Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Terumah - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat and for the next few weeks we will be reading the instructions given to Moses for the construction of the tabernacle, the portable temple that will become the religious center for the Children of Israel. Once it is completed, at its dedication, a cloud of glory will descend upon it, signifying that G-d is dwelling among the people. The twelve tribes will camp around the temple, so that it is at the center of their journey to the Promised Land.

This portion is called Terumah, which means a gift or donation. Moses is told to tell the Israelite people "to bring gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and copper, all kinds of materials, etc."

It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for giving the gift is "VEYIKHU LEE" - "they shall take for Me", rather than "VEYITNU LEE" - "they shall give Me". Our sages explain that when a person gives a gift to a worthy cause, he is not only 'giving' but he is also 'taking'. It is the feeling of satisfaction from being part of the community and for helping someone.

A hassidic rabbi explains it this way. Whatever possessions we have in this world are only good for this world. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave this world with nothing. What we do take with us are the "Ma-assim Tovim" - the good deeds - that we perform in this world.

We take with us the credit for making this world a better place. That is why the Torah says "VEYIKHU" - "they shall take", rather than "VEYITNU" - "they shall give". What we give in this world is what we take with us into the world to come.

We pray that we will always be in a position to help.

Shabbat Shalom,