This week we arrive at a portion that details the call to build God a sanctuary so that God may dwell among the people. (25:8) There are exact details on the aspects of the Mikdash. No doubt those of you who go to Torah study this Shabbat will focus on many of these details and the commentaries on each item.
In looking at this portion for our cohort, I was struck by some ideas put forth in her psychological commentary written by Vivian Skolnick. She invites us to see the creation of the Mikdash as symbolic of our own lives. That got me to think about this idea of how precious the Torah speaks about the contents of the Mikdash, the details of the furnishings and the how things are placed and constructed. Do we do the same for our lives? This Torah portion can be seen as asking us what are the things we bring to construct our life? How do we or have we built our life and those of our family?
Think about this as symbolic of our bodies. Even now at our ages, more and more of us are careful of what we put into them. How concerned are we about how we treat this “temple” of flesh and blood, symbolic of a divine creation? Skolnick also looks at this portion with the construction of the Mikdash as symbolic of parenting. She notes that the details of the construction of the building of the Sanctuary parallel the time and details needed to raise a child. (The Biblical Path to Psychological Maturity. Vivian Skolnick. P.106)
As you let your mind flow over this concept of the symbolism of the Mikdash, be reminded that we can easily make the connection to our environment. If this Mikdash can be seen as symbolic of our planet, then again, we are being called on to make sure that how we construct it, what we put into it and extract from it serves the purpose of keeping it sacred.
Terumah is a fascinating portion that, when you allow your mind and soul to see beyond the text, can open itself up to new and challenging interpretations that relate in a very real way to our own life.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.