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Dena Weiss. Parashat Terumah inaugurates the process of the building of the mishkan. First it gives instructions about the materials to be collected—the gold and the silver, the stones and the skins—and then goes on to detail how the furniture of the mishkan and the structure of the mishkan itself are to be constructed. The Torah is not only or even primarily concerned with how the mishkan looked when it was finished; the text takes great care to demonstrate how the mishkan came to be made—the raw components, who furnished the materials, and who did the labor are lovingly and painstakingly catalogued by the Torah. Here the Torah teaches us to be concerned not only with the final product, but also with precisely how it came together. It teaches us to focus not only on the result, but also on the people who help get us there. The Torah encourages us by itself modeling the importance of encouraging participation. The mishkan is a fitting home for God not because of its expensive materials and fine appearance, but because it was built by, and placed in the midst of, God’s people.

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