At the beginning of the Torah portion Terumah, the command to take terumah (a donation for the Tabernacle) is repeated three times:1 “They shall take unto Me terumah ;” “you shall take My terumah ;” “And this is the terumah that you shall take.”

Our Sages note2 that the first terumah alludes to the gift of the silver sockets, the second refers to the contribution of the half-shekel, and the third refers to the general donations for the Mishkan.

Of the three, only the donations for the Mishkan are spoken of here at length; the first two are referred to only in a general way, the details being given in later Torah portions.3

Since all three donations were for the Mishkan, why aren’t they all detailed here?

The spiritual service of building a Mishkan , making a dwelling place for G‑d in this physical world, involves the three pillars upon which the world stands4 — Torah, divine service, and acts of loving kindness, i.e., mitzvos.5 Understandably, these general categories are reflected in the Mishkan.6

Torah is the foundation and source of all divine service; all the ways of serving G‑d through mitzvos and good deeds are based on Torah. This is alluded to in the gift of the sockets, for they served as the foundation of the Mishkan.

Divine service — sacrificial offerings,7 as well as prayer established in place of offerings8 — is intimated in the gift of the half-shekel from which the offerings were purchased.

Finally, the terumah for the Mishkan — gifts that included all the materials from which the Mishkan was constructed — corresponds to the service of mitzvos, since these are performed with material objects.

Torah and divine service — prayer — are similar in that both entail man’s personal service. Torah unites man’s intellect with G‑d’s wisdom; prayer raises a person to G‑dliness.

Neither kind of service, however, requires involvement with physical objects. Herein lies the superior quality of the service of mitzvos, wherein the physical matter with which a mitzvah is performed, while retaining the outward characteristics of a purely physical object, in fact becomes a spiritual entity.

This also explains why, with regard to the terumah for the Mishkan (which corresponds to the service of mitzvos), no specific mention is made of G‑d — the verse merely says “And this is the terumah that you shall take.” This is unlike the instructions regarding the first two terumah s: “They shall take unto Me terumah ,” “you shall take My terumah.”

This is because mitzvos involve interaction with physical objects as they exist in their material state. As such, the G‑dliness that pervades this kind of service is in a concealed state, and so there is no explicit mention of G‑d.

Although mitzvos are clothed in corporeal matter, the ultimate purpose of creation — to create a dwelling place for G‑d in this physical world — is accomplished specifically through the divine service of mitzvos.

It is expressly the performance of mitzvos with physical matter that fulfills “G‑d’s passionate desire to have a dwelling place within the nethermost level,”9 which, as the Alter Rebbe explains,10 refers to this physical world, “of which there is none lower.”

However, in order for this service to be accomplished in the most complete manner possible, the person must also possess Torah and engage in divine service.

Since all the particulars of divine service are reflected in the Mishkan , as mentioned earlier, it stands to reason that this aspect as well is alluded to in the instructions for its construction. So the Torah speaks in detail in this portion only about the third terumah , the gifts for the general construction of the Mishkan , which correspond to the service of mitzvos. It does so since the performance of mitzvos addresses the ultimate purpose of the Mishkan.

The other two terumah s are mentioned only in an elliptical manner, for they serve merely as a preparation for and final touch to the construction of a dwelling place for G‑d in this world.

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