Parshat Terumah: Give & Take

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Construction Crane
25 Feb 2009
Arts & Media

Read the poet as a builder:

Moving ink blocks about

The construction paper,

Cementing a letter here,

Plastering a word there,

Drilling a trope to an en-

Jambment and nailing a

Rhyme to hold the stanza

In place; glue, his metaphor

And with it he tightly binds

Narrative to personification;

That strict ruler of his, measuring

In metrical feet of the stressed

Or unstressed syllable verities,

(Perhaps iambic, anapestic, or

Trochaic feet for all we know);

Similes are like his beams and

Sheetrock the weak portmanteaus

They support… This builder

Builds not what the botanical

(And punitive) would call a

Prose garden but an oasis of

Poe-trees, their fruit dripping

In-tense, creative juice


To build something beautiful

He gives.

To build something eternal

He takes.


He takes of himself and gives

It to something greater



They shall make for Me a sanctuary

And I will dwell in their midst


We are all building; the alternative

Is destruction and let’s not go there.


We are builders, constructing a home

For the Divine in a place not so conducive

To the light that is Purity and the warmth that

Is Truth


Each our own: each building with the tools we

Know: some swing the blatant hammer of clarity,

Others maneuver the threaded needle of subtlety.


Each in our midst, our depths, a sanctuary is built,

Defined, refined and Divined – and then of matter

Spirit and He, the creator of all builders and materials

Dwells within their midst

Their plural: within each and every one

A sanctuary lives


But how to start; where to begin?


Let them take for Me a portion

From every man whose heart is generous

You shall take My portion


Begin by taking of myself, take what

My generous heart allows, separate a

Little something from the things my

Body hordes; take a portion of the down

Low and give it on high, exalt it, construct

With it a temple, a sanctuary, a spirit of

Soul built on the matter of body –


Translating Terumah: 1) Separation; 2) Exaltation


Separate a portion of the things you possess, take it

And dedicate it, give it, build with it something Divine,

And see as the portion separated is elevated and becomes



As the poet the builder we are all poets, all builders,

Composing verse after verse of Divine ink – a good

Deed, another verse, a sweet smile, another verse,

A mitzvah, another verse – building a little more

And a little more of the sanctuary – light candles,

Another room lit, make a blessing, another door

Swings open, eat kosher, another tapestry woven


And within their midst the Divine dwells, glows,

Shines forth from face to face, soul to soul, each

Our personal sanctuaries – the small verses we write

The little acts we do – our personal sanctuaries beckoning

The ultimate sanctuary of all –

The dwelling place of the Divine

Upon the Temple Mount

In Jerusalem


Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.