Terumah – Sacred Space

*In a poetic and metaphorical—though never literal—sense there are ideas and qualities that endure as Godliness. Theology

8 They will make a holy place for me; so I will place myself among them. 9 According to what I show you: the plans for the Mishkan [1]often translated as tabernacleand the plan for all of the furnishings, so you will make.

Exodus 25

Where is a place for God to dwell? Where is space sacred? Is size as important as volume or location? Could it be as small as the tip of a pin or as large as an enormous stadium? If it is small, it can be anywhere. But if it is large, it can be only in one place.

1 So spoke YHWH: the heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool; where can you build a dwelling for me and where can my resting place be?

Isaiah 66

What is a sanctuary? Is it a sanctuary for God or for us? If is only for God, then why do we need to build it? But if it is for us, then why haven’t we been able to preserve it? Maybe we don’t need a sanctuary anymore, which is why we don’t have one now.

8 YHWH I loved your dwelling place – the place where your presence is.

Psalm 26

Our sanctuary is gone, though we can endlessly read the details, we cannot rebuild it. We will not find the way. We now wander through time with only a memory, like that of long lost childhood home. Even if we could find that place, the feelings between have long dissipated and the inhabitants have moved on. Even the embers in the fireplace cannot be rekindled.

If God is not containable, like the wind or light from solar radiation, then wherever we are is holy. Even the smallest spot of matter can hold the spark of God. Our God is, and we are part of God’s astonishing universe.

4 One thing I asked of YHWH – that I will search for: to sit in the habitat of YHWH all my life; to encounter the pleasantness of YHWH and visit the godly sanctuary.

Psalm 27

We are the sanctuary, the sacred space where God dwells. Each atom in this universe, in this expansive cosmos, is a building block of the sacred space—neither good nor evil until activated by a touch or a push or a pull.

Shiviti by Betsy Platkin Teutsch

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021


1 often translated as tabernacle