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

Parshas T'rumah

(Exodus 25:1-27:19)

"You shall make the courtyard of the Tabernacle..." (Exodus 27:9)

This week's parsha describes how the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was built, according to Hashem's [G-d's] will. Several centuries after its construction, the Mishkan was replaced by the holier and more permanent structure, the Temple in Jerusalem. The main function of both the Mishkan and the Temple was the offering of the various sacrifices, mainly animals, as commanded by Hashem in the Torah. The Torah is generally very concise and brief in describing events and enumerating commandments, not a single word or letter is superfluous. Nevertheless, an inordinate number of precious chapters of the Torah are devoted exclusively to the description of the Mishkan's construction, functioning, and sacrificial rites. This is very perplexing, for Hashem is aware of all future events and most certainly knew that the existence of the Mishkan and the Temple combined would be little more than a thousand years. So, for most of Jewish history, the Mishkan and the Temple were not in operation. In addition, how could the sacrifice of an animal have any positive or beneficial results? Does Hashem, Who can create anything and is totally spiritual, truly need our animal sacrifices? And why would Hashem ask us to do something so seemingly cruel as to kill innocent animals for Him. The fact that so much space was devoted to the sacrificial rites in the Torah, shows that they are of central importance. But what importance can the sacrifice of a lowly animal serve? Given the fact that the Temple was destined to be destroyed and the fact that Hashem doesn't really need the sacrifice of animals, why do the sacrificial rites and the construction of the Mishkan seem to be two of the central themes of the entire Torah? In the following paragraphs we will provide some answers to these questions based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his student Rav Noson.

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The korban tamid (lit. continual offering - meaning that it was offered every day) was offered twice daily, in the morning and in the afternoon. It consisted of a young lamb that was entirely consumed by the flames from the copper altar, which stood outdoors in the courtyard of the Mishkan and later in the Temple courtyard. The holy Ari taught that the main purpose of this sacrifice was to elevate the holiness created by the positive actions of man, so that it would nourish the upper worlds. Thus the holiness created in this world, which resides in the lowest spiritual plane of all, would be elevated and transferred from the outer limits of holiness more inward to the higher levels.

After the korban tamid came the incense offering consisting of eleven different spices. The Ari says that the main purpose of this offering was to elevate the sparks of holiness (soul fragments which are units of Hashem's light and provide life and power to those who possess them) from the realm of evil, depriving evil of its nourishment and power. Rav Noson points out that it would make more sense to offer the incense before the korban tamid. It makes more sense to first liberate the fallen holy sparks from the depths of the realm of evil and then, afterwards transfer these reclaimed holy sparks together with all the other units of holiness to the upper worlds. Rav Noson explains this inconsistency as follows: The Mishkan was comprised of essentially two areas, the chatzer (courtyard) and the heichal (the main structure, which housed the sanctuary). The roofless chatzer was situated in front of the heichal. Most of the offerings sacrificed in the Mishkan were offered out-of-doors in the chatzer. However, the incense was offered indoors, within the heichal. The area of the korban tamid was closer to the entrance of the Mishkan. Therefore, simply stated, since that part of the Mishkan was the first area encountered, the korban tamid preceded the incense offering. The deeper reason, however, for this order of the sacrifices, which can apply to all other services to Hashem as well, is as follows: At first, when a person decides to start serving Hashem, Hashem pities the person and deals with him leniently. Hashem allows and assists him to enter into the realm of holiness, as the Talmud teaches, "One who comes to purify himself, [Heaven] assist[s] him." Initially, the quest for holiness usually goes quite well and the person meets with little resistance, going from level to level, advancing closer to Hashem. However, in these initial stages, the person has only entered the chatzer, but has not yet penetrated the realm of the heichal. When this individual desires to enter into the heichal - the main part of the Mishkan - the forces of evil prevent him from entering. He will be unable to enter until he retreats, going back outside the heichal and, by standing up to adversity and not succumbing to evil temptations, rescues and rectifies the holy sparks that have fallen to the depths, which is the very fimction of the incense offering. The fallen sparks that he must rescue are actually fragments of his very own soul that have fallen into the grip of the forces of evil, due to his sins. The rectification process often involves encountering all sorts of setbacks, confusion, and difficulties. Then he can enter into the heichal. This process exemplifies the struggle one must endure in order to come close to Hashem. In His great kindness, Hashem allows the spiritual novice to fim enter the courtyard of holiness and taste a little of the holiness before he embarks upon his purification process with its concomitant difficulties and afflictions. If one would have to encounter the difficulties of the purification process without first tasting from the sweetness of the holy realms, it would be too much for him to handle and he would never come to possess the fortitude to withstand these difficulties. In addition, never having tasted the delights of closeness with Hashem the individual would not have the drive to continue despite the hardships.

