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Terumah 5770

Parshat Terumah
(1 Kings 5:26 – 6:13)
February 20, 2010
6 Adar 5770

Not unlike this week\’s parashah, the haftarah presents a very detailed picture of King Solomon\’s greatest building project, the Temple. This exacting presentation is capped off with an important proviso: \”Then the word of the Lord came to Solomon, \’With regard to this House you are building – if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep my commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David: I will abide among the children of Israel and I will never forsake my people Israel.\’\” (6:12-13)

The provisional nature of the relationship between God and His people and the existence of God\’s house on earth – the Temple – was acknowledged by the sages as one of three gifts that God gave to His people on a conditional basis: \”Three things were given conditionally: the land of Israel, the Temple, and the kingdom of David excluding the Torah and the covenant with Aaron (the cohanim) which were unconditional. From where do we know regarding the land of Israel? As it is written: \’Guard yourselves, lest your heart be misled…and the anger of the Lord be kindled against you…and you soon perish from the good land.\’ (Deut. 11:16-17) How do we know about the Temple? \’With regard to this House you are building – if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep my commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David.\’ (1 Kings 6:12-13) and if not: \’And this House which is so high [shall become desolate] and every man that passes by it shall be astonished.\’ (Ibid. 9:8) How do we know about the kingdom of David? It is said: \’If your children keep My covenant,\’ (Psalm 132:12); and if not: \’Then will I visit their transgression with the rod\’ (Psalm 89:33) And how do we know that the Torah was given without condition? It is said: \’The Torah, which Moses commanded us, is an inheritance.\’ (Deut. 33:4) And how do we know regarding the covenant with Aaron that it was made without condition? It says: \’It is an everlasting covenant of salt.\’ (Ibid. 25:13) (Mechilta de Rabbi Ishmael Horowitz Rabin ed. p. 201)

It is important to know that many of the important things in our lives are given to us conditionally. They require judicious thinking and living. It is also good that we have in the Torah a God-given anchor which can guide us on our path and will be with us no matter what. These two life truths are among Judaism\’s most important messages.

About This Commentary

This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in  Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva.  He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem offers students of all backgrounds the skills for studying Jewish texts. We are a vibrant, open-minded egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn, practise and grow together. Our goal is to provide students the ability and desire to continue Jewish learning and practice throughout their lives. Rashei Yeshiva: Rabbi Joel Levy & Dr. Joshua Kulp. Rabbi Joel Roth, Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus .  Sponsors – The Conservative Yeshiva would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Haftarah Commentary:

  • Underwriters:  Rabbi Michael and Erica Schwab.
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