Terumah

  1. We see that the people should build a Mikdash so that Hashem can dwell among them. What is the word for dwell? Not Yoshev (or sit), but Shachan which is the same root as Shechinah. This is not normal dwelling, it is stronger – it is dwelling like a neighbor who is connected to you. We build a place of holiness, and Hashem will be our spiritually neighbor.
  2. The Cherubim are hammered. Why? Well if we look at what is hammered – and not poured – we find three things the trumpets, menorah and cherubim. The trumpets represent shofar, the menorah is the sneh (burns, is never extinguished, has the features of a bush) and the Cherubim are angels. They are not utilitarian features like an altar which we use to reach up to G-d. They are representations of Hashem here. So why hammer them? The root of the word for hammer is kasha – difficult. When Hashem brings spirit into man, he wills it (yatzar haadam). How do humans most purely express will? Through direct effort. Not through molding and pouring, but through hammer. By applying our will directly, we can create the infinite out of the finite. No other way will do. We can do this personally, but it requires will.
  3. As mentioned before, the Menorah is the sneh. It burns but is not consumed. It has branches and flowers etc…. And it is the second use of the word Holy in Torah (after Shabbos). Holiness is about timelessness – about a reality where things are not consumed or destroyed.
  4. We see the design of the Mishkan – after all this text – will be revealed on the mountain. In fact, the text we read describes very little visually. This is because natural vision can’t show it. Nothing aside from the Menorah resembles nature. But vision on the mountain, transcendent vision, can reveal the actual plan. When you want to build a mishkan within yourself, you need a transcendent plan.
  5. We have a woven curtain between the Holy of Holies and the Holy. Why? I’m reminded or an Orson Scott Card book with the weavers of life. Each thread is a life weaving among the others. The world of Kadosh Kadoshim is one where we can’t exist. There is no beginning or end. There is no time – just spiritual perfection. But our world can have Kadosh. It can have time. Ideally, our souls are in the world of Kadosh Kadoshim and are somehow manipulated by our creation of Kedusha in this world. This is the mystery of the curtain. Our souls cross back and forth between the two worlds. If we were fully in one we wouldn’t have the spirit of the divine and if we were fully in the other we wouldn’t exist in time.
  6. We see here a very odd wood. Shittim wood. Shittim literally means grudge or to bear hate in a guarded manner. But it is a wood we use in the holiest of buildings. Why? Because this is a human creation. We have negative emotions but even the worst trait can be made Holy when molded to serve a Holy purpose.
  7. There is a screen between entrance of the Mishkan and the outside world. Between the Holy and the rest. As with the other woven screen, our lives must weave between the two spheres. We need to be in the world of Melacha and change in order to create the wealth the Mishkan can convert to Holy energy. If we reside only the holy, that which we offer becomes perverted because it must come from theft. But if we reside only outside then we never connect with Hashem or our own timeless nature. We need both – we need to be a woven curtain not a door or an open space.

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