These are physical places that represent three ways to approach our Creator. One of the meanings of terumah is offering, and we learn that the prelude to build His house is what we have to offer according to what our heart motivates us to give for that purpose. We see several elements related in that process.
We can't give what we don't have, and we can't be what we are not. In this sense, what we have is what we are, hence we give according to what comprises our identity. We often quote our Sages when they ask, “Who is rich?” and they answer, “He who is happy with his lot”.
They refer to a “lot” or “portion” in different levels, from material possessions to personal well being to spiritual fulfillment. Others call such portion the relationship that each individual has with God, considering that what we are and have come from Him. Therefore all depends on our relationship with Him.
In this context we assimilate that what we offer to God in order to build a house for Him, as the space and time of our connection to Him, comes from how rich or poor we are in our relationship with Him. In other words, the more we love Him the closer we are to Him. Thus we realize that Love is our lot. This is how we understand the meaning of “(...) from every man whose heart motivates him to take My offering.” (Exodus 25:2).
Let's be aware that this offering is taken, not given to God:.
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they take for Me an offering (…)” (25:2)
The idea behind taking and not giving leads us to realize that what we are and have come from God, hence we take from what He gives us in order to return it to Him.
This is not about a game of “give and take” but to enhance the awareness of our relationship and bond with our Creator. We take our Love to be close to His Love. This is another way to say that Love is our common bond with God. This is the way to realize that our lot is Love as what we receive from God in order to be connected to Him.
We said above that there are several elements interconnected in this awareness. First Love as our identity and most valuable possession, then the intention that motivates us to build our permanent connection with God, and the levels and dimensions of our material consciousness gathered by who we are.
Abraham is the mountain, Isaac the field, and Jacob the stone with which we build the House of God, so He may dwell in our midst (in us). A mountain represents the weight of a conception or belief. A field represents the ways and means to adopt such conception or belief. A stone represents the permanent connection between the conception or belief and the one who has it.
The levels and dimensions we refer to are the aspects and qualities of consciousness, including discernment, thought, emotions, feelings and instincts, along with individual traits, talents and skills. As we mentioned before (see our commentaries on Parshat Terumah: “Elevating Life to Divine Love” of January 30, 2011 and “The Sanctuary as the Connection with God's Love” of February 19, 2012 in this blog.) all these are the items requested by God to build our permanent bond with Him, represented by gold, silver, copper, linen, olive oil, acacia wood, etc.
The message is that there is nothing superior or inferior in none of them, because they all are part of the way God created us. There is no judgment in the way they are because all serve the common purpose in the motivation to be close to our Creator.
We mentioned also that our Sages relate copper (of lesser value compared to gold and silver) to the lower aspects of consciousness, as essential to hold the tents of the Tabernacle.
“All the instruments of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of copper.” (27:19)
Hence we have to value and appreciate even more the lower aspects of consciousness because on them we hold and make firm Love as the house we build for God's Love to dwell in us. We have to infuse the strength and driving force of ego, passions and instincts in our emotions, feelings and thoughts in how we experience Love as our true identity. Love as who we are, have and do as our most valuable possession.
Love is also the encompassing and integrating force in our consciousness to build the house as the permanent bond with God's Love. In the Torah He shows us ways, means and attributes to achieve this purpose. The Torah is also the meeting place as the connection.
“(...) and in the Ark you shall put the Testimony [the Torah] that I shall give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the Ark-cover, from between the two cherubim which are upon the Ark of the Testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” (25:21-22)
We build a house for God with what He already gave us. Love as the material manifestation of God's Love is the portion that sustains our life. From this portion we take to reveal His Presence in our midst, in us, and in the material world. We will be able to reveal His Presence as we remove the negative aspects of consciousness through Love's ways and attributes.
“Happy are those who dwell in Your House! They are ever praising You. Happy are the people that is in such a case: yea, happy is the people, whose God is the Lord.” (Psalms 84:4, 144:15),“Blessed are those You choose [the children of Israel] and bring near to live in Your courts! We are filled with the good things of Your House, of Hour Holy Temple.” (65:4).