Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter of Ger, Sefat Emet, Parshat Terumah, Year 5660
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שפת אמת ספר שמות - פרשת תרומה - שנת תר"ס
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במדרש תנחומא לקח טוב משל שני סוחרים לזה מטכסא ולזה פלפלין כו' החליפו מה שביד זה אינו ביד זה. ובתלמדי חכם זה שונה סדר זרעים וזה סדר מועד השנו זה לזה ביד כל אחד ב' סדרים כו'. הענין הוא כי יש לכל איש ישראל חלק מיוחד בתורה והתורה מחברת נפשות בני ישראל. כמו שנאמר תמימה משיבת נפש. ונעשין אחדות א' בכח התורה כמן שנאמר מורשה קהלת יעקב. ומקבלין זה מזה הדעת המיוחד לכל א'... וכמו כן בנדבת המשכן שהיה נעשה על יד נדבת כל איש ונתחברו על יד המשכן להיות אחד. ואז זכו להשראת השכינה.
The Midrash Tanhuma quotes: “I have given you good teaching” (Prov. 4:2). [The term lekah (teaching) can also refer to something acquired by purchase.] It offers a parable of two merchants, one who has silk and the other peppers. Once they exchange their goods, each is again deprived of that which the other has. But if there are two scholars, one who has mastered the Order of Zera’im and the other who knows the Order of Mo’ed, once they teach each other, each has both orders. The point is that each one of Israel has a particular portion within Torah, yet it is also Torah that joins all our souls together. That is why Torah is called “perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:8). We become one through the power of Torah; it is “an inheritance of the assembly of Jacob” (Deut. 33:4). We receive from one another the distinctive viewpoint that belongs to each of us… The same was true in the building of the mishkan. Each one gave his own offering, but they were all joined together by the tabernacle, until they became one. Only then did they merit the Shechinah’s presence. This text was compiled by Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York, NY, for Rabbi Matalon’s teaching on the American Jewish World Service Rabbinical Student Delegation. Their work was based on and inspired by The Dignity of Difference by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What things do we have in our lives that can be shared without losing them?

2. How can we use our abilities and social standing to advocate on behalf of others who don't have that?

3. How do the values of Torah help unite us as a community?

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Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)