Torah Insights for Shabbat
Parshat Terumah 5758
February 27, 1998
The parshah of Terumah discusses the building of the Mishkan, the
portable Tabernacle that accompanied the Jews through their journey in the wilderness.
Describing how the walls of the Tabernacle would stand, the text states, "The middle
bar across the planks shall extend from end to end." The Targum Yonasan comments that
this bar came from the tent of Avraham Avinu.
In Shai LaTorah, Rabbi Shimon Miller, quoting his father, Rabbi Elimelech Miller, offers an insightful interpretation of this cryptic statement.
The Jews in the wilderness contributed gold and silver, wool and skins to build the Mishkan and all that it contained, but it was this middle bar, which came from the tent of Avraham, that ran through the walls and kept the structure standing.
In his time, Avraham was renowned for his chessed, his kindness and continues to be the paragon for that trait. That the bar which propped up the Mishkan came from his tent provides us with an important principle: the Tabernacle can only stand if its foundation is kindness.
This concept is clearly laid out in a mishnah in Avos, which states: "The world rests upon three things--on the Torah, on the service of G-d, and on acts of kindness."
The Beis Hamikdash had two of these pillars--the study of Torah and the Divine service of the priests--but the third pillar, the pillar of chessed is also necessary for the structure to survive.
William F. Buckley, Jr., the famed social and political commentator, once wrote of how impressed he was by the activities of the Jewish community in the United States on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The Jews of America, he wrote, are not related, in a narrow biological framework, to the Jews behind the Iron Curtain, yet they work hard to help, in a variety of ways, their co-religionists in the Soviet Union.
What prompted the American Jew to demonstrate outside the Soviet Mission and the United Nations? What prompted him to visit Jews in the Soviet Union and bring packages?
The answer is one word, chessed.
This principle must continue to be the guiding force of Jewish communal organizations and individuals. We must energize our efforts on behalf of others, constantly and consistently, and thereby rebuild the Holy Temple upon a foundation of chessed.
Rabbi Barry Hartman
Rabbi Hartman is rabbi of Ahavath Achim Synagogue in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Torah Insights is brought to you every week as a service of the
Department of Jewish Education of the Orthodox Union.
Your comments are welcomed.
Click Here For OU Torah Insights 5758 Parasha Index
Click Here For OU Torah Insights 5757 Parasha Index
Click Here To Show Your Support The Cyber Home of Torah