Tuesday, February 28, 2006

parshat Terumah: The Mishkan Reflecting A Changed Relationship With Hashem

Two midrashim in Midrash Rabba really resonated with me this week. The first was a twist on the popular rereading of Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe, from Devarim 33:4:
ד תּוֹרָה צִוָּה-לָנוּ, מֹשֶׁה: מוֹרָשָׁה, קְהִלַּת יַעֲקֹב. 4 Moses commanded us a law, an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
(While on the topic of this pasuk, I should mention that Meir likes the song and known how to fill in the words "Moshe" and "Yaakov" at the appropriate points.)

The famous midrash is "read not מוֹרָשָׁה but rather מְאֹרָסָה -- betrothed." This teaches that the Torah is an arusa to Israel, as it states in Hoshea 2:21:
כא וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי, לְעוֹלָם; וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי בְּצֶדֶק וּבְמִשְׁפָּט, וּבְחֶסֶד וּבְרַחֲמִים. 21 And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.
we see in many places the God-Israel relationship described as that of lovers, or a betrothed couple, or a married couple.

The twist in this specific midrash is the role the mishkan plays in this. The God-Israel relationship, before the giving of the Torah, was one of a betrothed couple. In such an instance, when the chatan wishes to visit the kallah, he must visit her in her father's house. Thus, in Shemot 19:3:
ג וּמֹשֶׁה עָלָה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו יְהוָה, מִן-הָהָר לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב, וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying: 'Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
But matan Torah was nisuin, so now the couple is married. The chatan no longer needs to enter his father-in-law's house to visit his beloved. Rather, she lived with him. Thus, after matan Torah, we see in the beginning of parshat Terumah {Shemot 25:8}:
ח וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם. 8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
Thus, the Mishkan reflect the changed, deeper, nature of the relationship between God and Israel.

I don't have anything to add to the content of this midrash. It speaks for itself.

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