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Parasha No. 19
Teruma: “Giving an Offering to God”

Shemot 25, 1-27, 19

The Importance of the Temple, the heart of humanity

- Themes of the parasha
- Initial plan
- Reconstruction after the fall
- The Temple
- Partners in creation
- The 3 mitzvot of the parasha
- The language of the sanctuary
- The sanctuary within us




Themes of the parasha

- The offerings (teruma). The parasha begins with God's injunction to Moshe to tell the children of Israel to make offerings of their own free will (asher yidvenu libo) in order to build the sanctuary (mishkan or mikdash).
- Then come the specific commandments for the construction of the sanctuary: the ark (aron, Shemot 25, 10), with its rings (tabaot) and staves (badim) with which to carry it.
The ark-cover with its two cherubim (kerubim).
- The seven-branched candlestick (menora),
- The tabernacle and its curtains (yeriot, ch. 26).
- The boards (kerahim) and its tenons (yedot), its sockets (adanim), and its pillars (amudim).
- The veil (parokhet) that separates the Holy of Holies (kodesh hakadoshim) from the rest of the tabernacle.
- The altar (mizbeah) made of acacia wood and overlaid with brass; its pots, shovels, basins and other tools.
- The court (hatzer).

This detailed list for the construction of the tabernacle needs to be understood in the context of the introduction to the parasha which stresses two concepts (the heart and the sanctuary):
--- "an offering, of every man whose heart maketh him willing" (Shemot 25, 2)
teruma meet kol ish asher yidvenu libo.
--- "let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25, 9)
veasu li mikdash, veshakhaneti betokham.

With the help of the Shla's commentary, we will be able to understand the role played by the sanctuary at this precise moment in the history of the people of Israel.

The initial plan
From the very beginning of creation, the essence of the divine plan was the presence of God within his creation (ikar shekhina batahtonim, the essence of the shekhina is here below). Yet a distinction is made between the world above and the world below. These two concepts are expressed in the phrase "the heavens and the earth" (shamayim vaaretz).
It is the presence of God which links the higher and lower elements. Neither is separated from the other and both are similar to the other. God creates them, unifies them and bonds them through His beneficent blessing. It is this that makes the heavens and the earth complete (vayekhulu hashamayim vehaaretz, Bereshit 2, 1).

Reconstruction, after the fall
--- The sin of Adam led to chaos in this plan. The reconstruction will be long and arduous.
--- The patriarchs personally took upon themselves the functions of the initial plan, and the presence of God dwells in them (see Bereshit 17, 22). It is said that they are a "chariot" that carries the shekhina, the merkava ; first as individuals, then as couples, then as families. They repair the break which was created between the higher and lower elements and which impedes the circulation of the divine blessing (which is known as the flux of living waters, mayim hayim).
--- Moshe and the people of Israel re-instated this flow, not as individuals but as a collective which functions as a dwelling place for God. This mobile collective will try to re-center creation through their descent into Egypt. Then Joshua will take it to the land of Israel which will become the home of true Torah life.
--- David and Solomon gave this dwelling a permanent place in Jerusalem. David prepared all the materials according to the instructions he received (see Psalm 132, 2), but it was someone else who would accomplish the work (his son, ben, which in Hebrew comes from the root "construct"). This was in order that the Temple would be inscribed within the process of transmission and no one person would be able to claim to be its constructor.

David not only transmitted the materials to his son, Solomon; he also transmitted all the injunctions and rules of operation. What a responsibility for a son if he fails to receive and carry out what he has been given! And when Solomon finished the work and prepared the inauguration of the Temple, he offered it to God but the gates refused to open ; they would only open when he invoked the memory of his father who had laid down the groundwork (I Kings 8, 12 .. and Chronicles II 6, 40) ; only then did the divine presence come to dwell in it.
--- The people of Israel are a chariot for the dwelling place of the shekhina. The shekhina is always with the people, in all its wanderings (Vayikra 16, 16). Only the earth can reject it temporarily if it does not behave properly (see the theme of the morning star in the attached commentary on Yom Kippur). And the shekhina will return from exile together with the people (Devarim 23, 35).

These different elements are gathered together in Psalm 50, 2: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined" (mi tzion mikhkak yofi Elokim mofia).
There is a lot to reflect on in each of these concepts.

The Temple
Because of all these events, the texts speak of the Temple in the same terms as they do for creation: the structure of the higher and lower elements bound by the flow of the divine presence ( the shekhina) is created again in the Temple. Through the Temple Israel becomes the home in which all creation and all nations will be blessed (Bereshit 12, 3).
Even if the nations of the world do not appreciate it, Israel is the source from which other worlds are born and blessed, and its central point is the Temple. It is the microcosm for the optimal functioning of all worlds.
All these meanings are described in the phrase "these are the accounts of the tabernacle" (elle pekude hamishkan, Shemot 38, 21).
The Temple is the place where all these elements are gathered together, like the heart in man's body. It is the site for the continued re-creation of the world ; this is why the same terms are applied to it as for the creation. Compare:
--- the similarity between the different areas (Bereshit 1, 6 and Shemot 26, 33).
--- the waters (Bereshit 1, 9 and Shemot 30, 18).
--- the light (Bereshit 1, 14 and Shemot 25, 31).
--- the birds and winged fowl (Bereshit 2, 1 and Shemot 25, 20)
--- completeness (Bereshit 2, 1 and Shemot 39, 32).
--- the blessing of completion (Bereshit 1, 28-2, 3 and Shemot 39, 43).

