Parashas Terumah

This week’s parashah presents the design of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its vessels. The Midrash records the following discussion that took place when Hashem instructed Moshe about building the Mishkan (Yalkut Shimoni, Torah 369, slightly paraphrased; cf. Tanchuma, Terumah 9):
Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Moshe: “Make for Me a Tabernacle, for I desire to dwell among My children.” When the ministering angels heard this, they began to protest: “Master of the Universe! Why are You descending to the earthly realm? Your glory calls for you to abide in heaven. As it is written (Tehillim 8:2): “You who has set Your glory within the heavens!’ Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to them: “By your lives, I have been doing as you said, but My praise is infused through the earth [cf. Havakkuk 3:3].
The Maggid explains this Midrash using an insight from Rav Yosef Albo’s Sefer HaIkarim. Some prominent philosophers denied that Hashem manages the affairs of our world, arguing that He is too lofty to concern Himself with earthly matters. They claimed that heaven is the only place fit for Hashem to emplace His presence – earth is too lowly to serve as His abode. Rav Albo says that these philosophers thought they were promoting Hashem’s honor, but they were actually denigrating it. By saying that heaven is an abode that suits Hashem’s honor, they were implicitly setting a limit on the honor He is due. In truth, heaven is not a fitting abode for Hashem either; even heaven is infinitesimally puny in comparison with Hashem’s infinitude.
The discussion in the Midrash reflects the philosophers’ argument and Rav Albo’s counterargument. The angels protested Hashem’s seeking a dwelling place on earth, arguing that His glory called for Him to abide in heaven. They were asserting that heaven was the abode that befits His glory. Hashem replied: “By your lives, I have been doing as you said.” He was saying: “Here in heaven, I have already put Myself in the situation you I said I would be in by establishing an abode on earth, for heaven is equally ill-suited to My glory. Emplacing My presence on earth will actually bring Me praise, for it will make it all the more clear that, despite My greatness, I am prepared to humble Myself.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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