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Terumah Summaries

Terumah 5777-2017

“ זִיכּוּי הָרַבִּים – Meriting the Broader Jewish Community”

The commandment to build a Mishkan, a temporary, portable Tabernacle for G-d, also includes the mitzvah to build “miniature Temples”–local synagogues. The operating principle which expands the command to build a Temple to include local synagogues, known as זִיכּוּי הָרַבִּים –“Zee’kuy ha’rah’bim” reflects the intent to bring merit to the broader Jewish community.

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Terumah 5776-2016

“Charity–the Only True Possession”

Parshat Terumah teaches that the only eternal possessions are those that are given away as charitable gifts.

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Terumah 5775-2015

“The Sanctity of the Synagogue”

The great devotion that was required when building the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, and, in later years, the construction of the Beit Hamikdash, the holy Temples in Jerusalem, applies also to the sanctity of contemporary synagogues and houses of study.

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Terumah 5774-2014

“The Shulchan–Much More Than Just a Table”

The “Shulchan”–the Table of Showbread, one of the central furnishings in the Tabernacle and the Temple, was much more than just a table.

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Terumah 5773-2013

“Form Over Content, or Content Over Form?”

Why did Moses change G-d’s instructions and direct Bezalel to first build the furnishings and vessels of the Tabernacle, and only then build the Tabernacle structure?

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Terumah 5772-2012

“The Outer Altar”

Although we have no Temple or Tabernacle today, the powerful symbolism of the Tabernacle furnishings lives on. We must continue to study the details and nuances of the outer altar and of the entire Tabernacle, because their lessons are eternally and profoundly relevant.

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Terumah 5771-2011

“The Message of the Holy Ark”

From a mere biblical reference about covering the acacia wood of the Ark with gold on the inside and outside, our rabbis derive an entire philosophy of life regarding sincerity and honesty.

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Terumah 5770-2010

“Earning a Meaningful Living”

The vital message of the Shulchan, the Table of Showbread, is that not only do our prayers and our worship need to be sanctified. Our work, our labor and our means of earning a living need to be sanctified as well.

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Terumah 5769-2009

“The Delicate Balance”

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s interpretation of the difficult to comprehend details and furnishings of the Tabernacle teach us insightful life lessons. Among those lessons is that Israel’s material and intellectual well-being stand under Divine protection. When Israel uses both of these endowments properly to further the ideals taught by Torah, then we as a people will be prosperous and safe. There is a grave danger lest prosperity become of primary importance, and intellectual advance be used to modify or reform the Torah.

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Terumah 5768-2008

“The Museum within the Tabernacle”

The Torah tells us that three items were stored in the Tabernacle for future generations, a flask of manna, some anointing oil, and the staff of Aaron that blossomed. The Talmud and the Midrashim add that the garments of the High Priest and the priest who led the Israelites in battle as well as the gifts from the Philistines when the Ark was returned were stored there as well. What purpose do these items serve?

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Terumah 5767-2007

“G-d’s Love Letters”

The “obsessive” focus on the details of the erecting of the Tabernacle often seems overwhelming. In truth, however, these details convey profound messages to us, and should be properly viewed as “love letters” from G-d that are to be found in each verse. They, therefore, need to be studied for a new and profound message each time they are read.

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Terumah 5766-2006

“Make for Me a Sanctuary, And I Shall Dwell in Their Midst”

The syntax of the verse “and they shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell among them,” is rather odd. The purpose of this strangely constructed verse is to teach that G-d does not dwell in a sanctuary, but rather among the people of Israel. The questions remain: How are Jews to develop true passion in their relationship with G-d? How are we to light the fire that will ignite our hearts and souls in our worship of the Al-mighty G-d?

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Terumah 5765-2005

“Identifying the Essentials of Life”

Moses Mendelssohn, the German-Jewish philosopher, identifies three basic elements of workmanship that are employed in the building of the Tabernacle: essential arts, useful arts and ornamental arts. These categories are important in order to identify the labors of humankind and ascribe value to them. Their identity also helps us discern which skills and arts are useful and essential, and those that may lead to overindulgence.

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Terumah 5764-2004

“Being Transported by Torah”

Within the instructions regarding the fashioning of vessels of the Tabernacle, a timeless lesson regarding the Torah is to be found. Since the Torah is always to be portable, Jews have been able to bring it with them no matter where they journeyed. Yet any notion that Jews have about sustaining the Torah throughout the years is a delusion. It is the Torah that supports those who cling to it.

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Terumah 5763-2003

“The Mishkan and the Sanctity of the Jewish Home”

The fact that the Mishkan–the Tabernacle–and its central furnishings so closely resemble the Jewish home, underscores the sanctity of the Jewish domicile. By analyzing each of the Tabernacle’s furnishings, we uncover the invaluable symbolic meanings of these furnishings that deserve to be found in every Jewish home.

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Terumah 5762-2002

“The Centrality of Torah”

The Holy Ark was the central furnishing of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which housed the Torah. Since Torah is the elixir of life for the Jewish people, the Ark, with its nonremovable staves, went with the people whenever they moved. This ancient practice teaches us that at the very core of our homes must be the Torah.

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Terumah-Purim 5761-2001

“Amalek, Purim and the Mitzvah of Getting Drunk”

The Code of Jewish Law suggests that a person is required to become intoxicated on Purim until he doesn’t know the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai. One explanation given for this tradition is that all year long Jews use reason as a means to faith. However, once a year, on Purim, we strip away all traces of reason and serve G-d with our faith alone.

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Terumah-Purim 5760-2000

“The Mishkan: Underscoring the Centrality of the Home in Jewish Life”

The Mishkan–the Tabernacle–is very much like a home, and has all the furnishings that are found in a home. The fact that our synagogue is called a Beit Kinesset, a house of coming together, underscores the importance of the home. Unless our homes serve as dwelling places for G-d, there will be little chance that our religion will be effectively communicated in our synagogues or in our temples.

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