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The Chassidic Dimension - Volume 3
Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.
Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.


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Separating and Uplifting

The Torah portion of Terumah begins[1] with G-d telling Moshe to have the Jewish people "take unto Me an offering" - terumah. Rashi[2] explains terumah to mean "separation"; the Jews were to "separate" an offering "for His Name's sake."

The verse then goes on to explain what is to be done with this offering: "You shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I will rest within them."[3] Rashi[4] explains this to mean: "You shall make for My Name's sake a Holy edifice."

Why does Rashi find it necessary in the latter verse as well to explain that "for" means "for My Name's sake"? In the former verse, where the Jews are commanded to detach their own mundane funds, the verse already explains that the money must be separated and earmarked "for My Name's sake."

Here, however, when G-d describes how the money - which was already set aside for a sacred purpose, and thus within the domain of holiness - should be used, the explanation that this also was "for My Name's sake" seems superfluous.

As mentioned earlier, Rashi explains "Sanctuary" to mean "a Holy edifice," i.e., not only an "edifice for Holiness," wherein holiness is found, but a "Holy edifice; the edifice itself is holy.

We thus understand that erecting the Sanctuary caused a transformation in the objects used in its construction; they themselves became holy, part of the Holy edifice. Prior to this, their sanctity lay merely in the fact that they had been donated to a sacred cause; now, however, they became part and parcel of the "Holy edifice."

Since the construction of the Sanctuary brought about a much loftier degree of sanctity within the items used for its construction, it was therefore necessary that the construction itself be performed with an added measure of sanctity - "for My Name's sake."

According to the above, we may explain an additional matter in Rashi. As mentioned earlier, Rashi explains terumah to mean "separation." Terumah may also be translated as "raising and uplifting." It now becomes clear why Rashi chose the first translation.

"Separation" implies that the object involved was merely detached from other similar objects, i.e., it remains essentially the same as the rest, the difference being only the domain in which the object finds itself.

"Raising and uplifting," on the other hand, implies an essential change within the object itself - the object has become transformed into something much higher than it was.

According to Rashi, this is the difference between the verse "take unto Me an offering - terumah" and the verse "You shall make for Me a Sanctuary."

The first verse, which had the Jews donate to a sacred cause, involved mere "separation." For although the money or objects underwent a change of ownership from the mundane to the holy, they remained essentially the same.

But by transforming them into "a Sanctuary for Me," the objects themselves were "raised and uplifted" to a strikingly higher degree of holiness.

There is an important lesson here in terms of our own spiritual service. Our Sages tell us[5] that every Jew is to transform his home into a Sanctuary for G-d.

Here too, the two levels of service - "separation" and "uplifting" - are extremely germane. First and foremost, the Jew is to "separate" his home from its environment. In his house, all things are done "for the sake of Heaven;"[6] he engages in mundane activities, but they are intended for a spiritual purpose.

Thereafter, the individual transforms and uplifts his home so that it becomes a Sanctuary. During this stage, the house itself becomes more than a dwelling for holiness, it becomes a dwelling of holiness, permeated with Torah and mitzvos.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, pp. 167-174



  1. (Back to text) Shmos 25:1-2.

  2. (Back to text) Ibid.

  3. (Back to text) Ibid., verse 8.

  4. (Back to text) Ibid.

  5. (Back to text) See Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaAhavah ch. 6; Sheloh, Terumah 325b, 326b; Likkutei Torah, Naso 20b, et al.

  6. (Back to text) Avos 2:12.

Two Forms of Giving = Two Forms of Service

In the Torah portion of Terumah, the Jews are commanded to bring terumah (offerings) for use in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). The command is repeated three times: "They shall take unto Me terumah;" "you shall take My terumah;" "This is the terumah that you shall take."[1]

Our Sages comment[2] that the Torah is referring here to three different types of terumah: the terumah used for constructing bases for the Mishkan's beams; the terumah of the silver half-shekel for the purchase of communal offerings; and general offerings for the construction of the Mishkan.

Of the above three offerings, only the terumah of the half-shekel was obligatory throughout the time that the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash stood - every Jew was commanded to contribute a half-shekel a year for the purchase of communal offerings.[3]

In commemoration of the above, we read the Torah portion concerning the half-shekel on the Shabbos that precedes Rosh Chodesh Adar,[4] the time when the announcement was made about the half-shekel while the Beis HaMikdash still existed.[5] Additionally, some say that before Purim, a half-coin of the currency of the country should be given in commemoration of the half-shekel that used to be given during the month of Adar.[6]

The command regarding the offering used for the sockets was germane only prior to the building of the Mishkan, as was the command regarding the general construction offerings, which applied only prior to the construction of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash.[7]

Torah, however, is eternal,[8] and thus applies equally to all times and places; in terms of man's spiritual service, the terumah of the sockets and the terumah of the general construction offerings must apply nowadays as well.

How so?

There was a fundamental difference between the terumah of the Mishkan's sockets and the terumah for the construction of the Mishkan itself: Regarding the former, all Jews gave an equal amount - a half-shekel; regarding the latter, each Jew gave according to his heart's desire.[9]

In terms of our personal spiritual service, the terumah for the sockets represents the self-abnegation and acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke that stem from the essence of every Jew's soul, and concerning which all Jews are equal.

This also explains why the half-shekel given by every Jew was used only for the sockets, and not for the rest of the Mishkan: The sockets constituted the foundation upon which the entire Mishkan stood.

In spiritual terms, the sockets are congruous with acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke,[10] inasmuch as such acceptance serves as the foundation of all spiritual service,[11] springing from the soul's essence, wherein all Jews are equal.[12]

The terumah for the general construction of the Mishkan, however, reflects intellectual and emotional service, which depend upon each individual's spiritual status; the spiritual level - "heart's desire" - of one Jew differs significantly from that of his fellow.[13]

These two levels are also to be found within our daily spiritual service: Every Jew's spiritual service begins immediately upon awakening, with Modeh Ani, a prayer recited even before the ritual purification of washing the hands.[14] For Modeh Ani is a prayer of thanks and acceptance of the Divine Yoke, and derives from the soul's essence - a level that touches all Jews equally.[15]

After all Jews begin their day in a similar manner - the terumah of the sockets - they go on to their individual levels of Divine service - the terumah for the general construction of the Mishkan - as expressed in each Jew's unique approach to prayer, Torah study and the transformation of the world into a Mishkan for G-d.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, pp. 109-111



  1. (Back to text) Shmos 25:2-3.

  2. (Back to text) Yerushalmi, Shekalim 1:5.

  3. (Back to text) Rambam, beginning of Hilchos Shekalim.

  4. (Back to text) Chinuch, Mitzvah 105; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim, Section 685.

  5. (Back to text) Shekalim ibid., Mishnah 1; Rambam ibid., halachah 9.

  6. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch, ibid., Section 694.

  7. (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:12.

  8. (Back to text) Tanya, Ch. 17.

  9. (Back to text) See Shmos 35:21ff.; 38:26-27.

  10. (Back to text) See HaYosheves BaGanim 5708 Ch. 1.

  11. (Back to text) See Tanya, beginning of Ch. 41.

  12. (Back to text) See Tanya, beginning of Ch. 32.

  13. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, pp. 165, 181.

  14. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, MaHadurah Kamma 1:5; MaHadurah Tinyana 1:6; beginning of Siddur Admur HaZakein.

  15. (Back to text) See HaYom Yom p. 19; Kuntres Inyanah Shel Toras HaChassidus Ch. 11.

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