Rabbi Gavriel Goetz

This week, Parshah Terumah talks about the major funding campaign for the Mishkan/Tabernacles, where G-d says, "Take for me a Terumah." The Sfas Emes asks, why does it say the word "take" when it should say "give" me a Terumah?

Commentaries explain that when you are giving you are really taking. Why is that? The reason is because when we leave this world or similarly lose our funds all we have is what we gave and that is what we take with us. What we accomplish in this world is really by giving and not keeping our money, which is temporary.

Similarly, every time we do a mitzvah, that mitzvah stays and exists even after the mitzvah is finished. The reason is because we utilized our time and energy to create a reality to G-d's will and we did not waste our ability. The commentaries say that even if we sin it doesn't erase what we did and the mitzvahs are still in existence.

If we have this perspective, we can give with joy each time as we are the ones who are truly benefiting. In fact, I try to have this in mind before asking a prospective donor. 

I think, I am doing this request for them, because even though there may be a need, ultimately their giving is for them. It's their mitzvah opportunity that they have that will last.

This is why the verse continues, after we take the gifts for the Mishkan, we take the gift "from any man whose heart wants him to give." The gift to help and give is truly only possible if one wants to give because one appreciates and recognizes the opportunity.

Lifting is Being Carried

A similar idea is seen with the Aron Hokodesh, the holy ark. This week's parshah describes how the Aron was made and the materials which made it very heavy with all the boxes and gold.

Yet our sages say that when the Aron was carried by the four Kohanim who held the poles they were actually not lifting the Aron, the Aron carried them! Those who carried the Aron were lifted by its sanctity.

There is a famous story told about Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski (1863-1940) whose in-laws supported him in his studies. After a few years they told the young couple that it was time to support themselves.

Within a very short time, the father-in-law of Rabbi Grodzinski passed away. The mother-in-law said at the funeral, "We thought we were supporting you but perhaps really you were supporting us."

This powerful story reminds us that the giver is the beneficiary and the opportunity to give actually benefits the giver. JN

Rabbi Gavriel Goetz is the head of school at Yeshiva High School of Arizona