Questions and Concepts for Parsha Terumah
(Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Going back a few parshas, we recall Moses on more than one occassion giving Pharaoh this message from God:

Let my people go that they may serve me.

Later in Deuteronomy, we will learn what Yeshua called "the greatest commandment":

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Putting these two verses together, we understand that to love God is to serve Him and to serve Him is to love Him. The verse from Deuteronomy (6:5) teaches us a lesson (mentioned in one of our previous parsha commentaries) that God has given us the ability to know, serve (and love) Him, using our emotions ("heart"), minds ("soul") and actions/possessions ("might").

It is interesting to note that beginning with parsha Jethro, where the 10 Commandments are given, we see God presenting this "threefold" approach to His people.

  • In parsha Jethro, we have the deeply moving, emotional scene at Mount Sinai (following the incredible deliverance from Egypt), where the people "meet God" for the first time and respond, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do."
  • In last weeks parsha, Mishpatim, we see a long list of "civil commandments" instructing the people in "right action" - that which will bring "harmony among the brethren," something that pleases God greatly.
  • This week, we come to the commands concerning the Tabernacle, a deeply mystical section that gives our minds opportunity to explore the mysteries of God and His creation.

Thus we have consecutive parshas dealing with heart, strength and soul, following the pattern of Deuteronomy 6:5 (the "Shema") in fulfillment of God's desire for His people to serve Him. This threefold method of serving God and becoming conformed to "His Image" is meant to elevate us to a higher spiritual plane. The higher level in this world at the time of Moses was of the Priesthood, which just happens to be the subject of next week's parsha!

At the deepest levels of Torah study in the Hebraic tradition, one can either learn from the "top down" or "bottom up." The former would be concerned with the mysteries of Creation (physical and spiritual) as it developed from Genesis 1 until now. The latter would relate to ourselves, in the present, and how we (via our bodies, souls and the spiritual realm) move "closer" to God. Of course, one cannot study these two "independently" as they are completely intertwined.

There are many mystical elements found in the construction of the Tabernacle (and later the Temple.) These are beyond the scope of this study. We do develop some ideas in our Revelation study on Yashanet. Everything from the materials of gold, silver and brass, the colors of red, purple and blue, the arrangement of the furnishings, the dimensions of the structure, to the placement of the people (from the High Priest in the Holy of Holies to the tribes encircling the Tent) has deep significance. Even individual items, such as the Menorah, reveal great mysteries about God and His Creation.

Although the Tabernacle and Temple are not presently standing, it is taught that study of the Temple is commanded and considered the same as if one were taking part in the various spiritual obervances that were once conducted there. This rule applies as well to any Torah commands that we cannot physically fulfill for any reason. To study them will bring you closer to God.

Israel's redemption from Egypt was not complete with their physical departure. Nor was it complete with the revelation on Mt. Sinai. Only with the Tabernacle had the Exodus achieved its "final" purpose. Israel was now ready to love and serve God in every way.