“Tell the sons of Israel to take to me a Terumah”
(a tribute, a present, literally, something uplifting)
This week’s Parasha talks of the materials and components donated to build the Sanctuary in the Desert.
ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם
“They shall make me a sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst” (Ex 25:8).
-‘veAsu Li Mikdash, vShakhanti betokham’
VeShakhanti (I shall dwell) gives the name to the Divine Immanence (Shekhinah). This is the command to build a sanctuary for the Divine Presence; that is, the Tabernacle (Mishkan) in the desert and the holy Temple (Beit haMikdash) in Jerusalem. The literal reading of the Hebrew text implies that God desired a dwelling place in the lower realms (cf. Midrash Tanhuma, Naso 16). It has been noticed that it says: ‘I shall dwell in their midst’ instead of ‘in it!’. The verse therefore doesn’t speak only of building a physical Temple but also an individual Sanctuary. “I shall dwell among them”; or “Within them” (cf. Shelah), in the midst of every single person that seeks to serve God. This means that every single Jew is commanded to become a Sanctuary for the Divine Presence.
Charity, Prayers, Sacrifices, Torah study, Purity and all functions done within the Temple area must be part of the individual pious life. Therefore, it has been taught that the Temple and each one of its components resemble the human being (cf. Midrash haGadol).
The Torah, the Charity, the Prayers and Sacrifices are essential items of the Temple. They are too essential items of our relationship with God.
- The Torah is kept in a Scroll in the Temple, and in the Heart of the Sanctuary, the Decalogue tablets are kept within the Ark of the Covenant, guarded by two cheruvim (Dt 10:5). This resembles the Torah that must be kept in our heart, as it’s written:
“I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes forever, at every step” (Psal 119:112).
It is taught that the “Torah and the Blessed Holy One are One” (Zohar III:73a); because the Torah is the Wisdom and Will of God (cf. Tanya 4). By becoming one with the Torah, we become one with God, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, we are to become a living Torah.
Prayer and Sacrifices
- Prayers and Sacrifices were offered three times per day in the Temple. They must be offered three times per day in our Temple too; as we learn from Daniel:
“He kneeled upon his knees three times a day” (Dn 6:11 ).
So it’s written:
“I will call upon God… Evening, morning and at noon” (Psal 55:18 ). “My House is to be called a House of Prayer” (Is 56:7).
The Incense (Ex 25:6) resembles our Prayers that ascend to God’s throne, as in the verse:
“May my prayer be set before you like incense” (Psa 141:2).
And the Sacrifices correspond to ‘Repentance’, as in the verse:
‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit’ (Psal 51:19 ).
- In Hebrew “Charity” (Tzedakah) means to act fairly or righteously, or to do an act of Justice. God considers a “Legal Right” for everyone to have clothing, shelter, and food. This command is not only associated with money. The source of this command is when God stipulated to recollect a tenth from the people’s earnings during three years, and distribute it among the Levites and the needed ones (Dt 26:12). And not only every three years, but also every year they should left something for the needed ones (Lv 19:9-10). As it is taught:
“Open your hands to the poor and needy brother in the Land” (Dt 15:11) and “Don’t close your hand… to the beggar” (Dt 15:7).
It was therefore stipulated in the Temple to recollect donations and distribute them to the needed ones. As it’s written:
“To the place HaShem your God choose as a dwelling place for his Name – there you are to bring everything I command you. Your ascending offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, and the presents from your hands, and all the choice possessions which you have vowed to HaShem” (Dt 12:11).
With or without Temple, we are to consider how important is to help our neighbour. They too, and not only us, are a Sanctuary for the Divine Presence. By realizing that they are as important channels as us for God indwelling on earth, we are uniting the Bride (Nukva – the Lower Hei in God’s name) with the Groom (haTzaddik); which is why the word for Charity is Tzedekah, with a Hei at the end.
צדקה = צדיק + ה
The physical Temple is a reflection of the nation’s inner Temple. The two Temples were destroyed because they no longer reflected God’s Divine Presence among the people. Every time the Temple was destroyed, the people fell in exile. The opposite can be said too, that when people fell in exile, the Temple was destroyed. As below so do above.
Just as the Temple resembles human being, it also resembles the Heaven, as it’s written:
“HaShem is in His Holy Temple, HaShem’s throne is in Heaven” (Psal 11:4).
With the command to make a Sanctuary for Him, God is asking us to make this world a Home for him. Obviously the whole world is filled with his Presence; He’s literally everywhere and in everything. But it’s not the same to “Be” in one place and to “Dwell” in one place. The idea of the verb “Shakan” is to “Lie down and rest”; to reside somewhere. To have an habitation; some place where He’s noticed, wanted and respected. This material world is the opposite of a “Sanctuary” (Mishkan). It’s similar to building a proper vessel where Infinite Light can stand.
“Stones of filling for the ephod and for the breastplate” (Ex 25:7)
We are given the 613 keys to transform this selfish material world into a House for God. When we love our neighbour, when we give charity and help the needed, when we pray with a proper heart, when we stop being egocentric with that “self-righteous” personality, and that “all-knowing” arrogance, and realize that the Sacred Temple is built by everyone’s contribution and not by “me alone”, when we stand as one in the side of justice, we are building the mystical Tabernacle in this world. The breastplate is filled with many stones, not with one.
The Breastplate (Hoshen) is the correction of the snake’s poison. The word for Snake (Nakhash), when permuted turns into: Hoshen; (the high priest’s breastplate) which in Gematria equals Messiah; for Messiah is to bring unity in Israel and to bring the nations to the obedience of God, and our sages taught that when a gentile obeys the ethical laws of the Torah (the Noahide laws) is considered a high priest (cf. Sanh 59a).
נחש = חשן = משיח = 358
Therefore it’s written:
“It’s too small a thing for you to be my Servant to restore the tribes of Yakov and bring back the offspring of Israel; I will also make you a light for the gentiles” (Is 49:6).
Ultimately, in the World to Come “The physical world which is the lowest level will be refined in order to be like the things above” (cf. Hemshech v’Kacha 5637, p. 147).
In other words: the Whole World will be God’s Temple.