Illuminations #22, Adar 5775, Parshat Terumah

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Illuminations #22, Adar 5775, Parshat Terumah

Torah Gems

Giving of oneself is an extremely important component in all avodat Hashem, and our Parshah opens with the message that people should “give” terumah for the Mishkan. The concept of nedivut halev – generosity – is also very much stressed both in our parshah as well as in the upcoming parshiot. These are the words of Rav Simcha Wasserman, zt”l, about giving in general, and how it relates to the raising of our children specifically (Reb Simcha Speaks pp.70-71):

“Many people think that everything in the world is to be enjoyed, even their children. So they bribe the child to do what they want, so that they will be happy. They want to get a smile from the child, so they bring him another toy. What they want is to take from the child, and thus the child also learns to take. He looks for what he can get from the parents. If he is not satisfied with what they give him, then he looks elsewhere to get what he wants, and he often rebels. But when the parent is a giver, the child is a giver.

A healthy relationship between people – whether friends or parents and children – consists primarily of one thing: How do I relate to the person next to me? Do I see him as someone that I want to get something from? Or is my concern with what I can do for him? When two people are together and each one is concerned with what he can do for the other person, it’s wonderful. But if each one wants only to take from the other, it creates problems and it’s the biggest tragedy.

To the parent who knows and understands his obligations to his child, everything he is doing as he is raising that child is for the benefit of the child, and not for his own self-interest. Many people have ambitions for their children which are selfish, and not for the good of the child.

There is a formula which is very simple: Raise the children for the children’s sake. It’s true that we are only human, and we cannot separate ourselves completely from our own self-interest. But the larger the degree of concern for the child, the more successful we are in raising him.”

Glimpses of Greatness

Chazal (Sanhedrin 104b) reveal that the Anshei K’nessest Hagedolah decided that Shlomo Hamelech was to be added to the list of kings who lost their portion in the World to Come (because he didn’t prevent his wives from worshipping avodah zarah…).

An image of Dovid Hamelech appeared to them to plead on his son’s behalf but they paid no attention to him. A heavenly fire came down and singed the benches upon which they sat but they still didn’t desist. Then they hear a bat kol telling them to look at Shlomo Hamelech’s diligence. He built the Beit Hamikdash before he built his own palace. And even more than that, the Beit Hamikdash he completed in seven years whereas his own palace took thirteen years (not because his home was more fancy or elaborate, but because he didn’t build it with the same excitement and vigor as when he built the Beit Hamikdash).

Now, if we look in the Midrashim we will see the tremendous simchah that the building of the Beit Hamikdash brought to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. They even ate that year on Yom Kippur! It is the place where Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s Shechinah is present and so on and on; yet, the fact that Shlomo Hamelech built it was not enough of a reason to save him. However, since it was where he put his life’s emphasis, showing that he cared more for Hashem’s honor – diligently building a home for Him – more than his own, this showed what was truly important to him and Whom he really cared for, and this is what saved him!

The lesson for us is that we have to always make sure that ruchniut is what plays the major role in our lives; it’s ruchniut that is on the “top of our list!”   

Parsha Pearls

Although the poles of the shulchan and inside mizbe’ach were removed when Klal Yisrael encamped, nevertheless, the poles of the aron were never removed (25:15, Rashi). The Torah with this is hinting to us, says the Chofetz Chaim, the inseparable connection between Yissachar and Zevulun: between those who support Torah – the poles that hold the aron, and those who study the Torah – the aron itself. The Chofetz Chaim continues and says that whether the help be monetarily or physically with his body, “Zevulun” will always merit remaining with “Yissachar” in his partition in Gan Eden!

There is a famous story involving Rav Chaim Volozhin, who after the levayah of one of the benefactors of the Yeshivah, sat down to learn in his memory and had a question in what he was learning; and that very man, who was not a talmid chacham in his lifetime, appeared to Rav Chaim right then and there and explained and clarified the point! Rav Chaim commented that although he knew that benefactors of Torah would receive reward and be given understanding of the Torah they supported, he never imagined that it happens so fast!

In a similar vein, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, zt”l, points out that those who support Torah should not feel that it is they who are supporting and sustaining the talmid chacham, for in actuality, it is the opposite that is true. For it is the talmid chacham who is supporting him! It is because of the zechus that he helps the talmid chacham, which brings him berachah and hatzlachah in all that he does! Just like when one looked at the aron and it seemed as though the people were carrying the aron,  in actuality we know, as Chazal have taught, that the aron carried those who carried it! To teach us this vital lesson, concludes Rav Frank, zt”l, is the reason the poles were never permitted to be taken out.

Halacha Weekly

Q: If someone sends mishloach manot to a person whom he does not know or is not in contact with (such as sending mishloach manot to someone in shul that one sees and barely knows), has he/she fulfilled their obligation or not?

A:  There are 2 different opinions regarding the reason behind sending mishloach manot. According to one opinion, the reason is to increase the feelings of friendship between people, and according to the other opinion, it is in in order that the person who receives the mishloach manot have food for the Purim meal. Therefore, according to the first opinion, if you do not know the person that you are giving the mishloach manot to, then you are not strengthening the relationship between you and the person. Furthermore, even if you know the person, but you have no contact with him/her, and probably will not have any contact in the future either, then sending mishloach manot would not help.

However, according to the second opinion, one could fulfill their obligation by giving mishloach manot to someone they do not know, since everyone needs to have food for their Purim meal.

The halacha follows the first opinion which states that if one does not know the person or has no friendly contact with them, then one does not fulfill their obligation of mishloach manot by sending them one.  However, if the sender wants to establish a friendly relationship with the person, as in the situation of a new neighbor, so one wants to get to know them more, then the obligation of sending mishloach manot has been fulfilled.

In a situation where one is a guest in a city and does not know anyone there, he/she should get to know someone there and befriend them, in order to send them a mishloach manot according to the halacha. They should not just send a mishloach manot to someone randomly and forget who the person is.

However, one should not underestimate the importance of giving to those individuals one does not know. So it is a good practice to give 2 mishloach manot to people we know well, in order to strengthen our relationship and fulfill our obligation, and also send an extra mishloach manot to someone we do not know well and have not befriended yet.



שלמה חיים בן הרב ניסים יהודה ז”ל
By Michel and Becky Azran