2004In this Torah portion, God asks the people of Israel to build a temple, with the Holy Ark in it.
My Temple, Your Temple, Our Temple
Tanach - Exodus Chapter 25
...Speak to the people of Israel, that they bring me an offering; from every man that gives it willingly with his heart you shall take my offering.
3. And this is the offering which you shall take from them; gold, and silver, and bronze,
4. And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
5. And rams' skins dyed red, and goats' skins, and shittim wood,
6. Oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7. Onyx stones, and stones to be set on the ephod, and on the breastplate.
8. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9. According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all its utensils, so shall you make it...And make one cherub on one end, and the other cherub on the other end; of the cover shall you make the cherubim on its two ends.
20. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings on high, covering the cover with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the cover shall the faces of the cherubim be.
21. And you shall put the cover upon the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.
22. And there I will meet with you, and I will talk with you from above the cover, from between the two cherubim, which are upon the ark of the Testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the people of Israel
Your Torah Navigator
What is the purpose of making a temple or a tabernacle to a God that has no face or body to worship?
If one does build a temple to God it is obvious that it is for God to dwell in. Why does God specifically command "and let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them? Why the repetition?"
What are the Cherubim? What is the purpose of the Cherubim, and why do we need an image of Cherub for a God that condemns any type or form of image as it says in the 10 Commandments:
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below?"
Talmud Yoma 54. A-B
R. Kattina said: Whenever Israel came up to the Festival, the curtain would be removed for them and the Cherubim were shown to them, whose bodies were intertwisted with one another, and they would be thus addressed: Look! You are beloved before God as the love between man and woman...
Resh Lakish said: When the heathens entered the Temple and saw the Cherubim whose bodies were intertwisted with one another,they carried them out and said: These Israelites, whose blessing is a blessing, and whose curse is a curse, occupy themselves with such things! And immediately they despised them, as it is said: All that honored her, despised her, because they have seen her nakedness.
Your Talmud Navigator
How can an inanimate object move?
What is the meaning of this movement in the first paragraph?
What is the meaning of the same movement in the second paragraph?
The most important question is, what can we derive from this Torah portion today since we don't have the opportunity to build a physical building for God? The answer is that today we have the same responsibility to build a temple for God as commanded in the text. However, we have to do it on a personal level. Our sages said that the body is a small temple; meaning we, as human beings created in God's image, have the ability and responsibility to sanctify ourselves in order to make our bodies a place that God can dwell in.
But like the original building of the tabernacle, the first step is that one has to desire to "build" a temple for God. This is actually the first words God tells Moses:
"From every man that gives it willingly with his heart you shall take my offering. With the correct will and heart we can build our own temple for God within ourselves."
In the practical sense, one needs to realize that the same holy behavior required in the original Temple, is required in one's own spiritual temple as well. When one walked in the original Temple, one felt the holiness of the place and acted there accordingly. The same applies to us. Whenever we do even the simplest and most mundane actions like walking or talking or eating etc., we are doing it in our temple. Keep it holy!
Prepared by Rabbi Menachem Even-Israel, Campus Educator, University of Maryland - College Park.
Additional commentaries and text studies on Parshat Terumah at MyJewishLearning.com.