Torah Portion: T’rumah (Contribution) Exodus 25-27
HafTorah: I Kings 5:26-6:13
Tonight we read and study G-d’s instructions for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Notice these are very exact instructions. The word approximate, is never used. Everything fits exactly together, every part was important. The mundane items were of equal importance as the more flashy or ornate. Questions arise from these verses. Where did all the material come from? Remember G-d told the people to plunder the Egyptians when they went out of Egypt. What was the purpose of this plundering? Was it to be a treasure for each person to hold on to or was it to be used for the Mishkan? I believe it was for this purpose of building the Mishkan but even here G-d only wanted those items that people were willing to give. I think wrapped up in this is an important lesson for us all. Did G-d really need a house – a holy place? Of course not. The building of the Mishkan was important because it gave the people an opportunity to give back to G-d. G-d was interested in dwelling in His people. This required an act on their part to have a heart that was ready for that indwelling. Having a gracious giving heart is an integral part of being ready. As soon as a people begin to see life as only an opportunity for taking they are not capable of seeing clearly that all they have is really only on loan from Him and not to be guarded so closely that we miss, or worse, are not interested in returning or giving back when we have the opportunity. The very word T’rumah means at its root to offer to life up. So here, when the people returned to G-d what He had given them with a willing heart are they united and lifted up. This is G-d’s point in this whole process. When they, the people, came to the Mishkan they were of one heart and mind. They were a part of its building. T’rumah can be much more than money. All we have comes form our Father, our talent, our wisdom, everything is to be used to serve the purpose of allowing G-d to indwell whatever or whoever we are.
Torah Portion: Vayigash (He Approached) Genesis 44:18-47:27
HafTorah: Ezekiel 37:15-28
Tonight we read of the meeting between Joseph and his brothers, where Joseph reveals his true identity to them. Remember it had been more than 20 years since the brothers sold him into slavery. I am always struck by the question, “How could they have done such a thing to their own brother?”
Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35-38
HafTorah: I Kings 7:13-26; 7:40-50
As we near the end of She’mot we read of Moses calling the people together soon after the sin of the golden calf. There are many interesting lessons for us in this Torah section. To begin with the name of this section should speak to us. In Hebrew there are several terms for a group of people. One is Edah – from which comes the noun witness. When this word is used it often refers to people who have witnessed the same thing. They have a common purpose. An Edah can be a gathering for good or bad. For example, when the people hear the report of the spies and lose heart (Numbers (B’Midbar) 14:27) or in Numbers 16:22 in the rebellion against Moses. The word emphasizes strong identity among the members.
Weekly Torah Section: Vayakhel (To assemble) Exodus 35:1-38:20 and Pekudei (To Take Account) Exodus 38:21-40:38, Haftorah: I Kings 7:40-8:21
As you can see we cover two Torah sections and two Haftorah sections this week. Rather than try to cover both I would like to talk about one from each. I want to start with the Haftorah from Pekudei. In I Kings 7:51-8:21 we read about the dedication of the Temple by King Solomon. There are many connections between this scripture and the Torah readings. One of the most striking is the cloud of G-d’s glory that filled both the first temple and the tabernacle. I want us to look at this in some depth. Before that, there are a couple of things we need to go over. Solomon, as confirmed in Acts 7:46-47, completed the temple of G-d in seven years and brought all the treasurers of his father David, into the temple.