Parshas Terumah – Building the Sanctuary

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

G-d Almighty instructs Moses how the portable Sanctuary (the Tabernacle) should be made. In delineating how the Jews should consecrate some of their possessions to provide the materials for this Sanctuary, the verse repeats the term “consecration” three times.

Why the repetition?

One mention of “consecration” refers to the donation to be given in the form of a half-shekel of silver from each Jew. This is to be used for the silver sockets that serve as the foundation for the walls. Another mention of “consecration,” refers to the donations, also from each Jew and in the aforementioned equal sum, to fund the daily communal sacrifices, (to take place in the Sanctuary on the Altar). The third mention of “consecration” refers to any and all donations of materials to be used in the construction of the Sanctuary; donated in whatever quantity or quality a Jew desired.” (Talmud, Shekalim, beginning of chapter one.)


The daily communal sacrifices were to be funded by each man equally, for a reason; namely, because the daily sacrifices were to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf which debased every Jew equally, as it defiled the entirety of the Jewish nation and the world at large. The atonement, therefore, needed to be funded by each Jew equally. But why did the silver foundation of the structure demand an equal contribution from each and every Jew? This is especially questionable since the whole rest of the structure was funded and provided for purely on a volunteer basis, as mentioned above. Why, then, did the silver sockets-foundation require equal funding from each Jew?


The Biblical Sanctuary (in addition to its simple, practical meaning) represents the soul of man. Indeed the heart, soul, and body of each Jew is intended to be a spiritual Sanctuary for G-d to dwell therein. While this spiritual Sanctuary is made up of emotions, and intellect, and levels of the soul which transcend them, there is a foundation to all of this which is simple, below it all, and yet highly significant. It is the sense of humility a Jew has before G-d.

For this reason, each day’s Divine Service, while consisting of all the facets of the soul, nevertheless begins and is founded upon the humble gratitude and subjugation that a Jew expresses in the moment of thanks for the return of his soul upon awakening. Once that foundation is laid, all the other great and small details can be built upon it.

While the full Divine Service of a Jew throughout the day is not equal in everyone – some people are more emotional, some are more intellectual, some are more action-related, etc. – nevertheless, the fundamental humility before G-d is equal in every Jew, because it is simple, which makes it find an equal place in the heart of every Jew, and because it connects to the Essence of G-d Who equalizes all individuals and groups in His Presence.

Hence, the equal funding for the “foundation” of the Tabernacle.

Nevertheless, this humility is just the necessary beginning to support the full Divine Service, utilizing all of one’s faculties in the service of one’s Maker, according to the measure of each and every individual.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 1, Terumah).


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