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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Terumah

Parashat Teruma

The Divine Shechina and the levels of Kedusha

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Dedicated to the speedy recovery of
Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka
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Parshat Terumah opens a series of five parshiot that deal with the construction of the Mishkan. This was the structure in which Divine service was performed on a daily basis in the desert, and which was the forerunner of the Beit Hamikdash. Since the Mishkan was to last less than forty years, it seems out of all proportion for the Torah, where every word is measured, to devote so much space to teaching and repeating the details of its construction.

The Midrash teaches us that when G-d created the world He yearned to have a dwelling place in man’s material world, to complement the one He has in the spiritual world. To that end, G-d commanded "And make for me a mikdash and I will dwell among them." The commentators are bothered by the deviation from the expected "and I will dwell in it" referring to the mishkan. They explain that G-d’s intention was that every Jew should create an environment in the material world that would be conducive to housing the Divine Presence. The Mishkan, and after it the Beit Hamikdash, housed this presence on an ongoing basis. The environment that is conducive to housing the Divine Presence is one where material possessions and mundane activities are sanctified by their focus on the service of G-d.

This sanctification can be replicated both in time and place. Shabbat Kodesh is the time when physical activities and pleasures can be transformed into holy acts. Eretz Yisrael is the place where every Jew has the ability to sanctify worldly activities. The exile has deprived us of the Beit Hamikdash. But G-d is now providing us with the opportunity to sanctify our daily activities, by doing them in Eretz Yisrael. The Torah teaches us that every Jew is called upon to satisfy G-d’s desire for a dwelling place in the physical world. This can be done most effectively in Eretz Yisrael.

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