Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Terumah 5750

(Exodus 25:1-27:19)

"And they [the Jews] shall make Me a sanctuary; 
and I [G-d] will dwell in the midst of them” (Exodus 25:8)

The Shulchan Aruch, the code of the Jewish Law states: "One must be very careful not to cause harm to one's neighbors in any way. Even if the person himself isn't the direct cause of the actual harm, it is still forbidden to have within one's house any item that is potentially harmful to one's neighbors." One reason for this law of the Torah, is that G-d wants that there should be great love and peace between people. When there is love between people, they are more able and willing to tolerate the differences between each other. When people are willing to tolerate and overlook the differences that divide them, they are able to join together and accomplish much greater acts of holiness, than any individual could ever accomplish on his own.

The Talmud in Brachot strongly emphasizes: "A person should not live in the close proximity of an evil neighbor." In addition we say in our prayers every morning the following prayer: "Rescue me today and everyday evil neighbor."  This principle not only applies to “someone else” but to a person himself as well.  A person must do everything possible not to become a bad neighbor to others, just as he doesn't want others to be a bad neighbor to him.

We must firmly believe, that everything that transpires in this world, is personally directed by G-d Himself.  Even the people who reside in our neighborhood are directly determined by G-d. One reason why G-d brings it about that one particular person should live next to another is the spiritual impact that these two individuals create when they live next to each other.  Each individual Jew, no matter who he is, is rooted and connected to one of the 600,000 letters of the spiritual the Torah. Therefore, each Jew is influenced by one of the 600,000 letters of the Torah that he represents and is associated with.

When two or more Jews get together, and especially when they join themselves together to perform a good deed, each individual of the group brings to the gathering his own particular letter of the Torah, that he represents. The holy Ari says that when two or more Jews join together, the letter of the Torah that each one represents is joined together. This creates the most awesome spiritual structures, which is beyond description. Just as when the digits of a computer are combined to form  an endless amount of possible results, so too can the connection between two people who live in close proximity of one another have an infinite number of effects. This is why G-d brings it about that particular individuals come to live next to each other. The interaction these individuals results in the creation of the most awesome structures in the spiritual worlds. When G-d desires a certain spiritual result to occur,  He brings the required individuals together to create the desired spiritual result. The desired spiritual result can only be brought about by the interaction of the particular individuals chosen by G-d. As we mentioned above, it is the letter combinations, which are created by the interaction of each of the individuals involved in a gathering, that brings about the creation of new spiritual structures.  Accordingly, the creation of spiritual structures in the upper worlds has an actual and direct physical impact in our world.

This is one reason why G-d brings certain people together, whether for a brief moment or for longer intervals of time, and especially those people who live next to each other as neighbors. This is why the Talmud in Brachot strongly urged people to pray with a minyan (a quorum of 10 adult Jewish Males) . The Ari says, that the spiritual effects created by all the of letter combinations of all the individuals participating in a minyan is so immense that it is far beyond man’s ability to comprehend.  This is why the house of prayer is so vital to the continued existence of the world.

One must truly believe that our prayers are so vital for the well-being of the world, and refrain from talking during the prayers.  Talking during the prayers not only prevents the formation of good letter combinations, but can also create letter combinations that can bring destruction to the world and the Jews, Heaven forbid!   Talkative individuals may feel outraged that injustices and atrocities occur in the world, and especially to what happens to their fellow Jews. In fact, they are so concerned about the problems of the world, that they are drawn to spend time in the Synagogue talking about these world problems. Instead of taking an active role in trying to solve some of these problems, they become part of the problem. They busy themselves discussing these important issues with the person sitting next to them, and thus by taking do not pray properly, which could alleviate these problems.  It is only by praying for the welfare of the world that beneficial letter combinations can be created. In fact, when one talks during the prayers creates destructive letter combinations and angels of destruction with his every utterance. These angels then come and condemn the Jewish People in the Heavenly Courts. There are many accounts brought down in holy books, about how many Jewish communities were punished with destruction, due to the talking that took place during the prayers. This is why the Talmud says: Anyone who has a Synagogue in one's city and doesn't go there to pray is called a bad neighbor." When one talks during his prayers he is broadcasting a clear message for all to hear,  saying: "I don't really believe that anyone is listening my prayers, I am really wasting my time here, I might as well keep myself entertained until this burdensome chore is over with.”

