“The Torah… tells us something simple and practical. Give, and you will come to see life as a gift…
…God came to be close to the Israelites through the building of the sanctuary. It wasn’t the quality of the wood and metals and drapes. It wasn’t the glitter of jewels on the breastplate of the high priest. It wasn’t the beauty of the architecture or the smell of the sacrifices. It was the fact that it was built out of the gifts of ‘everyone whose heart prompts them to give’ (Ex. 25:2). Where people give voluntarily to one another and to holy causes, that is where the Divine Presence rests.
Hence the special word that gives its name to this parsha: Terumah. I’ve translated it as ‘a contribution’ but it actually has a subtly different meaning for which there is no simple English equivalent. It means ‘something you lift up’ by dedicating it to a sacred cause. You lift it up, then it lifts you up. The best way of scaling the spiritual heights is simply to give in gratitude for the fact that you have been given.
God doesn’t live in a house of stone. He lives in the hearts of those who give.”