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Parshat Terumah

By: Herschel Karp (11th Grade)

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Terumah, we learn about Hashem’s commandment to Bnei Yisrael saying, “construct Me a sanctuary so I can dwell in them.” This mitzvah of making a Mishkan for Hashem is the focus of the next few Parshiyot, which contain many details as to how it should be built. At the center of all these various elements of the construction of the Mishkan were three central components: the beams, sockets, and roof. There is also a concept taught by the Sages, that we also have to build a home for Hashem within ourselves. Therefore, the details regarding the construction of the Mishkan connect to the manner in which Hashem dwells in each of us.

The wooden beams used in the Mishkan were each ten feet tall. Kabbalists explain that these ten feet correspond to the ten faculties, or powers, of the soul. The silver sockets that would be inserted in the beams represent the capacity to be devoted to something or someone. The roof, which consists of curtains, represents the person’s will and capacity for pleasure. Once we understand that the Mishkan is symbolic to a human soul, we can better understand the commandment that the Jewish people should donate to the Mishkan. When donating towards the roof and the walls, every person could choose how much they wanted to donate. However, the donation for the silver sockets was equal for every person regardless of their means: a half shekel. So too, in each Jew’s soul, there are aspects where everyone is equal and aspects where each person is unique.

When it comes to the faculties of the soul, meaning intellect and emotion, each person is different, which is reflected in the varying donations one could give. Yet, the foundation of every Jew’s relationship to Hashem is the same. We are all equal in our ability and capacity to devote ourselves to Hashem, but the nature of our service varies.

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