This Parsha this week is Parshas Terumah. In the Parsha the Torah tells us of the building of the Tabernacle in the desert by the Jews. Before this magnificent structure could be built, the was a quick campaign to raise the funds, or the materials, to construct it. In fact, this campaign was so successful that after just three days it was called off because too much had been raised!!! What a record!!!!
When Hashem gave Moses the instructions to start this campaign, the wording used was rather strange. Hashem told Moses, “Tell the children of Israel, and they should take to me a portion,…” Isn’t the word “take” a little strange here? Would not the more appropriate word seem to be to “give” a portion? When we contribute to charity are we taking” or “giving”?
There are many ideas offered by the commentaries and beautiful lessons here. Perhaps the most obvious one is a lesson on understanding the place of material wealth in the life of a Jew. If one would speak to someone who manages a bank, and the manager would say “I have millions of dollars” the response would be (at least in our mind even if we would be too nice to say it) “Do you really?” Is that money really the managers? Or is it just material wealth that belongs to others and has been deposited by this manager to safeguard it until the owners decides what he or she wants to do with it? In this same way, we look at any material wealth that a Jew is given in this world. A Jew that chances upon wealth is simply the person who Hashem has entrusted with the obligation of doing the right thing with His deposit. Now we have the challenge of truly fulfilling our mission and using this money as Hashem wants us to.
There is another idea expressed by the commentaries. One could think that whenever one wishes to give a donation to charity, it is a simple thing to do. After all, today even with the simple click of the mouse, one can give contributions without even lifting a pen or leaving the house. However, the Talmud tells us that rue charity – to a truly deserving cause – is hard to come by. One needs a special merit to be able to give charity to the right cause. This requires a person to think about the cause he or she is giving to. How much is this really a needy person? How much is this institution really a place that promotes an awareness of the Almighty, and develops people’s relationship with Him? If all the Jewish donors in the world would decide to help institutions of real bona fide Torah study, would any of them have financial problems?
This is the expression of “take”. True, one is giving, but one can only have the merit to give to the right place when he “takes” the right cause.