Terumah — Exodus 25:1-27:19, The Parashat Hashavua for Saturday, February 9, 2019

Judaism is not a religion of individual salvation; rather, it is a religious tradition of collective redemption. Jews find God together in community.  For example, we must have a minyan (quorum) of 10 adults to recite certain prayers, like the Kaddish.

In this week’s Torah portion, God gives Moses instructions for the Israelites to build a portable sanctuary to carry with them in the desert. At the beginning of the instructions, God says, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)  One would expect the sentence to read, “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in it,” as we build a house in which to live. Our sages teach that are no mistakes in Torah, so this grammatical mistake teaches us that God is present when we come together in community.

God does not dwell in a place, but rather among people. Further, at the center of the Tabernacle, was the holy Ark which contained the stone tablets from Sinai. Above the Ark were carvings of two angelic creatures, the Cruvim (Cherubs) facing one another. In First Samuel 4:4, we read that God dwells between the Cruvim. This teaches us that God is found in the space between two people who are in relationship.

Let us seek God’s presence together, in the ways we treat each other.