The portion of Terumah deals with the plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, God’s portable Temple in the desert. The Tabernacle will become the focus of most of the rest of the book of Exodus. It was constructed in the second year after the Exodus and remained in use even after the people entered the Holy Land. It was destroyed during the time of Eli the Priest, not long before King Saul came to the throne.
The portion opens with God asking Moses to collect donations from the Children of Israel to build the Tabernacle. Particularly, He asks that those who are generous of heart give what they are moved to donate. From the various riches which the Israelites took with them out of Egypt, they built a house of worship for God.
As God tells Moses in the beginning of this portion, “Build Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst.” The Israel Bible points out the significance of this verse: the Tabernacle is not a physical home for God, but a tool through which God dwells among the people themselves, enabling a relationship between them.