Parashat Terumah

God's Home

The Tabernacle raises the question of whether one can experience God anywhere, or only in one specific place.

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In our time these differences can serve as a basis for a new theological dialogue. In Israel, the view of God as residing in a holy place, and the religious experience of holiness of place, is often intensified. However, this very view also has served as a source of bitter conflict.

Conversely, the largely abstract, "place-less" conception of God often found in the Diaspora can be a source of tremendous religious intensity and impel unique spiritual quests. But it also may limit Jews' ability to experience a more concrete image of God as residing in a defined place.

A meaningful dialogue between these two viewpoints would help us achieve a broader perspective of our faith and, specifically, better understand God's place in our world. It may even help us advance our efforts to reach real shalom (peace), which is another major attribute of God. In the words of Rabbi Yehoshua: "Great is peace, for the Holy One Himself is called Peace." (Midrash Sifra, Leviticus).

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Rabbi Moti Bar-Or

Moti Bar-Or is the founding director of Kolot, a project that engages 150 secular Israeli professional, business, and other leaders in Jewish text study, as well as in projects that contribute to Tikun Olam ("repair of the world"), such as Soadim, a south Tel Aviv soup kitchen.