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Trumah 5766

Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   The story is told of a woman called her husband on his cell phone. She said, "Darling, please be careful on your way home. I just heard on the radio that some nut is driving in the wrong direction on the freeway!" Her husband responds with a frustrated, angered edge in his voice, "What do you mean 'some nut'? There are HUNDREDS of nuts driving the wrong way!"

It is good to have confidence in oneself and to have a positive self-image, but we need reality checks in life to make sure that we're not just being arrogant. Therefore, this week's edition is devoted to reality checks ... to humility ... which allow a person to interact with others, seek truth and to know truth.


The Torah tells us that, "... Moses was very humble, more than any person on the face of the earth." The classic question is: Moses wrote down the words of the Torah; how is it possible for him to be humble after the Almighty tells him that he is the most humble man in the world?

The answer lies in the definition of humility. Humility is not being a nebikh - meek, unassertive, a pitiful, downcast loser; humility is knowing exactly what your talents and capabilities are - and recognizing that they and everything else is a gift from the Almighty. Moses understood that he was the only prophet to ever speak "face to face" with the Almighty; he also understood that this level of prophesy was a gift from God. Humility is understanding who you are and what are your capabilities ... and also understanding that your capabilities are a gift from God.

Humility is a requisite for learning Torah. Torah is compared to water -life-giving wisdom which flows to "low places." If one is humble, there is room for Torah to enter; if one is too full of himself, there is little room for anything else.

When one realizes his smallness in comparison with the entire universe and the power of the Almighty, one will have humility. When one realizes the vast amount of knowledge that one is missing and the mistakes that he has already made, he will have humility. When one realizes the frailty of the human body and how even the strongest person eventually becomes weak and dies, one will have humility. The only way to have arrogance is to lack awareness of the total picture of reality. Moses had the highest level of awareness of reality and therefore was the most humble of all men.

Why does a person need humility? A person with true humility will learn from others, will ask questions when he has doubts, and will be open to criticism. When one has humility, he does not feel a need to gain power over others or to feel above them by focusing on their faults. He will not act upon slights and escalate quarrels; he will ask for forgiveness and not blame others. He can see the good in others and therefore, love them. (Love is the emotion of pleasure one feels when focusing on the good in others.)

An arrogant person demands that everything should be exactly as he wishes. He lacks patience and this causes him much frustration and suffering. A person with humility finds it easy to accept things not being the way he would have wished them to be. He focuses on the positive in each situation and circumstance. He has more joy in living.

The humble man stands up for truth and righteousness, unaffected by the opinion of others. He understands the reality of what is important --God, Torah, truth - and not his ego.

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Torah Portion of the Week

This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.

The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).

* * *

Dvar Torah

The Aron or Ark was made of wood covered on the inside and the outside with gold. The Ark contained the broken tablets as well as the second set of Ten Commandments, the Torah that Moshe wrote and a jar of the manneh. The cover of the Ark was made out of pure gold and had two Cherubs hammered out of the same piece of gold. The Torah states that:

"The Cherubs shall be with wings spread upward, sheltering the Cover with their wings with their faces toward one another; toward the Cover shall be the faces of the Cherubs." (Exodus 25:20)

Everything that is written in the Torah is coming to teach us lessons for living. What lessons do we learn from the Cherubs?

According to Rabbi Ovadia Seforno, the 15th century Italian commentator, the upward spread wings teach us that the goal of life is to ascend in our spiritual and intellectual quest to understand God and how He interacts with us. The faces of the Cherubs inclined downward toward the Ark which held the Torah to teach us that the means to understand God is through understanding His Torah. The Cherubs faced each other to teach that we must interact with other human beings to both share and clarify the wisdom of the Torah; additionally , we must be responsible to treat each other with respect and responsibility for each other -- to think not only of oneself, but also for others.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin comments that the Cherubs were in the form of young children to teach that childhood education should be grounded in the Torah. Just as the cherubs were hammered out of the same block of gold as the Ark cover itself (i.e., they were "one" with the Torah), the young children's education should be based in the Torah. This will give them the values and perspectives they need in order to live as Jews and to want to be a part of the Jewish people and the Jewish future.

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The two most important gifts
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