Parshat Terumah: Elevating life to God’s love

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they should take to Me an offering from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering.” (Exodus 25:2)

Our sages question this request from the Creator, considering that He is the owner and master of all His Creation. They conclude that His request is about us in our relationship with Him. This offering is actually something we have to elevate to Him. This elevation is necessary because it comes from the material world, and must be sublimated in order for us to be united with Him.

We call God’s ways and attributes the means by which we conceive Him and relate to Him. We do this when all aspects, levels and dimensions of consciousness act according to those ways and attributes. God’s love is our essence and through this essence we are able to relate and communicate with Him, for love is the means and the message in our hearts that inspire us to elevate what comes from His love as the offering that He asks from us.

Is this offering something ethereal and abstract like our soul in order to be sublimated to Him? Not really, because all aspects, levels and dimensions of our existence are as spiritual as our own soul. This is what the Creator wants us to be aware of. Hence asks from us that every part of our being must be essential elements in our offering, which is our elevation in order to be with Him.


And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper (…)” (25:3-7)

Our sages reveal that the items mentioned in those five verses represent particular traits and qualities of every part of our being. Gold symbolizes the highest level of consciousness as the Soul through which we conceive and know the Creator. Silver represents our awareness of the material world and the means to grasp His ways and attributes.

Copper symbolizes feelings, emotions, passions and instincts bound to the material aspects of life. Similarly, “blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair” (25:4) represent spiritual inspiration, creative material thoughts, as well as revitalizing emotions, feelings, and passions.


In this context soul, mind and heart encompass multiple levels and dimensions inherent to their own nature. These, from the children of Israel, are summoned by the Creator to ascend to Him.


And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell amid them [lit. in them].” (25:8)


The Sanctuary achieves a dual purpose because by elevating our lives to the Creator we simultaneously fulfill His desire to dwell (be revealed by us) in the dimensions of the material world.

Our sages teach this as the entire task of man in the world: to reveal the hidden Divine Presence in every aspect and dimension of God’s creation. After all, His Presence pervades everything and it is our endeavor to make it tangible for us [Israel] in order to proclaim His oneness.


This is the profound meaning of His words, “and I will dwell in them”, which means within each one of us and also in our midst, in our surrounding reality. The Sanctuary represents the highest awareness of our connection to God, and the Torah within the ark is the means to connect to Him.


And you shall place into the ark of the Testimony, which I will give you.” (25:16, 21)

Once the connection is established, “I will arrange My meetings with you there, and I will speak with you, (…) all that I will command you unto the children of Israel.” (25:22). We mentioned in previous commentaries that Moses symbolizes our highest knowledge of the Creator, and only through it we communicate with Him. In this capacity Moses directs the construction of the Sanctuary, and also guides all aspects of consciousness (the children of Israel) for that purpose.


One of the fundamental elements of this awareness is the manifestation of divine consciousness as the guiding light in our life, and the tasks and duties in every aspect of our relation with the material world.


And you shall make a menorah of pure gold (…)” (25:31)


Pure gold is the way we grasp the pristine quality of our awareness of God. Let’s remind ourselves that silver and copper are also fundamental parts in the construction of the Sanctuary. We are not made only with a soul but also with body, mind, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts, symbolized by silver and copper.


In the entire chapter 27 of the book of Exodus, copper is highlighted as the metal for the base of the altar where the Ark of the Testimony rests, and the metal for its utensils. This is later emphasized in the last verse of this portion.


All the implements of the Sanctuary for all its labor, and all its pegs, and all the pegs of the courtyard [shall be made of] copper.” (27:19)

Let’s be aware that besides our soul and intellect, our body is mostly dominated by the senses, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts we can’t put aside or separate from us. These are clearly the foundation where our higher consciousness rests, and as such we must integrate them under the guidance of love’s ways and attributes as the harmonized unity we need to 
permanently connect with our Creator.


Some of our mystic sages advice that instead of fighting darkness our duty is to create light, as it is commanded to kindle the menorah every day in the Sanctuary. Living in the light of God’s love is the way to create a place for Him to dwell (to be revealed) in the world.

haftarah for this portion reminds us how to do it.


(…) if you walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My Commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and I will not forsake My people, Israel.” (I Kings 5:12-13)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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