Friday, February 4, 2011

Terumah: Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Ari’Zal teaches us that the first six weeks of Sefer Shemos are specifically infused with energy and inspiration that bring a person to Teshuva. The Passuk says - Shuvu Banim Shovavim! - Repent you sons, you wild-ones! The Hebrew word for ‘wild-ones’ is Shovavim, which serves as the Rashei Teivos, an acrostic for titles of the first six Parshios of Sefer Shemos. Shemos Vaera Bo Beshalach Yisro Mishpatim.

But this year, things are a little bit different. This year is a Shana Me’uberes, a year with a double-Adar (This Shabbos Kodesh we enter into the first of them). Beis Din set up a system in which every few years an extra month is added into the calendar to ensure that solar, seasonal calendar matches up with the series of months, as the are enumerated by the lunar calendar.

In a year which is a Shana Me’uberes, and has in it an extra Adar, two more weeks are added into Shovivim, turning it into Shovivim-Tat. ‘Tat’ stands for Terumah-Tetzaveh which are the names of the two weeks which are added.

But why? Why do we need to add two weeks to Shovivim just because the year is a little longer? The answer is brought to us by the Heilige Reb Tzadok HaKohen Mi’Lublin.

Why do we need to insert the extra month in order to fix the calendar in the first place? Why didn’t Hashem just line them up from the start? The answer is that He did, but as the Midrash tells us, in the start of creation the moon was out of line and so it was decreased in size, thus decreasing what it could accomplish in the course of twelve months, making it lag behind its greater, more powerful counterpart – the sun. Every few years the moon falls so far behind that it risks throwing the whole cycle off. For this reason we add more strength to the moon – we add a month to its cycle – in order to match it up with the sun.

Says Reb Tzadok, a year where such a thing occurs contains within it a taste of the word to come, when the moon will be restored, and the two cycles – lunar and solar – will line up once again. This added strength is a symbol of the Teshuva that moon is doing over the course of history in order to overcome its original limitation. Thus a Shana-Me’uberes is a year which is naturally filled with a greater potential for Teshuva overall, and therefore it is very fitting that Shovivim be extended.

But why extend Shovivim specifically into Chodesh Adar? And why specifically into the Parshios that deal wit the building of the Mishkan? What about this month, and these Parshios makes it an extra special occasion to make tremendous leaps of growth in our Avodas Hashem?

Let’s explore.

We are taught that every month has a specific letter from which it is emanating from. The spiritual potential of any given month is being formed from the essence of the letter which is appointed over it. The letter of Chodesh Adar is Kuf.

The Zohar does not have positive things to say about Kuf. Says the Zohar, the letter Hei represents the Shechina, which is compared to an Eishes Chayil, a Woman of Valor. And what is Kuf? Kuf is a cheap counterfeit. A Harlot. She dresses pretty, she’s got the moves but she lacks class. If Hei represents the Shechina, which is all the good vibes and energies in one place, the Kuf is the Sitra Achra, the Yetzer HaRa, the center of all impure and negative energy in the universe.

Why does Kuf represent the cheap imitation? The Zohar goes on to tell us that Kuf comes from the language of the word Kof, which means monkey. You can take an elaborate dance routine and more or less teach it to monkey. But what are you going to get? Are you going to get a sharp, exacting run-through of the moves? No. It’s going to be a sloppy, dumbed down version of the original plan.

Says the Sfas Emes, this ‘monkey-see monkey-do’ trick is how the Yetzer HaRa gets me to mess up. My soul desires greatness. I’m destined for big things, to make waves. But my Yetzer HaRa takes that very desire for greatness in the realm of holiness and ruins it. So in the end I just have an ego. My soul desires a personal intimate relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This desire for closeness, this longing for relationship gets Kof’ed-out by the Yetzer HaRa and I end up with all of my lustful desires. In essence all of my bad traits are rooted in a good place, but the power of Kof takes them, twists them and serves them back to me as negative, temping urges.

But there is a Kof, the power of imitation, that is rooted in a very holy place as well. And in truth, it is the aimof all of Teshuva and the goal of all Avodas Hashem. It’s brought down that Every time I do a Mitzvah I’m really doing two Mitzvos. Why? Because every time a Mitzvah is done, I’m also doing the Mitzvah of ‘V’Halachta B’Drachav’ – to imitate God’s ways. Every Mitzvah is another piece of advice how to be more godly. We say this in many ways. Chazal tell us ‘Mah Hu Rachum, Af Atah Rachum.’ – Just as He is merciful, so too shall you be merciful. ‘Mah Hu Chanun, Af Atah Chanun’ – Just as He is gracious, so too shall you be gracious. We are playing copy-cat with God!

Just like the Passuk says in Parshas Kedoshim, “Kedoshim Tihiyu, Ki Kodesh Ani Hashem Elokeichem” - ‘You shall be holy, for I your God, am holy.’ What’s the motivation for being holier? Ki Kadosh Ani! Be holy because it makes you more like God!

And it’s all summed up by the Gemara in Bava Basra (58:a) which says that ‘Adam B’Fnei Shechina? K’Kof B’Fnei Adam. What does man look like in front of the Shechina? He looks like a monkey who stands before a man. We are trying to imitate all that which is holy, because that brings holiness into our very being.

The Ohr HaGanuz explains how the building of the Mishkan embodies this idea.

The Parsha opens up by Hashem listing off all the materials need to building the Mishkan. ‘I want your gold, silver, bronze. I need wood. Lots of wood. Cloth, dyes, and hides. We’re building something amazing here.’ Moshe looks at the list and God finishes off by saying, ‘Take a look at all this stuff, because with this - Va’Asu Li Mikdash V’Shachanti B’Socham - through the building of the Mishkan I will come to dwell in the very beings that make up the Jewish people.

But then, between the lines of the Psukim, Moshe Rabbeinu asks a question to Hashem: How is this stuff going to make you dwell in the Jewish people, in the essence of every single Jew?

So God answers back with another question, “I have a better question. Instead of asking how I’ll make Myself fit into the heart of every Jew, ask how I can fit My presence into the Mishkan! You can ask an ever better question. I’m infinite. Nothing else is infinite. How I do I fit in the heavens? How I do I cram myself into any of the levels of any of the spiritual universes! Nothing is big enough to contain Infinite! The answer is a constrict Myself, I hold back infinitude because I want to be with you. And if I can crunch Myself down through the supernal dimensions. I can also cram Myself into the heavens, and I can bring my presence into the world, and I can concentrate My Presence into a building.” And so the Passuk says, “K’Chol Asher Ani Ar’eh Oscha” – Just like I will show you – “Eis Tavnis HaMishkan, V’Eis Tavnis Kol Keilav - The structure of the dwelling place. Which one? Shochen Bamromim! – I’ll show you that if I can fit in there, in all of those worlds. - V’Chein Ta’asu - That’s how you’ll do it. That’s how you’ll fit my presence into the small physical space called the Mishkan. If I can do that, it’s no big leap to believe - V’Shachanti B’Socham, B’Chol Echad V’Echad.
that I can bring my presence into to bodies of the Jewish people as well.

And so building the Mishkan shows us that God can bring His presence, He can influence any space that invites Him in. This is how my Rebbe Rav Yoel Rackovsky Shlita understands the Passuk in Shir HaShirim. The Passuk says ‘Mashcheini Acharecha Narutzah’ – The Jewish people ask Hashem, Mashcheini - Pull us after You and we’ll come running! Says my Rebbe, Mashcheini can be interpreted to mean ‘Turn me into a Mishkan!’ Infuse me with Hashem’s presence!

This is what Chodesh Adar is all about! Adar’s whole essence is about bringing Hashem’s presence into our lives. To become influence by Him. To become more Godly ourselves. Adar is coming from the term Adir BaMarom Hashem - Hashem is awesome in the highest places. But He takes all that awe and brings it down. Adar spells out the phrase ‘Alef-Dar’ – The Alef dwells. Who is the Alef? Alufo Shel Olam! The Commander of the universe, Hashem! In Adar Hashem comes down, now more that ever, to come and infuse us, to enrich our lives with godliness.

We are striving to be more like Hashem. To be holy, to sanctified, to be actively bringing the world to a better place. This is what godliness is. This is what the Mishkan is all about. This is what Adar is all about. This is nothing less dramatic than what the goal of all Avodas Hashem is about. So in a year like a Shana Me’uberes, a year laden with such potential, is it not fitting to pull Shovivim into themes like this?!

Hashem should give us a Bracha that we should be able to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that is upon us right now. We should be Zoche to truly maximize ourselves, to become Godly people - V’Shachanti B’Socham, B’Chol Echad V’Echad. Because if we can do that there is no doubt that we live lives of Simcha and Shleimus moving closer to the Creator and ultimately the Geulah Sheleimah!

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