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February 25, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Terumah

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Terumah is taken from Exodus 25:1-27:19. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he analyzes the details involving the building of the Tabernacle, what the significance and impact this project had on the people of Israel, and how it applies to us as well!


Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:


Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Terumah - Exodus 25:1-27:19


The upcoming sequence of the parashahs, the next five is puzzling in many ways. It outlines the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable house of worship that was built and carried with them through the wilderness. The narratives are given in exhaustive and exhausting detail and in fact almost the whole of the last third of the book of Exodus is its focus. Why so long? Why such detail? After all it is just a temporary home for the Divine Presence. Why are these details in the Book of Exodus and not in Leviticus, which is overwhelmingly devoted to the account of the service of the Mishkan and sacrifices that were offered.


The Book of Exodus could be subtitled “birth of a nation.” It is about transition of the Israelites from a family to a people and their journey from slavery to freedom. Its climax is the covenant between Elohim and the people at Mount Sinai. What does the Tabernacle have to do with this? When we view a short history of His people, we see they are a people of a long series of complaints. They complained when Moses first appeared on the scene, the Red Sea experience, lack of water, food, and water again. Elohim brought miracle after miracle and if this unprecedented sequence of miracles cannot bring about a mature response on the part of the people—what will?


It is at this time Elohim said, “Let them build something together.” The building of the Tabernacle transformed the Israelites. Via contributing gold, silver, bronze, skins, drapes, time, and skill…so much so that Moses had to order them to stop. Please stop and reflect on what I am about say, “It is not what Elohim does for us that transforms us. It is what we do for Elohim.”


As long as every crisis was dealt with by Moses and miracles, the Israelites remained in a state of dependency and their default response was complaint. In order to grow into adulthood and responsibility there had to be a “transition” from passive recipients of Elohim’s blessings to active creators. The people had to become Elohim’s “partners in the work of creation.” In fact, the sages say, “Call them not your children, but your builders.” People have to become builders if they are to grow from childhood to adulthood. Biblical Judaism, the Torah or walking it out is Elohim’s call to responsibility!


Elohim does not want us to just rely on miracles, or be dependent on others but wants us to become His partner. We must recognize that what we have, we have from Him but what we make of what we have is up to us. Our choices and our effort! This is not always an easy balance. It is simpler to live a life of dependency. It is equally as easy in the opposite direction to slip into the mistake of saying, “My power and the strength of my hands have placed this wealth for me” (Deut. 8:17).


There is a Jewish view of human condition which is everything we achieve is due to our efforts, but equally and essentially the result of Elohim’s blessing. The building of the Tabernacle was the first great building project the Israelites undertook together. It involved their generosity and skill. It gave them the chance to give back to Elohim a little of what was given to them. It conferred on them the dignity of labor and creative endeavor. It brought forth a birth of a nation and a future. They were creating a society in which everyone would play their part…it was to become “the house they built together.”


However, this creates one of the biggest challenges; to give the people the chance to give, to contribute and to participate, this requires self-restraint (tzimtzum) creating the space for others to lead. Look at Moses when he went up the mountain: When a central power-even Elohim Himself- does everything on behalf of the people, they remain in a state of “arrested development.” They complain instead of acting. They give way to despair in the absence of their leader. They end up doing foolish things like creating a golden calf.


We have to be a people of co-architects of our own destiny. We must build something together. We must be a team. We are not helpless but responsible and capable of collaborative action. Genesis begins with Elohim creating the universe as a home for human beings. Exodus ends with human beings creating the Mishkan, as a “home” for Elohim. Therefore, we are called on to become co-creators with Elohim. This means leaders cannot do the work on behalf of the people. As leaders, we are to teach the people how to do the work themselves. Remember, it is not what Elohim does for us but what we do for Elohim that allows us to reach dignity and responsibility.


The Tabernacle was not simply a big Kehillah or synagogue but a dwelling place of Elohim on earth. It housed the Presence! Exodus 25:9 says, “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the Tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” Kehillahs and synagogues are descendants of the Tabernacle and is modeled after the original. Though we can feel the Presence of Elohim… in the Tabernacle Elohim was present in a far more concrete and absolute way. It wasn’t a matter of feelings of spiritual intensity; it was a matter of fact. Elohim lived in that place!


Ezekiel lived in the days of the Babylonian destruction of the Temple and he saw Elohim’s people scattered among the nations. He saw a future Temple in Jerusalem where Elohim’s presence would return. Until then, He prophesied that Elohim would dwell among His people as a “little sanctuary” in their midst (Ez. 11:16). The term “little sanctuary” in Judaism is understood to refer to synagogues, homes, prayer services, worship, and the Sabbath table. Every place where Elohim’s people gather to worship Him—Elohim is present as a “little sanctuary.”


Today we are tasting the presence of Elohim. We are co-laborers together. Exodus 25:2 says, “From every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” A true giver is not motivated by the return. A generous person gives because their heart desires to give- He wants to further the Kingdom. A true giver wants to honor His Father by giving back from the resources bestowed upon him. A true giver doesn’t think of his money or resources as belonging to him. A true giver understands that all belongs to Elohim. So, when a true giver gives, they feel no regret! A person co-laboring, who gives to the work of the Kingdom should do so willingly and gladly. Paul summed it up in II Cor. 9:6,7, saying “Here’s the point; he who plants sparingly also harvest sparingly, each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for Elohim loves a cheerful giver.”


Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,


Join us every Wednesday night at 7 pm for Bible study and every Saturday at 11 am for Sabbath service.


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Let us gather this week in the “little sanctuary” and give Elohim the praise and worship due His name. He is worthy! Be a giver…give everything to our Creator…He is worthy… yes indeed!


Shalom Aleichem

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