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Honor and Glory - Parashat Termuah 5780, February 28, 2020

This week’s parasha, Termuah, and next week’s parasha, Tetzave, introduce Hashem’s command regarding the plans for the mishkan and its vessels – including the clothing worn by the kohanim. One of the vessels that Hashem commands to be built is the menorah – the candelabra. The description of the plans for the menorah are described in Parashat Terumah and the description of its service is described in Parashat Tetzave.

In Parashat Tetzave, the Torah says, “and they will take for you pure olive oil pressed to be lit to raise an everlasting candle.” Each evening the 
kohanim were obligated to light the candelabra with enough oil to last the night. In the morning, the kohanim were obligated to fix and relight the menorah, as necessary, thus ensuring that the candelabra would constantly be lit.

The Rambam – Maimonides – explains, based on a later verse, that the 
mitzvah to light the candelabra in the mishkan creates “honor and glory” for the mishkan. It seems obvious that creating “honor and glory” for the mishkan is important. However, it is reasonable to inquire deeper as to the purpose of creating ”honor and glory” for the mishkan. What aim does this “honor and glory” serve?

Interestingly, the Rambam categorizes the mitzvah of the candelabra together with other mitzvot, including:
· The requirement for the kohanim to wear special garments that must be worn the way they are designed without deviation – the garments cannot be ripped or out of place
· The obligation for the levi'im to sing in the mishkan
· The requirement for the beit hamikdash to be built at the highest place in Yerushalayim
· The obligation to burn Incense in the mishkan twice daily to bring a sweet smell and overcome the smell of slaughtered animals
· The obligation to station guards to constantly watch the gates of the beit hamikdash
· The prohibition on kohanim who have physical deformities to serve in the mishkan or Temple
· The prohibition to use objects of service outside of the Temple
These mitzvot, like all of Hashem’s commandments, are to be executed precisely and intentionally and communicate ideas about Hashem’s Divine will and His relationship to the world.

However, in creating “honor and glory” for the mishkan, the Torah may be communicating that the candelabra, and other similar mitzvot, are also designed to emotionally impact the onlooker – they create a sense of awe and humility in those who see the Temple. By creating this emotional impact, these mitzvot promote service of G-d, a personal desire to repent and re-connect with G-d and an openness to accepting the ideas communicated by the mishkan and the Temple service. Would the mishkan or Temple be less awe-inspiring, people would be less likely to internalize the message of the Temple and would be less likely to use it as a vehicle to serve Hashem. Therefore, these mitzvot, more than other mitzvot, are designed to create “honor and glory” for the mishkan.

Over the past few years, our community has dedicated itself to improving the aesthetics of our school building – our beit midrash, our gym, our classrooms, our common areas. We are currently planning new learning spaces, including a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics Center. This Building Initiative is critically important. Through it, we have publicized our commitment to Jewish education and to our future. Through these improvements, we have created learning spaces better designed for learning.

However, there is another very important benefit of our Building Initiative. Applying the Rambam’s explanation of the candelabra, we learn that initiatives such as our Building Initiative emotionally impacts our students – they created “honor and glory” for Jewish Education and for the Torah. Our students are influenced and inspired by aesthetically appealing spaces and places that are awe-inducing. These spaces help connect our students to education and to learning.


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