In Perashat Teruma we are given painstaking details for the building of the Mishkan and fashioning of every detail of its accoutrements. I am sure that at the time that the Mishkan was being built it was necessary for the artisans, and the Cohanim to understand how everything should look in order to make the Mishkan to the specifications of Hashem. Why would we need to have this information for today? Are we planning on building another Mishkan, after all this was a temporary portable Tabernacle used only until the permanent Bet HaMikdash was built in Jerusalem? Why maintain the details of its architecture? Perhaps it was not the detail of the artifacts that Hashem was interested in preserving, but rather the environment that each piece of the Mishkan was supposed to inspire. If one is so focused on the details of the house of worship they will hopefully be inspired to maintain the same attention to the spirituality of the environment. It was not, after all, the physical building which remained, but the practice and devotion to the Almighty which transcended the test of time.
Several other questions have always been asked throughout the generations concerning G-d and the Temple service. First, why G-d needs a place to dwell? And second, why G-d needs offerings and sacrifices?
The famous statement “They shall make a Sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them” is the basis for this week’s Perasha. Perashat Terumah focuses on the building of the Mishkan –Tabernacle, and it is filled with precise details and measurements of many of the artifacts that Bene Yisrael fashioned for this holy place of worship. One might think that Hashem is a G-d who is in need of lavish material items and opulent surroundings. In actuality Hashem understands the human psyche and its need for tangible and tactile worship. Many times throughout the Torah Hashem states that the practice of sacrifice is purely for human consumption. It is not Hashem that needs the actual korban, or for that matter the altar or temple. It is however, necessary for mankind to envision G-d in some form, and the beautiful gold and silver ornaments remind us of the beauty and greatness of Hashem. G-d in ordering the construction of the Mishkan and the bringing of offerings was surrendering to Bene Yisrael’s need for a tangible G-d that they can see and touch. This was the egregious violation of the Golden Calf apostasy, where Bene Yisrael wanted the Calf to represent G-d. It was after that episode that G-d commanded Moshe to build the Mishkan. Maimonides, is of the opinion that the offerings and sacrifices were included in Jewish worship because that was the way that mankind at that time understood how to serve and worship G-d. However, once Bene Yisrael commit themselves to believe and worship Hashem it is important that they accomplish this in a manner befitting to a great and all-able King.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.