Parashas Terumah

This week’s parashah describes the design of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), an abode for Hashem on earth. The Midrashim teach that this abode on earth parallels Hashem’s abode in heaven. In this vein, Shemos Rabbah 33:4 expounds:
It is written (Divrei HaYamim Alef 29:11, homiletically): “Yours, Hashem, is the greatness, and the strength, and the splendor, and the triumph, and the glory – for everything is in heaven and on earth.” In correspondence with every creation that Hashem placed in heaven, He placed a parallel creation on earth.
The Midrash then goes on to list several parallels. Last year, we presented one of the Maggid’s commentaries on this Midrash. We now present another one.
The above verse from Divrei HaYamim comes from David HaMelech’s final speech to the Jewish People. The account of this speech begins as follows (ibid. 29:10): “And David blessed Hashem in the presence of the entire congregation. David said: ‘Blessed are You, Hashem, God of Yisrael our forefather, from one world to the other.’” The Maggid sets out to explain why David decided specifically to offer the praise of Hashem that the Midrash quotes in the presence of the entire congregation of the Jewish People, as opposed to offering it in only the presence of his inner circle.
The Maggid takes another Midrash as his starting point. The Midrash expounds (Yalkut Shimoni, Nach 834, expounding on Tehillim 85:9-10):
On the day the Mishkan was set up, Moshe entered and heard a beautiful voice, a splendid voice. Moshe said: “I will listen to what Hashem, God, is saying – whether He is speaking of judgment or speaking of compassion. Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Moshe, “I am speaking to them of peace; I hold no grudge in My heart against My children. As it is written: For He speaks of peace to His people and to His devoted ones.It is only that His salvation is close to those who fear Him, to dwell in honor in our land.
Why did Moshe suspect that Hashem held a grudge against the Jewish People? He thought that, with the setting up of the Mishkan, Hashem had transferred His entire Presence from heaven to earth, and he was therefore concerned that Hashem held a grudge against the Jewish People over having to move His Presence out of heaven for their sake. But in truth Hashem did not have to make any such move. The Maggid explains elsewhere that whenever Hashem grants a special blessing to someone, He never takes away from someone else’s blessing in order to do so, but rather He generates an additional portion of blessing to give to His intended recipient. Thus it was here: Hashem did not move His Presence out of heaven, but rather He expanded His Presence so that it would abide on earth also. He therefore had no reason to hold a grudge against the Jewish People.
The same is true of Hashem’s giving the Jewish People the Torah. We can bring out the point as follows. When a person gives someone some item, the process involves two steps: the departure of the item from the hand of the giver and the arrival of the item into the hand of the recipient. But now suppose that the owner is not giving away the item in its entirety to another person, but rather is just enabling the other person to take hold of one end of the item, while he himself retains hold of the other end. This process involves only one step: the other person’s taking hold of the item.
Similarly, when Hashem gave the Jewish People the Torah, Moshe thought that this action involved two steps: the departure of the Torah from heaven and the arrival of the Torah on earth. And when he entered the Mishkan, he listened carefully to what Hashem was saying: Was He speaking of judgment or of compassion? Hashem replied that He was speaking of peace – that He held no grudge against the Jewish People. For, in truth, the inner light of the Torah remained in heaven and did not descend to earth. As it is written (Devarim 29:28): “The hidden matters belong to Hashem, while the revealed matters belong to us and to our children forever, that we may carry out all the words of this Torah.” The imparting of the Torah to earth thus involved only one step: Hashem simply extended the Torah to us and enabled us to take hold of one “end” it. Thus the passage in Tehillim 85 concludes (homiletically): It is only that (אך) His salvation is close to those who fear Him, to dwell in honor in our land. The Torah did not leave heaven – it only drew near to the earth.
We can now return to the Midrash with which we began. It is for good reason that David offered his praise to Hashem in the presence of the entire congregation. The leaders of the people already understood that Hashem does not move from place to place. It was only the common people who might err and think that Hashem’s Presence left heaven and descended to earth, and so David made a point of offering his praise to Hashem in their presence. David declared: “Blessed are You, Hashem, God of Yisrael our forefather, from one world to the other.” He then said afterward: “Everything is in heaven and on earth.” Nothing in heaven changed. Rather, Hashem’s holy Presence continued to abide in heaven; it simply became manifest on earth as well. As the Midrash teaches, everything in heaven is also, in parallel form, on earth.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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