Terumah and Tenufah
The Torah uses two words to describe the physical movement of an object as it is being sanctified or dedicated to the Sanctuary: terumah and tenufah. Terumah refers to the vertical movement upward and downward, and tenufah refers to the horizontal movement back and forth — away from and towards the body.
Although these terms appear in our parsha in reference to the donation of gold, silver and copper, they are most often associated with the parts of the sacrificial animal that are designated as gifts to the priest.
Both terumah and tenufah denote gifts, to mankind in general and to
The breast, which encloses within itself the whole range of man’s spiritual power, represents man’s thought and volition. These are most naturally directed to
The horizontal movement also has another implication — the object is dedicated on the same plane as the object to which it is to be dedicated. It is already directed toward its goal and given over to its intended purpose. It does not need further purification before it can be dedicated.
In the vertical moment up and down, the goal of the object to be dedicated is on a level high above the point at which it presently stands. The object to be dedicated must first be elevated before it can be dedicated.
Gold, the noblest metal, symbol of purity and refinement, is used in the realm of the holy — the menorah, the ark, the altar. It can be dedicated immediately without refinement. But the silver and copper symbolize an unrefined state. They must first be lifted upwards, striving toward the holy, before they can be accepted and incorporated into the holy. There are those contributions which are pure and noble and can be directed to the holy without much processing — these are chiefly our thoughts and volitions. And then there are those contributions which must undergo a process of deliberate sublimation — most notably the physical and mundane activities — before they can be called holy.
All dedications — of money, time, talent, resources, thought and action — are subject to some combination of terumah and tenufah. The ones that are more naturally devoted to
§ Sources: Commentary, Shemot 35:22; 29:22-25