Texts: Exodus 25:1- 27:19 || 1 Kings 5:12 – 6:13
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavours to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
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DISCLAIMER – The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA’TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
This week’s Parashah deals with a very ‘dry’ topic, which readers intend to just scan and then move on. It is all about the structure, contents and building of the Tabernacle which Israel were to use as the center for worship in the Wilderness until the Temple would be built in Jerusalem.
Yet, as we will show, this Parashah embodies and expresses a special Message of the highest order for His People. More so for re-identifying Ten Tribers who have been out of touch with HaShem’s true Temple proceedings for nearly 3000 years now. This, after they have rebelled against the Temple system in Jerusalem and replaced it with their own system and Temple in Samaria under the spiritual guidance of anti-Torah leaders like Jeroboam, Jezebel and the likes of them.
It has to be emphasized, that Northern Israel in those times did not reject Torah. They simply insisted to interpret it the way they chose, rather than follow the spiritual guidance and interpretations of G-d’s appointed lawgivers, the Tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10. Refer also our review on this judicial mandate that HaShem entrusted to Judah: Judah – The Lawgiver of God (Hebrew: Mechoqeck).
A comparison with today’s to-Torah-returning re-awakening Ten Tribers will reveal that this attitude is still widespread, as the majority of them refuse to follow Judah’s Rabbinic guidance, preferring to “stick to the Word” as they seem fit.
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We will follow the commentaries of Rabbi Chaim Richman (The Temple Institute, Jerusalem) and Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum who both comment on the special placing of this series of Parashot over the next five weeks, an otherwise somewhat tedious and unexciting section of Torah. This is bound to bring the serious ‘lover’ of HaShem some much rewarding spiritual rejuvenation.
The central theme from this week’s Parashah TERUMAH through the next 5 Parashot until the end of the book of Exodus, is about the Tabernacle built by the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. This Sanctuary is a prototype of the Holy Temple which will remain eternally in Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of HaShem when Mashiach ben David comes. We have been tracing this Promise of the Ruling Body which HaShem is preparing for Himself to rule over the Nations, from Parashat Bereishit, 19 weeks back. For any soul who strives to be part of this Body therefore, Parashat Terumah and these related sections over the next 5 weeks must hold great importance.
In Mishpatim, last week, we emphasised the establishment of a re-united 12-Tribed Kingdom in the Biblical defined ‘Greater Israel.’ Rabbi Chaim Richman links this week’s Terumah with last week’s Parashat Mishpatim, and the next few Parashot about the Tabernacle and Temple, in an interesting and rational way. He questions why Moses fitted these sections in this particular sequence:
“Was Moses unsure where to include these laws, and inserted them here as a last resort? Is Parashat Mishpatim simply an editorial happenstance?
No, parashat Mishpatim doesn’t just happen to be placed here in between Yitro, (the Sinai revelation), and Terumah, (the Commandment to build for G-d a sanctuary). On the contrary, parashat Mishpatim has to be placed here. The laws revealed in Mishpatim must necessarily precede the building of the Tabernacle in the desert and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Many of the laws presented in Mishpatim are concerned with issues deriving from private property, whether it be in the form of land, or livestock, or even indentured servants. It is clear from the commandments that the ownership of property carries with it tremendous responsibility, both to the well-being, care and upkeep of the property itself, and also to whoever or whatever may come in contact with the property.
These principles fill many tomes of Jewish law, and likewise inform much of modern law in western society. But almost undetected amongst these many laws is the underlying Torah principle stated here for the first time, that man can, in fact, assume ownership of property! The world belongs to G-d. He created it. He is responsible for it. And yet here is G-d giving His official sanction to ownership by private individuals.”
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum further establishes the relationship between these Parashot and compares it to “a sandwich”:
“This week’s Parshah TERUMAH explains the design of the Sanctuary and its vessels, while next week’s Parshah of TETZAVEH explains the garments that were to be worn by those who were to minister in that Sanctuary — Aaron and his sons. TETZAVEH also explains the sacrificial rituals that were to inaugurate the Sanctuary and its priests.
“After TETZAVEH comes KI TISA, which continues the explanation of the form of the Sanctuary vessels and the sacrifices. When this explanation is complete, KI TISA goes on to narrate the sin of the Golden Calf and how Moses secured atonement for the people through the 13 Attributes of Mercy.
“Then come the last two Parshahs of Exodus, VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY, which explain how Bezalel and the other craftsmen actually constructed the Sanctuary and made the priestly clothes. VAYAKHEL and PEKUDAY repeat practically word for word some of the corresponding passages in TERUMAH and TETZAVEH. PEKUDEY then concludes the book of Exodus with the account of the inauguration of the Sanctuary and the priests on the New Moon of the first Nissan after the Exodus. This was exactly one year to the day since Moses received the first commandments while still in Egypt: the law of the New Moon and the Pesach sacrifice, prototype of Temple sacrifice.”
“From this overview of the remaining five Parshahs of Exodus, we see that the subject of the Sanctuary — central to the Torah and to the whole world — is introduced in “sandwich” form. TERUMAH and TETZAVEH explain the intended form of the Sanctuary and priestly garments BEFORE they were executed, when they were in the “mind” and will of G-d. In the middle of the “sandwich” is the account of the sin of the Golden Calf and it’s atonement through the 13 Attributes of Mercy. Then on the other side of the “sandwich” come VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY, which tell how the Sanctuary IDEA was brought from POTENTIAL TO ACTUAL through the thirty-nine labors of the craftsmen who made it.
