The Building of a Nation by Daniel Wenger


The name of this week's Parsha, Teruma, carries a much deeper meaning than the common translation in the form of a "tithe.”  Although the word Teruma does refer to the portion of one's produce that is set aside to be given to a Kohen, in our Parsha, it takes on a similar, yet much larger implication of a Mitzva.

After being called up Mount Sinai by Hashem to receive His commandments, Hashem lists to Moshe the materials that would be required to build His earthly home.  Hashem explains that these materials are to be collected from the Israelites as a "Teruma" (Shemot 25:2).  Thus, all of the nation will have contributed to the construction of the holiest place on earth.

This week's Haftora echoes this theme directly with a description of the construction of the first Bait Hamikdash.  Several direct parallels of words should be noticed between the construction of the Mishkan and the Bait Hamikdash.  Foremost is the purpose or result of the construction of these buildings.  In our Parsha (25:8) and in the Haftora (Melachim I 6:13), the words "Veshachanti Betocham" and "Veshachanti Betoch Bnai Yisrael," respectively, clearly define an outcome: Hashem would rest His Presence with Bnai Yisrael in those places.  Another common word is "Chochma," loosely translated as knowledge.  Specifically here this refers to a Divine knowledge.  In Parshat Ki Tisa (Shemot 31:3), Betzalel is given this "Chochma" by Hashem so that he may accurately construct several key components of the Mishkan.  Melachim I (5:26) sees Shlomo Hamelech instilled with the Godly "Chochma" with which he orders the construction of the Bait Hamikdash.

Finally, we see the people themselves and their involvement with the construction processes.  In our Parsha, as we stated earlier, the entire nation had the opportunity to donate of their own wealth towards the construction of the Mishkan.  Similarly, the Haftora describes tens of thousands of people employed to the holy work of constructing Hashem's permanent home.  The common thread here is that a largely significant population was involved in the construction of Hashem's holy sanctuary.

Today, we live without a Bait Hamikdash and Hashem is no longer directly noticeable on this earth.  How does one deal with this?  One must give of oneself towards the pursuit of the third Bait Hamikdash.  But the Midrash states that the third Bait Hamikdash is built in heaven, so how can one contribute to its building?  The answer can be seen from the construction of the two above-mentioned houses of God.  One must strive to gain the "Chochma" that is present in this world through learning Hashem's Torah and acquiring the Divine knowledge that lies within.  One must also keep in mind the purpose of this study, which is that Hashem should again rest His Presence in our midst.  The Beatles put it well when they sang "One and one and one is three.”  By giving of ourselves, acquiring "Chochma," and yearning for God's presence, we can merit the arrival of the third Bait Hamikdash Bimheira Biyameinu.

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