image 23

D’var Torah - Terumah

From our Hebrew School Director Liora Ramati

On Saturday I was leading my student’s Bar Mitzvah services. As we were preparing for his big day, I was motivating him to choose a meaningful Mitzvah project which in my opinion should have been tied to the war in Israel. There was only a week left before his service and the announcement of his Mitzvah project, but he still couldn’t make up his mind and choose a worthy cause. I gave him a few suggestions, but they didn’t move his heart to go with them. Just then a crazy accident happened, and his little brother had a bad fall that required him to spend few days in the children’s hospital. As bad as it was or could have been, his brother was able to be back home before the big celebration, feeling good and having a really positive experience at the hospital. That was when it became clear to my student what he wanted to do. His heart spoke and moved him to choose the children’s hospital as the winning place for his Mitzvah. At that moment he knew he wanted to give back to the place that gave his family so much.

This week’s Torah portion is about our Mitzvah project of building the ark, the Aron ha-kodesh, which was made not only as a storage place for our Torah but also as a storage (source) of light – Or. That is why it is named Aron since the word Or is in it, and because the Torah is light it needs a place that is capable to hold on to that light.

Terumah starts by G-d telling Moses to tell the Israelite people to bring him or better translated to take for him gifts; “you shall accept gifts for me from every person whose heart moves him” – Ydvenu libo – lenadev – his heart voluntarily wants to. Everyone was asked to give a gift from their heart – spontaneously!
We are preparing a physical place for a spiritual item. It’s a special space that can hold on to light, and we all are called to help build it together with a pure heart.

The beauty of a Mitzvah project is the facilitating of giving. The Bar Mitzvah boy chooses where he wants to donate to and then he includes his invites to join him in the giving through their gifts to him. A midrash tells us that all the Israelite people were expected to be involved with the building of the Ark so that they would win the merit of receiving the Torah. When we are giving as a group the Torah shines bright!

After G-d lists all the items that need to be donated for the making of the Ark, he says: And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. This space needs to be holy enough for G-d so he gives specific details during 400 verses with detailed instructions how it should be done. The sanctuary is made to serve all the community so Its construction must be made by all the people, donating as much as the can, to help them feel truly connected to each other, the Torah and G-d.
This is the first time the Israelites are going to build a holy traveling size sanctuary for their G-d, made by many different types of colorful materials, as free people that their heart moves them to give and this is after building tall Pyramids for 400 years in Egypt from heavy bricks and mortar as slaves, suffering and building a monument to house the tombs of the Pharaohs and to display the pharaoh’s power, wealth and promote religious beliefs they didn’t even follow.
The Ark and its contents serve as a symbol of the covenant between G-d and Israel, so every material is symbolic of this relationship. One of the materials mentioned for the Ark are special throne trees: Etzei Shitim which can also be an acrostic of the words: Peach, Good, Salvation and forgiveness.

1. Shin – Shalom – Peace
2. Tet – Tova – Good
3. Yud – Yeshuha – Salvation
4. Mem – Mechila – forgiveness

These 4 words sum up the type of relationship we are building with G-d as we are preparing a place he can call home.
We entered the month of Adar and mishenichnas Hadar Marbim Besimcha, we are expected to increase our happiness during this Jewish Month. Terumah does just that. The name of this Torah portion gives us a hint on ways to be happy. Terumah is a word for a donation not a charity. A word with a positive connotation of strengthening while getting so much back in return – Teruma is from the root Ram – the verb Leromem – to lift our spirits – leharim – to elevate our soul – How can it be accomplished? By getting closer to G-d with actions of LOVE!

Terumah is not like Tzedakah –The money we are asked to donate is for sacred use, it is given from money that we put aside especially for that.

My student’s donation to the children’s hospital was made possible after the misfortune of his brother’s fall. It was a situation that created an opportunity of giving. We too had a bad fall in Egypt but after that we were saved and received an opportunity to give for a good purpose, to receive the light of our Torah.

After the life-altering experience of standing at Sinai, how are we expected to keep the HIGH we felt there in the present? And be happy on top of that? It is possible through daily actions of following and practicing the laws from Mishpatim, of good deeds. It is through the performance of Mitzvot that we feel elevated and strong enough to help others, knowing the change for good we are able to create, getting the feeling of fulfilment when we accomplish building something big, not in the physical aspect like a tall pyramid but in the spiritual one, as the size of our tabernacle which we carry everywhere we go, close to the chamber of our heart. We will have 40 years carrying it and caring for it to bond with G-d.

Remember the take: Lekach – the lesson of this Parash. When you take from yourself to give to others it’s really giving to yourself more than you can ever afford. That is how you get back so much more than you give. And you feel it mostly in your heart! That’s how you gain real and true Happiness.

Beth Moshe Congregation is filled with generations of South Florida families with roots and traditional values. 

2225 NE 121 Street, North Miami, Florida 33181

[email protected]

305 891 5508