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Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 7.49pm and ends on Saturday at 8.46pm. The weekly Torah portion is Terumah.

Mincha continues at Ainsworth Property – 7/459 Collins St (North Tower), at 2.05pm and we will use the WhatsApp group to confirm numbers.

The weekly lunch & shiur continues on Wed at 1.40pm at A-P 7/459 Collins – and via zoom, hopefully followed by mincha at about 2.05pm. Current topic: claims & counter-claims.  Details here and on the WhatsApp group.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Mandi Katz.

The opening p’sukim  of Terumah enjoining the Israelites to contribute to the construction the mishkan read more like an invitation than an obligation. God’s words to Moshe relayed to the people are “that they may take Me a donation from every man, as his heart may urge him”. Rabbi Sacks A’H came back to this parsha many times over the years in subtly different ways but always with recurring key ideas. He saw the commandment to build a home for God as inherently paradoxical because as he wrote more than once,  God is beyond space.

The answer for Rabbi Sacks as for Jewish mystics of earlier eras was that the people came to be close to God through the  act of giving. It wasn’t the physical creation of a home for God that brought God to dwell among the people but the nature of the gift –  God’s dwelling was built from the gifts of  those whose hearts urged them to give.   The voluntariness of this act, the fact that people chose to do this, brought the Shechina to the people.

The opportunity to give to God also marked a role reversal. Until this time, with few exceptions, the dynamic between God and the Israelites was that the people benefited from miracles and wondrous acts and by and large responded in complaint. This chance to give was a watershed  moment not because God needed a house  but because the people needed to experience the power and dignity of giving as well as receiving, and doing so freely. In this way the opening lines of this parsha are  a beautiful reminder that notwithstanding  all the tremendous detail on the construction  of the mishkan that follow,  God’s presence is not in a physical space but in the hearts of people who give.

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