top of page

Heaven on Earth

Rabbi Wagensberg
Parshas Terumah
Heaven on Earth

Hashem's will was, and still is, to rest His Shechina (Divine Presence) on Earth. This dream was actualized when the Jewish people built the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the desert, and when they built the Beis Hamikdash (Temple) in Israel's eternal capital, Yerushalayim.

Rashi (Parshas Vayeitzei, 28:17; citing Midrash; Mechilta Parshas Beshalach, 15:17) tells us that just as there is a Mikdash below, on Earth, there is also a Mikdash above, in Heaven.

The Mikdash above, is connected to the first two letters of God's Name Havaya. The Name Havaya is spelled with four letters. They are: yud, hey, vov, and hey. Therefore, the Mikdash above is connected to the letters yud and hey.

However, the Mikdash below is connected to the last two letters of the Name Havaya: vov and hey. We know this from the following Gemara.

The Talmud (Eiruvin, chap. 2, "Osin Pasin", pg. 18b; Rebbi Yirmiya ben Elazar) says that ever since the Temple was destroyed, we have to be satisfied with only the two letters, yud and hey, of God's Name. This means to say that when we had a Beis Hamikdash and the Kohanim (priests) would bless the people during Birchas Kohanim (the Priestly Blessings), they would use the whole Name Havaya, articulating that Name the way that it is punctuated.

However, once the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, this practice stopped. Instead, we may only praise God with the first two letters, yud and hey. This means that no longer are we allowed to articulate the first two letters with the last two letters of the Shem Havaya as they are punctuated (Rashi ibid).

This idea is hinted to in the last verse in Tehillim (150:6) which says, "Kol Haneshama Tehallel Kah" (Let everything that has breath praise God). The word for God, in this verse, is "Kah," spelled, yud, hey. This means that ever since the Temple's destruction, we may only use the letters yud hey to praise Hashem.

The Yismach Moshe (Parshas Beshalach, 17:16. Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Hungary, 1759-1841; the great grandfather of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe) explains why this is so, based on the Zohar (Preface to Tikkunei Zohar, pg. 9b) which says that the Shem Havaya serves as the acronym of the verse, "Yismichu Hashamayim Visagel Ha'aretz" (Let the Heavens rejoice, and let the Earth be glad; Tehillim, 96:11). In Heaven, there is a constant state of "Yismichu Hashamayim," because the angels always see Hashem's greatness even when we, down here on Earth, go through galus (exile), hester panim (concealment), and churban (destruction). Therefore, in Heaven, the letters yud hey, which stand for Yismichu Hashamayim, are always active.

However, on Earth, we only experience "Visagel Ha'aretz" during times of geulah (redemption) when God's Presence is apparent. Only then are the letters vov hey, which stand for Visagel Ha'aretz, activated. Only then did the Kohanim bless the people with the full Shem Havaya. But, during galus, hester panim, and churban, our happiness is sapped and our joy is diminished considerably. Therefore, during galus, the vov hey are inoperative to a large extent. Therefore, no longer do we articulate the vov hey of the Shem Havaya.

This explains why, during galus, we have to make do with just the letters yud and hey which still function above. This means to say that we have to remind ourselves that while we may be miserable, at times, on Earth, nevertheless, in Heaven, all is joyous. We must remain focused on this during our long exile in order to keep our spirits up.

However, when the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt, the Shechina will return to Earth, God's greatness will be recognized by all, the vov hey will kick in, and happiness will be restored.

This is what redemption is. It is the time when the vov hey, Visagel Ha'aretz, return to this world. This can be seen in the Hebrew word for redemption, which is "Geulah." When the letters of this word are rearranged and divided into two parts, it spells, "Goel - Vov Hey" (redeem the letters vov hey).

Therefore, the Mikdash in Heaven is connected to the letters yud hey, Yismichu Hashamayim, whereas the Mikdash on Earth is connected to the letters vov hey, Visagel Ha'aretz. It turns out that the Mikdash below completes the Mikdash above. This completion will become even more obvious after concentrating on the curtains which served as the roofing of the Mishkan below.

The first layer of curtains was made in such a way that five strips of material were sown together. Then, another five strips of material were sown together. Then, these two parts were joined by loops and hooks. Then, they were laid on top of the Tabernacle (Parshas Terumah, 26:3).

The second layer of roofing was made of goat hairs. Five strips of this material were sown together, and then six strips were sown together. Then, they were joined together with loops and clasps. Then, they were laid on top of the Tabernacle (Parshas Terumah, 26:9-11).

The Shelah (Parshas Terumah, Derech Chaim, #26) says that the two parts of the first layer represented the two Luchos (Tablets). Each part was made up specifically of five strips of material because each set of five represented the five commandments on each Tablet. Altogether representing the Ten Commandments.

The five strips of goat hair of the second layer represented the Five Books of the Torah, whereas the six strips of goat hair represented the Six Orders of Mishna.

The Megaleh Amukos (Parshas Vaeschanan) adds that the Five Books of the Torah correspond to the last letter hey (which is numerically five) of the Name Havaya. The Six Orders of Mishna correspond to the letter vov (which is numerically six) of the Shem Havaya. This teaches us that when we study the Five Books of the Torah and the Six Orders of Mishna, we are involved in the slow process of bringing the vov hey back into this world. This means that we are bringing back the situation of Visagel Ha'aretz (rejoicing on Earth). This means that Torah study has the power to help remove the difficulties of exile such as illness, poverty, and war, and restore joy to the world.

The Shvilei Pinchas adds that not only does the study of Torah help to restore the vov hey, Visagel Ha'aretz, to this world, but so does the Beis Hamikdash. As we said before, the Beis Hamikdash below is connected to the letters vov hey. This is demonstrated by the second layer of curtains of the Mishkan below which was six pieces of material opposite five, representing the letters vov and hey.

The Shvilei Pinchas says that this is why there are specifically two expressions in the second verse of Parshas Terumah (25:2) which are seemingly superfluous. First it says, "Viyikchu Li Terumah" (bring Me an offering). Then, the same verse goes on to say, "Tikchu Es Terumasi" (take My offering). These two phrases are not redundant, rather, they are referring to the two Mishkans.

The first phrase, "Viyikchu Li Terumah," was a command to the Jewish people to build a Mishkan below. The Mishkan below was connected to the letters vov hey. This is hinted to in the word "Terumah." When the letters of this word are rearranged, they spell, "Tareim Vov Hey," (donate for the vov hey). Meaning, build a Mishkan below and complete the vov hey and thus return happiness to the lower world, represented by vov hey which stands for Visagel Ha'aretz.

However, the second phrase, "Tikchu Es Terumasi," was God's promise that if we build a Mishkan below, then, He would mirror our actions by building a Mishkan above. This is why the second phrase uses the word "Terumasi." "Terumasi" means "MY donation." Hashem is telling us that if we make donations to build a Mishkan below, then Hashem will invest in the real estate above by building a Miskan in the sky. This will secure the yud hey which stands for Yismichu Hashamayim. Then, Hashem will send abundance from the Mishkan above to the Mishkan below.

The Shvilei Pinchas says that this explains Rashi's comment on the words, "Viyikchu Li Terumah." Rashi says that it means, "Li Lishmi" (based on Tanchumah 1). The standard translation of these words is, "Do it for the sake of My Name." Meaning, do it altruistically. The problem is that we are supposed to do all the mitzvos altruistically, not just the building of the Mishkan and its vessels (See Nedarim, chap. 8, "Konem Yayin", pg. 62a). Why, then, is altruism introduced specifically in connection to the Mishkan?

One answer is that Hashem never meant that we should donate altruistically. Of course, we should, but that's not the point here. Rather, Rashi is saying that by building the Mishkan below, we will have completed God's Name Havaya. Rashi can be read more literally. "Li Lishmi" means, "For the sake of My Name." This means that in order to complete My Name Havaya, a Mishkan below must be built in addition to the Mishkan above. All of this information brings us to the next phase.

Hashem commanded us to put Keruvim (statues with faces of children) on top of the Aron Hakodesh (The Holy Ark; Parshas Terumah, 25:18; Rashi citing Succa, chap. 1, "Succa", Rebbi Avahu). The Sifsei Kohen comments on this. He says that the Aron Hakodesh was the root of Torah. After all, the Luchos with the Aseres Hadibros and the Sefer Torah that Moshe Rabbenu wrote were stored in the Aron Hakodesh. If Hashem instructed us to place Keruvim (children) on top of it, it teaches us a powerful lesson which is that the primary study of Torah is done by children and the main teaching of Torah is done to children.

In fact, the Gemara (Shabbos, chap. 16, "Kol Kisvei", pg. 119b) says that Yerushalayim was destroyed only because Jewish children stopped learning Torah. This is because the Shechina rests upon children who study Torah (Eicha Rabba, 1:13; Eicha 1:5-6). By extension, the Shechina rests on the Jewish people because of the children who study Torah. When there is Shechina amongst the Jewish people, it serves as a force field which protects them from any harm. The nations could never penetrate a shield of Shechina (Preface to Eicha Rabba, #24).

Therefore, once the children stopped learning Torah, the Shechina left. As a result, we were left defenseless from our enemies, and they succeeded in destroying Yerushalayim.

This is why we do not interrupt children who are studying Torah, even to participate in the building of the Beis Hamikdash. The whole point of having a Beis Hamikdash is so that the Shechina rests on Earth. The main concentration of Shechina rested in the Holy of Holies, between the two Keruvim. This itself taught us that the Shechina rests primarily because of children preoccupied in the study of Torah. Therefore, we do not interrupt children's Torah study, even to build the Beis Hamikdash because this would be contradictory. Why would we stop children from learning Torah, and thereby stop the Presence of the Shechina, just to build a Beis Hamikdash to get Shechina. First of all, we already had Shechina on account of the children. Besides, the Shechina in the Beis Hamikdash is dependent on the children's Torah Study. Stopping the children from their learning would only undermine what the Beis Hamikdash is supposed to accomplish.

