Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Terumah - 5774

My friends,

In the Parasha of Terumah, which we read this Shabbat, G-d tells Moses to ask the people to donate from their hearts - gold, silver, brass, and various items - all together, 15 different materials that will be used to build a tabernacle - a sanctuary - so that G-d will dwell among the people.

Terumah is the first of almost 5 portions that deal with the Tabernacle. Professor Y. Leibovitz points out that the entire creation of the universe in the Book of Genesis only takes 34 verses, while the making of the Tabernacle takes up almost 400 verses. Why should a building that was no bigger than a large tent take so much space in the Torah?

Professor Leibovitz explains that the Torah, in the story of creation, does not wish to tell us the details of the structure of the Universe, but to teach us how to live and serve G-d within that universe. What we see is what we got. Learn to live with nature, as there is no other world. Building a home for G-d, however, is not so simple. If you want to bring G-d into your life, then you must follow the instructions that are given. You must adopt the values and teachings that would make your life one that recognizes G-d's presence - the Shechina - in all your activities. That is the purpose of doing and fulfilling Mitzvot.

The first instruction in the portion of Terumah basically says, here is your opportunity to be part of this great undertaking - building a tabernacle. Only the willing of the heart are asked to donate gold, silver, etc. The most important verse in the Parasha is, "They shall make me a Tabernacle, and I will dwell among them." It does not say, and I will dwell in 'it' (the tabernacle) but in 'them' - in the heart and soul of each person. That was the purpose of the tabernacle and that is the purpose of the synagogue today.

Take the spirituality with you in everything that you do.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram