Terumah: The Sanctuary as the connection with God’s love

The Torah, Israel, the Promised Land, and the Temple of Jerusalem are the essential elements to reveal God’s presence in the material world. They are parts of the same entity we call consciousness, and they are also the means to achieve its purpose.

The Torah is God’s master plan, the Promised Land the material and spiritual space to implement the plan, and the Temple of Jerusalem our highest knowledge and awareness of God’s love as the level to connect with Him. In this unity we fulfill our mission to reveal and proclaim His kingdom over all His creation.

With Torah study we learn to know the Creator through His ways and attributes, which we as Israel are entitled to emulate. As our divine legacy and inheritance, the Torah defines our identity as Jews. We are Jews because the Torah tells us what we are. We have spent hundreds of generations immersed in Torah study just to define for us and future generations, who we are.

The result of this long journey is the volumes compiled by the oral Torah [the Talmud]. Ironically, after so many centuries and lifetimes devoted to such monumental task, we still debate what defines the Jewish identity. This indicates that one of the major challenges and endeavors we have to engage into in the dawn of the Messianic era is to discover and embrace who we truly are, based on the definition that the Creator gave us in His Torah.

As long as we don’t realize our Jewish identity we will never know our purpose in the material world. Knowing or ignoring this identity has determined our fate as individuals and as a nation. If we are willing to learn from our history, the expected obvious and “logical” conclusion would be to embrace our real identity, though it seems that our common predicament is to rebel against who we are.

We rather assimilate to other “cultures” or lifestyles. The main criticism to non observant Jews is their lack of interest in knowing their Jewish identity. If they, out of individual desire, would inquire about it probably would leave behind what doesn’t define who they are.

It’s interesting to note that in these times thousands of people from all over the world are embracing Judaism as their material and spiritual identity. This fulfills the prophecies about “the gathering of the exiles” as the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, for whom we pray three times a day when we stand before our Father and King.

The land of Israel is the geographic space in the material world chosen by the Creator for His people, to fulfill their destiny according to His will. The Torah describes this land both as a physical and spiritual place to exercise our identity, because this identity encompasses material and spiritual qualities.

Judaism conceives life and the physical world as part of a unity from which nothing is separated, because our destiny is to make both the spiritual and material as the combined means to reveal God as the Creator of all. This comprises all levels and dimensions of consciousness that must be conducted and guided by God’s will.

This is what we call here God’s love as the cause and effect of what we conceive and experience as love in our human comprehension. The more we discover, experience, learn and share love, the more we know God’s love.

In this sense, the land of Israel encompasses all manifest and potential facets of human consciousness under the awareness of God’s love. We have mountains, valleys, deserts, beaches, sea, lakes, hills and plains that represent thoughts and ideals, imagination, insight, expression, sensitivity, austerity, and character traits that expand or limit the way we conceive life, the world, and how we interact with our fellow man.

Hence we are gifted with a land that enlarges the human potential in every dimension of intellect, thought, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. This land, as a special quality in consciousness, endows us to fulfill God’s will. In other words, as long as we do not dwell in it (meaning not living consciousness in its full potential), we are not able to fully manifest God’s ways and attributes in the material world.

The Sanctuary, as the Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem, is also the anchoring physical and spiritual place in which our consciousness reaches the full awareness of the Jewish identity. By realizing God’s love as the essence of who we are, through the awareness of His ways and attributes, we ascend to Jerusalem (the highest awareness of God’s love).

Thus we will be able to enter the most sacred place in consciousness which is our connection with God. We pray daily for the reconstruction of Jerusalem, and this process we do only with the help of God’s love. This is how we understand terumah as the elevation process through which we offer our life to God’s will.

The offerings we elevate in the Temple are all facets, aspects, traits, qualities and dimensions of consciousness under the guidance of love as the material manifestation of God’s love. See our commentary on Parshat Terumah: “Elevating Life to God’s Love” in this blog on February 17, 2015 for more details.

Only love meets love, and nothing else. Thus we understand that our offerings must be unblemished and whole, meaning that in them there is nothing but love.

“(…) and have them take for Me an offering [lit. uplifting] from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity (…)” (Exodus 25:2)

When love inspires us and fills us, generosity follows and our love meets God’s love.

“And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among [in] them” (25:8)

The Torah is the means to establish this Sanctuary.

“And you shall place into the ark the testimony, which I will give you.” (25:16)

Our sages debate on the allegorical meanings of every part and utensil of the Tabernacle and compare it to the human body, and all that God created in the seven days of His creation. These comparisons teach us that the Sanctuary encompasses all the elements of the material and spiritual Creation.

As an allegory of the human body, it means that all the body contains must be consecrated to its Creator. Hence we proclaim what king David’s stated.

“Happy are those who dwell in Your house, they are ever praising you.” (Psalms 84:4)

After all, we are God’s creatures, and our destiny is to know Him and unite with Him. That’s the legacy of the Torah, Israel, the Promised Land, and the Temple of Jerusalem.

“Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest of the wheat.” (147:12-14)

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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