1.Before we get to the Torah portion I would like your thoughts on what was the purpose of the Exodus? Was it to just get out of Egypt and to Israel?  

No, like our walk, it was more than that. We are not saved just to get out of “Egypt.” 

One of the main points was to show the people how to serve G-d. Up until this building project G-d had done everything for the people. 

We saw them complain over and over about the food, lack of water, bitterness of water, on and on. In each crisis G-d supplied their needs by miraculous means. However this required nothing from them and they were like children whose parent met all their needs. They were ungrateful and complained constantly.

So here in our Torah section the people are called on to be part of the building of the Mishkan. Interestingly there was no complaining during the building. In Exodus/Shemot 36:5 Moses finally had to tell them they had brought enough.

The purpose of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was not that G-d needed these places, but that man needed them.

2.Why did G-d command the building of a Mishkan? Is there any symbolism in where it was built or the materials used? 

In Exodus 25:8 we read so that He could dwell in them (not with them).  In I Cor. 3:16 we read where we are the Temple of G-d, the Temple being patterned after the Miskan.

What does it mean to us that our bodies are the temple of G-d?  First of all, the presence of G-d dwells within us just as G-d said in Ex. 25:8.  Knowing that whatever we do wherever we go, we carry the Miskan with us just as it was carried with Israel wherever they went. Knowing this in our spirit has to change what we do, what we think on and how we treat people.

Where did the people build this Miskan?  It was built in a dry and lifeless desert. It was sandy and barren.                                       Before G-d fills us with the indwelling of His Spirit we are mostly like this. When we come to faith we usually come from a background that is dry, lifeless, barren and sandy. What difference does this indwelling make in our lives? G-d brings life.  We find water where before we were thirsty. We find spiritual food where before we were hungry. Our desert post becomes infused with life, spiritual life.

The materials used in the Mishkan can give us clues on this transformation.  What was special about the wood used?   It was acacia wood, wood that could survive in the harsh desert.                                              It’s roots could find every drop of water and its wood did not rot.  The sap that flowed through it protected it and nurtured it. Do you see a spiritual picture here? G-d was encouraging the people by the material He chose. They could be His Mishkan. He would watch over them and nurture them each day and they would flourish in the desert. So He says the same to us. We are precious in His sight. Only the best goes in to constructing our Mishkan. Only the river of living water could quench our spiritual thirst.

3.Why did G-d ask the people to bring gifts, Terumah, for the sanctuary?

God said to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to take for Me a contribution. You are to receive the contribution for Me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give” Ex. 25:2 

There is a life-transforming secret in the name of the parsha, Terumah. It means “a contribution.” It actually has a meaning for which there is no simple English equivalent. It means “something you lift up” by dedicating it to a sacred cause. You lift it up, then it lifts you up. 

The best way of encountering God is to give. The very act of giving flows from, or leads to, the understanding that what we give is part of what we were given. It is a way of giving thanks, an act of gratitude.

That is how God came to be close to the Israelites through the building of the sanctuary.  It wasn’t the quality of the wood and metals and drapes.  It wasn’t the glitter of jewels on the breastplate of the high priest.   It wasn’t the beauty of the architecture or the smell of the sacrifices. It was the fact that it was built out of the gifts of “everyone whose heart prompts them to give” (Ex. 25:2). 

Where people give voluntarily to one another and to holy causes, that is where the Divine Presence rests.

So we have the special word that gives its name to this parsha: Terumah. The best way of scaling the spiritual heights is simply to give in gratitude for the fact that you have been given.

God doesn’t live in a house of stone. He lives in the hearts of those who give.

4.In Exodus 25:8 it says, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”  The word sanctuary in Hebrew is Mikdash. The root of this word is holy. The word dwell in Hebrew is mishkan. The root of the word mishkan is also used for a neighbor or neighborhood.   What did these two words tell the children of Israel? What picture does that give us of this place being built for G-d’s presence?  How do we as believers experience these two aspects of G-d?

This was the first Israelite house of worship, the first home Jews made for G-d.  In the past G-d spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah intimately, like a friend. He told Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child. He explained to Rebecca why she was suffering such acute pain in pregnancy. He appeared to Jacob at key moments in his life telling him not to be afraid.

