Parashat Terumah goes to great lengths to teach us how the mishkan, the structure which will allow for God’s Presence to dwell amongst the Israelites, is to be built. We learn from this parashah, that as in so many other places in our lives, how we do things is just as important as what we do: The intention of the givers must be pure. The items that are to be made of gold, are to be made of solid gold, not just something with a gold veneer – its insides need to match its outsides.
The Torah is often translated as teaching that we should build the mishkan so that God can dwell in it – ie we’re building a home for God. But what the text literally says is “v’asu li mikdash v’shechanti b’tocham” (Exodus 25:8) – in them or among them. In other words, it is the process of building this dwelling with the purest of intentions, both of the people building it and of the objects themselves, that will allow God’s Presence to dwell among the people. (more…)