Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parshat Terumah, 1st Portion, Exodus 25:1-16, February 7, 2016

Terumah is what the people set aside for the priests. That is the name for this parshah. It is also the most important practice in Buddhism. Imagine having a magic eraser that would eliminate the line between ourselves and others. That is what giving is about.

Actually no giving occurs, though, because “giver, receiver, and gift” are all one, as one of my Zen teachers would say. And Terumah isn’t a gift after all, but an obligation. Charity is something else.

Terumah is an expression of faith. Terumah supports priests. Priests perform offerings to make us pure again. Quid pro quo. Tit for tat. 

And in this passage, the gifts are to God. Actually terumah is putting aside for God with the priests being the conduit. And seeing God as permeating everywhere, that is all we can do... to give to God.

One can see this transaction as both mental and monetary. I give X to the priest for these rituals, where they go to God. But, more important, would be the body connection with God. By sharing terumah with God via the priest we are not only connecting to God as two entities touching, but we are becoming one with God. 

Don’t like the word God? Call her whatever you’d like. It is that which appears (or better, that which we experience) when you use a magic eraser, eliminating boundaries between ourselves and the other.

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