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לימוד תורה


Parshah and its implementation - Parshat Terumah - and the war of the 'Iron Swords' 5784

Rabbi Eliezer Haim Shenvald

It is dedicated to the IDF soldiers' success, to safeguard them lest any harm come to them, to the healing of all the wounded and the return of the abducted.

The disaster on Shabbat Simchat Torah occurred after months of intense internal disagreement. Some signs show the dispute encouraged our enemy, who saw it as an opportunity not to be missed. The massacre that targeted Jews just because they were Jews, without distinguishing between religious and secular, right or left, people from the kibbutz and people from the city, sharpened the recognition of a shared destiny, and the existential danger we face in the absence of unity.

Already on the day of the massacre, citizens from all over the country and sectors, (and Judea and Samaria) mobilized to save the residents of the attacked settlements. Since then, we have experienced the strength of unity among the recruited soldiers and the unity in the home front. This tragedy brought about a change in a significant part of Israeli society. As a result, several cross-sector civil organizations were created, of reservists, bereaved families, and social organizations, seeking to preserve this unity and through it, heal the great fracture created after the negligence and massacre happened. There is an agreement among all that unity is an existential necessity, and only through it will we succeed in all the difficult challenges we are facing. After all, we agree on most things (80% of the society agrees on 80% of the issues). This does not ignore the fundamental disputes that exist in the political field, in the fields of religion and state, and in the legal system. There is no intention to blur them up. However, there is a common desire to do everything possible to settle disputes by agreement and not by force.

On the other hand, the protestors renewed their activity which threatened to return us - G-d forbid -  to the division of the days before the war.

Already at the beginning of the public controversy over the legal reform, we proposed to hold a "referendum" procedure in which the people would democratically express their opinion on the disputed laws. After the people have expressed their opinion, it will no longer be possible to claim the opposite in the name of the people (there is already a 'referendum law' in the law book, in the case of an intention to hand over the homeland – G-d forbid-). This was strongly opposed by those who claimed that the elections already had a 'referendum', and in a democracy, one must respect those results.

The final results for this are known.

As a lesson well learned, 'referendum' should be institutionalized on a few, specific issues that may remain in dispute. If they fail to reach an agreement, they will turn to the public and ask their opinion. This way we will clear the tensions and the fear and allow all parties to reach unity with confidence and trust, in any case, we agree on most things.

Parshat Terumah opens a sequence of Parashot dealing with the building of the Mishkan, the "first national project" intended for dwelling on the Divine Presence, shaping the unique Jewish identity, and uniting all the tribes. Because of this reason, the camp of Israel was built with the Tabernacle in its center.

The Parasha opens with the command to take a contribution from everyone for the building of the tabernacle:

דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃

"Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved". (Shmot 25:2)

The emphasis in the verse is on מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל אִישׁ֙ "from every person". According to the Zohar, the intention from the beginning was that all the people of Israel, all the tribes included, would be partners in the building of the Tabernacle. Only this way would it belong to everyone and represent the entire collective of the people of Israel:

וְתָּא חֲזֵי מָה כְּתִיב (קצ''ז, רכ''ד ע''א) בְּקַדְמִיתָא, (שמות כה) מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ, לְאַכְלְלָא כֹּלָּא, בְּגִין דְּבָעָא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לְמֶעְבַּד עוֹבָדָא דְּמַשְׁכְּנָא מִכָּל סִטְרִין, בְּמוֹחָא וּקְלִיפָה. וּבְגִין דַּהֲווֹ אִינּוּן עֵרֶב רַב בְּגַּוַּויְיהוּ, אִתְּמַר מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ, לְאַכְלְלָא לוֹן בֵּינַיְיהוּ דְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, דְּאִינּוּן מוֹחָא. וְכֻלְּהוּ אִתְפְּקָדוּ.

"And come see what is written in the first place, (Shmot 25) 'from every person whose heart is so moved', to include them all, since the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted the creation of building the Tabernacle from all sides…" (The Zohar - after the Sin of the Calf led by the עֵ֥רֶב רַ֖ב - the mixed multitude -they were commanded that only the people of Israel will be partners in the Tabernacle).

Bezalel was chosen to lead the construction of the Tabernacle. From the way he was chosen, the Sages learned that the choice of the leadership should be made by a 'referendum' - addressed to the people to seek their consent:

אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: אֵין מַעֲמִידִין פַּרְנָס עַל הַצִּבּוּר אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִמְלָכִים בַּצִּבּוּר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״רְאוּ קָרָא ה׳ בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל״

"Concerning Bezalel’s appointment, Rabbi Yitzḥak said: One may only appoint a leader over a community if he consults with the community and they agree to the appointment, as it is stated: “And Moshe said unto the children of Israel: See, Hashem has called by name Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah” (Berachot 55a)

Halacha follows this principle also regarding the appointment of Judges, (Sulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat), and the appointment of Rabbis. (Responsa Chatam Sofer Orach Chayim)

According to Abarbanel, in his preface to the Book of Judges, the appointment of the king also depends on the consent of the people, as well as other appointments like the president of the Great Court, and the seven best of the city (Yerushalmi Megillah 3b).

If in a 'referendum' it is possible to determine who will be the decision-makers, there is no doubt that the decisions can be determined as well.  

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