Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Terumah 5776

Terumah 5776

New Stories Terumah 5776

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Terumah 5776

The Aron, the Shulchan and the Menorah are all reflected in Shabbos


In this week’s parashah the Torah records the instruction that HaShem gave to Moshe regarding the construction of the Mishkan. The primary vessels in the Mishkan were the Aron (ark) the Shulchan (table) and the Menorah (the candelabra). What was the significance of these vessels? It is noteworthy that in the Friday night zemiros recited in many households, we declare כִּי הִדְלַקְתִּי נֵרוֹתַי וְהִצַּעְתִּי מִטָּתִי וְהֶחֱלַפְתִּי שִׂמְלוֹתַי לִכְבוֹד יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, that I have kindled my lamps, spread my bed and changed my clothes in honor of the Shabbos day. It would appear from this declaration that there are three components to the holiness of Shabbos. One aspect of Shabbos is the lighting of candles, the second aspect is having a bed made, and the third aspect is fresh clothing. The lighting of the candles corresponds to the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan and in the Bais HaMikdash. The prepared bed corresponds to the Aron, the ark, as it is said (Shir HaShirim 1:13) tzeror hamor dodi li bein shadai yalin, but my Beloved responded with a bundle of myrrh, the fragrant atonement of erecting a Tabernacle where His Presence would dwell between the Holy Arks staves. Thus, we see that the Aron reflects the idea of rest. This is also evidenced by the fact that it is said (Bamidbar 10:35) vayisu meihar HaShem derech sheloshes yamim vaaron bris HaShem noseia lifneihem derech sheloshes yamim lasur lahem menuchah, they journeyed from the Mountain of HaShem a three-day distance, and the Ark of the covenant of HaShem journeyed before them a three-day distance to search out for them a resting place. The idea of changing one clothes corresponds to the Shulchan, where the Lechem HaPanim, the Showbread, was placed. The Lechem HaPanim was placed on the Shulchan every Shabbos and was removed the subsequent Shabbos when new loaves replaced the old ones, and the bread was eaten by the Kohanim. Thus, the Lechem HaPanim reflected renewal and this renewal occurred on Shabbos.

The Shabbos Connection

Similarly, prior to the onset of Shabbos one should change his clothing, as this external action reflects the transformation that one undergoes internally upon the arrival of Shabbos. HaShem should allow us to sanctify our homes to be akin to the Mishkan, and we should merit the building of the Third Bais HaMikdash, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Tzama Lecho Nafshi

This zemer was composed by the great medieval commentator and poet Avraham Ibn Ezra whose name is found in the acrostic of the verses

זְכוֹר אַהֲבַת קְדוּמִים. וְהַחֲיֵה נִרְדָּמִים. וְקַרֵב הַיָּמִים. אֲשֶׁר בֶּן יִשַׁי חָי, remember the love of the ancients – thereby resuscitate the slumbering dead, and bring near the days when Yishai’s heir shall live. There is a dispute amongst the early authorities whether Moshiach will precede the Resuscitation of the Dead or if he will arrive after the revival. Here the author of the Zemer seemingly posits that first the dead will come back alive and then Moshiach will arrive. Regardless of how these events will occur, one thing we know for certain is that the Ultimate Redemption will come about in the merit of our forefather’s love for HaShem and Hi reciprocal love for them. Hashem should allow us to regain that love for Him and then we will merit the arrival of Moshiach and the Resuscitation of the Dead and we will then thank our forefathers for their endless love towards HaShem.

Shabbos Stories

Seeing the Angels on Friday Night

One day about two-hundred years ago, for reasons unknown, the son of a wealthy, Egyptian magnate disappeared from his lavish abode, leaving behind his father, mother, and two brothers. There was some speculation that he had been kidnapped, but no ransom note was ever delivered. Others were sure he had been murdered, yet his body was never found. Still others thought he felt cramped by his family’s lifestyle, and had gone to seek his own fortune, but he was never sighted by anyone anywhere. The story was popular conversation for many years, but as is often the case, eventually grew old, and was more-or-less forgotten. At least until the father died, leaving behind a substantial inheritance for his remaining sons. It was not long after his death that a youngish man appeared, claiming to be the man’s long-lost son. Of course, he felt he was entitled to his portion of the inheritance. Astonishingly, he was able to answer exceptionally detailed questions about the appearance of his childhood home, his ‘parents’ and ‘siblings’, and his upbringing. Try as they might, they were simply unable to stump him. He claimed to have been wandering for the past thirty years, which he said explained why he no longer looked even remotely similar to what everyone remembered, including his ‘brothers.’ Hearing that his parents had passed away, it was natural that he would come to claim his part of the family riches. Despite his inexplicably intimate knowledge about the minutest details of their family life and history, the other two brothers were adamant in their protestations—this man was not their brother! They offered him a tidy sum of money just to be rid of him, but he stubbornly refused. He was their brother, he said, and he wanted no less than his portion of the inheritance. Eventually, word of their feud reached the Sultan of Egypt. Seeing as they could not reach an agreement, the Sultan himself consented to listen to both side’s claims in his private court, and render judgment. The two brothers and the claimant agreed that the Sultan’s word would be binding and final. “Tell me something,” the Sultan asked, “where were you for thirty years that you never even sent a letter to your parents telling them of your whereabouts?” He was not ill-prepared. He claimed to have been taken captive in India. His captors did not allow him to have any communication with the outside world, and thus it was not possible for him to make contact. For many days, the Sultan tried to get to the bottom of things—to find a hole either in the claim of the brothers, or in the testimony and memories of the ‘long-lost brother.’ In the end, he threw up his arms in frustration, unable to render a ruling. “Most exalted master,” the vice-Sultan chimed in, “far be it from me to intercede, but in the annals of our history, in such circumstances, it has been the way of your predecessors to engage the services of a Jew. The Jews are a wise nation, and have often been instrumental in helping to bring some of the most difficult cases to a satisfactory conclusion.” The Sultan was intrigued. “Which Jew do you suggest I use?” “That’s the strange thing. Protocol says you just send out a clerk to bring the first Jew he finds on the street, no matter who it is. If precedent is to be trusted, he will somehow help the Sultan to render judgment.” “If that’s so,” ordered the Sultan, “go find me a Jew!” Aaron Perdo was a quiet, Jewish, Egyptian goldsmith. For half-a-day he would practice his trade; the rest of his day was spent studying Torah in the local Beis HaMidrash. This morning, he had awoken remembering the strangest dream. In his dream, he found himself in the most spectacular shul, the likes of which he had never seen. It was furnished as richly and as lavishly as a king would a palace. The shul was packed with people, and the Torah was being read. Aaron was called to the Torah, and ascended the bimah. He found the sefer Torah open to parshas Terumah. The chazzan began reading: “Be-tab’os aharon yi’hiyu ha-badim, the sticks must be in the rings of the Ark,” but instead of reading ha-aron/the Ark, the chazzan read aaron, which sounds like the name Aaron. R’ Aaron (Perdo) corrected the chazzan. He read the verse again, but again he read it, Aaron. This was the end of R’ Aaron’s enigmatic dream; he had no idea what it meant. His dream gave him no rest: he thought about his dream during prayer, and was still thinking about it as he arrived at his jeweler’s shop, where an old woman sat impatiently waiting for him to open. Her tattered clothing bespoke poverty—not the type of woman that usually frequented his place. When it became clear she was eyeing the most expensive rings, R’ Aaron felt he had to ask: “The rings you are looking at are very expensive,” he said. “Are you sure you have the money to pay for them?” “I don’t today,” she confessed, “but tomorrow I will. Tomorrow I will become a wealthy woman. Right now, my dear son is in the midst of a very important court case. Tomorrow, he promised me, the case will be decided in his favor. And he said that to celebrate, I can buy myself any ring I want!” R’ Aaron was less than enchanted with her tall tale. He was glad when she finished browsing and left. Soon after, a wealthy man came in the store and asked if R’ Aaron could bring some rings to his home for his wife to choose from. It was on the way to the rich man’s home that R’ Aaron was stopped by the court clerk, and ordered in the name of the Sultan to appear in the Sultan’s palace. As R’ Aaron ascended the polished marble stairs and got his first glimpse of the palace, it hit him: this had been the spectacular building that was the shul in his dream. It was just that in the place where the bimah had been, the Sultan sat on his magnificent throne. In measured words, the Sultan conveyed the main arguments of both sides, and why he was having an impossible time bringing the case to resolution. “So, R’ Aaron—can you solve the mystery?” Though he trembled inside, R’ Aaron knew he could. He turned to the claimed ‘missing son.’ “Tell me—you claim to be the missing son, but isn’t your last name really such-and-such? Isn’t your mother still alive? In fact, I’ll even describe how she looks…” R’ Aaron began describing the pauper woman who had come to his store than morning. His shock at R’ Aaron’s words, and the confidence with which they were spoken, caused the man to collapse on the spot. It was obvious to the Sultan, and to everyone present, that he had just been caught as his ruse. He was dealt with accordingly, after which everyone’s attention turned to R’ Aaron and his brilliant and instantaneous resolution which caught them all so off-guard. How did he know that woman was his mother, they asked? R’ Aaron told them about the dream he had that night. “As soon as you told me about the man’s claims,” he said, “I understood the meaning of the misread verse. Be-tab’os Aaron—in Aaron’s rings, that’s me, yi’hiyu ha- badim—the badim, or liars (badim in Hebrew can mean poles but it can also mean liars) will be found. I thought about the woman who came into my store looking for a ring—a gift from her soon-to-be-rich son, and realized right away who the liar was!” “With a Torah like that,” the Sultan was heard to remark as R’ Aaron too his leave, “it’s no wonder the Jews are so smart!”

Shabbos in Halacha

מוליד – Creating a  new Entity

  1. Circumstances in Which Causing the Creation of a New Entity is Permitted

There are some circumstances in which one is allowed to cause the creation of a new entity (nolad)

  1. Dissolving Ice in a Liquid

One is allowed to cause ice to dissolve by immersing it in liquid, as it will dissolve into the existing liquid and will not be recognized as a new entity. This is permitted even if the ice is not completely submerged. Nonetheless, it is preferable that one not manually dissolve the ice (i.e. crushing) even while submerged in a liquid.

One is also permitted to place in a hot area a frozen item that is immersed in liquid so that it will dissolve quickly. To illustrate: One can immerse frozen concentrate in water and place it near an oven (where there is no question of cooking) to dissolve. Furthermore, one can place near an oven concentrate that began to dissolve at room temperature, because the remaining ice will dissolve into the already-melted fluid. However, one should not crush the concentrate or stir the mixture until it is fully dissolved.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Terumah 5776

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New Stories Terumah 5776

My Grandfather: Patriot & Traitor

There’s a time to uphold the law and there’s a time to outright break it.

by Rabbi Ezra Adler

My maternal grandfather, JA Samuels, was a successful trader in precious metals, who helped to found the commodities exchange in New York City. Because of his wealth and influence, he was also very involved with trying to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, including travelling with esteemed rabbis on Shabbos in an effort to raise money for this purpose.

My grandfather’s business, like most, was disrupted by the depression years, and later, the outbreak of World War II. On 9 December 1941, my grandfather unexpectedly received a call from the Japanese Consulate in New York. They wanted to place a huge order for various precious metals that they urgently required, an order which would have brought a very large profit to my grandfather in those difficult financial times.

What made the call rather unusual was its timing. Just two days earlier, on 7 December 1941, “a date that will live in infamy”, in a stunning surprise attack, the Japanese Navy had bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States naval base located in Hawaii, causing massive destruction of both life and property and thrusting the United States into World War II. Over 2 400 Americans were killed and close to 1 200 were wounded as a result of the attack. The very next day, 8 December 1941, the United States declared war on Japan.

In spite of the much needed income, my grandfather told the Japanese Consulate that he was unwilling to do business with them.

In spite of the much needed income, without any hesitation my grandfather told the Japanese Consulate that he was unwilling to do business with them, querying how, after President Franklin D Roosevelt had declared war on Japan, he, a citizen of the United States, could do business with the enemy. The Consulate responded that the US government had given them 30 days to leave, thus making such a deal entirely legal. My grandfather, in turn, responded that, even if this was technically the case, it was almost certainly not what the government had intended by providing such a generous grace period, which was likely only done in order for them to conclude their outstanding business and move things out – not for them to start up new business. Accordingly, he reiterated his position, firmly stating he would not do any business with them, and proceeded to hang up the phone.

I can only imagine the thoughts that went through my grandfather’s mind after he put down the receiver. After all, with the country now at war and only beginning to emerge from the many difficult years of economic depression, money was already very tight and he no doubt thought hard about the many Jewish lives that such a sum could have helped save.

A Call from the White House

And that was the end of it. Or so my grandfather thought. Unbeknownst to him, the US government had started listening to all of the calls going in and out of the Japanese Consulate and had overheard his entire conversation. Imagine his surprise when, only a few hours later, he received a call informing him of this and instructing him to come to the White House for an urgent, private meeting with President Roosevelt, who wanted to thank him personally, as well as formally recognize his exemplary actions.

Although he was an observant Jew, like many religious Jews of that era, my grandfather never wore a yarmulke at work. For his meeting with the president, however, he felt he needed to make an exception, as he wasn’t just representing himself, but every Jew – so he purposely donned his yarmulke for the meeting. In appreciation for my grandfather’s unwavering patriotism, President Roosevelt promised that, henceforth, any platinum which the government might need during the war would be purchased exclusively from him. My grandfather may have lost out on some material reward from the deal he had refused to make with the Japanese, but he more than made up for it with the spiritual reward he reaped from the tremendous Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) that he created.

When it came to saving Jewish lives, he didn’t let any laws stand in his way and was even willing to give up his life if necessary.

Saving Jewish Lives

As much as my grandfather’s patriotism couldn’t be bought, it was eventually trumped by his loyalty to his people. When it came to saving Jewish lives, he didn’t let any laws stand in his way and was even willing to give up his life if necessary. When the danger to the Jews in Europe became clear, he channeled all of his efforts into getting them to America. My grandfather worked hand-in-hand, from a private office in his house, with Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl, z”l, who desperately tried to save Hungarian Jewry, including, at one point, begging the Allies to bomb the train tracks leading to Auschwitz.

Anyone who wanted to immigrate to America not only needed money and means to get there, but, in order to secure a visa, required a sponsor, who was required to complete an affidavit stating that he accepted financial responsibility for the applicant. My grandfather spent an enormous amount of time and money obtaining the proper documentation for each person he sponsored, and he sponsored hundreds of individuals, including my father’s family. Unfortunately, not every person wanted to, or could, come.

Eventually though, the immigration office decided that, after having completed the forms to sponsor several hundred applicants, my grandfather could not be allowed to sponsor anyone further. Left without any other option, my grandfather made the extremely difficult decision to hire someone to make a forged stamp and letterhead for him. With these tools in hand, he started sending out thousands of forged affidavits to those who needed them, knowing full well that this was an act of treason that could earn him the death penalty.

It wasn’t until people actually started trying to enter into the country using these forged documents that the government took note of what was happening and began to investigate. My grandfather was subsequently arrested and put on trial. The day of the trial came and my grandfather braced himself for the worst. As the prosecutor began presenting his case, family legend has it that the judge interjected and said to the prosecutor, “If you had seen today’s papers you would know that that they just reported all of the horrific things that the Nazis have been doing to the Jews in the concentration camps. How can you call what this man did treason? This was an incredibly brave and humanitarian act!” With that, the judge dismissed the trial and my grandfather was released.

Close to a decade later, my grandfather travelled by ship to bury his father in England next to his mother, who had died and been buried there many years earlier. News of his trip made the local papers and, when the ship he was travelling on arrived at the dock, he was quite surprised to be greeted by a crowd numbering in the hundreds. They had all come out to meet him and to thank him for saving their lives. Although they hadn’t made it quite as far as America, the affidavits he had sent to them had made it possible for them to escape from the death sentence they surely faced in Europe.

Although we knew some of the details of the work that my grandfather had done, the real scope and impact of his actions didn’t really sink in until after he had passed away. From what seemed to be out of nowhere, hundreds upon hundreds of people turned up at the funeral and then at the shiva house to pay their respects to this man who had saved their lives and the lives of their families. Shortly after, my brother discovered among our grandfather’s papers some of the lists of the many names to which he had sent affidavits, both real and forged.

My grandfather taught us by his living example that sometimes circumstances require us to behave in a way that upholds the spirit of the law, even if our actions wouldn’t really be in violation of the letter of the law. But he also taught us that sometimes, circumstances require us to recognize there’s a higher law than the one written by man, and we have to do everything in our power to uphold it. My grandfather knew the difference and was willing to pay the ultimate price if it came to it.

Reprinted from Jewish Life magazine, (

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