[email of early March, 1998, to Fabrangen Havurah–
providing source notes for dvar Torah on the portion Terumah (“Gifts,” for the Tabernacle), Exod. 25:1-27:19 — Note: I don’t (yet) provide links here for most print resources or check to see if the internet links still exist.]
Max [Ticktin] was interested in the sources I used. If anyone else is interested, here they are:
The JPS commentary on Exodus and the Plaut Torah translation — I actually found the latter to be more helpful — that’s where I got the basic background, a lot of the unanswered questions in the first paragraph of my d’var Torah [“words of Torah,” commentary on the portion], the remarks from Cassuto (although he’s also quoted in other sources, below), and some pointers to various directions of study — such as the idea to look back at Genesis for the Cherubim. [Umberto Cassuto]
“Nehama Leibowitz’s Studies in Exodus — That’s where I found Buber’s remarks about the parallels between Creation and the Tabernacle portions. (The parallels are supposed to be evidence of the Priestly contribution to the Torah.) I also looked at the Hertz Chumash, Ramban, The Five Books of Miriam (often very helpful), and a few other commentaries, but none were especially helpful on the concept of the Cherubim or Moses “meeting God.”
On the Internet, I found piles of Dvrei Torah [plural of “dvar”] (mostly through Shamash), most of which talked about the community-building aspects of the Mishkan and/or links with the Golden Calf. One that talked specifically about the Cherubim, and one where actual Talmud pages were cited so I could follow up — was Rav Mordechai Elon’s page at http://www.intournet.co.il/mtr/psa-terumah.html (I confess, I don’t know what the actual point of his d’var Torah was, since I was reading with a tight focus).
Howard Freedman’s page at the Bureau of Jewish Education provided a few general ideas.” Also, my daughter reads The Little Midrash Says, which is where she got her stories about the miracles.
Really, though, if pressed to cite the true source of the d’var Torah it would be a combination of thoughts that can’t be pinned down so easily.
Steve Braun’s impromptu d’var Torah on parsha Bo [Exod. 10:1-13:16] got me thinking about the birth of the Jewish people — if we are born out of Exodus, what does that mean for the history before and after that? — combined with:
Abraham Joshua Heschel: Not any text in specific, but his general idea that the Bible is God’s book about man, that God is lonely and searching for the righteous human, were in my mind, which led me to ask what God felt after Eden was emptied of its promise,… — combined with:
My kids (Avery’s understanding of what “meet” means did change the way I thought about that verb in this context), the prayerbook, and the Tanakh.