The word Terumah for this week’s reading is not simply an offering or a contribution but it implies lifting up to a cause. We are going to spend the greater part of the remainder of Shemot with the details of the sanctuary.
The first things that are sought are Gold, Silver and Copper, implying that all contributions of whatever value are equal. The sanctuary is to be constructed by the entire nation.
In the Rama synagogue in Krakow, Poland, there is a slot for tzedakah at the door that opens into the sanctuary. Above the slot are the words gold, silver, and copper perhaps a reminder that a donation of any size is appreciated!
Why is there so much detail of the Ark and the coverings? Does God need a sanctuary? The Kotzker Rebbe, when asked where God is, replied:
God is wherever we let Him in.
Why the curtains?
These days we live in a society that seeks to live in the public eye - it is the reality TV syndrome. There are no curtains. However, in our own lives and our relationships, especially those with God, we need our personal space and privacy.
As for the Ark the most unusual thing is the Cherubim. In visual art they are almost a primary symbol of the Ark itself; statues of children or angels with their wings touching above their heads and facing one another. According to the Torah, God would speak to Moses between the faces of the two Cherubim.
God is said to be present when two human beings face each other and speak to one another. God is found in relationships. If we want to see the face of God, we first need to see the face of another human being.
Victor Hugo, in his book Les Misérables, wrote:
To love another person is to see the face of God.