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      Judaism: Learning from then Tabernacle

      Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 10:58 PM
      This week's Dvar Torah is by Rabbi Dov Holtz, former shaliach in Memphis and now Talmud teacher in the yeshiva high school of Upper Nazareth.


      From Parashat Trumah (the Torah reading Trumah) and well into Vayikra (Leviticus) we encounter more and more details regarding the building, structure and general working in the Mishkan/ Mikdash.

      This is the point where most of us decide to tune off since it has no practical meaning to us. To try and change this widely accepted view I would like to present an idea taught by the commentator called Torah Temima that could have a practical implication to people’s life even though we don’t follow this halakhic decision, psak.

      The verses in this week’s Parasha state: “You shall make a copper ‘Laver’ (Kiyor) and its base of copper, for washing… From it, Aharon and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet… (Shemot 30, 18-19).

      Says the Torah Temima – from here we learn the need to wash our hands for praying, davening. (Shemot 30, 19)

      To understand what the Torah Temima is referring to we first must learn the Halachot of Netilat Yadayim, laws of washing the hands,  in the morning.

      The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) says that when we wake up in the morning we must wash our hands and bless ‘Al Netilat Yadayim’.(Orach Chayim 4, 1)

      The Mishna Berura brings in the name of the Rashba one of the reasons for washing our hands: In the morning after sleep its as if we become a new creation… we must thank him (Hashem)… worship him and bless his name therefore they decreed in the morning to sanctify ourselves with his sanctity and wash our hands from a vessel like a Cohen that sanctifies his hands from the “Kiyor”, basin, before his work.

      From this opinion it seems our need to wash our hands in the morning is directly related to the prayer service, Tefilah, and since it is our way to worship Hashem therefore it needs sanctifying like the Cohanim sanctified themselves when arriving in the Bet Mikdash to worship Hashem.

      This raises the following questions:

      1.If the reason for washing in the morning is so we could sanctify ourselves to worship Hashem, surely we should wash our feet as well just like the Cohanim?

      2.Why does this Mitzvah happen only in the morning, we worship Hashem with the other Tefilot as well?

      The Rambam ,it would seem, takes the Rashba’s opinion our desired extra step and says that for Shacharit we must wash our feet as well but this still leaves our second question unanswered. There are two ways to deal with this question:

      1. The Rambam holds that only one Tefilah a day is from the Torah. For reasons that are not part of our discussion this Tefillah is the morning prayer, Shacharit. As such Shachrit is the only Tefilah which needs sanctification since it is the only Avodah from the Torah.

      2. The Talmud, in Tractate Zevachim, says that as long as a Cohen didn’t allow his mind to wander from worship he doesn’t need to rewash his hands and feet all day (or according to a second opinion, ever). The Rambam might have more faith in us than we do. Since we sanctified once in the morning we don’t need to do so another time. We do however need to make sure our hands are clean. Therefore we must wash our hands for the rest of the Tefilot.

      I hope that I have given some every day relevance to the Mishkan and the Mikdash and by doing so have brought us one step forward to its building speedily and in our days, amen.