Monday, February 11, 2013

Making Our Space A Holy Space - Parashat Terumah

This week we read Parashat Terumah, the 1st mega-building campaign in the Torah.
The Israelites were asked to contribute gold, silver, copper, precious stones and wood to the construction of the Mishkan, the desert Temple. It was to be the Holy Place, the space where God's spirit would reside.

The text in this portion is some of the most detailed in the Torah.

"V'asu li mikdash v'shachanti b'tocham"
"And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell within them" (Ex.25:8)

What does this mean? Is God just in this 1 physical space? Does this mean that without a sanctuary, we could not experience God's presence? Does God really need a building? Why is there so much detail about the design of the space, if that's not what holiness is all about? Perhaps the desert Mishkan became a Holy space because it involved the entire community, and God truly lived within the people. The sanctuary is symbolic of a sacred space where we can experience God's presence.  Perhaps, we have our own personal sanctuary that makes us feel transformed. It's not the space that brings God's presence, it is us, as we elevate and transform ourselves.   

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