Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ta’aroch lifanay shulchan neged tzorerai - talmud torah

It's been a busy week, but I finally found a moment to get in a few follow up notes on some things I wrote last week.  I mentioned Rashi’s analogy that the teaching of mishpatim must be like a “shulchan aruch,” like a banquet that people will enjoy eating. My wife suggested that David haMelech was perhaps alluding to this when he said, “Ta’aroch lifanay shulchan neged tzorerai.” (The 23) David was asking that Torah should be for him like this “shulchan aruch” that he will enjoy delving into, and in this way, “neged tzorerai,” he will be able to overcome his yetzer ha’ra, and maybe through the power of Torah defeat his external enemies as well. “Dishanta ba’shemen roshi” – oil is a symbol of chochma, which is found in the head, so this too is perhaps an allusion to the study of Torah.   

Last week I also mentioned the the pasuk, “Lo te’hiye m’shakeila v’akarah b’artzecha.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe has a beautiful interpretation of this pasuk. The word “eretz” shares ther same root as “ratzon,” e.g. the Midrash (Braishis 5:8) says that Hashem called the land “eretz” because “she’ratzta la’ason retzon konah,” it desired to fulfill G-d’s will. The bracha in our pasuk can be read to mean that your desires (artzecha – your ratzon) should not be barren and given to fruitless endeavors. 

Finally, on to this week: if I were making an appeal for building funds, I would first paint a picture of the wonderful edifice that would be built, and then ask people to pony up the cash. Parshas Terumah presents things exactly the reverse way.  The parsha first opens with the command, “V’Yikchu li terumah,” asking people to pony up their money, and only then gets into the details of what exactly would built. Maybe this just proves I would make a lousy fundraiser, or maybe why the parsha is put in that order is worth thinking about.


  1. But if the tzdoko was intended as a kappara, especially for having donated to the eigel, the logic is reversed.

    1. You mean the giving was a kapparah irrespective of what it was used for?

    2. the point was to have a ma'asah of giving mit'zad mitzvah - as you said,
      regardless of what it was used for, as long as it was "for a worthy cause."
      If anything, such giving without knowing the goal is much more l'shem giving.