Now we can understand why the korban tamid was offered before the incense. Hashem has mercy on us and first allows us to enter the chatzer, where we first offer the korban tamid, even though we have not yet rectified our sins. Prior to this stage we do not have the fortitude to fight against the forces of evil and rescue the fragments of our souls that have fallen there due to our sins. Once we have tasted the sweetness of and received some nourishment from Hashem's great light we enter the heichal and offer the incense which means that we have become strong enough to endure the troubles and afflictions which rescuing the fallen fragments of our souls usually entails. This is what Rabbi Nachman referred to when he said that there are individuals who make it to the gates of holiness but are prevented from entering by the forces of evil until they can rectify their sins.

Rabbi Nachman said that it would be very foolish for someone to give up his quest to come close to Hashem after he is thrown back. For this is a necessary part of the cleansing process and requires a great amount of patience. The degree of resistance by forces of evil during the purification stage depends on how much damage one has caused by his sins and how much spiritual potential he has, which is a function of how lofty his soul is. To purify the soul, one must encounter the forces of evil which attempt to demoralize him. The bitterness of the struggle to come closer to Hashem causes the person to think erroneously that there is no hope at all, because the evil forces cause him to have confusing and impure thoughts, arousing his desires for physicality. The process may take many days or years, depending on how much rectification his soul needs. Naturally, a person in this situation thinks that Hashem is doing him a great disservice because he is thrown so far back for such a long period of time. However, Hashem's apparent rejection and the accompanying difficulties are truly for the person's benefit for evil can only be broken at its source (one must be in contact with the evil in order to break it). Through these tests, by standing firm in the face of the adversity and temptation the evil is broken and the entrapped fragments of the person's soul are released. Therefore one must meet the evil forces head on. At times, a person falls and will actually be forced to do bad things in order to enter the realm of evil, but there he will regain the fragments of his soul that were lost due to his sins. Rabbi Nachman greatly-wamed that no matter what happens to a person, even if his situation seems hopeless, he should never allow himself to fall into depression and give up. There are deep mysteries behind all the difficulties that we encounter in life. Rabbi Nachman emphatically emphasized that Hashem is always good and His mercies endure forever, as the verse says: "It is through Hashem's kindness that we'are not consumed, because His mercies have no end." (Lamentations 3:22) The main thing, when experiencing troubles, is to attach oneself to the true Tzaddik (saint) so that he can help elevate those fragments of the individual's soul which he, personally, is unable to elevate In addition, the advice of the Tzaddik infuses new life into those who are demoralized and discouraged by the purification process. Attachment to the Tzaddik, by adherence to his teachings, enables the individual to pass through the gates and enter the house of holiness.

King David wrote in Psalms, echoing the above theme, "Fortunate is he whom You will choose and bring near, that he may dwell in Your courts; may he be satisfied With,the goodness of Your house, the holy place of Your sanctuary". (Psalms. 65:5) Hashem, in His mercy, at first gives the person entrance - into the courtyard of holiness as a gift - with minimal effort on the part of the individual. This is indicated in the verse by the Hebrew word tivchar, meaning "that You [Hasheml will choose," indicating that it is Hashem Who initially chooses to bring us close to Him. Afterwards, however, one is forced to fight his way into the gates of holiness with the effort coming solely from the person himself; connoted by the phrase, "...may he be satisfied with the goodness of Your house..." "Satisfied" refers to someone who has worked hard to enter the gates of holiness, earning his way through his bitter struggle against the forces of evil. This struggle is alluded to in the next verse, "With wondrous works, through [Your] righteousness, You answer us, Hashem of our deliverance; [You are] the trust of all [inhabitants of] the ends of the earth and of the distant seas. (Psalms 65:5) The phrase in this verse "with wondrous works," refers to the battle with evil that everyone must encounter in order to enjoy the goodness of Hashem's house. The final phrase of this verse, "...[You are] the trust of all [inhabitants of] the ends of the earth and of the distant seas," refers to the point in the process when it appears to the seeker that Hashem has driven him away from the realm of holiness (to the ends of the earth and the distant seas), but indeed at the end of the ordeal, if the individual has prevailed, he can trust that he will certainly enter into Hashem's house and enjoy His bounty. Hashem promises people who engage in this fierce battle that it is for their benefit to enter into His house. This is the spiritual essence of the incense offering, rescuing the fallen sparks of holiness from the depths of evil, elevating and merging them with Hashem Himself. There is no offering as dear, as precious, as delightftd to Hashem as the incense offering. Therefore, a person who begins his spiritual trek very far from Hashem and, by fighting his way closer, accesses the spiritual energies of the incense offering, gives Hashem more pleasure than even the greatest Tzaddik who has always been close to Him. Every microscopic movement a person makes towards Him gives Him great delight. If a person will only be strong and remain determined to come close to Hasheni, regardless of his wrongdoings and mistakes, Hashem will eventually have mercy on hun and allow him to enter the gates of holiness.

