Taking a Portion

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Terumah, we are commanded regarding the building of the Mishkan, the portable Sanctuary where G-d’s Presence was to dwell, as the Israelites sojourned through the desert.  In the command to collect the materials for the construction of the Mishkan, the Torah says (Ex.25:2):

דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה:  מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ, תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי
Speak to the Bn’Y and they shall take for Me a portion; from every man whose heart will motivate him, you shall take My portion.
And they shall take for Me gold, silver, copper, turquoise wool, purple wool, scarlet wool, spun linen and goats hairs.  And ram skins dyed red and techashim skins and shiitim wood.  And oil and spices!  And shoham stones and filling stones… And with these materials, you shall build for Me a holy place, that I may dwell amongst you (Ex.25:3-8).

So many materials to be donated…Does G-d really need anything from us?  As my brother tells me, “Michal, Hashem can do whatever He wants.”  In fact, the Ba’al Ha’Turim teaches that precious gems and pearls fell with the manna (Gen.2:12).  If G-d wanted to construct the Mishkan on His own, He certainly could have done so.  Perhaps all the above materials could have fallen with the manna as well!
Why did the donations have to come from the people, from one whose heart motivated him to give?

Rabbeinu Bachya (Ex.25:2) notes that only after it mentions the contributions to come from one whose heart stirs him to give, does the Torah call the portion Hashem’s portion, as the verse states: מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ, תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי.  It is only Hashem’s portion once we are motivated to give.  For Hashem does not desire, says Rabbeinu Bachya, one who is stingy or narrow-minded in spirit.

Our portion becomes Hashem’s portion when we give of what we have willingly, graciously, openly and with a pleasant spirit.  Then our portion is His portion and our home becomes a home where He will dwell.

And in fact, when we give to others, and for others, we are actually taking a portion of Torah and mitzvos for ourselves – דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה – Speak to the Bn’Y and take to Me a portion.

May we always be givers and takers: giving of what we as Hashem’s desires, for in doing so, we are in essence taking a portion of holiness for ourselves.

Wishing you a good Shabos and a Chodesh Adar of much simcha,
Michal

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