THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
This study is brought to you by an anonymous donor, a true builder of Jerusalem-- tho he is in the West, his heart and soul are here, in the East.
Lance is a voice in the wilderness, proclaiming the messages of Religious Zionism, of Rav Kook and Rav Soloveichik (as taught him by Rav Daniel Landes, now head of Jerusalem's Pardes Institute), in his overwhelmingly non-Zionist (tho pro-Israel) haredi community. Where do you think Lance lives?-- Boro Park, Lakewood or Monsey? Meah Shearim, Mattasdorf or Stanford Hill?-- NO!-- Las Vegas, sin city, where one has to choose between the extremes of wild abandon and insular haredi Judaism, lacking Israelight, tho burning with "the fire of Torah". Rambam notes that the fixing, tikkun, of any extreme has to start with the opposite extreme, until one gets back to the balanced middle. So a folded piece of paper must be folded in the opposite direction to straighten it out. If, God forbid, public gambling comes to Israel, the whole Las Vegas "frum" community will have to make aliya and bring their "tikkun" to gambling and decadence to Eilat; but they should stay far away from bad neighbors even now, and soon leave the uncleanest part of an unclean land, along with their natural over-reaction to it, and make their own balanced tikkun in God's only truly pure land-- He Himself will be their good neighbor, when they come to His hometown, Jerusalem (see Ps. 135). Abroad, they can only experience His Glory, His Majesty, in nature (e.g. beautiful Southwestern landscapes), his many "offices" (see Isaiah 6).
Columbus Rav Dovid Stavsky, who comes here frequently, God-willing more frequently, notes that the hooks, holding the tabernacle together, are called "vovin"-- "vov" ("and") is the letter of unity; only Jewish love and unity will keep our tabernacle, Israel, from falling apart. No Jew should call another, who follows his conscience and understanding, a traitor or hater of peace, tho his own thoughts and feelings are the opposite (written long before Rabin's assassination).
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A. AN OVERVIEW OF TRUMAH
The special bond between God and the Jews was proclaimed in their covenant at Sinai. Israel will study and live by His laws, and He designates them His Chosen People. Israel's unique national task and identity is to be "A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION" (19:6), to eventually bring all mankind back to God and their inner selves from the land and state of Israel. God's first mission for Moshe on Sinai is to perpetuate His intimate revelation to the Jews, via the tabernacle (Ramban). He speaks to Moshe from above the ark; there He manifests His Glory in Solomon's Temple too (ibid). The ark will contain the 2 tablets, to be brought down by Moshe. As the tablets of the heart, they give life and spirit to the tabernacle, tho unseen. Thus God first tells Moshe to construct the ark, tho the tabernacle is to be built before it and the other holy furniture.
God begins Moshe's 40 day marathon Divine Discovery Program: DIRECT THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND THEY SHALL TAKE FOR ME A RAISED UP OFFERING; FROM EVERYONE WHOSE HEART SO MOVES HIM, TAKE MY RAISED UP OFFERING... GOLD, SILVER AND COPPER... (or bronze or brass-- see The Living Torah, p. 214, for varied opinions; we use "copper" in this study)-- 25:2. THEY SHALL MAKE ME A SANCTUARY, AND I'LL DWELL IN THEIR MIDST (25:8). Sfat Emes declares that if one makes his 6 days of work, "building his sanctuary" in the material world, holy-- then God's Presence descends to dwell in his midst on Shabbat (whose laws prohibit those very acts of creative labor used in the building of the tabernacle), enabling him to render the following 6 days even holier.
A TABERNACLE MESSAGE Right after the Decalogue, God gave 2 laws of the altar of animal sacrifice: it may not be made of hewn stone and no steps, only a ramp, may lead to it-- see our Yisro and Mishpatim studies for their messages. Mazal Tov to Rova Rav Mordecai Sheinberger and his family upon the marriage of his son, Yosef Chayim; may he and his new wife have a similar large warm outgoing holy family. Rav Sheinberger sees a message for all holy Jewish leaders in the prohibition of steps leading to the altar-- a cohen, a leader, must have a clear vision, unshakable, despite setbacks and failure. He and we must never stop, as when we climb steps, amid our lifelong task-- to draw nearer to God; we must continually ascend (or else we descend), as on a ramp (cf. the kabbalistic concept of rotz v'shav, ebb and flow, in our Divine pursuit).
CONTEMPORARY APPLICATIONS So the Mossad, beginning with virtually no resources and training, was unswervingly committed to rescuing the Jews of Europe and the Arab lands and bringing them back home to Israel-- they fought our British enemy occupiers all the way; Dovid and Jon Kimche tell well their inspiring tale in The Secret Roads, Seckler and Warburg, 1954. They show how the tiny Mossad outfoxed the powerful, arrogant and heartless British Empire-- they even "stole from the thieves" and formed a fake British military unit in Italy, using British supplies and resources to aid "illegal" immigration to Palestine! World attention was focused on the wicked British war against holocaust survivers, trying to reach their only land, by hunger strikes, demonstrations, etc., e.g. the "La Spezia Affair" and the famous tale of the s.s. President Warfield, later known as the Exodus 1947.
But the Kimche brothers conclude their gripping work with a heavy dose of typical early activist secular Zionist anti-religious propaganda, an extreme unbalanced reaction (cf. Las Vegas above) to the helpless passivity, into which broken burnt-out Jewry and Judaism, before the advent of Carlebach and Tzahal, had fallen (p. 213f):
"... religious Jewry, despite it's strongly messianic emphasis, has failed continuously for 2,500 years to produce, by itself, either a voluntary mass "return to Zion" by religious Jews, or to create the conditions that would make it practicable. The "Cyrus Declaration" in 538 B.C.E. and the "Balfour Declaration" in 1917 were produced... by circumstances unconnected with the efforts of religious Jewry; the impulse had come from others. But neither "Declaration" by itself produced a mass migration of Jews to Palestine, not even with the aid of the Zionist Movement. For that, the element of cruel compulsion was necessary. It was not present in 538 B.C.E. Therefore there was no spontaneous mass movement of religious Jews to return to Palestine from the Babylonian "exile", when the Persian King Cyrus proclaimed his "Balfour Declaration." In all, only some 30,000 men and 12,000 women, accompanied by 7,337 servants and slaves, took the hard road back to Jerusalem; 50 times as many -- 2 1/2 million voluntary exiles -- stayed behind in Babylon and Egypt; they did not sit down by the rivers and they did not weep with the psalmist; they did not forget Zion and their hands did not lose their cunning; they contributed gold and silver, moral encouragement and diplomatic support. But they did not return to Zion. Unlike the Hebrews in the days of Moses, or the Jews in our time in Continental Europe and Asia, they suffered no compulsion. They stayed put.
The Second Commonwealth of the Jews in Palestine paid dearly for this. Though it survived for 600 years before its decisive destruction by Rome, it was forced into an unnatural hot-house development, from which Israel and Judaism has not yet recovered... Instead of Israel being re-established with its distinctive charactaristics, based firmly in its newly re-created self-confidence, emerging naturally from the return to its homeland, the precise opposite took place. Because the Second Commonwealth lacked an adequate Jewish population; because it could therefore produce neither a balanced economy, nor a diplomatic and millitary security system, and thus could not assert its own values and way of life, it was of necessity driven into a form of rigorous religious isolationism, intolerance, narrowness, and, above all, defensiveness. Thus, the pattern of the distorted Jewish life in the later Diaspora was established during the Second Commonwealth in Palestine, in the 600 years from 538 B.C.E. to C.E 70.
"It was the price which the Second Commonwealth had to pay for the voluntary exile of the great majority of Jews; nor did the Commonwealth, during its existence, succeed in wiping out this heavy debt. It remains unpaid, like a yoke on the neck of successive generations of Jews, down into our own time, when it was the men of the Mossad who took the first positive steps towards the settlement of this account. Religious Jewry once more played a purely passive role. It provided neither the direct impulse nor the means for the first mass return of Jews to Zion." This issue is also explored in Eliezer Don-Yehiya's article: "Hanukkah and the Myth of the Maccabees in Ideology and in Society", in Studies of Israeli Society, Vol. 7, The Sociology of Religion in Israel-- Israeli Judaism, a fascinating and penetrating collection:
"As for the religious Zionists, they sought to reconcile the national myth of the Maccabees with the traditional elements of Hanukkah. They held that the struggle of the Hasmoneans was fuelled by both religio-spiritual and national-political goals. Rabbi Yeshayahu Shapira, the Hapoel-Hamizrachi leader, considered the exploits of the Hasmoneans to be a shining example of the special obligation on the Orthodox community to rally to the cause of national redemption: `In the days of the Hasmoneans, the banner of the revolt was raised expressly by Torah followers, and they risked their lives for the liberation of the land and of the Jewish spirit. Today, we face a similar war, a war for the redemption of our land, and a war for the liberation of the Jewish spirit from the alien cultures that we have absorbed'."
A unique approach to Hanukkah was presented by a group which called itself `Covenant of the Hasmoneans', and advocated a fusion of religiosity with radical Messianic nationalism. The Hasmoneans were their models, because they exemplified the ideal fusion of the religious believer and the hero-warrior. In `Hahashmonai', they... asserted that the lesson of the revolt against the Greeks was that the national struggle should be conducted in a revolutionary and uncompromising style: "It is not by building and ploughing and sowing well, or even by defending ourselves with arms that we will attain... liberty, but by establishing the irrevocable fact by irrevocable means: `Who shall be sole ruler here?'". As Orthodox Jews, the members of the `Covenant' had to confront the problem of the apparent contrast between their militant nationalistic attitude and the political passivity of traditional religious Jewry. They resolved the problem by blaming the conditions of Jewish exile for the abandonment of the heritage of heroism, associated with the Hasmoneans.
Another article... stated: "heroism and pride were deeply-rooted qualities in the Jewish people from its very beginnings... The Torah does not teach submission and weakness. It is a source of strength and pride". However, the `distortation and disruption' caused by the exile had brought about a `warped attitude towards heroism'. Moreover, it was argued that, as a result of the `shortcomings of the Diaspora', the Torah sages cannot be considered as exemplars in other matters, such as heroism in battle (militant Israeli haredim may be recovering their tradition!-- cf. Habad's Crown Heights war with the blacks). Other religious Zionists also claimed that it was not religious tradition, but rather conditions of exile, which were the source of Jewish historical passivity. However, in contrast to the members of the `Covenant', they sought to link Hannukah to the values of labour and land settlement, rather than militant-nationalistic values -- an approach more in keeping with the ethos of the Labour movement, than with that of the Revisionists. Thus, Rabbi Shapira concluded his article on Hannukah with the statement that the battle for the nation's political and spiritual deliverance `is no longer waged by the sword, but through redemption and settling of the land'.
God then interrupted tabernacle talk with a 9% sample of Torah's laws-- Mishpatim. They inject messages of the altar and tabernacle, of disciplined and redeemed pleasure and power trips, into the whole gamut of life-- ritual is to pattern a holy, but active and involved, life, not to be a substitute for life. Refraining from using my Divine Creative powers on Shabbat, not lighting a match or ignition, is more important than attending services. So one's conduct toward others in synagogue may be more important than the exact form of service-- cf. fights over who's called to the Torah (or chief rabbinate), and vicious attacks and curses upon the Women at the Wall, by so-called and self-styled pietists.
I myself experienced such hate, clothed in "religious" garb, when asked to take out the Torah at the pious sunrise service at the Jewish Quarter's Ramban synagogue; as I put it back, a particularly and habitually nasty haredi elder, a relative by divorce, began to scream that I was a "missionary"!-- tho our center is one of the most active in explaining why Jews reject Christianity! This "tzadik" wouldn't let his repentant (in joining Israel's Army) orphaned grandson enter his home in his "disgraceful" clothing (a Tzahal uniform-- the boy visited me and told me the sad tale), made an ugly scene when a little girl entered the men's section of a shul (not even his own), and stopped the gabbei of the Breslaver minyan in Miron from blessing his own former pupil, who was called to the Torah. But more shocking than his horrible behavior was the silence of his haredi cohorts, including a well-known rabbi and the son of a popular late great Israeli friend of all Jews (I may remind him of his outgoing free-flowing public father); tho they knew he was lying and slandering me, members of the "old Yerushalmi bochurim's club" never condemn fellow-travellers who wrong "outsiders", who are, by definition, "tref"-- cf. the persecution of Eliezer Ben Yehuda by unholy holy Yerushalmi's.The same pious personalities not only failed to condemn the torching of the Jewish Quarter's Shlomo Carlebach Torah Outreach Center, but even successfully pressured it to leave. So the Ramban Shul, Aish, and Ohr Somaach heeded Rav Shach's ban of Chabbadnik Adin Steinsaltz's Talmud for quite some time.
