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Summary of The Weekly Torah Reading: Parshas Terumah
by Rabbi Aron Tendler
Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person "goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
The following Aliya summary will list the numerous laws detailed in Parshas Mishpatim. A total of 53 Mitzvot are commanded.
1st Aliya: A list of raw materials necessary for building the Mishkan was presented to the Bnai Yisroel: gold, silver, copper, wool dyed sky-blue,dark red, and crimson, linen, goats wool, ram skins, acacia wood, oil,spices, incense, and precious stones. The Ark is described in detail.
2nd Aliya: The cover of the Ark and the Cherubim are detailed. The weight of the cover alone, without the Cherubim, is between 150 lb. and 2500 lb.
of pure gold! The Shulchan - Table and the Showbread are described.
3rd & 4th Aliyot: The Menorah and her utensils are described. Her weight
was 1 Talent = 3000 Shekels = 150 lb. of pure gold. The basic structure of
the Mishkan, consisting of beams, decorative materials and leather
coverings, is outlined.
5th Aliya: The Paroches- dividing partition separating the Holy of Holies
from the rest of the Mishkan is described.
6th & 7th Aliyot: The ramped, copper, Mizbeach is described. The outer
enclosure surrounding the entire Mishkan is described.
The Four Parshios (Portions)
Practically speaking, Shabbos was the one day during the week when the
community gathered. Therefore, the Rabbis chose Shabbos as the most
opportune time to make timely Halachik and communal announcements.
Associating these announcements with a Torah portion is indicative of the
focus that each of us is supposed to have in regards to integrating Hashem
(G-d) into our lives. These announcements were not simply relegated to a
public pronouncement or a few lines on a sheet, but were associated with
the reading and the study of Torah.
There are four special Shabbosim preceding Pesach when additional portions
from the Torah are read. Set rules determine when each of these additional
Parshios are to be read.
Parshas Shekalim, the first of the special Shabbosim preceding Pesach, is
read on the Shabbos that precedes the month of Adar, or the Shabbos of Rosh
Chodesh Adar (when Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos coincide).
Parshas Zachor is read on the Shabbos before Purim.
Parshas Parah is read on the Shabbos before the Shabbos of Parshas Hachodesh.
Parshas Hachodesh is read on the Shabbos before the month of Nissan or the
Shabbos of Rosh Chodesh Nissan (when Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos coincide).
This week, in addition to the regular Parsha, we read Parshas Zachor.
Parshas Zachor is the 2nd of the four special Shabbosim preceding Pesach
when additional portions are read from the Torah. The first special Shabbos
was Parshas Shekalim. This week we read Zachor, and in a few weeks we will
read Parah and Chodesh. There are set rules which determine when each of
these additional Parshios is to be read. Parshas Zachor is always read on
the Shabbos before Purim.
On Parshas Zachor, we read the additional Parsha found in Devarim, 25:17.
As a nation, we were commanded to destroy the nation of Amalek. This nation
came into existence at the same time as we did. Esav's son Elifaz had a son
Amalek. Esav and Elifaz's legacy to Amalek was an undying hatred against
the children of Yakov.
At the time of the exodus from Egypt, Amalek traveled hundreds of miles to
ambush the newly freed nation in the hope of destroying them. We, as a
nation, did not pose any threat to their sovereignty. They lived to the
east of Canaan and were not among the Seven Nations occupying Eretz
Yisroel. Nevertheless, their irrational hatred against Hashem and us
compelled them to attack a harmless and seemingly defenseless nation. In
the aftermath of their attack we were commanded to always remember the evil
that is Amalek. It is the reading of this Parsha that is the fulfillment of
this Biblical commandment. This mitzvah, according to most authorities, is
not restricted by time and must be fulfilled by men and woman.
The Rabbi's selected the Shabbos before Purim for the fulfillment of this
Mitzvah because Haman was a direct descendent of Amalek, and Mordecai was a
direct descendent of King Saul. The entire story of Purim is directly
linked to this Mitzvah and the missed opportunity of King Saul that we read
about in the Haftorah.
Haftorah Zachor - Shmuel I - 15:2
This week's Haftorah takes place 2,873 years ago. In the year 2883 - 878
b.c.e. King Shaul was sent by G-d to destroy the nation of Amalek. Agag was
their king, and it was a singular moment in history when every member of
Amalek was in one place at the same time. Shaul, as per Shmuel Hanavi's
instructions, was successful in destroying Amalek. However, as the Haftorah
clearly states, Shaul had mercy and allowed the king, Agag, to remain
alive, as well as the captured cattle. The commentaries state that in the
interim, Agag was able to impregnate a maidservant, from which the nation
of Amalek would survive. Hashem told Shmuel that Shaul's neglect of His
command to totally destroy Amalek must result in Shaul loosing the right to
be king. Despite Shmuel's prayers for mercy, Hashem didn't relent, and
Shmuel went to tell Shaul of G-d's punishment.
The connection to Purim is well documented. Haman is called, "the Agagi".
He was a direct descendent of Agag. In ascertaining Hashem's mercy and
justice, we are forced to acknowledge our limited understanding. The notion
of killing men woman and children is thankfully foreign and abhorrent to
us. Nevertheless, Shaul was commanded to eradicate the entire nation.
The Haftorah identifies Shaul's sin in not fulfilling G-d's commandment as
misplaced mercy. Had he known that, 521 years later, his merciful act would
result in the potential extermination of the entire Jewish people, Shaul
would not have had mercy on Agag and the cattle. It is the responsibility
of a king to think beyond the immediate and do what has to be done to
guarantee the future of his nation. Being that no single human can ever
guarantee the future, he has no choice but to listen to Hashem's
commandments and do as he is told. That insures the future.
The message of Purim is the story of our Haftorah. Hashem works His
miracles through the normal passage of time. Actions done today set in
motion ripples in time that radiate far into the future.
May today's celebration of Purim set in motion the redemption of tomorrow!
Parsha-Summary, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.