JACOB’S CEDARS

“And you shall make THE boards for the Sanctuary from the wood of cedar trees STANDING upright” (Ex. 26:15). On this, Rashi comments: “It should have simply said, ‘you shall make boards’ in the same way as was said of everything else. What are ‘THE boards’? These were boards from those that were STANDING ready for this. Jacob our father planted cedars in Egypt and before he died, he instructed his sons to take them up with them when they left Egypt, and he said that the Holy One was going to command them to build a Sanctuary in the wilderness” (Rashi ad loc.)

In the Midrash which Rashi here brings about the wood of the standing boards or beams of the Sanctuary — the “bones” that enable the entire structure to stand up — he underlines the conceptual connection between the Sanctuary idea and Jacob.

As discussed in UNIVERSAL TORAH commentaries on the parshahs in Genesis dealing with Jacob, it was he who made synthesis, order and structure out of the opposing polar tendencies of the two fathers and teachers in whose tents he sat — Abraham (CHESSED, kindness and expansiveness) and Isaac (GEVURAH, power and restraint).

Jacob was the house-builder who built the House of Israel. And Jacob was a genius house-builder precisely because he understood domestic life perfectly. In his first appearance in the Torah (at the beginning of TOLDOS, Gen. 25:29) he is cooking lentil soup — using the round lentils as a hint to his father Isaac (who was in mourning for the loss of Abraham, see Rashi) that life and death go in cycles. Jacob’s grip on the heel of Esau indicates that Jacob possessed the power to take the simple things of this world (ASIYAH, Esau) and transform them into communicators of G-dliness.

Thus the components of the Sanctuary-Temple are the same as those of a home. It exists within a defined space, a court-yard, where curtains of modesty separate between what is outside (profane) and what is inside (holy).

The Sanctuary contains different areas. Its very heart is the hearth, the “kitchen”. This is where the food is prepared (slaughter of animals) and cooked (on the “oven”, the Altar). Within the “domestic quarters” of the House itself, there is a secluded, intimate living area with a lamp (the Menorah) and a table (the Show-bread Table), and a pleasant aroma (from the Incense Altar). Most secluded and intimate of all is the “bedroom”, to which no-one except the most trusted has access. This is the Holy of Holies, where the “faithful of His house” may come “face to face” with the King in the height of prophecy.

The Sanctuary and Temple are replete with messages to us about how we must try to build our private homes and structure the lives we lead in them in ways that “reflect” G-dliness and enable G-d to dwell with us here in this world. This is how we lift up and elevate this world.

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TERUMAH – LIFTING UP

The sin of the Golden Calf pulled the Children of Israel down to the depths of degradation. But the remedy existed already from before: TERUMAH — the elevation of mundane objects and materials, gold, silver, wood, fabrics — through the service of G-d in “homely” ways.

The great beauty of the way of repentance that G-d has provided is that it enables man to repent with honor. Despite having sinned, man is invited to become a contributor. He is asked to give a TERUMAH — to take the gold and silver that he has, the very thing with which sinned, and “contribute” and “elevate” it so that now it too has its proper place in what becomes a Sanctuary. Then the proper order is restored, and everything sings out the glory of G-d.

One of the ways we “contribute” is through the words of our daily prayers and blessings. For in essence, the Sanctuary is a House of Prayer. So too our homes should be filled with our blessings and thanks for all the good things of life that we enjoy and with our prayers for all of our needs.

King David (who prepared the way for the Temple) instituted that One Hundred Blessings should be recited daily (Rambam, Laws of Prayer 7:14). These hundred blessings (made up of the morning blessings, the thrice repeated Shmonah Esray, the blessings before and after two daily meals, etc.) correspond to the hundred ADNEY KESEF, “sockets of silver” (Ex. 26:19; Shaarey Orah). These ADNEY KESEF were the solid bases in which the “standing” boards that made up the Sanctuary walls were planted. These “sockets” of solid silver are what kept the boards upright. This silver came from the 100 KIKAR of silver contributed by the Children of Israel in response to the command with which our parshah of TERUMAH begins: “Let them take an offering.and silver” (Ex. 25:3 and Rashi ad loc.; Ex. 38:26-7).

KESEF, “silver”, is related to the word for “longing” — as in KISUFin. Thus 100 ADNEY KESEF alludes to the hundred times we bless the name of G-d (A-D-N-Y), our Lord, with longing and yearning for His holiness to dwell with us! This small “contribution” on our part is what keeps the entire Sanctuary standing!

MESHENICHNAS ADAR, MARBIN BESIMCHAH!!! “When Adar arrives, we maximize SIMCHAH!!!”

Shabbat Shalom UMevorach

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum