France during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in his sefer Peirush al HaTorah
Something to Think About
The Taking of a menorah
Rashi says (Teruma 25:31) that Moshe had great difficulty making the Menorah so Hashem told him to throw the gold into the fire and the Menorah came out by itself. Later on (25:40) Rashi says that Moshe could not comprehend the Menorah until Hashem showed him a Menorah made of fire. Why did Hashem have to show it to him if at the end it was made by itself?
The Sfat Emet answers that in truth, it is not within the natural capabilities of a person to fulfill Hashem’s wishes with perfection. However if he really wants to, then Hashem will help. At first Moshe did not know what Hashem wanted. Once he saw the Menorah of fire he understood and wanted very much to create it like Hashem commanded. Although he could not complete the task at hand, because of his great desire Hashem completed it for him.
With this the Chidushei HaRim answers the mysterious statement of Chazal, “Yagati U’Matzati Ta’amim”, if a person toils and finds it you can believe him. It should say, if he toils he will achieve. The word “find” implies that he did not achieve his goal as a result of his work, rather by causes other than his own effort. Exactly, says the Sfat Emet. Even with toil we cannot achieve, but if we toil Hashem will ultimately help us conquer our goals.
First Aliyah: G‑d instructed Moshe to accept contributions from the Israelites for the construction of a Tabernacle: “Let them make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell amongst them.” The needed materials: precious metals, dyed wools and hides, flax, wood, olive oil, spices and gems. G‑d then gave detailed instructions regarding the construction and dimensions of the Tabernacle and its vessels—starting with the Ark that housed the Tablets. The Ark was to be made of gold-plated acacia wood. Rings were to be attached to the corners of the Ark, wherein were inserted the poles that were used to transport the Ark.
Second Aliyah: The Ark was to be covered with a slab of pure gold. Two golden, winged cherubs were to protrude from this cover. Next G‑d gave instructions for constructing the Table for the Showbread. This table was also to be made of gold-plated acacia wood, and also to contain rings for transportation poles.
Third Aliyah: Ahe seven branched Menorah (candelabra) was next on G‑d’s list. It was to be beaten out of a single block of pure gold, with decorative cups, knobs and flowers on its body. The Torah now turns its attention to the construction of the Tabernacle’s sanctuary. The covering of the Sanctuary was to consist of several layers of tapestries. The first layer was to be a woven mixture of dyed wools and linen. The second layer was to be made of goat’s hair. These two oversized coverings also covered the outsides of the Tabernacle’s walls. The very top of the Tabernacle was then to be further covered by dyed ram skins and tachash hides.
Fourth Aliyah: The walls of the Tabernacle were to be upright beams made of gold-plated acacia wood. The bottom of each beam had two projections that were to be inserted into two silver sockets. The Tabernacle’s front side (to the east) was to have no wall. Its northern and southern side were to have twenty beams each. Its western wall was to have eight. Altogether the inside of the sanctuary was 30 cubits (approx. 45 feet) by 10 cubits, and 10 cubits high. The beams were held together by several crossbars.
Fifth Aliyah: The Tabernacle’s sanctuary was to consist of two sections: the innermost chamber was the Holy of Holies, wherein the Ark was to be placed; and the outer chamber was the Holy Chamber, which housed the Menorah and the Table (as well as the Golden Altar which will be described in next week’s reading). Two curtains were to be woven of dyed wools and linen. One was to be placed between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Chamber, the other covered the eastern side of the Tabernacle—its entrance.
Sixth Aliyah: G‑d then gave instructions for the construction of the Outdoor Altar. This altar was to be made of copper-plated acacia wood, and it was to have four “horns,” vertical projections, protruding from its uppermost corners. The altar, too, was equipped with rings and transportation poles.
Seventh Aliyah: The Tabernacle courtyard was to be 100 cubits (approx. 150 feet) by 50 cubits, and enclosed by mesh linen curtains. The entrance to the courtyard was to be on its eastern side, and the entrance was to be covered by a curtain woven of dyed wools and linen.
How to Get Blessing
Our Parsha opens with the command for the people to contribute to the mishkan. The Torah then discusses the various components and vessels to be kept there. One of the primary components was the שלחן , the table, ועשית שלחן עצי שטים” you shall make a tabletop of shittim wood. The Midrash says the word שטים is a mnemonic standing for, ישועה, טובה שלום and מחילה, informing us that a person’s table can bring him peace, goodness, salvation and forgiveness. If a person is generous and feeds people that need it, then the bread on his table is like a sacrifice granting the person forgiveness for his sins allowing all the blessings to follow.
Rabbainu Bachya says it was the custom for the pious in Tzefat to make their casket out of their table to show that a person doesn’t take anything with him to the next world except for the charity that one gave and the good that one did around the table.
There was a rabbinic scholar who asked the following question to Rav Chaim Kanievsky: I have an elderly mother who suffered terribly in the holocaust; not only was her whole family killed before her eyes, she too was tortured terribly. She called me to her bedside and said, “I feel like my time is coming to an end; I want to tell you what kept me strong, what helped me make it through all the atrocities. It was the words of this prayer, זאת שמך לא שכחנו נא אל תשכחנו, and through all this Your name we didn’t forget, please don’t forget us.
These words were on my lips at all times; especially when things were at their worst, I took solace in these words. I interpreted them to mean that just like we didn’t forget Him in this awful purgatory where we still yearn to keep His mitzvot, so, too, He shouldn’t forget us and leave us in the hands of these evil wicked people. Now”, concluded the woman, “Hashem listened to my prayer and saved me and brought me up to the land of Israel. I even merited children and grandchildren who are all following in the way of Hashem. For that, I give praise to Hashem who remembered me and redeemed me from death to life.
Now, what I am asking you to do is that when it comes time for me to leave this world, I want you to put in my hand a paper with those words on it. Just as those words got me out of the purgatory of the Holocaust, so, too, it will take me out of purgatory in the next world and take me to Gan Eden.”
The rabbinic scholar wanted to know if he was allowed to put those words in her hand in the grave? Reb Chaim answered that he was allowed but added that Hashem doesn’t need it, for Hashem knows everything. The paper with the posuk won’t do anything for her. However, don’t tell her that part, for if it makes her feel better, then just do as she asks.
This question was asked in front of הגר”א מן שך who then asked Reb Chaim, since we know of many gedolim who asked to be buried with their seforim(Books) that they wrote, and, as well, Rabainou Bachya said that people used to be buried in their table, we see that there is something to this practice. Why was this case any different?
Answered Reb Chaim, “it’s very different. The purpose of the gedolim was to show the people that the only thing one takes with him is not his gold and silver; rather, it’s only Torah and mitzvot that go with him”. As Rabbainu Bachya wrote, “it was to show that the only thing you take with you is the chesed and tzedaka that you do”. But this woman wanted to take this paper to guarantee a good judgement which Hashem doesn’t need. He knows all.
This should teach us to open our homes and our hearts to other people, to try to help out as much as we can, for the only things that will count in the long run are the things we did to help others. So, always have guests around the table to merit the blessings of ישועה, טובה, שלום and מחילה ,peace, goodness, salvation and forgiveness!
On the behalf of myself and all the staff at Bait Aaron, we wish you a Happy Purim! Because of supporters like yourself who care about our Sephardic Heritage in the Greater Beverly Hills Community, we have had an amazing year of many accomplishments and success. Your support has allowed Bait Aaron to remain active from 5:30 am until late at night. We can only continue to provide excellent services and programs to community through your generous contributions. Daily Minyanim, Morning & Evening Classes, Nightly Kollel / Adult Learning Educational Center, Youth Program, Shabbatons, Cedars Sinai Bikur Cholim Shabbat Meals, Weekly Parsha via Print / Email throughout the Los Angeles Area.
In the merit of your generous and diligent mitzvah, may you and your family indeed “rise” to ever greater heights – in both material and spiritual matters – yielding abundant blessings. In Moshe’s end-of-life blessing to the tribes of Yissachar and Zevulun he says: “Rejoice, Zevulun, in your departure, and Yissachar, in your tents.“ Rashi explains this verse (based on the Midrash): Zevulun and Yissachar entered into a partnership. Zevulun would dwell at the seashore and go out in ships, to trade and make profit. He would thereby provide food for Yissachar, who would, in turn, sit and occupy themselves with the study of Torah.” Rashi continues: Consequently, Moshe mentioned Zevulun before Yissachar [even though the latter was the elder of the two], because Yissachar’s Torah came through [the provisions provided by] Zevulun. The Midrash concludes with the statement: “This is the meaning of the verse‘[The Torah] is a tree of life to those that support it.’” That is, the Torah not only gives life to those who study it, but also to those who support those who study it.