Parshas Terumah

Heaven Help You!

“And you shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah be made….”

A man had heard that the Chozeh of Lublin was a very holy man and could tell what a person was thinking by looking at him. Skeptical, he asked the Chozeh if he knew what he had davened for. The Chozeh told him that had petitioned Hashem to allow him to have more free time to learn Torah. Apparently, he had very little free time to learn Torah. Even the free time that he did have was wrought with the challenge of being very tired from a long day at work. This man had learned Torah for many years. Now he had to support a family and found that his time to learn Torah was very limited. The young man was astounded that the Chozeh knew what he had davened for. He asked the Chozeh what Heaven’s response was, to his prayers. The Chozeh said that the angels laughed. Hashem could easily send money to this young man enabling him to spend more time learning. However, that was not what Hashem wanted. What Hashem wanted was to see this man’s determination to learn despite the less than optimum conditions. What was precious in Hashem’s eyes was that this man learned as much as he was able to despite his challenges. (based on a story told by Rabbi Dovid Ashear)

The Parsha discusses the utensils in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Aron (Ark), the Menorah (Table), and the Mizbayach Haketores (Incense Altar) represented the three crowns that were given to the Jewish People. As such, each was constructed with a golden crown around it. The crowns were the Crown of Torah, the Crown of Kingship, and the Crown of Priesthood. The Crown of Priesthood was exclusively for the kohanim and the Crown of Kingship was for the tribe of Yehudah, for King David and his offspring. The Crown of Torah is available for every single Jew. Whoever wants to, can acquire the Crown of Torah.

A person who learns Torah can feel a sense of spirituality and holiness, a connection to Hashem. However, learning Torah may not come easily to some people. (Although nowadays it is so much easier since we have with so many sefarim written in English and so many online Torah classes in English). The Sfas Emes (quoted by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin in Talelei Oros) gives an answer for those people. One of the vessels in the Mishkan was the Menorah. The Menorah had a very intricate design. Hashem showed Moshe how to make it. Moshe had such difficulty understanding what to do that Hashem told him to throw a large gold ingot into the fire and the Menorah would be made by itself, miraculously. The Sfas Emes questions, If the Menorah was going to be made miraculously, why was it necessary for Hashem to first show Moshe how to make it? The Sfas Emes says that this teaches us a very important lesson. When a person tries as hard as he can to do a mitzvah but cannot do any more, then he will get siyata dishmaya and Hashem will help him complete it. The Talmud (Shabbos 104A) states that if a person tries to purify himself, Hashem will assist him to succeed. Not every person is able to perform every mitzvah to perfection. However, if he tries his utmost, Hashem will assist him.

The Parsha also lists all the items that Moshe collected from the Jewish People for the construction of the Mishkan. The last items that were mentioned were the precious stones that were placed in the Choshen (the breastplate of the Kohain Gadol). The Ohr HaChaim said that these precious stones were the most valuable of all the materials that were collected. If so, why were they mentioned last? The Ohr HaChaim gives three answers. The last answer is based on the Talmud (Yuma 75A) that says that these precious stones fell from the sky, together with the Manna. Targum Yonassan ben Uziel (Shmos 35:28) says that the Pillar of Cloud (that guided the Jews during the daytime) brought these stones from the Pishon River, one of the rivers that flowed from Gan Eden. The Ohr HaChaim says, all the other items that were donated to the Mishkan were acquired with effort and donated at a cost to the owner. However, these precious stones were acquired with no effort and at no cost. Therefore, they were not as precious to Hashem as the other gifts. Therefore, they were written last.

We see from this, that what Hashem truly values is our effort.

If we try our utmost in the performance of a mitzvah, Hashem will help us succeed!