Terumah 5783 – Ein Kamocha
Where do we find holiness? In the Musaf Kedushah we call out,
כְּבוֹדוֹ מָלֵא עוֹלָם
God’s glory fills the whole world! But then the angels call to each out,
מְשָׁרְתָיו שׁוֹאֲלִים זֶה לָזֶה אַיֵּה מְקוֹם כְּבוֹדוֹ
Where is God’s holy place? Like the game show Jeopardy, the answer comes in the form of a question. Where do we find holiness? It’s everywhere! It fills the whole world! And yet, our response to this question in the kedushah is,
בָּרוּךְ כְּבוֹד ה’ מִמְּקוֹמוֹ
Blessed is God from God’s place. Where is that place? We learn in this week’s parashah, Terumah, that the dwelling space for Holiness is in the Mishkan. So how was it made?
In this week’s parashah, Terumah, we read:
וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי (Ex. 25:1)
God says to Moses to talk to the people of Israel and receive gifts from them: “From every person whose heart so moves them, receive a gift” to build the Mishkan. What is the gift?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that each person brings the gift of good that is inside of them, הַטּוֹב שֶׁבְּלִבָּם. Because the Mishkan, that dwelling place where holiness lives, is built on the good that is found within each and every soul. And in each soul it looks different!
זָהָב וְכֶסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים (Ex. 25:3-4)
Gold and silver, bronze and t’chelet, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair.
Your gift, your goodness, doesn’t look like somebody else’s goodness. It is uniquely yours. And all of these gifts, these unique sparks of goodness from every willing soul, are accepted, fully, by God, as one complete gift. We know this because all these gifts are listed and then the Torah says, “זֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה”. This is the gift – in the singular. All these gifts come together as one – כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד בְּלֵב אֶחָד, as one person, as one heart.
That unity takes us back to the moment we received the Torah, when our shared purpose was established as we shouted out, נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע, we will do and we will listen!
We reenact that moment three times a week as we take out the Torah, and invite even more pomp and circumstance into that particular reenactment on Shabbat. Week after week, we take out the Torah and learn its lessons, and renew a partnership and relationship with God and our tradition. We call out to a God who is “lawmaker”, a God who gives strength, a God who protects. And at the same time we call out to God who is a parent, God of compassion, and justice. This brand new melody for the opening of the Torah service, commissioned by Beth El Synagogue Center’s Shoresh Halev Center, attempts to capture all of these emotions and aspects of relationship: the closeness and the distance, the energy and the longing.
As we take the Torah out each week, how do we take its lessons to heart? How do we mean what we say? How do we utilize its wisdom to walk as a Jew in the world and be the best version of ourselves?
I hope you enjoy the world premier of this new melody for the Torah service, and I hope to get to sing with you soon!