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Friday, February 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

Yesterday, 2 Adar, was the 14th yahrtzeit of my Zadie, Rabbi Yaakov Bulka. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak, z"l.

In previous years, we have discussed a question regarding the listing at the beginning of the parsha of items necessary for the mishkan. The oil, spices and stones are listed along with their purpose whereas the other materials' purpose is not made clear at the outset. One more possible approach to differentiate the two is that the oil, spices and stones were not part of the construction of the actual edifice. Rather, they are simply needed as part of the service that would take place there. This, however, begs the question: Why are these items even listed in the first place? If they are not part of the building, why was it necessary to discuss them now?


The Da'as Zekeinim miBa'alei haTosafos address this issue as it relates to the oil and spices. They point out that there are numerous other consumables such as flour and wood that were necessary for the day-to-day service but were not mentioned. However, the oil and spices were indeed necessary for the very essence of the mishkan as a resting place for the Shechinah. It is the way of kings to have their palace always smelling nice before they enter. As well, extra lights are lit – even if not needed for illumination – as a form of royal honour. Therefore, these materials were very much necessary components of the mishkan.


It occurred to me that these two ideas were both discussed over the course of this week's daf yomi. In detailing various laws related to havdalah, it is mentioned (Berachos 53a) that extra lights are often used to honour an adam chashuv, and since it is not used for light, it cannot be used for borei me'orei ha'eish. In addition to discussing the laws of besamim, there is also a practice mentioned at the end of the perek (53b) regarding the use of special oils after mayim acharonim in order to make the hands smell good as an appropriate honour for the berachah of birkas hamazon.


I have not seen this suggested anywhere but it seems the entire process of havdalah is a manifestation of the mikdash in our own homes, with the wine also representative of the libations on the mizbei'ach. There is also a common practice to follow havdalah immediately with a meal for melaveh malkah which would represent the shulchan and make this symbolism complete.


Eliezer Bulka

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