Terumah: Connecting Worlds ~ Tzvi Abrahams
Connecting Worlds מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד הָעוֹלָם
חָבֵר: expert in halachah
חֶבְרוּתָא: learning partner
חַבּוּרָה: group, bruise
חָבֶר חֹבֵר: animal charmer
וְעָשִׂיתָ חֲמִשִּׁים קַרְסֵי זָהָב וְחִבַּרְתָּ אֶת הַיְרִיעֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ בַּקְּרָסִים וְהָיָה הַמִּשְׁכָּן אֶחָד And you shall make fifty golden hooks and connect the curtains, woman to her sister with hooks, and the Mishkan will become one.1
The Mishkan described in this week’s parshahrepresents the connection between the upper worlds and the lower worlds. It is incumbent upon man to build a place for Hashem to dwell in this world. Each and every one of us has the ability to connect to Hashem and be a home for His Divine Presence. We have a mitzvah to bedavekto Hashem, where davekmeans glue, and what is the glue that cements the relationship?Ahavah, as the pasuksays: לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה’אֱ-לֹהֵיכֶם לָלֶכֶת בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ.2
Chevron is called so because it is the point of connection between Olam HaZehand Olam HaBa. The Cave of Machpelah stands at the entrance to Gan Eden. In Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezerit says that when the three angels came to Avraham, he ran to thebakar(cow), meaning that he gave chase after it, until it led him to the Cave of Machpelah. He was shown the burial place of Adam and Eve and he recognized that the cave was the gateway to Gan Eden.3Interestingly, an observation made by many people who have had a near-death experience is one of going through a dark tunnel that opens up to a warm beautiful light. So it could well be that the experience of the tunnel is in actuality the Cave of Machpelah, with the beautiful light of Gan Eden on the other side.
Chevron is one of the four holy cities in Eretz Yisrael, each one being associated with one of the four elements: Yerushalayim is fire, Teveryah is water, Tzfat is air, and Chevron is earth. Thus, Hebron was naturally chosen as the burial place of our patriarchs and matriarchs. It is no coincidence that עֶפְרוֹן/Ephron,from the root עָפָר/dust, was the one chosen by the Torah to be the seller of this holy earth.עָפָרis also related to the middosof laziness and inertia, which is the reason why the Torah describes him as saying a lot and doing little, insomuch that he spoke much about giving the field to Avraham as a gift, but in the end sold it for an exorbitant amount.
What is he connecting? He is connecting the reader to the material through the writing of words. Particularly, the Beis Yosef, Rav Yosef Cairo, is known as the מְחַבֵּר, author of the Shulchan Aruch. He connected the reader to the ways of Hashem through the writings ofhalachah.
A friend is someone you are connected to. There are some people in the world you are attracted to much more than others. What causes this attraction? Is it personality, common interests, or shared experiences? More than likely, the reason is because of a soul connection. In this world, souls are usually grouped together, and the relationships that we have with family and friends usually stay with us throughout our soul reincarnations. We sometimes invariably name our children after our parents and grandparents, because, in actuality, they are the returning souls of our parents and grandparents.
InPirkei Avos, it extorts one to acquire for oneself a friend.4In the commentary of the Rambam, he defines friends as people whose desires and intentions are for the same thing — that being the ultimate good — where each one wishes to help his friend in reaching the ultimate good. This is the friend that we are commanded to acquire.
כָּל אַהֲבָה שֶׁהִיא תְלוּיָה בְדָבָר,בָּטֵל דָּבָר,בְּטֵלָה אַהֲבָה.וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ תְּלוּיָה בְדָבָר,אֵינָהּ בְּטֵלָה לְעוֹלָם. אֵיזוֹ הִיא אַהֲבָה הַתְּלוּיָה בְדָבָר,זוֹ אַהֲבַת אַמְנוֹן וְתָמָר.וְשֶׁאֵינָהּ תְּלוּיָה בְדָבָר,זוֹ אַהֲבַת דָּוִיד וִיהוֹנָתָן
Any love that is dependent on something, when that something disappears, the love disappears. However, any love that is unconditional never disappears. What is a love that is dependent on something? The love between Amnon and Tamar. And what is the kind of love that is unconditional? The love between Dovid and Yonasan.5
Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura says that the relationship between Dovid and Yonasan was one based on fulfilling the desire of their Creator — the Ultimate Good.
In the world of halachah, one who knows all the halachosand is careful to keep the mitzvosis given the title of חָבֵר. He is, so to speak, Hashem’s friend and מְחוּבָּר/connected to Him.
חֶבְרוּתָא: Learning Partner
There is a phrase in the Gemara: חֶבְרוּתָא או מִיתוּתָא/chavrusaor death, which is found in connection to someone whose friends do not give him honor, it is like he is dead.6Yet we find in the Gemara in Bava Metziathat without a חֶבְרוּתָא, you are really dead. There was no greater learning partnership than the חֶבְרוּתָאof Rabi Yochanan and Rabi Shimon ben Lakish. To them Torah was life, so much so that when Reish Lakish died, Rabi Yochanan lost all his strength and passion for life and also died.
חַבּוּרָה: Group, Bruise
People are connected together in groups; likewise, a bruise is a grouping together of blood to one place.
חָבֶר חֹבֵר: Animal Charmer
So called because he is able to gather together groups of animals or demons through the medium of witchcraft.
אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ:Woman to Her Sister
וְעָשִׂיתָ חֲמִשִּׁים קַרְסֵי זָהָב וְחִבַּרְתָּ אֶת הַיְרִיעֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ בַּקְּרָסִים וְהָיָה הַמִּשְׁכָּן אֶחָד And you shall make fifty golden hooks and connect the curtains, woman to her sister with hooks, and the Mishkan will become one.7
InParshas Terumah, the term אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ/side by side, is used many times by the Torah to express attachment, such as in the above quote regarding connecting the various curtains of the Mishkan together to form one component. The curtains were joined together אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ, forming the roof of the tent, which covered the length and breadth of the Mishkan, making it one entity. This was the מַכֶּה בַּפַּטִישׁ/the final act that unified the Mishkan, as it says, “and the Mishkan became one.”
So what exactly is the meaning of the term אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ/woman to her sister?
To better appreciate the power of this expression of connection, we first need to have a deeper understanding of what is being connected.
The Kli Yakar gives a beautiful explanation of what the hooks and curtains represented.
The tent covering was made of various layers of different colored wool. The under layer consisted of ten curtains, which were unified into two sets, each containing five curtains sewn together אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ/side by side. The two sets were then connected together with a series of fifty loops, interlaced with golden hooks.
According to the Kli Yakar, the ten curtains represent the ten expressions that Hashem used to create the world, which were held in abeyance on condition that we accepted the Ten Commandments. The two sets of five curtains correspond to the two tablets — five between man and G-d and five between man and man. The fifty hooks correspond to the fifty gates of binah/understanding.
Through these fifty gates of binah, man is able to connect and become one with the upper world. This idea is also hinted to in that the fifty hooks were directly positioned above the paroches, the partition separating the קוֹדֶשׁ הַקְדָשִׁים/Holy of Holies from the קוֹדֶשׁ/Holy. This positioning symbolizes that man, the Holy, has the ability to connect and unify with Hashem, the Holy of Holies, through the aspect of fifty, the fifty gates of binah.
The Kli Yakar continues to say that in everything that Hashem created, there is a middle agent that has the ability to connect opposites. Man, who is made up of a godly soul and an earthly body, is the middleman, the center of the universe, who synthesizes the upper and lower worlds, making shalom/peace between them.
Man was also created from the earth where the Mizbei’achstood on Har HaMoriah, because this represents theplace, the center of the world, the Beis Hamikdash, which is the point of connection between the upper and lower worlds. This is what Hashem showed Yaakov in his dream of the ladder, where its legs stood on the ground and its head reached the heavens, with the midpoint opposite the Makom HaMikdash.
וּנִרְאִין קְרָסִין בְּלוּלָאוֹת כְּכּוֹכָבִים בְּרָקִיעָ The golden hooks of the Mishkan sparkled like stars.8
Just like the stars are the interface connecting the upper and lower worlds, so too the tzaddikimare compared to stars in that they too have the ability to be connecters of worlds through the fifty levels of binah, combining Heaven and Earth and making peace between opposites.
So we see that the middle aspect has the ability to bridge the connection between worlds: through man, through the ladder, through the Beis HaMikdash, and so too through the fifty golden hooks connecting the curtains of the roof of the Holy to the Holy of Holies.
Just like a doorbell needs to be pressed in order for it to ring, so too by bridging the connection we draw down Hashem’s Shechinah, creating achdus/unity. This is man’s purpose in the world.
Now we are ready to take a deeper look at the concept of connection expressed as אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ.
InParshas Acharei Mos, in the section dealing with illicit relationships, the Torah uses the very same words אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּto describe the prohibition of marrying two sisters, which suggests that the Torah must be hinting to a connection to the usage of אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּinParshas Terumah.
The Torah gives the reason for the prohibition of marrying two sisters:וְאִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ לֹא תִקָּח לִצְרֹר/because it will cause pain. How Yaakov was able to marry two sisters is an obvious question to which Chazal give various answers, one of which is that it was before the Torah was given. The question returns, though, since nevertheless Yaakov kept the whole Torah. Another answer asserts that Leah and Rachel were considered converts, and therefore born again, severing all previous bonds and family relationships, making Leah and Rachel no longer related.
מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד הָעוֹלָם/From One World to Another9
However, in the Zohar, it says that Yaakov was able to marry Rachel and Leah and consolidate the relationship through אַהֲבָה/love, whereby for others it would be considered gilui arayos/an illicit relationship.10On a much deeper level, the Zoharstates that Leah represented the aspect of binah(the upper world) and Rachel the aspect of malchus/kingship (the lower world), which meant that the union between Yaakov, Rachel, and Leah represented a fusion of both upper and lower worlds. Yaakov, who was shalem, brought ahavahto two worlds, represented by the two sisters Leah and Rachel, the aspects of binahand malchus. This is the meaning of what is written מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד הָעוֹלָם.
Yaakov the tzaddikis the connecter, represented by the sulam/ladder positioned over Har HaBayis that connects the upper and lower worlds. Through the fifty levels of binah, and through the gluing agent of love, Yaakov was able to connect the two worlds of malchusand binah,מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד הָעוֹלָם, and two sisters, אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ.
The Ramban brings the Midrash that says there are three levels of relationship in describing our connection to Hashem: as a daughter, a sister, and a mother.11The highest level of relationship is to be like a mother, even though our relationship with our daughter is naturally much stronger then with our mother.
All the time we are a daughter, we are dependent on Hashem. When we become a sister of Hashem, so to speak, we are on a more equal footing, which is more of a mature way of connecting. And when we are Hashem’s mother, so to speak, we are relating to Hashem in the same way as a mother looks out for her children, always putting them first and having their best interests at heart. This is the ideal relationship, where we connect to Hashem לְמַעַן שְׁמוֹ בְּאַהַבָה. However, in order to get to this ideal state, we need to first lift ourselves out of the lower state of being His dependent daughter and connect to Hashem as a sister. This is the middle level, the connecter of worlds — this is the concept of אִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ.
So to answer the question of how Yaakov was able to marry two sisters, it is because he was not only connecting worlds, he was able toמְקַדֵשׁ/sanctify two sisters לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם and raise them to the highest level of relationship, the relationship of mother, the אִמָאוֹת/mothers of the Jewish nation.
Thisdevar Torahis dedicated l’illui nishmasRabbi and Dayan Gershon Lopian, זצ”ל, who passed away on the twenty-ninth of Shevat, 5774, ParshasTerumah.
Dayan Lopian was a connector. Not only did he officiate at my engagement, connecting me to my future wife, he was very much a connector of communities, a sister, a brother, a mother, and father to all, connecting people to their roots and to Hashem. A חָבֵר — not only an expert in halachah, but a dear friend and beloved in the eyes of Hashem.
מִן הָעוֹלָם עַד הָעוֹלָם — may his soul be eternally connected to Hashem, and may he truly have anillui neshamah!
3Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 36.
6Taanis23a; Bava Metzia 84b.
9Nechemiah 9:5; Divrei HaYamim I16:31.
11Ramban to Bereishis34:1, quoting Midrash Shir HaShirim3:21. See also Kli Yakar to Shemos 19:4.