Up until now the children of Israel preferred Moses speaking to G-d for them. But now He was going to make Himself available in an intimate way. As I said, Shachen in Hebrew means a neighbor, the person who lives next door.   What the Israelites needed and what G-d gave them was a way of feeling as close to G-d as to our next-door neighbor.

For us as believers, balancing these two aspects of G-d is delicate. G-d dwells within us and is always available to us. When we need Him we can call on Him.  But He is not Santa Claus. We must never forget His holiness. He spoke the universe into being with a word.

5.Do you see any difference in the building of the Mishkan and the building of the Temple that was built by King Solomon. Was there any significance in that difference?

King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel – thirty thousand men.  He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor.    I Kings 5:27-30 says Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills,    as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen. 

So they (the people) sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”  I Kings 12:3-4

The elders who had been Solomon’s advisors told Rehoboam to do what the people requested: “If today you will be a servant to this people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants” (I Kings 12: 7).

Rehoboam, influenced by his own young, impetuous advisors, ignored their advice. He told the people he would increase, not reduce, the burden. From then on his fate was sealed.

Solomon was Israel’s wisest king. The nation stood at the apex of its power and prosperity. Momentarily, it was at peace. The king was engaged in the holiest of tasks, the one that brought the exodus narrative to completion. But this peace did not last. Why? 

Because Solomon in effect turned the Israelites into a conscripted labor force: the very thing they had left Egypt to avoid. On the surface, the text tells another story. Solomon fell from grace because his foreign wives led him astray into idolatry (I Kings 11: 4). Yet it was not this that led to the rebellion of the people.

There is a profound statement here.  G-d desires the free worship of free human beings.  It was not an accident that the first house of G-d – small, fragile, portable, the opposite of the grandeur of the Temple – was built by free, uncoerced, voluntary contributions. 

G-d does not live in houses of wood and stone, but in minds and souls of free human beings. He is to be found not in monumental architecture, but in the willing heart.

Article: The Tearing of the Veil from FFOZ

Bible teachers usually interpret the tearing of the Temple veil as a sign of God’s displeasure with the people and the Temple, but Jewish tradition points to another meaning.

Rending of the Veil, by William Bell Scott, 1869 (Image: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain/Gallerix.org)  You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies. (Exodus 26:33)

G-d commanded that a veil should be made to separate the holy of holies from the holy place. According to the Gospels, the veil tore into two pieces when Yeshua breathed His last upon the cross: “And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38).

Bible teachers usually interpret the tearing of the Temple veil as a sign of G-d’s displeasure with the people and the Temple, but according to Hebrews 10:19–20, the veil symbolizes the Messiah’s body. He is the veil. As the life was rent from His body, the curtain was rent that we might have access to the throne of glory in the supernal Temple through Him. This is not the same as abrogating the Temple worship system. Rather, the rending of the veil vividly dramatized what the death of Messiah accomplished for us: access to G-d through the Messiah’s suffering.

Embroidered upon the veil were two cherubim. The cherubim invoke the imagery of the Garden of Eden and the way to the tree of life, as it says in Genesis 3:24, “And at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” The cherubim on the veil stood sentry in front of the holy of holies like the two cherubim that guard the way to the tree of life (immortality) and the Garden of Eden (paradise). As the curtain was rent into two pieces, the tear created a path between the two cherubim, symbolizing the way back to Eden.

David Daube interprets the tearing of the veil as an expression of G-d’s sorrow. Rending garments is a Jewish mourning rite. When Elisha saw his teacher Elijah depart, he “took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces” (2 Kings 2:12). Some manuscripts of Mark 15:38 make an allusion to 2 Kings 2:12 explicit by reading, “the veil of the temple was torn in two pieces.”

The sages commented on the story of Elisha rending his garments and enumerated several tragedies for which one should rend his garments into two pieces and leave them forever after un-mended. They include the death of one’s father or mother, the death of one’s teacher, the burning of a Torah scroll, and the destruction of the Temple or Jerusalem.

The Talmud also states that if one witnesses someone “breathe his last,” he must rend his garments: Rabbi Shimon ben Eleazar says, “One who stands near the dying, at the time when he breathes his last, he is duty bound to rend his garments.” (b.Bava Metzia 25a)

The Gospel of Mark delivers the same sequence in the same type of language: “He breathed His last, and the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37–38). The Temple curtain can be likened to the garment of G-d: