Welcome to the concise,
relevant Lelamed Weekly Dvar. Going back to the concise version
of the Dvar, this one is a goodie. Enjoy...
* * *
Parshat Terumah is the beginning of the building of the Mishkan,
where G-d would dwell among the Jews as they traveled in the
desert. To build the Mishkan materials had to be collected, and
G-d commanded the Jews to collect several types. After listing
the need for metals, wools, hairs, skins, and wood, the Torah
tells us that they collected "oil for illumination" and "spices
for the anointment oil and incense". Why does the Torah suddenly
need to tell us what the materials were to be used for, when it
hadn't discussed it thus far?
One possible answer is that there are two differences between
the characteristics of the other materials and those of the oil
and spices. Firstly, while the other materials were important,
they required no effort in producing, while the oil and spices
had to be manufactured and maintained. Those people that didn't
have the precious stones to donate to the building of the
Mishkan still had the opportunity to contribute with their
efforts instead! Secondly, both the oil and the spices are of
the most 'giving' materials used in the Mishkan; The oil was
used to light the Menorah, which gives off light to everything
around it, and the spices give off a beautiful smell to its
surroundings. The message it clear...The most beautiful and
giving things in life are those that require our active effort.
Spices smell and oil illuminates BECAUSE someone took the time
and effort to make them! The same can be said today...Being a
good person and a good Jew is beautiful and rewarding to
ourselves and to others, but only BECAUSE we take the time and
effort to understand and cultivate it!