Parshat Terumah


First Portion

• The Jew of today goes to Synagogue daily; some go weekly; there are those who go less frequent. In essence, we are practicing what the Torah describes ‘And I (G-d) will dwell among them’ the question is asked why does it say ‘them’? it should say ‘dwell among it ‘; the subject is the sanctuary, the one central Temple. However, the spirituality of the sanctuary has been transmitted to every local synagogue and study hall where optimally the Mikdash brings a man so close to G-d, all feel Him within them, where G-d approaches each being according to what he can endure. Although our great nation is part and parcel with each other and we all follow the same central laws; however communicating with G-d is also very personal.

• When one is considering moving to a new neighborhood, one of the first and foremost items on his list are that he should seek is a temple of his liking.

• It is odd that G-d instructed us to make a sanctuary and limit the spirituality and to confine G-d to a concrete area, the Mishkan. It sounds like a contradiction to the essence of Judaic belief of G-d, which is, G-d is everywhere. However, it became essential because man needs that central figure to reinforce the strong commitment to G-d. Unfortunately the lack of temple added to the temptation that caused the Israelites to sin at the golden calf incident. For this reason, now we can answer why the sequence of events is in question because apparently the sin of the golden calf was brought before the building of the Mishkan, and here the parshiot are lined up the opposite. As we know, the Mishkan was enacted because of the sin of the golden calf. Rav Zalman Zorotzkin suggests perhaps we see a pattern how G-d runs the world; He never gives the diseases before the cure.

• Mikdash – according to Maimonides and other commentaries – means ‘house of appointment. The main purpose is to prepare oneself for tomorrow.

• Every person volunteered something that was from thirteen raw materials that was found in the Mikdash.

• The Aron (Arc) was the most essential part of the Mishkan and therefore discussed first. Apparently, it was constructed before the Mishkan itself.

Second Portion

• The Keruvim were the most intriguing part of the Mishkan. They were set on top of the Aron. The two Keruvim were baby-faced and had wings. If at times, the Israelites’ prayers were accepted, the Keruvim would embrace each other, and at times when the prayers were not accepted, they would turn away from each other. Their wings thrust upward signifying that man should always aspire for spiritual heights.

• Atzai Sheetim/cedar wood was the wood used for the Mishkan. Why did G-d prefer the wood of the Sheetim above all other kinds of cedar? The Sheetim were picked since it bears no fruit. G-d wanted to set an example for people who build a house. They should reason that if G-d constructed His Mishkan from the wood of a barren tree, we certainly should not use the wood of a fruit tree for this purpose. (One should note it is not permissible to cut down a fruit tree.)

Third Portion

The menorah had seven lamps, which corresponded to the constellation of the seven stars. The seven stars represent the course of all natural events in the universe. The flames, which were lit with the purest of olive oil, symbolize the illumination of the intellect, and will rise above the mundane nature of the world. The center flame represents Shabbat, and the other six flames; three before and three after represent the days of the week, which get all their power and resources from Shabbat. The Shabbat represents time, and the Mishkan represents the place where G-d brings down spirituality.

Fourth Portion

There is a tremendous emphasis on wood in the Mishkan. The Temple represents peace and all the components that go with it. Our Father, Abraham, received guests, the three Angels, under difficult circumstances. The kindness which he performed by serving them under a tree; this is the kind of tree that is represented in the Mishkan. Later, Our father, Yaacov instructed his children to plant these trees in Egypt, knowing they will not find trees in the desert, where they would take the cedar wood with them.

Fifth Portion

• The Shulchan (table) was the medium through which the blessing of nourishment flowed to the entire world. G-d therefore commanded it should never be empty since His blessing rests on substantial matters. This was hinted by Elisha the prophet who told an improvised woman that she must have something in the house upon which G-d’s blessing could rest. It’s also important to note never to say that the bracha is finished; one should conclude ‘the bracha is plenty’.

• Some communities have a tradition to place the twelve breads that were presented in the Mishkan, and place them to say the bracha ‘Hamotzi’ at their Shabbat table.

Sixth Portion

The Altar is where the sacrifices take place. Many miracles were performed in the Mishkan. It’s fascinating how a fire from the heavens comes down and consumes the sacrifice in which the individual brings; that signifies that it has been accepted. Imagine, I can’t help but think how that’s a very significant way to get close to G-d.

Seventh Portion

If one notices there is no metal or steel in the temple, that is because metal symbolizes war and the Mishkan represents peace. There are communities that remove the knives from the Shabbat table meal before birkat hamazon because the Shabbat table represents the Mizbeach, and believe it or not, is a great way to get close to G-d.

Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon