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Parshah Terumah - A Sanctuary?

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

February 19-25, 2023 Exodus 25:1-27:19

A Portion of the Torah Portion of this Week:

The name of the Parshah, "Terumah," means "Offering" and it is found in Exodus 25:2. The people of Israel are called upon to contribute thirteen materials—gold, silver and copper; blue-, purple- and red-dyed wool; flax, goat hair, animal skins, wood, olive oil, spices and gems—out of which, G‑d says to Moses, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell amidst them.”

For Noahides

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

They shall make Me a sanctuary from these materials; when they do so they must specifically intend thereby to infuse holiness into these materials.The purpose of the sanctuary is so that I may dwell in their midst.

On Mount Sinai, HaShem gave the Torah, the 613 Mitzvot for the Jews and the 7 Mitzvot for Noahides. This stemmed from His Chesed, a gift to the world to enable a relationship with Him and to create a healthy and habitable society. So let's say "thank You", do the mitzvot, and live a good life. Why must a Tabernacle be built and specific materials be provided?

Why a Sanctuary?

Giving the Torah does not automatically mean that the world had become a perfect place for HaShem to dwell in. Yes, the whole world was impressed, no bird made a sound, no cow bellowed, no lion roared...but the world had not been automatically turned into a perfect world by the giving of Torah. The building of the sanctuary shows that people must become actively involved in order to achieve that perfect world. They have to roll up their sleeves and they have to use specific materials.

Why Specific Materials?

Each person gives what his heart tells him. This shows that it is voluntary, no one is forced to work for a better world. But also that everyone can and may give that which he is capable of. The Tanach names concrete physical materials, which shows that everything in the world can be used for a sacred task, making mundane objects sacred objects. What is true of objects is also true of capacities. Every person has his own capacities by using his capacities for a sacred purpose. As a result, thoughts become sacred thoughts, actions become sacred actions. Whereby it does not matter what a person does. One person is good with people, another is good with his head and can perform difficult thought processes, yet another is good with his hands and perform many practical tasks. When everyone contributes their "material" a sanctuary is created in which HaShem can dwell, and the world becomes a dwelling place for Him. Everyone can do their part, give something, give chesed. For the world is founded on chesed.

Why does HaShem need a Dwelling Place?

But why does HaShem need a dwelling place, He is everywhere. It is not so much that HaShem needs a place, but that we need a physical dwelling place for Him. He is everywhere, but we are not yet able to see Him everywhere, because in our world His presence has not yet been fully revealed. Anyone who has been allowed to stand at the Western Wall to pray knows from experience that HaShem is more easily felt there than in any other place. How wonderful it must have been to stand at the Temple, to be able to worship Him there, and blessed we will be when we will soon be able to go up again to Tsion, to the Third Temple.

In You!

so that I may dwell in their midst.

In their midst, in their hearts. In your heart is where He wants to dwell. When we serve Him with our hearts (with both tendencies), with all our actions and all our words, when we try to use everything to serve Him we make our hearts a Sanctuary.

For that we can use all materials. A kind word to the neighbor will make the world a better place. Doing your job because you know that is a place where you will meet people you can bring into contact with HaShem will make the world a better place. Doing the dishes because your wife is happy there

It will be a place where He can reveal Himself more and more, it will be a place where you can meet Him and where you learn to strengthen your bond, your faith and your trust in Him.

When your heart is a dwelling place for HaShem, the world will become a dwelling place for Him and we will soon have the Third Temple in our midst. And the World will be full of His Knowledge, like the waters covers the seas.


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the website. She contributes for the admin of the website in English and Dutch. She teaches Hebrew to beginners and intermediate students at the Academy.

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