From the outside looking in Terumah is a nice, short, yet technical portion one can read rather fast because for the most part none of us are trying to build a Tabernacle out in the mesa (mesa is New Mexican Espanol slang for desert and Espanol is Spanish for Spanish). Yet in this week’s Torah Portion an indirect message of community over personal wealth starts the building process via donations from the ancient Hebrews. Up until this point the Hebrews only responsibility to Hashem is a belief solely in Him. This simple belief has led to freedom, food, and military victories. In Terumah Hashem asks for those Hebrews who are able to donate to do so by providing a place for Him to dwell making it a two sided relationship.
Relationships go both ways it is unfair to all involved when only one side gives and the other only receives. Often there are times we forget that Hashem created the human race for companionship and not as subjects for an experiment in rule. Hashem asking the ancient Hebrews for supplies for His earthly dwelling is just the beginning it is also an indirect plea for the overall health of the community.
The lesson of Terumah is so far reaching and inclusive in our day to day lives its impossible to find a place were it stops. Its like outer space its endless. This is because human beings are pack animals. We are at our healthiest when we are in a functioning environment with other fulfilled and happy human beings. Think about it who do we fear the most? We fear the recluse, the loner, the outsider while we gravitate towards people who make us laugh and who we feel comfort from being around. By building the Tabernacle Hashem and the ancient Hebrews took the next step in a relationship designed to make humanity and world the best it possibly can be.
For the sake of time and my sanity I’m going to leave this portion as is. Seriously though I could probably write a book exploring the merging of spiritual and physical in community from the home all the way to society on a global scale. Terumah is important because it forces us to view ourselves as individuals in a whole. If the tribes are united then they will never be divided.
If anyone in the greater Albuquerque area (or anyone willing to move out here) wants to build a Tabernacle out in the Mesa I say lets do it!
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah