May 29, 2024
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Parshas Teruma: Feeling Hashem’s Presence

We live in a funny world, where contradictions live side-by-side and most of the time we hardly take notice. Our generation towers over others in the number of disconnected Jews who have come to embrace their Judaism by learning about Torah and mitzvos. It’s been a sweeping movement that has changed entire communities around the world. Yet, there is a sizable group of Jews who are disengaging themselves from anything Jewish. How is this possible?

The answer lies in the month of Adar. The month of Adar closes the Jewish count of months. It is a time of darkness and a time of light and joy. It’s a time of Amalek/Haman who almost destroyed us and a time of Mordechai and Esther and the joyous miracles of Purim.

Our Sages tell us in Gemara Megillah that when we transmit a thought or piece of information, we must give credit to the source. The Gemara says that doing so brings redemption to the world. We know this from the actions of Esther, who informed King Achashverosh of the plot of Bigsan and Seresh to assassinate him, noting that her life-saving information came from Mordechai. Years later, this attribution would play a pivotal role in Mordechai’s credibility with the king, thus helping bring down Haman and saving klal Yisrael.

It’s not coincidental that we learn this important lesson from the Purim story. Rav Avraham Schorr tells us that a central focus of Amalek (and Haman) was to cut out the source, i.e., to take Hashem out of the picture. For Amalek, everything happens by chance, not by design. This dangerous mindset removes all accountability to the Divine, which was Haman’s intention.

Reading through the Purim megillah, we also sense the rapid building of momentum as Haman plans and plots against us. Why his rush? Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa points out that when an animal senses its demise, it will muster up great strength to fight one last time. The same is true with the forces of evil in the world. Like the ominous unfolding of the Purim story, our Sages tell us the end of days will also seem hopeless, and there will be nothing left but relying on Hashem. Amalek of the future will be looking to disconnect us from our Heavenly Father, before his candle is extinguished forever.

This week’s parsha of Teruma deals with the building of the walls of the Mishkan, which falls in the month of Adar. The Chidushei Harim says the name Adar is comprised of the letter Aleph and the word Dor. Alef refers to Hashem, the Alufo (Master) of this world. Dor—means to dwell. Adar is a month when we can sense even more palpably the presence of Hashem. It’s no coincidence that we read the parshios of Teruma and Tetzaveh during Adar, which describe the building of the Mishkan, a place for Hashem to dwell. We don’t have a Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash currently, but Hashem doesn’t need a house to rest His presence; after all, Hashem is truly everywhere. The Mishkan is just an indicator that Hashem wants to rest His presence amongst klal Yisrael. Each and every one of us can create our own personal relationship with Hashem and connect ourselves on the level of the Mishkan. And Adar is a most propitious time to do this. With Amalek doing everything possible to entice us away, we find clarity in connecting to Hashem, with Hashem helping guide us to Him. But beware: it can be a bumpy road!

My wife and I both signed up for a daily email called Daily Emunah by Rabbi Dovid Ashear. It’s a daily expenditure of three minutes that totally changes our perspective on things, especially when it’s a rough road. It’s a reminder that nothing is by chance. It’s all orchestrated by Hashem, and it all leads to a better place, even though there may be temporary pain in the process. Indeed, like the dancing in the streets of Shushan at Haman’s demise, the joy is often greater and sweeter after we have traveled the road of adversity.

In this closing month of Adar, let’s consistently give credit where it’s due, thus helping to bring on the full redemption in the month of Nisan. Amalek will likely fight us all the way to the finish line, but our connection to Hashem, focusing on Him as our source, will get us through, and the simcha we will experience will be like no other. “Mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha,” as we begin Adar, our happiness increases.

 

By Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim

Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Bergenfield, Paramus, Rockaway and Fair Lawn. He initiated and continues to lead a multi-level Gemara learning program. Recently he has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis midrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston and Springfield. This year he joined Heichal Hatorah in Teaneck as a Gemara iyun rebbe. His email is [email protected].

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