Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Terumah - 5776

My friends,

In this week's Parasha, Terumah (donation), we begin instructions for the building of a sanctuary. This project will involve all the Israelites, who are asked to give a Terumah (donation) of all kinds of materials that will be used in the construction of this sanctuary. The instructions and the making of the Tabernacle and all its contents will be covered in this Parasha and the next four portions. This portable temple will be built with the donations of various materials including: gold, silver, brass, wood, and all kinds of fabrics that will donated by those whose heart moves them to participate in the campaign.

Why is this Mishkan necessary? Why don't they wait till they get to the Promised Land before building a Temple?

In the last few portions (Yitro and Mishpatim) the Israelites were by Mount Sinai where they were given the Torah and the various laws. As they move away from this holy mountain, from the spiritual influence they experienced at Mount Sinai, they will have a Tabernacle that will travel with them and be at the center of their encampment. This will become the most sacred place in the camp, because in this Tabernacle there will be an Ark containing the Ten Commandments, the Menorah, an altar and other items that will be used in serving G-d.

The first verse of this Parasha explains the real purpose of this Mishkan - Tabernacle. When the Tabernacle is completed, G-d will dwell among them, signifying a continuation of Mount Sinai into their lives, wherever they may be.

Where is the Mishkan today? What is the most sacred place in our lives? One might answer, the remnant of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, or the synagogue. Yes, all these places are sacred. But the most sacred place, probably, has been the Jewish home, where Jewish life and Jewish practices can be found. The weekly observance of the Shabbat, the family Seder, the Mezuzah on the door, the recitation of blessings at the table and the inclusion of sanctity in our home, makes it a Temple that dwells in our midst.

The Tabernacle, the Temple in Jerusalem, no longer exists, but the inner temple that is in every home is the most important, if you make your home a temple. G-d said: "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst." (Exodus 25:8). Note that it does not say "that I may dwell in it" but "in their midst". That is the sanctuary that is in every home.

Make your home a Mishkan, especially on Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram