This week’s Torah portion, Parsha T’rumah, places us deep in the details. Contextually, within the last 24 chapters of Shmot/Exodus, we have endured slavery and become accustomed to it, experienced the enormity of the plagues, been delivered from Mitzrayim/Egypt in miraculous fashion, wandered – whining – in the desert, been provided manna and water to sustain us, and participated directly in creating a covenantal relationship with G!d at Mount Sinai. Wow! Selah!
So how do we understand what seems like a stark shift from the experiential to the intellectual – from the forces of the natural and supernatural to the details of rules and instructions for human conduct? One way is to reframe our concept of “the details.” If we view what feels like the most mundane and trivial aspects of our behavior as holy, elevated, and even miraculous, our orientation toward these actions and interactions shifts. The more we enhance the holiness our “details,” the more likely they are to produce the energy and intention we need to move forward. How can we create ways to do this?
In detailed, descriptive, specific directions, parsha T’rumah teaches how to sanctify, appreciate, honor, worship. But not in the way one might imagine. T’rumah, in Hebrew, means gifts. G!d tells Moses to have the children of Israel bring gifts for G!d. However, with all of the specificity of this parsha, G!d does NOT specify the amount of the gift to be given by each. “[Y]ou shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him.” (Shmot 25:2) Ahhh … How much more meaningful and generous are gifts from the heart! Whether we give of our energy, our material wealth, or our neshama/soul, the gift given from the heart is most passionate and profound. And for what purpose was G!d instructing the giving of these gifts? ”And let them make for me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (25:8) G!d, whose power and capabilities have been so clearly displayed across the landscape of Torah as infinite, asks us to make a sanctuary for the Divine Indwelling. For when we participate, we are more deeply engaged. And when we make a sanctuary – a refuge, a holy space, a mikdash – when we create space within our hearts, we open ourselves to the indwelling and the opportunity to be our best and most sacred selves.
Please share your heart-gifts with us as we create a sanctuary in time this Shabbat. Little Minyan holds worship opportunities on the 4th Saturday morning and the 2nd Friday evening of each month at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2070 Ridgecliff Road, Upper Arlington, 43221. Please check our calendar for further details.
Commentary by Jessica K. Shimberg, Little Minyan Spiritual Life Coordinator Art by Maggidah Shoshannah Brombacher, Ph.D.