TERUMAH (Exodus, 25:1-27:19) — “Welcoming G-d”

This week’s Torah reading discusses the collections for the construction of the Mishkan. This portable Tabernacle served as the Temple in the desert and in Israel until King Solomon built the “permanent” one in Jerusalem. 

The first in a long and distinguished line of rabbinic fund-raisers, Moses put the word out that he would be accepting donations.  He requested “gold, silver, copper, sky-blue wool, dark red wool, wool died with crimson worm, linen, goat’s wool, reddened ram’s skins, blue-processed skins, acacia wood, oil for the lamp, spices for the anointing oil, and sardonyxes and other precious stones…They will make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in them.” Exodus, 25:3-8) 

I will dwell IN THEM.”  It would seem more logical to write, “They will make for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell IN IT”.  In fact, we are told that G-d “limited” His presence, and somehow made the Mishkan, and later, the Temple, and today, the Temple Mount as a special place where the Shechina, G-d’s Divine Presence, rests. 

However, perhaps of greater significance, is the fact that by making a building for G-d, we are inviting Him to dwell IN US.

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Allow me to share with you the comments I made at a funeral several years ago. 

I used to be the rabbi of a small synagogue in Kingston, New York.  Although the Shul was orthodox in affiliation and practice, a very small percentage of our members were actually orthodox.  One of our members once asked me to buy him some Tzitzis in New York.  Tzitzis are the fringes that are worn on a four-cornered garment, such as a Tallis that is worn in Shul.  (See Numbers, 15:37-41 and “Fringe Benefits”.) In addition to the Mitzvah of wearing the large Tallis during Morning Services, there is also a Mitzvah to wear a smaller Tallis throughout the day.  (Most people wear this garment beneath the shirt, although some Chassidim wear it over the shirt.) 

At this gentleman’s funeral, I mentioned his pride in this particular Mitzvah.  Many people, I said, pray to G-d in the morning, and then put away their Tallis and say good-by to Him for the rest of the day.  By wearing this small Tallis throughout the day, we take G-d with us to work and to life. 

This is the message of “they will make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in THEM.”  Of what value is a Shul, beautifully decorated with expensive wood and precious stones, if that is the place where we tell G-d to hide?  After we come to G-d’s house to pray, we must take Him with us when we leave. When we go about our daily lives, at work, at the dinner table, and in the gym, we must always remember that wherever we go we are in G-d’s house, as long as we are willing to invite Him in.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

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From the Archives 

“Go for the Gold!” (2010) 

…When I perform a Bris, I usually don’t stay for the celebratory meal.  I give the mother instructions on care of the baby, check him to make sure everything is stable, wish them Mazel Tov, and go on my way.  This week, I made an exception…

Read more.

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“Better than Nothing?” (2006) 

… If you can’t do something perfectly, you do the best you can.  No Passover Offering?  O.K., maybe next year.  Meanwhile, do something else in memory of that Mitzvah.  It’s better than nothing… 

Shortly before the First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the Ark, containing the Ten Commandments, was hidden away in a secret cavern beneath the Temple.  It has never (yet) been located. 

One wonders why there was no Ark in the Second Temple.  The Torah describes how it was to be made.  There was certainly plenty of wood and gold available to the builders of the Second Temple.  Couldn’t they just build a new Ark?… 

Read more.

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“Budget Busters” (2005) 

…  I find it hard to understand how anyone can spend many tens of thousands of dollars more than necessary for a luxury vehicle.  The purpose of a car is to get you safely and comfortably from Point A to Point B.  For that, you need four good tires, a well-tuned engine, a working heater/air conditioner, and a few accessories to hold it all together.  Of course, one doesn’t want to drive around in a rusty old clunker with a bumper hanging down and a muffler that doesn’t muffle.  But does it make sense to buy a car whose sticker price rivals the gross domestic product of a Third World nation?  …

We need to learn to spend our money in moderation. There is nothing wrong with living comfortably.  But it is essential that we learn the difference between comfort and waste. 

Everything I said above gets thrown out the window when you read this week’s Torah Portion… 

Read more.

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“Getting Along With Your In-Laws” (2004) 

… It was a fairy-tale marriage.  She was his Cinderella and he was her Prince Charming.  He loved her with all his heart, and the feeling was mutual. 

“Prince Charming” was a welcome addition to the family.  Cinderella’s father loved him like a son.  They went fishing together.  His father-in-law took him into the family business.  He rapidly advanced through the ranks of the company, soon becoming a vice-president.  All was right with the world. 

Then he met “her.”  Prince Charming found another Cinderella.  She was, he felt, more “his type.”  She was younger and prettier… 

Read more.

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“Broken Promises, Broken Tablets, and Broken Hearts” (2003) 

…a Torah scholar who forgets his learning should still be respected.  Stones that once contained G-d’s Commandments retain their sanctity even after their destruction.  A person who dedicated his life to acquiring wisdom of G-d’s Law retains his dignity even after that wisdom has left him. 

The same can be said of any human being.  A human is, when all is said and done, a mammal comprising several dollars worth of minerals.  However, a human is, of course, so much more … 

Read more.

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“Heavy Metal” (2002) 

…This gold-coated “wooden” Ark was actually a system of three successively smaller boxes.  The inner and outer boxes were made of gold, while the middle one was wooden.  The three boxes fit inside each other like little Russian dolls. 

The end result was a box that was golden on the inside and outside.  The Talmud (Yoma 72b) compares this movable “Torah container” to another “moving Torah container” — a Torah scholar.  Just as the Ark was golden on the inside and outside, so too must a scholar (and everyone else!) be impeccably honest; what you see on the outside is what you get on the inside. 

Why, then, is the Ark made of wood?  If the Ark should be the same, inside and out, why not make the ENTIRE container out of gold, solid through and through?… 

Read more.

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“Welcoming G-D” (2001) 

…The first in a long and distinguished line of rabbinic fund-raisers, Moses put the word out that he would be accepting donations.  He requested “gold, silver, copper, sky-blue wool, dark red wool, wool died with crimson worm, linen, goat’s wool, reddened ram’s skins, blue-processed skins, acacia wood, oil for the lamp, spices for the anointing oil, and sardonyxes and other precious stones…They will make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in them.” Exodus, 25:3-8) 

“I will dwell IN THEM.”  It would seem more logical to write, “They will make for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell IN IT”.  In fact, we are told that G-d “limited” His presence, and somehow made the Mishkan, and later, the Temple, and today, the Temple Mount as a special place where the Shechina, G-d’s Divine Presence, rests. 

However, perhaps of greater significance, is the fact that by making a building for G-d, we are inviting Him to dwell IN US… 

Read more.

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 This is the weekly message at www.torahtalk.org.   Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (www.Brisrabbi.com)  and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on March 1, 2001 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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