Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Terumah (contribution / gift) Shemot / Exodus 25:1 – 27:19

Terumah (contribution / gift)        Shemot / Exodus 25:1 – 27:19
p. 980 of the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
further reference to 2133i (p. 837 of the TWotOT)
“be high, lofty; rise up” – definition of the root word
המורת  #2133i – “contribution

According to the TWotOT, there are three general meanings of the word and its derivatives: “1) literal height, 2) height as symbolic of positive notions such as glory and exaltation, 3) height as symbolic of negative notions such as arrogance and pride.”

As Mishpatim, the previous reading closed, we observe Moshe on the mountain, and he is there for forty days and forty nights.  This week’s reading continues beginning “…and the word of G-d to Moses for utterance…,” as best as I can translate the Hebrew.

The first noticeable item to me is the word “and”.  This indicates a continuation of whatever took place immediately prior.  As mentioned a couple lines ago, Moshe had ascended the mountain.  Moshe, and no one else, is situated on a height.  This is not just any height, it is the height of the Mountain of the L-rd, and he is the only one who has been invited to ascend this pinnacle.  In a sense we could say that our episode begins with Moshe having “teruma-ed”.

Before his ascension, though there was One Whose glory descended upon Mount Sinai, rested upon it six days, and then on the seventh called to Moshe.  In appearance, it was at least a sabbath of the descent of the glory of HaShem upon the mountain.  Is not HaShem the One Who is high?  Was it not the people, including their erstwhile leader, who had to look up in order to perceive the presence of the glory?  The glory of the L-rd was literally and figuratively in a high position, from a physical sense.

Moshe also had to appear to the people as high in locale, for he did climb that mountain, and he did tower over the people.  Moshe had been as G-d to pharaoh (the speaker of G-d’s commands), and he is in the same position for the mixed multitude at the foot of Mount Sinai to see.

As the readers have no doubt picked up on their own, both of these are not strictly based upon altitude above sea level, but also include the “positive notions such as glory and exaltation”, as was presented in the second definition from the TWotOT.

It is not the glory of just any god that is hovering upon the upper reaches of the mountain, nor is it simply a change in the weather.  It is the glory of the only G-d, the One Who soundly whipped all the gods of the mightiest empire on earth, at least at that time, and this glory is recognized as such by all who perceive it.  Though there is really no comparison, this is reminiscent of tag line from a financial investing commercial of a couple decades ago, “When E. F. Hutton speaks…people listen.”  When the glory of The Holy One descends, the mixed multitude pay attention.

Moshe is not just any man.  He is the only one who has been up and down this mountain several times.  The people themselves do not even want to hear G-d’s voice directly; they want the man Moshe to pass along the information.  They are terrified of G-d’s glory, so what to make of this Moshe who speaks to the L-rd face to face and lives?!  He must be someone special; he is exalted, exalted in a human sense.

HaShem and Moshe lifted up, glorified, and exalted.  Just them?  Well, there certainly can be no question regarding the appropriateness of exalting the L-rd, but Moshe really is one of the people.  What about the rest of the people?  What height, what glory, what exaltation is theirs?

In reality, they and we do not deserve any exaltation.  Though the McDonald’s commercial of years ago stated, “You deserve a break today,” the question that begs to be asked is why, why do I or anyone else deserve a break? 

Yet, we have been given a break.  The break we have is the one that was revealed in Genesis 15 and fulfilled not just on Calvary, but also within the empty tomb.  Why?  There are a multitude of explanations we can present, but among them must be the thought that He, the Creator of all that is, desires for us to abide with Him and, likewise, He yearns to live with us.  With that in mind, we are given an opportunity to draw near to Him, not because of our righteousness, but due to His righteousness.

There are a baker’s dozen of items that Moshe is directed to receive from the people.  The people are to give willingly, as their hearts lead them.  None of these items are to be demanded.  As such, when the people as individuals and as a corporate group give them to the L-rd’s service, they are removing from these possessions the third definition from above – “height as symbolic of negative notions such as arrogance and pride” – and are putting upon them the definition of “glory and exalted” as it relates to the Tabernacle.

It is not a sense of pride with which they are donating, at least not self-pride.  These contributions are being sanctified, lifted up from their mundane usages, and set apart for Elohim.  In doing so, the Tabernacle will be lifted up, elevated above the dust of the earth (of which we are made), and He promises to come and live among us.  In doing so, He lifts us up.  After all, does it not say…”The L-rd lift up H-s countenance upon you…”.  To lift up one’s eyes upon another, the eyes must first be looking lower than the visage of the one who is spoken of, as it is here in Bamidbar / Numbers 6:26. 

In the same fashion, this seems to be an indication that we have been lifted up from definition number three’s arrogance and pride.  May we continue to work out our salvation day by day and moment by moment, lifting H-m up with an upright heart, and as a result have ourselves lifted up – lifted up for H-s honor and glory.

May H-s holy name be eternally blessed and revered.

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