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Terumah in a Nutshell

Terumah in a Nutshell

Exodus 25:1–27:19


The people of Israel are called upon to contribute thirteen materials—gold, silver and copper; blue-, purple- and red-dyed wool; flax, goat hair, animal skins, wood, olive oil, spices and gems—out of which, G‑d says to Moses, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell amidst them.”

On the summit of Mount Sinai, Moses is given detailed instructions on how to construct this dwelling for G‑d so that it could be readily dismantled, transported and reassembled as the people journeyed in the desert.

In the Sanctuary’s inner chamber, behind an artistically woven curtain, was the ark containing the tablets of testimony engraved with the Ten Commandments; on the ark’s cover stood two winged cherubim hammered out of pure gold. In the outer chamber stood the seven-branched menorah, and the table upon which the “showbread” was arranged.

The Sanctuary’s three walls were fitted together from 48 upright wooden boards, each of which was overlaid with gold and held up by a pair of silver foundation sockets. The roof was formed of three layers of coverings: (a) tapestries of multicolored wool and linen; (b) a covering made of goat hair; (c) a covering of ram and tachash skins. Across the front of the Sanctuary was an embroidered screen held up by five posts.

Surrounding the Sanctuary and the copper-plated altar which fronted it was an enclosure of linen hangings, supported by 60 wooden posts with silver hooks and trimmings, and reinforced by copper stakes.

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Discussion (12)
February 1, 2014
Personal Observation
I know the instructions for the Terumah are literal, in referring to the construction of the holy Sanctuary to be set for traveling. However, I see a metaphor here that may be true, or may be false. I see the Terumah to be a metaphor in how the Jews are supposed to treat themselves. I think that perhaps it is in the Terumah that the Jews are not supposed to get tattoos since the Jews are a traveling people meant to worship G-d. Not only is the holy Sanctuary G-d's place to practice worship, but the Jews themselves are a place, in their body, to practice worship daily. G-d not only gives specific instructions on how to decorate the holy Sanctuary as a place of worship, but G-d also gives the Jews specific instructions how to make their bodies a place to constantly practice worship. I am aware that some Jews may disagree with the metaphor and only believe in the literal interpretation; however, my interpretation is of the metaphor and literal meaning in the Terumah.
Manhattan Beach, CA
February 1, 2014
How could Terumah even begin to be written into a nutshell. The Zohar has 575 pages of commentary on this amazing portion.
Alex Scott
Memphis, TN
January 29, 2014
Goat hair
I am wondering how the covering was made with the goat hair. I guess I am curious because I have goats.
Sue Woods
February 21, 2013
Wool and linen
A mixture of wool and linen - shatnez - is prohibited in clothing, and rabbinically in curtains as well, since one may come to wrap themselves in the curtain for warmth.

Interestingly, some suggest that the prohibition against shatnez stems from the fact that the curtains in the Sanctuary and the clothing of the priests contained both wool and linen. These are sacred, and we are not permitted to imitate them.

Ultimately, we observe these laws, as we do all mitzvot, because G-d commands us to do so. The same Torah that instructs us not to wear shatnez, instructs us to use both wool and linen for specific holy purposes.
Rochel Chein for
February 16, 2013
This week's portion mentions on a number of occasions that wool and linen were to
used for various purposes in constructing the tabernacle. Doesn't that constitute
"shatness", the forbidden mixing of different species? In this case, animal and
Roanoke, Virginia
February 15, 2013
Building a Temple
It must be an exciting time - when a group decides a new temple's construction will happen! But what if ... you are young, and when you attend worship service...the physical building is beautiful...but the youth there appears to be missing (age 20-50) It looked as though 95% were 65 yo-89 yo, there were maybe 40 people altogether

And it seems as though every day life in the area is reflecting it, that most youth want to party. How can you rebuild a temple from making the youth excited to be there?

What if your marriages suffered - because your spouse(s) were not interested in that value system?

What is a good question to revive it?
Largo, FL
February 11, 2013
Wings of Cherubim
The Cherubim are discussed in the Talmud and in the commentaries.
There were Two Cherubim each standing at the two edges of the Ark, facing each other, the width of the Ark between them. Their faces resembled those of children. They each had two wings, which were spread out directly alongside their heads, covering over most of the Ark's cover. There were ten handbreadths between the cover of the Ark and the wings.
February 23, 2012
silver sockets
Ever did the math concerning the thickness of the silver sockets and how and why they were even included?
Middleburg, FL/USA
February 22, 2012
What a sermon!
Wow, G-d gives us the tools and we work together. Success is assured. The only question is..........Are we ready to work hard?
John Nocera
Calhoun, LA
February 21, 2012
I think the implication is referencing that there were 2 cherubim that happened to have wings (i.e. they were winged), not that there were cherubim with 2 wings. Hope that clarifies the issue.
Fort Lauderdale, FL