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Rabbi Robinson’s Sermon Feb. 16 2024

Parashat Terumah: Heaven is a Place on Earth Plaut p. 545 

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson 



Exodus 25:1-8 

(1) יהוה spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved. (3) And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and copper; (4) blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair; (5) tanned ram skins,*tanned ram skins Others “rams’ skins dyed red.” dolphin*dolphin Or “dugong”; meaning of Hebrew taḥash uncertain. skins, and acacia wood; (6) oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the aromatic incense; (7) lapis lazuli*lapis lazuli Cf. Gen. 2.12 and note. and other stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (8) And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. 


שמות כ״ה:א׳-ח׳ 

(א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ב) דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃ (ג) וְזֹאת֙ הַתְּרוּמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּקְח֖וּ מֵאִתָּ֑ם זָהָ֥ב וָכֶ֖סֶף וּנְחֹֽשֶׁת׃ (ד) וּתְכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ וְעִזִּֽים׃ (ה) וְעֹרֹ֨ת אֵילִ֧ם מְאׇדָּמִ֛ים וְעֹרֹ֥ת תְּחָשִׁ֖ים וַעֲצֵ֥י שִׁטִּֽים׃ (ו) שֶׁ֖מֶן לַמָּאֹ֑ר בְּשָׂמִים֙ לְשֶׁ֣מֶן הַמִּשְׁחָ֔ה וְלִקְטֹ֖רֶת הַסַּמִּֽים׃ (ז) אַבְנֵי־שֹׁ֕הַם וְאַבְנֵ֖י מִלֻּאִ֑ים לָאֵפֹ֖ד וְלַחֹֽשֶׁן׃ (ח) וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃ 



Akeidat Yitzchak 52:1:3 

Midrash Tanchuma on our Parshah writes that Moses had conceptual difficulties with three of God’s instructions. When God instructed that the half shekel was to be a kopher nefesh a soul’s ransom, Moses queried “how can anyone ransom his soul by means of a financial donation?” God replied that God did not mean for the Jews to donate according to GOD’S yardsticks and ability, but according to their own yardsticks and ability. When God instructed that the Jews build a sanctuary for God, Moses queried how God, who cannot be contained by the whole universe, could possibly be contained by such a miniscule structure as the tabernacle? Again God replied that contrary to what Moses thought, the Jewish people were asked to do only things which were in keeping with their own ability, i.e. twenty beams in the South, twenty in the North, etc… 


עקידת יצחק נ״ב:א׳:ג׳ 

במדרש (תנחומא פ’ כי תשא) על שלשה דברים נתקשה משה לפני הקב”ה. כשא”ל ונתנו איש כופר נפשו לי”י אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם וכי יוכל אדם לתת כופר נפשו א”ל משה לא כמו שאתה סבור איני אומר שיתנו כפי כחי אלא כפי כחם זה יתנו כל העובר על הפקודים מחצית השקל וכשא”ל (שמות כ”ה) ועשו לי מקרש א”ל רבונו של עולם הלא את השמים ואת הארץ אתה מלא ואיך יוכלו לעשות לך בית המקדש אמר לו לא כמו שאתה סבור איני אומר שיעשו כפי כחי אלא כפי כחם עשרים קרשים בדרום ועשרים בצפון ושמנה במערב וכו’… 


In a mountain village many years ago, there was a Jewish nobleman who wanted to leave a legacy for people of his town. So he decided to build a synagogue. 

In the course of his planning, the nobleman decided that no one should see the plans for the building until it was finished. He built a wall around the entire area, and swore the workers to secrecy. They worked day and night. And the people of the town would gather around the walls, wondering what was inside. 


Finally, the work was completed, and the people began to enter. What they saw astounded them. No one could remember so beautiful a synagogue anywhere in the world. They marveled at its magnificent windows, and admired its intricate designs. They stood in awe of its craftsmanship and attention to detail. 


But then, one of the crowd noticed a serious flaw. “Where are the lamps?” she asked. “What will provide the lighting?” The crowd looked around, and indeed, there were no lamps. They began to talk amongst themselves, “He’s built such a beautiful building, but forgotten to provide any light, so that we can see when we worship.” The murmuring grew louder and louder. 


Until finally, the nobleman held up his hand to silence the congregation. He pointed to a series of brackets that hung all along the walls of the synagogue. And he handed a lamp to each family. “The lamps,” he said, “belong not to the synagogue but to you. Whenever you come here, you should bring your lamp, so that your light will fill this place of prayer. And, each time you are not here, a part of the synagogue will be dark. Your community is relying on your light.”