In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Yehuda Bachana: His Servants Will Arise and Build [2023]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.

This week we will discuss the basic yet important aspect of worshipping God: offerings, and we will be reading about the Tabernacle construction.The detailed description of the building of the Sanctuary will continue through the rest of the book of Exodus until its grand opening, when the Glory of God completely covers the Tabernacle, and no man, not even Moses, are able to enter it.

God accepted the offering and the work of men, of people, and came to dwell among us. In the coming weeks, we will read in great detail, about the construction of the Sanctuary, it’s utensils and priestly garments. Our Torah Portion begins with the offering that the children of Israel are asked to give, out of the goodness of their hearts:

“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”

(Exodus 25:2)

And what is the purpose of these offerings?

“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”
(Exodus 25:8, ESV)

This raises an immediate question. A question that our sages kept asking for generations:

“Where is the house you will build for me?” (Isaiah 66:1)

How can a man build a house that will contain God, the Creator of the universe?
The bible says: (in Isaiah,66:1)

“The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool.”

Midrash Tanchuma asks: can we make Him a sanctuary?
The answer is:

“The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “I am not asking [a sanctuary] [in accordance with My means] but in accordance with their means.”
(Exodus 26:1)

“Now as for the Tabernacle, you shall make it with ten curtains.”
(Tanchuma, Nasso 11)

Here ,it is our willingness to give our offerings, our worship to God. It is not measured according to God’s power, which we cannot match, as the entire world is the creation of God. So we see that the entire world cannot be compared with God and his power.

So how can we serve such God?

The answer is, not according to His power, but according to our strength and abilities.
The Midrash continues and says that:

“When Israel heard this, they arose and donated gladly. So they made the Tabernacle.”

And when people opened their hearts and offered freely and all the work was done, then the sanctuary was filled with God’s glory, because it was built with the open heart, with honest effort and with good will.

We learn from this Midrash, that our will to give freely and to serve God and those around, is the foundation upon which rest all other commandments and rules of the Scriptures. This principle “Not according to my means, but their means” is very clear in the New Testament. Yeshua is sitting next to the treasury, watching people who came to the Temple, donating money for its work and function.
Many of the pilgrims, who came to the Temple, were wealthy and they donated a lot.

But among all the people who put money into the treasury, Yeshua noticed a very special woman, a poor widow, who had nothing. This woman put into the treasury box two coins. I imagine that she was probably ashamed at her appearance in the Temple, because although she was wearing her best cloths, her Shabbat cloths, I am sure they were still very simple and poor.

And when she compared herself to all the other visitors in the Temple, those who donated large sums of money, she felt shame. because she saw what Yeshua saw: people putting lots of money into the Temple treasury. It was easy for her to hold back her tiny donation, because what can these two pennies do or add to the Temple? Nothing!

But, I think this woman understood the principle of “not according to His means, but to hers,” and she gave all her means and all she had. Yeshua saw this woman and was touched by her offering. He turned to his disciples and said:

“This woman gave more then all others!”

His disciples probably looked around, and did not understand how this poor woman gave more than the others?

So Yeshua explained to his disciples. All the others gave out of their abundance. Some probably gave the tithe – 10%, as commanded, while others were even more generous, and added over their 10% offering. But this poor widow, she gave everything that she had. She gave according to the principle: “I am not asking according to my strength, but according to yours”, without diminishing other donations. So from a relative perspective, this widow simply gave more.

What was the Tabernacle?

It was a desert shack, made with planks of acacia wood; 20 planks long and 8 planks wide, covered with 10 curtains. In our Torah Portion, we see the detailed list of all materials used for the construction of the Tabernacle. But it was only a shell, only the outside. The Sanctuary was built by the power of giving and generosity, by the good will to serve God.

We are talking about people who were slaves. People who had struggled financially over a long period of time, and now they are asked to give, not because they have to, but because they want to. And because they wanted to, because they, the nation of slaves, gave their offering with love, the Sanctuary got filled with God’s Glory and his Power.

This common project succeeded to unite the people. If Pharaoh tried to break their spirit, the Tabernacle construction created a common vision, responsibility and cooperation. Everyone was
welcome to join forces in offering and in work, and even if one person could not give much, who had neither artistic talent, nor material goods to offer. Such person was invited to learn from Bezalel, to learn some creative skills and artistic work. As it is written, Bezalel had a heart for instruction, and had the ability to teach.

Because of the offering and the common work, everyone felt connected. I imagine different people looking at the Tabernacle, and each of them thinking, I painted this, I colored that, I sawed these parts together. Others were thinking – these instruments are made with my silver, or- my gold was used for the menorah. We are talking here about a tremendous national achievement.

In the book of Nehemiah, we read about a similar achievement, when Nehemiah asked the residents of Jerusalem to build the walls of the city by themselves. He was the first to roll up his sleeves and began to work. Their hostile neighbors opposed this work, and Nehemiah’s answer to them was:

“The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore, we His servants will arise and build.”
(Nehemiah 2:20)

The Messianic Movement adopted this verse, this idea, and there is a beautiful song about the building of the body of Messiah, based on these verses, saying that we will continue to work together until Yeshua will come to reign in His Jerusalem. And also, today we say, that the opposition will not stop us, God will fill us with strength, and that we, God’s workers, will rise and build; rise and act, we will do our best, till the day of Yeshua’s return to Jerusalem.

Now, Nehemiah’s idea was that every family in Jerusalem will take responsibility for a section of the wall, will fix and repair it. A large family will take a larger section, while a smaller family will repair a smaller section of the wall, so that everyone will do the work according to his abilities. For example, the Hight Priest, Eliashiv and his family, built the sheep gate and its doors. According to this model, the residents of Jerusalem quarried stones, polished wood, attached gates, constructed towers, moves stones… and thus - built Jerusalem.

The residents of Jerusalem did not only build the wall, but they built themselves up and built their own confidence. By working together, the residents of Jerusalem, in the days of Nehemiah, earned their homeland and took ownership of the city. It was now truly theirs! Nehemiah’s call was for everyone, those well-off, and those whose only contribution was a bit of work. It was relevant for every person, every family, according to their abilities.

Every family walked around the city knowing that they took part in its restoration, and Jerusalem is standing firm, also because of them. Contribution and joint action, built connection, partnership and even friendship. The Torah teaches us, that in order to gain the divine presence, one must open his heart and give willingly and with love. Our Portion goes into details of the Tabernacle, God gives the exact dimensions, quantities, colors and materials, to be used for His Sanctuary.

Sometimes we feel small, insignificant and meaningless. Who and what are we? Are we only a speck of dust in the universe, too small for God to even notice us? But this Torah Portion teaches us that God cares, and that every hook and every loop, even the smallest one, matters. Yeshua tells us that God sees and counts everything:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

Yeshua reminds us that even the hair on our head is counted and known to God, who created us. He cares for each and every one of us. Every person in the world is important for Him, every person means the world to Him. God created man in his own likeness and image, In Judaism we say that:

“Every person is like or worth, the whole world.”

The word image first appeared in the book of Genesis, where we read that man was created in the image and likeness of God. The holiness and the value of every life is based on this definition of man, and that is why bloodshed is strictly forbidden. Killing a person nullifies the life that has divine meaning. When someone hurts his neighbor, either physically or emotionally, he hurts the image of God in this person. Whoever humiliates another human being, humiliates God’s reflection in him.

The famous Jewish book - Ethics of the Fathers speaks of  “Three important things”.

“Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: Torah, the service of G d, and deeds of kindness.”

And also:

“Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel, would say: By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. As is stated (Zachariah 8:16), "Truth, and a judgement of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.” (Ethics of the Fathers 1, v2 and v18)

In a similar way, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul concludes his teaching on love:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Paul defines love as the most important, because everything is included in it. Faith is important, it is the foundation on which we stand, but love upgrades the life of faith to action with joy. We can observe the commandment, because we must, or we can observe them in love and joy, with true intention; free from pursuit of reward or fear of punishment.

Hope, we are lost without it. What person can exist without hope?
He, who lost hope, has lost the taste in life. But love plants hope. Love makes us invest, it makes us selfless, for the sake of others. Love promises hope as well.

The Tabernacle was built by Israel’s love.
They gave the offering of love, out of hope and faith.
Hope for the future, with complete faith, is reflected in Israel’s free giving; in their open and giving heart.

“You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” (Exodus 25:2)

Today our love, our generosity and our work for heaven’s sake, makes us participants in the Kingdom of God! And this love will fill our prayer houses with the presence of God.

Joseph Shulam: Giving From Your Heart [2023]

The Torah portion this week is actually the only time of the year that I write about donations and financial support. I am not begging and have never begged from brothers and sisters around the world to give money to Netivyah. But, this one time a year the Torah portion is called “Terumah” as this Hebrew word is translated in the New King James English Bible = offering.

The verse that opens this Torah portion says:

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”
(Exodus 25:2 NKJV)

The Torah reading for the Torah portion “Terumah” is from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19, and from the prophets it is 1 Kings 5:12-6:13, and from the New Testament it is from 1 Corinthians 16:1-24.

Well! This Torah portion is dealing with the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai, after receiving the Torah. The text in Exodus 25 gives the details of what kind of free will offering / contribution the people of Israel can give:

“And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair.”
(Exodus 25:3–4 NKJV)

What can we learn today about the contributions and offerings that are taken in the churches? The offerings and contributions that are given in the majority of the churches are cash money. I should say that this was true for hundreds of years in all the churches. Now, I have understood that in the United States of America people can contribute from their cell-phones and directly deposit their contributions each week automatically directly to the bank account of the church.

I actually like this method and the other method that just has some small safes in the lobby of the church and people can just put their checks or cash discreetly in the box. This is much more in obedience to the command of the Lord to give your offerings discreetly so that your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing. This is, most of the time, how the Jewish people give in the synagogues. It is much better and more correct according to the Lord’s command.

We learn from this Torah portion that you can give different things. Not only money, gold or silver, but also leather, wood, goat’s hair, precious stones…. Whatever is needed for the work of the building of the tabernacle. Of course, we are not building a tabernacle in Jerusalem right now, and we have no plans of building such a tent for meetings.

But the principle is important and it is based on the phrase in the first verse of our reading from Exodus 25:1:

“Everyone who gives it willingly with his heart…”

I think that this is the most important aspect of our giving to the ministry of God’s word and the ministry for God’s people. Anything that we do for God and with God, has to be from the heart. If it is not from the heart and with a willing heart, a heart that has purposed and aimed and planned to give for the service of the Lord and His Kingdom down here on this Earth, God doesn’t need it.

See what the apostle Paul said to the Athenian Judges when he was in Athens, Greece:

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made, from one blood, every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”
(Acts 17:24–26 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is referring in his speech to the Athenians, the words of King Solomon when the magnificent temple in Jerusalem was dedicated so that the people of Israel would not be like the Pagans who built temples to their idol and believe that their God is living in the temples that they built for him. Here are the words of King Solomon:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
(1 Kings 8:27 NKJV)

Here is the instruction that the Apostle Paul gives to the church in Corinth about giving:

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.” (1 Corinthians 16:1–4 NKJV)

Please notice that there is no mention of tithing 10% of your income. Notice that the only order in the whole New Testament is to give as you have prospered. Notice that the collection is for Jerusalem. Notice that in Paul’s letter to the Romans almost at the very end of the letter, Paul writes the following:

“But now I go to Jerusalem, ministering to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been well pleased to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints who [are] in Jerusalem. They have been well pleased indeed, and they are their debtors; for if the nations have participated in their spiritual things, they ought also in fleshly to minister to them.” (Romans 15:25–27)

We as disciples of Yeshua, our Lord and Messiah, have obligations to our home communities and to the poor, and to the orphans and widows of our communities and the poor of our villages and cities, and to our own children…. And of course, these obligations must be met and the service of the church must be supported and financed.

That takes me to the first point that I made above. It all has to be done generously and from our heart. The hypocrites give to be seen by man and praised by man, and for gaining points in the society. This is what Yeshua our Lord criticized in how the Pharisees conducted their affairs:

“But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matthew 23:5 NKJV)

Hear what the teacher of the Apostle Paul, the great Rabbi Gamaliel was teaching his students:

“Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah Hanasi, said: excellent is the study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both keeps sin out of one’s mind; But [study of the] Torah which is not combined with a worldly occupation, in the end comes to be neglected and becomes the cause of sin. And all who labor with the community, should labor with them for the sake of Heaven, for the merit of their forefathers sustains them (the community), and their (the forefather’s) righteousness endures forever; And as for you, [God in such case says] I credit you with a rich reward, as if you [yourselves] had [actually] accomplished [it all].” (Mishnah Avot 2:2)

Actually this statement of GaMaliel explains why the Apostle Paul was working as a tent maker in Corinth and not begging the church to support him financially. There were some churches that supported the Apostle Paul financially for his own needs, but Paul was obedient to his teacher Gamaliel and this is also the same Pharisee that saved Peter and John from prison in Jerusalem.

The key that I want to share with you about giving in general and giving specifically to Netivyah, in light of what the Torah commands us and what the Apostle Paul teaches us: If our giving is not from the heart yes, the church and the poor and the needy will benefit from it because the money and the gold and the silver don’t have feelings and emotions. Your contribution will be used and people will be blessed by it.

If it is from your heart and if it is as you have prospered, I am using the words of Paul, you will have triple blessings from your giving!

If it is from your heart and if it is as you have prospered, I am using the words of Paul, you will have triple blessings from your giving!

1.You will be participating in the blessing of the needy and the blessing of the community.

2.You will be blessed by God to continue to prosper. The phrase that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 16, has two directions – it has the direction of what you have been blessed in the past, but also it has the direction of what the Lord will bless you if you are doing your giving from your heart.  The Lord blessed you and you are blessing His children and your fellow man.

3.The prosperity of the body of Christ anywhere in the world and the blessing that sincere people give from their heart to bless any one person who is in need or who is doing the work of the Lord is always also the blessing of Jerusalem and the preparation of the Bride of the Messiah to receive Him back in Jerusalem.

Of course I will not forget that the appeal of the Apostle Paul is specifically for Jerusalem both in Romans chapter 15 and in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 is specifically for Jerusalem and in Acts chapter 24 we find out that Paul gave the offerings for the poor of Jerusalem and he did it through the agency of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Give from your generosity! Give from your heart! Give to those ministries that you trust are doing the work of the Lord to bless God’s people wherever they are. Spread your seeds far and wide to increase the harvest before the Lord returns to Zion to judge all flesh.

You will prosper according to the words of Paul as you have shared what the Lord has already prospered you! You spread your seeds a little, your harvest will also be little! If you spread your seeds liberally, with all your heart, your harvest will also be blessed by the Lord of the Harvest and will grow accordingly to what you have put in the land!

The Lord bless you, all my brothers and sisters, and remember Paul’s admonition to the church in Rome – remember the poor of Jerusalem. Of course, not only Jerusalem, but also the rest of God’s children around the world.

Joseph Shulam: The True Disciples of Yeshua [2022]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.

The Torah portion of this Shabbat is called “Terumah.” “Terumah” in Hebrew means donation or contribution. The reading is from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. From the prophets the reading is from 1 Kings 5:26 – 8:13. From the New Testament we will be reading 2 Corinthians 9:1-15.

This Shabbat is the only time of the year that we talk about money and donation and contributions. The text of Exodus 25 right from the beginning starts with these words:

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” – Exodus 25:2 [NKJV]

The thing to note in this text is that the only contribution that is acceptable by the Lord is the one that is given from a “willing heart!” To this I say “wow!” One of the reasons that I say this to these words is that they are almost the same words that the apostle Paul uses when he encourages the brothers and sisters in Corinth to contribute:

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” – 1 Corinthians 16:1,2 [NKJV]

There is no command in the New Testament to give 10 percent to the Lord. The 10% was given for the Levites, not for building buildings and for the expenses of the community. The 10% was for the maintenance of the Levites. The contributions were commanded by God and the amount is 10% of the top of the income and gain that the other tribes of Israel made from the land.

The request of the apostle Paul from all the churches was not for 10% of their earnings, but for a collection for the saints in Jerusalem. No amount is mentioned, and no obligatory amount of the contribution is suggested. The same is true in the second letter to the Corinthian church, chapters 8 and 9.

Here is how this text from the apostle Paul brings a different outlook on giving:

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 [NKJV]

Notice please, dear brothers, the description of how these brothers and sisters in Macedonia gave their contribution:

  1. They were tested by suffering.
  2. They were overflowing with joy.
  3. They gave out of their extreme poverty, and that kind of giving made them more generous.
  4. They gave from their free will (not what they had to give but what they freely wanted to give).
  5. They gave all they could give, even more than they could afford.
  6. They made an appeal to us (the Jewish apostles) to let them participate in the ministry of God’s kindness to His holy people in Jerusalem.

I see here in the second letter to the Corinthians that those brothers in Corinth actually gave from their heart and above their capacity but not above their heart’s desire. We see the same type of giving also in the letter to the Romans.

Here is the text of Paul the apostle to the Roman church:

“But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” – Romans 15:25-27 [NKJV]

The text in first and second Corinthians, and this text in Romans chapter 15, are the main texts that speak about contributions and about giving, in the New Testament. All of these texts are talking about giving for the saints in Jerusalem.

All of these texts don’t specify the amount or percentage that ought to be given. All of these texts state that brothers gave out of their own desire and even out of a feeling of obligation or in the word that Paul uses, a feeling of debt to the Christians in Jerusalem.

Paul collected the money from these churches in the diaspora for the saints in Jerusalem and brought this money to Jerusalem together with the seven gentile disciples that accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. Where did Paul deposit this money, to whom did Paul give this money, to which poor saints in Jerusalem was this money delivered?

Here is what Paul says about these funds that he raised from the gentile churches in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome.

“Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation…” – Acts 24:17 [NKJV]

Paul states clearly that the offering that he raised for the poor saints in Jerusalem he gave to his nation. He gave the money in the Temple in Jerusalem for the poor of Jerusalem. What are the implications of these words of the apostle?

The first implication is that when Paul talks about the saints in Jerusalem, both in 2 Corinthians 8 and in Romans 15, and probably also the letter to the Ephesians in chapter 2, he is not speaking of only the disciples of the Messiah but is speaking of the general Jewish poor population in Jerusalem.

Paul’s letters all contain an element of fundraising, every single letter, and his concern is for the Jewish nation in Jerusalem. He never uses the word “Christian” or “Christians” about himself or the disciples of Yeshua, neither does Jacob (James), or John. Paul states several times who he is and it is always, an Israelite, a Hebrew, a Pharisee, from the tribe of Benjamin…

He states clearly:

“And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: ‘Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers…’” – Acts 28:17 [NKJV]

This text is one of several where Paul is addressing Jewish leaders and states, as clearly as the sun rises, that he has done nothing against our people, i.e., the nation of Israel. He also states clearly that he had done nothing against the tradition or heritage, or customs, of our fathers.

What are the implications of these things and statements of Paul for us today?

Paul has never stopped being an observant (orthodox Jew), he never changed his lifestyle and he continued to observe the customs and traditions of our fathers. I think that it is of great importance for us who live and work and preach and teach the Word of God in Israel to understand and to internalize the Paul of the New Testament and not the Paul that is painted and presented by Christian theologians from the end of the second century after Christ to this very day.

The sad thing is that there are Jewish disciples of Christ in Israel that have swallowed the Christian anti-Torah and anti-Jewishness twisted message and are trying hard to shove it on the local Jewish disciples of Yeshua in the land of Israel, even up to these days. Our obligation is not to Christian traditions and Santa Claus, our obligation is to discern the times – that God is now restoring the Jewish nation to the land of Israel, to the God of Israel and not the diaspora-made God of the Eastern European ghetto.

We need to step in time with the prophetic promises of the restoration of Israel and the revealing of God’s face to this nation. The name of Yeshua has to become a synonym for patriotism and support for the lifestyle of Jewish restoration of faith in God and the lifestyle of true disciples of Yeshua, the same lifestyle that we read about in the New Testament.

The same lifestyle that Paul and the disciples carried on in the first century after Christ. Yes, restoration is what we need, and not churches born in the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Let us rediscover the Yeshua that walked up and down this country from the Galilee to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts and to honor God and the Torah traditions. This paradigm is not only for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua, it is also for the non-Jewish disciples who live and work and function inside the camp of Israel in the land of Israel.

Joseph Shulam: Brad TV Video Teaching – Terumah [2022]

Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.

Shalom, my name is Joseph Shulam. And we are again, together with Brad TV, going to study the portion of the week from the Law of Moses that is being read in every synagogue, and in many messianic synagogues around the world, as well. And this portion is called, “Contribution, Offering.” It starts from chapter 25 verse one in the Book of Exodus, and finishes in chapter 27, verse 19 in the Book of Exodus.

Offerings Must Be Given From the Heart

It starts like this:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel that they may bring me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart, you shall take my offering.’”

Right there, you’ve got the opening statement, verse one and two of chapter 25 of this Torah portion. That’s extremely important. Why is it important? Because in the Law of Moses we have what is called the tithe of the Levites, giving 10 percent of your crops, of your income, of your wealth, to the Levites that serve you in the tabernacle of God.

Ten Percent Is Not Required

But here it’s not just an offering, it’s not a tithe, it’s an offering that is different than the tithe. It’s an offering that is based on two elements. Willingness and being from your heart, as you have purposed in your heart. And this is what we have in the New Testament. In the New Testament, we don’t have an obligation of tithing 10%.

You can give whatever percentage you want. You wanna give 3% or 10% or 20% or 30% of your income? That’s up to you. But it has to be done willingly and from your heart, not obligatorily. The tithe of the Levites, for the Levite, was obligatory. If you didn’t give it, God was angry with you. We see that in Malachai. We see it in Haggai.

In the prophets. Yes, God would be angry if you did not give your 10% to the Levites for their service, because they didn’t get land in the land of Israel. In the Promised Land that God promised Abraham, the Levite didn’t get land. God was their portion. And because of that, everybody that got land owed it to the Levites to give them 10% of their crops, of their wealth.

I’m a Levite. Yeah, but I’m not asking you to give me 10% of your wealth. If we had a temple in Jerusalem and the real priest and the Levites were serving in the temple, then you would have to give it to the temple and that would be according to the Law of Moses.

But it’s not according to the Law of Moses to tell people, Christians, to give a tithe. That’s strictly given to the Levites for the people from the tribe of Levi that served in the temple of the Lord. What we have in the New Testament is exactly what we have in this portion. It is above and beyond the tithes. “Give me your offering,” God says, “and it has to be willingly and from your heart.”

Offer Must Be Given Willingly

If you read in 1 Corinthians 16, when Paul writes to the church in Corinth, and says, “I want you to... On the first day of the week when you gather together, each one to bring his offering as he has purposed in his heart.” Based on this text here in Exodus 25, as he has purposed in his heart. The same thing is in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. It is the law of sowing and reaping, not the law of tithing. It’s has to be done willingly, free-willingly, and from the heart.

God Blesses Offering From Heart

Then God accepts your offering and then you get blessed for the offering that you have given to God from your heart, by faith, out of faithfulness. And then we have a long list of what you’re going to give to the Lord. From gold and from silver and from copper and from purple and from silk and from skins of animals, and all kinds of things. Why? They were in the wilderness and they didn’t have dollars and English pounds and Swiss francs and South African golden rands. Yeah?

Money didn’t exist in that world. It was a world of bartering. And therefore what they were asked to bring was things that would serve in the building of the tabernacle of the Lord. That is not the tithe, that’s the freewill offering for the building of the tabernacle of the Lord. That in itself is very interesting and very important, but I’m not gonna dwell on this, but I’m going to go jump to verse eight of chapter 25, which is essentially the paradigm of the Hebrew, Hebrew means also Jewish, concept of a temple, which is a very different concept than that of the pagans, all around the world, and even today, in many churches.

Pagans Say God Dwells in Temple

The concept of the pagan temple is that the temple is where God dwells. The house of the Lord, the house of God, where God dwells. There’s a statue in the Holy of Holies and the statue of the god is there, the idol is there, and you’re worshiping God. You have to clean him up. You have to brush him up. You have to feed him. You have to provide for him. That’s the pagan concept. It’s not the Hebrew concept.

It’s not the biblical concept. It’s not the concept of the temple in Jerusalem. It’s not the concept of a tabernacle. Because let me read to you what this text in verse eight says. “Let them make me a sanctuary that I will dwell inside of them, among them, not in the sanctuary.” Yeah, the sanctuary is only a symbol. It’s only a tool. It’s not holy in the sense that God Himself dwells there. No. God’s presence is there above it. There is no statue in the temple in Jerusalem. There is no statue in the tabernacle. There is only the Ark of the Covenant. It has the tablets of the Law that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and the jar of the manna that they ate in the wilderness, and the staff that Moses used, Moses and Aaron used, in the wilderness, in Egypt, to bring down the plagues over Egypt.

God Dwells Within Us

They probably had to cut it in pieces and fold it up so that it would fit inside the Ark. The Ark was not that big. So there you are. “Make me a tabernacle so I will dwell inside of them.” That’s literally what the Hebrew says, and that’s literally what the New Testament holds. And that’s literally what Jeremiah the Prophet in chapter 31 says. “I will write my law in their hearts inside of them.” So that’s the basis of contribution that we get in the New Testament. Let them lay aside, put money in the box, in storage, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. So that when I come, I don’t have to chase them to collect from them, but it will be already in the box for me to collect.

And Paul makes the collection and brings it to Jerusalem in chapter 24 of the Book of Acts. And in verse 17, he tells us what he did with the collection. He gave it to his nation in the temple. That’s also a very interesting issue. We have to talk about it later. But okay, the collection is for building the tabernacle. And the things that you can contribute are things that are going to be used in the building of the tabernacle. Now what is the essence?

Why Is Jerusalem Temple Unique?

What’s the difference between the tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built later, and the pagan temples? Here’s Solomon many years later, probably a couple of hundred years plus, is building a temple in Jerusalem, a temple that his father, King David, envisioned and wanted to build and God forbade him to build. So he built the temple and now he’s dedicating the temple. Big celebration. Huge celebration. The Levites and the priests and hundreds of sacrifices, and the people are gathered there in the courtyard of the temple.

And the wealth of Solomon is in the temple with gold, with silver, with artwork. Magnificent, not very big, but magnificent. And this is what Solomon himself says in the dedication of the temple. Chapter eight of 1 Kings, verse 27. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heavens of heaven cannot contain you. How much less this temple, this house, which I have built for you?” That’s the difference between a pagan temple, pagan worship, and the worship of Israel. The temple is only a box and only a tool. It gives the people of Israel a sense of belonging to God and a sense of participating with God.

Temple Is Different From Pagan Temples

But it’s very different than the pagan temples of all the nations around us. Solomon says, “No, this is not the house where God dwells. It’s a tool. But God, the whole earth and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain you.” Now in the New Testament, we have a similar paradigm. We have a similar paradigm in Acts 17 where Paul is in Athens in the paragon of idolatry in the ancient world, up on the Acropolis in Athens, the temples of the Greek gods, magnificent buildings, beautiful buildings.

And he’s just little bit below in the courthouse, been caught in the marketplace just below the courthouse, and brought to court accused of blasphemy of the Greek gods. And in Acts 17, Paul says, “Hey folks, don’t think, I’m talking about a god that you worship.” “We don’t know who you worship as the god ‘that is impossible to know.’” “The ‘unknown god’ doesn’t mean that he’s unknown, it means that it’s unknowable.”

The Real God Is Unknowable

“You cannot know him, even if you try.” “Because the God who created the heavens and the earth and everything on the earth, from the mosquito to the hippopotamus, to the whale in the sea, to the salmon that swims up the river to lay its eggs, to the human being with all of his colors and with all of his characters, that God doesn’t dwell in buildings made by hands, by human hands.”

God Doesn’t Need You

That’s what Paul says, the same thing that Solomon said. That God doesn’t need you. You need Him. He has survived eons and eons before He created the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars in our galaxy. Yes, folks, this concept is from the Old Testament all the way to the New Testament. And what can I say?

Most of the Christian world has forgotten it. The inheritance of the Christian world and the Protestant world has inherited, has inherited what came from the church fathers who were essentially pagans in the Church in Rome.

And from the Church in Rome, the Protestant Reformation did not change the paradigm on which Roman Christianity was based. But if we read the Bible from the Torah all the way to the New Testament, we see the continuation of the faith in the God who is the father of all mankind, who created everything in the world.

He Does Not Live in a Building

And yes, we need a temple. We need a temple because we don’t want to feel neglected when all of our neighbors have temples. But the temple that God allowed, the tabernacle, and then the temple of Solomon that God allowed the children of Israel to build, was only a tool.

Temple Was Only Tool

A tool, an address, a location within the framework of time in which people can fulfill their needs, not God’s needs. In which Israel could fulfill their needs and feel that they are no different than the rest of the world. And that they have a house, an address that they can go to and ask God and give to God and pray to God and praise God. It’s to accommodate us and our needs, not God’s needs. That’s Paul’s sermon on the Areopagus in Athens, Acts 17.

All Israel Involved in Building of the Tabernacle

That’s Solomon’s sermon when he dedicated the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. Our portion of the reading spends a lot of time in all the elements, all the needs, all the structure of the tabernacle in the wilderness that Moses and Aaron and the people of Israel built. And the interesting thing about that tabernacle is that every single individual Israelite from every tribe had a part in the building of the tabernacle, had an obligatory part, and had a voluntary part in the building of this tabernacle.

So when people looked at the tabernacle, they said, “Oh, that’s mine. “I have a part in it. “I gave this gold that made the lamp. “I gave the silver that made the foot of where the pillars that hold the temple together stand.” “I gave the wood for making the Ark.” “I gave the skin to make the roof.” “I gave the silk and the purple for the clothing of the priests. Hallelujah.” “I gave the precious stones for the breastplate of Aaron.”

Believers Need to Feel That They Have Contributed

So this aspect is very important, but I miss it in my visits to churches all around the world, folks. I miss it because I know very few people that feel that they have ownership, physical ownership, in what they built in their church buildings and in their faith and in their teaching and in their daily life.

And somehow our brothers and sisters around the world have gotta recapture this feeling, this attitude, that, “This is my place. I have a part in this place.” With most church buildings, the money came from, a little bit of money came from the people, most of the money came from some rich moguls who gave the millions for the church building.

We're in Partnership With God

Yes, we have a part. We’re in partnership with God from A to Z, my dear friends and brothers. We’re in partnership with God in everything that we have as a community and everything that we have as a building and everything that we have as a ministry and everything that we have in missions.

We’re in partnership. It’s not all the denomination, and we are just observers. No, we have to be participants and we have to feel and know that ownership. That’s the key to having a healthy community of disciples of Yeshua, of the Messiah. And in the Law of Moses, this portion of the week is actually the key to the participation and the partnership of every family and every individual in God’s doing, in God’s action, in God’s presence among us.

We Must Feel That We Are in Partnership With God

That feeling that we are partners with the Almighty God, not just sitting on the side and watching from outside. No. We need to develop it. And this Torah portion actually teaches us how to do it by taking the earrings of the wives of the Israelites which is not easy, Jewish women are not, Hebrew women were not, so simple to deal with.

Still today, they’re not so simple to deal with. Just like the Korean women and the Chinese women and the Japanese women and women all around the world. It’s not easy for a woman to take out her gold earrings and contribute in the basket for the building of a building or for sending out a missionary. I’ve seen it done. Here in our congregation, I’ve seen it done. Not very often, but I’ve seen it done.

We Have to Give to Feel That We Are a Part of What God Is Doing

But that gives us the feeling that we are in cahoots, in partnership, with the Almighty God. And this is what this portion is all about. God’s presence in the camp, in the tent, that was the result of everybody in Israel, young and old, male and female, slave or free, that had a part in this tabernacle. And something that we need to learn from.

And I don’t know exactly how to capture it and implement it in the churches today, and even in messianic synagogues, but it’s something that I’m excited about learning what they did then. And I’m praying for revelation of how to implement it in our own ministry and congregation here in Jerusalem and in Brazil, and in Bulgaria, and in Finland, and in other countries in the world.

May God bless all of you. Keep praying for us, for Netivyah, and for Israel. We are the only nation that is threatened with extinction in 100 years more than once. It was the Germans, the Nazis, and now the Iranians who are threatening to wipe us off the map. We need your prayers. We need your support. God bless all of you. Amen.

Joseph Shulam: An Invitation to Give [2021]

I’m writing this while watching the snow falling on Jerusalem. Jerusalem dressed in white is a reminder of the bride dressed in white waiting for the bridegroom to come for the wedding. The reading this Shabbat is very special.

The Shabbat just prior to the feast of Purim is called the “Shabbat of Remembrance” (in Hebrew, Shabbat “Zachor”). The reason for this special reading is the command in the book of Esther and in the Torah to remember the Amalekites and what they did to Israel during their forty years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness on the way to the land of Canaan.

The Torah reading is from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. From the prophets the reading is from 1 Kings 5:12 – 6:13, and the reading from the New Testament is from Hebrews 9:1-10. The special reading for Shabbat of Remembrance is from Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.” – Deuteronomy 25:17-19 [NKJV]

This text is considered a command from God to all of the generations of the people of Israel. I think that it is a wonderful command. I realize that many Christians will think that it a terrible thing to remember something from that long ago. We are commanded to forgive and forget!

This is true, but we are to forgive and forget those who have stopped the terrorism and the hate and the bloodshed and have at least confessed that they did something that is wrong and bad. The best example of this that I still remember from the early 1950’s is when the Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, came to Jerusalem and addressed the Israeli Parliament (The Knesset) confessing and repenting in the name of the German nation for what Germany did in the Holocaust.

The repentance of Germany was accompanied by action. Diplomatic relations were established, the German Embassy was opened in Israel and an Israeli embassy was setup in Bonn. In spite of all of the terrible horrors that were perpetrated against the Jewish nation, forgiveness and reconciliation took place between Germany and Israel.

Amalek never stopped the hate and the desire to wipe out the Jewish nation and even in the Bible itself we find many hundreds years later, a descendent of Agog the king of Amalek, whom King Saul spared and Samuel came and delivered Agog from his head, and King Saul lost his crown and his kingship and the favor of the Lord, because he spared the Amalekite, and didn’t obey God’s command.

I can say this with confidence. The Jewish people have a good memory, especially when it comes to history. We remember our enemies and make sure that they don’t get a second chance to kill to terrorize and to damage our people. We also never forget those who blessed us and have done good to our people.

A good example of these two traits of our nation is the Yad Vashem Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. In these museums there are memorials and documentation of the horrors of the Nazi holocaust, and in the same places there is a memorial and honor for the tens of thousands of Christians throughout Europe and even from Japan and China, who endangered themselves to save Jews from the hands of the Nazis and the death camps that were spread throughout Europe all the way deep into Eastern Europe. There is a tree planted for each one of the Gentiles who saved even one Jew, and many of these who are called “Righteous from among the Gentiles,” received a lifetime financial pension, besides the medal and the honor of a memorial in their name.

In the case of the Amalekites, we are actually commanded by God to remember and not to forget. I realize that this is an unusual command, but none the less it is a divine command that it is wise and right for us to remember the command and to remember the Amalekites who were so cruel and so hard on Israel during their forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert.

There are other things that are important in the Torah reading of this Shabbat. The name of the portion is called Parashat Terumah. This is from the beginning of the Torah reading:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.’” – Exodus 25:1-7 [NKJV]

This text is the basic text that Paul is basing his command and request for the disciples of Yeshua in the diaspora (Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome) to make contributions for the saints in Jerusalem. All of Paul’s letters have the command and the encouragement to make collections and contributions.

In other words, the Apostle Paul is writing his letters to the churches to deal with problems and theological issues but also for fundraising. Each one of his letters has that element of fundraising, of giving “offerings” (“gifts, contributions, collection”).

Let me just give you a few examples of this because most Christians and even pastors don’t realize this and resort to going to the Old Testament and teach that Christians ought to be giving a “tithe” (10 percent of their income).

This teaching in Christianity is a part of the replacement theology of the Catholic Church. They rejected the Torah and the prophets, but they kept the 10 percent and demanded it from their parishioners with impunity. In some of the old Catholic churches in Europe, even in Finland, you see the paintings on the walls of the church where people who didn’t put the money in the collection bag would be hit on the head with the long wooden poll that held the bag at its end.

The teaching of giving by the apostles in the New Testament is based on this week’s Torah portion: “they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

“For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” – Romans 15:26-27 [NKJV]

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.” – 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 [NKJV]

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 [NKJV]

These are just a few of the examples from the Apostle Paul’s letters where he encourages the churches to make a contribution (an offering) for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Paul bases his command and suggestion on this Shabbat’s Torah reading from Parashat Terumah.

Joseph Shulam: God Wants Our Gold [2020]

The Torah reading this week is Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:1 – 27: 29. Terumah means contribution! This is the one time per year that I teach about giving in the congregation in Jerusalem.

The operative word in this Torah portion is “gold”. So much gold is used in the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai.

We must remember that this nation is a nation of slaves. The building of the Tabernacle was just a few months after they left Egypt. The were liberated from slavery only a very short time ago, and they have wandered in the Sinai desert for two months before they arrived at Mount Sinai, and received the Torah from the mouth of God.

Netivyah | Parashat Terumah | An illustration of the Tabernacle from the Holman Bible (1890)
An illustration of the Tabernacle from the Holman Bible (1890)

Now, suddenly they are asked to build a Tabernacle, and everything in that portable temple would have to be donated. These slaves had nothing much before they left Egypt. They took from the Egyptians all the gold and silver, the expensive silk and leather, and precious stones.

I could say that the Israelites had the feeling that all that they took was not even a fair payment for the years of slavery that they were enslaved in Egypt. They, for the first time in the life time of that generation, felt that they now have something, at least a small egg nest of wealth. Here you have it now, and Moses and God are asking you to give it for the joint project of building a portable temple for God.

If I transpose this situation to us today? What do you think the response of the people be? In my lifetime I have had the privilege of knowing personally some of the best and most honest Christian fundraisers.

One of the very best was a dear woman, a widow, from Dallas, Texas. Her name is Frida Lindsey. She is the founder of Christ for the Nations in Dallas. This woman was, first of all, the paragon of honesty and dignity and true dedication to the memory of her dear husband Gordon Lindsey, and the education and equipping of young people to serve God and Yeshua the Messiah.

I have watched dear Sister Frida so many times raise funds for the school. If she had 50 people in the audience she would pray and set the goals to raise 50,000 dollars. At first, dear sister Frida would have the song leader sing the song, “Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?”

Sister Frida has gone to be with the Lord, and I have not heard anyone sing this song since the last time that I was with her. The next thing she would say is, “Are there here five people who would give 10,000 dollars each?” Normally there was at least one who would give 10,000 dollars.

Next she would say, “are there eight people who would give 5,000 each.” There would normally be two or three who would give 5,000 each.

Finally the last would be how many people can give 10 dollars or 5 dollars for the said project. In other words, Sister Frida, like Moses in the wilderness, would give everyone the honor and the opportunity to have a part in the project that she felt God wanted and blessed.

Everything in the Tabernacle built in the wilderness was a donation. It was a donation from people who were just delivered from slavery. It was a donation from people who for the first time in their lives had something valuable, some gold and silver, maybe a mink coat, maybe a silver spoon.

These same people were just out of the trauma of the building of the Golden Calf. There too they were asked to give gold, and women took their gold jewelry off their ears and necks and gave them to Aaron to make the Golden Calf.

Now, a second time in a very short period, they are asked to give more gold and more silver and precious stones to build the portable temple for the Lord. They gave so much that Moses had to stop them and say, “it is enough, stop giving!”

Now imagine that this was a church or a synagogue committee making the decisions and planning this Tabernacle! Here we go!

“Why do we have to cover this beautiful woodwork with gold!” “Why do we need to make the bases for the tentpoles from silver?” “There are so many beautiful stones here in the Sinai desert. We have green marbled stones from the copper mines of Bir Nasb. There are wonderful red granite stones. Why use Gold?”

Here is the answer that Moses would give to these people of the construction committee:

“Dear Brothers, you are all right, we could use the malachite (marbled green stone), we could use the red granite stones of the Sinai desert. But, we must do exactly what God said we ought to do. God said to make the ark of the covenant from acacia wood and cover it with gold.”

“Please, dear brothers, is God not the ultimate architect? Let us do what God commanded us to do in the way that He commanded us to do it. This is the right thing and the safe thing to do. Let us remember the God who promised and kept His promises.”

“He promised that we would leave Egypt with the wealth of Egypt in our possession. He kept His promise. He promised that we will be free from Egyptian slavery. Here we are now free at last! We stood on dry ground and saw our enemies drown in the sea!”

“Now you have seen and heard the voice of the Lord speak to you from the smoking and shaking mountain. You have heard God’s promises for our future! God’s track record is 100% success every time.”

“Take out your gold and your silver and cut the wood for the tentpoles. Lift that wood and bring the gold and silver and start building.”

This would be what I would imagine Moses saying to a committee that is struck with a cheap attitude and selfish greed! Remember the following Torah principle: God does not accept damaged sacrifices!

He wants your very best because He gave His very best, His Son Yeshua, for our transgressions, and by His stripes we were taken each out of our private Egypt.

You could say, that we have not yet arrived in the promised land of golden streets! You could also say, “I am marching to Zion, the beautiful, beautiful Zion…”

God knows everything about everyone of us humans. He knows the number of hairs on our head and the number of hairs we have lost in the wind!

He knew what these Israelites who left Egypt have in their pockets and under their sleeping bags. He would never ask what was impossible from them or from us! God would not give a hair brush to someone who has no hair at all, unless He would want this person without hair to help someone who has hair to brush and make himself look better.

These are the principles that we learn from this reading of the Torah. I embellished a little, but to put it simply: God said make it with gold. He gave the gold! He expected His people to use the gold and to make the instruments of worship in His Tabernacle with gold.

This principle, if you would put it to work, will help you prosper under the Lord’s blessing in this world and get the benefits for eternity.

Joseph Shulam: The True Meaning of Contribution [2019]

The Torah Portion for this next Sabbath is named Terumah (which means contribution or donation) from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. The reading from the prophets is from 1 Kings 4:26 – 6:13, and from the Gospel we will read Mark 12:35-44.

The very opening of this reading is already a very dramatic word:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.‘” - Exodus 25:1–2 [NKJV]

This is the Creator of the Universe speaking to the children of Israel, who had left Egypt and were delivered from slavery just two months prior.

They have not tilled a field, or planted a tree, or built a house. They have crossed the Red Sea on dry land without lifting a finger for themselves.

They have managed to murmur and complain and accuse Moses and God for taking them out of Egypt, and have wanted to return to Egypt.

Suddenly the Lord commands Moses to tell the children of Israel to bring Him an offering. This time it is not an “offering” of an animal on the altar.

This time the kind of offering that the children of Israel need to bring to the Lord is specified in verse 3: gold, silver, bronze, purple cloth, scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, ram skins dyed red, badger skins, acacia wood, oil for light, spices for the anointing oil, precious stones for Aaron’s breastplate and the like, etc.

The phrase in Exodus 25:1, “gives it willingly with his heart . . .” is the exact idea used in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 9:7:

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” - 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NKJV]

This is not the tithing that was for the Levites and the priests, this is a special contribution for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. This is a beginning of something totally new in the history of the Israelite faith.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of our faith, did not have a holy place nor did they have a “temple” of any kind. They worshiped God anywhere and everywhere. They built altars and made offerings of animals anytime and in every place.

There was no religious “establishment” to administer their relationship with the Almighty. The only people who had temples to their gods were the idol-worshiping nations.

The children of Israel had just come out of Egypt. Egypt was full of the most magnificent temples to their gods. There were many gods in Egypt, and each one of their gods had his private temples and worship. Some of these temples, even some with traces from the time of Moses, are still standing and still magnificent.

Now, in the wilderness of Sinai, all of Israel is living in tents, they move according to the signal of the Lord - by day a cloud and by night a fire. There is nothing set in stone other than the Ten Commandments. Everything is makeshift and temporary.

And now a command comes from the Lord God of Israel to Moses : ask the people to bring an offering, a contribution of these precious materials, so that I can have a place inside of them – in their midst.

Here is the verse that is a key to so much of the most wonderful and complicated teachings in the whole Bible:

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” - Exodus 25:8–9 [NKJV]

The Hebrew is hard to translate properly. A literal translation would be, “make Me a temple and I will dwell inside of them.” The Christian translators could not get the point. They were used to church buildings, and temples, and cathedrals – the house of God was the building itself.

The prophets of Israel understood later on what God really meant by this promise in Exodus 25:8. This is how the prophets and the New Testament understood the role of the Tabernacle that Moses and Aaron built in the wilderness of Sinai:

“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’” - 2 Corinthians 6:16 [NKJV]

In the second part of this verse, Paul is fusing two texts: Leviticus 26:12 and Ezekiel 37:27 (the text from the vision of the valley of dry bones that come to life).

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” - Leviticus 26:12 [NKJV]

“My tabernacle also shall be in them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” - Ezekiel 37:27 [NKJV]

The Lord’s intention was never to have a temple made with human hands. The Tabernacle that Moses and Aaron built was patterned after a heavenly Tabernacle that Moses saw when he was atop Mt. Sinai talking to the Lord for 40 days and nights.

The Apostle Paul states this clearly:

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” - Acts 17:24 [NKJV]

King Solomon, who built the first Temple made of stone in Jerusalem, dedicated the Temple. And this is what Solomon says on this issue:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” - 1 Kings 8:27 [NKJV]

Indeed, dear brothers and sisters, if we would learn from the Torah and from the Old Testament, I believe that we would have a much more biblical attitude towards the church buildings, and become more useful to our communities with the wealth and facilities that the Lord has given us.

This of course is true for our relatively new building in Jerusalem. We have learned our lesson, and now there is activity here every day: feeding the hungry and poor of Jerusalem, radio and video teachings, and publishing printed material that go around the world, and youth activities, women’s activities, community activities, and on and on!

Not that others don’t do the same. But even in the USA, most church buildings are used very sparingly. When I travel in the USA and pass some church buildings, most of the days of the week they are empty and locked up. At least Catholic churches are open most of the time, and there is at least some person inside to hear you and to talk to you!

In our congregation in Jerusalem, this Torah portion is the only time of the year that we talk about giving. In fact, this is what happens in most of the Jewish Synagogues around the world.

This topic is powerful and challenging, and therefore one time per year is enough to make just the right impression to those people who have a heart for the Lord, and His Kingdom and Kingship over their lives. As Paul and Moses said, the giving to the Lord has to come from our hearts. If it doesn’t, it is worthless for us in this life and especially in the life to come!

Daniel Stern: The Devil is in the Details [2019]

Growing up in Israel, one of the things I remember from bible class during primary school is the teacher explaining that the Bible is a very condensed book and if it ever repeats something that is a clue to us to the significance of that matter.

The portion this week, Parashat Terumah (contribution) focuses in great detail on the materials that the people of Israel donated in order to build the Lord's earthly dwelling place and the artifacts used in the service of the Lord and his dwellings such as the ark, the table, the altar, and the menorah. The list of acceptable items is long but particular, certain colors, certain animal skins, specific metals and gems and so forth.

“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering…” - Exodus 25:2a [NIV]

Usually, contributions are given not demanded, how then do we explain the matter? One thought is that by giving a donation they are“taking” an eternal reward. Another idea is that by contributing to the dwelling place of the lord they are in a sense investing a part of themselves in it, creating a partnership with God, “gaining ownership” of it, like children building a treehouse feel strong feelings of possession and ownership, more so then if someone buys it for them.

Then comes over two chapters of precise instructions on each of the artifacts, the measurements the materials and so forth, it reads like a cross between a Lego manual and an IKEA instruction pamphlet. If we go back 30 years to my primary education Bible classes we see that the author of Exodus deems it extremely important to convey to us this information, or else the Bible which is so condensed wouldn't “waste” two chapters on this and later in the Bible in 1 Kings chapters 5-7 we once again have three chapters describing King Solomon building the Temple.

We read in Acts, Hosea, Matthew and other places some more interesting things about the temple and the offerings.

“…the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands…” - Acts 7:48a [NIV]

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” - Hosea 6:6 [NIV]

“…leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” - Matthew 5:24 [NIV]

If God doesn’t place value on the temple of the sacrifices then again we must ask why does the bible go into such detail about the construction?  Why, if the temple and the sacrifices are not such a big deal to God, do we read so much about them? The truth is revealed in 1 Corinthians 6:19

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit…” - 1 Corinthians 6:19a [NIV]

If our bodies are the temple that would explain why the bible which clarifies to us that God doesn't need an earthly dwelling still spends so much time going into detail because it is important! Because us giving our lives to God, living to glorify His name, living holy lives dedicated to observing His commandments.

As disciples of Yeshua part of our walk with the Lord is to spend time with Him, spend time studying His word in an attempt to understand His will for us. If the Bible goes into such detail about the construction of the Temple, yet tells us that the earthly temple is not important to God, and then goes on to tell us that we are the Lord’s temple, the lesson is that we must be just as meticulous and intentional about preparing ourselves to be the house of God, if it’s spiritual such as to be holy, be dedicated, study the word, or physical, such as try to live healthy and not harm ourselves. After all… our bodies are His temple.

Joseph Shulam: God Dwelling Inside Us [2017]

We are reading from Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. The name of this Parasha is Terumah – Terumah means contribution or donation. The importance of this Torah portion is not the great details of the building of the tabernacle and all the furniture and tools that would be used in the Tabernacle.

My own amazement is from the zeal that the people of Israel had in building this tabernacle. The children of Israel in the wilderness get bad press. They are normally accused of horrible murmuring and complaining and even plain ungratefulness towards God and Moses. There is no doubt that there was murmuring and complaining, but there is also no doubt that, when the children of Israel did something either good or bad, they did it with gusto.

They gave generously to Aaron the high priest to build the Golden Calf, and now they give again with the same zeal for the building of the tabernacle. The giving was not prescribed, and there was no percentage numbered of how much each should give to the building of the tabernacle – they gave according to what they purposed in their hearts. Just the very same words that Paul used in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The phrase that Paul is using in this text in 2 Corinthians 9:7 is the exact phrase that is used in Exodus 25:2. Paul is not connecting the giving to the church with the tithing that was for the Levites and the priests who are serving in the Tabernacle. To do this would be a justification of replacement theology – which is the biggest lie in, and in direct opposition to, the scriptures both in the “old testament” and the “new testament”. The apostle Paul is urging the disciples of Yeshua in Corinth to give on a totally different basis.

The disciples are encouraged to give with three pre-conditions:

  1. As they have purposed in their hearts, i.e. as they have decided beforehand with sincerity of heart.
  2. Generously, because it is like a seed that is sown in the ground and the harvest is dependent on the amount of seed sown.
  3. With joy and gladness.

Another issue, that is carnal to our faith and to our understanding of God’s relationship to Israel and to the church, is the need for the collection. We must remember the words of Paul to the judges and philosophers in the Artophagous in Athens, Greece:

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” - Acts 17:24–25 [NKJV]

King Solomon understood that even the Temple that he built in Jerusalem is not really the place of God’s dwelling:

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” - 1 Kings 8:27 [NKJV]

The Hebrew text of Exodus 25:8:

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in them.”

The translation in English reads “among them.” However, when seeing the words of King Solomon and the following texts we understand that the real purpose of the Lord was to dwell in the people.

“And I will dwell among [inside] the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” - 1 Kings 6:13 [NKJV]

See also:

“‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst [inside you],’ says the Lord.” - Zechariah 2:10 [NKJV]

Of course, the text that Peter brings on the day of Pentecost from Joel is the prophetic promise that God will fill all with His Spirit and make everyone equal to the prophets who were filled with the Spirit of God and spoke and acted as extension of God’s Spirit on the Earth. The ultimate fulfillment of this is in the promises of God to Jeremiah in the context of the New Covenant:

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” - Jeremiah 31:33 [NKJV]

Yehuda Bachana: The Power of Our Contribution [2018]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

I love Parashat Terumah because it speaks about the heart, about giving. It deals with the inner struggles that we all have between the desire to give and help, and the natural inclination towards selfishness, to care about the most important person in the world - “me”. It teaches the value of investment, of giving, and of creating. We learn that the Israelites gave a heartfelt contribution. They gave a lot more than was necessary, until Moses actually had to issue an order for them to stop giving. And as a result of this generosity, God came and dwelt among the people:

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” - Exodus 25:8 [NIV]

And so it was! After the children of Israel completed the construction, God came down to the home that they built for Him:

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” - Exodus 40:34,35 [NIV]

A Place of Generosity and Love

Legend has it that the location of the Temple, like the Tabernacle, is also connected with generosity and love. According to the story, two brothers worked in a field that they inherited. One brother was married with children while the other was single. The two brothers made sure to divide their harvest evenly, but every night each of them walked secretly towards his brother's crop pile, in order to add to it.

The bachelor brother thought to himself: “My brother has a family. He has a wife and children to feed. But I'm a bachelor who can make do with little. That's why he needs more of the crops than I do.” The married brother thought to himself: “I have children who can care for me when I grow old, while my brother has no family to look after him, there is no one to help him in old age. That's why he needs more crops than I do.”

Every morning the brothers were surprised to see that, even though they had taken from their crops, their pile of grain remained intact. Every night the two brothers continued their secret generosity, until one night the brothers met on their way, with sacks of grain in their hands. The brothers dropped the sacks and hugged each other. That meeting place was chosen as the location for building the Temple.

The story is a beautiful story. We must see how we can give, not only to the Kingdom of Heaven and to God, but also within the home, to our families. Instead of asking, “What's in it for me?” We should be asking, “What can I do to build the family and give to the family?” And from the family unit we move onwards, to how we can contribute as a family unit, how we can contribute as a community, and onwards...

Building the Tabernacle Means Building the People

Let's go back to the building of the Tabernacle. There were a number of reasons for the construction of the Tabernacle. One of them was to unite the people in a common project, a national project. We have to remember that Pharaoh's intention was to break the spirit of the people.

Now we have to rebuild the spirit of the people, to build mutual responsibility and cooperation, ending with something that is not only beautiful and glorious, but also has profound spiritual significance. Indeed, the building of the Tabernacle required the cooperation of the entire nation, everyone was invited to participate in any way, be it with assets or with skills. And even if you had none of those things, you were invited to go to Bezalel and learn a craft, for he was the one who had “the ability to teach others” (Exodus 35:34).

It was a privilege, not an obligation, to contribute. The entire nation responded. And the excitement, the activity, and the generosity accompanied the project until its successful completion. As we mentioned in the beginning, the people gave so much and did so much work that Moses had to issue an order to stop the contributions and the labor, because the people gave and did too much (Exodus 36:5-7).

God is Interested in the Smallest Details

Thanks to the contribution and the great work of the entire nation, everyone in the nation felt that the Tabernacle was their own, and that the successful completion was both a personal and a national achievement. According to this understanding, we can understand why so much of the Book of Exodus is devoted to a detailed description of each stage and detail in the construction of the Tabernacle. This was the greatest and most important project carried out by the people of Israel together, each and every detail was precious and important to them, and to God too.

Let’s see how God delves into the smallest details of the Tabernacle:

“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.” - Exodus 26:1-6 [NIV]

Look at the detailed description. God makes sure to detail the dimensions of the curtains, their quantity, their color, the materials for the loops, and the placement and material of each thread. Like in last week's Torah portion, and throughout the Bible, God teaches Moses and us the subtleties of civil legal liability.

Suddenly we see that now God is interested in things like the compensation for a dog bite or the theft of a donkey. God is concerned with the quarrels of humans, even if they are over tiny sums. God takes interest in the width of the curtains of the Tabernacle, the materials they're made of, and how many loops they have. Nothing is too small for God. The God who created the galaxy decided that this world was important to Him, so every leaf that blows in the wind and every grain of sand in the middle of the desert has meaning.

Yes, the Almighty God is interested in us, in the people He created in His image. Yeshua teaches and emphasizes this line of thinking. God notices the smallest details in our world, in our surroundings, and of course in our lives. I am sure that at times we have all felt lonely and small. Too small for God to take us seriously, too small for God to be distracted from leading the world to touch our little lives. The world is so big, and God is so great, who are we in His eyes? Dust?

In this week's parasha, we see that God cares, and there is meaning even for the smallest loop. Yeshua adds and teaches us that God sees and counts everything:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” - Luke 12:6,7 [NIV]

We are Equal Because We are Made in His Image

A forest is really just a tree and another tree and another tree, and humanity is a person and another person and another person. And our Father in Heaven cares for and counts the smallest details, like the hairs of our heads. And no one is marginal or unimportant, the Jewish Sages rightly say that every person is an entire world. The origin of the concept of the image of God is found in the Book of Genesis, it is described to us that man was created in the image and likeness of God. From here comes the concept of sanctifying life and the severe prohibition on shedding blood, for killing a person cancels out a life of divine meaning.

From this we also get the ideas of equality, liberty, and brotherhood amongst men. For all are created in the image of God. The Jewish Sages expressed this by saying that no one's blood is redder than that of another, therefore it is not fitting for a person, as great as he may be, to cancel the existence of another for his own existence, or to rule over him. Rather, we are to treat one another with love, as a brotherhood. According to this perception, when one harms the other, physically or mentally, he does harm to the image of God. And those who despise a person, actually despise God reflected in them.

The Power of Our Contribution

The word “Terumah”, which is the title for our parasha, is Hebrew for “contribution”. Contribution is a great and important thing, because it brings a sense of belonging. It opens the heart and enhances emotion. Let's put aside, for a moment, the idea in our minds of a magnificent tabernacle in the heart of the desert.

Let's look at how the Tabernacle project is described in Scripture. It's a poor people's project. It's a shaky desert hut - made of a patchwork of materials and products. But all of it together forms one large collective heart. The message of the meticulous detailing of the contributions is that the simplicity of the materials is actually the greatness of the Tabernacle. Our contribution connects us to each other and to God, and giving with all of our heart entitles us to the presence of God among us. parashat-terumah Shabbat Shalom.

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