Illuminations #194, Adar A, 5779, Parshat Terumah

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Illuminations #194, Adar A, 5779, Parshat Terumah

Torah Gems

The construction of the Mishkan and the various items that were to be included in it are described in great detail. One of the items is הָאָרֹן, the Ark. The Torah calls this ark “The ark of testimony.” Why is the Ark given this name?

The Torah itself answers this question. It gives two reasons. Moshe was told that the tablets of stone, containing the Ten Commandments, were to be placed in the Ark. These tablets serve as the testimony that our people stood at Mt. Sinai and heard Hashem proclaiming the commandments by which we Jews have lived for centuries. This is one reason why the Ark was given the designation הָעֵדֻת or “testimony.”

The Torah gives us another reason, that the Pasuk says, “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the Ark cover”(25:22). The Ark is thus being designated as the meeting place between Hashem and Moshe who represents the Jewish people. This is another explanation why the Ark was called הָעֵדֻת or “testimony.” The name is so designated to remind us of a past event and to emphasize our closeness to Hashem.

Interestingly, the three major Jewish holidays are also called in the Torah מועדים and in singular מועד or “testimony.” The word הָעֵדֻת and מועד stem from the same root, עד, meaning “testimony.” We celebrate these holidays to remind us or to testify to the fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt. On each of these holidays, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the Jews were instructed to journey to the Temple and to appear before Hashem.

The holidays serve the same purpose as the Ark. They testify about events of the past and demonstrate our closeness to Hashem.

We read this week about instructions given to Bnei Israel through Moshe to build a Mishkan, or sanctuary, for Hashem. The Torah says, “They shall make a sanctuary for Me… Like everything that I show you…”  (25:8). That means that definitive instructions were given about every detail of the construction of the Mishkan.

There is another sanctuary that every Jew builds when he gets married. The new home that is established should also be a Jewish sanctuary. Here there are no detailed instructions given anyplace. The reason for that is that to build a home that will radiate Judaism and one in which children will grow up with respect for others and adherence to Jewish principles depends on numerous factors.

Not every situation is the same. To reach the desired results depends on the background of the parents, the temperament of the children, the environment in which the family lives, and many other factors. To generate the ideal home depends on the dynamics of the family. Although the exact instructions are not given, the guidelines, nevertheless, are found in the teachings of Judaism.

Parsha Pearls

Maran Harav Yosef Karo writes the following halachah in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 26:1): “It is forbidden to bring a case before non-Jewish judges or before their courts, even if they rule in this law the same way Israel does…Whoever comes to them for judgment is wicked. It is as if he commits blasphemy and raises his hand [to strike] at the Torah of Moshe Rabenu.” The Rama adds: “He should be ostracized and excommunicated.” Why should the law in this case be so harsh? Aren’t we dealing with a situation in which the non-Jewish court follows the Jewish law? But this is insufficient. The essential condition which characterizes a Jewish court is that the judges be of exemplary character. The Torah uses the same word for “judge” as it does for “G-d” – “Elokim”. It is due to the fact that the judge is a supreme authority, empowered to execute any sentence by virtue of his decision-making powers, that he has this Divine quality. The Sages go so far as to say that the Holy One, Blessed Is He, Himself is present when the judges sit, and imbues them with holiness in their judgment. How, then, can we choose to sit before judges whose conduct is remote from the Divine ideal? In order to maintain an ideal and proper world, judges must manifest total perfection. The Mishnah (Avot 1:18) says, “Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: The world stands on three things – truth, justice, and peace.” The Rambam comments, “Justice refers to the proper functioning of society. Truth is intellectual attainment. Peace refers to proper character traits.” The judge who holds the reins of justice, who is in charge of maintaining order of the continued existence of the world, must be perfect in all three of these areas. Only then, when we will be privileged to have a Sanhedrin whose members are the select of mankind, who put into practice the statutes of G-d, will we arrive at the solutions to society’s problems, of which it says (Vayikra 18:5), “You shall observe My decrees and My judgments, which man shall carry out and live by them – I am Hashem.” –Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Yehuda Tzadka was a respected Sephardi Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in JerusalemHe was taken in a taxi on Friday at the eve of the Sabbath, and while he was traveling, he heard the driver speaking on the phone suggesting that he would travel on Shabbat for two hundred dollars, and the driver accepted the offer. The Rabbi was shocked at the desecration of the Sabbath. He asked the driver please not to violate the Sabbath and took two hundred dollars in cash from his pocket and passed it on to the driver so that he would not violate ShabbatThe driver was so surprised and excited that he kissed the Rabbi’s hand and promised that from now on he would keep the Sabbath, and the other offer he would not accept.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Does one have to pray for a sick person to perform the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim? [I-18- YD-279,383]

A. There is a mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick. According to Gesher Hachaim (1-2, R, Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky) the mitzvah has two aspects:  To inquire after how the sick person is doing,  and  also to pray for him.  He brings the words of Shelah Hakodesh who learns that the mitzvah of bikur cholim involves both the body and the soul:  the body to search after the needs of the sick person and expend effort on behalf of his welfare, and the soul  to pray for him.  All people who visit the sick and do not either fulfill some purpose (in regards to the sick person’s needs) or pray for him, are not considered having performed the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim (Also, see Ramah (334-4)).

Sefer Yosef Ometz (Bikur Cholim , 323, R, Yosef Yehudah LeibFeder) writes that the one who visits the sick person does not fulfill his obligation with regards to visiting the sick unless he prays for the sick person. [Therefore], because of this [concern to fulfill the mitzvah properly by praying for the sick], it is the custom to say to the sick person: ‘HaMakom Yishlach lechah Refuah Shlemah’ (‘May Hashem send you a complete recovery’).