Shalom Orzach

Giving Up

We are desperately seeking ways to be lifted, to procure a sense of spiritual invigoration. התרוממות רוח, to be exalted. The portion of Terumah read this week intriguingly contains some helpful pointers. Whilst the portion is almost exclusively concerned with the copious details for constructing the Tabernacle, the name takes these minutiae to a whole different level.- The whole enterprise is made possible and is built on  “Terumah” giving.

We were then and we are now, a people traumatized, and with that we are galvanized into doing. It appears to be the most raw and instinctive response. The abused and oppressed people’s iconic and foundational entree into history was through “doing” –  נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע We will do and will hear. The purpose of the building of the Tabernacle was in the act of giving (up), – giving to a cause that is larger than me. By doing so, the me is replaced by the we, and this by design becomes therapeutic and educational. The celebrated enjoinment, affirms this, 25:8,

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.

Two profound and staggering concepts are being professed here. The metamorphosis of enslaved people to a free people occurs through giving. This act enables us to house God, not in a structure but rather as the verse so poignantly implies, in ourselves. Curiously the expressions giving in or giving up carry negative connotations, here we see the exact opposite. 

The atrocities of October 7th gave rise to unprecedented giving, volunteerism and a powerful sense of purpose. We were all “called up” or called up-on. Our tenacity to do, to give, is and will become one of the inspiring phenomena through which this period will be recalled. An exceptional story of grass-roots mobilization that showed remarkable solidarity and sense of purpose. As was the case with the Tabernacle our anguish is transformed to awe. 

The etymology of the word Terumah so powerfully projects these ideas. Whilst it unnervingly may sound like “t(e)rauma” its root is רו”ם to lift or be uplifted. The term features in Psalms 99 and fittingly in our prayers,  רוֹמְמ֡וּ exalt, an expression of veneration, of esteem, of high regard. The act of giving lifts us to new heights enabling the T(e)rauma, to heal.

Shabbat shalom

About the Author
Shalom is a senior educator and consultant for The iCenter and serves as faculty for the Foundation for Jewish Camp . Prior, he served as the AVI CHAI Project Director and Director of Education in the Shlichut and Israel Fellows unit for the Jewish Agency. He has served as a consultant for the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Jewish Peoplehood Committee. Shalom was also a scholar on the prestigious Jerusalem Fellows Program, after which he served as the Executive Director of Jewish Renewal for United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA). Shalom is an acclaimed public speaker on contemporary Israel who brings extensive knowledge, humor and passion. He feels privileged to live in Jerusalem and loves sharing stories about life in the Land of so much Promise.
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