After delivering the laws (24:3), Moshe returns to Sinai for 40 fast days; so the high priest enters the holy of holies on Yom Kippur, amidst fasting. Nadav, Avihu, and Co. accompany Moshe part way; they eat and drink, celebrating the revelation of God's Presence (Ramban). Likewise, imbuing the material with spirit, or revealing its innate spirit, is the leitmotif in the building of the tabernacle, to RAISE UP mundane matter to its source, God-- this is TAKING, not GIVING; one can TAKE the material world and transform it into spiritual matter, when truly MOVED BY HIS HEART. You truly TAKE when you GIVE such Divine gifts-- they comprise the only money which you can "TAKE with you" after death! Per S. R. Hirsch, the community, as such, must organize charity and TAKE it from the individual. The German kehilla itself gives kosher certification and pays the rabbi (unlike Jerusalem's rabbinate, whose kosher supervisors are employees of the place they're supposed to supervise!-- this saves the religious council the payment of employee benefits). The Amshinover Rebbe translates: "TAKE every man whose heart moves him to Me, by TAKING AWAY from them (the desire for) gold, silver, and copper"-- give him a secure respectable position; then he can devote his life to God, without desperately scrambling about for a livelihood (but one must work, not take charity-- Rambam, M. T., T. T. 3:9-11; Rav Tarfon, Avot 4; Hillel, Avot 1).
Many of last week's laws taught proper interpersonal relationships, summarized in tablet #2-- a prerequisite for higher Divine worship. Sacrifices and Divine worship are worth little, when people don't treat each other with integrity and respect. Conversely, when financial transactions are viewed as spiritual matters, under God's law, even gold itself can be RAISED UP to cover an ark, upon which rests God's Presence (if so intended). One's asked on his/her day of judgement: DID YOU DO BUSINESS WITH FAITH? (Rava, Shabat 31a). This is more than just honesty; it's the integration of spirit and matter-- then one works as God's partner, without 24 hour days of frantic anxiety. So last week's laws of Shabat and Sabbatical Year rest RAISE UP to Divinity the work product of the other 6 days and years. The festival pilgrimage implants this message in male Jewish souls 3 times a year (the females, unless messed up by western civilization, already have it). Per Hirsch, Jews build the MIKDASH, sanctifying (M'kadash) and elevating matter toward God. He responds with the MISHKAN, His Presence coming down to earth (shochan) to meet the dedicated material world, rising toward Him.
The copper altar of animal sacrifice is OUTSIDE the tabernacle, just before its entry, in the courtyard-- vicarious "sacrifice", taming, of our animal sensual selves precedes higher spiritual states, achieved WITHIN the tabernacle; so Eden's universal religion has but one Divine law, a law of BODILY self-discipline-- one tree's fruit isn't kosher!
R. Bachye links our portion to Prov. 8:10-- "TAKE" (eagerly seize) MY MORAL INSTRUCTION, AND NOT SILVER, AND KNOWLEDGE, RATHER THAN (or FROM) GOLD. Cf. Avot 2: "HE WHO MULTIPLIES POSSESSIONS MULTIPLIES WORRY, BUT HE WHO MULTIPLIES TORAH, MULTIPLIES LIFE .."; so the Jews were possessed by their possessions in Egypt (Gen. 47:27-- cf. USA Today). TAKE denotes taking something with enthusiasm and zeal, integrating oneself and the outside world. Expansive enthusiasm comes much easier in the material realm (cf. Dallas) than in the world of spirit-- authentic spiritual and intellectual accomplishment is hard, slow and far less tangible. So both the wise builders of the Temple and Moshe are upset and intervene, when the Jews enthusiastically bring far too much material for building the tabernacle (Rav N. Cardozo on 36:4-7). Our first verses, inaugurating the grand tabernacle building fund, tell us that one should indeed "TAKE", i.e. flow, continue his earthly zeal, build and accomplish; however God tells Israel to do it "FOR ME"-- part of their material accomplishment itself, transformed into the Tabernacle, will generate powerful spiritual effects and messages, gently drawing them to a higher and deeper life style. They'll then find themselves more and more able to zealously pursue the realm of pure spirit itself. Yes, it's much easier to work up enthusiasm about building a temple than about praying in it. But if it's done right, the donor may find himself changed by his own donation-- see Heaven Help Us, Herbert Tarr, for the trials and tribulations of a rabbi in a typical middle-class U.S. non-Orthodox temple.
Yet one completely immersed in learning and life of the spirit may become depressed or lethargic-- he may achieve more by cutting back a bit and reentering active life; "the main thing is the act, not the exposition" (Avot 1:17, Zohar 3:218, 230, 278). Avraham Krishevski, a young Yerushalmi from an esteemed haredi family, left the Toldot Aharon ultra-haredi anti-Israel world to become a fine religious Zionist, after intense social pressure was brought to stop him from working. So people, whose professional lives involve abstract non-tangible talk, e.g. psychologists and philosophers, may raise their spirits by adding down-to-earth tangible accomplishments, e.g. cooking, auto repairs, growing cabbages, and the brick (tetrus) game. Sometimes one's climbed heavenward too high and/or too fast; she must temporarily descend to further ascend; yet he'll never be the same for having once been there (Nachman of Breslav). Chaim Grade's mussar Yeshiva couldn't keep him religious, but he could never again enjoy being otherwise! So all work and no play can make Moshe a dull boy; haredi Yeshiva students, who have no outlet for their normal youthful energy, frequent our center for vicarious video adventures, e.g. Entebbe, The 6 Day War, Lupo in NY, etc. Their criteria is: "make war, not love"; bloody violence is glatt kosher, sex tref. Sports would help them a lot.
