By: Batya Hefter

“Take for Me an Offering”

King Solomon asked, “The heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have built?” Yet we are told that the Tabernacle is a place for God. How is it really possible to create a space for God?

In Parshat Teruma we are commanded to construct the Tabernacle, the mishkan.  The Ramban teaches us that the Tabernacle was designed to keep the experience of Mount Sinai alive.   The mishkan was, in a sense, a portable Mount Sinai. “The secret of the Tabernacle is that the Glory which abode upon Mount Sinai (openly) should abide upon it in a concealed manner” (Ramban, Shemot 25:1).   The offering of incense, the ketoret, for example, simulates the fire and the cloud at Mount Sinai, which accompanied the gilui shechinah, the Revelation.

In addition, the mishkan symbolizes creation; there is a parallel both in content and in language between Moshe completing the mishkan and God creating the world.
About creation it is written, “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And God finished on the seventh day His work which He had made” (Bereishit 2:1-2). About the Tabernacle, it says, “Thus was finished all the work of the Tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And Moshe finished the work” (Shemot 39:32, 40:33). For a detailed comparison, see Nechama Leibowitz in her work “Studies in Shemot”, page 479.

The creative activities (melachot) which are prohibited on Shabbat are derived from the building of the mishkan. This means that our activities building the mishkan are analogous to God creating the world. Furthering this analogy renders the mishkan as a symbol for all creation.

The mishkan is also analogous to the human being, as expressed in the familiar poem, “In my heart I will construct a mishkan”  (“בלבבי משכן אבנה”), written by Rav Yitzchak Hutner, based on the words of Reb Elazar, a contemporary of the Arizal from Tzefat. The Isbitzer Rebbe, Reb Mordechai Yosef, asserts, “It is well known that the mishkan and its vessels are analogous to the image of the human being…”

Torat HaNistar develops this analogy more precisely. We have seen that the mishkan is analogous to creation, an embodiment of Sinai, and symbolic of the human being. God’s presence dwells in the mishkan, in creation and in the individual.

How can we transform ourselves into a place for the Divine Presence to dwell?  The Rambam’s Hilchot Beit HaBechira is instructive.  “It is a positive commandment to be in fear of the sanctuary as it says, ‘And you shall fear my sanctuary’ because it is not the sanctuary that you fear, rather He who commanded it. And what is fear of the sanctuary? That a person should not enter the Temple Mount holding his walking stick…and he should not enter unless it is or the purpose of fulfilling some commandment”   (Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchot Beit Habechira 7:1-2).   This list of halachotinstructs us exactly how we can and cannot approach the mikdash and are intended to impose a feeling of caution and careful reflection on approaching. These halachot instruct us that the space is holy and heighten our awareness that we are entering into another Presence. Thus we learn that in order to enter the mikdash, we need to make space.

An essential aspect of fear of the mikdashmorah mikdash, is limiting access and activities in the holy site. We make the space holy by limiting ourselves and giving to God.    On the verse, “Take for Me an offering” (Shemot 25:2), the Mei HaShiloach teaches,  “God commanded that each person should devote a special time each day for Him in meditation.”

According to his reading, each of us is the mishkan and our teruma – our offering or sacrifice – is refraining from activities each day and giving the time to God.  By giving of our time, we both refrain from activities which generally define who we are, and simultaneously create a space as it were, to allow the “Other” to enter.  This, of course, is also true in personal relationships; the capacity to limit oneself and make room for the other is the beginning of any authentic encounter.

Shabbat Shalom!   Batya

Your thoughts are welcome, write to me at Batya@wbm.org.il

מקורות לפרשת תרומה

באחד משיריו של רבי אלעזר אזכרי מופיע הפסוק הבא: “בתוך לבי משכן אבנה לזיוו, קרבן תקריב לו נפשי היחידה”   בעקבות פסוק זה כתב הרב יצחק הוטנר את השיר “בלבבי משכן אבנה”, וחיבר לו את המנגינה הידועה: בלבבי משכן אבנה להדר כבודו, ובמשכן מזבח אקים לקרני הודו,

ולנר תמיד אקח לי את אש העקידה, ולקרבן אקריב לו את נפשי היחידה

 

מי השילוח פר’ תצוה ד”ה ‘ועשית מזבח מקטר קטרת’
 “כי ידוע שהמשכן וכליו רומזין לקומת צורת האדם…’

 

רמב”ם הלכות בית הבחירה פרק ז הלכה א

מצות עשה ליראה מן המקדש שנאמר ומקדשי תיראו, ולא מן המקדש אתה ירא אלא ממי שצוה על יראתו.

הלכות בית הבחירה פרק ז הלכה ב            ואי זו היא יראתו לא יכנס אדם להר הבית במקלו או במנעל שברגליו או באפונדתו או באבק שעל רגליו או במעות הצרורין לו בסדינו ואין צ”ל שאסור לרוק בכל הר הבית אלא אם נזדמן לו רוק מבליעו בכסותו, ולא יעשה הר הבית דרך שיכנס מפתח זו ויצא מפתח שכנגדה כדי לקצר הדרך אלא יקיפו מבחוץ, ולא יכנס לו אלא לדבר מצוה.

 

מי השילוח, פרשת תרומה ויקחו לי תרומה
‘שצוה הש”י שכל אחד יפריש לעצמו שעה מובדלת לה’ בכל יום ולהתבודד בעבודת הש”י’