I admit to being a rationalist, as far as possible…
It carries me through Bereshis and most of Shemos, until we get to Terumah Tezave…
My rational approach reaches its limits, as we read the forthcoming Parshiot of the Torah dealing with building material and utensils for the Mishkan.
Here – I must admit, there is something beyond (our) rational way of thinking. Why “spend” so much of the holy words of the Torah on matters which seem so “technical” and have no moral implications for us?
And so, I am (every year yet again) starting to admit that not only do we know that the Torah has an “upper chamber” which is much higher, mystical and Kabalistic, but that some of the Mitzvot, and specifically these concerning the Mishkan, its detail and design, can only be understood in that, “elevated” context.
Why would it matter what the colour of the Parochet was? Why would G-d have to instruct Moshe Rabeinu in such great detail, minute details of the fence surrounding the Mishkan?
Obviously because – there must be a huge importance to it – to which we are not privy.
Here we rationalists have to silently accept that the holy Torah is not just a code book which differs from other legal books only because it was given to us by Hashem. The Torah is different in that it also includes many Mitzvot of which the rational is beyond our human understanding.
This becomes clearer as the Parsha goes into the details of the Menorah. Here, even Moshe Rabeinu had such difficulty in understanding the “Yesod” of the instruction that Hashem had to show him a “Menorah Shel Eish”, מְנוֹרָה שֶׁל אֵשׁ. Assuming that it was not a technical issue which Moshe Rabeinu was unable to grasp, this becomes an indication of the higher meaning attached to each detail, so much so that even Moshe Rabeinu, who has achieved such closeness to G-d, could not follow.
And so, I realise what may be obvious to others much earlier. Yes, G-d does want us to keep a very detailed moral code which covers an enormous part of our behaviour. But on top of this we find a higher level which some of us might merit understanding one day, but not just by using our rational tools.
And by the way – the word Teruma (does not only mean – donation, but it means “Higher” or “upper” – perhaps as an indication to this idea…
Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld