Parashat Terumah: Our G-d
Where is G-d? Where does G-d dwell with us? In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, G-d gives us instructions on how to build the Mishkan, the Sanctuary where G-d will dwell with the Israelites. In His instructions G-d tells us, “I will arrange my meetings with you there (the Mishkan/Sanctuary), and I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:22).” Within all the instructions that G-d provides the Israelites, inside all the measurements and material G-d lists, G-d specifically states where He will speak with us. How does that sit with you? Usually when I think of G-d, I think of G-d being able to speak with us from everywhere and anywhere. I don’t think of G-d limiting Himself to a particular place. So, why at this moment would G-d choose one specific place to “meet” with the Israelites? There must be a reason.
Perhaps G-d is trying to build and establish a more intimate relationship with the Israelites. Afterall G-d has already established His greatness with big miracles ranging from the plagues, to the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, to manna falling from the sky, to Revelation at Mount Sinai. There is no doubt that G-d has proven His might. But, what now? The Israelites don’t really know G-d, even though time and time again G-d has saved them. They have only experienced a great big, and somewhat scary G-d. G-d has made it clear that the Israelites are His people, to follow G-d and obey G-d’s commandments. G-d created for us the blueprints of life within the Torah. However, it seems to me up to this point the Israelites have not necessarily chosen G-d, nor have they chosen to follow G-d’s Torah.
So G-d brought Himself closer to us. G-d decided to meet us where we are. G-d gave us a Sanctuary to be with Him, to talk with Him. G-d gave us a place to go when we were unsure of what to do. Even more so, the Mishkan was a tangible place where we could serve G-d. This was a place where we could interact with G-d on a more intimate level. Experience G-d one-on-one. We needed to be closer to G-d, in order to choose G-d. Tonight at your Shabbat table ask yourselves the questions, does it feel like G-d still dwells atop the ark with us at each of our Sanctuaries? Do we carry G-d with us wherever we wander? Can we speak to G-d where we are?