The structure of the Temple is also a spatial and comprehensive symbol of what we are told is the union between our world and that above, between what is visible and what is invisible. For example: the cherubim are placed on the ark and this theme is repeated in the world above in Ezekiel 10, 19 and in Psalm 80, 2. The union of the world above and below is expressed in the evening prayer before the Shma Yisrael and in the verse "And the evening and the morning were the first day" at the beginning of Bereshit.

This is also expressed in the succession of areas in the sanctuary which together form one level that becomes less and less visible, and more and more secret, till one reaches the Holy of Holies. So it is with each human being.
Tradition says that God dwells in the thoughts of the people who are preoccupied with the construction of the Temple: in this way the people are constructed and they construct a world that is good.

Partnership in creation
All this is not just a science of the universe, a spiritual geography or religious psychology; it is to make us understand the partnership in creation in which the creator placed us: meshutaf le Hakadosh Barukh Hu.

Only generosity creates the world
It is out of pure generosity (nedivat lev) that man has been assigned this important role and this is the reason why, at the beginning of the parasha, man is asked to be generous in his gifts to God, in order to construct the sanctuary:
"an offering, of every man whose heart maketh him willing"
(teruma meet kol ish asher yidvenu libo, Shemot 25, 2)

The 3 mitzvot of the parasha:
Let us examine the mitzvot in the above context:
--- Shemot 25, 8: let them make me a sanctuary (veassu li mikdash).
--- Shemot 25, 15: the staves (to support the ark)shall be in the rings of the ark: they
shall not be taken from it (lo yassuru mimenu).
--- Shemot 25, 30: And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me always
(venatata al-hashulkhan lehem panim lefanai tamid).

We know that these mitzvot are connected to the inner meaning of the verses. So, in accordance with what has we have said above, we are not surprised to note that these three mitzvot relate to the concrete application of holiness in this world, and to its permanency, even in a situation that requires us to move quickly.

The mitzvot are precise acts whose aim is to remind us of all the deeper meanings we have described above: they are not simply duties, incomprehensible acts or burdensome injunctions. Thus, the candlestick (the menora) represents man himself who must renew and revive his flame every day. Every object in the Temple is a symbol of vital human mechanisms.
--- This is why the holiness of the people of Israel, its well-being and recognition by the nations of the world, depend on the construction of the Temple and its reconstruction.
--- This is what explains the age-old Jewish aspiration towards this goal.
--- The pure quality of dual love is symbolized and ensured by the presence of the two cherubim.
All this is found in the Shla's commentary.

(Personal note on the cherubs:
Read page 99a of Tractate Baba Batra.
It is written: "and there I will meet with thee (venoadti lekha sham) and I will commune with thee…from between the two cherubim (mibein shnei hakeruvim)" (Shemot 25, 22).
During my studies with my master and Torah teacher R. Moshe Yosef Zenou, zal, I had the pleasure of being able to tell him that the initials of mibein shnei hakeruvim make up the name Moshe).

The language of the sanctuary
The Shla develops the intimate quality of these relationships which are simultaneously human and divine, when he writes that the language itself is impregnated with holiness. Thus, the numerical value of the letters of the word li add up to 40, in the expression veyikhu li teruma (and they will bring me an offering "to me"):
--- a simple generous gift corresponds to the 40 years of initiation to the Torah in the desert;
--- moreover, this holy li 40 is the sum of all the Hebrew letters and vowels (25+5+13=40): our language and a concrete gift must therefore be replete with the same keddusha, holiness.
Let us hope that every gift and every word which contain this holiness be always understood as such by those who receive them - whether it be a gift of words, a gift of a present, or a gift of deprivation of money.

The sanctuary within us
In this way we may receive what the people of Israel received in the desert (which has the same root as the word "speak" dbr): the divine presence was visible continuously in the camp of the children of Israel, as is expressed in verse 25, 8: "that I may dwell among them" (veshakhaneti betokham).

May this divine presence make itself felt and seen in all our relationships; marriages, friendships, and social life. We should never forget that the divine word is not our possession and only reveals itself in the empty, respectful space that exists "between" two people who look and listen to each other with openness and tolerance. This emptiness, which no one can control and which is no one's possession, is that which guarantees the freedom of every individual.

The sanctuary teaches us that human relationships are the same - they are hidden and not easily achieved: the conditions for true communication need to be constructed and are not automatic.

The parasha also teaches us that all human relationships depend on nedivat lev, on the voluntary generosity of our heart.

The Temple-heart of humanity
The mikdash, Temple, is thus at one and the same time the heart of the world, the heart of the relationship between God and his creatures, the heart of human relationships, the heart of men-women relationships (for such were the cherubim), and the heart of man's relationship with himself.
We now understand better the reason why our texts say that he who does not lament every day the destruction of the Temple, will not be able to rejoice from its reconstruction: this means that he is unable to see the connection between external and internal, secular and holy, and he has become as indifferent to the meaningful things he loses as to those he gains.

Awareness of our patrimony
It is strange that the site of the Temple, which miraculously fell into our hands in a war of self-defense, was given back to the conquered aggressors by leaders who did not recognize the importance it has for our people.
In contrast, at Ramadan, up to 350,000 Muslims ascend the Temple Mount in order to pray towards what they call Al Kuds, the Holy City. How many Jews, during the same time, come to pray at this holy site? This difference in awareness is a strange paradox. Strange generation is it not? The feeling of exile is still with us, in our hearts and minds. In the meantime, the Muslims guard these holy sites and declare them, sometimes even more than us, that they are holy: it is written in the Torah that if we do not live by the Torah others will be given charge of our land. When we become aware, proud and ready, recognition by others of our role will come by itself. But we can only advance through education.
Let us at least learn about the geography of these places.

One thing is certain: our Sages ordain us to direct our hearts and minds 3 times a day in prayer in the following way (Shulkhan Arukh, Orah hayim 94, 1):
--- stand facing the land of Israel,
--- then imagine we are facing Jerusalem,
--- then conjure up the Temple,
--- then the Holy of Holies.
We are certainly more than 350,000 who turn to Jerusalem and pray three times on the day when the Muslims are on the Temple Mount. Moreover our "cousins" turn their backs during their prayers, even on this place, for it is towards Mecca that they pray.

So despite everything, Jews, though dispersed across the world, have remained faithful, at least 3 times a day, to Jerusalem and His dwelling place.

The importance attributed to the Temple is not over-exaggerated: its importance is stressed in these sayings from the texts:
--- the Temple is one of the 7 things created before the creation of the world (Pesahim 54 b),
--- he who he has not seen the Temple constructed has never seen beauty, in all his life (Succa 51 b),
--- all the praises said of Lebanon relate to the Temple (Gittin 56 b), for it exonerates Israel of all its faults (Vayikra Rabba 1),
--- from where was light created? From the site of the Temple (Bereshit rabba 3),
--- the Temple illuminate the whole world (Shemot Rabba 36),
--- when King Solomon built the Temple, God said: now the heavens and the earth have been completed (Yalcut Shmuel Melakho 186).

What Jew is not profoundly moved when he stands on this site, and when he thinks of this place. This is why I have added, after this commentary, a list of images of this sacred place, particularly of the Western Wall (kotel hamaaravi) at close sight. Zohar II 116 a says that its name (kotel) indicates that this place of stone ("tel") is the place of The presence of Hashem (Hashem = 26 in gematria as do the letters "ko"). This is perhaps why the texts say that the Kotel will never be destroyed (Bamidbar Rabba 11).

If there is more education and greater awareness, the world will come closer to optimal functioning and to the union between the world above and the world below.



The term mishkan relates to the Temple as a mobile residence for the divine presence.
The term mikdash relates to the Temple as a fixed residence for the divine presence.



1. Reflect on the concepts described above which made a significant impact on you and re-read the parasha in detail in order to identify them.
2. Discuss your discoveries and questions with those who are close to you.
3. Check your knowledge of the Hebrew words in this parasha.
4. Reflect on generosity in giving which should mark us as Jews, in the context of the teachings of this parasha. The Shla stresses this in the third part of his commentary titled derekh hayim tokhahat musar, Torah is a way of life that leads to true morality.



- Different views of the Temple Mount today.
- View of the Kotel today.
- The Temple-heart.
- The First Temple.
- The Second Temple.
- Under the Temple Mount.
- The site of the Temple on the present Mount.
- The nearest point today to the Holy of Holies.
- The Kotel from close view, as though you were there.


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15

Part 16

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
- La vie du Kotel
- Prières au Kotel
- Fête au Kotel
- La destruction du Temple
- Photos rares et émouvantes des abords du Temple
- Synagogues de Jérusalem
- Maisons de Jérusalem
- Les fleurs de Jérusalem
- Ici, tout sur Jérusalem
- "Le" texte sur Jérusalem
- Voir et visiter Israël
- Voyage dans le Nord d'Israël
- Belle carte d'Israël
- Jérusalem et les nations

- Vacances en Israël sur Modia
- Le Kotel en film direct
- et ici aussi, autre caméra

- Trahison historique:
L'antique synagogue de Jéricho


Part 17

- Love towards all people
- Light in war
- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
  by the media

In french - Hope in Israel

Part 20
"Encounters with God
in the real"

- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
- My photos and judaism
- New year of beauty
- Flowers
Gallery photos

Part 21

- My english songs


Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

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