By Rabbi David Fain
Parshat Terumah: Exodus 25:1-27:19; I Kings 5:26-6:13.
This week’s Torah portion invites us to focus on what is actually central to our Judaism, our relationship with God.
Amidst our busy lives, it is easy to lose sight of this relationship. Initially, we read about Moshe standing on Har Sinai encountering God. It seems as if each one of us as individuals is only going to hear from Moshe the instructions for building the Mishkan, God’s sanctuary amongst the Jewish people. However, a close reading of the opening verses through the lens of the Midrash reveals that God is inviting us to build a personal relationship with Him.
Our ultimate task as Jews is to connect intimately with the Divine, to learn from the Torah and follow God’s ways. This week’s portion begins with God reaching out to us, asking us to enter into a relationship.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver and copper.’” (Shemot 25:1-3)
The Midrash Shemot Rabbah explains these beginning verses are really God calling out for an intimate connection with the Jewish people. God is telling the Jewish people, take Me, connect to Me. Shemot Rabbah (49:2) explains the verse, “Tell the Israelite people to take Me as an offering.”
The Midrash continues that God is reaching out to the Jewish people as if we are lovers, citing the famous biblical book of Song of Songs, verse 2:16: “My beloved is mine And I am his …”
Parashat Terumah is an invitation from God to all of us, an opportunity for all of us to enter into relationship with God.
Let us take this Shabbat and focus and reflect on how we can build our own individual relationships with God. Let us embrace God with open arms.
Rabbi David Fain is rabbi at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit in Farmington Hills.