Parashat Teruma teaches how the Tabernacle was funded and built in the desert. Here Rebbe Shimon teaches how this applies to everyday mitzvot and Torah learning.

Rebbe Shimon opened [his discourse] in the beginning and quoted the verse "Speak to the people of Israel, that they shall bring me an offering; from every man that gives it willingly with his heart shall you take my offering." (Ex. 25:2) The words "they shall bring me" come to teach about one who wants to make an effort to perform a particular practical mitzva, and through that, make an effort on behalf of the Holy One blessed be He [by "dressing" the Divine Presence and intending to unify her with Him]. A person ought to make the effort…in accordance with his wealth…

He should be aware that he should not make an effort at no financial cost to himself, or with a gift received. Rather, a person ought to make the effort as is fitting in accordance with his wealth. We have explained in a number of places that it befits a person exerting himself on behalf of the Holy One Blessed be He, to stretch himself to increase his effort financially. This is reflected in the verse "A man shall give according to the gift [of wealth] he has received, in accordance with the blessing that G‑d your G‑d has given you." (Deut. 16:17).

Thus a person should give according to his ability. This is the reason why the word man, or "ish" in Hebrew, is used in the above verse; the word ish refers particularly to an important man. By making a conscious effort to afford a quality prayer shawl, or extra fine tefillin, or a beautiful etrog, a person is conquering his desire to hold onto his wealth. This makes the effort important and he becomes worthy to be called an ish. He is also acknowledging the truth of the above verse because he is treating his wealth as a blessing which enables him in turn to give a fitting gift to the source of that blessing. He is thus fully conscious of his action.

Now if you say that it is also written, "Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money, come, buy, and eat, buy wine and milk without money and for no cost". This is because [learning the Torah] is for free. It is an effort in dressing the Holy One Blessed be He. The secrets of the Torah are intoxicating like a good wine…

Water, wine and milk are code names for the Torah. The word "wine" - in Hebrew "yayin" - has a numerical value of 70, which is the same as the word "sod", meaning "secret". This is because the secrets of the Torah are intoxicating like a good wine, as the sages declared, "When wine goes in, secrets come out". Milk is nourishing and wholesome, and water is essential for growth. So is Torah. It is an essential for spiritual life and, like water, essential for physical life, is provided free of charge. Learning Torah is therefore different than the performance of other mitzvot. Learning is an adornment of the level of Zeir Anpin, which is the "male" aspect of divinity. This level is associated with the name "The Holy One Blessed Be He" [HaKadosh Baruch Hu], which is the level from which issues the Torah. Mitzvot are performed in physical reality/malchut, and they adorn the Shechina. The physical world is governed by the harsh material world, and the adornments have to be wrestled from the grasp of the material by payment in kind in order to be truly rectified. Whoever wishes can be worthy without paying any fee at all…

Whoever is worthy enough to have a desire to learn Torah may do so. This learning itself amounts to making an effort to understand the Holy One Blessed be He. Whoever wishes can be worthy [to study Torah] without paying any fee at all.

The Torah, which is in the realm of the spiritual and holy, is beyond the grasp of the material forces [the chitzonim]. Because it is rooted in holiness, there is no need to exert oneself materially to wrestle it from the chitzonim.

However, when making an effort to serve the Holy One blessed be He with a physical mitzva, it is forbidden to serve with something received for no cost. This is because he will not be worthy to draw down the spirit of holiness in the least through his action, except when it is acquired by payment in full.

In the ancient world, goods were purchased by breaking off a piece of silver and weighing it against the equivalent value of the goods purchased. Thus the word to "buy" in the verse from Isaiah quoted above, is actually "break". Even today we talk of "breaking" a deposit. Breaking off silver, which represents chesed, and giving it over to an external source symbolically rescues that item from the grasp of the chitzonim and places it into the service of G‑d.

It is written in the book of magic that Ashmodai [King of the Demons] taught King Solomon that whoever strives to remove the spirit of impurity from himself and submit it to the other spirit [of holiness, by performing a mitzva], should ensure that he pays in full for the mitzva that he wishes to perform. He should pay whatever price is requested [by the seller], whether the amount is small or large. The 'Other Side'…has its place in the scheme of reality…

By being aware that he is paying the full price, the buyer is "paying his dues" to the "Other Side" of impurity. This is an important concept, repeated often in the Zohar. The "Other Side" is not totally removed from the Holy. It has its place in the scheme of reality and a divine purpose to fulfill. By acknowledging this, the person performing the mitzva leaves that side appeased. If not, the Other Side is constantly going to nag for its portion. Examples are the goat sent by the High Priest to Azazel on Yom Kippur, which is designed to keep the negative forces happy/busy.

Job was a religious man but his sacrifices were all shleimim - totally for G‑d without any part for the Other Side. This gave rise to the claim against him and the ultimate loss of all his wealth because he gave nothing to the Other Side. Another everyday example: Mayim Achronim, the washing of the fingers after every meal at which bread is eaten, symbolizes giving the Other Side a portion; this shows that one has acknowledged the existence of the negative and fed it something to keep it satisfied. All of these are physical manifestations showing consciousness of the workings of the spiritual world

[He should pay the price demanded] because the spirit of impurity is always in wait to dwell where there is no cost [or to get a free lunch]. [Once given a place to dwell, the Other Side] forces a person to serve him and entices him with all sorts of persuasions in different ways to make him waiver [from the way of Torah and mitzvot] and live with him [in emptiness].

The spirit of the Holy is not like this, rather it requires full payment and a great and strenuous effort [to conquer the Yetzer Hara, which is attached to the Other Side].

Zohar, Parashat Teruma, pg. 128a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.