Branches and Fruits – Truma


There is a מחלוקת in the commentaries regarding the reason that Hashem commanded us to build a Mishkan. According to one opinion (Rashi) the Mishkan was a response to the חטא העגל and if Am Yisrael had never sinned there would never have been a Mishkan. According to the other opinion (Ramban) the Mishkan and חטא העגל were not connected in any way and building a Mishkan was implied and intended long before חטא העגל. Both bring proofs from the psukim and the Midrashim and I will not bring them all because they are lengthy and not the main subject of this shiur.

I believe that the above debate between Rashi and the Ramban is not addressed at building the Beit Hamikdash (as this is referred to explicitly in Shirat Hayam מקדש ה' כוננו ידיך, before חטא העגל), but specifically about building the Mishkan. It has always been Hashem’s plan that we build a Beit Hamikdash תבאמו ותטעמו בהר נחלתך מכון לשבתך פעלת ה' when we reach Eretz Yisrael.  Rashi does not dispute that, only the reason for and the necessity of building a “temporary” Mishkan in the desert, which he attributes to the חטא העגל. The Ramban on the other hand regards the Mishkan, like the Mikdash preordained and not in response to anything.

In this week’s shiur I would like to share with you a preview of some of the pearls that בסייעתא דשמיא I have discovered in my research and study of the Lechem Hapanim, which are taken from my new sefer “Meir Panim”,  which בעזרת השם will be published sometime this year בלי נדר.

Undoubtedly the Beit Hamikdash was something that was ordained from Creation because, according to Rabeinu Bachyei, the blueprint of the physical Beit Hamikdash are reflections of spiritual structures in Heaven and this blueprint is also reflected within ourselves, in the makeup of our spiritual נשמה and also in our physical, anatomical makeup, which is why Hashem said ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם and not בתוכו.

The blueprint of the Mikdash also reflects the blueprint of Gan Eden and this is the principle I would like to develop בסייעתא דשמיא in this week’s shiur.

Four sinned and were diminished.

During the Creation, HKB”H commanded -

ויאמר א-לקים תדשא הארץ דשא עשב מזריע זרע, עץ פרי עשה פרי למינו וכו'

that the tree and the fruit would have the same taste, i.e the branch of the tree would taste the same as its fruit. But the tree did its own חשבונות, “If humans will eat the tree as well as the fruit, there will be no tree left to make any fruit”. So the tree sinned, it disobeyed Hashem’s commandment -

ותוצא הארץ דשא עשב מזריע זרע למינהו, ועץ עשה פרי אשר זרעו בו למינהו

The tree altered Hashem’s original plan and its fruit ended up being edible, but not the branches.

There are a number of perushim that all the trees disobeyed Hashem’s commandment except one – the Etrog tree, and this is why the Etrog is part of the ארבעת המינים.

I would like to propose a different interpretation. HKB”H did not intend to create many trees, but rather only one single tree. Hashem’s commandment was עץ פרי עשה פרי למינו in the singular and not עצי פרי עושי פרי למינהו  in the plural. This solitary tree was meant to be one integral unit and not assembled from disparate parts - the fruit AND the branches tasting the same.

The wayward tree however, made its own חשבונות and defied Hashem’s commandment. This tree was the עץ הדעת. Hashem was then forced to create a second tree that conformed to His original plan. This is why, in the second passuk, when the trees were actually created it refers to them in the plural אשר זרעו בו למינהו, while in the original commandment it was in the singular. This second tree was the originally intended עץ החיים.

Both trees were placed in Gan Eden (why Hashem did not simply erase the עץ הדעת that had sinned, we will soon see). Both trees were נחמד למראה וטוב למאכל, but because one had sinned, the עץ הדעת, it was placed in חרם, Hashem erected a “fence” around it and Adam was forbidden to eat from it. Hashem commanded  Adam מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל ומעץ הדעת טוב ורע לא תאכל ממנו .- it is OK to eat from the עץ החיים because that was the tree Hashem originally intended to create. According to Rebi Yehuda in the Gemara, the עץ הדעת was a wheat tree.

The Torah continues ואד יעלה מן הארץ והשקה את כל פני האדמה, a kind of “vapor” arose from the earth and irrigated the earth.

Adam was placed in Gan Eden לעבדה ולשמרה, to do avodah with the עץ החיים and to guard from the עץ הדעת.

The second to sin was the moon. Hashem commanded the sun and the moon to be luminaries of equal radiance. The moon however sinned and made its own חשבונות saying “It is not proper that there be two equals in the heavens” and as a result the moon was diminished.

Adam and Chava sinned, made their own חשבונות and ate from the עץ הדעת (to read more about this, see my shiur on parshat Bo). Adam was diminished. Before the sin his height stretched from the earth to the heavens and after he sinned his height was “only” 100 amah. The עץ הדעת was also diminished from a towering tree to a lowly grass.

The נחש was originally a tall, upright creature, the height of a camel who also sinned and made his own חשבונות thinking that with Adam out of the way he would become Chava’s mate, contrary to Hashem’s original plan for him. The נחש was diminished to a creature that crawls on the ground and eats dirt.

