Commentary on Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
God has just told Moses “to come to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, to receive God’s Commandments.” Moses goes up the mountain, and a cloud comes to cover it, hiding the mountain completely. On this mountain, within the presence of the Lord, Moses remained for forty days and nights.
God first instructs Moses how to fashion a Dwelling Place, a sanctuary for God’s presence.
“In this sanctuary,” God says, “the Israelites are to bring me gifts.”
The gifts can be of any kind from any person whose heart moves them in a giving way. In this sanctuary, there shall be oil for the light and spices for the sweet incense and anointing oil.
God continues, “And let the people make Me this sanctuary so that I may dwell among them. This is the pattern of how the Tabernacle and furniture is to be made.
“The Ark must be a precise blend of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay this Tabernacle with pure gold and golden rings and poles to carry the Ark. You shall make a cover of pure gold with two gold Cherubim on both ends of the cover.
“Into the ark, you shall you put the Testimony which I, the Lord, will give you. There I will meet with you at appointed times. I will speak with you from above the Cover, from between the two cherubim on the Ark of the Testimony.
“Make a table of acacia wood for the Ark and cover it with pure gold with a gold crown all around. Then adorn it with bowls, ladles, jars and jugs made of gold. Make also a pure gold menorah with six almond-blossom type branches and seven lamps to give light.
“In the Tabernacle, enclose the Dwelling Place with ten curtains of fine twined linen of blue, purple and scarlet. Make the tabernacle with wooden planks and silver rings and stakes of copper.”
Parashat Terumah: Discussion Questions
1) God instructs Moses how to make a sanctuary for God’s presence. Can you describe different kinds of sanctuaries that are filled with God’s presence?
2) Why is God so precise on the details of constructing the sanctuary and ark and tabernacle? What difference does it make what these look like and how they are made?
3) Describe the most spiritual sanctuary you have visited. What made that sanctuary the most spiritual for you?
4) In the sanctuary, God requests gift offerings of any kind from any person whose heart moves them in a giving way. What kind of gift offerings do you bring God from your heart?
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!
Pronounced: ark, Origin: English, the place in the synagogue where the Torah scrolls are stored, also known as the aron kodesh, or holy cabinet.
Pronounced: muh-NOHR-uh, Origin: Hebrew, a lamp or candelabra, often used to refer to the Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah.