A Different Kind of Offering

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Parashat VaYaqhel (And He Assembled) &
Parashat Pequdei (Accounts Of)
Shemot (Exodus) 35:1–38:20 & 38:21–40:38
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45–46

In this week’s readings, we find repeated instructions for collecting an offering for the LORD in order to build and operate His dwelling place:

Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying, ‘Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart is to bring it as the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze…”
Exodus 35:4–5

The Hebrew word for contribution or offering is “תרומהTerumah, which means to give something that was lifted up for a certain purpose from a willing and open heart.

I believe that this is very important for us to understand as it first and foremost starts with the heart. The giving needs to come from the heart and as we do so, we lift it up as a sacrifice to the LORD. Let’s recall that the word sacrifice in Hebrew, “korban” (קורבן), carries with it an important meaning of drawing near. The words קורבן (korban) sacrifice and קרוב (karov) to be near, share the same root in Hebrew. So, the end result of our sacrificial offering is that we draw close to God. 

Often we focus on the contribution or offering itself, but as we will learn from this week’s readings, there is more that can be offered. As we continue to read, we learn of Bezalel and Oholiab who were men appointed and anointed by God to lead the task of building His Sanctuary, which He had predestined:

Now Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with everything that the LORD has commanded.

Then Moses called Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. They received from Moses every contribution which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continuedbringing to him voluntary offerings every morning. And all the skillful people who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which they were performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and circulated a proclamation throughout the camp, saying, “No man or woman is to perform work any longer for the contributions of the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.”
Exodus 36:1–7

As we can see from these verses, the contribution was not just the materials but also the time and talent that God had given them in order to do His work. I love the fact that once it came from the heart, which was unified around the works of the LORD, the results were that so much came in, that they asked the people to stop giving!

In our Haftarah we read of yet another kind of offering:

Now when you divide the land by lot for inheritance, you shall lift up (raise) an offering to the LORD, a holy portion of the land…
Ezekiel 45:1a

Here we see that even a portion of the land, which was given to the people of Israel, was to be raised as an offering for the LORD.

As we continue to read, we see once again that all of the offerings that were collected were to be lifted up as a sacrifice to the LORD:

"This is the offering that you shall offer: a sixth of an ephah from each homer of wheat; a sixth of an ephah from each homer of barley; and the prescribed portion of oil (namely, the bath of oil), a tenth of a bath from eachkor (which is ten baths or a homer, for ten baths are a homer); and one sheep from each flock of two hundred from the watering places of Israel—for a grain offering, for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make atonement for them,” declares the Lord GOD. “All the people of the land shall give to this offering for the prince in Israel. And it shall be the prince’s part to provide the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the drink offerings, at the feasts, on the new moons, and on the Sabbaths, at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel; he shall provide the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel.”
Ezekiel 45:13–17

These Scripture portions from Exodus and Ezekiel remind me that everything we have is from Him and for Him, and that if our hearts are set on Him, then everything we do will be offered as an act of worship. I am reminded of the incredible words that Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) wrote in his letter to the Colossians:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people.
Colossians 3:23

In closing, let us generously offer ourselves, our time, our talents, and our resources — all that He has given to us — as living sacrifices, which will be Holy and pleasing to Him.

Shabbat Shalom,
Moran


Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

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