This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Terumah (5769)
This week we begin the month of Adar; the "Month that transforms sadness to joy, mourning to festivity" (Esther 9:22). We also read this Shabbat the Torah portion 'Truma' which explains the building of the Holy Temple.
The reason that Adar is called the 'month' that changes sadness to joy is because it contains the holiday of Purim; the happiest holiday in Judaism. But, seemingly this is no reason to call it the happiest MONTH.
Also the idea of a Holy Temple doesn't seem to fit the message of Judaism that G-d is omnipresent and infinite?
G-d is everywhere! Why do we need a holy Temple?
To understand this… here is a story. (HaGeula weekly page #445)
Mrs. Nechama Dina Bernstein took her pupils for an outing. Why not? It was one of the eight days of Chanukah when Jewish schools of all sorts take vacations and make special programs. But this outing was special. She took the girls to a local shopping center in New Jersey to light, not Chanukah candles but Jews.
It was an invention of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; to go into public places, search for uneducated/ uninspired/ unattached Jews and give them a taste of Judaism. In this case it meant telling them about the holiday of Chanukah and its laws, customs and deeper meanings.
Mrs. Bernstein was a very responsible, precise teacher and she demanded the same from her pupils; tardiness or disorder of any sort was out of the question.
So when they agreed that the girls would split up into groups of three to cover as much area as possible and would meet back at the bus in an hour and a half it meant no later than an hour and a half!
The girls took pamphlets and Chanukah candles and set off in different direction while she took what remained and went alone to search for Jews in a different direction.
After almost an hour of successful wandering about and talking to women about the holiday she looked at her watch to see that forty minutes remained, enough for two or perhaps three more discussions. She noticed several women and a young man sitting around the table of an outdoor restaurant and approached.
"Anyone here Jewish?" She asked the women with a smile. Two women raised their hand in good spirits and a lively conversation ensued. She told them about the holiday, they asked questions, she answered, they replied and the conversation continued for several minutes. Meanwhile the other women, who were just saying goodbye when Mrs. Bernstein appeared, left while the young man, who obviously was not Jewish, sat and listened to the discussion.
Suddenly Mrs. Bernstein looked at her watch and exclaimed. "Oh my goodness! We've been talking for forty five minutes! I must go!!! I'm already late!"
She shook hands with the women, they exchanged telephone numbers, she left some of the pamphlets and candles with them and ran off to her pupils and the bus.
But she stopped. A voice inside of her was saying she shouldn't have completely ignored the young man, 'You should have at least asked him if he was Jewish'. But then she thought again. 'Why, that's foolish! I'm late! And he didn't look at all Jewish! I'm not going back!"
But the first voice won.
She turned around, walked briskly back to the table, approached the young man who was now sitting alone and said "Excuse me but, by the way, are you Jewish?"
She never would have expected his reaction. His eyes filled with tears, he began trembling so severely that the food fell from his fork on his shirt leaving a large stain and he began to cry.
Mrs. Bernstein was confused, she apologized handed him a few napkins and apologized again.
"Why did you ask me that?!" the young man said between sniffles. "Why did you come back and ask me that!?" He said again drying his eyes and blowing his nose a few times.
"I don't really know." She replied. "I can't really explain it. I just did. But why are you crying? What happened? I'm sorry. But please tell me, are you Jewish?"
"I'll tell you." He replied. "I don't think you understand what a miracle just happened now." He invited her to sit down and began to talk.
"First of all my name is Fred (pseudonym) I was born to a Jewish mother, so that makes me Jewish, right? But my father is not Jewish. To you that probably isn't important because I'm still a Jew but to me it meant confusion.
"My mother wasn't at all observant, I mean she did marry a gentile, but for some reason she insisted that if they had children they would be given an orthodox Jewish education. Doesn't make sense but my father agreed and when I was born… I became that child.
"When I was three they enrolled me in a real Jewish school and by the age of five I not only could read the Torah, I looked and acted like a religious Jew with a yarmulke, locks of hair at the sides of my head, Tzitzis, on the four corners of my garments; the whole business!
"But you can imagine what a feeling I had everyday when I went back to my totally non-religious home. And although my parents didn't bother me about my Jewish appearance the kids in school bothered me about my home. They were just little kids and, well you know how kids can be cruel sometimes. But they mostly made fun because of my appearance. I looked exactly like my father; blond hair, blue eyes, small bobbed nose in other words like a total gentile and every once in a while even the teachers made remarks.
"Anyway, it made me confused and miserable and when my parents saw how it was ruining me they talked it over and when I got to the fifth grade they decided to move me to a normal public school.
"After the move it only took a few days till I removed all the signs of Judaism, made new friends and almost forgot the whole episode but deep in my heart I knew I was different. What I had learned in the Jewish school stuck with me, but so did the negative experiences.
"Sometimes I even would talk to G-d and ask Him why He put me in this confusion but I didn’t get any answers; only more confusion. So I tried to take my mind off it and just live life like everyone else.
"But once in a while I had attacks of identity and one of them was just now. When you came and asked everyone except me if they were Jewish my heart broke; all the frustration, anger and sadness came back to me. Then, when you walked away I decided to have my final talk with G-d. I said 'G-d, if that lady comes back here and asks me if I'm Jewish then….. I'm Jewish. But if not….. I'm never going to think about it or talk to you about it again!'
"So if you are wondering why you came back… now you know; it was G-d answering my prayers!"
This answers our questions.
When someone decides to make a real change in life it doesn't just mean just changing appearance, attitude or personality. These are only from the soul outward.
True change means changing oneself to reveal one's soul and live according to the truth; according to the will of the Creator.
Like Fred when he prayed and risked being different and Mrs. Bernstein when she returned to the table and risked missing her bus. Both were interested only in one thing; what does G-d want from them. And when they made the decision it changed their lives and certainly the lives of those around them.
That is why the miracle of Purim, when the Jews refused to deny their Judaism and escape Haman's decree of 'Destroy all the Jews', effected the entire month and the Holy Temple, where Jews devoted themselves totally to the Creator, effected the entire world.
Because when one makes that decision to live only according to the will of the Creator it can connects the infinite to the finite; all time and space.
This is why one of the main accomplishments of Moshiach will be to change the priorities of all the Jewish people (like it was in Purim) and build a Third Temple (like in our weekly Torah portion).
Because through these changes the entire creation; all time, space and consciousness, will be PERMANENTLY purified to reveal the TRUE oneness of G-d.
It's all up to us, to change ourselves and do all we can to bring….
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