Parashat Trumah introduces us to several new terms and concepts that we have not encountered hitherto. "Truma", translated “contribution”, is derived from the root r.o.m (resh, vav, mem) – meaning "high up, to lift up, to exalt". Having warranted such a term, this type of contribution was obviously held in high esteem by the Almighty. Furthermore, it also speaks of its Originator and His exalted position. The description of the potential “contributor” as a person whose "heart generously impels him", reinforces the significance of this offering. "Yidvenu" is the verb used here, meaning to “cause one to be generous", stemming from the root n.d.v. (noon, dalet, bet/vet), which is also: "willing, noble, volunteer, freewill offering". Copious rain, for example, is "geshem n'davot" (Ps. 68:9). Other examples of the usage of this word are found in Hoshe’a (Hosea) 14:4 where YHVH declares: "I will love them [Yisrael] freely" (italics added), and in Shoftim (Judges) 5:9 D'vorah describes the lawgivers of Yisrael, as those who "freely offered themselves among the people" (italics added). This contribution, therefore, was to be given freely or generously (see 25:3-7), and was to include gold and silver (being undoubtedly the gifts the Egyptians gave to the Hebrew people). The articles of “trumah” were intended for the building of the “holy sanctuary - mikdash - for YHVH” (v. 8), so that He will "dwell among them" (v. 8; cf. Ezekiel 37:26-28; 43:9b).
The sanctuary in the desert is more often called "mishkan" (v. 9), meaning "a dwelling place". However, being its first time mention, it may have been necessary to clarify that this place was to be set apart and dedicated to the presence of YHVH, hence "mikdash". “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them”. (“ve’sha’chanti,” hence “mishkan” – dwelling place). “The text does not say 'that I may dwell in its midst,' but 'among them,' to teach you that the Divine Presence does not rest on the sanctuary by virtue of the sanctuary, but by virtue of Israel, 'for they are the temple of the Lord.’” To these words by the Zedah La-derekh Commentary, we add another. In referring to the same text, Malbim comments: "He commanded that each individual should build him a sanctuary in the recesses of his heart, that he should prepare himself to be a dwelling place for the Lord and a stronghold for the excellence of His Presence, as well as an altar on which to offer up every portion of his soul to the Lord, until he gives himself for His glory at all times".
The Almighty says of Himself in Yishayahu (Isaiah) 66:1: “The heaven is My throne and the earth My footstool - where is the house that you may build for me?" (cf. I Kings 8:27). This sanctuary, therefore, is a place where the “creature” could have a measure of access to its Creator and experience His love, justice and forgiveness. The sanctuary is a tangible place of meeting (ref. Ex. 25:22) for the sake of human beings who are confined to time and space.
The first article that is to be built is the "aron" (25:10). We have already encountered this term (which means a “chest”, or an “ark”, and a sarcophagus – i.e. a stone coffin) in B’resheet (Genesis) 50:26, where reference was made to Yoseph's embalming and burial. This wooden case, overlaid with gold, was to be the
the Testimony (25:16), bearing witness to YHVH's word, covenant, atonement and
forgiveness with and to the Israelites. Shlomo Ostrovski is of the opinion that
in this unique and important article two very distinct and different
characteristics come together, as the acacia wood from which the ark was made
originated from the plant world, while the precious metal of overlaid gold was
derived from an altogether different source. The latter’s use was intended to
magnify this special article, and thereby “elevate its status”. Thus
the ‘lesser’ is transformed by virtue of the ‘covering’ by the ‘greater’. Interestingly, in the book of Hitgalut (Revelation)
11:19 there is also a reference to the ark, though in a different location: “And
the Ark was opened in heaven, and there
was seen in His temple the ark of his testament…” temple of Elohim
"You are to make a cover for the ark out of pure gold" (25:17). This "cover", translated in English “mercy seat”, is the familiar "kaporet" of the root k.f.r (from which stems "kippur" - "propitiation" and literally means “cover”). On this cover were to be placed two gold k'ruvim (cherubs). In the Assyrian language "kruv" (singular) is “to be gracious or to bless", with its adjective meaning "great or mighty". In Shmuel Bet (2nd Samuel) 22:11, we read that YHVH "rode on a k'ruv, and did fly, and was seen on the wings of the wind". Likewise, the k'ruvim were also placed as guards preventing entry to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). Here on the other hand, their presence signifies accessibility to the Most High. It will be “from between the two cherubim” that YHVH will “meet” and “speak… about everything which [He] will give… in commandment…” (25:22). The k'ruvim were to be situated in such a way that their faces – panim - would be turned toward each other (v. 20). In verse 30 we read about "the table of showbread" being the table of "lechem hapanim", literally "bread of the face".
"Panim" stems from the root "pana" (p.n.h - pey, noon, hey), meaning "to turn". There are several other words (usually with an added preposition) connected to the same root, such as "in front of, before, toward, corner, attend to, undertake, take away and clear". "Panim", as are several other Hebrew words, always occurs in the plural form. Thus its very meaning and usage take into account the existence and presence of someone else, whom one is potentially facing (by turning one’s head). This is evident here by the description of the k'ruvim's position: “…and their faces [are turned] each toward its brother" (v. 20 literal translation). The "bread of the face" (v. 30) is a seemingly obscure term which requires an explanation. There are numerous instances where YHVH speaks of His Presence in terms of "panim" (although it may not be borne out by the English translations), as we saw for example in last week's Parasha, “…they shall not appear before Me [literally - My Face] empty-handed" (Ex. 23:15). The "bread of the face" therefore refers to YHVH's Presence which is turned toward His creatures, an image that clearly foreshadows the "Bread of Life" as epitomized in and by Yeshua.3
The way in which YHVH was to meet and speak between the cherubim remains the million and one dollar/euro (choose your currency) question. Our only clue are the respective meanings of the terms “kaporert”, “k’ruv/k’ruvim”, and “panim”, which point not to the physical dimension, but rather to the qualitative and spiritual aspect of this awesome “meeting”.
Following the descriptions of the
and the “Table of the Bread of the Presence", we now move on to the “lampstand - Menorah" (stemming from "nur - fire, light,
shine". Root: noon, vav, resh. 25:23-30). The Menorah’s components,
quite curiously, are not merely functional. At least five of its elements seem
to be directly connected to the botanical sphere: "calyxes, knobs, blossoms (or flowers), branches
and almonds". These features are all part of the almond tree. Let us bear in mind that in the desert, where these
instructions were given and where the Mishkan was to be set up, there was not
an almond tree in sight! In other words, here, for the first time, we encounter
elements characterizing the Ark (the ultimate goal
of the People’s present circumstances) as they are brought into the most
important of edifices, YHVH's sanctuary. The Menorah is not the only article
that points to the Land and to its characteristics. The others are also built
right into the worship system and into the whole framework of the Israelites'
relationship with YHVH (as we shall see in future Parashot/Parashas). Land
“The beautiful almond tree, whose white and pink blossoms are the first to emerge from winter dormancy, dominating the landscape of
at the end of the rainy season, passes very rapidly through several stages of
growth.”4 What then is the connection
of the Menorah to this plant? "Almond"
in Hebrew is "sha'ked," related to the root sh.k.d
(shin, kof, dalet), meaning "to
watch, be diligent and insistent". In Yirmiyahu
(Jeremiah) 1:11-12 we encounter the imagery of the almond tree as related to
the above terms: "And the word of YHVH to me was, saying, Jeremiah, 'what
do you see?' And I said, 'I see an almond rod'. Then YHVH said to me, 'You have
seen well; for I will watch over My word to perform it'”. We learn from Mishley
(Proverbs) 8:34 that, "happy" is the person who is "watching –
“lishkod” - daily at My threshold". Hareuveni points out that it is likely
that "the knobs and the flowers of the Menorah were patterned after the
cups of the almond flower or after the embryonic almond fruit still crowned
with the calyx of the flower". Thus, the Menorah was to be a reminder of
YHVH's faithfulness and steadfastness, as demonstrated by the natural phenomena
of the Israel . Land of Yisrael
There is yet another tree which is connected to the Menorah, one whose oil was to feed it, and that is the olive tree. In Yisrael the sight of the newly blossoming almonds in spring, strewn in the olive groves, is a reminder that YHVH "watches over His word to perform it", especially to the proverbial ‘olive tree’ - Yisrael (see Jer. 11:16; Rom. 11:17, 24).
As was already mentioned, the two k’ruvim above the kaporet (mercy ‘seat’), and also those woven on the veil (Ex. 26:31) recall the ones mentioned in B’resheet (Genesis) 3:24, whose function (with the flaming sword) was to guard the way to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. But in addition to this feature, several other ones are associated with the Garden. The entrance to the Garden as well as to the Mishkan was in the east side (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 26:22 - the far end of the Mishkan was to the west, thus the entrance would have been from the eastern side). We also saw above the Menorah’s similarity to a tree. Placed at the center of the Mishkan it may be linked to the Tree of Life “in the midst of the Garden” (Gen. 2:9). Man was put in the Garden to “work (la’avod) and keep (lishmor)” it (Gen. 2:15), while the Ko’hanim (priests) were also said to have to “keep” (tend) – lishmor – the Mishkan and its articles, and “to do the work of the Mishkan” (Num. 3:7-8). Lastly, Moshe was to make tunics for A’haron and his sons and then to clothe them (Ex. 28:40), with the same word for “tunics” - ku’tanot - being used for the skin tunics that YHVH made for man and woman, with which He dressed them (Gen. 3:21).
The edifice of the sanctuary was a tent, "ohel", with a primary meaning (in some of the ancient languages of the
of “to settle down and be inhabited, settlement, and city". This temporary
and collapsible structure, which was essentially made of cloth, skins and
wooden poles, and housed a number of articles that were made of a variety of
materials for diverse purposes, illustrates a very central scriptural
principle. Twice in the midst of instructions relating to the tent's several
components we read, “and it shall be one - echad" (26:6,11). This
demonstrates that it is the varied components that make up the "whole",
or the "one", as well as "oneness" and "unity”.
Most times “echad” is used to denote simply a singular “one” (e.g. Gen. 42:13), but undoubtedly the most well known occurrence of this word is found in the “Sh’ma”: “Hear Oh
YHVH our Elohim is one Elohim” (Deut. 6:4). This eternal injunction and tenet
of faith actually points to a union of plurality, since the word “Elohim” is
the plural form of “el”. Thus, “echad” is not just a singular “one”, as is verified
by other expressions such as: “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24); “one people” (Gen.
11:6); “So all the men of Israel
were gathered against the city, united together as one man” (Judges
20:11), and of course by our present example. However, “echad” also has a
plural form: “achadim” found, for example, in Y’chezkel (Ezekiel) 37:17: “that
they may become one (literally,“plural of one”, emphasis and
italics added) in your hand”, speaking of the sticks of Yoseph and Yehudah.
“Echad” also lends itself to “oneness”, as we see in Y’chezkel 21:16 (although,
again, it may not show up in the English translation). However, the command there
(addressing a sword): “hitachadi” – “unite yourself” - can also be read:
“sharpen yourself”. This makes for a union between “one” (“ehcad”) and
“sharpness” -“chad” - which is also a shortened form of “echad” (see Ez.
33:30), and indeed is the word for “one” in Aramaic. Finally, in creation the
first day was pronounced not “first day”, but “one day” – yom echad (Gen. 1:5).
In conclusion, true oneness is a pressed together, compacted union of many in one,
portraying a sword-like sharpness (e.g. Zechariah 9:13). In the Brit Chadasha
(New Testament) the ‘one who is made up of many’ is exemplified by the
many-membered Body of Messiah. The concept of Echad well represents integration
and inclusion (into oneness and wholeness; remember "shalem"?)
typical of the Hebrew language and Hebraic thought. Israel
Adding to the oneness of the Mishkan is the description of joining the curtains and the loops (26:3,5,6). The word for “curtain” here is “y’ree’a”, and for “loop” - “loo’la’a”, both being in the feminine gender. In joining them “one to another” the Hebrew employs anthropomorphism (personification) and reads: “a befriending (“joining” being of the root ch.v.r meaning to bind together and “friend”) of one woman (one curtain/one loop) to her sister (i.e. to another identical curtain/loop)”. In this way, even the technical instructions for the construction of the Mishkan exemplify oneness and relationship.
