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PARSHAT TERUMAH 5784 – THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF DONATIONS AND THE TEMPLE

בס”ד

PARSHAT TERUMAH 5784

Exodus 25:2


Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved.
 בדַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרֽוּמָתִֽי:

Do you know that feeling, that spark that drives you to action, the energy that brings you to life and moves mountains? The Temple, the Mikdash, is the place where that life spark of the world resides. It’s the place that enlivens and brings the world to life. It’s an important place, not only for Jews but also for non-Jews. Consider the 70 bulls sacrificed by Jewish priests for non-Jews during Sukkot. The Mikdash is also significant for non-Jews to pray to G-d, as Isaiah 56:7 states: “My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Since it’s an important place for everyone, the call for donations for the Temple is universal. Gifts could be brought for the Tabernacle and the Mikdash during their construction, or for the building of the Third Temple. This seems logical, as various materials are needed to accomplish this task. These materials were also contributed by non-Jews; for instance, Hiram, the king of Tyre, as mentioned in 1 Chronicles 14:1:

King Hiram of Tyre sent envoys to David with cedar logs, stonemasons, and carpenters to build a palace for him. אוַ֠יִּשְׁלַח חוּרָ֨ם (כתיב חיּרָ֨ם) מֶֽלֶךְ־צֹ֥ר מַלְאָכִים֘ אֶל־דָּוִיד֒ וַֽעֲצֵ֣י אֲרָזִ֔ים וְחָֽרָשֵׁ֣י קִ֔יר וְחָֽרָשֵׁ֖י עֵצִ֑ים לִבְנ֥וֹת ל֖וֹ בָּֽיִת:

And in 1 Kings 5:24-25:*


So Hiram kept Solomon provided with all the cedar and cypress wood he required,
 כדוַיְהִ֨י חִיר֜וֹם נֹתֵ֣ן לִשְׁלֹמֹ֗ה עֲצֵ֧י אֲרָזִ֛ים וַעֲצֵ֥י בְרוֹשִׁ֖ים כָּל־חֶפְצֽוֹ:
and Solomon delivered to Hiram 20,000 kors of wheat as provisions for his household and 20 kors of beaten oil. Such was Solomon’s annual payment to Hiram. כהוּשְׁלֹמֹה֩ נָתַ֨ן לְחִירָ֜ם עֶשְׂרִים֩ אֶ֨לֶף כֹּ֚ר חִטִּים֙ מַכֹּ֣לֶת לְבֵית֔וֹ וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים כֹּ֖ר שֶׁ֣מֶן כָּתִ֑ית כֹּֽה־יִתֵּ֧ן שְׁלֹמֹ֛ה לְחִירָ֖ם שָׁנָ֥ה בְשָׁנָֽה:

During the time of the Temple, I can also imagine that there were materials and products needed that one could give as a gift, but how does this apply to the time when the Temple does not stand, how does it apply to today? When the Temple brings the life force, the higher light to the world, how is it now, when we are in darkness and we long for the Third Temple, but the time when it will be built sometimes seems so far away?

In verse 8, we read the following:


And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst
 וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם

If we read carefully, this verse does not say that G-d will dwell in the Temple, but that He will dwell in them, in those who want to make a sanctuary for Him by giving donations. But how does that work?

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that a person comes into this world with a challenge that will ensure that his soul is repaired. It concerns those things that are most difficult for us to let go of, things that are close to our hearts. We see this with Abel, who gave the best of his small cattle. Perhaps it was the first lamb ever born, which he had seen grow, the lamb he loved most. From this we can learn that when we want to give something to G-d in the form of a Mitzvah, we should want to give the most beautiful and the best. If you say a blessing over food, do it as well as possible; if you visit a sick person, do it in the best possible way you can, etc. In fact, you should try to do more than you initially want. Yes, you may want to visit the sick for half an hour, try doing it for half an hour and 10 minutes, you may want to give ten euros to a good cause, try giving twelve.

But not always is what is closest to our hearts, what occupies us the most, something positive. Think of people who are addicted to something. What they are addicted to is worth everything to them, they lie for it, they steal for it, anything to get or do what their heart is occupied with all day. To give that to G-d may be the greatest gift a person can give to G-d. It will cost someone a lot of effort, time, and money, but ultimately, by doing so, they dispel the darkness in their heart, allowing in the light. Then the heart becomes a dwelling place, a sanctuary for Hashem.

We give G-d our whole heart, our good qualities, and our bad qualities, and we do both by breaking our own will and focusing on His will.

In this world that sometimes seems so dark without the Temple that made G-d’s Presence so obvious, we must let the light shine in our hearts and let it shine more and more into the world so that the world becomes more and more enlightened to the point where the Third Temple can indeed be rebuilt and the final redemption for humanity begins. Then the world will truly be a dwelling place for G-d.


Learning Points


1. The Temple, as a center of spiritual enlightenment and life force, is of great importance, not only for Jews but also for non-Jews.

2. The call for donations for the Temple is universal, as it plays an essential role in uplifting humanity and bringing enlightenment to the world.

5. The purpose of giving to G-d is to break our own will and focus on His will, making our hearts sanctuaries for Him.

6. Even in a world without the physical presence of the Temple, we must let the light shine in our hearts and radiate it to the world, anticipating the rebuilding of the Third Temple and the ultimate redemption of humanity.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

נתיבות שלום

Sefat Emmet by Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter

A non-Jew was allowed to make donations and sacrifices in the Second Temple, and so will non-Jews be allowed to do so in the Third Temple.

* 1 Kings 5:16-25

16And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying.
17You knew my father, David, that he could not build a house for the name of the L-rd his G-d, because of the wars which surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.
18And now the L-rd my G-d has given me rest on every side, (there is) neither adversary nor evil occurrence.
19And, behold, I purpose to build a house for the name of the L-rd my G-d, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son whom I will set upon your throne in your place, he shall build a house for My name.’
20And now, command that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon, and my servants shall be with your servants, and I will give you hire for your servants according to all that you shall say, for you know that (there is) not among us anyone who is skilled to hew timber like the Zidonians.
21And it was, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, “Blessed be the Lord this day, who has given to David a wise son over these great people.”
22And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, “I have heard that which you have sent me, I will do all your desires concerning cedar wood, and concerning cypress wood.
23My servants shall bring (them) down from Lebanon to the sea, and I will make them into rafts (to go) by the sea to the place that you shall send me, and will separate them there, and you will transport (them) , and you shall accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.
24And Hiram gave Solomon cedar wood and cypress wood (according to) all his desire.
25And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat (for) food to his household, and twenty measures of beaten oil, thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.


Text: Sefaria.org

With thanks to B. Yaniger for the inspiration and feedback

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