The sanctuary built by the generous heart

The Israelites showed they were prepared to receive at Mount Sinai, but G-d wanted to know if they were also prepared to give.

Danny Ginsbourg ,

Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg
INN:DG

We read in our Parasha:(25:1-9)’Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion: תרומה, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion;This is the portion you shall take from them: gold, silver..;They shall make a Sanctuary for Me- so that I may dwell בתוכם: among them’.

Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl comments:’Though building the Sanctuary was a Mitzvah, and Moshe could have commanded the people to contribute, the Torah emphasizes that the first, and central, condition, is that there should be no compulsion, and that contributions shall only be accepted from those who contribute from those אשר ידבנו לבו: ‘whose heart motivates him’.

‘Had there, חלילה, been no contributor who gave out of the generosity of his heart, נדיבות לב, the Sanctuary would not have been built!

This unique requirement- which is not found in regard to any other Mitzvah- says דרשני וחיי: expound me, and live!’.

Rav Simcha Zissel miKelm provides a beautiful exposition:’The Sanctuary was to be the place for in which the Shechina dwelled ‘in the midst of the people’- the most complete דביקות: ‘cleaving’ of Bnei Israel to Hashem.

‘We can only truly cleave to Hashem, by going as closely as possible in His ways- by fulfilling the injunction והלכת בדרכו: ‘You shall go in His ways’- especially, in doing חסד.

‘Hashem created this world- and man- purely for חסד, for giving, as clearly He has no need, nor benefit from it.

‘Therefore, to merit to build a Sanctuary for Him to dwell in our midst, could only be by נדיבות לב: giving whole-heartedly, for no ulterior motive- solely to build a Sanctuary for Hashem to dwell in our midst’

The Darchei Noam adds:’The generosity, נדיבות לב, of the contributors was the heart and soul of the Sanctuary.

‘The Torah lyrically describes the Sanctuary that Shlomo Hamelech built:(Shir Hashirim 3:9-10)’A Tabernacle..made of the wood of Lebanon; Its pillars he made of silver; His resting place was gold..its midst was decked with implements bespeaking love by the daughters of Jerusalem’.

‘Whilst the physical Sanctuary was built of precious materials, the interior of the Sanctuary was the love of the contributors- the generosity, נדיבות לב, which led them to contribute the physical materials.

‘Only in this manner, could Bnei Israel merit to build a Sanctuary in which the Shechina could ‘dwell in their midst’’.

Rav Eliyahu Shlezinger offers a different explanation, as to the requisite נדיבות לב.

He prefaces it with the mussar of Rav Eliyahu Dessler:’It is customary to think that one comes to love another, because of that which he receives from him; children love their parents when they receive presents from them.

‘The truth is the very opposite of this! We love others not because we receive from them, but rather through giving to them; the effort and investment in that which we give, causes us to love the recipients’.

Rav Shlezinger expands on this:’True, Hashem suspended the mountain over the heads of Bnei Israel, to ‘compel’ them to accept the Torah.

‘However, whilst compulsion can ensure the fulfillment of Mitzot, it is not possible to compel the performance of Mitzvot of belief or those ‘of the heart’- such as loving Hashem.

‘Therefore, when Bnei Israel proclaimed:’All that Hashem commands, we shall do and obey’,

Hashem immediately said to Moshe:Take for me a terumah ‘of gold etc’, as by giving of their possessions, Bnei Israel would come to love the recipient, Hashem.

‘This is why the Torah chose the words ויקחו לי:’take for Me’- and not:ויתנו לי: ‘and they shall give to Me’-because, by giving the physical gifts, they are actually taking: acquiring love of Hashem, and the priceless gifts of the love of Torah, and Mitzvot, and the Supreme Giver’.

Adds Rav Chaim miChernowitz:’ Said Hashem: All the gold and all the silver, is Mine! All that you can give Me is your good intentions, and your love.

‘Therefore, Moshe, the offering that you are to take from them, can only be their נדיבות לב: generosity of heart’.

Rav Eliyahu Shlezinger also proffers a different reason for Bnei Israel now being asked to contribute to the building of the Sanctuary.

‘Till Matan Torah’, he notes, ‘Bnei israel had shown that they were ‘prepared’ to receive; all their physical and spiritual needs, culminating with receiving the Torah, had been given to them by Hashem.

‘Now Hashem wanted to test them if they were also capable of giving- because, to be part of our faith, one must be prepared to give and to sacrifice.

‘To serve Hashem, to learn Torah and to perform Mitzvot requires ‘giving’- of our time, and at the expense of other pursuits- most obviously, in doing חסד and צדקה.

‘Therefore, now, after the Ten Commandments, and the ordinances in Parashat Mishpatim- which were also said at Mount Sinai- Hashem said to Moshe Rabenu:ויקחו לי תרומה:’Let them take for me a portion’, as I wish to test them if they can stand the test of giving and sacrifice; of giving of their possessions and of themselves.

‘Therefore Parashat Terumah comes immediately after the Parshiot of Yitro and Mishpatim, because ויקחו לי תרומה is an inseparable part of קבלת התורה, and until we have completed Parshiot Terumah and Tezave, the acceptance of Torah had not been completed’.

A parting thought: To love someone because of the gifts, or benefits, you receive from him, is not love of the ‘giver’- it is, in fact, love of yourself.

Love of another, is only acquired- and shown- by giving of yourself, and of yours, to the other.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.



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