<i>T'ruma</i> and Its Relevancy Today

A question arises in this week's <i>parsha</i>, <i>T'ruma</i>. What does <i>T'ruma</I> have to do with the 39 <i>m'lachot assurot</I> (forbidden labors) on <i>Shabbat</i>?

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Moshe Burt,

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צילום: ערוץ 7
A question arises in this week's parsha, T'ruma. What does T'ruma have to do with the 39 m'lachot assurot (forbidden labors) on Shabbat?

It is said that the three t'rumot (contributions) were Hashem's remedy to rectify the aveira (sin) of the Eigel HaZahav, the Golden Calf. We note in our parshat hashavua that the t'rumot were collected in order to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) so that Hashem's Shechina (Presence) will dwell amongst Klal Yisrael. The Mishkan is seen as so vital to B'nai Yisrael that the 39 m'lachot necessary for its construction are presented in Torah as the prototypes for all m'lachot prohibited on Shabbat.

Rabbi Wagonsberg spoke a couple of years ago about the three t'rumot. The first two t'rumot are expressed in Torah as "...take for me an offering; of every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall you take My offering. This is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver and copper." (Sh'mot, 25:2-3, according to the Metsudah Chumash with Rashi)

Rashi says on verse 2 that the donation denotes a gift l'sheim shemayim ? for the sake of Hashem's name ? as denoted by the word t'rumati, in the first person possessive, as in "from all that is mine." Rabbi Wagonsberg related the term t'ruma to giving money, to tzedaka.

Conversely, Rabbi Wagonsberg quotes both the Orach Mishpat and the Ba'al Shem Tov, who have indicated that t'ruma does not have to be given altruistically. One's tzedaka can be given out of ulterior motives, such as to save a sick child or with thoughts regarding one's place in Olam Habah (the World to Come).

It is said that the Aron (Holy Ark) was covered with zahav tahor (pure gold) and the supporting poles were covered by gold. This, Rabbi Wagonsberg asserts, symbolizes the learning of Torah and pureness of intent.

Rabbi Wagonsberg refers to the Chanukat HaTorah, who states that when there is a Beit HaMikdash, the woman suspected of adultery can be equated with one who doesn't rush to give
t'ruma ? tzedaka ? when he is prospering. If the prosperous man doesn't offer t'ruma to the Kohen, he will eventually have to see the Kohen with his wife to perform the ceremony of a sota to ascertain whether or not she is adulterous. (It's kind of like the old Cottman Transmission commercials we used to see on TV back in the "Old Country." You know, the one where "Vito da mechanic" would say, "You can pay me now or, you can pay me later.")

Rabbi Wagonsberg quotes the Sh'la, who says that it is very important that the giver of tzedaka reaches his hand to the needy first, before the needy reaches out his hand to ask. According to this formula, the coin is represented by a yud, the giver's hand is represented by the letter hei, the giver's outstretched arm is represented by the letter vav, and the hand of the one in need is represented by another hei. The sequence spells the name of Hashem.

However, if the needy's hand is outstretched first, the sequence is then hei (hand of the needy), vav (outstretched arm of the needy), yud (for the coin) and hei (the hand of the giver). Rabbi Wagonsberg said here that each month bears certain attributes or simanim expressed by a different sequence of the four letters of Hashem's name. He points out that this is listed in the siddur. For example, the sequence hei, vav, yud, hei is a characteristic of the month of Av, when the Second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam (causeless hatred). If one always has money ready to provide to the needy person, the giver has the attribute of Ahavat Chinam (causeless love). The month of Nissan has the attribute of yud, hei, vav, hei and is the month when the Mishkan was built.


T'ruma is mentioned three times in the second and third verses of the parsha. And what did each t'ruma buy? Among the things that the two t'rumot in the second verse bought were the sockets and the communal sacrifices. These first two sacrifices denote humility. The t'ruma in the third verse - giving according to one's means - alludes to haughtiness and arrogance. This t'ruma bought gold, silver, copper and the precious stones for the Urim veTumim worn by the Kohen Godol.

Why are the precious stones at the end? This is because the stones were bought at the end by the wealthy ones, the nesi'im, who said that after everyone else gave, they will provide for all of the remaining needs. But after everyone else poured out their donations, the only thing left for the wealthy to provide were the precious stones. The word nesi'im is spelled without the yud, without the coin.

Rabbi Wagonsberg asked why Hashem enables us to have haughtiness. There were three t'rumot necessary to rectify the sin of the Golden Calf. He said, in the name of the Ba'al Shem Tov, that each person has his own challenges to rise above in his avodat Hashem. The drives that created the Calf were money, jewelry - material things. Rabbi Wagonsberg said, however, in the name of the Sharei Simcha, that our main sin originates in our intellect, our minds. What brought about the Calf? Am Yisrael thought that it was a god.

T'ruma, as with all mitzvot, is eternal. The Mishkan, and later, the Beit HaMikdash, is eternal, for all generations.

I think this answers my question as to do what t'ruma has to do with the 39 m'lachot assurot on Shabbat. Just as t'ruma/tzedaka is ongoing, without cessation, so too is Shabbat eternal ? every seven days, from Breishit through the "End of Days" and beyond. And so, too, Hashem's Shechina is eternal, without end.

So, by performing mitzvot, in this case t'ruma, we are making ourselves worthy that Hashem's Shechina will reside eternally within all of us.

With this I segue to a form of t'ruma in our times, today. An opportunity exists, via The Sefer Torah Recycling Network, to perform the mitzvah of t'ruma, l'sheim Shemayim ? for the sake of Hashem's name ? in helping to raise the remaining necessary funds for the restoration of two Torah scrolls slated for placement in two needy locations: Homesh and Bat Ayin. Over the past year or so, many people in Israel and some people overseas have donated towards defraying the cost of restoring these two Torah scrolls, but there is still much to be raised to meet the costs.

Further, as we daven in our shuls and leyn from Torah scrolls on Shabbat, on Rosh Chodesh, on the holidays, as we dance with a number of Torah scrolls in shul on Simchat Torah, the fact is that there are hundreds of needy locations throughout Eretz Yisrael that lack even one Torah scroll to call their own. They lack the essential ingredient that would establish them as a makom Torah, a place of Torah, as a physical reality. I hold that to provide a Torah scroll and to see to the costs of restoring a Torah for placement in a needy town, neighborhood, shul, kollel or yeshiva anywhere in Israel is to act to possess Eretz Yisrael ? Eretz haKedusha.

At this time in history, with the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael, Jewish sovereignty and our very survival on the line, we need your help, both by way of donations of Torah scrolls and by way of donations of funds in order to fulfill our mission of placing Torah scrolls in needy locations throughout Israel. Thus, G-d willing, we will be insuring their survival against whatever machinations the current Torah-distant government is in the midst of.

And if you will be in Israel at the end of March, please view the website for the date, time and transportation information for the upcoming Hochnassat Sefer Torah Party to take place in the Givat Nof Harim neighborhood of Eli. Many thanks to the Goldstein family of Queens for their kindness in providing a Torah scroll and seeing to its repair.

We must strive and aspire to reach the high level of perfection of the mitzvah of t'ruma, of tzedaka. If we will all intensify our tzedaka and our other mitzvot, so that each day we re-accept Yiddishkeit as if we were all gerim and as if Yiddishkeit was brand new, then we'll merit to have our tefillah reach Shemayim, unimpeded, ungarbled. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would say each Thursday evening at his Gemara lesson back in Philadelphia, in "the old country", then we'll merit to demand, compel Hashem to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, bim hayra v'yameinu ? speedily, in our time," like achshav ? immediately ? like chik-chak!