19. TERUMAH 5780

FROM THE TORAH

Exodus 25:1-27:19

Two weeks ago, in Sedra Yitro, God spoke the Ten Commandments in Israel’s presence at Mount Sinai.  Hearing God’s voice amid extraordinary phenomena, the people were terrified and asked Moses to deliver God’s message, instead of God Himself.  Moses then approached the heavy cloud of the Eternal’s presence.  The Eternal delivered to Moses some general ritual criteria.  Then, last week, in Sedra Mishpatim, the Eternal continued the message with a wide range of mostly non-ritual laws.  After hearing these, the people ratified the covenant with the now-famous words, “All that the Eternal has spoken, we shall do and we shall hear!” (24:7) The Eternal has invited Moses, alone out of all the leaders, to come up to Him on the mountain.  Moses ascends and remains on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

The Sanctuary and Its Components

THE OFFERINGS
25:1-9

The Eternal tells Moses to instruct the Children of Israel to “set aside for Me, everyone whose heart is willing, a dedicated gift (Terumah).” (25:2) These offerings may be of gold, silver, copper; yarns of blue, purple and crimson; fine linen and goats’ hair; various skins; acacia wood; oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the aromatic incense; shoham stones and other gems for the ephod and for the breastplate.  “Let them make for Me a sanctuary (mikdash) so that I may be present in their midst.” (25:8) Make the tabernacle (mishkan) and its implements in accordance with the patterns that I show you.

THE ARK
25:10-16

Let them make an ark (aron) of acacia wood, two-and-a-half cubits long, one-and-a-half cubits wide, one-and-a-half cubits high.  Overlay it, inside and out, with pure gold, and make around it, at its top, a border of gold.  Cast for it four gold rings, which you shall place on its four feet, two rings on each of its sides.  Make rods of acacia wood overlaid with gold, and insert one through the rings on each side of the ark, to be used for carrying the ark and otherwise to remain inserted.  Into the ark place the testimony (edut) which I shall give to you.

THE PROPITIATORY
25:17-22

You shall make a propitiatory (kaporet) of pure gold, two-and-a-half cubits long, one-and-a-half cubits wide, and from the gold of the propitiatory make, as one with it, two cherubs at opposite ends.  Make them of hammered work.  They should face each other but looking toward the propitiatory, wings spread out above, shielding the propitiatory.  Place the propitiatory upon the ark, and into the ark place the testimony which I shall give to you.  There shall I meet with you and speak with you—above the propitiatory from between the two cherubs that are on top of the ark of the testimony—all that I command you concerning the Children of Israel.

THE TABLE
25:23-30

You shall make a table (shulchan) of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, one-and-a-half cubits high.  Overlay it with pure gold, and make around it a border of gold.  Make a rim of a hand’s breadth around it, and make a border of gold around its rim.  Make for it four gold rings, and attach the rings to the four corners of its four legs, close by the rim.  The rings shall be the housing of rods to lift the table.  Make the rods of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.  Make its libation dishes, pans, jars, and bowls, of pure gold.  On the table you shall place before Me showbread (lechem panim) regularly.

THE MENORAH
25:31-40

You shall make a lamp (menorah) of pure gold, of hammered work: its base, shaft, cups, knobs, and buds, all shall be of one piece with it.  Out of each of the two sides shall come three branches.  On each of the total of six branches there shall be three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a knob and a bud.  On the menorah itself there shall be four cups shaped like almond blossoms with its knobs and buds.  Of one piece with it there shall be a knob under each of the three pairs of branches.  All of it shall be a single hammered piece of pure gold.  Light the seven lamps so as to cast light on its front side.

Its tongs and its fire pans shall be of pure gold.  From a talent of pure gold shall it and all of these implements be made.  See and follow the pattern for them which you are being shown upon the mountain.

THE TABERNACLE
26:1-6

You shall make the tabernacle (mishkan) of 10 sheets of twisted fine linen and of blue and purple and crimson yarns.  Make them to show cherubs as the creation of a designer.  The length of each sheet shall be 28 cubits, and the width 4 cubits.  Five of them shall be joined to each other, and the other five shall be joined to each other.  Make 50 loops of blue thread on the edge of the outermost sheet of each of the two sets.  The loops of the two sets should be arranged opposite each other.  Make 50 gold clasps and attach the outermost sheets of the two sets one to the other with the clasps so that the tabernacle becomes one.

THE TENT
26:7-13

You shall make 11 sheets of goats’ hair for a tent (ohel) over the tabernacle.  The length of each sheet shall be 30 cubits, and the width 4 cubits.  Join five of the sheets as a set, join the other six as a separate set, and fold the sixth sheet in the second set at the front of the tent.  Make 50 loops on the edge of the one outermost sheet of the one set and 50 loops on the edge of the sheet of the other set.  Make 50 copper clasps and insert them into the loops, then connect the two parts of the tent into one.  The excess half-sheet shall extend over the back of the tabernacle.  The extra cubit at both ends of the length of the sheets of the tent shall be extended over both sides of the tabernacle to cover it.

THE COVERING
26:14

You shall make a covering (michseh) for the tent of reddened ram skins and tachash skins from above.

THE WALLS
26:15-30

You shall make for the tabernacle vertical boards (kerashim) of acacia wood.  The length of each board shall be 10 cubits, and the width a cubit-and-a-half.  Each board shall have two parallel tenons.  Make for both the south side and the north side of the tabernacle, each, 20 such boards, and make 40 silver sockets for the 20 boards of each side, two silver sockets for the two tenons of each board.

For the rear of the tabernacle, on the west, make 6 boards and another 2 boards for the two corners.  They shall remain flush with each other from bottom to top, where every two contiguous boards are joined by a ring connector, and this applies as well to the additional 2 boards for the two corners, which are similarly connected to the westernmost boards of the southern and northern sides of the tabernacle, respectively.  So, at the western end there shall be 8 boards in all and 16 silver sockets, two sockets under each board.

Make 5 bars of acacia wood for each of the two side walls of the tabernacle and its rear wall to the west.  The middle bar of each of the three walls will pass through the boards from end to end.  Overlay the boards with gold.  Their rings, which shall serve as housing for the bars, you shall make of gold, and overlay the bars with gold.

Then set up the tabernacle in accordance with its warrant that you have been shown on the mountain.

THE DIVIDING CURTAIN
26:31-35

You shall make a dividing curtain (parochet) of blue, purple and crimson yarns, twisted fine linen, with a designer’s work rendering cherubs, and hang it upon four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold, their hooks of gold upon four sockets of silver.  Hang the dividing curtain under the clasps.  Bring the ark of the testimony behind the dividing curtain so that the dividing curtain makes a separation for you between the holy space (kodesh) and the most holy space (kodesh hakodashim).  Place the propitiatory upon the ark of the testimony (cf. 25:21) in the most holy space.  Locate both the table and the menorah outside of the dividing curtain, the table on the north side and the menorah opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle.

THE SCREEN
26:36-37

You shall make a screen (masach) for the entrance of the tent, of blue, purple and crimson yarns, twisted fine linen, the work of a weaver.  Make for the screen five posts of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, their hooks of gold, and cast for them five sockets of copper.

THE ALTAR
27:1-8

You shall make the altar (mizbeach) from acacia wood 5 cubits square and 3 cubits high, its horns of one piece with it at its four corners, and overlay it with copper.  Make its pots to clear away the fat ashes, its shovels, basins, forks, and fire-holders, all of them copper.  Make for it a grating, network of copper, and put upon its four corners four copper rings.  Place it under the border of the altar extending below as far as the halfway point of its height.  Make poles for the altar, of acacia wood, and overlay them with copper.  Its poles shall be inserted through the rings on two sides of the altar and used for carrying it.  Make it of boards so that it is hollow.  As was shown you on the mountain, thus shall they do.

THE COURT
27:9-19

You shall make the court (chatzer) of the tabernacle.  The length of its south and north sides shall be 100 cubits.  Its width, at both the west and the east ends, shall be 50 cubits.  Its height shall be 5 cubits.  Along the south side and along the north side, each, there shall be 100 cubits of curtains of twisted fine linen with 20 posts and their 20 copper sockets and their silver hooks and bands.  For the width of the court on the western end, 50 cubits, there shall be curtains for its full width and 10 of their posts and 10 of their copper sockets and their silver hooks and bands.  For the width of the court on the eastern end, on both sides of the space for the gate there shall be 15 cubits of curtains with their 3 posts and their 3 copper sockets and their silver hooks and bands.  For the gate itself there shall be a screen of 20 cubits: blue, purple and crimson yarns, twisted fine linen, the work of a weaver, with their 4 posts and their 4 copper sockets and their silver hooks and bands.  All of the utensils of the tabernacle for all of its service and all of its pegs, including the pegs of the court, shall be copper.

FROM THE PROPHETS

Haftarah for Shabbat Terumah
I Kings 5:26-6:13

Solomon Builds the Temple

The Eternal gave wisdom to Solomon as He had promised him (cf. 3:2).  Solomon and Hiram (king of Tyre) enter into a treaty with each other.  Solomon imposes a conscription upon all of Israel of 30,000 men.  In a cycle of three months, for any one month 10,000 men would be sent to Lebanon, and for the next two months those men would be at home, while another 10,000 men would be sent to Lebanon for the next month.  Adoniram is in charge of the conscription.

Solomon has 70,000 load bearers and 80,000 hewers in the mountain.  Besides Solomon’s appointed officers over the work, there are 3,300 who supervise the laborers directly.  The king mandates the quarrying of massive and valuable stones so that the foundation of the House can be of hewn stone.  The builders of both Solomon and Hiram, along with the Gebalites, hew them.  They prepare the wood and the stones to build the House.

In the 480th year since the exodus of the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, in the month of Ziv, the second month, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, he builds the Eternal’s House.  It was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.

The entrance court (ulam) in front of the outer sanctuary (heychal) of the House is 20 cubits long, corresponding to the width of the House, and 10 cubits wide.  He makes for the House windows of narrowing frames, and he builds against the wall of the House a structure around it, around both the outer sanctuary and the inner sanctuary (d’vir), and he makes side chambers around it.  The width of the structures is 5 cubits for the lowest, 6 cubits for the middle, and 7 cubits for the highest, corresponding to ascending recesses built into the wall of the House forming progressive ledges to support part of the side chambers so that the supports do not penetrate the walls of the House.  Indeed the House was built of stone as it was complete at the quarry so that no hammer or axe or any iron implement was heard in the House when it was being built (cf. Exodus 20:22).  The entrance to the middle chamber is to the right side of the House, and they ascend through passages over the middle to the third level.  He finishes the House with rows of beams of cedar.  The height of each story of the side structure is 5 cubits, and it rests on the House over planks of cedar.

The word of the Eternal comes to Solomon regarding the House that he has built: If you follow My statutes and ordinances and keep My commandments, then I shall establish My word with you as I did for David your father, and I shall be present among the Children of Israel and not forsake My people Israel.

FROM THE MIDRASH

Exodus Rabbah 33:1
God remains near to His daughter Torah

The Sedra opens, succinctly, “Let them take to Me a gift…” (25:2).  It would seem that He meant to say, “Let them give to Me a gift!”  But since He did say “take,” we might understand Him to be saying, “Let them take Me as a gift!”  Is there an acquisition in which the conveyer is himself conveyed?  Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel: I have conveyed to you My Torah, and it is as if I have been conveyed with it, as was said: “Let them take Me as a gift!”

This may be likened to a king who had an only daughter.  Another king came and married her.  Then her new husband wanted to return with her to his own land.  Her father said to him: “My daughter, whom I have given to you, is my only daughter; to part with her I cannot.  To ask you not to take her I cannot, as she is your wife.  Instead, do me this favor: Wherever you go, make for me a small room in which I can dwell near you, for I am not able to leave my daughter.”  Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel: “I have given you the Torah; to part with it I cannot.  To ask you not to take it I cannot.  Instead, wherever you go, make Me a house in which to dwell,” as was said: “Let them make for Me a sanctuary so that I may be present in their midst.” (25:8)

Exodus Rabbah 33:3
Israel sleeps, but God and Fathers remain awake

“I sleep, but my heart is awake
to the voice of my beloved.
As he knocks, I hear him say:
Open for me—
my sister, my bride, my dove, my pure one—
as my head is full of dew,
my locks covered by the drops of night!”
(Song of Songs 5:2)

Israel the bride is saying:

I have fallen asleep before the time of redemption, but the Holy One, blessed be He, remains awake!—as was said, “My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever!” (Psalms 73:26)

I have fallen asleep instead of observing the commandments, but “my heart” remains awake, that is, the merit of my fathers stands me in good stead!

I have fallen asleep, as evinced by the golden calf, but my heart is awake as the Holy One, blessed be He, knocks for me, saying, “Let them take for Me a gift…” (25:2): “Open for Me, My sister, My bride!”—how long must I go around without a house?  “As My head is full of dew”: “Make for Me a sanctuary” so that I do not have to remain outside (cf. 25:8)!

Exodus Rabbah 33:4
Our gifts to the Eternal are from the Eternal

“Let them take to Me a gift…” (25:2)

Rabbi Berechya began his discourse
with the following verse:
“Yours, Eternal One, is the greatness and the power…
for everything in the heavens and on the earth is Yours…
(I Chronicles 29:11)

And we find that whatever the Holy One, blessed be He,
created above,
He created below.
This is reflected in the Tabernacle and the Temple:

Above, the prophet declared,
“Look from heaven, and see from Your holy habitation…” (Isaiah 63:15),
“and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was” (20:18).
Below, Solomon declared,
“The Eternal determined to dwell in the thick darkness;
I have, therefore, built a house of habitation for You…” (I Kings 8:12-13)!

Above, “Seraphim were standing above Him” (Isaiah 6:2).
Below, “You shall make for the tabernacle standing boards of acacia wood” (26:15)!

Above, King Hezekiah prayed,
“O Eternal of hosts, God of Israel, who dwells among the cherubim…” (Isaiah 37:16).
Below, “There shall I meet with you and speak with you—above the propitiatory from between the two cherubim that are on top of the ark of the testimony…” (25:22)!

Above, “The Eternal is in His holy Temple…His throne is in the heavens” (Psalms 11:4).
Below: “Eli the Priest was sitting…by the doorpost of
the Temple of the Eternal” (I Samuel 1:9),
and “A grand throne of glory from the beginning
is the place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12)!

Above, “God called forth an expanse within the water,
separating water below the expanse from water above the expanse” (Genesis 1:6).
Below, “Bring the ark of the testimony behind the dividing curtain so that the dividing curtain makes a separation for you
between the holy space and the most holy space” (26:33).

Above, “The man clothed with linen…reports the matter, saying:
‘I have done all that You have commanded me’” (Ezekiel 9:11).
Below, “In this way shall Aaron come to the holy place…
and be dressed with a sacred linen tunic…” (Leviticus 16:3-4)!

Above, “The angel (malach) of the Eternal encamps around those who fear Him,
and He saves them” (Psalms 34:8).
Below, “The lips of a priest shall guard knowledge, and they shall seek Torah from his mouth, for he is a messenger (malach) of the Eternal of hosts” (Malachi 2:7)!

Above, “One of the seraphim…took a burning coal with tongs
from off of the altar” (Isaiah 6:6).
Below, “An altar of earth shall you make for Me…” (20:21)!

Above, “O Eternal my God, You are very great…
You stretch out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalms 104:1-2).
Below, “The tabernacle shall you make with ten curtains…” (26:1)!

Above, “Light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22).
Below, “Command the Children of Israel to take to you
pure beaten olive oil for the light…” (27:20)!

Not only that,
but more beloved to Him
than all that is above
is all that is below,
and this you know
because He took leave of what is above
and went down to what is below,
as was said:
“Let them make for Me a sanctuary
so that I may dwell in their midst!” (25:8) –
further proof that
whatever the Holy One, blessed be He,
created above,
He created below.

So it is that:
Everything in the heavens and on the earth is Yours…” (I Chronicles 29:11),
and “’Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold,’
declares the Eternal of hosts” (Haggai 2:8),
so that any gift they would provide for the Eternal
would not be given from them
but taken from Him!

Exodus Rabbah 33:7
What Moses commanded is ever our possession

“Moses commanded us the Torah,
an inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob.”
(Deuteronomy 33:4)

Rabbi Simlai interpreted:  Moses gave Israel 613 commandments, for that is the numerical value  of “Torah,” and if you say they are only 611 (tav=400 + cholam=6 + resh=200 + hey=5) so where are the missing two?  The Rabbis teach: “I am the Eternal your God” (20:2) and “You shall not have other gods besides Me” (20:3) were heard from the mouth of God Himself, and Moses taught them 611, indeed, “Moses commanded us the Torah.”

Do not read it “inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob” but “possession,” a possession of Israel forever!  This may be likened to a prince who was captured as a child and taken to a faraway land.  Even after many years, he is not discouraged.  For he believes, “To the possession of my fathers I shall return!”  Similarly, a scholar who separates from the Torah to engage in other affairs: even after many years he may seek to return and not be discouraged, because he believes, “To the possession of my fathers I shall return!”

Exodus Rabbah 34:1
“But will God really dwell on earth?”

