This week we read and learn about the building of the Mishkan, the Sanctuary in the Bamidbar, the Wilderness. All manner of exotic building materials are required and the building begins! And yes this transition seems a tad abrupt! Just last week we were in Mishpatim and learning the mishpat, the social laws and now we are building contractors and interior designers! Sometimes Torah seems to proceed in a linear fashion and sometimes we take leaps forward. Terumah is one of those leaps. Terumah means portion – a hint of Shabbat Shekalim, perhaps, where each of us brought our half-shekel portion towards the cost of construction of the Mishkan.
What is the Mishkan? Simply, a Sanctuary for God, as God said to Moses, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell amidst them.” Moses is given very detailed architectural instructions about how to build this dwelling, as during the next 40 years, it will frequently be dismantled, carried and then reassembled. Think early Ikea. But this Mishkan is also the Sanctuary we build in our hearts – the girders, and the ornamentations a symbol of our emunah, our faith.
Our Siddur is titled the Mishkan Tefillah – a Sanctuary of Prayer. Let’s think about all the ways we create sanctuary in our lives – sanctuaries of contemplation, of safety, of sweetness and of protection. May each of us become a sanctuary for each other and for the Divine within us all.