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Building the Tabernacle

This parsha begins a detailed study of the construction of the "Tabernacle", the symbolic sign of God's dwelling among the Israelites. The significance of the "Tabernacle" to the ancient Israelites is underscored by the fact that upwards of a third of the book of Exodus is devoted to describing the details of the sanctuary. On a closer examination the choice of words used to describe the process is strikingly similar to the language the Torah uses to describe the creation story in Genesis. Israel's role in creating the sanctuary parallels God's in creating the world, including the prohibition of working on the Sabbath. (The detailed description of the materials required for creating the sanctuary is abruptly interrupted by a discourse on the importance of observing the Shabbat).

On a different level this parsha (portion) teaches us an important lesson about the nature of tzedakah. The parsha opens with: "Now YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Israelites, that they may take me a Terumah -raised contribution; from every man whose heart makes-him-willing, you are to take my contribution". Why does it say that each person "take me a Terumah" ("a contribution") shouldn't it say 'give me a Terumah'? After all, isn't gift giving about sharing something we have that either someone else needs or we desire to bestow upon someone? To this our sages say that the use of the word "take" instead of "give" teaches us that when we give of our possessions we are actually taking something of much greater value in return. What we "take" is the knowledge that we are engaged in sacred work thereby bringing holiness into our lives.
Topics: Divrei Torah
Type: Dvar Torah

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