[Based on a combination of ma’amarim from the sefer, Imrei Baruch: Terumah, ma’amarim ה and ז ]
One of many lessons that can be learned from the Kruvim, described in this week’s Parsha, is the importance of respecting differing method of avodas Hashem.
As an intro, there is a relevant question asked by Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l: Why was the institution of the flags for each tribe, described in detail in Parshat Bamidbar, not incorporated until the second year from when BNY left Egypt?
He answers, that the unique tribal flags could only exist properly after the Mishkan was erected. Each shevet had its own way of serving Hashem. The Ramban explains that the reason the Torah lists out every Nasi from every shevet and the korban each one brought for the Channukat HaMizbeach, despite the fact that all the korbanot for each Nasi were exactly the same in form, is because each one had a slightly differentkavana when they brought the korban. For example, the Nasi of Yehuda had kavanaregarding kingship; Yissachar for Torah study; Zevulun for commerce, etc. Each tribe served Hashem in different ways and using different skills and traits.
Hashem knew that it would be dangerous to divide the tribes under different flags/colors before a centralized symbol of service of Hashem was established. And along came the Mishkan to fill that role, in Nissan of the second year. Before the Mishkan, a brand new nation, partitioned under 12 different flags could easily slip into quarreling and fighting over which shevet’s method, motto or style was the correct way of serving Hashem. Once the Mishkan was in place, however – serving as a reminder to every member of every shevet that the key to how they lived was to follow the word of Hashem and serve Him – then it was safe for the shvatim to begin identifying themselves by their own unique style. They could do this while always keeping in mind the broad national responsibility and loyalty. Symbolic of this equality, is the fact that the tribes set up their flags in a circle around the Mishkan, with no preferential treatment.
Two features of the Kruvim demonstrate this idea of the importance of respecting methods of avodas Hashem that may differ from our personal style:
1. The Kruvim faced each other: Shmot 25:20 says:
וְהָיוּ הַכְּרֻבִים פֹּרְשֵׂי כְנָפַיִם לְמַעְלָה סֹכְכִים בְּכַנְפֵיהֶם עַל-הַכַּפֹּרֶת
וּפְנֵיהֶם אִישׁ אֶל-אָחִיו אֶל הַכַּפֹּרֶת יִהְיוּ פְּנֵי הַכְּרֻבִים
And the cherubim shall spread out their wings on high, screening the ark-cover with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the ark-cover shall the faces of the cherubim be.
Facing each other is a sign of respect, and acknowledgment that each person canlearn from the other. Furthermore, the Kruvim were placed in the Kodesh HaKedashim,which was covered with the skins of very special animals: Shmot 26:14:
עֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים מִלְמָעְלָה
Rashi explains that the techash was a type of animal that only existed during the time of the Mishkan, and its skin was full of many colors. The colorful skin of the techashsignifies the many ways one can properly serve Hashem.
2. The Kruvim had the faces of children: a sign of innocence, free of any concept of competition, grandeur or entitlement.
…So how can we achieve this level of respect for our fellow Jews and ovdei Hashem? One suggestion is to follow the famous maxim in Pirkei Avos 1:6: “Yehoshua ben Perachya omer – Asei lecha Rav v’kanei lecha chaveir. V’havei dan et kol adam l’kaf zechut.”
What is the connection between (i) getting for yourself a Rav and a friend, and (ii) giving people the benefit of the doubt?
If you don’t give people the benefit of the doubt, then you’ll think that person is acting improperly and want to divorce yourself from them. There may be times that your Rav or your friend is doing something that doesn’t seem correct. In fact, there are times when they may actually be incorrect. But don’t think that your friend has to always be perfect, or that they must do exactly as you do in order to be worthy of your respect. Don’t think that we are in a place to judge. Rabbi Sacks, in his Letters to the Next Generation, writes, Be very slow indeed to judge others. If they are wrong, G-d will judge them. If we are wrong, G-d will judge us…Always seek out the friendship of those who are strong where you are weak. None of us has all the virtues. Even a Moses needed an Aaron. The work of a team, a partnership, a collaboration with others who have different gifts or different ways of looking at things, is always greater than any one individual can achieve alone… The righteous see the good in people; the self-righteous see the bad.”
