Jewish, Jewish, Everywhere, & not a drop to drink
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
The House That Stands Forever
WRITTEN by Me SIMSHALOM !
Hi, just a note to remind you that the Hebrew month of Adar has now begun, and Judaism teaches that: “When Adar enters (we should) increase joy” as Purim (day 7th March) and Passover (eve 5th April) approach, both festivals of great joy and happiness.
See “The Joy of Adar” at http://www.vbm-torah.org/purim/pur-eb.htm
(Related to the weekly Torah portion Terumah (“Offering”) read in synagogue 28th Feb `04. Exodus, Chapter 25, verse 1 – Chapter 27, verse 19. Hebrew-English text at
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0225.htm#1 Dedicated to my parents.)
The House That Stands Forever
Somebody gives you a few million dollars, now what do you do with it? Do you stuff into your mattress? Do you share it with the world? Do you stop functioning and go on vacations? The savvy advisors will tell is that you have to “make it work for you”, to “make it last” and “make it grow” through smart “investing” so that it “grows” and that you can “live off it” for the rest of your life and even “hand it over” as a thriving inheritance to your descendants!
That is precisely what happened after God gave the Ten Commandments, the entire Torah in essence, to the Children of Israel. It was the GREATEST TREASURE ever revealed and the Jews became the eternal custodians of it. So how was it to be preserved then?
There are many ways to answer this question. The Torah itself contains many passages that warn that the key to “happy” Jewish history hinges on the best observance of the Torah’s TEACHINGS and its COMMANDMENTS – “MITZVOT”.
The establishment, construction, and endurance of the first religious portable religious spiritual SANCTUARY, which metamorphosed into the permanent TEMPLES which in turn shaped the rise and endurance of the system of multiple SYNAGOGUES (roughly meaning “bring together” in Latin or Greek) known as a House of Prayer - “Beit Tefilah”, or a House of Gathering – “Beit Midrash”, or a House of Learning – Beit Midrash, ALL OF WHICH WERE DIRECTLY BASED ON THE TORAH’S BLUEPRINT as outlined and detailed in this week’s Torah portion. It was THROUGH THESE STRUCTURES THAT THE MANNER AND STYLE OF JEWISH WORSHIP OF GOD WAS PRESERVED AND TRANSMITTED THROUGH ALL THE AGES. They provided the framework for the “transmission” of the spiritual “wealth” of the Torah, much like great fortunes are preserved and transmitted by wealthy families. Just in this case the “families” included all Jewish families committed to Torah life, and the “banking houses” are NOT savvy financial institutions, but HOLY INSTITUTIONS OF JEWISH WORSHIP – “AVODAH” (DIVINE SERVICE).
I would like to quote the famous teaching from the Mishnah Oral Law Teaching of Ethics of the Fathers – “Pirkei Avot” at the outset: “MOSES RECEIVED THE TORAH FROM (AT MOUNT) SINAI AND TRANSMITTED IT…TO THE MEN OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY…RABBI SHIMON THE RIGHTEOUS WAS AMONG THE SURVIVORS OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY. HE USED TO SAY: THE WORLD DEPENDS (STANDS) ON THREE THINGS – ON TORAH STUDY, ON THE SERVICE (WORSHIP) [OF GOD], AND ON KIND DEEDS (ACTS OF LOVING-KINDNESS)” (Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2).
Torah “includes the Written Law and the Oral Law in its entirety and expounded by successive generations of Sages.” 
Rabbi Shimon, (who lived about 2,000 years ago), of this Mishnah, is not giving a “personal” opinion. He is stating a UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF JUDAISM: That the very FOUNDATIONS of the world are built FIRST on the TORAH! That is the foundation that is embodied by the GIVING OF THE TORAH – “MATTAN TORAH” and is symbolized by the physical Ten Commandments on the two tablets of “sapphire” stone. Where do they go? Into the “HOLY ARK” which is placed into the Holy of Holies within the Sanctuary. Surrounded by all the other holy objects, such as the TABLE, ALTAR, and “MENORAH” which have a variety of functions or “SERVICES”, known as the “AVODAH”. And this is what Rabbi Shimon states that the world rests on this SERVICE – “AVODAH” too: “The SERVICE of God, i.e. the SACRIFICIAL SERVICE in the Temple and, IN THE ABSENCE OF THE TEMPLE, STUDY OF THE LAWS REGARDING THE SERVICE. IN ITS BROADER SENSE, SERVICE REFERS TO PRAYER AND THE PERFORMANCE OF THE COMMANDMENTS.” 
So we have two foundations of the world in place right here in the Sanctuary, where does the third component of KIND DEEDS – “GEMILUT CHASADIM” come into the picture? The answer, as we shall explain later, is that the entire process of building, maintaining and supporting both the TORAH and the AVODAH of not just the sanctuary, but of the entire world is built upon the KINDNESS and GENEROSITY that people give of their wealth, efforts, know-how and SELFLESSNESS towards maintaining the entire EDIFICE of Torah - religious, communal and social, material and physical needs. The world rests on the Torah, the Service – “Avodah”, and Kind Deeds.
Why the need for a special “HOUSE OF or FOR GOD” or “RELIGIOUS EDIFICES or BODIES” in the first place? What motivates the need for such things?
In many instances, the more precious something is, the greater its need for an outer casing. The most expensive jewels and valuables are stored in massive secure vaults. Historical books and items of great importance are preserved in professional libraries. Great paintings and works of art are guarded in museums and private collections. The vegetables and fruits we eat grow in peels and shells awaiting the right (ripe) minute for our mouths. Chocolates and gifts are no fun if they are not wrapped in fancy paper and boxes. Fine wines and liquors come in exotic bottles and canisters designed to beguile the eye and lure the palate as they flatter the contents. In the animal kingdom many have skins and furs that not only give them natural, and beautiful, insulation, but are also prized for the same protection and elegance they can convey upon men and women as clothes and fashions.
On a human level, an infant is protected from the outside world first by its mother’s body and is then swaddled by layers of warm clothes and covers. Children are protected from harm with fences and alarms and by being watched and cared for at home and school. Most civilized people cannot survive even moderate changes in climate without any clothing or physical shelter. Human beings have an innate need to be housed and protected. For work purposes, all sorts of structures are erected to enable business and commerce to take place within them, from the computer cubicle to the convention center. Societies and states with populations and resources to protect from outside threats and dangers, must shield their people and assets militarily from fortifications and posts to missile “shields and umbrellas”.
It goes even deeper than that, as Judaism believes that the body HOUSES and HOSTS an indefinable ethereal abstract entity called the “SOUL” (“NESHAMAH” in Hebrew), that is in fact its original SPARK OF LIGHT rooted to the SOURCE OF LIFE which provides an ongoing connection to LIVING and ultimately is linked to the Divine: “NER HASHEM NISHMAT ADAM” – “(THE) LIGHT OF GOD (IS THE) SOUL OF MAN, which searches the chambers of ones innards,” says the book of Proverbs (Chapter 20, verse 27) and as Rabbeinu Yonah (Rabbi Yonah ben Avraham of Gerona. Spain, c.1200 – 1263) explains: “BY MEANS OF THE SOUL, GOD SEARCHES MAN’S INNERMOST THOUGHTS AND SCRUTINIZES HIM”.  Thus the SOUL is compared to LIGHT which is inside the special “LIGHTHOUSE” within each and every one of us, casting a glow on the darkness and instinctively, intuitively, almost imperceptibly guiding us to safe harbor as our frail bodies, like battered ships (the “houses” of the sea) sail across the stormy oceans of life praying not to be sunk before our time has come to leave the world in peace.
If we take a close look at the Torah’s description of the first man’s creation, it says that: “God formed man out of dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils a ‘BREATH (SOUL) OF LIFE’ – ‘NISHMAT CHAIM’” (Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 7). “Breath” and “Soul” in Hebrew have the same root origin. The Hebrew words for “breath of” are “nishmat”. The “BREATH” is the “N E S H I M A H”. The Hebrew word for the SOUL is the “N E S H A M A H”, because the SOUL – “NESHAMAH” is the source of LIFE –“CHAIM” which is manifested by the obvious fact that a person has BREATH – “NESHIMAH”. So we see clearly that the SOUL comes from God since He is the one who “breaths” it into Adam having made him from the “dust of the ground”. Therefore, the material, physical, corporeal earth and dust-like vessel that is the human body, is the REPOSITORY for the Divine Soul. The body “houses” the soul, as much as our homes “house” us. Furthermore, the world, meaning the totality of our planet and universe, is a grand-scale home for all of humanity that is “housed” upon the face of the globe.
Judaism also teaches that just as the soul is “housed” or “clothed” by the body, and the body in turn is literally dressed by clothes, it is a metaphor for the Torah which has a spiritual “soul” as in its esoteric mystical teachings and the Oral Law – “TORAH SHE-BEAL PEH”, which are housed in the body of the Written Torah – “TORAH SHE-BICHTAV”, which in turn is “clothed” by the COMMANDMENTS – “MITZVOT” and the Codes of Law relating to life in the everyday “real” world, all of which are studied and practiced by the House of Israel – “BEIT YISRAEL”.
Can we point to any root source for these concepts in the Torah and Judaism?
What is the real “truth of the truth” as to why the more sophisticated people are, the greater the value and stress they place of the centrality of “housing” in their lives?
After all, for thousands of years billions of people lived in carved out caves, scraggly tents, primitive mud or thatched huts, and even under the natural shades of the trees and vines without needing a special place to “call their own”, so why the need for something more?
What is the hidden essence of any structures that makes them special to people, whereby a house is not necessarily a “home”, and my home can be my “castle”, and a castle can become a “ruin” but could also become a wondrous “castle in the sky”, and my dull little town turns into a shining “city on a hill”?
What is the essence of the PRIVATE Jewish home, the place where each family contributes to the foundation, stability, growth, variety, and strength of the Jewish People – Nation (Children) of Israel – Hebrews?
Taking a quantum leap, what defines a “House of Worship” as it is called on common parlance?
What are the roots and explanations of those uniquely Jewish PUBLIC holy places: The Tabernacle - “MISHKAN” of the Exodus and early Israel; The First, and Second, Holy Temple – “BEIT HAMIKDASH” that stood in Jerusalem; and the rise of the SYNAGOGUE – “BEIT HAKNESET” for prayers and worship and the Yeshiva and Study Hall – “BEIT HAMIDRASH” for learning, studying and teaching Torah?
This week’ Torah portion of TERUMAH, refers to the “OFFERINGS” or “GIFTS”, “CONTRIBUTIONS”, “DONATIONS” that God requests from the Children Israel (Exodus, Chapter 25 vs. 1 – 9):
This is to provide the materials to enable the construction of the FIRST PERMANENT , albeit portable, RELIGIOUS SANCTUARY to get underway. The core purpose of these contributions is so that: “THEY SHALL MAKE ME A SANCTUARY (‘MIKDASH’ – ‘A HOLY PLACE’), AND I WILL DWELL (‘SHOCHANTI’) AMONG THEM. YOU MUST MAKE THE TABERNACLE (‘HAMISHKAN’) AND ALL ITS FURNISHINGS FOLLOWING THE PLANS THAT I AM SHOWING YOU.” (Exodus, Chapter 25, vs. 8 – 9) 
(Note that the rabbis point out that the verse is seemingly “misdirected”, meaning that it should state: “make me a sanctuary and I will dwell IN IT (i.e. the sanctuary)” and NOT “AMONG THEM”. Why is that so? After all doesn’t God want a “dwelling” here on earth to live in? And the answer is uniquely Jewish in that God has not “interest” in “dwelling” in a “place of worship” if the people in it have not let God into THEIR PERSONAL SELVES FIRST! This is the classical mistake of superficiality in religious life that so many people make, placing God into a neat “two by four” (ok, maybe a bit bigger than that) “enclosure”, and “arranging” to “meet” with Him at pre-appointed times as if He were the “ultimate executive” to be found in “the office” 9 to 5 so to speak, like “the doctor is in” now during services. This is blatantly childish as the verse here teaches that sanctity is created when God is constantly in our PERSONAL lives and NOT WITHIN THE HOLLOW PHYSICAL STRUCTURES. After all, at one time God saw fit to allow the complete destruction of the ancient Temples because of this kind of misunderstanding and abuse, and that is why we mourn on the Ninth of Av – “Tisha BeAv’.)
