By Rabbi
Pinchas Frankel



Parashas Terumah - 5776

The Beginning of the Temple Parashios


Parashas Terumah teaches us what are considered legitimate donations to HaShem’s Temple: “Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a donation…And this is the donation which you should take from them: gold, silver and copper; and turquoise, purple and scarlet wool and goat hair. Red-dyed ram skins and badger skins and acacia wood. Oil for illumination, spices for the anointment oil, and the aromatic incense…shoham precious stones, and stones for the settings, for the Ephod and the Breastplate. They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.” (Shemos 25:2-8)  


So much for the physical garb of the Sanctuary. But what was done there? For that information, we must turn to the Book of Vayikra, wherein is described the sacrificial activities that took place in that bastion of Holiness of the Jewish People. For details, I will turn to Rabbi Natan Slifkin’s “Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom.”


“Though both the groups of domesticated and wild animals include kosher members, there are several differences in Jewish Law between the rules governing the slaughtering and the eating of members of each group. One difference is that sacrificial offerings may only be brought from domestic animals. The Midrash suggests a reason for the exclusion of wild animals:”


“Rabbi Berechia bar Shimon said: ‘The Holy One, Blessed be He, said, ‘I have given over ten kosher animals to you. Three are in your possession, and seven are not in your possession – “This is the animal that you shall readily eat: the ox, the sheep and the goat; (and these you will have more difficulty in obtaining:) the deer, the gazelle, the hartebeest (“yachmur”), the ibex (“akko”), the oryx (“dishon”), the aurochs (“teo”), and the wild sheep (“zamer”)” (Devarim 14:4)  I have not bothered you for them, and I have not told you to ascend the hills and struggle through the forests in order to bring offerings from the types that are not in your possession; only from that which is in your possession, which has grown at your trough.” (Midrash Yalkut Shimoni, VaYikra 21:643) 


“Misidentification of Deer and Gazelle: The identity of the ayal as the deer is certain and unequivocal. It has the same name in numerous regional languages; there is a universal tradition regarding its identification; and it perfectly and uniquely matches the description given in Scripture and Talmud (notably, possessing branching horns).”


‘Meshaveh raglai ka-ayalos ve-al-bamosai ya’amideini

“He sets my feet like those of deer, and stands me upon my high places.” (II Sam. 22:34, Ps. 18:34)


“Gazelle:  The tzvi is one of the most commonly misidentified creatures in the Torah. Europeans and North Americans have long identified it as a deer; hence, a common Jewish name is Tzvi Hirsch, since Hirsch is Yiddish for deer.”


“However, nearly a thousand years ago, Rashi pointed out that the deer does not match the Talmud’s description of the tzvi…”


“Rav Sa’adiah Gaon, however, identified the tzvi with the almost identical name in Arabic, the tavi, which is the gazelle. This perfectly matches the Talmud’s understanding of its being an animal with horns that are not branched…Why then did Rashi and other European scholars not identify the tzvi as the gazelle? The answer is extremely straightforward; there were no gazelles in Europe!”


“The word tzvi appears multiple times in Shir HaShirim together with the word ayal:


“Domeh dodi le-tzvi, o le-opher ha-ayalim, hineh, zeh omed achar kosleinu, mashgiach min ha-chalonos, metzitz min ha-charakim.”


“My beloved is like a gazelle, or a deer fawn, behold, he stands behind our wall, looking thru the windows, peering thru the lattice.” (Shir HaShirim 2:9)


“The gazelle, always a symbol of love, represents the hope of an exiled people that they will reunite once again with their Beloved Creator.”


L’Illuy Nishmas beni, Aharon Baruch Mordechai, ben Pinchas Menachem




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