Blog Terumah Adar I 4 5779 בלוג תְּרוּמָה, ד’ אדר א’ תשע”ט
Terumah begins with a call to Israel by the Creator through Moshe Rabenu: Ex 25:1-2 1 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they take for Me an offering; of every man whose heart makes him willing you shall take My offering”. The Creator spoke to Moshe directing him to tell the people to bring a contribution to the tent, anyone whose heart was “willing”. The word lev or heart has nothing to do with feelings rather with reason and intention. The Creator wanted the people to bring their gifts, rationally not emotionally. This is very important. Why is it so difficult for people to give? The harder it is for a person to give, the more miserable he becomes. It is like being tied to something empty. Do you give because you are seeking attention or is it truly coming from your heart? When we give let us not look for human adulation only for God’s acceptance.
The Creator is teaching us a principle here. He never uses the word “give – ten – תן”; He always uses the word “take – kach – קח”, the reason being that He doesn’t need anything from us. We’re the ones who need from Him. When we take something to Him, it carries with it the notion that we are simply returning something to Him that He has already provided yet how many of us are even stingy with that. Rabbi Yeshua spoke about the good eye (generous) and the bad eye (stingy). The tighter we are with our possessions, the more they become our masters, causing us to be the most miserable of creatures. We often give what we don’t need. This is almsgiving where we give the least instead of the best. That is not giving. True giving is when we bring the most important things that we have. Often those here who give the least act as if they are doing us a favor, but they only are cheating themselves. The children of Israel gave so much that Moshe had to ask them to stop bringing. I look forward to the day I have to say that to everyone here.
In this portion Terumah there seems to be a pause in the narrative, and we are being told to build a Mishkan, a sanctuary in which the Presence of the Boreh Olam would appear. It would be filled with the many beautiful elements that they brought with them from Egypt. In Ex.12:36 it says that the Lord made the Egyptians have grace upon the Israelites and to give everything to the people so that Israel literally plundered Egypt. These elements that the Creator asked the people to bring to the tent were gold, silver, copper, turquoise – the cream of the crop.
Why did they need all these elements? Let’s take a step back to see where the people were coming from. They had just left Egypt where they had been slaves and now, they were free. However, they still had the virus of Egypt in their system. They had been mesmerized by the grandiosity of these huge temple dedicated to the various gods. Compare this tent in the desert with the huge temples of Egypt. Where was their focus, on the structure or upon Him? The community would gather daily at the tent, which had become their community center and the Creator would show them that His Presence would always be with them. The outside of the tent was very ordinary while the inside shone with these elements and His Presence.
The chapter of the golden calf was in the middle of the chapters which describe the building of the Mishkan and serve to envelop or cover that sin. However, today, although we are in the year 2019, we still have the golden calf, Egypt inside us. Have you completely eliminated Egypt from your lives? The Creator never asked us to build a Temple and even King Solomon agreed that He could not be housed inside a dwelling. In Ex 25:8 He said, make me a sanctuary in which I will dwell “among them”, not “in it” since our Creator dwells in all of us. This community center in which we house our Torah is where we meet on Shabbat to have fellowship and to enjoy our relationship with the Creator. It is not about form but about our hearts; our heart is not about feeling, it is about our will and intention.
In spite of our size compared to other nations, the Jewish community gives more to the world ‘per capita’ than any other no matter how vast in size and number. This is because of the Torah and they do so willingly. Why do the Jews have such a bad reputation for being stingy? This lie was promulgated among those nations that are simply envious. If we look at the history in the Torah of all those who gave willingly, you will see a pattern emerge: Abel brought his offering to God with a willing heart and Cain killed him. Moshe served the Boreh Olam with a willing heart and Pharaoh tried to kill him, as did so many others in our history.
Has your heart been moved to take to the Creator because you are His partner? If you do not have a willing heart, I recommend that you do not give. That makes you a hypocrite. He is asking you to take, not to give! The first thing you need to take to Him is yourself. We don’t do favors to anyone least of all Him when we give begrudgingly. When we give with a willing heart, we experience a transformation within and our lives flourish. He asked us to bring the most expensive items so that we could show Him where are heart is. Are we tied to our possessions or to Him? Your God or god is shown through your pocket! Sadly, very few understand this message. Some throw crumbs thinking that they are doing something great.
Giving is an act of “reason and will”, not emotion. Don’t be fooled by your emotions into thinking that almsgiving is a good thing. If you say that you are going to give, then do it. Always bring yourself to Him first; the rest will fall into place. Remember also that Ex.12:38 tells us that the Israelites were accompanied by many foreigners – erev rav – עֵרֶב רַב…the Creator has always called those outside Israel to be integrated into our people. The Torah is a guide for all. When you become one with us, you also come to serve the Boreh Olam with a willing heart.
Edited by Peggy Pardo