What goes into a SANCTUARY / TABERNACLE / TEMPLE / (and eventually a SYNAGOGUE)?
These that follow are to be among the crucial and necessary “FURNISHINGS” for God’s HOLY PLACE. All the elements to be enumerated as necessary for the SANCTUARY would continue FOREVERMORE, either literally or symbolically, as the Jews traveled through time. All the features would be place into the permanent Temples and even enhanced. When these would be destroyed, first by Babylonia and then by Rome, the Jewish People would RECREATE and REESTABLISH them within each and every formal SYNAGOGUE and YESHIVA structure, as soon as they found the freedom, and place to settle down. Resources, time and money were never held back to establish the needed core of any COMMUNITY – “KEHILLAH” during over 2,500 years of exile:
An “ARK OF THE COVENANT” (Exodus Chapter 25, vs. 10 – 22):
(Diagram: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/mishkan/23.htm )
Also known as the “ARK OF THE TESTIMONY”, a square box made of special wood with an outer and inner layer of gold boxes, with two golden “KERUVIM” – dramatic and mysterious “male-child~female-child, cherub-like, bird-winged, figures” facing each other, on top of the Ark, into which will be placed, “REST”, the TEN COMMANDMENTS inscribed on the two tablets of stone. This will be placed in the inner sanctum to be called the “Holy of Holies” – “KODESH HAKODASHIM”.
Perhaps it may be said that this is analogous to the most private part of any home, the BEDROOM that is the place where the husband and wife dwell together in HOLINESS, as the Jewish marriage is called “KIDDUSHIN”. The mission of the Jewish home is to produce God-fearing good children and Judaism teaches that this comes about when the mother and father join to produce the body and God joins them to provide the soul. Hence the expression in classical Judaism that there are “Three partners to [creation] of man; the Holy One, the father and mother” (Talmud, Tractate Niddah). From the mother and father comes the body and from God comes the SOUL”.
In any SYNAGOGUE, this remains the HOLIEST spot. It is the ARK where the Torah scrolls are permanently stored. To this day, when the doors of the ark are opened, the congregation rises and the level of holiness present is considered to be higher than usual.
The special TABLE (Exodus Chapter 25, vs. 23 – 30):
(Diagram: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/mishkan/18.htm )
Also known as the “TABLE OF THE SHOW (or “SHEW”) BREAD”, made of wood and overlaid with gold, upon which were placed TWELVE LOAVES of specially baked bread, which is the origin for the concept of a “DOZEN”. This is representative of man’s need for basic nourishment and for elevation and dedication of the eating act to one of holiness.
It is symbolic of the “kitchen” and dining room of the Jewish home that places great emphasis on holiday and Shabbat meals with bread being on the “highest level’ of any mundane food requiring the most serious Blessings and Grace after meals.
Perhaps one may surmise that these are the tables or “pews” in synagogues, at which congregants sit and pray, or follow along with the Torah readings, placing their prayer books upon the tables, “taking in” the words of the services and having faith and trust that God will answer their prayers for daily bread and success in dealings with our fellow man.
The GOLDEN LAMP, SEVEN-CUPPED CANDELABRUM - “MENORAH” (Exodus, Chapter 25, vs. 31 – 40):
(Diagram: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/mishkan/16.htm )
In order to provide and symbolize LIGHT on all levels. No house or home can exist without basic lighting and the TABERNACLE and TEMPLE were no different. Probably aside from the Star (Shield) of David , the “MAGEN DAVID”, no item better symbolizes the whole essence of Judaism and Godliness than the “MENORAH” from which shone forth light. It is symbolic from the first “LIGHT” of Creation, to the “LIGHT” of the Torah, and the “HIDDEN LIGHT” – “OR HAGANUZ” of the End of Days. The great mystical text of Judaism is called the “ZOHAR” which means “SHINING’ as its teachings “SHED LIGHT” upon hidden mysteries in the Torah.
Most amazingly, modern science has “discovered” that “LIGHT” is the “BUILDING BLOCK” of all “existence” as everything in the universe is nothing but energy in the form of light.
The Jewish people has a role as a “LIGHT UNTO THE NATIONS” and the Jewish home is the custodian of all the “LITTLE LIGHTS” of its precious children as they grow up to become great shining bastions of the right kind of “en-LIGHT-enment” (hopefully!) Every synagogue has an “ETERNAL LIGHT” – “NER TAMID” near the front above the Ark where the Torahs are kept. There is a custom in some places to light a candle, and obviously to TURN ON THE LIGHTS, before services begin, as to pray in darkness is a sign of mourning, and one should be happy when facing God in prayer. The greatest symbol of light is the Torah, and its fusion with the Jews as a symbol of LIGHT in all its positive connotations.
The ALTAR – “MIZBEIACH” (Exodus, Chapter 27, vs. 1 – 8):
(Diagram: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/mishkan/14.htm )
Upon which would be offered SACRIFICIAL slaughtered KOSHER ANIMALS. It was also referred to as the “ALTAR OF EARTH”, the “OUTSIDE ALTAR”, or the “BRASS ALTAR”. From the dawn of time God desired the institution of animal sacrifices both as an “ATONEMENT” – “KAPARAH” (as for example on the DAY OF ATONEMENT, know as “YOM KIPPUR”) for man (rather the animal than the person) and as a “GIFT” from man and as a “SPECIAL AROMA” to God.
By symbolic extension to the Jewish home we are talking about the oven and grill upon which are cooked and roasted all the delicious kosher meats, and much else of course, which we should consider as being a form of our own “SERVING” of God as we eat meat NOT as frustrated “cannibals” but as people who can serve God through the fine foods we cook and consume with the proper Blessings and intentions to serve God.
This makes the despicable practice of human “sacrifices” totally unnecessary and evil, as people should transfer their sins upon the beasts of the field that will please God sufficiently.
On a far more tragic note, we must remember that during the Holocaust (1939 – 1945) over SIX MILLION JEWS perished, and many of them had to face death in the face of FIRING Squads and if they were gassed to death THEIR BODIES WERE BURNED TO ASHES IN THE CREMATORIA of “en-LIGHT-ened” Europe, by Nazis who were MORE merciful to animals and cared nothing for their fellow humans whom they sent up in SMOKE!
In a synagogue, the “Altar” is the “BIMAH”, meaning an “ELEVATED PLACE”, as an ancient altar was referred to as a “BAMAH”. Whenever the Torah is taken out of the Ark it is brought to the “BIMAH” which is like an ALTAR UPON WHICH ARE PLACED HOLY OFFERINGS. Since we cannot and do not offer any form of “living” sacrifices, we often times read, especially on each and every Holy Day – “YOM TOV”, those PORTIONS and SECTIONS from the Torah that describe the ancient offerings. This is in lieu of the “real thing” and because there is no Temple standing in Jerusalem, the Torah readings on the “BIMAH” are considered as if they had been offered on the original ALTAR.
The body of the SANCTUARY, (Exodus, Chapter 26, vs. 1 – 36; Chapter 27, vs. 9 – 19):
(Diagram: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/mishkan/1.htm )
It is called a HOLY PLACE - “MIKDASH”. This is not yet the full and permanent Temple that will be built in Jerusalem hundreds of years later. It is to be its core and will be a “PORTABLE STRUCTURE” to be called THE TABERNACLE – “MISHKAN”. The SANCTUARY is to be made with beams, crossbars, held together with special fasteners, covered with special woven sheets and skins that will create a roof, walls, enclosures and partitions. There are many details. The “MISHKAN” which literally means “DWELLING PLACE” because God designates it as His “HOME AWAY FROM HOME” for His Divine Presence known as the “SHECHINAH” , which is connected to the same Hebrew root as “MISHKAN”.
The “S H E CH I N A H” known as God’s “’Feminine’ PRESENCE” can also mean “THAT WHICH DWELLS”. For example, in Hebrew, a street or a neighborhood is called a “SH` CH U N A H”, a neighbor is a “SHACHEN”, (“SHECHENIM” in plural), and a “SHICUN” is a small house or cottage.
This “Tabernacle” is NOT to be confused with the portable “hut” known as a “SUKKAH” which has its own festival called “SUKKOT”, or “TABERNACLES” in English, commemorating the miracle that God preserved and protected the Children of Israel in “huts”/Sukkot/Tabernacles after the Exodus in the 40 years of the wonderings in the wilderness. In English though, the word “tabernacle ”, is derived from “tabern” which means “hut” and “cule” means “small” in Latin, probably related to the word “tavern” maybe even to “barn”. Interestingly, a “tavern” is the ancient concept of a “hotel” where one can find rest and food on a journey far from home, and a “barn” is a place where grain, foodstuffs, and animals are kept for the benefit of people, especially in the ages before deep freeze and mass containers.
The concept of the “SUKKAH” as a portable structure is endowed with its special religious aura and somehow hinting at the future permanent Third Temple which is described as “SUKKAT DAVID” – THE SANCTUARY OF DAVID. It also hints at a future wondrous mystical structure, THE SKIN OF THE LEVIATHAN (FISH) – “ORO SHEL LIVYATAN”, that will HOUSE the righteous at a final Grand Banquet.
Let us look at that third component of the world’s foundation, KINDNESS, as mentioned by Rabbi Shimon in Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2.
The Torah records that God required that HOW all of this was to become possible is the foundation for WHAT was to happen. Meaning, that now the Children of Israel were called upon to make a PERSONAL SACRIFICE, assuming their natural KINDNESS – “CHESED”, and give up something that they may have held to be of “PERSONAL VALUE” as a CONTRIBUTION to the “COMMUNAL NECESSITY” for a “PLACE OF WORSHIP”.
Amazingly, wherever Jews have gone to live, one of the first things they do is build a “SHULL” (Yiddish for Synagogue). Money is always found to do it, and when the community eventually leaves, the “SHULL” will be the last communal structure to close down. Jews have always excelled at philanthropy. Per capita they are probably the most generous and giving nation in human history. In the United States Jews have contributed untold BILLIONS of dollars each YEAR to all sorts of HUMANITARIAN causes over the past fifty years out of all proportion to their relatively tiny numbers in the general population. Secular assimilated Jews have HAPPILY given away their hard earned billions to universities, hospitals, foundations, medical research, employment training, education, scholarships, community centers, democratization of societies, and countless positive needs. Where has this wonderful “philanthropic gene” come from? You don’t have to look far to know that it comes from, firstly the kind Jewish hearts of the Jewish people during the ages, and secondly from the religion and commandments of Judaism as outlined in the Torah and voluntarily practiced with great joy by Jews for millennia.