The boards that were to make up the structure of the Mishkan had to be held together with “tenons” (26:17): “binding one to the other…” Here again in Hebrew it is: “one woman to her sister…” while the (silver) sockets (v. 19) being a masculine noun, are called “adanim”, stemming from the root a.d.n (alef, dalet, noon) which means “sustaining, providing a base”. It is from this root that the word “adon” – master – is derived and hence Adonai – the Sustainer and the One who has set up the foundations and who uphold everything. In verse 31 we encounter the veil that was to enclose the Kodesh Kodashim (“Holy of Holies”), called “parochet” – a divider, separator. Ironically, the Egyptians were described as “making the children of
serve with rigor” (Ex. 1:13 italics added), which is the translation for
“perech” – labor that signified separation, that is the discrimination
that was inflicted upon them. Now they are told to make the “parochet” - an
element in an edifice in the making of which they are once again to labor, but
now not as slaves but as those who have been separated as a unique
people in order to have a special relationship with the Adon/Master of the
universe with whom they were to meet in this structure, which was to become the
fruit of blessed labor. Israel
Three times in this Parasha we read that Moshe is told to make the articles and the Mishkan, “according to that which you were shown on the mountain" (25:40; 26:30; 27:8). When and where was he shown "the pattern"? If we refer to the end of last week's Parasha we may find the answer: "And the glory of YHVH dwelt on the
And the cloud covered it six days. And He called to Moses on the seventh day
from the midst of the cloud… And Moses came into the midst of the cloud"
(24:16, 18). Thus, the 'where' and 'when' are answered, but what was Moshe
actually shown? “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth. The actual making
of the Tabernacle and its furnishings He entrusted to man. Its design or
pattern God similarly made in six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses,
and Moses was shown the design of the Tabernacle and its furnishings on the
mount”. The commentator further demonstrates this point by comparing B’resheet
(Genesis) 2:1,2 to Sh’mot (Exodus) 39:32 - 40:33, revealing a similarity of
terminology used in both accounts. Martin Buber, for example, discovered seven
corresponding elements in key words, which are used in both accounts.5 Thus we may ask, does the pattern of the
"Mishkan" in some microcosmic way reflect YHVH's creation, and if so,
how? mountain of Sinai
This question will be answered partly in Parashat F’kudey, but also in our present Parasha there are some notable parallels:
Above were mentioned examples of the usage of “echad” (as we saw above), while in B’resheet 1:5 it says (as we have already noted above): “Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the (literally) one [echad] day.”
B’resheet 1:7 - “Elohim made (va’ya’as) the firmament…”
Sh’mot 25:8 - “And let them make (ve’a’su) Me a sanctuary”.
B’resheet 1:16 - “Then Elohim made (va’ya’s) two great lights…”
Sh’mot 25:10 - “And they shall make (ve’a’su) an ark”.
B’resheet 1:25 - “And Elohim made (va’ya’s) the beast of the earth…”
Sh’mot 25:23 - “You shall also make (ve’a’sita) a table”.
Additionally, as already mentioned, at the end of last week’s Parasha (Mishpatim) we read: “Now the glory of YHVH rested on
Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.
And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud”
(Ex. 24:16 italics added). In parallel it says in Sh’mot 20:11: “For in
six days YHVH made the
heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested
the seventh day” (italics added).
1 New Studies in Shmot Part 2, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman.
Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora.
Hemed Books Inc.,
2 Moses on the Witness Stand, Shlomo Ostrovski, Keren Ahava Meshichit,
3 See blogspots for 2 related articles
4 Nature in Our Biblical Heritage, Nogah Hareuveni, trans. Helen Frenkley, Neot
, 1996 Lod,
5 New Studies in Shmot Part 2, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman.
Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora.
Hemed Books Inc.,
Most of the word definitions were extracted from: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson. Publishers,
Hebrew Tools for Everyday Use
This time we will utilize the Mishkan’s components and apply them to everyday speech. The term for “generous contributions” has not changed in Modern Hebrew. And as we saw, from the root used in “socket” we also derived Adon and Adonai. In contemporary usage “adon” is also a “gentleman” (“adonim” - gentlemen) or one of the words for “mister”. “Panim” – face – shares its root with “p’nim” – interior – and with “bifneem” – “inside”, while the words describing the furniture inside the Mishkan, such as the ark and lampstand are used in every day speech, respectively, as “closet/cabinet” and “light fixture” or “lamp”. From the root of Mishkan- sh.ch.n – we get “shachen” - neighbor.
The generous gentlemen contribute to the
(literally, the gentlemen the generous…)
Ha’a’donim ha’ne’divim tormim
The generous gentleman contributes to the
Ha’adon ha’nadiv torem
Inside there are a cabinet and a lamp
Bi’fneem yesh aron u’menorah
One neighbor (male)
One neighbor (female)