Parashat Terumah

On The Way To Sanctity

The sanctification process of materials for the Tabernacle and Temple teaches us that everything has the potential to be used for holiness.

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Leading to Sanctity

This is the first stage that leads to complete sanctity. In clarifying this requirement, R. Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1908), in Aruch HaShulchan He-Atid, posits that l'shem ha'kodesh means that the materials must be merely not explicitly designated for personal use.

Even at the stage when the donated materials are chol, unconsecrated, Hashem wants them to be directed away from self-centeredness. They must be open to and directed towards holiness--to be simultaneously part of the mundane and reserved for the service of Hashem.

There is a tendency to think that there are two distinct, even antithetical, spheres of existence--the sacred (kodesh) and the profane (chol)--but this is not so. Chol and kodesh are not binary values, but rather the starting and end-points on a continuum. 

The construction of the Mishkan teaches that, even when we are involved in the everyday activities of life, we have the ability to be oriented to the holy. We are able, and we are challenged by Hashem to live every moment of our lives in a way that prepares for sanctity. The building of the Mishkan on earth begins with the building of a Mishkan in our hearts.

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Rabbi Avraham Fischer

Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.