A few days ago I happened to witness a telling incident. I was at a synagogue after the conclusion of morning services that is attended by some very astute professional people. There were perhaps about twenty of them lingering to say “Mazel Tov” (congratulations) to a congregant whose wife had just given birth to a girl, so they were distracted and even anxious before trotting off to work; businessmen, accountants, brokers, teachers and some others. Suddenly out of nowhere a hassled young many appears, not a member of the community and never seen before, who approaches the center of the synagogue in a rushed and urgent manner. In a fairly loud, unprofessional, yet coherent manner he states, talking to no-one and everyone at the same time, that he is on a self-appointed mission to collect funds for a family that recently came from Israel and is living on the other side of town. The father is very ill and needs to have several serious surgeries but that the family does not have medical coverage, (sadly this is common for so many people in America too). In the course of his pitch the young man does mention the name of some rabbis who know the family and endorse the appeal and the name of some non-profit organization that will provide the needed receipts for donations if need be. I do not think anybody really noted the names of the “endorsing” rabbis. I for one had never heard of them. No one even bothered to ask the guy his name nor the name of the sick person. But what did come across was that this was a sincere religious young man deeply concerned about a suffering fellow Jew crying out for help. From what I could tell, by the time the young fellow left, he had collected a few hundred dollars, some in cash, mostly in personal checks, all unexpected and “out of the blue”. He left as “mysteriously” as he arrived. The synagogue had already done its own daily minor voluntary collection earlier, and not everyone gives to blank strangers, and I am sure some in the crowd had doubts whether to give for THIS “appeal”. But what came across loud and clear was the warm welcome, openness and generosity of the majority of those present.
The above is not some “isolated freak occurrence”. It is typical of the natural generosity that is inherent in every Jewish heart, and hopefully in all humanity. Classical Judaism teaches that in fact the ENTIRE WORLD IS BUILT ON GOD’S OWN IMMENSE KINDNESS – “OLAM CHESED YIBANEH” (Psalms, Chapter 89, verse 3). It is this very QUALITY of KINDNESS, so close to God’s true essence, when people overcome their tendencies towards parochial selfishness, that actually signals and “triggers” God to “ENTER INTO” our world when he asks us to make a SANCTUARY for Him: “Take My offering from everyone WHOSE HEART IMPELS HIM TO GIVE” (Exodus, Chapter 25, verse 2). (Probably this is the first and most major instance of a “CAPITAL CAMPAIGN”, as it’s known in today’s fundraising parlance, for a “religious institution” stated in the Torah by God Himself, no wonder fundraisers many times have that air of …. well, you fill in the blanks yourself, as hopefully your experiences have been positive.): “God spoke to Moses, saying: speak to the Israelites and have them bring to me an offering. Take my offering from everyone whose HEART IMPELS HIM TO GIVE…gold, silver, copper, blue wool,…lines, skins, acacia wood, oil for the lamp, …incense, …precious stones…”  And as classical Judaism teaches “(THOSE GOOD) THINGS THAT GO OUT FROM (YOUR) HEART, ENTER (INTO ANOTHER’S) HEART” – “DEVARIM HAYOTZIM MIN HALEV NICHNASIM EL HALEV”, so it’s so to speak from God’s Heart to your heart and then back again to God’s Heart that makes the OFFERING – “TERUMAH, also called the “NEDAVAH” – “GIVING” significant and valuable from God’s perception.
So we come full circle as we see that foundations of both the world and the Tabernacle were based on KINDNESS and GENEROSITY. The gentile nations of the world were also welcomed to give appropraite offerings. This is all derived from the original forefathers, Abraham who embodied KINDNESS, Isaac who embodied SELF-SACRIFICING SERVICE, and Jacob who was the embodiment of TRUTH the “seal” of God. “On Three things the World Stands: On Torah; and On Service (‘Avodah’); and On Kindness (‘Gemilut Chasadim’)”!
Have a great Shabbat, and please let me know what you think!
 Pirkei Avos – Ethics of the Fathers, Artscroll English prayer book, p. 544 – 545.
 Book of Proverbs, Tanach – 24 Books of the Bible, Artscroll English translation, p. 1597.
 The Living Torah, English translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, p. 382 – 383.
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