Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Parashat Terumah- Hiddur Mitzvah
Vayidabeir Hashem el Moshe laimor: Dabeir el b’nei Yisrael v’yikchu-li t’rumah mei’eit kol-ish asher yidbenu libo tikchu et t’rumati (Shmot 25:1-2)…. V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham (25:8)
And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Tell the children of Israel to bring Me a gift (t’rumah), from every person whose heart moves him, you shall accept My gift…. And build for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell within it.
The word “bring me/v’yikchu li” literally means take, stressing the uniqueness of tzedakah given freely. One who gives receives something in return. This something may not be material, yet it is tangible. But beyond the noble cause of tzedakah, in which the entire community has a part, the materials collected a special and unique. T’rumah, gifts, specifically refers to materials set aside for a holy purpose. What follows is a list of beautiful and valuable materials: gold, silver and bronze, gems, richly coloured yarns, valuable skins, woods, oils and spices. These are the to be used in the construction of the Mikdash, the Tabernacle which traveled with Israel in the wilderness. Could the Mikdash have been created from simple wood and cloth? Of course, but there is a purpose to the beauty.
When Israel crossed Yam Suf, they say, “Zeh Eili v’anveihu; this is my God, and I will glorify him.” (Shemot 15:2) Midrash explains that God cannot be made more glorious, but we glorify God by seeking to glorify the mitzvot. A beautiful environment adds to the mitzvah. It is a means to build upon the mitzvah. The Mikdash must be a place significant and special for the Israelites. It must be a place to which the people are drawn. This idea of fulfilling mitzvot in the most beautiful way is hidur mitzvah, but hidur mitzvah goes beyond this. Skylar, a blogger about conversion, writes that hidur mitzvah allows individuals to become invested in the mitzvot in a personal way. We are not meant to lose ourselves in a mitzvah, but to immerse ourselves within it. A wonderful example of this is our beautiful aron, our ark in the sanctuary, which was dedicated by and for Hazzan Charles. Within our sanctuary our beautiful aron draws the eye and the intention. It helps us to focus our t’fillot and serves as a beautiful centerpiece for our congregation.
V’yikchu-li t’rumah mei’eit kol-ish asher yidbenu libo tikchu et t’rumati…. V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham. Bring Me a gift (t’rumah), from every person whose heart moves him, you shall accept My gift…. And build for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell within it.
Together we build our world and our community to create a beautiful dwelling place where we can meet God.