• Rabbi Chaim Richman

Parashat Termuah - I'll Be Staying Here with You

The Torah portion of Terumah is like a glimpse into Hashem’s celebration of His creation. How happy He is with this plan of being close to us in this world…if we but invite Him in!  As Moshe receives all His commandments on Mount Sinai, Hashem reveals His plans for ‘moving in and staying awhile’ with His people: 'Make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell among them! (EX. 25:8)'. 


We are taught: ‘Rabbi Shmuel bar Abba said: The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to have an abode below, just as He has one above. And when Israel stood at Mount Sinai, He told them: There is only one reason I delivered you out of Egypt…in order for you to erect for Me a tabernacle so that My presence will dwell among you.’ (Midrash Tanchuma) 


We might think that we are not up to the task. Who are we to build a home for G-d? Man is nothing but dust! We are so inadequate, how could we be so audacious as to think that we can properly honor G-d! As King Solomon said, ‘For will G-d indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You; much less this house that I have built!’ (I Kings 8:27). 


With these feelings in mind, the Midrash teaches us that this very question was raised by Moshe himself: 


‘Rabbi Yehudah bar Simon taught in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: When Moshe heard the Al-mighty utter ‘And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary,’ he recoiled in shock!

Moshe spoke before the Holy One, blessed be He: Master of the Universe! ‘Behold, the heavens and the heaven of  heavens cannot contain You! And yet, You say ‘And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary!?’ 


The Holy One, blessed be He, responded to Moshe: ‘Moshe, you are mistaken!  All that is needed is twenty beams on the north side, and twenty beams on the south side, and eight beams on the west side, (meaning the Tabernacle) and I will come down and abide My glory among them.’ 


The lesson from this teaching is both clear as well as profound. When confronting Hashem, whose glory fills the entire universe, man experiences feelings of inadequacy. Man’s human intellect tells him that he must approach G-d only in the grandest manner befitting His greatness and honor. But the lesson Hashem teaches us here is just the opposite! The Holy Temple is not built according to G-d’s lofty standards, but rather, according to man’s abilities and strengths…a few beams in the desert on this side and that are enough for His presence to dwell in this world. The Creator of the world reveals His own humility: He has no superhuman expectations of man. He simply requires whatever a given situation allows, and He asks that we do our best. When we honor G-d according to our abilities as human beings, to G-d this is greatness and honor. May we merit to always seek to honor G-d, and may we merit to rebuild the Holy Temple! May we always seek Hashem’s honor!

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