Teruma תשפב

            Moshe descended Mount Sinai with the second set of tablets, engraved with the Ten Commandments, on the first Yom Kippur after the Jews came out of Egypt. The next day, Moshe commanded the people to bring their donations for construction of the Tabernacle – “Mishkan,” the modular, portable, miniature precursor to the holy Temple. 

(א) וַיְדַבֵּר יְדֹוָד אֶל משֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:

(ב) דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת תְּרוּמָתִי:

Exodus 25:

1) Hashem spoke to Moshe saying. 2) Speak to the children of Israel let them take for me a portion from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take my portion.

Moshe was careful to denote, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion. There was no obligation to give anything to the Mishkan’s construction. If one’s donation came from a heart inspired to give, his contribution was desired and deemed worthy of becoming the composition of the Mishkan. Anything less was unacceptable.

            When describing who brought the material for the Mishkan, the Torah is careful to tell us once again that it was only from those whose hearts inspired them to give (Exodus 35:21).

(כא) וַיָּבֹאוּ כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר נְשָׂאוֹ לִבּוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר נָדְבָה רוּחוֹ אֹתוֹ הֵבִיאוּ אֶת תְּרוּמַת יְדֹוָד לִמְלֶאכֶת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּלְכָל עֲבֹדָתוֹ וּלְבִגְדֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ

21) Each person whose heart inspired him came, and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the portion of Hashem for the work of the Tent of Meeting for all its labor and for the sacred vestments. 

In verses 22, 26, and 29, when telling us who gave what to the Mishkan, the Torah was again careful to add “whose hearts inspired them.” In contrast to the Torah’s other direct commandments, the Mishkan needed to be built only from materials the donation of which originated in the depths of a Jewish heart. 

To explain why, we must first understand the Mishkan’s purpose. 

The verse says (Exodus 25:8): 

(ח) וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם:

8) And they should make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell within them

Shouldn’t it have said “and I will dwell within it?” The verse is clear that the Mishkan’s purpose is not just to be a place for Hashem’s presence to dwell. That is just a means to an end. The goal is that, through the Mishkan, we bring Hashem’s holiness into ourselves and that Hashem dwell in each of our hearts. 

If Hashem is to enter our hearts, we must make room for Him! This is why the Mishkan had to be built from heartfelt donations. If one’s heart was not open to the idea and lacked a deep desire to give to the Mishkan where Hashem would dwell, it would mean nothing to him anyway. He would not have been open to any of the holiness that emanated from there, and none of it would have entered his heart. To the degree that we open our hearts to Hashem, He can enter our hearts. 

Harav Simcha Zisel Ziv from Kelm (d. 1898) explains this concept. It is specifically the act of giving that best prepares our hearts to welcome Hashem into it. Hashem can only give, and He does so constantly to every creature in the world even though He can receive nothing in return. He created this world so that He could give, as the verse says (Psalms 89:3): עולם חסד יבנה  – the world is built on kindness. When we open our hearts to the needs of others and give to them, we are mirroring Hashem’s quality of giving and acting like Him. Thus, the act of kindness, a godly act, creates a connection between us and Hashem – the essence of kindness- which allows His holiness to enter our hearts through that connection. Materials donated with these pure and altruistic motives created the perfect substrate for the holy Mishkan, one which would house Hashem’s presence.

There is yet another layer of depth here. 

Although the Mishkan and the Holy Temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem 480 years later served the same purpose, there was an essential difference between them. 

The Holy Temple’s construction site had been destined as such from Creation. Maimonides writes (Beit Habechira 2:1,2):

(א) המזבח מקומו מכוון ביותר ואין משנין אותו ממקומו לעולם

(ב) ומסורת ביד הכל שהמקום שבנה בו דוד ושלמה המזבח בגורן ארונה הוא המקום שבנה בו אברהם המזבח ועקד עליו יצחק והוא המקום שבנה בו נח כשיצא מן התיבה והוא המזבח שהקריב עליו קין והבל ובו הקריב אדם הראשון קרבן כשנברא ומשם נברא אמרו חכמים אדם ממקום כפרתו נברא

1) The altar’s placement is very exact, and one may never change its place. 

2) It is a known fact handed down from generation to generation that the place that King David and King Solomon built the altar in Goren Arona is the same place that Avraham built the altar upon which he bound Yitzchak, which is the place that Noach built his altar after coming out of the ark, which is the place that Kain and Abel built their altar, which is the place that Adam sacrificed his sacrifice after he was created, and it was from that very spot that he (Adam) was created. 

