There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion 19 Terumah, aliyah by aliyah.
Terumah Exodus 25:1–27:19
Aliyah 1 – Exodus 25:1-16
Exodus 25:2 “Tell the people of Isra’el to take up a collection for me — accept a contribution from anyone who wholeheartedly wants to give.
HaShem has always cared about your heart.
Exodus 25:3 The contribution you are to take from them is to consist of gold, silver and bronze
Is this list in descending order of value?
Exodus 25:4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn; fine linen, goat’s hair
Gold, silver and bronze are all metals, while these items are all textile. Linen is a plant fiber while goat hair is an animal fiber.
Exodus 25:5 tanned ram skins and fine leather; acacia-wood
One of these is not like the others. I wonder why the wood is included with the skins and leather that will be used in the Tabernacle. I don’t think any wood gets covered in leather, but the wood does get overlayed with gold.
Exodus 25:6 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense
These both get burned.
Exodus 25:7 onyx stones and other stones to be set, for the ritual vest and breastplate.
It clears states that these will be used for the Ephod, the vest the High Priest wore for most of his service.
Exodus 25:8 “They are to make me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.
HaShem has always wanted to dwell with Mankind. Despite the sin in Eden and the destruction of all but Noah and his family in the Flood, that never changed. He chose to work through a people and a Nation and the Tabernacle and later the Temple is integral to His eternal plan of Redemption.
Exodus 25:9 You are to make it according to everything I show you — the design of the tabernacle and the design of its furnishings. This is how you are to make it.
Your intentions matter but HaShem has defined particular ways we can connect to Him. It is important to listen to Him and love Him how he wants to be loved.
Exodus 25:10 They are to make an ark of acacia-wood three-and-three-quarters feet long, two-and-a-quarter feet wide and two-and-a-quarter feet high.
Exodus 25:11 You are to overlay it with pure gold — overlay it both inside and outside — and put a molding of gold around the top of it.
The inside and the outside are supposed to match. Is there a lesson in there for us?
12 Cast four gold rings for it, and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 13 Make poles of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 Put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark; you will use them to carry the ark.
Exodus 25:15 The poles are to remain in the rings of the ark; they are not to be removed from it.
This reminds me of how Israel was supposed to eat their Passover meal in Egypt dressed to flee with their walking staffs and such ready.
Exodus 25:16 Into the ark you are to put the testimony which I am about to give you.
HaShem wants to be on relationship with people. A relationship needs to be voluntary and reciprocal to thrive and to be real. HaShem asks for a vessel to be made ready to receive His blessings. He is all powerful and Almighty, but He is all good, so He limits Himself by how the weaker party acts.
Aliyah 2 – Exodus 25:17-30
Exodus 25:22 There I will meet with you. I will speak with you from above the ark-cover, from between the two k’ruvim which are on the ark for the testimony, about all the orders I am giving you for the people of Isra’el.
Isn’t this a little picture of Eden? HaShem is enthroned above the tablets of testimony, which stand for the Torah, which is called the Tree of Life. He is flanked by cherubim as Mankind comes to commune with Him. A Cherub with a flaming sword was set at the entrance of Eden after the fall to bar entry, now two Cherubim usher Mankind in. I love that imagery.
Aliyah 3 – Exodus 25:31-26:14
Exodus 25:34 On the central shaft of the menorah are to be four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its ring of outer leaves and petals.
Why is this shaft different from every other shaft? It has 4 cups instead of 3, so if the cups were to be identical, the center shaft would be taller than the others. Why? What is the purpose of that?
Aliyah 4 – Exodus 26:15-30
Exodus 25:30 “You are to erect the tabernacle according to the design you have been shown on the mountain.
Moses was shown what the assembly of the Tabernacle would look like when he was on Mount Sinai. That is amazing. I wonder if he confirmed that all the elements were correct as they were being constructed?
Aliyah 5 – Exodus 26:31-37
Exodus 26:33 Hang the curtain below the fasteners. Then bring the ark for the testimony inside the curtain; the curtain will be the divider for you between the Holy Place and the Especially Holy Place.
Are there only two levels of Holiness? It’s fairly surprising to me that there are gradations of Holiness. Do they exist outside the Tabernacle or Temple context?
Aliyah 6 – Exodus 27:1-8
Exodus 27:3 Make its pots for removing ashes, and its shovels, basins, meat-hooks and fire pans; all its utensils you are to make of bronze.
Is bronze a more hardy material than gold? This bronze is going to be put to work. I’ve heard gold is soft and less suited for non-decorative items.
Aliyah 7 – Exodus 27:9-19
“Here is how you are to make the courtyard of the tabernacle. On the south side, facing southward, are to be tapestries for the courtyard made of finely woven linen, 150 feet for one side,
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- Why do these details matter?
My opinions on this is as follows:HaShem is looking for a relationship with us. A close, personal relationship demands nuance and specificity. He is a particular person and He wants us to respect that and not take Him for granted.
2. Do levels of “holiness” matter without the Tabernacle and Temple?
I am going to say yes and no. I am short on time, so I will not expound at this time.
3. Is this a picture of Eden?
I think it definitely is. Look to my comment on Aliyah 2.
That concludes my journey through Mishpatim for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.