The עץ הדעת, the moon, Adam and the נחש, instead of listening to what Hashem commanded them and being grateful for what was originally intended for them, all sinned and were diminished. The reason Hashem simply did not erase them and replace them is because that is not HKB”H’s modus operandi  .אם אחפוץ במות הרשע כי אם בשוב הרשע מדרכו וחיהHashem does not erase His wayward creations, He gives them a chance for תיקון.

After that long introduction we can now “begin” the shiur.

Our parsha describes the various כלים in the Mishkan. Two of these כלים had a tree like structure, with a central trunk, from which branches emanate and from which “fruits” are “created”.

The first is the מנורה. It has a central stem (trunk) from which קנים (branches) emanate. The “fruits” of this “tree” are the lights of the מנורה.

The second is the שולחן לחם הפנים. You have the base, the שולחן (trunk) from which the קשוות/סניפין emanate upwards and were, according to Rashi, a branch like structure. The “fruits” of this “tree” were the לחם הפנים.

Although they were both “tree-like”, there were a number of differences between these two “trees”.

The מנורה “tree” was a single integral unit מקשה אחת. The שולחן however had many separate parts that needed to be assembled together.

The “fruit” of the מנורה is an ethereal, spiritual light. The fruit of the שולחן is a physical, material bread.

These two כלים correspond to the two trees in Gan Eden.

The מנורה is the עץ החיים. It is a single, integral unit, the branches and the fruit are the same. The branches are the Avot and the fruit are the 12 Tribes, they all “taste” the same, they have the same דרך. The מנורה, like the עץ החיים symbolizes the Torah. Someone who “eats” from the tree of the Torah, does not diminish the tree. Similarly by transferring light from the מנורה you do not diminish the original light. The purpose of the מנורה is to transfer the light of the Torah from the ארון, upon which the שכינה  rests, throughout the world. This is the “tree” that Hashem originally intended to be in Gan Eden, the Torah. It is both beautiful to behold and good to “eat” from.

The second “tree” is the only כלי in the Mishkan that has a מסגרת, a kind of a fence around it. This is the שולחן. The purpose of the שולחן is a תיקון for the עץ הדעת and the נחש. The שולחן symbolizes materialism, wealth and livelihood. The sin of the עץ הדעת (like the other three, the moon, Adam and the נחש), was that instead of listening to what Hashem told them, they did their own חשבונות.

Perhaps the worst thing that a human being is guilty of doing חשבונות with is with his material wealth. If someone succeeds in their career, they attribute it to “how hard they worked”. If they make a killing on the stock exchange, it is due to their “sharp insight”. If someone is fired from their job they blame the evil boss or the conniving coworker. All the time we are doing חשבונות and Hashem doesn’t feature anywhere in this, except when we are doing badly, we blame Him for it. When it comes to פרנסה we think we know what is best for us. This was the sin of Adam eating from the עץ הדעת, doing his own חשבונות and not simply listening to what Hashem told him, not being satisfied and not giving gratitude to Hashem for what he was given in life, but thinking he is “smarter”. 

The שולחן comes to repair this. Every facet of the שולחן addresses some aspect of how to deal with materialism – the RIGHT way, the way Hashem told us. The מנקיות teach us to be נקי in our business dealings, the קשוות teach us to be קשה – straight, upright and honest, etc. The Lechem Hapanim is a matza which is נחמד למראה וטוב למאכל, it looks impressive and tastes great, unlike a matza on Pesach for example, which is simple and bland, because the Lechem Hapanim exercises total control over the יצר הרע and the chametz process (see my shiur on parshat Bo) and is therefore a תיקון for the עץ הדעת and the נחש.

The מנורה and the שולחן stand side by side in the היכל just like the עץ החיים  and the עץ הדעת did in Gan Eden. The מזבח הקטורת sends up a “vapor” that irrigates the entire world, just like in Gan Eden and the שכינה rests between the כרובים (male and female), just like in Gan Eden א-לוקים מתהלך בגן לרוח היום.

From this we see that the blueprint of the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash is also a blueprint of Gan Eden before Adam sinned and the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash are therefore instruments of the תיקון for that sin.

When did Am Yisrael get the commandment to build the Mishkan? Straight after מתן תורה when they had reacquired the state of Adam before the sin – because they said נעשה ונשמע – we will NOT DO ANY חשבונות – we will unquestioningly do what Hashem tells us and thus repair the קלקולים from בראשית, through the instrument of the Beit Hamikdash.

We repair the sin of the עץ הדעת using the שולחן.

We repair the sin of the moon by doing עלייה לרגל – using קידוש הלבנה and determining the dates of the chagim.

We repair the sin of the נחש by eating לחם הפנים which uses the נחש and the יצר הרע like a תבלין thus eliminating any power it has over us.

We repair the sin of Adam by saying נעשה ונשמע unquestioningly.

The same blueprint of the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash, a reflection of Gan Eden and the מקדש של מעלה, which Shlomo Hamelech called אפרסמון, also exists within each and every one of us, in the different parts of our body and neshama. The ultimate goal is ושכנתי בתוכם, that we develop and nurture this “personal” blueprint and align it with its parallels. We do that by studying the Beit Hamikdash and the קדשים, understanding the components and their meaning, applying them to ourselves, unquestioningly following what Hashem tells us and by doing the avodah using the עץ החיים, the Torah to bring about the תיקון. Thus we will merit Hashem’s שכינה resting within each and every one of us בבי"א.

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