Plant a Tree from Israel – Parashat Terumah

February 8, 2016 at 2:45 AM , , ,

“…And this is the contribution that you shall take from them …and acacia wood…” – Shemot 25:3

וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם . . וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים – שמות כה, ג-ה

How did Bnei Yisrael have acacia wood in the desert? Some commentaries suggest that acacia wood may have been available for purchase from gentile merchants they encountered in the desert, or perhaps it grew in nearby forests (see Ibn Ezra and Divrei David).

 

Rashi, however, takes the position that Bnei Yisrael left Egypt with a supply of acacia wood that was ready and waiting to be collected for the Mishkan. The source for is a Midrashic account that Rashi cites in the name of Rabbi Tanchuma: “Our forefather Yaakov foresaw with Ruach Hakodesh, Divine Inspiration, that Bnei Yisrael were destined to build a Mishkan in the desert, so he brought cedars to Egypt and planted them. He commanded his sons to take them with them when they left Egypt.”

Plant a Tree from Israel

Yaakov’s prophetic foresight notwithstanding, why did he go through the trouble of bringing trees with him from the Land of Israel and planting them in Egypt? Why did he not rely on Bnei Yisrael simply buying the wood or procuring it from a forest nearby?

The reason for Yaakov’s actions is hinted in Rashi’s citation: Rabbi Tanchuma, תנחומא, which is drawn from the Hebrew word nechama, נחמה, meaning consolation.

Yaakov was aware that acacia wood might be obtainable by Bnei Yisrael through other means. He nevertheless brought along these trees and replanted them in Egypt in order for them to provide solace for Bnei Yisrael during their bitter exile in Egypt. In the most difficult moments of their slavery, Bnei Yisrael were able to draw hope and comfort from this visible icon of the promise of redemption—Yaakov’s prophecy that they would one day be freed by G-d and commanded to build a Mishkan for Him in the desert.

These trees that Yaakov brought with him from the Holy Land served as a constant and visible reminder of G-d’s promise to Yaakov, “I will also raise you (from Egypt)” (Beraishis 46:4). Even while in Egypt, Bnei Yisrael would look to those trees and remember that the children of Yaakov would one day return to the Land of Israel from where those trees came.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 31, pp. 142-147

 

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