The House We Dwell In

Posted on February 4, 2022 by Harold Levin

Terumah is found in the Book of Exodus and follows Parsha Mishaptim, where we learned about laws as well as the Special Shabbat Shekalim where a census was taken. Now that we had laws to abide by and a good idea of how many people there were, it was time to turn to fund raising and collect what was needed to build the temple.

The parsha begins with an extraordinarily detailed list of everything to be gathered and included in the temple. It made me think a bit of the campaigns we have held at Temple Beth-El to create additions to our building when many of us were tasked with sitting down with members of our community to explain what was needed to build and enrich our temple. Of course, none of us requested donations of tanned ram skins, acacia wood, lapis lazuli, and goat’s hair to name a few. What we accomplished was to make a bigger and better space where God could dwell upon us as God instructed to Moses in Chapter 25, verse 9: And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.

In the ensuing verses, God took on the roles of architect and general contractor and gave Moses extremely detailed instructions such as exactly how the arch should be built, how many cubits of gold to use, how long the poles should be, how to attach them and so on. There were no do-it-yourself cable channels, YouTube tutorials, or websites to learn from so God spelled it all out for Moses. Once the ark was to be completed, God informed Moses in verse 22: There I will meet with you, and I will impart to you – from above the cover, from between the two cherubim that are on the top of the Pact –all that I will command you concerning the Israelite people.

Speaking only for myself, though I suspect I am not alone on this thought, every time I walk into our sanctuary, or any synagogue sanctuary for that matter, I feel something that I do not anywhere else. Whether here for Shabbat services, a holiday or festival, to hear a guest speaker, listen to a concert, stand in the back and watch our religious students joyfully participate in a program of learning, or simply walking in through the doors to make sure the bimah is prepared for services or the lights are set properly for an upcoming program; I feel a strong sense of being in the presence of God.

There is much more to discuss about Parsha Terumah and how it impacts us as Jews todays. Please join us tomorrow morning for Shabbat minyan and torah study where we will take a deeper, interactive look at this week’s parsha. You do not have to be a Torah study ‘regular’ as everyone is encouraged to study with

Shabbat shalom,

Harold Levin

Guest Darshan