Parsha sheet: Naso – Owning the “Tzelem”

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The gifts of the Nesi’im

In this week’s Parsha we have the ceremony of the inauguration of the Mishkan. Each one of the ‘Nesi’im’ brought gift offerings on behalf his tribe on his designated day. All brought the same set of gifts: a bowl of silver weighing 130 and a basin of silver of 70 shekels. Both were filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a “Mincha’ offering. One ladle of ‘10 gold’ filled with incense. One bull one ram one male sheep in its first year for ‘Olah’ Offerings. A male goat for a ‘Chatas’. for “Shelomim’ offerings they brought two cattle five rams five goats and five sheep in their first year. What is the significance of these gifts?

Rav Moshe HaDarshan’s code

Rashi explains in the name of Rav Moshe HaDarshan: The bowl of silver – “Kaaras Kesef” in Hebrew – has the numerical value of 930 which are the years of Adam’s life. it’s weight of 130 – alludes to how old Adam was when he gave birth to his son ‘Sheis’ as the Pasuk says (Bereishis 5:3) “Adam was 130 years old and he gave birth in his likeness and his ‘Tzelem’. One silver Basin – Mizrak echod kesef” in Hebrew – has the numerical value of 520. 500 alludes to how old Noach was when he had his three sons. the extra 20 alludes to that  20 years prior to Noach having children there was the decree of the flood (as Rashi explains by “man’s days will be a hundred and twenty years” (Bereishis 6:3). the silver basin  was 70 shekels – alluding to the 70 Nations that descended from the children of Noach. One ladle – refers to the Torah that was given from the hand of Hashem (the Hebrew word used “Kaf” means ladle but it also means Palm). The ladle was filled with incense – in Hebrew “Ketores” – which has a numerical value of 613, alluding to the 613 mitzvos. Provided that you exchange the letter “Kuf” for a “Dalet” through the system of A”t – Ba”sh (which replaces the first letter of the Alepf – Beis with the very last letter, the second letter with the second to last letter, Etc). One bull alludes to Avraham as it says (when he served his guests) “he took a bull…” (Bereishis 18:7). One ram alludes to Yitzchak who had a ram sacrificed in his Stead (Bereishis 30:40). One male sheep alludes to Yaakov as its says (by his dealings with Lavan) “…the sheep were separated by Yaakov” (Bereishis 30:40) the goat is to atone for the sin of selling Yosef as it says “they slaughtered a goat” [to create a cover story for their crime] (Bereishis 37:31).

For the ‘Shelomim’ offerings there were: Two cattle – alluding to Moshe and Ahron that make “Shalom” peace between the Jewish people and Hashem. The Rams, the goats, and the Sheep, – these three species allude to Kohanim, Levi’im, and Yisroelim and to Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim. There were five of each of these three species – alluding to the five books of the “Chumash” the Five Dibros on one of the “Luchos” that Moshe brought from Heaven and the Five Dibros on the second of the “Luchos”.

Why are they here?

There is much to contemplate regarding the significance of these offerings. However, the most enigmatic aspects are in the first half of this list of offerings. The silver bowl alluding to the entire life span of Adam. Why is that significant? Why now at the inauguration of the Mishkan? It weighed 130 because he was 130 years old when he gave birth to his third son “Sheis”. Why is that significant? Why now? Why are Kayin and Hevel insignificant? One Basin of silver -alluding to that Noach was 500 when he had his sons. Built into that very same illusion is an extra 20 that alludes to that 20 years prior to that point (!) when Hashem decreed the flood. Asides for the standing question as to why is it significant to point out how old anyone was when having children, but why an allusion to the flood??Why now?? Why is the allusion to the decree of the flood built in to the allusion to Noach’s age when he had his children?? The Basin was 70 shekels – alluding to the 70 nations of the world. Why are we mentioning the gentiles at the time of our joy of inaugurating our Mishkan? Why mention any of these characters that pre-date Jewish history? [The rest of the offerings are straightforward as they allude to our ancestors, leaders, Torah, and Mitzvos – which make us the nation worthy of a Mishkan. The odd factor is the goat to atone for the sale of Yosef – that was explained at length in “Even Shesiya” for Vayigash “Restoring the neck of Am Yisroel” – see there] The main question is: Why is any of this necessary? What is the significance of this whole process of “Chanukas HaMishkan” – the inauguration of the Mishkan?

