Food For the Soul
The Temple at home
The Parsha Terumah (Exodus 25:1–27:19) describes the Sanctuary which Moses and the Jewish people were going to build. G‑d tells Moses “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell in them.” The Sages explain this means that G‑d dwells in the heart of each Jewish man and woman. Each person is sacred, and the home in which they dwell is also sacred.
The Sanctuary or Temple had three basic qualities which are potentially expressed in every Jewish home. Firstly, it was a source of Torah knowledge: in the Holy of Holies were the Tablets with the Ten Commandments brought by Moses from Sinai. Further, when Moses completed writing the Torah Scroll, one copy of the Torah was placed in the Holy of Holies.
Second, the Temple is termed a “House of Prayer.” All prayers pass through it to G‑d. Throughout the generations, in whichever country they live, Jewish people face the Temple in Jerusalem when they pray. Inside the Temple, the service carried out every day expressed utter devotion to the Divine, the essence of prayer.
Third, in the Temple was a Golden Table on which were twelve loaves of bread. This expresses the fact that G‑d sends a flow of blessings into the world in order to provide every creature with its needs.
Each of these three ideas relates in some way to the home. The Jewish home today is a potential center for Torah study, where husband, wife and children regularly take the time to explore Torah teachings. Jewish books are part of the natural furniture. Indeed, many people organise an occasional Torah class or study group in their home.
What about prayer? Surely the main services are in the synagogue? This is true, but there are many prayers which are said in the home: the morning prayers, blessings before and after eating, and the Shema before going to bed. And home is the ideal place to pray for those who do not attend the synagogue, for whatever reason.
Thus the Jewish home is indeed “a small Sanctuary.” Like the Temple, it is a center for Torah, prayer and kindness. There, in the home as in the Temple, the Divine Presence dwells.
Edited from an article by Dr. Tali Loewenthal
The Shabbat meal
With the Shabbat meal, there is a ubiquitous custom is to eat fish and later to eat meat. Fish comes first because the Sabbath is a celebration of creation. Since in the Torah’s creation account fish were created before the other animals, it comes first. There is a custom to have soup after the fish as the Talmud says that that a meal without soup is not really a meal. This is then followed by the meat. Meat is a food that typically brings physical satisfaction and enjoyment, and therefore, an understandable choice for the Sabbath.
Adapted from an article by Rabbi Pinchas Taylor
Mind Over Matter
Charity vs. tzedakah
Do not give charity. It means the other guy doesn’t deserve it and you don’t have to give it, because you have what belongs to you and he has what belongs to him. And nevertheless, you give anyways. But Jews don’t give charity. Jews give tzedakah. And tzedakah means setting things right. Tzedakah means the money was never really yours, that you’re just the treasurer and the money was put in your trust to be disbursed for good things, both for you and for others when they will have a need.
Tzedakah is something you receive every day, because the One Above has no obligations towards you, yet He provides you constantly with all that you need. And since the One Above mirrors all that you do below, you feel a need to give more than you are required to give, so that He will give you more than you deserve to get.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
The building of the Sanctuary in the desert required cedar-wood. Where would they get cedar-wood in the desert? Rashi quotes the Midrash: Our patriarch Jacob prophetically foresaw that the Jewish people would need to build a sanctuary in the wilderness. Thus he brought cedars with him to Egypt and planted them there. He commanded his sons to take these with them when they leave Egypt.
By planting cedars in Egypt, Jacob did not simply show foresight to provide an eventual need for the Jewish people. With his action he also encouraged his descendants of the later generations. It strengthened them with an ability to contend with the darkness of galut. It strengthened the hope and courage of Israel at all times. For even in the very thick of the galut we have in our midst the “cedars” that our forefather Jacob planted in every generation.
Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
The self-made child
My friend shared her problem with me: “My daughter complains that ‘other mothers’ do their children’s projects for them. I will help her with the research, explain to her whatever she doesn’t understand, share ideas and guide her, but I like the actual work to be her own. How else will she learn to express her creativity? She complains, though, that her projects are not as glamorous, her essays don’t have the ‘fancy’ words, and her homework doesn’t look as polished as her friends’. Am I being a rotten parent, or are these other parents missing the point?”
This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, as well as a sizable portion of the book of Exodus, is devoted to the construction of the Sanctuary (Mishkan). The Torah, which is usually so sparing with words, is uncharacteristically elaborate, devoting thirteen chapters to describing the Sanctuary. All the materials, components, and furnishings are listed and described, sometimes numerous times. In contrast, the Torah devotes only one chapter to the creation of the universe! Only three chapters describe the awe-inspiring revelation of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
The Sanctuary was a temporary dwelling serving as the religious focal point in the desert. Once the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel, it was replaced by the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Why does the Torah describe the Sanctuary at such great length, while almost glossing over these other fundamental events? Because G‑d is teaching us the value of our own input.
At Sinai (and certainly, at the creation of the world), we were passive participants. G‑d descended in His glory and majesty, accompanied by breathtaking sounds and sights of thunder and lightning, while the Jewish people observed. Due to the non-participatory nature, the impression wasn’t permanent. After the Divine Presence departed from the mountain, it reverted to its former non-holy status. Similarly, the spiritually inspired nation stooped to serve a golden calf soon after witnessing such open miracles.
The Sanctuary, on the other hand, was built with the people’s own materials, with their own hands and sweat. Everyone took part in the undertaking—men and women, rich and poor—each contributing his or her talents, resources, and expertise. As a result of this human participation, the material objects themselves became permeated with enduring holiness.
By devoting so many chapters to it, the Torah teaches us that when a person contributes his own resources and creativity, it is real and lasting. Though the end product might not be as earth-shattering or as “polished” as G‑d’s revelation, in many ways, it is more valuable, precisely because it is our own. We also grow through the process by fine-tuning our skills and stretching our talents in ways that being a passive recipient does not.
The message for parents, too, is clear. Help, guide, instruct, and brainstorm with your children. But the greatest learning experience is when you help your children actualize their own abilities to create their own edifices.
By Chana Weisberg, Chabad.org
Upcoming Purim Holiday
Despite COVID-19, you can celebrate Purim this year with all the holiday essentials free-of-charge and experience the joy and festive nature this holiday is so known for. Sign up for your holiday meals basket, and Mishloach Manot box by visiting www.madacenter.com or calling 514-342-4969. If you already receive Shabbat to Share boxes or Meals a Partager boxes each week, then you will automatically receive the Purim boxes and there is no need to register.
To Share the Joy of Purim by volunteering for or sponsoring MADA’s Purim services, please visit madacenter.com or call 514-342-4969 as well.