From our earliest history as a people and as a nation, we have been defined by the concept of Terumah. Terumah refers to the offerings or contributions that we have made, whether to our own internal communities or to the society’s in which we have lived.
We have always punched far beyond our weight. Just take a look at all the Jews that feature in the Australia day honours every year, for example.
Each year, the same question comes to mind as I re-read the week’s Parasha. The creation of the world is without a doubt the most miraculous and momentous event in all of history. After all, it is from that point that all of history began. So why does the Torah only record less than one Parasha, in fact, 31 verses to be precise towards recounting its details? Even more strange, is that when it comes to the building of a small Mishkan, or mobile sanctuary, it consumes nearly half the book of Exodus!
I believe that this strange contrast conveys something important about the Torah’s attitude towards life. For an infinite G-d to create a home for finite man is not a big deal. But for a finite man to create a home for an infinite G-d—that is a revolutionary notion. “V’asu li mikdash veshachanti betocham” is the command. “And you shall make for me a sanctuary so that I may dwell in them”. Who’s the “in them”? It’s each and every one of us in every generation. Every time we make a ‘terumah’, every time we contribute something of ourselves to another person or worthwhile cause, we create space for G-d in our world. We build this “sanctuary”. Perhaps it’s this word that encapsulates the secret to our influence and success. Terumah.Wishing you and your families Shabbat shalom!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman