This weeks Parshah reading is packed with information on the various components of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and what was to be featured in the Beit Hamikdash (Temple). There were hidden meanings to many of the components of the Tabernacle.
Hashem instructed Moshe to lead in constructing the Mishkan. There are two opinions as to when this took place. Either after the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai or after the atrocious sin of the Golden Calf (featured in Parshat Ki Tisa). If we go by the latter view, this would teach us that the Torah doesn’t always follow chronological order (Gemara Pesachim 6b).
The Tabernacle was a place in which Hashem’s divine presence was to rest, a source of spiritual inspiration. It was an atmosphere of Fear of Hashem. By just observing the Kohanim performing the sacrificial services, each Jew was stimulated to increase Torah and Mitzvot.
Hashem needed 15 different materials in constructing the Tabernacle, each of these were needed for different components of the Tabernacle, they were; Gold, Silver, Copper, Wool Dyed Sky Blue, Crimson Silk, Red Purple, Fine White Linen, Goats Hair, Rams skins dyed Red, Multi Colored Tachash Skins (The Tachash was a multi colored animal that appeared in the wilderness so that Israel could use its Hide for making tapestries of the Mishkan (Shabbat 28b)), Ceder Wood from Shittim Cedar (this material was used in atonement for the future transgression with Moabite girls (Bamidbar 25:1/9), where the transgression took place in the area called ‘Shittim’), Oil for the Lighting of Menorah and anointing future ‘Kings’ just as King David was anointed with Oil by the Prophet Shmuel (Samuel 1 16:13), Spices for the incense service and the Shoham stones which were used for the breastplate of the Kohen Gadol (Shemot 25:3/8).
The first component of the Tabernacle I would like to discuss is the ‘Aron’ (the Ark)(Shemot 25:10), which represents the Torah. The Ark was to be made of Gold inside and outside, which should symbolize the actions of a perfect Jew, one that is rich in Good deeds and rich in Torah. An individual that learns a lot of Torah should in turn infiltrate it in the way he acts and behaves with fellow human beings. The ‘Torah’ is likened to Gold. Torah study is crucial and addictive, it leads to increase wisdom, knowledge and ultimately both fear and love of Hashem.
The ‘Bars’ of the Ark, comprised of two staves with four rings, the four rings symbolize a Torah scholar; his Torah study, Good deeds, Mitzvot and Modesty.
After relating the details on the curtains and ‘Kruvim’ the Torah discusses the details on the ‘Shulchan’ (Table) (Shemot 25:23/30), which was the symbol of Monarchy. The table featured twelve loaves of Showbread which were made before Shabbat. The Table, in the Temple, was the medium through which blessing of nourishment flowed to the entire world.
The food and utensils on the table provide blessing for the household. When Hashem performs miracles, he usually performs them through a medium which already exists, as we learn in the book of Kings, through the Miracle of Elisha who ordered the prophet, ‘Ovadia’s’ wife, to use one jug of oil, to refill mass multiple jugs using empty vessels, this jug of oil miraculously multiplied into a huge amount of jugs through the empty vessels (Kings 1 17:16).
Next up the Torah describes the ‘Menorah,’ an item that symbolises Torah Wisdom and the ‘Oral’ Torah law. According to one opinion the six arms of the Menorah symbolize the six tractates of the Mishna and the center branch symbolizes the fear of Hashem in a person’s heart which is the basis of all Torah learning (Shabbat 31 Iyun Yaakov).
King Soloman placed Ten menorahs in the First Temple, thus all together there were 70 lamps in the Temple, which in turn symbolizes that seventy nations of the world are obligated to fulfil all 7 Noachide laws that were instructed by G-d to all man kind as was explained during Parshat Bereishit and Noach (Sanhedrin 56).
Towards the end of the reading, the Parshah relates the structure of the copper alter (Shemot 27:1/8). On this alter the sacrifices were offered. It was located in the outer courtyard of the Tabernacle and was also known as the ‘earthen’ alter, as it was built hollow inside and had to be filled with earth whenever Israel camped in the wilderness.
The Copper alter had four horns in its corners, this represented the four supreme distinctions that were rewarded to the Jewish People at Mount Sinai (Medrash Aggadah). They were; the greatness of becoming G-d’s chosen nation, the crown of Torah (a crown that we have cherished throughout history), The Kehuna and also the monarchy (throughout Jewish history we had many kings, including, David, Saul, Ahaz, Achav, Rechavim, Chizkyahu and many more)! The purpose of the alter was to grant the Jewish people four things; forgiveness, merit, blessing and life (Medrash Aggadah)!!
I would like to take you guys through a journey in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), in the seventh Mishna in the fifth chapter, it relates Ten miracles which occurred regularly in the Temple, and they were; No woman ever miscarried because of the aroma of the sacrificial meat, The sacrificial meat never became putrid, No fly was ever seen in the place where the meat was butchered, no seminal emission occurred to the High priest on Yom Kippur (there were 18 Kohen Gadols during the 410 year First Temple era and 300 + Kohen gadols during the 420 year Second Temple era), The rains never extinguished the fire on the alter, The wind did not disperse the vertical column of smoke from the alter, No disqualification was ever found in the omer sacrifice or show bread, A snake or scorpion never did harm in Jerusalem and the final miracle was that the people were able to stand together and prostrate themselves (despite there being 600,000 + people in a small room!!).
The Natural Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from the first book of ‘Kings,’ starting in Chapter 5. The Haftorah relates how King Solomon built the First Temple. He built its exterior walls from perfectly hewed stones from the quarry that did not require any cutting or planting. One of the first tasks of King Solomon, when he became the king, was to build the Temple. We also see a friendship emerge from this ‘Temple building period’ between King Solomon and the King of the land ‘Tyre,’ a man of the name Chiram.
Chiram supplied Soloman with countless materials and areas in assisting the construction of the Temple. We actually see, Chiram gets rewarded with a very long life, outliving over 20 Generations! According to one of the sages, he went up to Gan Eden alive (Mesechet Derech Eretz Zuta).
Hope you all have a fantastic Shabbat, this Dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of Yerachmiel Nachum Ben Gitta Feiga, please do good deeds in his memory. Shabbat Shalom!