Little children began Bible with Leviticus' laws of sacrifice and ritual purity, seemingly remote from our concerns and souls-- "LET PURE (little) ONES COME AND BE OCCUPIED WITH PURITY" (Gen. Raba 7:3). The down-to-earth details of these animals and their sacrifices are far easier for children to grasp than the abstract principles of the complex interpersonal situations of Genesis or the national mission of Exodus. Raising most tangible little children prevents abstract devitalization; their purity, enthusiasm and joyous wonder, man's natural state, can restore the flow and inspire the spirit of jaded adults; their demands and needs keep even "luftmenshen" somewhat grounded. Great Torah scholars and mystics usually have kids. Unfortunately, their secular poetic and intellectual disembodied equivalents often have no or few children-- cf. Catholic clergy and Greek Orthodox monks. Rav J. B. Soloveichik had a most learned, but spaced-out, ancestor who virtually ignored his children; but he had to dress up for his daughter's wedding-- when his button popped, he exclaimed: "How difficult it is to raise children!" The mainstream Jewish view (vs. Rambam's father and son) is the more children the merrier, especially in the joie de vive Hassidic folk culture. So Exodus Raba 34:3 concludes: "You're children and I'm your Father... It's an honor for children to be with their father, and for a father to be with his children... Make, therefore, a house for the Father that He may come and dwell among His children-- THEY SHOULD MAKE FOR ME A SANCTUARY!"
Both individual and societal life must blend enthusiasm and contemplation. Enthusiasm alone leads to emptiness and foolishness, running like mad nowhere, seeking the constant high of an overstimulated child or a summer camp (We want Milkshakes Now!). Contemplation alone leads to dryness, lethargy, and listlessness (cf. Oblamov), inability to function in a world pulsating with activity. True enthusiasm must be the RESULT of intense learning and contemplation, which engenders action to affect and change the external world. Relational outward directed chesed is Avraham's personality type, symbolized by the tabernacle's golden table of kingship; the inward directed self-exploration and discipline of Yitzchak, the gevura personality, is reflected in the golden menora of light. Yaakov-Yisroel is to synthesize both.
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C. A SYNOPSIS OF TRUMAH
The materials to build a holy place FOR God were gold, silver, copper, wool (dyed sky blue, purple, and scarlet), fine linen, goats' hair, rams skins dyed red, tachash skins, shittim (acacia) wood, olive oil suitable for light, spices suitable for annointing oil and incense, shoham stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and breast pocket (choshen) of the high priest's clothes. After the Jews make the sanctuary, God will dwell in their midst. Moshe must follow the plans of the tabernacle and its equipment, which God showed him during his 40 day beyond-space mission. It's furnishings are described before the structure itself. The wooden ark, 2-1/2 x 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 cubits (18-24" per cubit), is enclosed by a thin gold box, bordered by a crown, and contains a thin gold box within; the wood's not seen, as the inner box has a lip covering it. The ark has a solid gold cover (capores) with a cherub at each end, resembling humans, M & F, with wings. Two goldplated wooden poles are placed in the 4 rings, never to be removed. The Cherubim's wings spread upward; they face each other, looking down, toward the ark cover. Moshe's told twice to place the 2 tablets of testimony in the ark, both before and after the command to place the cover on it. God will (via Moshe) deliver commands to the Jews from between the cherubim, above the ark of testimony.
The wooden table is 2 x 1 x 1-1/2, gold plated with a crown about it, as well as a rim. Carrying poles are inserted into its gold rings. A superstructure of gold staves and ventilation bars supports the 12 thin fragile showbreads, made of some 4 quarts of flour; they measure 28 X 12 X 1/2", with artistic patterns at the corners; they're baked weekly between Wednesday and Friday, changed on Shabat. The house of Garmu preserved secrets of how to bake them and remove them unbroken from the oven, to stay fresh and tasty until next shabbat, when the priests ate them; the Rabbis condemned them and others who refused to teach their vital skills, despite their alleged fear that the Temple would be destroyed, and their skills used for idolatry (cf. those who'd restrict the freew proliferation of Rav Soloveichik's and Rav Carlebach's Torah). But they're also praised, for putting themselves above suspicion of pilferage in their holy work (see Yoma 38a-- should candidates compete for the chief rabbinate?). The breads are baked in iron pans and transported in gold pans; they rest on the table without pans (the picture on the cover of "The Tabernacle" is wrong).
The menorah, representing prayer in kabbala (see Ish Ben Hai), is formed from a solid 1 kikar block of gold. It's 6 side lamps all face the center lamp. Its tongs and snuff-dishes are made from the same block. The table's on the north side of the tabernacle, the menorah, opposite it, on the south-- a hint of mutual influence and tension between external power and riches, and internal intellectual and spiritual development.
The tabernacle's lego-like framework is of upright 10 x 1-1/2 accacia boards, with pegs and silver sockets. The north and south sides have 20 boards each; the rear-west side has 6, plus 2 corner boards. Crossbars pass thru rings, connecting the boards. 2 sets of 5 curtains each, of 6 ply woven material, with a cherubim motif, are joined by gold clasps and loops. Each curtain is 4 x 28; The curtains are spread over the N & S walls (10 + 10 cubits) with 12 cubits between them (total 32 cubits)-- thus the bottom 2 cubits of each wall (= 4 cubits) remain exposed. They're covered by another layer-- eleven 4 x 30 goats' hair curtains with copper clasps (1 cubit, the sockets, remains exposed). On top of these are red ram skins and tachash skins. Moshe was shown tabernacle construction models and/or diagrams on Sinai. The paroches, dividing the main tabernacle from the holy of holies, containing only the ark, is a curtain with a cherubim motif, hanging from four pillars. An embroidered entrance curtain, musach, hangs from 5 pillars with copper sockets. All the wood was overlaid with gold.
The courtyard surrounding the tabernacle measures 50 x 100, about the size of a large villa. Its linen curtains hang from a framework of acacia pillars with silver filigrees and hooks, copper pegs and sockets. The impressiveness of the tabernacle, as the land and people of Israel (& the Wall), is not due to its size. The courtyard's hollow accacia altar of sacrifice, 5 x 5 x 3, is overlaid with copper sheets; its corners are elevated, its utensils copper. Half way down is a grating; its carrying poles are to be inserted as soon as it it is finished.
D. THE HAFTARA, I K 5:26-6:13, describes the building of Solomon's Temple, 480 years after Exodus; 480 years later, the 2nd Temple was built. Each was far inferior to its predecessor. Human secular wisdom grows with each age, building on previous knowledge; Torah insight decreases, as we drift further and further from Sinai, until God will again reveal Himself before all alive. Be wary of secular values and talmudic science (see Avraham b. Maimon's Introduction to Agada, a preface to Ein Yaakov)! Is a combination of fish and meat dangerous? Will our salt cause blindness? Scientists must supply correct facts to rabbis, who should respond with relevant halachic and ethical analysis.
Hiram of Tyre, impressed with Solomon's wisdom, helped him with the Temple (Ralbag); his collaboration with David was linked to his awe of David's military prowess. Perhaps the Arabs will first concede our right to exist due to fear of Tzahal; only later, when we shape up, they may appreciate our true worth, forsake Islam, pledge their alligence to the Torah, keep the Noachide Code and help us build the Temple, also called David's Sukka-- he acquired the site and prepared to build it. Those who know Arab mentality, e.g. Sephardi chief rabbis, should try to wean Arabs from Islam, the basis of so much hate and murder; Reform Belzer proselytizing Rabbi Alexander Schindler, an excellent swimmer and tennis player, who enjoys life with his pleasant N.H. wife and kids, has done a lot to spread Jewish knowledge among both Jewish and non-Jewish Americans. But he divided the Jewish people by accepting patrilineal Jewish descent; thus many children of Jewish fathers, whose personal and societal identity is Jewish, as reform converts, may not be married by observant Jews, tho on Schindler's Jewish list. He might atone by solving the problem of violent Arab hatred toward Jews, starting, perhaps together with Uri Regev, a campaign to convert Israel's Arabs to reform Judaism, a universalist religion, with some Jewish elements, close to Noachism.
Meanwhile, the government should add housing units to existing settlements each time there's a terrorist attack, e.g. 500 apartments between Kiryat Arba and Hebron, and destroy mosques used to incite murder; such measures may even discourage those prepared to give up their lives for their terrorist faith, as it would be counter-productive. Israel TV and radio should feature prominent liberal Moslem leaders, who preach peace (they exist, especially in the West, even a sheikh in Jericho!).
Per Tanna D've Eliyahu 25, the tabernacle, hidden, will be used again in the messianic era, before Temple III. Vendyl Jones, who claims to have correctly deciphered the enigmatic Copper Scroll, also claims to have discovered the exact site and walls of the tabernacle at Gilgal, where it will be rebuilt, after it, its vessels and the ashes of the last red cow are found in the Qumran caves area, following the scroll, and the scroll which deals with the resumption of the temple service. Vendyl, an ardent Noachide (see his TOP video), also claims to have discovered and identified the ancient annointing oil and incense. The far more impressive Temples, built with some alien labor and forced donations, were eventually destroyed. Did Herod treat his "holy works crew" decently? Per Rav Yehuda Henkin, whole-hearted volunteers also helped build the first Temple (I Ch. 29:9). Only giving from the heart creates a proper abode for God. The Temple was twice as wide and long as, thrice the height of, the tabernacle. Not only did Solomon heed the prohibition of using steel-hewn stones for the altar, but his entire Temple was built without iron tools at the site (6:7-- see Sota 48b). His Temple construction crew worked 1 month in Lebanon for each 2 at home (IK5:28); his soldiers served 1 for 1 (I Ch. 27:1); so a scholar, after a month at home, may leave his family 1-2 months to learn Torah (Ket. 62a). R. Avin concludes that God wants us to allocate more time to procreation than the less important building of the Temple (Jer. Ket. 5:7-- should anyone today remain single to study Torah better?). God tells Shlomo that He'll dwell amidst Israel and not forsake His people, nor David's seed as their kings-- but only so long as the Temple aids, and expresses commitment to, His Torah and lifestyle.
Rambam (Guide III, 47) claims that God's laws of ritual impurity are to keep Jews AWAY from the Temple, except for awesome obligatory visits, for familiarity breeds contempt. Also most Jews must learn Torah and strive to perfect this world with all its lacks; only Levites are to make the Temple their focus (cf. those who hang around the Wall all day today). Ritual impurity does not interfere with one's daily pursuits or Torah study and is no sin. Rambam here also mocks idolators who believe that a menstruant woman is malignant and to be shunned (cf. Ramban, Karites and Ethiopians-- see E.).
E. THE JEWISH CRITICAL MINDSET
To be Jewish and male is to be talmudic; to be talmudic is to master abstract principles and apply them to every detail of life (more relevant than math or formal logic), to ? everything and everyone, and to think of every possible approach to an issue (this can drive ordinary folks batty-- the Talmud concludes that down-to-earth folks, Archie Bunkers, perhaps pious, despise confusing complex sophisticated scholars-- Rebbe Akiva notes that he hated them before joining them); this process, as other primarily male realms of struggle and conquest, e.g. the workplace and army, gives males a clear sense of unique worth in their family and society, keeping them attached to both-- see Sexual Suicide, Gilder, 1971; but the cold abstract talmudic process may dull feminine intuition and empathy; thus many oppose teaching talmud to women-- see JP Magazine (Feb. 5. 1993) for modern orthodox departures from this viewpoint; many of the women depicted both master talmud and successfully raise many children. Prof. Tamar Ross, who teaches both Torah and philosophy, was recently interviewed on Israel TV by Yosef ben Shlomo. She noted that basic religious experience, e.g. a keen awareness of God's existence and concern, may be acquired intuitively or emotionally by a simple person; the intellectual's basic experience may be the same, but he/she can't accept the experience, if it's expressed in nonsensical words or concepts.
Prof. of Talmud (U. of Toronto) Tirtza Meacham is a convert, premed student, karate person, wife of Prof. Harry Fox, and mother of 3 (Tzemach was 1994 Diaspora Bible champ); she wrote Laws of Puberty (Yad Harav Nissim), a new edition of a 10th Century text-- Michael Gordon described her struggle to break into a largely male preserve, even in secular universities, in the JP (1.11.95). Meachem discovered parallels between talmudic views and those of non-Jews in their age-- e.g. Pliny the Elder, who claimed that menstruant women exercised a malignant influence; medieval Ramban claims that spots of blood will appear on a mirror upon which they stare! Meachem attributes traditional female non-involvement in Talmud to mistaken notions about their intellectual ability;-- but she ignores the above argument, that talmud study may curb far more important female intuition and spirituality. She was the first woman to get a PhD in Talmud from H.U., as was Yael Levine Katz at Bar Ilan; Yael's survey of Midrashei Ashet Chayil is featured in our Ashet Chayil study sheets.
But talmudic education is warped when major, tho perhaps more feminine, components of Torah (e.g. Agada, Midrash, and even post-Pentateuch Bible) are ignored; these realms stress and develop intuitive insights, emotional sensitivity, and awareness of reality and the human condition. Halachic logic and criticism are often vastly overemphasized (cf. wholesomeness, cheerfulness and the proliferation of smoking in Yeshivas which do and don't have broad curricula).
Be talmudic-- analyze and depict in your imagination what we've learnt about the timing, purpose and size of the tabernacle, its effect on souls, and its symbol systems--
Tho God generally tells Moshe: YOU MAKE... each utensil, He specifies that THEY (all the Jews) SHOULD MAKE the ark (25:10). By the altar, both terms are used-- 27:8. Why? How's the tabernacle connected to the Creation epic? Rashi et al disagree with Ramban et al, who claim that the Torah's in chronological order. Some date God's command to build a tabernacle AFTER the sin of the golden calf. Per Ramban, the tabernacle and animal sacrifices were the Divine ideal. He opposes Rambam's notion (Guide III, 46), that sacrifices were only given to wean the Jews from idolatry, tho he generally reveres him (one may disagree with one's rebbes, parents and heroes!). But Rambam too rules that we pray for restoration of sacrifices and the Temple in his earlier Code-- modern man may need such a catharsis too; Hitler and Stalin were far worse than ancient pagans! Perhaps the Calfian Jews needed some physical symbol to sense Divinity; the tabernacle used their senses to gradually focus them on higher abstract realms. Are these disputes about the chronology and quality of the tabernacle necessarily interrelated? Per Midrash Tanchuma, the gold given for the tabernacle atoned for that given for the calf-- apply this teaching to sex and TV. Of what use are the tablets and the ark's inner envelope of gold, which cannot be seen? Does the more important oral law have an ark too?-- cf. the broken tablets, also in the ark. Classify the materials of the tabernacle.
How can God, whose Glory fills the universe, have a house? Does God DWELL IN JERUSALEM? What happens once God DWELLS WITHIN THEM? What are UPRIGHT acacia trees? Why is their "uprightness" only mentioned re the boards, not the tabernacle furnishings? Why must the poles "NEVER DEPART" from the ark, and be put in the altar right away? What do the 7 menorah lights symbolize?-- cf. Shabat. Why aren't the tabernacle's cherubim prohibited images? Compare humans and angels-- see Rambam, M. T., Yesodei Hatorah II. Why's the ark in the holy of holies? Why is access limited to the cohen gadol on Y.K., with great preparation and trepidation?-- cf. Jewish opposition to nudity. Why have "crowns" on the table, ark and golden altar? Why a COPPER sacrificial altar? Which major tabernacle utensil isn't in this week's portion? Why? Why is only the 1/2 shekel offering compulsory? Why is placing the testimony in the ark mentioned twice? Why cover the wood with gold? Why are some sockets silver and some copper? How do you feel about animal sacrifice?-- Why's that ? invalid? Does modern man believe in animal sacrifice?-- for what end?-- Contrast the Torah's goals in animal sacrifice.
F. SOME JEWISH RESPONSE
Numbers Raba 12:13 portrays the tabernacle as a microcosmos, reflecting Creation. God stretches out the Heavens as a tent or curtain (Ps. 104:2) on day #1. On day #2, the firmament divides upper and lower waters (Gen. 1:6)-- so the partition veil divides the holy of holies from the holy (Ex. 26:33). On day #3, the lower waters were gathered to one place (Gen. 1:9), as in the copper laver (Ex. 30:18). On day #4 (Gen. 1:14), lights are placed in heaven, as the menorah in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:31). Birds fly on day #5 (Gen. 1:20)-- so cherubim spread out their wings over the ark (Ex. 25:20). Man asks: "BIRDS FLY OVER THE RAINBOW, WHY THEN O WHY, CAN'T I?" Torah replies: "You can fly far higher, as angels, via Torah". On day #6, Adam's created to run God's world-- so Aharon directs the microcosmic tabernacle. Heaven and earth are a completed entity on day #7 (Gen. 2:1); so is the tabernacle (Ex. 39:32). God concluded by blessing His very good world (Gen. 2:3); Moshe blessed Israel for doing as God said (the sole criteria by which man can judge "good"?-- Ex. 39:43); both sanctified their works (Gen. 2:3, Num. 7:1).
We first read of the ark-- it houses the Torah of ultimate light, the blueprint of creation (Ex. Raba 34:2); God consulted with the Torah and created the world-- Gen. Raba translates Gen. 1:1: "WITH HIS FIRST ONE (the Torah), GOD CREATED HEAVEN AND EARTH". The particular lesser lights of the menorah follow here; so the great primordial light begins Genesis, before creation of lesser astral lights. The gold clasps linking the tabernacle curtains reflect glittering stars-- Ex. Raba 35:6. A heavenly equivalent of the tabernacle is supported by angels, "those who stand"-- So the acacia boards below "stand" (26:15). God prefers to dwell in the LOWER sanctuary, created by humans hearts and hands. He'll not dwell in Jerusalem Upstairs until He's dwelt in Jerusalem Downstairs (Taanit 1:5). When the Jew experiences the tabernacle, he assimilates the materials, patterns, and relationships with which God designed the perfect world of Eden, before Man warped it. He returns home with them, closer to God and himself, to help bring our world back to itself, to Eden.
Those who view the tabernacle as a concession to our senses can still say it's construction was commanded before the calf debacle-- God gives His remedy BEFORE the problem arises! Those who see the tabernacle as the peak human experience can also posit it was taught only after that sin-- AFTER Israel repented, perhaps on a higher level than before their sin, God gave them an even greater eternal gift! The Torah constantly teaches that God will never abandon His chosen people, tho they sin (vs. Christian and Moslem teachings that He indeed changed His mind, in their favor). Even Ramban says that Moshe DELIVERED God's command to construct the tabernacle to Israel only after the sin, tho he received it before.
The more good something can produce, the greater the harm from its misuse; gold can build a tabernacle or a calfian idol! Sexual drive can create a holy family or Madonna's Sylvester orgy-- monastic life is usually a copout (tho admired by Avraham ben Maimon); it was partially practised in some Lithuanian yeshivot, where students married unnaturally late to better master talmudic dialectics or mussar teachings-- while they emerged very ethical and very disciplined, I sensed a lack of basic drive and vitality in those I knew, as opposed to those who married young, e.g. many hassidim; do non-vital or repressed personalities tend to choose such ways of life, or does such long strong socially imposed repression render them non-vital?
