Terumah – Giving from the heart

The sanctuary was to be built from voluntary contributions from everyone whose “ heart motivated him”.  Rashi’s interpretation was that the voluntary contributions were for the construction of the tabernacle itself, whilst there were mandatory contributions for making the silver sockets, and also for communal sacrifices.


R’ Munk quoted Rashi’s interpretation of the phrase “they shall make a sanctuary for me” as meaning that the sanctuary was to be in honor of G-d’s Name, rather than a dwelling place for Him. Ramban wrote that the Shechina, the reflection of G-d’s majesty, could hover over the sanctuary in a pillar of cloud. G-d had revealed Himself on Mt Sinai, but from then on, was concealed from the sight of ordinary mortals.


Rambam wrote that the sanctuary was meant to keep the Israelites from idolatry and to orient them towards G-d. The ultimate goal for the Israelites was that they be trained spiritually for the great ideals proclaimed at Sinai. Yehoshua Leibowitz argued that there are many more sentences of Torah devoted to the construction and use of the Mishkan than there are sentences on the creation of the world. He argued that this symbolised the importance for man of the worship of G-d, as opposed to man needing to understand the workings of the material world.


R’ Munk quoted Abarbanel who said that with the tabernacle, G-d showed that He had not forsaken this world.  R’ Munk quoted other commentators who expressed the view that the tabernacle was a small, modest structure, and G-d’s manifestation here was symbolising the expectation that the Divine should ultimately dwell within man. The expression used is “so that I may dwell among them” meaning “in their hearts and minds”.

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