TERUMAH (Exodus, 25:1‑27:19) — “Getting Along With Your In-Laws”

Moses was commanded to build a sanctuary.  There was going to be a physical structure among the people of Israel that would be dedicated to G-d. 

They will make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus, 25:8) 

It is interesting that G-d, Who is totally spiritual, without physical form, would require a house in which to dwell.  How could G-d limit His greatness to be housed within four small walls?

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There is a beautiful Midrash that illustrates G-d’s love for his People and His Torah. 

A king’s only daughter got married.  The king adored his daughter, and was terribly torn to see her go.

“My daughter is an only child,” he told her new husband.  “I can’t bear to be separated from her.  But I can’t tell you not to take her.  After all, I have given her to you as a wife. 

“Therefore, I have a request.  Wherever you move, please build a small room, adjacent to your home.  That way, I can live next to you.”

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G-d gave His beloved Torah to Moses and the People of Israel.  He would not ask Israel not to take the Torah; He had already given it to them.  Therefore, he asked us to build Him a small Sanctuary, where He would be “near” His beloved Torah and His beloved People of Israel. 

They will make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” 

When our people traveled in the desert, we had a portable Tabernacle that was dismantled and reassembled each time we moved.  In Israel, we had a Temple (for a while.)  Today, our synagogues and even our homes serve as a place to house the Presence of G-d and His Torah.  By living a Torah lifestyle, we invite G-d to “move into” our homes, and bestow His blessings upon us and our families. 

For I have given you a precious gift; do not forsake My Torah. (Proverbs, 4:2)

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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.  She “understood” him better; she was more “relevant” and in tune to his needs.  (At least, so he thought.)  His marriage was destroyed.  He said good-by to his wife. 

The next day, he got in his car and drove to work.  Much to his shock, he found himself locked out of his own office.

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Our relationship with G-d is a two-way street.  If you want to keep G-d in your life, make sure you stay married to His Torah!

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) 

… Afikoman is actually an unfortunate surrogate for an important Mitzvah.   We eat this piece of Matzah to commemorate the Passover Offering, a roasted lamb that was eaten in Temple times…  Today, the Temple lies in ruins, and we are prevented from fulfilling this Commandment.  Nowadays, we eat the Afikoman in memory of that lamb. 

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 February 26, 2004 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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