5 Minute Torah – Terumah

5 Minute Torah

Terumah (“Portion”)
Shemot / Exodus 25:1-27:19

“Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion (terumah, תרומה), from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.” (Exodus 21:24-25)

In this Torah Portion we find the call for the building of the Mishkan (משׁכן, Tabernacle). In the opening line we hear Hashem speaking to Moshe:

I believe this is they key phrase for understanding this parasha, as well as the entire building of the Mishkan.

Here we find Hashem desiring something to come into existence — the Mishkan, the place where He will meet with His people. It is to be a holy place, a place like none other. It is to be a place of perfection that will emulate the Heavenly courts (cf. the book of Hebrews, Midrash Rabba, et al.) in as many aspects as humanly possible. So, the question is, why did Hashem not create this edifice Himself? Why did He have man build it, rather than saying, “Let there be the Mishkan!”? Why did he use human agents to create such an important reflection of the heavenlies?

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5 Minute Torah – Mishpatim

5 Minute Torah

Mishpatim (“Laws/Ordinances”)
Shemot / Exodus 21:1-24:18

“…and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot; a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.” (Exodus 21:24-25)

Probably one of the most frequently quoted, yet misapplied and misunderstood texts of the Torah would be the above text from our parashah. Those who do not study nor understand the Torah often site this passage as a justification of their misunderstanding of the justice of Hashem. They often pivot Hashem’s attribute of justice–as cursorily seen in the Hebrew Scriptures (the “Old Testament”)–against a cursory reading of the “grace” of the Apostolic Scriptures (the “New Testament”). In short, this passage is often used to place the God of the OT at odds with the one of the NT. The God of the OT is seen as cruel and vengeful. Yet the picture of Him in the NT is heavily skewed with mercy and grace (despite the numerous accounts of wrath and judgment found within the NT, particularly within Revelation).

These concepts, however, are based on false assumptions. We know that Hashem is both just and merciful throughout the canon of Scripture, and that there is no wavering on His part. But how should we understand our text, especially when juxtaposed against the teaching of the Master in Matthew 5 Continue reading “5 Minute Torah – Mishpatim”