This week’s Parsha is called Terumah and it describes in great detail the instructions for creating the Mikdash and Mishkan, the spiritual and physical center, the portable Sanctuary, for the divine presence in the life of the people. The word Terumah is most often translated as “donation” or “offering.” However, at the core of the word is the root Resh Mem, which suggests a high place. It implies a certain consciousness that goes along with the offering.
Ex. 25 The Ineffable 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 gifts you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood..."
The creation of the Mishkan requires that it be a gift “from the heart.” We also see that providing for the Sacred Center is something that everyone can participate in. We see here the democratization of the social order. Those of great wealth provide what is reflective of their economic status, those whose economic status is limited give a gift that is appropriate. You see above that the range is from gold to acacia wood. Acacia wood, or Shitah, in Hebrew, is an abundant and simple kind of wood. Does this sound like a forerunner of socialism?
Another important teaching here is that we all are called to build a sacred society together. The construction of the Mishkan was not delegated to the Sinai Construction Company. It was not the result of a billionaire deciding what was right for the country.
It was so sad to watch the bickering of the democratic candidate last night, their attacks on each other disrespectful and abusive. Should we blame this on the planet Mercury being in retrograde? Or maybe it’s the new month of Adar with Purim coming and when we can’t distinguish between Haman and Mordecai? Mercury retrograde ends on Purim this year. We need to focus on what is truly important in our lives. Weare the Mishkan, the Midrash, This Thursday night we will listen to a former klansman and white supremacist leader talking with the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
On Sunday night, March 8, we celebrate the heroism of Esther in a Public Fair for Social Justice with twelve organizations that are providing for the needy and breaking down the walls of injustice. We build the Mishkan together. Try to come. With hope, Reb David (PS: Please note the room changes for the upcoming Shabbat services. The changes are due to unfortunate plumbing issues at Cedar Lane.)