TORAH TUESDAYS: PARSHAT TERUMAH

BY HENNIE BLACK

tHIS WEEK’S PARSHA LOOKS AT THE LESSONS THAT CAN BE DRAWN FROM HASHEM’S CALL TO MOSHE TO MAKE THE MENORAH.

ESTHER FROM THE PURIM STORY HELPS US UNDERSTAND HOW THAT LESSON TRANSLATES INTO REAL WORLD ACTIONS AND HOW WHAT IS SEEMINGLY OUT OF REACH IS POSSIBLE AFTER ALL.

This week’s Torah portion of Terumah discusses the building of the Mishkan and all its vessels.

The most complicated and intricate of all of the vessels was the menorah. The detailed elements were not to be made separately and then attached together, rather the menorah was to be hammered out from a single piece of gold.

A midrash informs us that even after Hashem told Moshe how to build it, Moshe could not comprehend fully how to make it. At this point, Hashem showed Moshe an image of a menorah made of fire so that Moshe could actually visualize it and recreate it.

Yet, when it came time for it to be built, Moshe was still unable to do so. Hashem then told him to throw the clump of gold into the fire and it would be formed and created by itself.

Rashi derives this from the words that begins the verse, “You shall make a Menorah,” but continues with “shall the Menorah be made.”

Why did Hashem tell Moshe to build the menorah even though He knew Moshe would not be able to? Why did Hashem go even further and try to explain the details by showing him the fiery image? If Hashem was going to employ a miracle, why didn’t Hashem just create it Himself miraculously from the outset?

Hashem was teaching Moshe and really all of us a lesson. There are so many times in life that we are faced with challenges that at first glance seem impossible and beyond our reach. We may think that they are too difficult and we are incapable of tackling them. Yet Hashem asks us to do our part, put in all our efforts and extend ourselves to go beyond our limits if necessary. Hashem will do His part by enabling the possibility, but it is up to us, as humans, to execute and make it real.

Living life is living outside of our comfort zone. As we struggle and push ourselves, we may find ourselves frustrated and ready to give up. But if we persist, we find that we can grow, expand ourselves, and achieve.

This lesson is illustrated in the Purim story in the character of Queen Esther, who is told by Mordechai that she must go her husband, King Achashverosh, and inform him of Haman’s plans to annihilate the Jewish people.

She was terrified to do so as it was against the law to appear in the king’s chambers without being called for. Anyone coming unannounced could incur the death penalty.

At first Esther was hesitant, unsure whether she could risk own life. Even if the king were to spare her life, she considered it a slim possibility that she could convince him to save the entire Jewish nation and reverse the decree of Haman, the king’s most trusted advisor.

She ultimately agreed to the plan and asked the Jewish people to pray and fast on her behalf. After three days, Esther approached the king, doing what up to this point was unfathomable. And miraculously, Achashverosh welcomed Esther into his chambers, and granted what she wished for: Haman’s decree was annulled and the Jewish people were saved. This outcome was achieved only because Esther pushed herself to do the impossible.

There is more to celebrate than our survival on Purim. We can also celebrate our ability to change the course of history through action, in addition to prayer. The Purim story is noted after all for the explicit absence of open miracles and the lack of any reference to Hashem. It was rather the quiet and invisible hand of Hashem that worked through and behind the events and actions executed by ordinary human beings on the human stage.

When we push ourselves beyond our limits, whether it is to achieve something monumental and significant or something trivial and commonplace, we will be amazed at what we will be able to achieve.  All we have to do is stretch ourselves. And Hashem will help with the rest!

For those wishing to Hennie's Torah Tuesday classes online, please contact Hennie Black at hennie@ncsy.ca

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