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The sages teach in Talmud Berachos that from the day that the Temple was destroyed, Hashem has no place in His world but the four cubits of Jewish law. This means that we do not have nourishment or comfort from Hashem, except by way of the four cubits of Jewish law, which is our holy Torah. According to halacha (practical application of Jewish law) a person possesses the area measuring four cubits wherein he stands. This also applies to the four cubits in front of the entrance to his home. The four cubits that every Jew possesses parallels the four cubits of Torah. Therefore, every Jew, no matter what his situation, by the very fact that he at least possesses those four cubits, can always draw comfort from the words of the Torah. Furthermore, if one studies Jewish law it will help him break the forces of evil, creating a pathway to and enabling him to enter the house of Hashem.

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The law of the sacrifices is only one facet of the Torah, thus the power of the Torah is even greater than the power of the sacrifices. Therefore, from the time of the Temple's destruction onward, we need only recite the Torah passages and teachings pertaining to the sacrificial rites to have greater ability to neutralize the forces of evil. Thus Torah study has the power to rectify the world. (Likutai Halachos: Choshen Mishpat: Hilchoth Cha'lu'kas Shoot'flm: Chapter 5:8-12)

Now we can understand why Hohem commanded us to offer animal sacrifices. Since animals act upon their instincts to fulfil their desires, they are spiritually connected to the forces of evil. Therefore, by fulfiling the sacrificial rites, i.e. burning the animal flesh, the forces of evil that are connected to the animal are destroyed. Part of an individual's soul is attached to his possessions. Therefore, when one buys an animal to sacrifice, since he owns it, part of his soul is connected to the animal. Also, when a person sins, his behavior is anunal-like and, by buying an animal, he can directly access the spiritual energies he created through his sins and rectify them. When the animal is offered, the forces of evil that suffound the person's soul are broken, releasing the entrapped aspect of his soul which is then elevated to the upper worlds and returned to its source. The physical part of the animal that is offered is secondary to this purification process while the manipulated spiritual energies are primary. Even though the Temple has lain in ruins for almost two thousand years and animal sacrifices are not now brought, the recitation of the verses and laws concerning the sacrificial rites has an even greater effect on destroying evil and connecting this world to Hashem then the actual rites themselves. Therefore, anyone who wants to eliminate the forces of evil and come closer to Hashem should recite the verses concerning the sacrificial rites which are part of the daily morning (and, according to some cwoms, afternoon) prayers, verses which are often neglected by ill-informed people.

If the recital of the verses of the sacrificial rites is far superior to actually offering them, then why did we bother to offer sacrifices in Temple times? The holy Ari answers that every commanchnent must be performed on the levels of thought speech, and action, each of which rectifies different areas in heaven. Therefore, in Temple times, we were required to bring the actual sacrifices (action) as well as to confess our sins (speech) and have intent that the sacrifice and confession would be for atonement (thought). Even though the speech aspect is the most powerful, rectification through action is also necessary. Today we are only able to rectify the world on the levels of speech and thought but when Moshiach (the Messiah) comes and the Temple is rebuilt we will once again rectify all three areas. May the third Temple be built speedily in our time. Amen!


We mentioned above that after the destruction of the Temple, the precious sacrificial rites, which were so dear to Hashem, were discontinued and how the sacrifices were able to bring a person closer to Hashem. The following story illustrates these points:

The city of Tsfat [in the northern part of Israel, high atop a mountain] attracted many Marranos who fled Spain and came to the land of Israel in the 1500's. These people had a deep, innate love for Hashem but were ignorant of the law. Some of their practices were based on their own erroneous interpretations of Torah. One Friday afternoon a rabbi was sitting in the synagogue preparing his sermon for the following day. A man entered with two fresh fragrant challos (Sabbath bread) and a bottle of choice red wine. The rabbi watched with amazement as the man went over to the holy ark, opened it, and put them alongside the Torah scrolls. The man muttered a few words under his breath and then closed the holy ark. The rabbi called the Marrano over to him and asked what he did. The man replied in all innocence, "I work very hard to earn my living but I happily scrape together a few pennies each week in order to be able to bring this sacrifice to Hashem. Every Friday night I bring my offering and put in into the holiest spot in the synagogue, the holy ark and pray that it pleases Hashem."

