Friday, March 03, 2006

Haftarah Terumah

[This is the second installment of the weekly Haftarah discussion.]

This week's Haftorah is from Melachim Alef; the story of Shlomo building the first Beit HaMikdash
. The connection between the parsha and the Haftorah doesn't need to be said, it's too obvious.

There are, however, some interesting points about the Haftorah. Shlomo is building the Beit HaMikdash to fulfill his father's legacy and building this L'shem Shamayim and therefore, only wants the best. So he sends a letter to King Hiram of Lebanon wanting a treaty to use the cedar. All is well and good, but something is different. This is not as glorious as the Mishkan is.

Rav Hirsch points out:
Still all this enormous expenditure is not what we have in mind. Solomon was rich enough and could well afford it, and his people were not deprived of anything through it. But "his people" - That is what we are thinking of. What a dismal picture do they, does Israel, present at this building. Where is the enthusiasm of the men and women which our Sidra describes?...Considering the origin and aim of the building, how much more glorious and holier was the work of the weaving and embroidering women and girls, the working of the Jewish men, so long unaccustomed to artistic work, under the guidance of Bezalel...Then all the glories of Phoenician technique and Solomon's artistic taste! It was a different kind of participation that Solomon reserved for his people. Conscripted labor - reminiscent of Pharoh's time - was what they had to render, and task-masters too were not lacking! It is that, that strikes the thinking reader like an icy blast on reading this report.

Wow, it was not until I read this earlier today that I had any inclination that there was anything remotely "wrong" about Bayit Rishon. It may be that there's nothing "wrong" about it, maybe that it's a reference to how holy the Mishkan was. Sometimes we think that the Mikdash was more important that the Mishkan - according to Rav Hirsch that's not the way it works.

Good Shabbos

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