The Jewish People and the Mishkan – carriers of the “Tzelem”

We’ve mentioned time and again that the Mishkan (and subsequently the Beis HaMikdash) is parallel to the “Tzelem” of the human form which is the ‘cosmic code’ for the whole reality. This is why man’s deeds affect all of reality. once man’s “Tzelem” became tainted by the sin of the golden calf,   it was vitally important to have a Mishkan not only as the designated place for the sacrifices, but also to be the “pure Tzelem” which can still be the place of cosmic unity and integration (as we explained in “Even Shesiya” for Parshas Shemini). This is only until the end of time when our “Tzelem” will be purified and then the Divine Presence will not have to be cordoned off to the Beis HaMikdash. The Beis HaMikdash will remain the designated place for the sacrifices, but the Divine Presence will be everywhere in the Jewish People. But until that time, the Mishkan is a representation of the Jewish “Tzelem” and attesting to the fact that the Divine Presence actually rests within the Jewish people. This truth will be apparent in future when our “Tzelem” becomes purified. But in the meantime…….. There is another stream of humanity, equally descended from Adam that pre-dates the Jewish People – the rest of mankind! Our having a Mishkan and subsequently a Beis HaMikdash makes a statement – we have the real “Tzelem” and you don’t! Their jealousy is understandable and explains why they always seek to defile or destroy our Beis HaMikdash – it is like a thorn in their eyes as it represents that the true “Tzelem” is by us and not by them. Why is it so? They are equally descended from Adam who was created “B’Tzelem Elokim” and are closer to him chronologically, as the Jewish People only begin to emerge after 2000 years of world history?

The response to that claim is the message encoded in the “Chanukas HaMishkan”!

“Chinuch” – Education and inauguration

The Hebrew word “Chinuch” means both to inaugurate and to educate. What is the common denominator between the two? The Rambam teaches us (moreh Nevuchim section 1 chap 7) that our “Tzelem” is brought into actuality through the Torah that we learn! The Rambam explains that’s why of all of Adam’s children only “Sheis” is referred to as “he begat in his likeness and his Tzelem” because only “Sheis” was willing to accept the teachings of Adam! “Tzelem” is not the shape of the body, it is the intellect and the value system! To ‘give birth’ to another “Tzelem” is to be an educator! Adam achieved that once, at the age of 130, when he had a son who was also a willing student. “Chinuch” is to put Divine Light into Vessels! Putting the light of Torah in the student (Chinuch) causes him to be a “Tzelem”. Inaugurating the Mishkan (Chinuch) infused it with Divine Light, sanctified it, and activated it as the pure collective “Tzelem” of Am Yisroel.

History of the “Tzelem”

With this we could understand the secret of how the offerings to inaugurate the Mishkan runs parallel to the whole history of the “Tzelem” until the emergence of the Jewish people. It starts with Adam. He had a “Tzelem” because Hashem made him perfect and attested to the fact that he had a “Tzelem Elokim”. Adam himself was a “Tzelem” for all his 930 years. However he did not manage to pass on that “Tzelem” to all his descendants, only to “Sheis” at the age of 130. Not all of Sheis’ descendants had the “Tzelem”. The next significant stop was Noach. The good gentiles are called the “Benai Noach” – children of Noah. Why is that? Jews are also descended from Noach!

Benai Noach

What is a “son”? The Rambam (in the aforementioned chapter – this was mentioned in last week’s Parsha sheet) says that the term “Son” also applies to ideology and hence to “Tzelem”. “Sheis” was Adam’s spiritual Son by being receptive to his education. All good Gentiles are called the “children of Noach” – just like his three sons, because they are all Disciples of Noach. They took on his values and that’s how humanity reached a higher level that will never be destroyed by a flood again. Adopting the values of Noach gives them a “Tzelem of Benai Noach” and makes them his spiritual children. Noach was 500 years old was when he gave birth to those who would carry his “Tzelem” which passed down to the 70 nations of the world. Seemingly, at this point in history, the “Tzelem” has been successfully passed down to all of humanity, because Hashem swore to the “children of Noach” to never flood the world again….

Moshe – the Goal

However, already 20 years prior to Noach having his physical and spiritual children, Hashem decreed the flood. Hashem said (Bereishis 6:3) “I will not contend with man forever in that additionally he is flesh his days will be a hundred twenty years”. The Gemara (Chullin 139b) points out  in that additionally (in Hebrew “Beshegam”) has the  numerical value of Moshe (=345) who indeed lived 120 years. Hashem was dropping a hint: “I’m going to bring the flood. A select group of elevated humans will Survive – but not for their own sake! They are not the final step in my game plan! They and the “Tzelem” they possess are just an intermediary step leading to Moshe and the people under his leadership who would receive the Torah and deserve a Mishkan. Moshe, by no coincidence, was also in an ark as a baby symbolizing that the whole survival from the flood was for his sake! He’s going to lead a Jewish people that will become the nation of Torah, with a “Tzelem” only the Torah can give! That is the nation that is worthy of the Mishkan and the Divine presence in their midst. That was the message that had to get across by the inauguration of the Mishkan – The true “Tzelem” is by the Jewish People!


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