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ויקחו לי תרומה
(שמות כ״ה ב׳)

[Speak to the Children of Israel] and they shall take for Me a Teruma ..
(Exodus 25:2)

This week's parsha is the begining of the section in the Torah that deals with the building of the Mishkan. The Torah tells us that the Jewish people were commanded to bring a donation to Moshe Rabbeinu for the purpose of erecting the Tabernacle.

Many commentators ask why the passuk uses the phrase v'yikchu Li, "and take for Me" - wouldn't the more appropriate expression have been: v'yitnu Li, "and give to Me a donation" ..?

The Sforno says that the subject of the verse is the fund raisers, those in charge of actually collecting the donations from the donors.

Rav Frand brings a beautiful alternate explanation:
On a simple level, we can say that since G-d really owns everything (" Hashem is the Earth and all that it contains..." [Tehillim 24:1]), it is impossible to speak of giving Him anything. Giving usually implies I have ownership and I transfer the ownership to someone else. Therefore, when we talk about the Master of the World, we don't use the expression "giving." Instead, we use the expression "taking." That is to say, G-d already owns everything, we merely 'allow' Him to take that which is already His.

In Parshas Vayera, Rav Shlomo Breuer, zt"l has a beautiful thought on this concept of "taking for Me Teruma." Whenever we 'give,' whether we do chessed with our bodies or we do chessed with our money, every giving is actually a 'taking.' Whenever a person does a chessed, he is really doing more for himself than for the person to whom he is giving.

The Medrash says in Parshas Vayikra, "More than what a Ba'al HaBayis does for a poor person, the poor person does for the Ba'al HaBayis." If one gives a person a donation, the money is a very temporary thing. Perhaps it pays for the next meal; perhaps it pays for the rent. In actuality, it is very, very finite. On the other hand, the person who 'gives,' in addition to acquiring Olam HaBaw (the World to Come), accumulates something else as well... He acquires that which it does to his personality, that which it does to his soul and to his self- esteem. By helping another person, one is taking far more than he is giving.

Rav Breuer points out the first time that we find an act of chessed in the Torah: by Avraham Avinu and the Angels. The invitation extended by our Patriarch Avraham to the Angels, offering them a place to eat and a place to sleep, is the first overt mention of an act of kindness in the Torah.

When we look at that parsha we see an interesting thing. How many times does the Torah use the expression "...let water be taken (yuKach nah me'at mayim)..." [Bereshis 18:4]; "...I will take bread (va-eKcha pas lechem)..." [18:5]? What kind of expression is that? Avraham should have said "I will give water; I will give bread."

The answer is that Avraham Avinu is instructing his children and telling them, "My children, you should know for all future generations, that when you help someone else, you are not giving; you are taking!"

When a person helps someone, he/she does more for himself/herself than he/she does for the other person.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler made a similar observation about interpersonal relationships. The Hebrew word for "love", אהבה - ahava, comes from the word הב - hav, to give. The more you give to someone - in time, energy, and resources - the more you will come to love that person. There is no greater love than what a parent has for their child. When the child is born, it is helpless; it needs to be fed, and changed, and picked up. And yet, the more we invest of ourselves, the more we love the child.

Rav Dessler quotes R' Yisroel Salanter, who said that this is the reason the Torah commands us to help our enemy. When we give of ourselves to another, a part of us becomes invested in them. This, said Rav Dessler, is the idea of ve-ahavta le-reyacha kamocha - "love your friend as yourself" (Vayikra/Levit. 19:18) - by giving to others, we become a part of them, to some degree. When one constantly does this, he will come to love everyone around him.

We are commanded: ve-halachta bi'drachav "and you should go in His ways" (Devarim/Deut. 28:9) . How can we do this? - the Rambam's first principle of faith is that God is not corporeal. Chazal explain that by emulating His characteristics, we draw ourselves closer to Hashem. Ma hu rachum, af ata rachum, "just as He is merciful, so should you be merciful". Hashem is the ultimate Giver, for He doesn't need anything; everything He provides us in this world is for our ultimate benefit. By being givers rather than takers we are "following in His ways".

The word "Teruma" itself, usually translated as "portion" or "donation", actually is derived from the root רם ram, as in להרים le-harim, to lift up. By giving of ourselves, of our bodies, our energy, and our souls, we are actually lifting them up, "taking" our things and raising them, and us, to ever-higher levels of closeness to Hashem.

Good Shabbos.

Posted by joem on Feb 23, 2007 1:00 pm

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