In the Torah portion Terumah , the Jews are commanded to bring Terumah , offerings, for use in the Mishkan. The command is repeated three times: “They shall take unto Me Terumah ;” “you shall take My Terumah ;” “This is the Terumah that you shall take.”1

Our Sages comment2 that the Torah is referring here to three different offerings: The first reference is to the offering used in constructing the sockets for the Mishkan ’s beams; the second refers to the donation of silver half-shekels for the purchase of communal offerings; the third refers to general offerings for the construction of the Mishkan.

Of these three, only the last is described here in detail; the first two are only hinted at, and are described at length in later portions.3 Since all three Terumah offerings were for the sake of the Mishkan , why were they not all described here in detail?

The Mishkan was built in order to provide a dwelling place for G‑d in this world — “And you shall build for Me a Sanctuary so that I may dwell in your midst.”4

The building of a Mishkan foreshadows the transformation of the entire world into a dwelling place for G‑d. This is accomplished through Torah, Divine service, and deeds of kindness — the “three pillars” upon which the world stands.5

Since the transformation of the world into a Mishkan is connected to the building of the physical Mishkan , it can be understood that these three pillars played a part in the construction of the Mishkan as well.

Torah is the root and foundation of all spiritual service. Every level and manner of serving G‑d through mitzvos and good deeds is rooted in and based upon Torah, for every aspect of Judaism has its foundation and beginning in Torah.

In the construction of the Mishkan , Torah is alluded to by the Terumah for sockets, since they served as the underpinnings of the entire structure, just as Torah serves as the underpinning of all Judaism.

The Terumah used for the purchase of communal sacrifices relates to Divine service, for “Divine service” involves sacrificial offerings6 and prayer — prayer having been substituted for offerings.7

The general Terumah for the Mishkan , which included gold, silver, copper, etc., corresponds to the service of mitzvos — all of which are known by the term “deeds of kindness”8 — for they are performed with physical objects similar to those used in constructing the Mishkan. This third manner of service — “deeds of kindness” — possesses a quality lacking in the first two. Torah and prayer relate to an individual’s spiritual occupation with himself. Consequently, they are only able to affect the individual; uniting a person with G‑d’s wisdom.

“Deeds of kindness” — the service of mitzvos — however, requires one to be involved with physical matter. Here a person is able to transform physical things — by using them in the performance of mitzvos — into holy objects.

It is specifically through man’s transforming of the world into a Mishkan that the Divine intent of creation is fulfilled, for “G‑d earnestly desired a dwelling place in the nethermost level,”9 i.e., this lowly physical world.10 But in order for this manner of service to be proper and complete, man must also possess the attributes of Torah and prayer.

Since all aspects of spiritual service are reflected in the Mishkan , the Torah portion details only the general Terumah — man’s service of mitzvos — for that is the ultimate intent.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XVI, pp. 292-297.