How to Build a Tabernacle
This week’s parshah, Terumah, which means; uplifting or that which is lifted up, gives a description of the building of the Mishkan (dwelling) or Mikdash (sanctuary) or simply Tabernacle, in the wilderness of the children of Israel. Was Hashem homeless or did the Israelites need a physical place to assist in their idea of a place to meet Hashem? What do the people with willing hearts lift up? I understand that the text is not only speaking about the fifteen different articles that the children of Israel offered for the building of the Mishkan, the Ark and all the Vessels pertaining to it. I believe that through our prayers that we lift up our articles of faith, when we turn to Hashem with our whole being.
I believe that uplifting must come primarily from our hearts. The Torah portion goes to great length to describe what the Israelites were to bring for the construction of the Mikdash, the tabernacle. The gifts that the people brought for the construction were to be the best that the children of Israel had to offer, because only the best could go into this edifice dedicated to Hashem. Today, although we do have the Mikdash or the great Knesset Ha-gadol, we do have our modern day Knesset- katan, in the presence of our synagogues, temples and shuls. What is it that we are to bring to our buildings today as Israelites/Jews? How can we bring pure gold, silver and copper? Is it possible for us today to bring pure olive oil, and if we could bring the pure olive oil, would the vessels that we burn the oil in be worthy of Hashem? What about the aromatic incense that the priest burned in the Tabernacle, can we reproduce those beautiful scents of days gone by. I think not. What then you might posit, is the meaning of this portion to us today, living in the twenty-first century?
One rabbi has said that the Gold is the Soul, the Silver the Body and the Copper the Voice. I believe that what we read about the Mishkan and what went into the construction of the same can be applied to our lives today. In other words, are we bringing Hashem our best as individual Jews? Do we bring to our Shabbat services the gold of our souls, the silver of our bodies and the copper of our voices? Do we worship Hashem truly with all of heart, soul and our strength? Do we make certain that the copper that we bring is of the purest form, of our minds, which we express through the words of our lips? Moreover, what are we burning, or better yet, do we burn, with the fire of love of Torah, devotion to Hashem and true sincerity in the worship of the Mighty One of Israel? Might I suggest that we must also bring a true love for our fellow Jew, as well as an open heart and open arms to those who are seeking a greater understanding of Judaism. Is the Shabbat real to us or is it merely something that we participate in because, that is what Jews are supposed to do?
Hashem gave every Jew all of the material that we could ever need for the construction of that great inner Sanctuary that dwells in the Heart, Soul, Body and Mind of every Jew. All that left for us to do then, is to put these articles of faith together and make Terumah that is an Uplifting of our Beings to Hashem. Then and only then will the vessels of our bodies be fit for Hashem to dwell in us.