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23.02.2012 20:51    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: parashah  rabbi e.cowen  terumah  

Rabbi Cowen's Corner (Notes on the Parsha)
Notes on the Parsha
Parashat Terumah: The Jewish nation is invited to have a share in creating a resting place for the Divine Presence.

The Mishkan (Tabernacle), its vessels, and the priestly garments were made from thirteen types of raw materials. So prompt and enthusiastic was their free-willed response, that those tasked with the mission appealed to Moshe Rabbeinu to order a halt to the contributions. Once the materials were in hand, people appointed by HaShem were tasked with forming them into the various final products. The central feature of the Mishkan was the Aron HaKodesh (the Holy Ark of the Covenant), which housed the Tablets of the Law, eventually both the first broken Tablets and the Second Tablets that Moshe received. The instructions for building the Ark begin the process of the building of the Mishkan. The Shulchan/Table which was placed near the north wall of the Mishkan’s outer chamber, had twelve specially baked loaves of “show bread” on it at all times, in two columns of six loaves each. The Jewish people would enjoy prosperity because of the merit of the Table. The ornate, gold Menorah served to demonstrate the majesty of the Mishkan. it was to be placed in the outer chamber near the southern wall so that it would be visible, and inspirational to everyone. The Menorah very much symbolized the illumination of the intellect. The covers of the Mishkan were three or four-fold and sat one on top of the other. By covering the wall and the air space of the Mishkan, there was a unification of everything within. Thus the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. The walls of the Mishkan were made of huge wooden planks of acacia wood. The Mishkan was divided into two chambers, the Holy of Holies housing the Aron HaKodesh, which no one was permitted to enter except for the Kohen Gadol/High Priest on Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement, and the Holy, which any Kohen may enter into while in a state of ritual purity. The divider between the two areas was the Parochet which was hung from a bar attached to the tops of pillars. The Mishkan included two altars, one located in the Mishkan courtyard and the other (copper altar) inside the Mishkan. The courtyard was made of linen curtains that were suspended from rods attached to wooden pillars. Certain offerings could be eaten only within the Courtyard.

Special Mitvot/Customs for this Month of Adar
1.   Mahatzit HaShekel/Half-Shekel Donation (performed in the days leading up to Purim):

A charitable donation that commemorates the annual half-shekel tax during the times of the Holy Temple for its up-keep.
The custom of “Zecher La’mahasit Ha’shekel” requires donating the value of nine grams of silver, which this year amounts to approximately $13.
Three silver coins taped together will be available in a plate upon which one will place the commemorative donation ($13), lift the silver coins up and say - “Zecher La’mahasit Ha’Shekel” and place the coins back in the plate for others to use for the mitzvah.
It is customary to give a commemorative donation for each member of the household.
All monies will be used for charitable causes.
2.   Ta'anit Esther/Fast of Esther (Wednesday March 7th, fast begins 5:48AM and ends 7:14PM)

A day fast from dawn to nightfall
3.   Purim Evening - Wednesday March 7th

Obligation to hear the reading of the Megillah at night applies to both men and women
Public Megillah reading at Etz Chaim followed by Purim Masquerade Party for kids and adults.
4. Purim Day - Thursday March 8th (The 4 Mitzvot of Purim Day!)

Megillah reading and Morning Service at Etz Chaim
Sending Gifts of Food - Mishloach Manot to friends and family
A gift of at least two items of prepared food to another person (e.g. baked goods and wine) 
Obligation pertains to both men and women (men to men and women to women).
Mitzvah to be fulfilled on the day of Pur
Matanot Le’Evyonim - Gifts for the Poor
A positive Rabbinic precept to give two gifts to two poor people on Purim, one gift to each person.
The dollar equivalent of at least one meal is considered a proper gift.
Gift should be given during the day of Purim
Women too are obligated to give gifts to the poor
The Purim Se’udah - The Festive Purim Meal
Rejoice with family and friends at a festive meal on the day of Purim.

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