Parshat Terumah

FRIDAY, February 16th

Greetings from the holy city of Yerushalayim!  This week, I was privileged to dance at two joyous weddings of holy Jewish couples, and to catch sight, in the hours of ecstatic dancing with which we celebrated these marriages, a glimpse of the celebratory dancing which we will celebrate in the ultimate redemption.  For within each Jewish marriage we see the echo of the marriage between God and the Jewish people, a union which was sanctified (as it were, though kiddushin) at Sinai, and which would be completed (chuppah) with the construction of a house together, the Mishkan, God’s dwelling place among the Jewish people.

Ramban, in his commentary on this week’s parsha, says when the Torah describes the offerings the Israelites contributed towards the construction of the Mishkan (terumah), the real offering they made was the gift of themselves, connecting this with the famous verse from Shir Hashirim “My Beloved is mine and I am His.” When the Jewish people dedicate ourselves to God, then God as it were “belongs” to us as well, just as in a marriage between two human beings, each comes to belong to the other not only through the physical gifts they give one another, the ring at the wedding ceremony and the home they build together, but through the intention that lies behind those concrete actions of entering into a holy, dedicated community.

However, it is not just that the human marriage is a metaphor for that between God and Israel.  Rather, the human marriage is an actual microcosm of the universal, cosmic rectification and ultimate redemption for which we constantly pray.  When we build a home of sanctity and love, we are creating a space in this world where God’s presence can dwell, a miniature mishkan.  This helps explains the ecstatic, joyous dancing which accompanies a Jewish wedding, for each marriage contains within it an aspect of universal redemption.

May all of us, whether we are married or single, be blessed to make our homes, and all our relationships, places where God’s presence can be felt.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein