Thursday, February 11, 2016

Around the Holy Table

In this week's parsha, Teruma, we read about the Shulchan, the intricate table that was in the Holy Temple's chamber called "The Holy." While the Menorah, the candelabra, was made of one solid piece of gold, the Shulchan was made of many different pieces. The table was made of wood and overlaid with gold, all the rest of its parts were made of pure gold. On the Shulchan was a golden trim which zigzagged, like a crown around the table. It had a golden framework, with golden trays, that held twelve loaves of bread, called "Show bread." This unleavened bread, had ends that turned up, and then turned again, so that the two ends faced each other. On the table were two golden spoons filled with Frankincense.

What is the symbolism of the Shulchan? How do we experience the Shulchan in our lives today?

According to the Zohar the Shulchan was what brought blessing of sustenance to the tables of the whole world. According to the Talmud the crown around the Shulchan is symbolic of royal wealth, which King David deserved and received.

So the Shulchan brought blessings of sustenance to all and wealth to those who deserve it. How can we harness these blessings in our own lives? By taking a deeper look at the Shulchan and its parts, we find hints that guide us.

First, you have a table. The table is the center of the home, and therefore is symbolic of the home, the center of Jewish life. Laden with pure gold and surrounded with a royal crown, points to our dress and sense of dignity. How do we act? Do we see ourselves as regular, and dress and act that way, or do we see ourselves as the royalty we are, the children of Hashem, the true King of Kings, and act accordingly. The way we see ourselves effects the way we act. The way we act, controls the spigot of blessing to our homes.

On the table was the Show Bread, which was unleavened. Bread is symbolic of our livelihood. Unleavened symbolizes humility, recognizing that our wealth is from Hashem and not arrogantly thinking that it is merely our personal accomplishment. The breads ends faced each other, symbolizing love for your fellow. The fact that it is one loaf, shows that we are essentially one at our core.

Frankincense is a good smelling spice, it is resin from a tree and it is white. Good smell symbolizing someone who does mitzvahs. White means, without ulterior motives. From a tree, which is constantly growing, so must we constantly add in mitzvahs.

Finally, it was placed on the north side, the left side when looking out of the Holy, because Kabbalisticly, the Shulchan is connected to the cognitive faculty of Bina, which is on the left. Bina is the ability to take an abstract concept, and develop it into a concrete, understandable and meaningful idea. This is done by breaking down the many parts of the concept and understanding them thoroughly. This refers to the study of Torah. Learning, digesting, developing and finally bringing it down into the concrete, making it accessible to all.

This, in essence, is the Jewish home. A royal abode, a place of dignity, humility, and love. A place of Torah and mitzvas. A place where Hashem wants to be and gives his blessings.
This week, Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin (Josh) Gordon Passed on. He truly was the embodiment of all these ideas and more. A royal presence, dignified, humble, his love for others was clear, as he helped countless people, including hundreds of shluchim (myself included), with his time and invaluable wisdom. He also made Torah accessible to all, creating hundreds of classes that could be watched online. He was a Chasidish Yid and the Rebbe's Shliach. We all miss you.
Dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Gordon and to his family, may Hashem console you.

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