On Rebuilding the Temple

On Rebuilding the Temple

Apr 3, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Terumah

With this week’s parasha we take up the manner in which ancient Israel was to worship God. The cult bespeaks the effort to institutionalize the peak experience of Sinai. How was an echo of the awesome nearness of God which marked Sinai to be perpetuated far from it in the depth of the ordinary? What was the nature of the instrument that would carry Sinai into the world? The model society envisioned by the Torah would not long endure without a ritual link to the source of its inspiration. Nothing confirms just how vital the cult was than the amount of attention paid to it by Scripture. For the rest of the book of Exodus and through the books of Leviticus and Numbers which are to follow, we shall be largely concerned with matters relating to the cult.

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Between the Wilderness and Jerusalem: A Tale of Two Holy Spaces

Between the Wilderness and Jerusalem: A Tale of Two Holy Spaces

Feb 8, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Terumah

This week’s parashah and haftarah are an exercise in counterpoint. Superficially, the construction of sacred space joins them in a common theme. While the Torah portion takes up the erection of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the narrative from the book of Kings recounts the building by Solomon of the First Temple in Jerusalem some 480 years later. The move is from a mobile sanctuary to a permanent one, from wood to stone. Still, the basic design remains the same, an oblong structure with the Holy of Holies (devir) at the rear, farthest away from the entrance. Likewise, the content of the Holy of Holies is unaltered: an ark covered by two large cherubim with outstretched wings. The ark itself contained only the two tablets which attested to the covenant between God and Israel sealed at Mount Sinai.

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The Grandeur and Grace in Our Lives

The Grandeur and Grace in Our Lives

Feb 12, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Terumah

In Hebrew it is customary not to pronounce the name of God as written.

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Including the Broken

Including the Broken

Feb 12, 2016 By Tobi Kahn | Commentary | Terumah

Arks in contemporary sanctuaries are spiritual descendants of the Ark whose construction and purpose is described in this week’s parashah. The ark above was created for Congregation Ohr Shalom–The Summit Jewish Community Center, in Summit, New Jersey.

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Your Torah and My Torah

Your Torah and My Torah

Feb 28, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Terumah

We tend to think of the Tabernacle as an intimidating space, a bastion of hierarchy and exclusivity. Governed by priests born for service and encumbered by a welter of regulations, it did not lend itself to easy access by rank and file Israelites. Its holiness militated against any spontaneity or departure from the norm. And yet its construction exhibited a profoundly populist impulse. Voluntary gifts from every quarter of the Israelite population formed the material out of which the institution was built. Conceivably, had the Israelites refused to give, the sanctuary, the symbol of God’s presence in the camp, would not have come into existence. I am struck by the total lack of coercion. God did not have Moses levy a special tax for the purpose, but merely asked for individual contributions: “Tell the Israelite people to bring me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him” (Exodus 25:2).

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Why God Needs a Dwelling Place

Why God Needs a Dwelling Place

Mar 4, 2006 By Robert Harris | Commentary | Terumah

Recent portions of the Torah have dealt with the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai; the great theophany of God, in which God spoke the Ten Words, or Decalogue; the revelation of the Book of the Covenant, containing the first extended legal section of the Torah; and the covenantal ceremony sealing the everlasting special relationship between God and the people of Israel (Exodus 19–24).

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When Humanity Creates with God

When Humanity Creates with God

Feb 28, 2009 By Vivian B. Mann <em>z”l</em> | Commentary | Terumah

Parashat T’rumah records God’s commission to Moses to build the Tabernacle as the spiritual center of the Jewish people, the place where God would dwell among them (Exod. 25:8). Set in the center of the Israelite camp, viewed from the surrounding tents, the Tabernacle was intended to be a physically imposing structure. Its specified height and size gave it a grandeur lacking elsewhere in the camp, and the sumptuous materials of which it was composed were outward signs of its special nature. Height and materials differentiated the Tabernacle from all the other covered spaces surrounding it, emphasized its distinctiveness, and contributed to defining it as a holy space. The concept of a holy space had appeared earlier in the Bible, for example, as Moses approached the burning bush (Exod. 3:5); now it was to be applied to a man-made structure that would allow God to dwell in the midst of His people.

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“The More the Merrier?”

“The More the Merrier?”

Feb 24, 2007 By Robert Harris | Commentary | Terumah

We have all heard and used the expression, “the more the merrier.”

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