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Parshas Teruma - Ruin Your Day With Only One Tap               3 Adar I 5779

02/07/19 22:36:20


The first American alarm clock was created by clockmaker Levi Hutchins, of Concorde, New Hampshire, in 1787. His alarm clock rang only once— at 4:00 A.M. Mr Hutchins invented his device so that he would never sleep past his usual waking time. It was his “firm rule” to awaken before sunrise, whatever the season. Sometimes, however, he slept past that hour and was distraught throughout the rest of the day. He made this device only to wake himself up for his job; it was created for no other purpose. The French inventor, Antoine Redier, was the first to patent an adjustable mechanical alarm clock in 1847.

I share an experience with millions of people throughout the world almost every day of my life. Even though we human beings come equipped with some type of internal clock, most of us need an alarm clock to at least “remind ourselves” that it is time to arise. There is an entire industry devoted to the different nuances of every the sound an alarm the clock can make. In today’s day and age, you are able to select pre-recorded voices - from the soft spoken Mashgiach to the commanding Marine drill sergeant - informing your still-sleeping body to get up and get out of bed. If you prefer, you can choose to stick with the good old-fashioned loud ringing buzzer. The list of sounds from which we are able to choose, ranging from a sweetly tweeting birdie to an emergency stress call indicating nuclear fallout, all peacefully await the opportunity to come alive at our beck and call.

As the alarm clock user of old turned over to shut off the pesky alarm, a major decision had to be made within a fraction of a second: should he immediately jump out of bed or… briefly stretch and roll back over to catch just a few more winks. The likelihood of ‘just another five minutes’ still remains a risk that some people take, typically regretting this decision as they pop out of bed an hour later! Enter, the snooze button, a clever option which offered the drowsy user to re-set the alarm for an additional five, ten, or fifteen minutes when the alarm would sound off again. Popular opinion has it that the snooze feature was the feat - or fault - of Lew Wallace, the famous author of Ben-Hur. (The Lew Wallace Museum asserts, however, that Wallace could not have created the snooze button, although he did invent a few other things).

Unfortunately, the snooze button option too often lures us into dreamland once again. It takes a firm determination to rise up like a lion to avoid sinking back into that inviting pillow. One of the many famous brainy quotes from Phyllis George is, “Life is what you make it: If you snooze, you lose; and if you snore, you lose more.” I think the cause of the snoring is due to the extra snoozing that we try to get. A few days ago, I was the victim of that inviting ‘snooze button’; instead of pushing the five-minute reset, I inadvertently turned the alarm off altogether. Upon awakening, I realized what had happened and leaped out of bed in a total panic. I was late for an early morning appointment. Besides missing a very important meeting and getting up in a frenzy, my entire day was off. When my day begins even slightly off kilter, I feel as though I’m playing catch-up all day long. Clearly, the few extra winks that I got came at a heavy price, one that I know for myself does not satisfy the cost-benefit analysis.

Viewing this analysis, there are three stages that I described; the initial sleep, the snooze period, and the getting out of bed. Most things in life can be broken down into different stages and compartments. As we move from one stage to the next, we hope there is at least some measurable improvement in the decision-making processing during these transitions.

In the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf, God commanded Moshe to build the Mishkan/Tabernacle. Each component of the Mishkan and its contents was assembled with keen attention directed to the order of construction, precise detail regarding that construction, and magnificent artistry. Every aspect of the building of the Mishkan included stages which polished and elevated the items, bringing them up to their full capacity and potential. Let us look at one of these items and get a glimpse at how we benefit from the cost.

In this week’s parsha Teruma the Torah details the Mishkan and its contents. Each and every part of the Mishkan has its own significance. The Gemara Bava Basra 25b asks what we can learn from the vessels and utensils of the Mishkan. Rebbi Yitzchok says that someone who wants to become wise shall turn his prayers southward, and to become wealthy, direct his prayers northbound. This is hinted in the placing of the Table/Shulchan, which represents food, eating and plenty, toward the north. The Menorah, which is light and represents Torah and wisdom, is placed toward the south. Rebbi Yehoshua Ben Levi adds that a person should always pray to the south. A person prays to the south will become wise, and his wisdom will facilitate him to become wealthy.

This positioning of the vessels is in direct relation to how we see ourselves vis-a-vis the keli, or the vessel. The actual placing of the vessels offers a different perspective. The Torah states in Shmos 26:35 “V’Samta Es HaShulchan Michutz LaParoches, V’Es HaMenorah Nochach HaShulchan Al Tzela HaMishkan Teimana, V’HaShulchan Titein Al Tzela Tzafon”. “Place the table outside the curtain, toward the northern wall of the tabernacle. The menorah shall be opposite the table, toward the southern wall of the tabernacle”. The verse mentions the Shulchan/Table twice - once before the mentioning of the Menora/Candelabra and once afterwards. The Shulchan, which had the showbread placed upon it, represents the physical side of the life of a human being. We are a hybrid of physicality and spirituality, the Table being physical while the Menorah represents the spiritual. Human beings require food and sustenance to have the ability to become more spiritual. After a person eats and strengthens his body, he can turn his attention to other spiritual pursuits. It takes a body that is well-maintained and fit to become the receptacle of holiness and spirituality. Therefore, the Torah first mentions the Shulchan/Table and only afterwards mentions it in relationship to the Menora, the light of Torah. Once the Shulchan revives a person physically with its material food, it has the potential to overcome any physical challenge. Caution is extremely important to assure that the physical knows when to stop and to ready itself for the light and spirituality. The physical component of Man is now ready to take on the other half of his purpose: to become a spiritual being in a very physical world.

Sleep is an important physical component; it is necessary to rest our physical bodies so that we can take on more spirituality. The alarm is really the transition point from the physical to the spiritual, from sleep to waking up, performing Mitzvos and learning Torah. Be careful not to hit that snooze button! It only gives us more physical pleasure while pushing off the purpose of growing spiritually. Get rid of the snooze button! Rise like a lion to serve the Master of the world through our Kelim/utensils and our Tabernacles of today!

Sat, December 14 2019 16 Kislev 5780