Parashas Terumah

This week’s parashah deals with the design of the Mishkan. In his commentary on Shir HaShirim 3:9-10, the Maggid explains how Hashem’s directive to build the Mishkan reflects His great kindness toward us.
The Maggid develops his point with a parable about a great king who settled in a city of craftsmen. Initially, these craftsmen were all poor, but eventually they became very rich by doing work for the king. After some time, the king took a tour of the entire city. He noticed a rickety old house inhabited by a wretched pauper. The king felt pity for this man, and he asked him: “Why are you so much poorer than everyone else in town?” The pauper replied: “All the others are craftsmen; they became rich by working for you, Your Majesty. But I have no way to earn such sums of money, for I am not skilled in any craft. So I have remained poor.”
The king devised a scheme to make this man rich. He told his servants to build him a special abode unlike any other royal palace. He directed that this abode be constructed as an exact replica of a poor man’s shack, with no detail missing. The king’s craftsmen searched the city for a house that met the king’s description, so they could use it as a model for their work. After a long search, they found the home of the pauper whom the king had met. This home matched the king’s description perfectly. The craftsmen bought the pauper’s house for a great sum of money. In addition, they hired the pauper as an adviser, to make sure their replica would be perfectly accurate. In the end, the pauper became very rich.
The parallel is as follows. Hashem created a vast universe: the physical cosmos with all it contains, the heavens, and the supernal world above the heavens. Upon this entire universe, Hashem shines His splendid radiance. His abode is suffused with power and exultation, and He is served by countless angels. Meantime, man lives in a humble state upon the lowly earth. Hashem wished to bring man merit. He therefore commanded that a structure be built for Him out of materials that can be found only on earth. Thus it is written at the beginning of our parashah (Shemos 25:3): “This is the contribution that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper.” The next few verses list further materials of a similar sort. The phrase from them indicates that Hashem applied human standards in rating the value of the contribution. Hashem chose materials that are precious to us, albeit of little value in the Heavenly realm, so as to endear us to Him and to the angels.
This idea is reflected in Shir HaShirim 3:9-10. This passage begins: “The King, the Master of Peace, made for Himself a canopy of Lebanon wood. He made its pillars of silver, its couch of gold, and its curtains of purple wool.” It might be argued: Why did Hashem choose to have the Mishkan built of these materials, which are of so little value on the Heavenly scale? It would have been more fitting for Hashem to seek an abode fashioned from celestial lights. The passage thus continues with the answer to this objection: “Its interior was decked with love, from the daughters of Jerusalem.” Hashem, in His kindness and compassion, designed the Mishkan in such a way that our efforts in constructing it would endear us to Him.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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