Happiness is a Preservative | A Guest Post

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A guest post by Rabbi Aaron Fink (my father), Dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov in Monsey NY. Part of a weekly Dvar Torah (Torah “Thought”) series.

Parshas Teruamah

Keeping it Fresh

Parshas Terumah is filled with the beauty and grandeur of the mishkan v’keilav. The home for the Shechina was to be built of the finest materials in a precise manner outlined by the prasha. The detail of its construction is not simply a description of early Israelite architecture. It is not even just a model of how a house of prayer should be designed. It is much, much more. Chazal find overt and subtle messages from each and every nuance of the design. The various materials, ingots of gold, silver, bronze, brass and copper, the fine fabrics, linens wools and multi-filament threads and collection of precious stones used in the construction, all tell a story. Each guides us to reach ever higher in our avodas Hashem. Brought together as the Mishkan, they served as the focal point of our avoda then and now. Each are worthy of intense study. One timeless message Chazal teach us from the Shulchan is worth visiting.

We are taught that the Shulchan. adorned with it’s zeir zahav, is representative of the keser malchus. Klal Yisrael’s Royal Table was filled with the 12 loaves of the lechem hapanim prominently featured opposite the menorah. The sefarim explain that all of our physical sustenance emanates from on High to us through the Shulchan. We are taught that its presence in the Kodesh is to remind us that we are to sanctify the olam hagashmi gifted to us by Hakaodsh Baruch Hu by transforming it into davar ruchani. We do so by making brachos and devoting our earthly pursuits to spiritual quests. Doing so enables us to achieve the supernatural represented by those very breads which never staled even after being displayed for a week, despite the lack of preservatives! We too, are taught to follow the model of the Shulchan and keep our avodas Hashem fresh and vibrant week in and week out. Indeed our service of the Ribbono Shel Olam show never become stale!

But there is more.

The Zohar when discussng the Shulchan and its parallel place in our universe explains that the table which finds favor in the eyes of the Ribbono Shel Olam is the table which is set with Simcha! It is through our simcha that Hashem Yisborach showers His bountiful blessings on us all. How much blessing we receive, is reflective of how much simcha we have in our kiyum hamitzvos and limud haTorah. Amazingly, simcha is the magical ingredient that kept our Avodah and the lechem hapanim fresh 24/7. This yesod is codified by the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Teshuva (9:1) as he explains that schar mitzvah bhai almha lekah. Nevertheless, as a reflection of the simcha we have in doing the ratzon Hashem we are gifted all of His bountiful blessings of prosperity, shalom, shalvah and inner peace to be enabled to do even more of His will. Thus the physical rewards we earn are but further opportunities we have to earn even more schar through greater, easier and joyful kiyum hamitzvos. And the cycle continues.

This fundamental lesson must be ever present. The message of the Shulchan teaches us that even if times are challenging, simchas hachayim is not some half-baked contemporary notion. Rather its place is in the very heart of our mishkan and we should ensure that it fills our personal mikdash and our entire avoda keeping it fresh and inspired each and every day.

  • Simcha Weinberg

    Spectacular as always