Parshas Terumah 5778

In this week’s Parsha, the Torah describes the materials used for the building of the Mishkan.  The Medrash presents an intriguing idea- that the metals used for the Mishkan are symbolic of our Patriarchs.  Avraham is compared to gold; Yitzchak to silver; and Yaakov to copper.  Rav Schwab delves into the question of what would be the basis for comparing the Patriarchs to these metals, and why the association of each one to that specific metal.

He explains that each metal has a unique characteristic which correlates to the life of each one of our Patriarchs.  Gold is by nature very shiny.  This is similar to Avraham, whose greatness became clear after he came out unscathed from the fiery furnace.  Just as when looking at gold it is obvious that it has a value, the same was true of Avraham.  Based on the Medrash, all of the kings of the world bowed down to him.

Yitzchak, on the other hand, is compared to silver.  The trait of silver is that its impurities need to be removed before it can shine forth and its value recognized.  When Yitzchak came to the Akeida, the world did not recognize his greatness.  Since Avraham took Eliezer and Yishmael as well, the world was unsure who was going to be chosen for the Akeida because each one was great.  It was only when Yitzchak told Avraham that he saw the cloud on top of the mountain that it was then clear that he was the one who had been chosen as the greatest of the three.

Copper is a metal that requires shining, and then has an appearance similar to gold.  Due to all of Yaakov’s suffering, his greatness was never apparent.  Only after many years did Lavan attribute the success that he had when Yaakov lived with him to Yaakov’s greatness rather than to Lavan’s own luck.  It was only after seeing his children that people recognized the greatness of their father, Yaakov.

Rav Shwab concludes that part of the merit of our having the Mishkan was due to our Patriarchs.  We should bear this idea in mind, consider what we learn from their attributes, and strive to emulate them when learning about the Mishkan.