Parshas Terumah

It’s Mine! No, It’s Mine! It’s Ours!


“And you shall make an Ark of acacia wood…”. (25:10)

Hashem asked Moshe to build a Mishkan (Tabernacle) to house Hashem’s Holy Presence. Moshe and Betzalel were told to construct the different vessels. Hashem said, “You shall make…”. When it came to constructing the Aron (the Ark which contained the 10 Commandments), Hashem told Moshe,”They should make”. Regarding all the other vessels, Hashem said each vessel should be made by one person. Yet, Hashem said that the Aron should be made by multiple people. The Ramban says that Hashem wanted every single Jew to participate in constructing the Aron. Why? It was so that every single Jew would merit to attain a knowledge of the Torah. How could every Jew possibly join in? The Midrash (34:2) explains that every Jew could participate in one of three ways. He could donate some gold toward its construction, he could help Betzalel a little, in its actual construction or he could merely have a desire to be involved. Rabbi Meir Dan Plotsky in his sefer the Kli Chemdah (as quoted in the Commentary on the Ramban by Rabbi Charles Chavel) says that even the desire alone to help Betzalel in making the Aron was considered an act of helping to make it. That desire would be enough to merit acquiring the knowledge of the Torah. The Eitz Yosef explains why the participation of a donation or physical help in the actual construction would make a difference.  He says that the involvement and participation in constructing the Aron would awaken their hearts to the holiness of the Aron since it housed the holy Torah.  That in turn, would make an impression in their hearts about the holiness of the Torah and would enable them to acquire a share in the Torah. It seems that in order to acquire a share in the Torah, our hearts must be able to feel its holiness.

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l explains that Hashem wanted all the Jews to have a share in the Torah. Hashem didn’t want one Jew to say to another, “I learn more Torah since I donated more towards its construction.” Hashem also didn’t want one Jew to say to another, “You didn’t donate towards the construction of the Aron, therefore you do not have a share in the Torah.” To prevent these comments Hashem told Moshe that all the Jews were to be involved in the Aron’s construction. The Torah belongs to all Jews!  The Ibn Ezra in Tehillim (19:9) says that the Torah was entrusted to us. We have an inner need for Torah.  It quenches an inner thirst that brings us joy. In fact, we are taught that if a person is sad or depressed, he should go learn Torah. That will lift his spirits.

However, the Klai Yakar says that not all Jews are capable of learning Torah. Those who can’t learn, can acquire a share in Torah by supporting those who do learn. By supporting others, it is considered as if they themselves learned Torah also. [Nowadays, even those who support Torah learning can also learn on their level, as there are many Torah classes and books available in English and on all levels.] The Chofetz Chaim says that there is a great reward both for those who learn Torah and for those who support Torah learning. The poles that were used to carry the Aron when the Jews travelled were never removed, even when the Aron was in the Mishkan. The reason is that since they were used to carry the Aron, they acquired the holiness of the Aron. The Chofetz Chaim says that the poles represent the financial supporters of Torah. The financial supporters of Torah will merit eternity, together with those who learned Torah.

The Torah belongs to all Jews. Some acquire a share through learning the Torah while others acquire a share by supporting those who learn Torah. [Even those who support Torah learning should learn to the extent that they are capable of].