The Gemara (Shabbos, chap. 16, "Kol Kisvei", pg. 119b) says that the entire world exists solely on the breath of Jewish children who speak words of Torah. The Zohar (Parshas Lech Lecha, pg. 25) says that when the Rashb"i would go to see Jewish children study Torah, he would say, "I am going to see the face of the Divine Presence."

The Kav Hayashar (chap. 72; Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover, 1600's) says that wherever you find a Rebbi teaching children, that is where you find the Shechina. Therefore, those who educate children in Torah should do their jobs in faithfulness and with integrity, without any form of swindling. Moreover, the physical room in which Jewish children study Torah should be immaculate. The floors should be washed, the windows should be shined, the desks and books should be kept in order. This is because we must fulfil the verse that says, "Vihaya Machanecha Kadosh" (and your camp will be holy; Parshas Ki Seitzei, 23:15). A classroom filled with Jewish children learning Torah is like the Machaneh Shechina. As such, it must be treated with the upmost respect.

Rebbi Chiya invested in his students, who were children, by teaching them in a very unique way. He taught five children the Five Books of the Torah. Each child was taught one Book. Then, he took six children and taught them the Six Orders of Mishnah. Each child was taught one Order. He told them to teach each other what they knew (Baba Metzia chap. 7, "Hasocher Es Hapoalim", pg. 85b).

The Shvilei Pinchas says that Rebbi Chiya's unique method of teaching was meant to compare his students to the Keruvim. There were specifically two Keruvim because they represented the two parts of the Torah 1) the Written Law consisting of the Five Books and 2) the Oral Tradition consisting of the Six orders. By dividing his students into two groups, one focusing on the Written Torah, and the other focusing on the Oral Tradition, Rebbi Chiya likened his students to the two Keruvim.

Just as the Shechina rested on the Keruvim (Parshas Terumah, 25:22), the Shechina would rest on his students. Once the Shechina would rest upon them, the Torah would never be forgotten because there is no such thing as forgetfulness in the Presence of the Shechina (Berachos, chap. 5, "Ein Omdin", pg. 32b).

Moreover, the group of five students engaged in the Five Books, corresponded to the final letter hey of the Name Havaya. The other group of six students involved in the Six Orders, corresponded to the letter vov of the Name Havaya. When we create vov hey, Hashem sends down the letters yud hey. The letters yud hey carry the Shechina with them (See Sota, chap. 2, "Haya Meivi", pg. 17a, Rebbi Akiva; Rashi ibid), as is hinted to in the word Shechina whose letters are," shachen - yud hey" (Megaleh Amukos Parshas Vayeira; Shelah, Vovei Ha'amudim, chap. 5). By sending us Shechina, Hashem guarantees that Torah will never be forgotten from the ranks of the Jewish people.

Rebbi Chiya did not just compare his students to the Keruvim, but he compared them to the Mishkan itself. As we mentioned, the second layer of roofing was made up of five pieces of material sown together and then joined with six pieces of material sown together. Once again, the five and six connect with the letters vov and hey which brings the Shechina down. By dividing his students into groups of five and six, Rebbi Chiya imbued his students with the holiness of the Mishkan itself (Shvilei Pinchas).

But, don't forget, that the five and six curtains also corresponded to the Five Books and Six Orders. Therefore, it all comes together. Meaning, both the students of Rebbi Chiya and the curtains are connected to the Torah and to the letters vov hey, returning happiness to Earth as it says, "Visagel Ha'aretz." When this process will be completed, the Name Havaya will be complete, and happiness will be enjoyed above and below, as it says, "Yismichu Hashamayim Visagel Ha'aretz."

Practically speaking, let us try to improve a little bit more by spending some more quality time teaching our children Torah. This could be with our own children or with our grandchildren or with nephews, nieces, or friend's children. If we feel that, for whatever reason, we are not qualified to teach children, we could try to hire somebody else to teach them.

Let us also reexamine our children's educators by making sure that our children are exposed to good teachers who turn them on to Torah, and not expose our children to poor teachers who turn children away from Torah. Sadly, we must also mention that we must be vigilant to ensure that our children are not being abused by their teachers. This is why we must revisit and investigate the people that we entrust our precious children to.

Remember, we teach most by example. Therefore, let us make the Torah learning and mitzvos so fun, exciting, and enjoyable for ourselves that it will be contagious for our children.

So, may we all be blessed with success in transforming our holy Torah values, from the Five Books of the Written Law and from the Six Orders of the Oral Tradition, to our keruvim, and merit that Havaya send abundant plenty to flow down from the Temple Above to the Temple below which includes our synagogues, study halls, and Jewish homes, so that there is not only a situation of Yismichu Hashamayim above, but also one of Visagel Ha'aretz below, which will be our Terumah to the world, by filling it with Shechina.

bottom of page