Shabbat Parashat Terumah| 5764
The “Lowest” Common DenominatorHarav Moshe Ehrenreich
In the first p’sukim of the parasha, describing the donations for the construction of the mishkan, the Torah uses the word, terumah (contribution) three times. The Yerushalmi (Shekalim 1:1) spells out how each mention corresponds to a different need that was fulfilled by the donations. “And they shall take for Me a contribution” (Shemot 25:2) corresponds to the collection for the adanim (the silver base which held the side beams of the mishkan). “From every person whose heart shall bring him to give, you shall take a contribution” (ibid.) refers to the collection of shekalim spent on public sacrifices. “And this is the contribution that you shall take from them” (ibid.:3) refers to the general collection for erecting the mishkan. he donation for the adanim and the sacrifices had to be worth exactly a half shekel, whereas the donation for the general building fund could be of any material or amount.
Both the collection for the adanim and that for the rest of the mishkan had to do with construction. So why was it appropriate that different people contribute different amounts for the general fund and, specifically by the adanim,there had to be uniformity?
The pasuk that hints to the adanim uses the term “take for Me.” Vayikra Rabba 2:2 says that anytime the Torah says “for Me” it refers to something which does not change, not in this world and not in the world to come. The matter so referred to is “connected to Hashem,” and just as He is eternal, so are the other matters everlasting (Eitz Yosef, ad loc.). Some examples are Bnei Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, Yerushalayim, the mikdash, and the donation (of the adanim). Of all the matters mentioned, the one difficult one is the donation, which refers to a one-time act. What is the significance of the idea of an eternal value to this donation?
Chazal learn from the pasuk, “And they will build for Me a sanctuary, and I will live within them” (Shemot 25:8) that Hashem will dwell not only in our encampment, but indeed in the midst of every individual person. It turns out that each Jew is like a mishkan, and thus he contains an element of each part of the mishkan.
The adanim are, on one hand, the lowest part of the mishkan, lying low on the ground. On the other hand, they were the basis for the entire structure. So too, in reference to one’s service of Hashem, the basis is one’s “lowering himself” by total self-nullification in face of the Divine. He then can use the rest of his being, the heart, and mind, and limbs according to his specific abilities. Therefore, the contribution of the adanim, which corresponds to the humility at the base of the structure, must be one in which a person gives no more than anyone else. Regarding the rest of the mishkan (corresponding to general Divine service), one can give according to his will (using his unique personality). We should note that the self-nullification is specifically the thing which causes one to be considered “for Me” and connects him to Hashem, and, in turn, gives him an eternal element.
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