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Rabbi S. David Kane
Congregation B'nai Torah
Ormond Beach

Terumah is generally translated as the offering that the Jewish people made as contributions to the building of the Sanctuary in the Wilderness. It's literal translation is "that which is lifted off" or separated. The implication of using this word for those items that the Israelites were willing to give up is that these items were among those held in the highest esteem by the contributors. This idea is further emphasized by the phrase presented in the second verse "Whose heart makes him willing." Since all of the materials had to have the highest quality, this material ideal had to be matched with a spiritual ideal. The items used to construct a sanctuary for the Spirit of God had to be housed in a structure that had it's origins in the best that the Jewish people had to offer.

These notions alone contained in the very beginning of our Parsha, speak simultaneously to our relationships with our fellow human beings and to our relationships with our Creator. Let's examine how we might apply this concept to a common part of human life, a simple apology. Those people involved in raising children will be able to instantly tell us the difference between an apology offered from a young person's highest self and an apology offered in a calculated or fearful way. How many times when refereeing children's conflicts have parents imposed the sentence of saying "I'm sorry" to one of the combatants, furthermore, after watching this sentence carried out half hearted, how many parents have made children apologize again with the instruction "and this time you better mean it"? A wonderful relationship between any two people is not built on perfect interactions, but rather on sincere and heartfelt apologies. Just as the sanctuary was built with materials given whole hearted and of the highest quality, so too do we share with each other the highest quality moments of our lives. Whether we join in prayer, service, or love when we take the best of ourselves and send it out with all of our hearts we create sanctuaries throughout the world.

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