Summary of Parshat Terumah by Shira Smiles

24 02 2009

‘PARSHAT TERUMAH A Give and Take Relationship’

Shira Smiles Shiur  Summary by Channie Koplowitz Stein

Parshat Terumah begins with a curiously worded command to start the building of the Mishkan, the Sanctuary: “Let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion” (25:2). Since this is a command to donate materials for the building of the Mishkan, it seems contradictory to say “take” rather than give.

Give and take are the two partners in any transaction. If one is always the giver and another the taker, the transaction is lopsided and unfair. It is only when each side both gives and gets that a meaningful relationship can be built. Such is the case, so to speak, of our relationship to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. At Sinai, Hashem was the giver, and we were only takers. With our acceptance of the Torah and the beginning of the building of the Mishkan, we take control of the relationship by our giving and our generosity. Yet through our giving, we receive more than we give.

The key to giving in a way that will reap untold rewards lies in the motivation with which we give. It is not just a dollar amount, but the generosity of spirit that is important. Is my donation for His work, whether for the maintenance of His house or the maintenance of His people, given with the passion of fulfilling His will? Then I will be rewarded by feeling His closeness as I partner with Him. Do I offer a smile and a sense of dignity to those who come knocking on my door for a donation? Then I understand that we are all God’s children, and the beggar is really my own brother. Our mutual Father has entrusted more wealth to me so that I can distribute it to my siblings/ His other children in His stead. It is not my money I am giving, but His.

In this vein, our Rabbis tell us, “More than the homeowner does for the poor man (knocking at his door), the poor man does for the homeowner.” If all the wealth that a man has is only his on loan from the Creator of the world, then the only wealth he takes with him in the end is the wealth he used to help others and do good deeds. This is true both in this temporal world and in the true world to come. Money we give to tzedaka is never spent; it somehow always comes back to us. In fact, some of our unforeseen expenses, (a parking ticket, a home repair, etc.) may be the way Hashem is taking back money we should have given to tzedaka. It never belonged to us to begin with, so Hashem took it away. And Hashem will always replace the money we use for His purposes, but we may not recognize the reward either.

As we enter the month of Adar and anticipate the redemption of the month of Nissan, let us remember what the Prophet says, “And her return will be through tzedaka.” Let us give our tzedaka with a passion and love for Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His people and merit the redemption IY”H this year.

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