Adam’s creation from that place destined it for holiness. Hence, when Adam, Kain and Abel, Noach, and Avraham wanted to bring a sacrifice, they sought out earth’s holiest place to bring it. Their sacrifices in turn added to the location’s holiness making it the perfect site for the altar in the permanent structure of the Holy Temple. When it stood, the Jewish people would seek its holiness at least three times yearly during the three Festivals, viz, Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Indeed, that site is holy even today, although the Holy Temple itself has been destroyed. 

The Mishkan, on the other hand, had no specific physical location. On the contrary, it was designed to travel with the Jewish people wherever they went. There was a clear protocol for dismantling and readying the Mishkan for travel. Each Levite family was put in charge of dismantling, packing up, and carrying a specific part of the Mishkan. When they reached their next destination, they would unpack it and construct it anew. 

Because the materials that comprised the Mishkan came straight from the people’s hearts, the Mishkan and their hearts were deeply connected. In a sense, their hearts were part of the Mishkan, and the Mishkan was part of their hearts. This made the Jewish people the location for the Mishkan. The Mishkan’s “place” was with the Jewish people, more accurately, within the hearts of the Jewish people. Wherever the Jewish people camped, that is where the Mishkan needed to be. 

This is why it was essential that the Mishkan be constructed of material that came from the heart. It provided the Mishkan with its dwelling place.

            This simple concept applies to each of us today. Although we are unable to donate to the construction of a Holy Temple, when we give charity, or do a mitzvah, we should do it with our whole heart. We should feel inspired to give or do the mitzvah, just like the Jews did in the wilderness. 

But how do we reach such a level? How do we convert our selfish, self-serving heart to one that is inspired to give and do Hashem’s will?

            The Midrash tells us. 

פסיקתא דרב כהנא (מנדלבוים) פיסקא ט – שור או כשב

ורוח הקודש אומרת, מי הקדימני ואשלם (איוב שם /מ”א/), מי קילס לפני עד שלא נתתי בו נשמה, מי מל לפניי עד שלא נתתי לו בן זכר, מי עשה לי ציצית עד שלא נתתי לו טלית, מי עשה לי מזוזה עד שלא נתתי לו בית, מי עשה לי מעקה עד שלא נתתי לו גג, מי עשה לי סוכה עד שלא נתתי לו חצר, מי הפריש לפניי פיאה עד שלא נתתי לו שדה, מי הפרי’ לפני תרומה ומעשרות עד שלא נתתי לו גורן, מי הפריש לפני קרבן עד שלא נתתי לו בהמה, שור או כשב או עז וג’ (ויקרא כב: כז).

Hashem’s Holy Spirit says (Job 41:3), “Who preceded Me, and I still pay them.” Hashem says to us: “Who ever praised me before I gave him a soul? Who ever circumcised his son before I gave him that son? Who ever made a pair of Tzitzit before I gave him the garment? Who ever put a mezuzah on his doorpost before I gave him the house? Who ever put a guardrail around his roof before I gave them the roof over his head? Who ever made a sukkah before I gave him the courtyard for it? Who ever left the corner of his field for the poor before I gave him the field? Who ever gave the Cohen or Levi their allocation before I gave him the silo full of grain? Who ever gave Me a sacrifice before I gave him the animal?” 

            Every blessing that we have in our lives is a gift from Hashem. Our lives, our children, our homes, our fields – livelihood, courtyards, silos, every single thing that we have, is a gift from Hashem. Yet, He doesn’t ask us for much. “I gave you a soul, a life! Use it to praise me once in a while, to thank Me for it. I gave you a son, a precious child! Just perform the brit Milah on him. I gave you a house! Put mezzuzot on your doorposts! Put the guardrail around the roof. I gave you money! Give charity to the poor and support Torah with it. Not all of it, just a tenth. Show Me that you recognize Me as the source of your gifts, by fulfilling My commandments as they apply to them.” 

            And then Hashem says, “Even though you have only given Me from what I have already given you, I will still give you reward for choosing to fulfill your obligation to Me.” Who has preceded Me, and I still pay him! 

            This applies to fulfillment of all the mitzvot in the Torah. Everything we have, without exception, is a gift from Hashem. He, in His great goodness, and even though we don’t deserve it, gives us so much. The least we can do is acknowledge His gift by fulfilling the mitzvah associated with it. 

This is where the role of reciting a blessing before eating or drinking comes in. We need to eat and drink in order to live. 

The Talmud in Brachot 35a points out a contradiction between two verses in Psalms. Psalm 24:1 tells us: 

א) לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר לַידֹוָד הָאָרֶץ וּמְלוֹאָהּ תֵּבֵל וְיֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ

1) A Psalm to David, Hashem owns the whole earth and everything in it.   

