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Parshat Terumah (5767)

This week we read, in great detail, about the materials and measurements of the 'Mishkan' (Tabernacle); the prototype of the Holy Temple.

Judaism is totally unlike all the other religions. Besides being the only one that even claims to have received their 'Bible' in public and directly from the Creator of the Universe, it is the only one that doesn't stress heaven and spiritual bliss. The goal of Judaism is …. a physical building!! And from that building, called The Third Holy Temple, the entire physical world will become holy!

But this Temple in its every detail is also is in the soul of man and every human must do everything possible to make him/herself into a miniature Holy Temple as well… in every detail.

For instance one of the strangest details in the Temple was that on the cover of the Holy Ark in the Holy of Holies (that contained the Tablets G-d gave to Moses) protruded two "Keruvim': which were statues at in the form of babies' heads!!! (Rashi on 25:18).

What do babies' heads have to do with Judaism? And why are they in the Holy of Holies!?

Also, this Shabbat is the first in the month of Adar; the happiest month in the year (Esther 9:22). So there must be some happy lesson the Torah is giving us here (Torah means 'instruction') with these statues.

To understand this here is a story I heard from a good friend Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson is a very talented and popular Chabad lecturer, once, in a lecture he gave in London, he repeated a speech the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave in 1984 (Mikatz 5784) to stress the importance of being happy and making others happy.

The Rebbe said; the Torah tells us that when Yosef was in prison, after serving the first ten years of his life sentence he noticed that two new inmates, the former ministers of wine and of bread, were sad and he asked them,

"Why are your faces miserable today." (Genesis 40:7)

The Rebbe pointed out that seemingly this makes no sense …. for four reasons:

First; wasn't it obvious why they were sad!? They had just been demoted from positions of power, luxury and glory to imprisonment, degradation and possible death.

Second: Yosef had no connections or power whatsoever and there was no way he could possibly help.

Third: He should have been happy to see them suffer!

They were ministers in the most debased nations in history and, as we will later see, Jew haters of the first degree.

And finally, Yosef had more reason to be sad than they did! He had been falsely accused and convicted, no one had even visited him for ten years and he had no chance of getting out. So he had enough problems of his own.

So for all these reasons, why did it bother him that they were sad and why did he ask?

The Rebbe answered that Yosef was such a Tzadik and so aware of G-d that he couldn't stand to see anyone, any creation of G-d, sad.

He simply felt and 'saw' the joyous fact that G-d is creating each being constantly and figured that everyone else could and should also feel it and that is why he asked. He just wanted to do anything he could to make another person feel positive.

Or, in simple terms; he felt that we must make the world smile not wait for the world to make us smile.

Five years after that lecture Rabbi Jacobson met a middle aged couple that had heard it. They thanked him profusely and told him that he probably didn't know it but his words, or rather the Rebbe's words, saved a life.

They told him that after that lecture they got in their car and drove home, still digesting all the rich ideas he had given them. It was fairly late at night and the city streets were deserted as they stopped for a traffic light behind a van, discussing what they had heard when suddenly a back door of the van opened, a teen aged girl flew out of the door and fell on the street and the van sped away.

They were stunned and watched as the bruised girl stood, stumbled to the curb, sat down, put her head in her hands and began weeping.

They had never seen violence in the streets before and, figuring it was some sort of teenage gang affair and they should get as far away as possible, instinctively sped off. After all, it was none of their business and it seemed very threatening.

But when they stopped at the next traffic light they looked at each other and remembered the words of Rabbi Jacobson.

"Yosef couldn't stand to see any creation sad."

They talked it over and decided to do a u-turn and return to the deserted corner. Sure enough she was still sitting there weeping. His wife rolled down the window and called out, still a bit apprehensive and after a bit of coaxing got her to talk.

She turned out to be much more normal than they thought and when they were sure she wasn't dangerous they invited her to their home. Soon they were sitting in their kitchen hearing her sad story. She had come from a middle-class Jewish home but ran away at an early age and got mixed up with a gang of street teens. At first she thought it was real freedom but as the years passed things got worse and worse until she felt she had reached the bottom. Finally she argued with her 'friends' and that is why they ousted her from the van. Now she had no past, no future, no money, no home and simply no desire to continue living. If they wouldn't have turned around who knows what would have happened.

It took several years of care and counseling but finally she came to herself enrolled in a Jewish school and began leading a normal life. So the Rebbe's words and Yosef's question saved a life.

This is the point of the "Keruvim". True, Judaism is very complex with many laws and prohibitions (just like the human body is complex… precisely because it is alive).

But the innermost point of Judaism; in the Holy of Holies, even above the Holy Tablets is that our relation with G-d should be as a child to his/her father; with simple and total devotion; and to know that G-d's relation to each of us is like a father to his children; with unconditional love … even if they (G-d forbid) sin.

This is the source of Jewish joy or "Simcha Shel Mitzva" as it is often called.

Just as every creation will rejoice when they remember that G-d is creating them even more so will every Jew rejoice when we remember we are His children!!

This is the secret of the joy of the month of Adar (and the only way to defeat Haman and all the anti-Semites of all generations): to remember the joyous truth: G-d is good, He creates us all, He is infinitely close, He cares and provides for His creations and the most joyous of all: we can serve Him through His Torah like children.

This is what caused the great miracle of Purim and this same thought and joy is what the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that today will bring even more joy with....

Moshiach NOW!!

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