If there is mutual respect among us, then we put ourselves in the greatest position to learn and grow from one another.
[Based on a shiur given by Rav Moshe Taragin]
One of the most famous psukim about the Torah is found in Parshat V’zot Ha’bracha:
תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ מֹשֶׁה מוֹרָשָׁה קְהִלַּת יַעֲקֹב
Pretty straightforward concept that Hahsem commanded the Torah to Moshe. The ambiguous word is morasha — what exactly does that mean and why is Torah described in that way?
Morasha is usually translated as inheritance, legacy, province.
This passuk, written at the very end of the Torah, is discussed in detail in Medrash Rabbah in Terumah.
To give some context to the discussion of this passuk from another parsha within Parshat Terumah, it is important to note that Parshat Terumah is actually chronologically out of order, and to highlight why that might be: The collection for the Mishkan was a kaparah for the Eigel HaZahav. This atonement is therefore done afterthe Eigel in Parshat Ki Tissa. So Terumah is juxtaposed to Matan Torah for a reason…
The Ramban explains that building the Mishkan and the concept of the everyday rituals is a continuation of Har Sinai. We transition from grandiose experience of Sinai to the everyday observance of Halacha. Religion is not all fireworks and dramatic revelations.
So the Torah puts Terumah and the Mishkan here, right after Yitro and Mishpatim, to teach us about the different roles of Torah – the grand and the everyday.
Chazal, therefore, use this opportunity to invoke Torah tziva lanu Moshe, and teach us about another characteristic (or two) about the nature of Torah…
The Midrash says: Al tikri morasha, elah me’orasah =
Our relationship to Torah and Hashem is a marriage. The concept of a romantic, martial relationship with Torah and Hashem is found in many places.
In the same exact Midrash, it says on our passuk: “Al tikri morasha elah yerusha“…
So which one is it? Is Torah an inheritance or a marriage??
If anything, the concepts of an inheritance and a marriage are in opposition to one another – one is handed to you (unless you’re into the prearranged marriage thing, in which case both are handed to you); the other is a romantic pursuit, full of excitement and initiative!?!
The answer is that Torah encapsulates both. The Torah has been handed down to us (yerusha), but we also each find our own passionate chelek in Torah.
Speaking to the yerusha aspect: Part of religion is the wisdom to accept certain truths. We can’t self-intuit everything. We can’t say: I only believe in what I can rationally prove. Some things are handed down, and, as G-d fearing and believing Jews, we simply accept as true. To quote Rabbi Sacks, “faith is not a certainty; it is the courage to live with uncertainty.”
There is nothing intellectually weak or lacking by adhering to the concept that we cant know or prove everything.
Of course there is a tremendous amount of intellect and introspection demanded in Judaism as well – and that is the romantic piece; finding personal ways the Torah speaks to us, hopefully every day of our lives.
“Reishis chochmah yiras Hashem” – To be pious, you need to be intelligent; and to be intelligent you have to be wise enough to understand the limits of human intellect. That is the dual nature of our religion.
To further elaborate on the yerusha aspect, the Midrash brings a parable of a prince who is captured at a young age, and raised by barbarians. He returns to his kingdom after many years and isn’t shy about staking a claim to his rightful throne. The words in the Midrash are: “L’yerushas avosai ani chozeir” – I am returning to the inheritance of my forefathers.
The nimshal is that no matter how far you wander, you can come back and not be embarrassed. It is yours and you can always return.
Inheritance and romance are both necessary aspects of Torah and religion. The message to the most religious and least affiliated Jew is the same: recognize that you are grounded in Torah with a chelek elokah mima’al (“neshama sheh’nattata bi tehora hee” as we say every morning), and no matter how far we wander or how often we stumble, we cannot lose that anchoring.
Shabbat Shalom and a Gut Rosh Chodesh Adar.