"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." - Exodus 25:8
The Torah portion for this week is Terumah, which means "contributions," from Exodus 25:1-27:19, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 5:26-6:13.
In last week's reading, God gave the Torah to humankind. In this week's Torah portion, the children of Israel were commanded to build God a sanctuary. The Jewish sages explain the connection between the two portions with the following analogy.
There once was a king with one beloved and beautiful daughter. The king decided it was time for his daughter to marry, so he considered many suitors until he found the perfect one. The king celebrated the marriage with great joy. However, after the wedding, when it was time for the princess and her husband to establish their home together, the king had but one request. On one hand, he knew that he had to let his daughter go - it was only right that she be married. On the other hand, he would miss his only daughter and her husband terribly. He asked his new son-in-law that wherever the couple would go and live, there would be a room where the father could stay and visit.
The sages explain that the beloved daughter is the Torah, and at Mount Sinai, she was wedded to the people of Israel. In this week's Torah portion, after the wedding, God, the father, said, "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." God asks from us that wherever we go, we make a space for Him to come and stay with us.
Practically speaking, this directly influences Jewish law. Whenever a Jewish town is established, the first thing that must be built is a synagogue. There cannot be a God-centered community without a place to go for worship. Be it a synagogue or a church, we must make a physical structure dedicated to our God.
However, in a deeper sense, God is asking us to make space for Him in our lives, not necessarily in the physical sense, but in a spiritual sense as well. No matter how busy and complicated our lives are, we must create a sacred space for God in them. For some of us, that may mean waking up an hour earlier to have a full hour to spend with God in study or in prayer. For others, it may mean dedicating certain times of the week to in-depth Bible study. And still, I think the ideal is that in every moment of our lives, no matter what we may be doing, God is on our minds and in our lives directing our actions, our reactions, and our interactions with the people around us.
How might God dwell among you today? Find time and space for the God of the universe to spend time with you.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President