PARASHAT TERUMAH

Saturday 29th February 2020 4th Adar 5780

PARASHAT TERUMAH by Alan Gilman, Torahbytes

Exodus 25:1 – 27:19; 1 Kings 5:26 (12) – 17 (16); Mark 12:35 - 44

You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. (Shemot/Exodus 26:34)

As part of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its furnishings, God directed Moses to build a "kapporet," an ornate cover to be placed on top of the "aron ha-b'rit" (the Ark of the Covenant). The aron ha-b'rit was an elegant box that contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a jar with a portion of manna, and Aaron's rod that had budded. It resided in the Mishkan's inner sanctum called the "kodesh ha-k'dashim" (Holy of Holies) and it represented the very presence of God within the community of Israel.

When the "Cohen Ha-Gadol" (the High Priest) entered the kodesh ha-k'dashim once a year at Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the kapporet was the focus of his attention, for he was to apply the blood of the festival's special sacrifices before it and over it (see Vayikra/Leviticus 16:11-4). The purpose of this ritual was to provide purification for the inner sanctum from the people's uncleanness, transgressions, and sins.

The kapporet was a lid made of pure gold overshadowed by the wings of golden "k'ruvim" (cherubim). The Scriptures tell us little about these creatures. We are introduced to them when Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden and God placed them to guard the tree of life. It is possible, therefore, that their being symbolically part of the kapporet was to remind Israel that the way to everlasting life remained blocked during the days of the Mishkan and its successor, the Temple.