Parshas Terumah

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Parshas Terumah

“And the Almighty spoke to Moshe saying. Speak to the sons of Israel and take for me terumah. From all those men whose heart is generous, shall you take my terumah”. H-m gave a commandment to the entire Jewish nation to build the holy mishkan. The mishkan was no ordinary place, but rather a place for ultimate connection with the Almighty. It was the place where the Almighty spoke to Moshe. It was so to say, the place where H-m himself concentrated his shechina in this world. As the verse says, “and build for me a sanctuary (mishkan) and I shall dwell in it (among you)”. It goes without saying then that building the mishkan wasn’t just a 1 2 3 ordeal. It took materials and man power. In order to at least cover the material part, H-m gave Moshe a commandment to tell the Jewish nation about the need for materials. He was to ask from the entire nation to donate from their many eligible materials to build the holy mishkan. The language used by the Almighty though needs explanation. Simply put, when asking someone to ask others for materials, usually the protocol is to ask them to give their materials. Why did the Almighty tell Moshe to ask the Jewish nation to take for me terumah? Taking seems like the wrong semantics in this scenario!

Although there are many answers to this question, and all of them are right, I want to focus on one specific answer. There’s a big difference between takers and givers. A taker is always looking out for his or her self. Everything that he or she has or doesn’t have is always considered theirs. Not only that, every act of giving is really in order to take in the long run. Whereas a giver is completely opposite. A giver mentality is one of everything that he or she has is there in order to help others. Even what he or she has isn’t really considered “mine”, but “ours”. When a giver gives, there is usually a warmth about it, without compulsion or coercion. There’s almost something smooth and easy about it. Not so with a taker. Even when they give (and that giving is really in order to take anyway) there’s a cringe, with a sense of uneasiness. The feeling of having something ripped away from them is evident in every fiber of their being. From the frown, to the grunt, and everything else that goes along with it, it’s an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. And that is what the Torah is telling us. When someone is generous and is a giver, the feel behind the giving isn’t one of giving, but one of the receiver taking what is rightfully his or hers. That money, or those materials don’t belong to the giver in his or her eyes, but rather to the recipient. The giver just feels like the conduit to make sure that the money or materials makes its way properly to the other party. But with a taker, he knows and feels like he’s giving. “It’s not the recipients, but mine” says the taker. Therefore, The Almighty says to Moshe to tell the Jewish nation to take for me terumah. That is to say, H-m only wants the donation from the one’s that feel like whatever they’re giving isn’t really theirs, but rather already belongs to the mishkan. In that case, whatever goes to the building of the mishkan is being taken from the giver, not being given. When one believes in what their doing, why not feel that way? And what better place for their materials to go than the place for ultimate connection with the Almighty. “It’s not mine, it belongs to the mishkan already” is the attitude that H-m wants. H-m is all about giving, and the place for H-m’s presence must be made up of giving materials. The takers can keep their materials for themselves.

Although this was the parameters for the building of the mishkan only, and all charitable donations are accepted throughout the Jewish nation, it’s written in the Torah for a reason. If this condition only applied to the mishkan and nothing else, it wouldn’t be necessary to write it down in the Torah. The Torah isn’t a history book, but a book of life. Every letter in the Torah is there for us to learn from. The Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson here. It’s very hard to part with material wealth. It’s something we feel connected to. From the time were infants, the words “it’s mine” are flying out of our mouths at rapid speed. The Torah is telling us to see outside of ourselves. There’s a big world out there, beyond the scope of ME! It’s not all about me, but about the big picture. As one grows older and matures, they’re supposed to broaden their horizons. One should realize that all the material wealth that they have is not just for them, but for everything they believe in. If there is something that one believes in, whether it be feeding the poor, helping the sick, or strengthening the Jewish people, don’t wait for someone else to deal with it. The money that you give (or should give) shouldn’t be looked at as money given, but money that already belongs to them. If it’s something you believe in, then it’s your responsibility, just as much as you feel responsible for yourself. All it takes is to look outside that small section in the universe called yourself, and see the big picture. It’s all you, just a bigger version!


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