Parshat Truma introduces the Klei Hamishkan which serviced the tabernacle and also related intrinsic philosophical messages to Bnei Yisrael.
Two of the Klei Hamishkan that stood in the Azara, the antechamber outside the Kodesh Hakadashim, were the Shulchan and the Menora. The Shulchan - Table, was adorned by the Lechem Hapanim, loaves of bread, while the flames of the Menorah burned continuously. Rav Shlomo Aviner explains that these utensils exhibited a conceptual partnership. Man must process wheat in order to produce bread, and therefore the Shulchan with the Lechem Hapanim, represented Avoda, the impact man can have through his work. The Menorah, on the other hand, is representative of the light of Torah as the Passuk says,
“Ki ner mitzvah VeTorah Ohr”.
Bnei Yisrael’s obligation is to combine both of these concepts, Torah VeAvodah, in that order and in order to promote development. It is critical however to be aware that both the Shulchan and the Menorah faced the direction of one room, the Kodesh Hakadashim, which contained only one utensil, the Aron Kodesh. The Aron Kodesh held in it the Luchot Habrit. This guides our primary focus and emphasizes that Torah is the essential ingredient towards Kedusha.
In Eretz Yisrael the Modern Orthodox community is called Dati Leumi (National Religious). This community waves the banner of Torah VeAvodah but in order to ensure its success it must recognize that Torah is first and foremost the priority and essential of the Religious Jew. This is message that the Dati Leumi struggled with and continues to struggle with to this day. Modern Orthodoxy or Centrist Orthodoxy is not based on Halachic compromise as some people think but rather Halachic innovation and adaptation. I have visited many communities both in ERetz Yisrael and the United States and I have spoken with many people who coin themselves as “Modern Orthodox” assuming that this is a green light for permissiveness and sometimes even ignorance. Surely within the philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik whereby one is expected to evaluate in order to elevate and to incorporate in order to sanctify for the ultimate purpose of partnering with Hashem, there can be no room for Halachic miscalculations and certainly no room for intellectual ignorance or dishonesty. Rabbi Riskin wrote in an article on Modern Orthodoxy,
“Certainly, a modern Orthodoxy which condones religious laxity and compromise has no real future either in America or Israel. The Modern Orthodox mission is to embrace and sanctify – rather than automatically reject – those aspects of contemporary society which can not only be made compatible with Judaism but which can enhance it. This is what Maimonides did when he incorporated the study of science and philosophy (ma'aseh bereishit and ma'aseh merkava) into his definition of the commandments to love and know God, and included these disciplines within the rubric of Torah study. This is what Dr. Samuel Belkin and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik did when they adopted and adapted the concept of higher education and founded Yeshiva University. Undoubtedly, this definition of modern Orthodoxy is fraught with constant challenges and is not without danger. A halachic approach which never deviates from the norms of previous generations is far safer than one which seeks to also respond meaningfully and dynamically to the needs and zeitgeist of the current one”.
My Rebbe, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein writes in an article on Centrist Orthodoxy in which he questions the passion for Torah study within this particular community,
“How much of our Centrism indeed derives from dialectical tension, and how much from tepid indifference? Is our commitment to Talmud Torah truly as deep as that of the Right, but only modified in practice by the need to pursue other values? Do our students devote as much time and effort to Talmud Torah, minus only that needed to acquire culture or build a state?...success in Talmud Torah on the part of those who maintain a multiple vision requires greater tenacity, more devotion and more diligence, then among devotees of the monochromatic”.
The Klei Hamishkan may induce the message of Torah VeAvodah but let us remember that all of the utensils were used to enhance commitment towards greater Religious subservience. The Aron Hakodesh – Talmud Torah always remains the focus and the essential ingredient to our spiritual welfare.