VOLUME 69 NUMBER 7
February 1, 2014
1 Adar Rishon, 5774
Candle-lighting Time: Friday 4:58 PM
This edition of Sparks of Torah is dedicated to all the talented community chefs competing in the Edible Construction Contest at Wine, Cheese & Chocolate February 8th.
- Final week to register for Wine, Cheese & Chocolate 2014 – Home, Sweet Home, celebrating our New Center of Learning and Community. This year’s Raffle Prizes: $3500 Shopping Spree from Jay Feder Jewelers, $2500 Portrait Package from Karen Rubin Photograhy and 2 Round-trip domestic airline tickets to a destination of your choice. Call (303) 316-6412 to register or goto www.theje.com.
- Save Wednesday night, February 19th when Rabbi Ken Spiro returns to Denver to give his renowned, power-packed presentation Worldperfect.
- Ladies- Save February 25th for a special Ladies night out with Ayelet the Kosher Komic: From Hollywood to Holyland.
- Want to go to Israel? We have trips for men, women and families this year. Jump aboard for the experience of a lifetime, to see our historic homeland with your favorite TJE educators.
- As a result of several factors, not least of which are the Grand Opening of our New Center and several early summer trips to Israel, we are postponing our Spring Summer Retreat. New dates for the inspirational weekend will be announced soon. Meanwhile, the 2nd prize of the Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Raffle is (drum-roll, please): 2 Round-Trip airline tickets to the domestic destination of your choice. Some restrictions apply. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.theje.com/wcc2014-registration-form/
A Clean Tapestry
by Rabbi Raphael Leban
Why do terrible things happen in the world?
There are no shortages of events in our lives that spark the ‘Big Question’. Why?
A friend of mine came to speak to me today about a friend of his. He wanted to know what to tell this friend, who was asking some fundamental questions about Jewish belief. I found out that the person had recently lost his only daughter and his mother in a short span of time. He was in pain, and his theological questions had obviously been sparked by his process of coming to terms with the tragedy in his family. He wanted answers.
You never answer a person in pain with rationality.
You care for them. You show them empathy, concern and support. You share their burden by allowing them to talk about their difficulty, and you see what you can do to lighten it. You don’t start explaining.
Besides which, rarely can you give them the answers they are seeking. From our limited vantage point in this world, we cannot see Divine eternal justice with any clarity.
This world is like the back of a tapestry. When you look at it, it appears to be a jumbled mess of knots and strings without order, beauty or meaning. Only from the other side is the picture discernable. So, too, with our lives. Only in the next world will we see the purpose and justice of the confusing events around us. The opportunity for doubt and the lack of clarity are intrinsic elements of life in this world.
There was a time when this wasn’t completely the case, when a glimpse of transcendent reality was available to mortal man – when the Mishkan resided amongst us. The Mishkan, or Tabernacle, was a place where the spiritual and the physical worlds met. From there G-d spoke to us with a voice that could be heard by human ears. There the Divine Glory hovered in a way that could be seen by the human eye. The reality of G-d’s existence was viscerally perceptible in this world. When the Mishkan stood, it was possible to fully satisfy the ultimate doubt.
Upon the Tabernacle hung a woven tapestry cover. Made of threads spun from linen and turquoise, purple and scarlet wool, the ornate cover was unique. Not because of its colors, but because of the design woven into it. Unlike any other tapestry before or since, the cover was woven in such a way that it showed beautiful distinct images on each side! From one side appeared the keruvim, or cherubs, and from the other, a lion and an eagle. On neither side was there a ‘back’ where knots and a mess of strings were visible. The creation of the Mishkan was the potential for ultimate clarity for the uncertainty of this world.
by Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum
A beautifully designed roof was made for the Mishkan. In fact, the roof was itself referred to as the Mishkan, which is difficult to understand. Certainly, the main purpose of the Mishkan was its inner functioning, the Candelabra, the inner altar and the specially constructed table upon which the showbread was placed. And, of course, the Aron, with the two cherubim on it, which was put in the holiest area, obviously graced the Mishkan with an aura of sanctity. It would seem that the roof of the Mishkan was essentially a protection against the elements for the more important parts of the Mishkan.
Sforno seems to address this and states that the roof was referred to as the Mishkan precisely because it contained those items which served to ‘conduct’ the Divine Presence into the confinement of the Mishkan. Therefore, it was appropriate to identify this covering along with the vessels which actually served to fulfill the objective of the Mishkan, to introduce the Divine Presence, the ‘Schechina’, into our midst. However, this explanation truly begs the question. As a protective barrier, surely the roof was only of secondary importance.
Perhaps we may suggest that the message is that it is indeed important to protect, contain and prevent that which is righteous and moral from being trampled upon and ruined by the destructive winds of a decadent society bent on waging battle against that which is sacred and divine. Although our prime objective must be to create and foster the environment that will promote that which is auspicious and productive, nonetheless guarding that investment is crucial and fundamentally important.
Netziv cites a comment of Rashi from the Talmud who also states that the covering was referred to as the Mishkan but for an entirely different reason. He says that the roof was beautiful and that required that it should be called the Mishkan. In the song that the nation sang as they traversed the Red Sea escaping from the clutches of the Egyptians, they said, “This is my G-d and I shall venerate Him.” The Aramaic translation renders this to mean that the nation was assuming responsibility to build a Sanctuary to house the Divine Presence. We glean from the language used that we must strive to adorn the mitzvos that we perform. It is insufficient to serve Hashem with mediocrity. Rather, excellence and distinction are the standards that we strive to achieve. Beauty is also an important aspect of fulfilling mitzvos. We must search for an esrog that is exceptionally fine-looking, our Shabbos tables should appear majestic and stately, when we wear our Talis for davening it should be white without stains and the list goes on.
Meshech Chochmah also notes that according to some opinions there were two coverings on top of the Mishkan. He parallels this to the different levels of sanctity that were present in various parts of the Mishkan itself. Subsequently, there was also progression in the sanctity shielding the Mishkan from above as well as from the ground level. When we protect our prize possessions, it is not unusual to surround them with numerous security perimeters. We should desire to accomplish this same objective concerning our spiritual accomplishments and successes.
A Question for the Rabbis
By Rabbi Mordechai Becher
G-d commanded the Jewish people to “Build me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them” (Exodus 25:8). Maimonides understands that there is an obligation for all time to build a permanent Temple (Mishneh Torah, Avodah 1:1). The prophet Ezekiel (11:16) says, “Thus said the L-rd, G-d: Although I have cast them far off among the nations, and although I have scattered them among the countries, I have been to them a little sanctuary in the countries where they have come.” According to the Talmud (Megilah 29a) the phrase “a little sanctuary” refers to synagogues, which are considered “minor temples.” In fact, just as the Torah portion this week obligates the Jews to contribute to and build the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, the sages also obligated everyone in the community to contribute to the building of a synagogue (Tosefta, Bava Batra 1). The Code of Jewish Law (Orach Chaim 150:1) writes that the Jewish courts and the community may force everyone to contribute to the building of the synagogue. Rabbi Chaim Shabtai, Chief Rabbi of Salonika, Greece in the 18th century, maintains that because the synagogue is called a “temple,” there is an obligation to build one, and that is why the members of the community may be forced to contribute, just like the Temple in Jerusalem and the Tabernacle.
Joke for the Wee
Don’t trust atoms. They make up everything.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
The thirteen items that were donated for the Mishkan correspond to the thirteen requests that we daven in the daily Shemoneh Esreh. These items were totally dedicated to Hashem to be used in the Mishkan. So too, our goal in davening is to offer all of our desires and aspirations to Hashem.