When the rabbi heard these naive words, he rebuked the Marrano, "Do you really think that Hashem is like a mortal of flesh and blood, that he actually eats and drinks your sacrifices? He has no use for your challos or your wine."

"I am a simple person" replied the man with a trembling voice. "I have never had the opportunity to study Torah. I thought that Hashem appreciated my offering, that He ate it I have been doing this every Friday night for a long time. When I saw that the challos disappeared, I was sure that He had accepted my gift, which I gave with all my heart" The rabbi was angry and shouted impatiently, "Fool! Idiot! Don't you know that it must have been the caretaker who took your gifts? The Marrano left the synagogue, his face burning with embarrassment bitterly disappointed that Hashem had no need for his offerings. The holy Ari divined what had happened, summoned the rabbi to him and sternly said, "Go home to your family and tell them your last wishes for you must die. The heavenly court has decreed your death for the way you shamed the poor Marrano." The rabbi burst into tears and said, "But I did the right thing! I had to show him that he was mistaken." The Ari responded, "That is true, but ever since the Temple was destroyed, there have been no sacrifices. Hashem has missed this service. When the Marrano brought his offering and presented it with all his heart, Hashem was pleased once again, for it is the good will and sincerity in a person's heart that He most desires. And now you have prevented this. The Marrano will never again bring the wine and the challos, which so pleased Hashem. Since you are the cause, you must pay with your life. Your fate is sealed." The rabbi bowed his head, returned home and the next day, he died. [His sin was so great that Joe only way for it to be rectified so that his soul would once again be pure was through his death.] (Stories of the holy Ari.)


Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone must study at least one law from the Codes, the "Shulchan Aruch", daily, without fail. This study is a great spiritual remedy. A legal conclusion determins what is permitted or forbidden after sifting through the various opinions. Study of the codes helps seperate and rectify the evil of one's sins (Sichos HaRan 29):

Preferably, one should have everything prepared for Shabbos (the Sabbath) one hour and fifteen minutes before nightfall (called p'lag ha'mincha). Everything should be ready for the Shabbos meal when the men come home from the synagogue. All the chairs should be arranged, the beds should be made, and the floor should be swept clean - all for the honor of Shabbos. The table should remain set until the conclusion of Shabbos. (Mishna Berurah: Orach Chaim 262:1,2,3,4)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman strongly urged his followers to talk daily to Hashem in the manner that one would confide in his best friend, in seclusion, in a language and style with which he feels most comfotable. In these sessions one can openly discuss anything and everythng with Hashem. One can praise Him, unload and, unburden his feelings, aspirations, problem and wants on Hashem Who has unlimited patience to listen and Who actually craves these encounters, as mentioned by Rashi in the book of Genesis. These encounters not only strengthen one's faith in Hashem, relieve stress and worry, help to accomplish goals, sharpen the mind and build an intimate and personal relwionship with Hashem, but it cultivates the notion the Hashem really exists and can he counted on for all one's needs. The following is an example of a Hisbodiduth session:

O, Merciful One, full of compassion, Who has compassion on the poor. Listen to the groans of the poor. Have mercy upon us and upon our oppressed souls which are as birds caught in a trap. Help my soul escape destruction. You know how precious and glorious is my soul in its upper root and You also know with how much filth and dirt have I sullied it! It is revealed before You the awesome mercy that You have on my soul, so very weary, oppressed and torn by the teeth of lions. We have been crying out to you for such a very long time and there is no one to save us. We, ourselves, have been cruel to our own souls, but You are able to save our souls through your great mercy. incline our hearts to You in Truth. Give us the strength and advice that our souis will prevail over our bodies, always. Help,me merit to eternally elevate my soul and connect it to Your holiness On High. You know the awesIome beauty of holy, precious Torah hidden within us. Please help us reveal that hidden Torah within, we should be saved from shame, extinction and stumbling forever! (1 Lekutai Tefelos 37)

Volume 3, Issue 18