Rav Chanina claims that Torah can be studied in purity only if one marries first. Otherwise, he'll be troubled by impure thoughts-- cf. angry belligerent unmarried priests and talmudists, the latter going wild on Simchat Beit Hashoava. Modern Israel ignores Jewish tradition, which praises early marriage. It copies Western prohibitions of it, along with their barbaric prison systems, which deny all sexual life to prisoners; they and young people must choose between sexual frustration-- violating God's laws of nature-- or forbidden and/or socially disapproved conduct. The Israeli press, in all its 1986 crudity, dwelt on the plight of an early teenage unwed mother, ignoring her many ancestors, who started beautiful families by her age. Indeed, Yoma 54 describes the cherubs in the Temple, between whom God's presence descends, as locked in erotic embrace-- they're so shown to the Jews on the holidays, a symbol of God's love for Israel (cf. Song of Songs); the pagan conquerors couldn't understand this holy Jewish merger of sensuality and Divinity-- they were either monks or playboys. But some say that the cherubim were in the form of little children. Rav Mordecai Gafni also sees in the extinction of the evil instinct for idolatry a negative detachment of Judaism from the glory and holiness of God's creation, from Esav's potential to merge the infinity of God, HaShem, with the immediacy of The Lord, Elokim.
Yet cherubim, resembling young children, also guard the way back to the tree of life, "at the gate of Hell", per some rabbinic sources (Rav J. Soloveichik claims that they PRESERVE the way for man, that it be ready when he's ready to return). Rav Kemelman, formerly of Sydney, notes that naturally cherub-like children can either inspire one, bringing God's presence down, or horrify even their parents, blocking the path to true life, depending on the environment given them-- the holy tabernacle of Torah-oriented and loving family, society and school or the "gates of Hell", latchkey kids whose soulfood is cheap Western TV, discos and bars.
There are now 23,534 monks and brothers in Italy, vs. 32,000 only 20 years ago; nuns dropped from 150,000 to 111,490; many are destitute girls, recruited from 3rd World countries; the average age has increased. Bishop A. Giglioti attributes the decline to the sexual revolution (see Inside The Vatican, 12/93, which also contains an article on Catholic-Jewish reconcilation-- it proclaims an end to centuries of their persecution of Jews and trying to convert them; but it also contains a full page ad from a Catholic group called "Remnant of Israel" in Kentucky, offering books to help convert Jews!-- cf. Arafat's overtures of peace); I'd assume that increased Bible study focuses Catholics on the contradiction between monasticism and God's basic law of nature-- "Be fruitful and multiply"; only ultra-exceptional Jewish pietists, e.g. Moshe and Ben Azzai, Rav Akiva's son-in-law, may leave their wives for God (Yev. 63b).
Bob Sunray quotes Sfas Emes, who views circumcision as the "trumah", lifting up, of man's body and its drives to a spiritual level. So TV often propogates nonsense and human degradation-- it shouldn't be banned, but used to experience God's Creation and great human wisdom and accomplishment. Videos can bring the greatest Torah teachers to everyone everywhere-- visit our Jewish Video Visions library.
EVERYMAN'S AN ARK: R. Yehudah b. Shalom analyzes: AND THEY (not YOU) SHALL MAKE THE ARK (25:10). ALL Jews were to occupy themselves with the ark, that they may themselves become "arks for the Torah"; the crowns of kingship and priesthood are relegated to the families of Dovid and Aharon; but the crown of Torah is open to all. Man, the living ark, grows slowly, as a tree-- well rooted, she'll eventually yield flowers, fruit, and shade; so the ark is made of wood. It's overlaid with gold, inside and out-- both external behavior and internal intent of Torah scholars must be pure as gold. In Yoma 72b, Rava said: "Any scholar whose inside isn't like his outside is no scholar". Abaye or Rabbah b. Ulla said: "He's called abominable". Learning Torah without God awareness is considered negative, harmful-- cf. university Judaism courses and pre-Hitler Germany's top-flight secular culture. So modern Orthodox Yeshivot Darchei Noam and Hamivtar refused to allow Jeff, an outspoken pro-feminist student accepted by JTS, to meanwhile study talmud by them, tho he'd previously studied at Aish Hatorah and Darchei Noam, and worked at The NCSY Israel Center; unlike the majority at JTS, he, as Miriam Knight, affirms belief in God's authorship of the Torah. He's now dropped out of JTS.
Rava told some sages (people we revere?) that they were wasting their lives learning Torah!-- they'll go to Hell anyway, since they lacked God-awareness!-- they might as well enjoy this world meanwhile. Learning Torah can be medicine or poison, depending on one's soul-set. Morality and God-awareness is the goal, not intellectual gynmastics-- Rav Yisrael Salanter allegedly stopped high level talmudic learning to proclaim: "Gentlemen, there IS a God in the world!" (if you're chassidic, substitute "the Baal Shem Tov").
Many Chassidim departed from their ancestral Ashkenazic sober learning-centered traditions, shifting in varying degrees toward Sephardic stress on emotions and mysticism over logic and analysis; they called their new revolutionary liturgy "nusach sfarad". They claimed that learning had often become a lifeless Godless process, pursued for status and shiduchim (See Toldos Yaakov Yosef and Yaakov Emden's hebrew diary, Megillat Sefer, $20 from TOP). But their misnagdic opponents claimed that the rebels sought instant ecstatic spiritual gratification, not that quiet deep Divine aura which comes only after painstakingly detailed, yet abstract, talmudic study. At a 19th of Kislev Boston do, Rav J. B. Soloveichik called man's innermost feelings, both towards God and his intimate others, the hidden holy of holies of the human ark. Chassidic/hippy singing, dancing, vodkaizing, and shouting about them profanes them. Their expression automatically limits and dims holy feelings. So the Rov's father, who deeply loved him, never hugged him-- was this healthy?
