Weekly Torah Commentary – Terumah February 16, 2018

Torah reading: Exodus 25:1 – 27:19

Haftorah reading: I Kings 5:26 – 6:13

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it.”  Exodus 25:8-9

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There is a principle embedded in the pages of Scripture that says: God has provided the cure before the disease.  In timeless eternity before Creation, God, in His great mercy and love, had a plan that was already in motion before man fell; a plan to reveal His love and His character to mankind and give man a second chance to commune with God.

When you read through the Book of Exodus, you will find that God gave three very important things through Moses that gave Israel the beginnings of God’s plan.

First, He had to show them what it meant to be holy, and to show them where they had already missed the mark and were an unworthy people, worthy only of death and judgment. He did this by giving them the Torah, and specifically the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments are not suggestions but rather God’s instructions for attaining to a holy life.

Secondly, God gave Moses the Civil and Religious Laws that we read so much of in the Book of Leviticus and other books of God’s Word. These laws were meant to show man the way to living a sanctified and committed life.

Thirdly, God commanded Moses to build a dwelling place for Him in the midst of the nation of Israel. It was the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.

The Tabernacle was to be the place where God would dwell and guide His people during their wilderness journey. The building of the Tabernacle was to be one of the most joyful and momentous occasions in the history of Israel.  Everything about this tabernacle was a symbol of something far greater than a building made with hands. It was built to visually express God’s deepest desire: to dwell in the hearts of men.

So let’s take a look at some facts about the Tabernacle.

1. The Tabernacle was the worship center of Israel for a long, long time: more than 500 years from MOSES to DAVID – until Solomon’s TEMPLE was built

2. A Large portion of the Torah is dedicated to the Tabernacle:

-13 chapters in the book of Exodus discuss the Tabernacle and its priesthood.

-18 chapters of Leviticus discuss the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle.

-2 chapters in Deuteronomy are set aside for the study of the Tabernacle.

3. The Tabernacle was filled with symbols, types, pictures, and shadows that teach us spiritual truths. The symbolism of the Tabernacle is significant.

4.  The Tabernacle and its priesthood were teaching tools for more than 500 years. Israel had to settle for an imperfect Tabernacle that was made with human hands but which foreshadowed God’s ultimate plan of Redemption.

5. The cloud that guided by day was visible above the Holy of Holies to show that God was in their midst.  The pillar of fire by night was comforting. The Children of Israel could always look toward the Holy of Holies and see the fire of God’s presence over their camps.

The Tabernacle was the dwelling place for God’s presence upon earth, standing as a strong and enduring witness of the reality of God’s presence, His love and His care for His people.  But it also testified to a reality to come: that one day those who are called God’s people would so embody the spirit and essence of the One they follow that all nations would see and recognize Him as Almighty Father, Glorious Creator and Incomparable Redeemer.

The Tabernacle is referred to by three distinct words.  A ‘tabernacle‘ is a ‘dwelling’ place.  A ‘sanctuary’ is a ‘place set apart.’  A ‘tent of testimony’ signifies a dwelling which makes a statement about who lives in it.

In Tune with Torah this week = Given that the Tabernacle was not only a physical place but also a spiritual reality that speaks to us these many centuries later, this Shabbat let us ask ourselves how we individually embody the three names by which it was known.

Am I – are you – a ‘dwelling place’ for God?  Is God at home with your way of life?

Am I – are you – a ‘sanctuary’ for Him? Is your life ‘set apart’ from the secular world’s way of doing things?  From its values and systems?

Am I – are you – a ‘tent of testimony’? Can others look at your lifestyle and recognize the presence of God in you?  Does your day to day life ‘testify’ that you love God and follow Him?

The Tabernacle was not just for the wilderness.  May its true meaning live on in each of us!

Shabbat Shalom

 

Weekly Torah Commentary – Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles October 2, 2015

NOTE: As we are in the midst of celebrating the seven day festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), the regular Torah reading schedule is suspended and the readings are from Leviticus 23 regarding the festivals of the Lord.

Tabernacles does not commemorate some major historical event in Jewish history; rather, it celebrates the survival of the children of Israel for forty years in the desert. Every guideline for constructing our ‘sukkahs’ today reflect the memory of our ancestors’ experience: a ceiling made of materials taken from the earth, a roof that is not fully closed so the stars remain visible, etc.

During those forty years, the children of Israel were surrounded by clouds of Divine protection. There was no dependence on navigational skills or instruments. All direction was given by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night; at once a very ‘insecure’ situation yet in reality the most ‘secure’ of all, as Israel lived under the manifest presence of the Almighty.

A sukkah reminds us that regardless of our personal or family circumstances, the reality by which we live is precisely that: we are temporary citizens of a temporary world enroute to the Land of Promise, the World To Come, where we ultimately achieve happiness and fulfillment.

Sukkot is a very joyful time but how do we keep that joy year round. First and foremost by the way we think. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, wrote King Solomon.(Prov. 23:7)

When we include God in our moment-to-moment decisions, we are better equipped to embrace joy and “go with the flow” of daily life in a spirit of peace and tranquility. Once in a while we need to remind ourselves that God was ruling the world long before we came on the scene and will continue to do so when we depart this life.

Recognizing that “His mercies are new every morning” and “great is His faithfulness”,we can face each day with confidence and assurance that His love is greater than any limitation we hold on to or place upon ourselves.

The western attitude of entitlement has no place in our relationship with Him. Rather His goodness stimulates us to gratitude. We are the constant recipients of gifts that we can never repay. To Him be the honor and thankfulness.

We are all in this together, individuals bound together by faith and a love for the Almighty. This is symbolized by the four species that we join together on Sukkot; the etrog, the citron, the lulav and the myrtle. On Sukkot, we hold them up bound together as a symbol of our shared destiny.

In Tune with Torah this week= The joy of the Lord is our strength – this is the message of Sukkot. How is your joy level? Are you so grounded in Him that whether or not the circumstances meet your expectations, you are still able to maintain a sense of joy in your relationship with the Holy One of Israel?