by Rabbi Jeffrey Adler
Last week’s parshah was “T’rumah” (Exodus 25:1-27:19). The title comes from the dominant theme of the portion that Moses was to receive from the people of B’nei-Yisrael an offering, a “t’rumah”, literally, a “lifting up”. It was to be from “anyone whose heart compels him”, leaving it to individual conscience and desire. This was to be beyond the regular tithes described in passages like Deuteronomy 14.
25:1-7: “These are the contributions which you are to receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet cloth; fine linen and goat hair; rams skins dyed red, sealskins, acacia wood; oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastplate.” This list provided enough variety that anyone so inclined could give something. The people, before leaving Egypt, had “spoiled” the Egyptians, thus giving them their substantial back wages for all their laborious work and toil as slaves for 4 centuries, also providing them with things to give now.
Adonai goes on to say, “Have them make a Sanctuary (Miqdash) for Me…”.(verse 8). Miqdash derives from “qadash”, “holy or set apart”. The offerings were to go toward building a holy spot in the midst of the camp, separate from commonplace settings. The purpose for the Miqdash is “v’shakanti b’tokham”, “and I will dwell among them”. God wants more than merely to contact His people from time to time. He wants to make His home with us. In Numbers 2, Adonai gave instructions that the various tribes would camp in an arrangement by which they would surround the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. Elohim wants His beloved people around Him, like any father would. That’s why in Hebrews we are exhorted against “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”. We are not to deprive each other of fellowship, nor shortchange our Father of family time.
“Shakanti” is the 1st person singular of the perfect tense of “shakan”, dwell. We get from this verbal root “shekinah”, “dwelling” as in “shekinah glory”. The perfect tense sees the sense of the verb as one point on a timeline, making it more focused, concentrated. Adonai wants to do more than merely “hang around”; He wants to make a home with His own children. However, the requirement for a specific quality of Sanctuary does not mean that He requires all our gold and jewels in order to show up, though the Biblical text does describe a sapphire-like pavement under God’s Throne. He is saying that He will not make His home where His holy character and Nature are disregarded. That is why, for instance, the Psalmist implores Adonai in Psalm 139 to “search me, O God, and know my heart…and lead me in your everlasting way.” He will not live in any old spiritual dump.
Yeshua continues this desire to be home with us in John 14:1-4: “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be. And, you know the way to where I am going.” Yeshua came to earth to redeem us, paying the ultimate price for our sin on the stake and then rising from the grave. However, He knew we only live so long- life is like the proverbial vapor, appearing for a moment, then vanishing away. So, Yeshua committed Himself to preparing an eternal home for us, with Him, where in His Presence is “fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6). “…So we shall always be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17c).
Adonai’s motivation towards us is to have His children home with Him- forever! Such a deal!
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is president of the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.