But Chassidim, supported by modern psychology, could assert that lack of expressed feeling, often characteristic of Lithuania's Torah world, prevented healthy human development, producing angry talmudists, rather than saintly rebbes. Monkeys and babies who aren't hugged die. Some Lithuanian Misnagdim erred in viewing ALL life as an untouchable inexpressible holy of holies-- most sacrifices, except on Yom Kippur, are in the temple courtyard, where all may enter. A common Chassidic error was to confuse the depths of emotion and Godliness with their outward expresion-- still waters run deep; God is not heard in the thunder, but in the still small voice-- "It's been told you, Man (via natural law or revelation?), what's good and what God seeks from you-- just to do justice and acts of loving kindness and to walk humbly with your Lord" (Micah 6:8). Indeed, no 18th Century movement can completely express the experience of 20th century Torah Man, who must create his own forms to express and analyze his own unique contemporary knowledge and experiences.
As man is the ark of the Oral Law, a senile scholar must be treated with great respect-- THE BROKEN TABLETS WERE ALSO PLACED IN THE ARK! (Tal. Ber. 8b). The materials of the tabernacle blend the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. Tho the whole world is filled with God's glory, one gets to know Him better when one meets Him "at home", in Jerusalem (Ps. 135). God enters the properly prepared man there, who in turn takes His spirit back home. Temple pilgrims spread their experience of God thruout the world. The tabernacle adds the holiness of symbolic configuration of all realms of reality to that of place (Israel and Jerusalem) and time (Shabat and holydays). "UPRIGHT boards" indicates that they must be placed in the direction of their growth, that their gold plate must be able to stand without nails, and that they'll stand forever. Common acacia trees are not straight or tall enough for such boards. UPRIGHT describes a particular variety of acacia, which grows south of the Sea of Galilee, tall and straight. Arabs still revere this grove, corresponding to Talmudic descriptions of the sacred grove, which Yaakov planted to build the future mishkan!!! (Y. Felix, Nature and Man in the Bible)
The bars must never depart from the ark, which must always be ready to precede the Jews into exile; the altar also goes, its sacrifices transformed into prayer. Divine Revelation (the menora) and Jewish power (the table) do NOT accompany the Jews to the Disapora. If I forget Jerusalem, my right hand, my power, disappears and I'm tongue-tied, unable to deliver my message (Ps. 137).
The 1/2 shekel tax campaign supplied the silver for the sockets of the tabernacle boards; a similar annual campaign for public offerings began at the beginning of Adar. We read about it on the Shabat before Rosh Chodesh Adar or on Shabat Rosh Chodesh Adar, on Parshat Shekalim (Adar II in a leap year). God showed Moshe a fiery coin-- even money could be transformed into spirit and achieve atonement, when given with fiery devotion and zeal. This reverses the golden calf effect-- spirit downgarded into gold (Bamidbar Raba 12:3).
RAV M. MILLER (Sabbath Shiurim) posits an ideal natural state of affairs, when God awareness powerfully permeates all existence; when this dissipates, due to human corruption, symbolic focal points are needed to refocus Man on himself and God, the tabernacle and mitzvos-- each person needs to find a mitzva specially related to him; when he does it with joy, intensity, and depth, the effect spills over to the whole Torah-- its "as tho he had fulfilled the whole Torah" (see Maharal on Shab. 118b).
OHR HACHAYIM asks why God tells Moshe "TO SPEAK" (lamor), to pass the message on to the Jews (25:1), and then (25:2) repeats: "TELL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL!" He concludes that generally Moshe is only given PERMISSION to make God's message public, "to speak", at his own pace. Thus Avraham didn't break the good news of Yitzchak's pending birth to Sara (Gen. 17:16), as God didn't give him permission to do so-- "lamor". In 25:2, Moshe's also ORDERED to repeat God's request for tabernacle donations to the folk.
ALUFEI YEHUDA: there were two types of materials donated for the tabernacle-- 1) inherited goods of THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, long ago prepared by the patriarchs. 2) spontaneous unprepared donations of EVERY MAN. So in every age, we must continue our fathers' tradition, while adding the unique fruit of our own searching and seeking; the latter, however, must be TAKEN to, and examined by, today's "Moshes" (e.g. Tzahal's chief rabbi), to verify that it indeed renews, not inauthentically replaces, the old.
KLEI YAKAR: the crown (zer) is placed on the border or frame (misgeret) of the table. The true crown of the material world belongs to he who sets limits to his cravings. Otherwise, his wealth becomes his alienation (zar), rather than his crown (zer); the true crown of wealth is it's being used to help the unfortunate (K. Y. was poor). Reuven Shwartz quotes Rav Vershevsky that V'SHACHANTI, I SHALL DWELL (25:8), hints at the fate of the temples. The TI ending = the 410 years of the first temple; if we remove the letters V'SHANI, AND THE SECOND, we are left with the 420 years of the 2nd temple. The middle letters, CHAN, = the 70 years separating them.
G. SOME PERSONAL NOTES:
This study was first written while listening to returnee A. Schoenberg's 12 tone (tribes? months?) atonal Variations #31, and returnor Rav S. Grafstein's new tape, "Good Shabos America".
We recall two Jerusalem Jews of great dedication, sensitivity and kindness, who died young and are sorely missed by many-- Sinai Baranes, a great teacher of physical fitness, developed his students' potential, encouraged and inspired them and was their true friend; he died with his wife and child in an auto accident-- more Israelis die in auto accidents than in conflicts with Arabs; would we be better off without private cars in Israel? With only large heavy cars, easier to control and safer in an accident? Perhaps big-engined cars should have the lowest punitive taxes; in truth, no one should be punished for buying a car with his highly-taxed earnings; socialist government ministers get their's free. Sinai rented a small car for a tiyul, rather than using his old one. Dr. Mordecai (Mel) Botvin Ztz"l and I, after our bar mitzvas, were drawn to Torah in Reading, Pa. by R. S. A. Rav Chaim Seiger, now of Denver, himself an early returnee. Mel, with his wife Julie, fulfilled his life's dream after becoming a successful radiologist-- to study and support God's Torah, and to plant his family in Jerusalem.
Mel and his family are a true credit to his mother, Rose, who passed last year. For many years, her own pious elderly mother lived with her and her family, with dignity and respect, while she worked hard at the side of her kind late husband, Sol, in their business. Mel and his brother Ivan got a bit of the flavor of Eastern European Jewry, a connection to their family's Jewish past, thru her. Rose was also a fine wife to my father, in his own last years. May the memory of all these good people, whose lives enhanced Israel and mankind, inspire us all.
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