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Terumah: Enablers are as important as achievers!

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Enablers are as important as achievers.

Parshat Terumah presents us with the fascinating details of the furnishing of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary) in the wilderness. As a mobile sanctuary, it was important that every item within it could be transported from place to place. So, for example, for the Aron (Ark), the Shulchan (Table) and the Mizbeach (Altar), Hashem instructed us to place rings on the sides, and poles were inserted through the rings so that people could carry the poles on their shoulders and transport these keilim (vessels) from one place to another.

However there was a major difference between the Aron (the Ark) on the one hand and the other vessels on the other. With respect to the other vessels, once they reached their temporary resting place the poles were removed, and when the time came for them to be transported again, the poles were inserted. Not so, however, with respect to the Aron. When the Ark was put down, the poles were not removed. The Torah says (Shemot 25:15),

“Lo yasuru mimenu,” – “Don’t take them from the ark.”

The poles were an inseparable part of the Ark. The Meshech Chochmah teaches us a beautiful lesson from this. He tells us that the Ark represents the centrality of the study of Torah and the practice of the mitzvot of Torah in our lives, and that’s because the Ark housed the Ten Commandments and the Torah. The poles represent the supporters of Torah. What we therefore find is that the supporters are as important as the implementers.

There are all types of supporters. There are those who give financial support for the building and running of institutions, and then there are those who give encouragement to people to learn and to teach. Foremost amongst these are family members, and the finest example I can think of is Rachel, the wife of Rabbi Akiva.

She encouraged her husband to go and study Torah and to become a great educator to the extent that we study from his teachings to this very day. But in order to achieve this, Rachel and Rabbi Akiva were separated for long periods of time. On one occasion when Rabbi Akiva was with her, in the presence of his students he addressed them and he said,

“Sheli veshelachem shelahi.” – “My achievements and your achievements are all her achievements.”

If not for her, he would never have studied and they would never have been taught.

It is therefore incumbent upon us to facilitate the high quality education of men and women within our communities and to encourage them ‘lilmod ulelamed’, to study and to educate others. No wonder therefore that when we return the Torah to the Ark we chant the verse (Mishlei 3:18),

“Eitz chaim hi lemachazikim ba vetomcheiha meushar,” – “The Torah is a tree of life for all those who grasp it and all those who support it are rendered happy.”

If not for the supporters, we would have no Torah and without the Torah, we would have no people.

Shabbat shalom.



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