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This week's 10-Minute Torah (February 20, 2021): "Parashat Terumah" 5781

Parashat Terumah / פרשת תְּרוּמָה

Read in the Diaspora on 20 February 2021 (8 Adar 5781).

Parashat Terumah is the 19th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Torah Portion: Exodus 25:1-27:19

Shabbat Zachor / שַׁבָּת זָכוֹר

Shabbat Zachor (Shabbat before Purim) for Hebrew Year 5781 begins at sundown on Friday, 19 February 2021 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 20 February 2021.

The word “Terumah” has no direct translation into English. The closest meaning is “portion”. Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu that he will be building the “Mishkan”, the portable Tabernacle that will accompany the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness to the promised land. All Israelites whose “heart so moves [them}” to bring gifts. These will be gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple and crimson yarns, fine linen and goats’ hair; skins and acacia wood; and oil and spices.

From these materials, craftsmen will construct. The first described are the articles and furniture that will be placed inside the Mishkan. These will be the altar for the daily sacrifices; the ark that will contain the Ten Commandments; the table upon which will be the racks for the twelve loaves of showbread; and the Menorah. Finally, they would also build an altar for the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum into which only the High Priest would go during Yom Kippur to make atonement for the people. The ark’s cover was hammered out of pure gold, and on its cover stood two winged cherubim (angels with faces like children).

Each article was to be constructed out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold and silver. The Menorah—which was seven-branched—was to be hammered out of a single ingot of gold. Moses had a hard time imagining what it would look like so Hashem helped him construct it.

Wood was also made into planks for the four sides of the Tabernacle. Goat hair was used to make an outer curtain and fine linen for the inner curtains. These would also be used to seal off the Holy of Holies.

This is also Shabbat Zachor ("Sabbath [of] remembrance” שבת זכור). This is the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim. Deuteronomy 25:17-19, describing the attack by Amalek, is recounted. There is a tradition from the Talmud that Haman, the antagonist of the Purim story, was descended from Amalek. The portion that is read includes a commandment to remember the attack by Amalek, and therefore at this public reading both men and women make a special effort to hear the reading.

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