One of the materials which Benei Yisrael were called upon to donate for the construction of the Mishkan, as we read in the beginning of Parashat Teruma, were “orot techashim” – skins of a creature called “tachash” (25:5). Later (26:14), the Torah commands that these skins be used to form the outermost covering of the Mishkan.
Rashi, based on the Gemara (Shabbat 28b), identifies the “tachash” as a supernatural creature that God provided for Benei Yisrael only at that time, when they were in the wilderness, and specifically for the purpose of constructing the Mishkan. The Gemara further comments that the “tachash” was an animal that featured an impressive array of different colors. Onkelos translates “tachash” as “sasgona,” and the Gemara explains this Aramaic term to mean “sas be-gevanim harbei” – this animal “was joyous over its many colors.”
Rav Yisrael of Modzitz, in Divrei Yisrael, suggests that the Gemara’s depiction of the tachash alludes to the many different “colors” that we experience over the course of our lives. As we go through life, we enjoy periods of success, achievement and happiness, and also endure moments of pain, anguish, frustration, failure and disappointment. We go from one “color” to the next – some bright and exciting, others dark and dreary. The Rebbe of Modzitz suggests that the tachash’s “joy” teaches us of the need to try to maintain a sense of joy and contentment throughout all the various stages of life, over the course of the many different “colors” that we experience. The tachash rejoiced over all its colors, serving as a symbol of the joy we can and should strive to feel at all different points of life, no matter which “color” characterizes our experiences at any given moment.
The way this is accomplished, the Modzitzer Rebbe explains, is by recognizing the other quality of the tachash noted by the Gemara – that it was created by God specifically for that particular purpose at that particular time. Every situation that we confront must be viewed as a “tachash” – an opportunity provided by the Almighty, an item we need to use for the “Mishkan” that we are to strive to build over the course of our lives. This “Mishkan,” our life of Torah and mitzvot, must consist of numerous different “colors,” just as the Mishkan in the wilderness was covered by a majestic, multicolored tapestry. And thus every situation that God sends our way, including the bleaker “shades” that we would have preferred to avoid, contributes to our “Mishkan,” to our inner sanctuary, to our spiritual being that we are to mold over the course of life. Understanding this, the Rebbe of Modzitz teaches, enables us to remain upbeat and joyful throughout all our different “shades” of life, even in periods of difficulty and hardship. If we view every challenge as a “tachash” created specifically for us, to be used for building our individual Mishkan, then we can embrace it, rather than resent it, and feel happiness and joy as we proceed from one “color” to the next in our effort to the build our “Mishkan,” the beautiful Torah life that we are meant to live.