Torah Portion: Terumah (Offering) Exodus 25-27

HafTorah: I Kings 5:26-6:13

Tonight we look at the Torah section named Terumah. This section gives great detail to the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Apparently this detail is extremely important in that it takes up many chapters in Torah while all of creation is wrapped up in Genesis 1-2. I would like to look at the part of this portion that deals with the building of the Mishkan and how it may speak to us spiritually. However, first I want to say a few words about the Exodus’ purpose and how we can draw a spiritual lession for our lives.

First, 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 its mian 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 see them complain over and over about the food, lack of water, bitterness of water, on and on. In each of these G-d supplies their needs by miraculous means. However this never required anything from them and they were like children whose parent met all their needs.

However, here in the building of the Mishkan the people are called up to be part of the process. They are to contribute with an offering and with their own sweat and labor. Then G-d could dwell within them truly. Remind you of anything? When we come to faith it is a wonderful experience. G-d saves us, helps us, and the thrill is tangible to us. What happens as time goes on? Life happens and we find the milk we drank as a baby is not enough for life and its challenges. Hebrews 5:12 gives us a great picture to illustrate this. We as G-d’s children are called on to grow in our faith, to be an active partner with Him. What is the Hebrew word for worship? “Avoda” which literally means work. Our faith calls on us to be active in being a part of what G-d is doing here in this world. We miss out if we continue to drink only milk. 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, as we see 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. In Exodus 25:8 we read where G-d tells Moses to have the people build Him a sanctuary that He may dwell among them. The words “among them” in Hebrew is more correctly translated, “in them.” G-d desired to live in His people. He still desires that. He wants to live in us. As He lives in us we are to work for Him/ worship Him. We are called upon to give up milk and mature in the faith. Such is the need for a Mishkan, a temple in us, one that like the one here in Exodus, is portable. Notice the poles used to transport the ark were never removed even when it reached its final destination the Temple in Jerusalem. G-d’s word is never to be looked at as stagnate but as ready to be used, always ready, we are to be always ready. Our lives are to be this holy space that does G-d’s will each day. So as we read this Torah section we are to look at it as it applies to our lives. We are a holy people who serve a Holy G-d. As here in this Mishkan we are called to live our lives with a sense of holiness. We are to build that place where G-d can dwell. This place is in our heart.

Finally think about the similarity between the Mishkan and the Garden of Eden. In both G-d’s presence met man. They walked together. In both places cherubs played a part. In the Garden they guarded the path to the garden in which grew the Tree of Life. Here they sit above G-d’s Word, no longer denying entry. They give us access to life everlasting. No accident that they are portrayed as children. This was the only image permitted in the Mishkan. Maybe this is to show us the importance of bringing our children up from the beginning connected to the Word of G-d. Here in Exodus the cherubs and the lid of the Ark were from one solid piece of gold. They were not added later but from the start they were there connected to G-d’s Word. So it should be with our children.