Weekly Reading Insights:
Terumah 5778


Overview of the Torah Reading

To be read on Shabbat Terumah, 2 Adar 5778/Feb. 17, 2018

Torah: Exodus 25:1-27:19; Haftorah: Kings I, 5:26-32, 6:1-13

Terumah is the 7th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and it contains 4692 letters, in 1145 words, in 96 verses.

Primarily concerns the preparations for building the tabernacle. the Jews were commanded to offer the necessary material for the tabernacle. Specifications were given for the construction of the ark, table, showbread, menorah, sacrificial altar, and their accompanying equipment; the outer and inner curtains, coverings, beams, pillars, and outer encompassing enclosure of the tabernacle.


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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This week's Torah portion of Terumah begins with the words, "Take for me a contribution," and speaks about all the physical materials that were collected, including precious metals, gold, silver and copper, for the construction of the Tabernacle. On this portion, many of the commentators focus on the idea of giving tzedakah.

The Rebbe of Papa, connects last week's Torah portion with this week's. Last week's portion ends with Moshe going up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. The last thing the Jewish people say is one of the main commitments we make as a people to G-d. We say, "We will do whatever you G-d, command of us and we will study your Torah" (naaseh v'nishma). By prefacing the expression 'we will do', before 'we will study', they implied (and committed us for all future generations) that they would fulfill the commandments unconditionally, even before they understood the details. The Rebbe of Papa, quoted one of the ancient commentaries, Medrash Ple'ah, that says that right after the Jewish people said, we will do and then we will hear, the next thing that G-d commanded them was to make a contribution. He said there are people who fulfill all the commandments with great care, but when it comes to anything to do with money, "out of pocket" they fall short. In effect, G-d challenged them. It is not enough to say we will do the commandments unconditionally. The test is, what will you contribute? What will you do when it comes to committing your pocket, like you committed your mouth?

The once chief rabbi of Lemberg, Yosef Shaul Natenzon also comments about this phenomenon. He said that it is true that many people find it difficult to give. Their problem is they think that the money they contribute is theirs. The people that have an easier time giving understand that, "All is from You and from Your hand it is given" (Divrei Hayomim A-29/14), whatever we give is from G-d. It is G-d who brings us our livelihood, and He arranges what our expenses are and what remains to give as tzedakah. This is one of the secrets of the first verse of our portion. The words do not say give me a contribution. The words in fact are, take MY contribution. In other words, G-d says take what I have given you to make your contribution.

The Lev Simcha, one of the Rebbes of the Gur dynasty, emphasized this idea. He was once in attendance at the dedication of a new school building for which all the money was donated by one individual. One of those officiating mentioned to the Rebbe that so and so donated all the money. The Rebbe did not answer. Fearing that the Rebbe had not heard him, he said it again, a bit more loudly. The Rebbe responded, "Gave?!?! He took!" This is what the real quality of giving tzedakah is, that while we think we are 'giving', the truth is that the merit is so great, and the transformation of the individual so profound, we are really receiving!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


Specifically, for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists, and more,

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one sample:

Chasidic Masters
Gold, Wood, Gold

By Yosef Y. Jacobson

The ark that the Jewish people constructed in the Sinai desert contained 3 layers representing three human dimensions. The innermost, made of pure gold and tucked inside the other two layers, reflected the Divine, spiritual essence. The middle ark made of wood reflected the more visible conscious personality. Nonetheless, our outer behavior must remain pure similar to the third and outer ark, made also of pure gold.

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