Thursday, February 10, 2005

II-7 Terumah Making A Sanctuary From Scratch

II-7 Terumah Making A Sanctuary From Scratch 10 February 2005

Torah: Ex 25-27:19
Haftorah: 1Kgs 5:26-6:13


1. Ex 25:1-16
2. Ex 25:17-30
3. Ex 25:31-26:14
4. Ex 26:15-30
5. Ex 26:31-37
6. Ex 27:1-8
7. Ex 27: 9-19


Terumah provides a list of raw materials required for the construction of the Mishkan, the tabernacle, that will become the center of the movement of religious worship. The materials are to be taken as a voluntary donation: gold, silver, copper, wool dyed sky-blue, dark red, and crimson, linen, goats wool, ram skins, acacia wood, oil,
spices, incense, and precious stones. Detailed instructions are given for the altar for shewbread, the detailed description of the menorah and ark within the Holy of Holies to be carried with the tribes of Israel.

In Focus:

The Lord said to Moses saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them Ex 25:1-2, 8

If your hands are stained by dishonesty, your prayers will be polluted and impure, and an offence to Him to whom you direct them. Do not pray at all before you have your hands purified from every dishonest act.--Exod. Rabba 22

Terumah follows Mishpatim, the social laws that govern the relationships between man and man, providing compensation for damages and standards for interpersonal relationships and behavior. A simple drash on the Magen David, the six-pointed star comprised of two triangles is that the upper star with its nose pointed downwards represents God descending on Mt Sinai to communicate with man. The traingle with its nose upwards, is man calling to God. Some people see it a slightly different way, stating that the triangle with the lowest base is God spreaduing his arms around man, like a father who holds his child, while the triangle with the higher base is man, desperately clinging to God for redemption.

The relationship between Yisro, Mishpatim and Terumah can be interpreted in this manner. Yisro is God delivering to man the Holy Law while Mishpatim is man striving to reach upwards through his actions. Terumah is that middle area, that holy time and place where we step outside conventional society and daily labor to encounter God privately within the inner sanctum of our lives.

When relations with our fellow man are good and we have not violated the sanctity of human trust through dishonest dealings or exploitation, our gifts are acceptable before God. However, if we have cheated in any business dealings or benefited through the offense of another, whatever we bring before God is for nothing. If we double charge a customer, have false balance on our scales, the gift brought before God is unacceptable as a product of an impure life and heart. In the Last Days when the Book of Life is opened, anyone who has exploited his fellow man through business or personal dealings, shall be held accountable; the 100,000 or 1,000,000,000 dollar tax deductible donation will have little effect in the heavenly court. Such dealings are not acceptable before the Almighty Judge: you cannot steal from your neighbor and offer the profit to God.

Symbolically interpreted the Mishkan represents the superficiality of our bodies and deeds: the relationship of hand and mouth. The Ark represents our souls hidden within the Divine Presence of God. As the Ark contained the two tablets brought down from the mountain, the Law should be engraven in our hearts. As the Mishkan accompanied the Israelites through their wilderness journey, so God abides with us in times of desolation. Although God is hidden and invisible, nevertheless, he is near us.

"Happy is the man who fears the Lord, who is ardently devoted to his commandments. A light shines for the upright in the darkness; he is gracious, compassionate, and beneficent. All goes well with the man who lends generously, who conducts his affairs with equity. " Ps 112:1, 4-5

The verse presents a parallel between the tabernacle to personal living. We, ourselves, are the tabernacle in which God dwells. Our light enlightens the world. "The lifebreath of man is the lamp of the Lord, Revealing all his inward parts." Prv 20:27

The Rabbis discuss Moses taking a freewill offering, not an obligation or demand; but heartfelt generosity. Motive is important as well as the source—both must be pure. The gift should not be a cast-off hand-me-down cluttering the front closet or something discarded; but something set aside for the purpose of sancitfication to God. The list includes chiefly raw materials, not finished. We give of our lives; God finishes the product. We give of our deeds; God sanctifies them when they are done with a righteous heart filled with love. Balance is made between the relationships of man with man and man with God. Triangular, each point is significant.

The Mishkan is comparable with Noah's Ark. To save mankind, God uses man as his agent. Noah was instructed to build an ark to preserve him from the Flood as society degenerates. Noah built the ark, corralled the animals—but he failed to save a single human life outside of his family. He did little to convince them of the impending danger or influence their ways of living. He failed. The Ark of the Covenant, the Mishkan is similar, providing shelter and bouyancy in the time of great tempests. The Law protects the sanctity of life. We cling to it in times when we feel that we are drowning in a sea of evil or when calamities sweep over our heads like waves of the Northern Sea. A lifeboat, it carries us through the storms of life; but unlike Noah's Ark, we are not commanded to build the tabernacle—the donations and commitment must be an act of love.

In the detailed instructions, small things are equally as important as big things. There is as much concern for the rings as there is for the curtain material. Whether you feel your gift is truly insignificant or replicable, it is intergral to the building of God's tabernacle. Your gift regardless of size, is important before God. The little woodscrews, hang the door although the oak may be ancient and impressive. Consider your apartment or house if every single nail or screw was removed. Visualize it. How useful the bathroom? Could you wash your hands? How stable the floors? How would you enter or exit? Could you lock the doors?

Often we overlook crucial elements, ignoring the value of things and people we meet. How great is a cake without flour? Yet we praise those things which are unique or add character without realizing they have no value except when supported by all those other relatively ordinary things. So a house without screws, without a door is relatively unpractical regardless of the velvet curtains or Manets hanging on the walls. Without the contributions of so many generous hands providing all the various ingredients, the Mishkan didn't exist. Without cooperation, love and dedication, community doesn't exist. The Mishkan was much, much more than a community construction project—it was the heart of the people, their intercourse with one another and where they could encounter God in their midst.


"In the course of time, Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil; and when Abel, for his part, brought the firstlings of his flock. The Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering He paid no heed. Cain was much disappointed and his face fell." I-1 Bereshit Gn 4:3-4

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, Pirkei Avos 5:13
"There are four types of contributors to charity. One who wants to give but does not want others to give--is begrudging of others. One who wants that others should give but does not want to give--begrudges himself. One who wants that he as well as others should give, is a chassid. One who want neither himself nor others to give, is wicked."

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, Pirkei Avos 5:16
"There are four types of givers of charity. One who wants to give but that others not give - has a bad eye towards others. One who wants others to give but not to give himself - has a bad eye towards himself. One who gives and wants others to give is pious. One who does not give and does not want others to give is wicked."

Chabad: Ethics of the Fathers Chapter Five
see mishna 10, 13

The Path of the Righteous Gentile translated by Chaim Clorfene and Yakov Rogalsky

The Path of the Rigfhteous Gentile 13:6
Every person has the obligation to give charity according to his ability. Even a poor person who supports himself from charity may give charity from these funds. Though he can afford only a little, this should not prevent him from giving charity. A little charity from a poor man is considered as worthy as a great amount given by a rich person.

The Path of the Rigfhteous Gentile 13:15
It is forbidden to reject the requests of a poor person and turn him away empty-handed even if all one can afford at the time is a morsel of food. If there is really nothing in one's hand to give, then one should say kind words to the person indicating that he sincerely wishes to give him something, but that it is not possible at this time.

The Path of the Rigfhteous Gentile 13:22
The highest level of giving charity is to assist a person financially before he becomes poor, thus preventing him from becoming poor. Such assistance should be given graciously in the form of a gift or a loan or an offering of partnership in a financial venture or a job placement so that the poor person will not be forced to seek financial assistance from others.

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos, Yisro: The Dowry

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline: Yisro 5758
And when the father-in-law of Moshe saw all that he did with the nation, he said, 'what is this thing which you do with the people? Why do you sit alone, with all of the nation surrounding you from morning to evening?

Yanki Tauber, The Cigarette Beggar


Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, Yitro: Portable Holiness
My Jewish Learning

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline, Terumah 5760
"And they shall make a Temple for Me, and I will dwell among them..." Ex 25:8

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Lifeline, Terumah 5763
"G-d spoke to Moshe, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they take an offering for me; from every man whose heart desires [to give], take my offering.'" [Ex. 25:1-2]

Rabbi Jordan D Cohan, Terumah Give and Take

Rabbi Shimon Felix, The Role of Ritual

Rabbi Moti Bar Or, God's Home
My Jewish Learning trumah

Rabbi Hayim Shafner, Terumah: A Sanctuary Within

Rabbi Avraham Fischer, Terumah: On the Way to Sanctity

Using Our Contributions to Create the Sacred

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos, Terumah: It's the Thought That Counts

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos, Terumah: Give and Take

Paths of the Righteous Gentile

Moschiach Online: Rogalsky, The Path of the Righteous Gentile

Path of the Righteous Gentile

The Path of the Rghteous Gentile


Post a Comment

<< Home