“At the very center of this “sandwich” structure is the account of the sin of the Golden Calf — which changed everything for the Children of Israel. In the heady days of the Exodus and the Giving of the Torah, the Children of Israel were elevated to the greatest heights. Then suddenly, forty days after hearing the Voice of G-d at Sinai, in one single orgy they sank to the lowest depths of degradation. From then on they had to learn the terrible pain of retribution, suffering and contrition. This was a loss of innocence parallel to the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
“But God had already prepared the remedy before the illness. Indeed, we might even say that the illness was sent with the very purpose of revealing the great power of the remedy. The remedy for sin is repentance, which saves man from himself and brings him back to the One G-d, bringing him atonement — AT-ONE-MENT. The penitential “system” of the Torah is contained within the Sanctuary and its sacrificial rituals, which are a teaching to mankind about how man draws close (KaRoV) to G-d through his KORBAN (“sacrifice”) — literally, his “coming close”. As the way of repentance for having elevated wealth to the status of a god, man is commanded to take gold, silver, copper and the richest fabrics in order to glorify and magnify the One True G-d. Man is taught how to configure the materials of this world so that instead of separating him from G-d through idolatrous uses and configurations, they will serve to draw him ever closer, until G-d Himself “dwells” with man.
“TERUMAH and TETZAVEH present us the Sanctuary and sacrificial IDEA before we have even learned about sin. The lesson of the Golden Calf in KI TISA is harsh. But it is sweetened, because immediately after Moses secured atonement for Israel through the 13 Attributes of Mercy, the very next day he assembled the people and told them to bring gifts of materials and to get busy making the ACTUAL sanctuary, as told in VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY. Thus the bitterness of sin in KI TISA is “sandwiched” between the sweetness of TERUMAH & TETZAVEH (the Teshuvah IDEA in all its innocent purity) and VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY (the ACTUALIZATION of Teshuvah in the Sanctuary in this world.).”
Let us return to Rabbi Richman’s reminder that “The world belongs to G-d. He created it. He is responsible for it. And yet here is G-d giving His official sanction to ownership by private individuals.”
Let us consider Rabbi Richman’s reminder of our responsibilities as a result:
“This is not a phenomenon which can be taken for granted. In many societies, ancient and modern, it is the government, or monarch, or political party or military or tyrant which enjoys exclusive ownership of property and access to wealth, not the individual subjects or citizens.
“But G-d, who has just redeemed His people from servitude, immediately grants them the freedom to own property. Yes, the world belongs to G-d and He is responsible for it, but here He is granting man the right of ownership, and with it the burden of responsibility. And by doing so, G-d is endowing man with a privilege hitherto reserved only for Him. G-d is endowing man with a G-dlike quality. Just as G-d earlier gave to Israel the responsibility to determine the calendar, now He gives to Israel the power of possession, and ultimately for the very same purpose. The prime responsibility inherent in determining the new moon is to set the appointed times when Israel is to celebrate the festive days of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. So too, Israel has been blessed with the G-dlike privilege of ownership, so that we may give of our possessions toward the building of a sanctuary for G-d. The Tabernacle, which G-d commanded to be built for Him by Israel, could not have been built if the people didn’t first have the ability to give of their possessions in order to build it. G-d didn’t wish to build for Himself a sanctuary. He already possessed all of creation. It was His desire that Israel perform this commandment. And in order to enable this, G-d sanctified the principle of ownership.
“It is clear, then, that parashat Mishpatim is no anomaly, clumsily placed between Sinai and the Tabernacle. On the contrary, without the principle of ownership laid down in Mishpatim, the building of the Tabernacle could not have taken place. If G-d’s glory fills creation, it is often asked, and if He is to be found everywhere, then why would He possibly desire or have a need for a Tabernacle or Holy Temple?
The answer is that G-d created our world for one purpose only – to bestow His goodness upon His creation. By taking the goodness that He has given us, the power to structure our days and months, and the power to own possessions and to determine for what purpose our possessions will be put to use, and by creating with this a time and a place on earth for G-d, is to complete His creation by allowing Him in and thereby recognizing His sovereignty over all.
“(This) offers us an opportunity to reflect upon all the good that G-d has blessed us with, not the least of which is the unique privilege to return to G-d a portion of that which is truly His, and so build for Him a Sanctuary among us.”
Re-identifying Ten Tribers generally fail to recognize their responsibilities to build the Land of Israel with Judah through their financial support. The general inclination seems to be a conditional willingness, a stalling process, waiting on Judah to accept them first on easier terms before they will assist in the building process.
In reality, it may well be that 10-Israel simply fails to realize the full implications of the Message and Directives of Parashat Terumah. It is therefore significant, that this Parashah is named “Terumah”, after the opening paragraph theme word which means ‘Offering’ – NOT Offering as in ‘sacrificial offering’, but offering as in ‘donation’.
Exodus 25:1 “HaShem said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze …”, followed by a list of valuable, exotic and lasting items required for the grandeur and sanctity of the Sanctuary.
Perhaps we should see these requirements and offerings as also required for the ‘Greater Temple’ that HaShem is building, of which His elect will be part – as our conclusions from previous Parashot has been hinting at.
There can NOT be a Temple without a Re-united Israel, i.e. two Houses reconciled in Peace and national, brotherly Unity.
There can NOT be Unity without co-operation and acceptance of each other.
There can NOT be Redemption and a Kingdom without 10-Israel!
The Haftarah emphasizes the BUILDING activities of King Solomon with thousands of workers.
1 Kings 6:11 “The word of HaShem came to Solomon: 12 “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.”
We close with an inspiring observation by Rabbi Greenbaum:
“At the close of TETZAVEH and Exodus, we read how G-d’s Cloud of Glory dwelled constantly over the Sanctuary. Leviticus opens immediately with the Voice of G-d emanating to Moses from between the mouths of the Cherubs in the Holy of Holies, giving him the detailed laws of the Temple sacrifices.”
How inspiringly the bold letters of the Torah come to awe-inspiring excelling LIFE!