Illuminations #110, Adar 5777, Parshat Terumah

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Illuminations #110, Adar 5777, Parshat Terumah

Torah Gems

God tells the children of Israel, “And you shall take a Terumah (donation) for me.” Why does it specifically use the term terumah, which implies that it is a fixed amount separated from a larger quantity, as opposed to a nedava which is a donation that has no fixed amount?
The Ben Ish Hai explains that the power of charity is that it changes something negative into positive. It is not that the bad disappears and is then replaced by good, rather the bad remains, but instead of harming, does good to the person. An example of this is King Ahashverosh, who was known to be a hater of the Jewish people. Despite this, God did not kill him or otherwise do away with him, rather He caused the salvation of the Jewish people to come through him.
This is the power of charity. If there was a decree that there should be a negef (a plague), the letters of the word become switched to read gefen (vine). Similarly nega (disease) becomes oneg (a delight). Now we can understand the use of the word terumah. Switching the order of the letters creates the word temurah, which means “to exchange,” which hints at the great power that the giving of charity has, that it changes the bad into something positive.

Parsha Pearls

When we consider the 13 different items that were needed for the building of the Mishkan and it’s vessels, we find that they are mentionef in descending order of value: gold, silver, copper, turquoise, purple and scarlet wool, linen, goat hair, ram skins dyed red, skins of tehashim ,acacia wood, oil for the lights, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense. After that it mentions the precious stones which were brought by the princes. It is hard to comprehend why these precious stones were mentioned last and not first, since they were the most valuable.

Glimpses of Greatness

It says in Divre Mordekhai that the Torah comes to teach us a lesson that what one gives with all one’s heart carries more weight than the actual value of the donation. It is well known that the princes decided to wait and see what the others brought with the intention of making up the shortfall, and they did not come right away as did the rest of the nation. As we know, not only was there no shortfall, but the people had to be told to stop bringing their donations.
The princes, because of some arrogance that they had, were told by G-d that even though their donations were the most valuable, they would, nevertheless, be counted last, because what matters most is the intent of one’s heart. Rashi says that when the verse says, “You shall take for me a portion,” it means it must be given for the sake of the unification of the Holy One Blessed be He and not for the sake of one’s honor or glory.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it Permitted for a Jew to Hunt Animals? (I-578)

A. Terumat Hadeshen (Pesakim 140) writes that it is permitted to cause suffering to living creatures for the sake of human welfare. He brings proof from Baba Metzia 80b that it is permitted to place a heavy burden on his animal to take him from place to place even though this causes suffering to the animal. He brings other proofs permitting castration of rooster, Shabbat (110b), and also from Chagigah (14b) regarding castration of a dog. Nodah BeYehudah (Yoreh Deah 2 Simon 10)asks if it ipermitted for a Jew to go hunt or trap animals for sport, and argues that there is no issue of baal tashchit (causeless destruction) because there is benefit (he receives) from the skin of the animal, and he does not do this in a manner which is (purely) destructive. Similarly, in this case there is no loss to anyone, and it is not appropriate to say there is baal tashchit (causeless destruction) involved.

However, he writes further, “This is the essential ruling; however, it is not proper for the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov to do a disgusting thing like this. And there is another prohibition involved here of ushmartem et nafshoteichem ‘protecting one’s self from bodily harm.’ Because all that are involved in this need to enter into the wilderness and place themselves in danger in a place where there are all manner of wild animals.

Sefer Chassidim (44) writes that it is permitted to ride on an animal, but one that strikes the animal with spurs will in the future be judged for it. He also writes in section 666 that, “One who places a burden on an animal which is more than it is able to bear will in the future be judged for it.” Furthermore, it is not permitted except in a time of (great) need.