Weekly Portion: Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)

This week’s Torah reading is an architect’s or interior designer’s dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to donate the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.

The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

“They shall make a Sanctuary for Me — so that I may dwell amongst them” (Ex. 25:8).

The Shelah HaKodesh says that this verse can also be translated as, “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, and I will dwellwithin them” — within each individual. Every person should make himself into a Sanctuary wherein the Divine Presence can rest. How does one do that?

When Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk first came to Rabbi Simchah Bunim of P’shis’che, the latter asked, “Young man, where can one find God?’ Rabbi Mendel answered, “God is everywhere.” Not satisfied, Rabbi Simcha Bunim again asked, “Young man, where can one find God?” Rabbi Mendel answered, “His glory fills the entire universe.” Still not satisfied, for a third time Rabbi Simcha Bunim asked, “Young man, where can one find God?”

Rabbi Mendel responded, “If my answers do not satisfy you, then please tell me.” Rabbi Simcha Bunim replied, “God can be found wherever one permits Him to enter.” The Torah says that we must behave in a manner that does not cause God to turn away from us (Deuteronomy 23:15).

The Talmud says that God shuns a person who is vain and arrogant. “I cannot dwell together with him” (Talmud Bavli, Arachin 15b). “I abide in exaltedness and holiness — but am with the contrite and lowly of spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).

A recovered alcoholic said, “When I stopped drinking, I felt a terrible void within me. That was the space where God belonged. How foolish of me to have tried to fill that space with alcohol!” People who do not drink may try to fill that space with money, power, honor or any one of a variety of pleasures. We must make that space available so that God can enter it!


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