Everyone who lives in this world is confronted with a multitude of problems. If one truly believed in G-d, he would pour out his heart to G-d in prayer, and he would beg Him for help. If a person truly believes that G-d is able to help him, he will not waste a precious opportunity as to pray with the minyan for help from G-d. One should never despair. If one neglected to be attentive to one's prayers until now and spent most of his time talking during his prayers, he could start to be more attentive to prayers now. Rabbi Nachman taught that one should individualize one's prayers, by finding oneself in each formal structured prayer. One should only concentrate on the simple meaning of the words that one utters.  One should not expect to be able to concentrate on all of the prayers but should be satisfied to concentrate on at least a portion of the prayers.  In this way the prayers will become more meaningful. The main way on how to find G-d, as we have said many times in the past, is through prayer—whether through formal structured prayers or through one's personal prayers. The ideal method is to pray using both formal and personal prayers.

When two Jews join together, and especially for a spiritual matter, it is very precious, and it is very beneficial for the entire world. This is why Rabbi Nachman emphasized to his followers that they should try to have conversations with others daily. These conversations should mainly focus on spiritual matters. The individuals involved in these conversations should talk about ways on how both of them could better get to know G-d. The one who is more knowledgeable, should take charge of the conversation. The one who is less knowledgeable should always defer to the more knowledgeable person of the conversation. This is because the more knowledgeable person knows more of the truth than the less knowledgeable person. Therefore, the less knowledgeable should be at least be smart enough to have the patience and humility to seek out the truth from the more knowledgeable person. This is accomplished by the less knowledgeable person's attentively listening to what the more learned person has to say. If the less knowledgeable person attempts to dominate the conversation, he will miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn. He will also deprive the more learned one from growing as well.  For the Talmud teaches: "Rabbi Masya ben Charash said: be a tail to lions rather than be a head to foxes" (Talmud Avot 4:20). "The Torah is acquired by means of 48 qualities...knowing one's place...” (Talmud Avot 6:6). Rashi comments on the book of Esther, "The sign of a fool is one who speaks before one who is wiser than himself and tries to dominate the conversation."

The less learned person should defer to the more learned person, however the less learned person should still participate and contribute to the discussion. For even the more learned person will benefit from this exchange. For the Talmud teaches: "Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person" (Talmud Avot 4:1). "The Torah is acquired by means of 48 qualities...asking and answering, listening and contributing to the discussion...making his teacher wiser, pondering over what he has learned..." (Talmud Avot 6:6). The less learned person will benefit the most only if he allows the more learned person to direct the conversation.

Now we can understand how important it is to maintain good relations with one's neighbors and to be a good neighbor oneself. When a person looks out for the welfare of one's neighbor, this creates and bond of love and respect between them. When such an atmosphere is created, this enables these neighbors to cooperate with one another. This could eventually lead the both of them to help each other serve and seek out G-d. This type of venture creates thousands upon thousands of holy structures. This greatly benefits the world. This is why the Talmud states the following: "Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai [who was the head of the Sanhedrin and the leader of his generation] would always be the one to initiate greeting everyone with peace, even to an idol worshipper in the market place. No one ever said hello to him first. He was always the first one to say hello."

All of the physical items that man has made in this world are the result of man's physically producing that item from the materials that G-d has created. When man physically produces or fashions a physical item, not only is he molding and shaping the product on the physical level, but he is actually shaping and molding the product on the spiritual level as well.  By producing a physical product, man is also causing the manipulation of all kinds of spiritual letter combinations. These letter changes mirror the physical changes made to that material. When a person does physical labor he is emulating G-d.  For G-d created and continues to maintain every physical item of this world through the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. The Hebrew Alphabet is the foundation and the building blocks of all existence. The slightest movement or action in this world always causes these letters to be manipulated and changed to form new letter combinations. Any new letter formation has a totally new and different impact on the world.

The source and the foundation of where the Torah emanates from is from prayer.  The Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem were built through the 39 major types of physical labor. This work resulted in all kinds of different letter manipulations and combinations. Thus we see that the house of prayer was in essence built through all of the various letter combinations. Once the proper letter combinations were in place, the world was firmly established and was able to operate the way G-d had intended. Water is the physical representation of the spiritual essence of the Torah. There was a physical stream of water that flowed out of the house of prayer, the Temple. This was intended to convey the idea that the root of the Torah comes from prayer.   In addition, it was the building of the house of prayer that caused all of the letters to be in their proper place. The foundation of the Torah is also based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. So we see that it was the letters from the house of prayer that caused all of the letters found everywhere and including the Torah itself to fall into its proper place.

The word “Bereshis” alludes to the fact that prayer is the building or source for the Torah. This is why the Torah starts with the word "Bereshis" (English: in the beginning). For a house refers to prayer. As we said above, every person included in a minyan creates numerous spiritual houses or structures. The Zohar says that the letters of the word "Bereshis" can be rearranged and broken up into two words, "Rosh Bayis." The word "Rosh Bayis" means the head of the house. The Zohar says that the "head of the house", alluded to by the word Bereshis, refers to the leading and most righteous tzaddik (saint) of each generation. There can only be one "Rosh Bayis" to a generation. He is the tzaddik (saint) who is most responsible for all the events that occur in the world. Rabbi Nachman was the Rosh Bayis of his generation. All the events of the world are spiritually conducted through the Rosh Bayis, the owner of the house. Every gathering of Jews together in prayer, creates spiritual houses or structures. The main job of the "owner of the house" is to gather all of the Jews together into the houses of prayer. He uses the spiritual power obtained through these prayer gatherings goings on of the world. This is why he is referred to as the "owner of the house."  When Jews gather together to serve G-d and especially in prayer, this gives G-d tremendous joy. G-d loves when two Jews get together to do a good deed. Therefore, every Jew should try to ignore other’s differences, and not condemn or judge other groups of Jews who are different from themselves in either dress, background, or spiritual method or emphasis. As long as they adhere to the Shulchan Aruch and are committed in trying to truly serve G-d, these differences should be overlooked. Those people who are distant from the word of the "living G-d", should not be condemned either, for they err in their beliefs and deep down are truly good. We should pray for them and give them our friendship and encouragement to come closer to G-d. We should only reject their mistaken beliefs, but never the Jews themselves.

The artisans who built the Tabernacle and all of its vessels knew the spiritual essence and root of each physical item they fashioned. When each of these artisans worked with the physical material that was used for the Tabernacle, he knew exactly how to fashion that item physically in a way that would create the right spiritual letter combinations that G-d had wanted to be produced. We know this because the verse says: "Every wise-hearted man, in whom G-d has put wisdom and understanding to know [Hebrew: l'dass] how to do every manner of work [both physically and spiritually] for the service of the sanctuary" (Exodus 36:1). The word "to know" in this verse, is “l'dass” in Hebrew. Rashi says that “dass” refers to Divine inspiration.

The person who was chosen by G-d to oversee the entire construction of the Tabernacle was Betzalel. He knew exactly how G-d wanted the Tabernacle to turn out both physically and spiritually. He knew the position and the exact form of each letter and combination of letters that would produce the desired results that G-d had wanted to be produced. The verse says: "He (G-d] had filled him (Betzalel] with the spirit of G-d, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 35:31). Because Betzalel had all of this knowledge, he was the greatest artisan of all. Therefore, he was the one chosen to oversee the entire project.

Therefore, the Talmud in Middushin teaches the following: "A person should always endeavor to teach his son a profession that is clean and easy and he should beseech G-d for mercy [that his son should have success at his chosen profession]." As was mentioned above, the foundation of the entire world is based on the Hebrew letters. It is these very letters, that are so vital for the continued existence and welfare of the world. It was these very letters that went into the construction of the Tabernacle. These letters were installed into the house of prayer through employing the 39 major categories of physical labor. Therefore, the lesson is obvious. G-d wanted all to know through the building of the Tabernacle, that all success and well being in this world is totally dependent on prayer. It is not dependent on one's physical efforts alone. The lesson behind the construction of the Tabernacle is that if a person desires anything physically in this world, he must pray for it. There are individuals who do receive material success, even without praying for it. When G-d decides to grant physical success to a person, it is for reasons only known to G-d. There can never be any true blessing in physical success, if it was obtained as a free gift, without prayer. Many times success only causes the person to be distanced from G-d. This can not be called true success.  Only if a person prayed for success with the intention to be able to serve G-d will his success bear fruits of blessing. This is why this teaching in the Talmud emphasizes that one should obtain financial success through prayer.  One should avoid relying exclusively on one's own physical efforts for success.

This is why the early pious ones (Chasidim HaRishonim] would pray nine hours daily. The Talmud asks how was it possible for these men to be able to have the time to earn a livelihood, if they prayed  for so many hours during each day? The Talmud answers, that the small amount of time they devoted to earning a living was greatly blessed. They achieved material success with little effort, as a result of the blessings derived from their prayers. It was their prayers that produced the right letter combinations that granted then financial success with a minimum of effort.
This is why the Tabernacle is called in Hebrew the Mishkan.  It comes from the Hebrew word “shachain,” neighbor. This derivation teaches us what we have discussed above: that the most important element of a house of prayer is the people who come to pray there.  For the prayers to be effective, they all must be good friends and neighbors with each other, in order to create the beneficial letter combinations that we have talked about above.

The ideal is to combine Torah with prayer, by uttering prayers based or the Torah lessons that one has studied. This is the highest level of serving G-d of all. For G-d loves when different forms of service are combined together to serve Him. (Lekutai  Halachot: Choshen Mishpat: Hilchot Nizka Shechaynim 4:1-7)

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