Tuesday, February 24, 2015

465 - Terumah

In his introduction to this week's parsha, the Ramban enlightens us regarding Hashem's intention behind the commandment to build the Mishkan. "The essential purpose for the Mishkan was to create a place for the Shechina to reside. More specifically, the aron was designated for this purpose and therefore it is the first vessel to be discussed. Thereafter, the Torah discusses the shulchan and the menorah because, similar to the aron, they were vessels and additionally they [also] represented the reason for which the Mishkan was built."

Rav Wolbe notes (Introduction to Shiurei Chumash Mishpatim) that while the purpose of the Mishkan was to build an abode for the Shechina, a mere edifice would not suffice. There were specific vessels which were necessary to create the proper mechanism for both the Shechina to reside and the ability to receive prophecy. The aron, shulchan and menorah were the necessary vessels. 

This idea is not limited to the Mishkan. The effectiveness of all spiritual acquisitions and attributes is contingent upon their placement in a proper receptacle. Each receptacle is, in essence, the preparation for the attainment or fulfillment of the related spirituality. For example, one who wishes to acquire the trait of anivus (humility) might prepare a regimen of actions to be performed daily which engender humility. While he might make headway in his quest toward humility, he will not be able to perfect this quality if he does not discover the proper "vessel" intended to store this middah. The Mesilas Yesharim, based on a statement from Rebbi Pinchas ben Yair, charts a guide to spiritual perfection. Zehirus leads to zerizus, zerizus leads to nekius, nekius leads to prishus, prishus leads to tahara, tahara leads to chassidus and chassidus leads to anava (humility). The preparation needed for achieving humility is chassidus, which itself stands on a high rung of the ladder of spiritual ascension. One who wishes to jump to a high rung of the ladder might end up losing his footing. 

The Gra (Mishlei 19:3) comments that a person often blames Hashem for his failures in the spiritual arena, when in reality the finger of blame should be pointed toward him himself. It is because he did not follow directions that he did not achieve the desired results. One has to know where to look before trying to acquire a positive middah or defeat a negative middah.

We are all looking to grow in ruchniyus. It would be a terrible waste of time to spend weeks or even years trying all types of original ideas in order to master a specific area, when there might be a more secure way already outlined by Chazal. Ask someone in the know or study a mussar sefer which deals with the topic at hand and determine the proper type of preparation necessary for the acquisition of the relevant middah. Locating the proper "receptacle" is not merely a good idea; it is imperative for one's avodas Hashem for it is the only way to attain a true acquisition in any area of spirituality.

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