Torah Tidbits

21 August 2014 / 25 Av 5774
Issue 1034
Shabbat Parshat T'rumah
February 14, 2013

Portion of the Portion


The Rashi that I learned on the words ATZEI SHITIM - acacia wood (25:5) was very intriguing. He asks where in the world did the Jews find these tall trees in the desert? He says that R’ Tanchuma explains that Yaakov saw that in the future his descendants would build the MISHKAN in the desert, so he brought acacia trees to Egypt and planted them there. He instructed his children to take the trees with them when they were redeemed from Egypt. This was definitely long-term planning on Yaakov’s part.
This is what the verse talking about the building of the structure of the MISHKAN (26:15) refers to when it says, V’ASITA ET HAKRASHIM LAMISHKAN ATZEI SHITIM OMDIM - make the designated beams of the Mishkan upright standing acacia wood beams. ” The extra HEI in the word KRASHIM - boards - points to the fact that these boards were special - that is where the Midrash can teach us about the foresight of our forefather Yaakov to plant such trees in Egypt even before the time of enslavement. These trees are light and don’t absorb moisture which makes them decay-proof - perfect for carrying through the desert and for building the MISHKAN with.
These special trees were used to build the ark, the table, the golden altar, and the copper altar. They were also used for the beams that made up the walls of the Mishkan.
These beams - ATZEI SHITIM OMDIM. What does OMDIM refer to? Either, that they were standing upright instead of lying horizontally, or that they are OMDIM - lasting, that they won’t rot or be eaten by worms.
The Midrash says that acacia trees, a non-fruit giving tree, were used, to teach us that we shouldn’t destroy fruit giving trees even for such a worthy cause as building the MISHKAN.
May we be zocheh to rebuild the Temple speedily in our own days.
WHEN I ASKED my kids what would be a good food to make that would be related to the boards acacia trees used in the MISHKAN, one said bread sticks and another said asparagus. Since I had also thought of asparagus here is a pasta recipe with asparagus.

3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
8 oz asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted olives, halved

Cook orzo and drain. Cook onion, oregano, salt and pepper in oil,  stirring until onion is tender. Add asparagus pieces, cook until just tender. Stir in orzo. Add tomatoes and olives. Cook, stirring until just heated through.

Ed. note: ORZO is a pasta shaped like grains of rice, frequently used in soups. Something like P’TITIM.

[6] from Machon Puah - for Fertility and Gynecology in Accordance with Halacha

A Blessing Over Loss or Over Bad News

This week we conclude our discussion of the lecture delivered by Israel Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, at the recent successful 13th Annual Puah Rabbinic Conference in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Metzger raised the question of which blessing should be recited at the birth of a child with serious congenital abnormalities. He disagreed with those who had suggested that no blessing should be recited at all and with those who said that a Shehechiyanu blessing that is traditionally recited should be combined with the Dayan HaEmet blessing that expresses the difficult emotions of the parents.
Rabbi Metzger stated, similar to the position of Rabbi David Abudirham (The Abudraham) as we wrote last week, that a Dayan HaEmet is only recited when someone had something and then it was lost or died, however in the case of the sick child nothing was lost that was previously owned and so this blessing would be inappropriate.
The Sefer Chasidim, written by Rabbi Yehuda ben Shmuel of Regensburg (called Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid) in the 12th century, brings the following story: “a man married a woman who did not find favor in his eyes and at the wedding he made two blessings; Dayan HaEmet and HaTov v’haMetiv; Dayan HaEmet that he found a woman against his will but due to his circumstances, and HaTov v’haMetiv that he was given a lot of money [as a result of the marriage]. They said to him that he should not say Dayan HaEmet as his case was not the same as one who heard that his father died and he inherited money from him, who makes the blessing Dayan HaEmet and HaTov v’haMetiv since his father’s death is in the hands of heaven, but you had a choice who you should have married. He replied that poverty forced him to make the decision to marry this particular woman and also it was a result of the Divine decree that forty days before the formation of the fetus it is declared which woman is to which man, therefore I made the blessing Dayan HaEmet.”
This tale suggests that Dayan HaEmet is not made only over a loss but rather in unfortunate circumstances beyond our control. If so then the birth of a sick child would warrant this blessing.
It appears that making these two blessings attempts to give expression to the mixed feelings of such a couple and there is room for different answers to this question. If a couple feel that these circumstances require both blessings then they can rely on those opinions that both should be said, but in other circumstances the blessing of Shehechiyanu should be recited as in the case of any other birth.

Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

The Puah Institute is based in Jerusalem and helps couples from all over the world who are experiencing fertility problems. Puah offers free counseling in five languages, halachic supervision, and educational programs. Offices in Jerusalem, New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Contact: (02) 651-5050 (Isr).

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