“The Almighty, who cannot be conceived
for the magnitude of His power…”
(Job 37:23)

When the Holy One, blessed be He, instructed Moses, “Make Me a tabernacle” (cf. 25:8), Moses exclaimed in astonishment, “The glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, is the fullness of the high places and of the low places, and He says, ‘Make Me a tabernacle?!’”  But then he looked into the future and saw Solomon building the Temple, which was larger than the Tabernacle, even though Solomon wondered before the Holy One, blessed be He, “But will God really dwell on earth?” (I Kings 8:27) So Moses reasoned: If, in the case of the Temple, which is much larger than the Tabernacle, Solomon says “Yes!” then in the case of the Tabernacle, how much the more so!

Exodus Rabbah 34:1
The Eternal considers the limits of each individual

“These (your) words
describe only a small part of His ways,
for we can hear of Him
only a whisper of a word,
while the thunder of His power
who can understand?”
(Job 26:14)

Our great Rabbi (Judah Hanasi) explained these words of Job as a response to the shortsighted consolations of his friends: Do you think that you have uttered all that can be said of the Holy One, blessed be He?  Furthermore, this was the meaning of Elihu’s words, “The Almighty, who cannot be conceived for the magnitude of His power…” (Job 37:23): We do not find the full power of the Holy One, blessed be He, burdening His creations; rather He interacts with man only to the extent of man’s strength to bear it.  Thus you find that when He gave the Torah to Israel, if He had delivered it to them in the fullness of His power, they would not have been able to endure it, as was said, “If we continue to hear (directly) the voice of the Eternal our God, we shall die!” (Deuteronomy 5:22) Instead He comes upon them only to the extent of their strength, as was said, “The voice of the Eternal is in (accordance with) strength” (Psalms 29:4), not “in accordance with His strength,” as we might have expected, therefore implying: in accordance with the limited and varying strength of each individual person!

——

Dependence and Interdependence

Yom Kippur Machzor

For we are Your people, and You are our God.
We are Your children, and You are our Father.

We are Your flock, and You are our Shepherd.
We are Your vineyard, and You are our Watcher.

Song of Songs Rabbah 2:16

“My beloved is mine, and I am his…”
(Song of Songs 2:16)

He is my God, and I am His nation,
as was said:
“Attend to Me, My people,
and listen to Me, My nation!”
(Isaiah 51:4)

He is my Father, and I am His child,
as was said:
“For You are our Father…” (Isaiah 63:16),
“I am Israel’s Father…” (Jeremiah 31:8);
“…Israel is My firstborn son” (4:22),
“You are children of the Eternal your God!” (Deuteronomy 14:1)

He is my Shepherd—
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel…” (Psalms 80:2)—
and I am His flock—
“And you, O My flock, the flock of My pasture,
you are man, and I am your God…” (Ezekiel 34:31).

He is my Watcher—
“He neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the Watcher of Israel” (Psalms 121:4)—
and I am His vineyard—
“For the vineyard of the Eternal of hosts
is the house of Israel…” (Isaiah 5:7).

When I needed help,
it was to Him alone that I turned—
“…When Pharaoh drew near (at the Red Sea)…,
the Children of Israel cried out to the Eternal” (12:10)—
and when He needed help,
it was to me alone that He turned—
“Speak to the Children of Israel:
Let them take for Me a dedicated gift!” (25:2)

When I was afflicted by Jabin, king of Canaan,
to the Eternal alone did I appeal—
“The Children of Israel cried out to the Eternal
because of the 900 chariots of iron (of Jabin)
and the 20 years of oppression (by Jabin)!” (Judges 4:3)—
and when He needed help,
it was to me alone that He turned—
“Let them make for Me a sanctuary…!” (25:8)

Exodus Rabbah 34:3

“Let them make for Me a sanctuary…!”
(25:8)

Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel:
You are My flock—
“And you, O My flock, the flock of My pasture,
you are man, and I am your God…” (Ezekiel 34:31)—
and I am the Shepherd—
“Give ear to the Shepherd of Israel…” (Psalms 80:2)—
make a shed for the Shepherd,
so that He can come and shepherd you!
Therefore was it said:
“Let them make for Me a sanctuary
so that I may be present in their midst.”

You are a vineyard—
“For the vineyard of the Eternal of hosts
is the house of Israel…” (Isaiah 5:7)—
and I am the Watcher—
“He neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the Watcher of Israel” (Psalms 121:4)—
make a sukkah for the Watcher
so that He can watch over you!

You are My children—
“You are children of the Eternal your God!” (Deuteronomy 14:1)—
and I am your Father—
“I am Israel’s Father…” (Jeremiah 31:8)—
It is an honor for the children to be close to their father,
and it is an honor for the father to be close to his children,
as was taught:
“The crown of the old is their children’s children,
and the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6),
so make a house for the Father
that He may come and be present near His children!
Therefore was it said:
“Let them make for Me a sanctuary
so that I may be present in their midst.”

——

Exodus Rabbah 35:2
Ecological lesson of acacia wood

Why were the tabernacle vertical boards (and other implements) of acacia wood?  The Holy One, blessed be He, was teaching good behavior for the future.  If a person sought to build his house from a fruit-producing tree, he would be told: If the King of the kings of kings, the Owner of all, when intending to make the tabernacle, says, “Bring only from a tree that does not produce fruit!” then you, how much the more so!

——

Healing for the golden calf

Tanchuma Terumah 8

“Let them make for Me a sanctuary (mikdash)
so that I may be present in their midst.” (25:8)

When was this portion of the Torah regarding a tabernacle said to Moses?  On the very Day of Atonement (when Israel atoned for the sin of the calf)—although this portion regarding the tabernacle precedes the incident of the calf (cf. 32:1 ff.)!  Said Rabbi Judah son of Rabbi Shalom: There is no early or late in the Torah, as was said, “Its ways wander beyond your understanding” (Proverbs 5:6): perplexing are the paths of Torah and (the order of) its portions.

So let us grant that “Let them make for Me a sanctuary” was said to Moses on the Day of Atonement.  Then whence do we derive from the Torah that Moses went up on the Sixth of Sivan (Shavuot) and stayed forty days and forty nights (after which Israel worshipped the calf) and then another forty and then another forty for a total of 120 and you find that on the Day of Atonement their sin was expiated and on that very day the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Let them make for Me a sanctuary (mikdash) so that I may be present in their midst,” in order that all the nations shall know that the incident of the calf was atoned for by them?

The answer is found in why it was called “the tabernacle of testimony” (Numbers 1:53): Because it served as testimony to all inhabitants of the world that the Holy One, blessed be He, is present in your sanctuary.  Said the Holy One, blessed be He: Let the gold that is in the tabernacle atone for the gold that was used to make the calf, about which is written, “All the people took off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.” (32:3) Therefore they atoned through gold: “And this is the offering (terumah) that you shall take from them: gold…” (25:3).  Said the Holy One, blessed be He: “Indeed I will bring healing to you, and from your wounds I shall cure you!” (Jeremiah 30:17)

Etz Yosef
Commentary on Midrash Tanchuma
by Chanoch Zundel ben Yosef
19th Century

The verse (25:3) mentions “gold” as the first of the offerings to allude to the time of their having been pardoned for the sin of the calf, which was made of gold.  That is why Moses was commanded at this point regarding the offerings of the tabernacle even though the commandment itself (cf. 35-38) was carried out (months later) on the day after Yom Kippur and the incident of the calf was in the (earlier) month of Tammuz.  We see from this that the Torah, “whose ways are ways of pleasantness and all of whose paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17), put the matter of the tabernacle, which is atonement, before mentioning the sin itself of the calf, for such is the way of the Holy One, blessed be He, who puts healing before the wound. (Rabbenu Bachya)

——

Exodus Rabbah 35:6
Why did God refer Moses to the pattern
shown to him upon the mountain?

See and follow the pattern for them
which you are being shown upon the mountain.
You shall make the tabernacle of 10 sheets of twisted fine linen
and of blue and purple and crimson yarns.”
(25:40-26:1)

Rabbi Avin taught: This may be compared to a strikingly-handsome king who ordered his courtier to create a faithful image of him.  But the courtier protested: My lord, the king, how can I make it true to yourself?!  Said the king: If you apply your materials faithfully, I shall be seen in my glory.  Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Moses: “See and follow!”  But Moses protested: Master of the universe, am I God that I should be able to create the likenesses of these?!  God explained to him: “See and follow their pattern, which you are being shown upon the mountain,” using your materials of “blue and purple and crimson yarns!”

“You shall make for the tabernacle
vertical (“standing”) boards of acacia wood.”
(26:15)

Consider what you see above and create a faithful image of it below.  Make for the tabernacle “standing boards of acacia wood” as are found among the divine hosts above, and if you create them faithfully below, I will leave the assembly above and settle My presence among you below. Just as above are “standing seraphim” (Isaiah 6:2), so below shall be “standing boards of acacia wood!”

Just as above are stars, so below—Rabbi Chiya bar Abba explained this as teaching that the “gold clasps” (26:6) appeared in the tabernacle as the stars that are seen in the heavens.

SHABBAT SHALOM!

Copyright © 2020 Eric H. Hoffman

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