Psalm 115:16, however, says:          

טז) הַשָּׁמַיִם שָׁמַיִם לַידֹוָד וְהָאָרֶץ נָתַן לִבְנֵי אָדָם   

15) The heavens belong to Hashem, and the earth He has given to mankind.           

How do we reconcile these two verses? Either the entire universe, including the earth, belongs to Hashem, or He has the heavens, and the earth is ours.  

The Talmud responds: The whole earth and everything in it belongs to Hashem, before the blessing is recited, and the earth He has given to mankind, is speaking after the blessing. Before reciting the blessing and acknowledging Hashem as our benefactor, we haven’t “paid” for it, so the world and everything in it still belongs to Hashem. But, after paying for it by recognizing Hashem as the source of all blessing through reciting the blessing on it, Hashem gives it to us as our own. All we can give Hashem in return for all that He gives us is the heartfelt feeling of thanks and appreciation expressed in the blessing we recite before partaking of Hashem’s goodness to us. 

If we would internalize this concept, it would be very easy to give charity and perform mitzvot from the heart. After all, everything we have is a gift from Hashem. We owe Him the greatest debt of gratitude for all that He has given us. All that He asks is that we give a small fraction of it for charity. Don’t we owe it to Him? 

Having said this, perhaps the question we should ask is, “Why are we entitled to reward for giving back to Hashem a small part of what He gave us in the first place?” If I gave you a box of chocolates and then asked you for one, wouldn’t you gladly give it to me? How could anyone refuse? 

            The answer is that we are not rewarded for giving the monetary object “back” to Hashem. He doesn’t need that at all. We are rewarded for something else. 

The Talmud says (Sanhedrin 106b):

הקדוש ברוך הוא ליבא בעי דכתיב וה’ יראה ללבב

Hashem wants our hearts, as it says, (Samuel I 16:7):

 כִּי הָאָדָם יִרְאֶה לַעֵינַיִם וַידֹוָד יִרְאֶה לַלֵּבָב

            Man can only see with his eyes, but Hashem sees into our hearts.

We are rewarded for the feelings and the “heart” that accompanies the present to Hashem. When we give with a heart full of thanks and love for Hashem for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us, since those sincere feeling are uniquely ours, for that we are worthy of reward. Hashem sees into our hearts and knows how much love undergirds our gift. A wealthy person may give a large sum of money, but if it is without the right feelings, his gift will receive less reward than one who gave a much smaller gift, but with the right feelings. 

            There is an even deeper lesson taught here about “Hashem wants our hearts.” 

The verse says (Exodus 35:29):

(כט) כָּל אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָדַב לִבָּם אֹתָם לְהָבִיא לְכָל הַמְּלָאכָה אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְדֹוָד לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּיַד משֶׁה הֵבִיאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל נְדָבָה לַידֹוָד

            29) Every man and woman whose heart motivated them to bring for any of the work that Hashem had commanded, through Moses, to make– the Children of Israel brought a free-will offering to Hashem. 

            The Ktav Sofer (d. 1871) asks, “Why did the verse have to tell us that they brought what they wanted to bring? What would stop them?” 

            He answers. Let’s say that a person had only gold but no silver. But he wanted to donate silver also so that he could have a part in all of the Mishkan’s components. Hashem, knowing what was in his heart, counted it as if he gave the silver also. 

 כל איש ואשה אשר נדב לבם אותם להביא לכל המלאכה אשר ציוה ה’, שהיה חפצם ורצונם ונדבת לבם להביא לכל המלאכה ולא היה בידם לעשות ולהוציא אל הפועל אשר זממו לעשות, הביאו בני ישראל נדבה לה’, היה חשוב בעיני ה’ כאשר הביאו, כי ה’ יודע מחשבות אדם והוא ידע כי תשוקתם בזה, וחישב להם כמו שעשו והביאו לכל המלאכה מלאכת ה

Every man or woman whose heart motivated them to bring for all the work that Hashem had commanded, whose true desire was to bring for all the parts of the Mishkan, but was incapable of fulfilling his desires, it was considered in Hashem’s eyes as if they actually brought it. Since Hashem knows a person’s thoughts, and He knows that he really wanted to do it, He gave them credit as if they did it. 

            This is the great lesson. Hashem knows how much we wish we could give. If a person has limited funds and can only give a small gift, but wishes he could give ten times that amount, Hashem, who knows that he would have given it if he had it, rewards him as if he gave the larger amount of money. 

            This is a goal for all of us: giving charity and doing mitzvot with more heart. We understand in our minds that we owe so much to Hashem. The difficulty lies in transferring that information to our hearts so that we feel inspired to do it. These ideas can certainly help. 

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