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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Terumah

Parshat Terumah

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Terumah                                                                  Print Version
4th of Adar I, 5782 | February 5, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
The Boomerang Effect

“HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying. Speak to Bnei Yisroel, V’yikchu li, and they shall take for Me a donation…” (Shemos 25:1-2) “V’yikchu li, take for Me”. Does a donor “take” a donation? Wouldn’t it have been more accurate to say “give” a donation?

The Torah is teaching us an important lesson in giving. When we give of ourselves, we are truly receiving. We are benefitting, we are gaining. The very act of giving makes us better people. We become kinder and more compassionate. We achieve greater understanding and sensitivity towards the needs of others. When we work out, we build up muscle and strength. So too, when we give, we build up love and kindness. Giving elevates our very being.

This is true not only with the giving of monetary gifts, but also when we give of ourselves in a myriad of other ways. The giving of our time, our talents, our knowledge. The giving of a good word, a smile, a kind gesture. Giving also builds relationships. In a world where people tend to ask, “What’s in it for me, what do I get out of it”, the Torah teaches us that the more we give, the more we get.

Shlomo HaMelech teaches us, “Tzedakah tatzil mi’maves, Charity saves from death”. (Mishlei 10:2) The passage suggests that giving charity has the power to change a bad decree, thereby adding days to one’s life.

Perhaps, there is an additional message. Tzedakah not only protects from an untimely physical death, but also has the power to protect from the death of the spirit. When concern for others is not a priority, one risks becoming self-centered and living a shallow existence. We can only grow as individuals, when we are able to look past ourselves, and show concern towards others.

Giving tzedakah saves us from a hardening of the heart, from losing perspective of what is important in life. “Tzedakah” comes from the word “tzedek – justice, righteousness”. We shouldn’t view tzedakah just as charitable contributions, but as doing the right thing.

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, extolled the trait of being there for each other. He once encountered a man who needed assistance, and ran over to help. The man was uncomfortable, and said “I can’t let you do this for me. It does not befit the Rov to be doing this.” To which Rabbi Yisroel Salanter responded, “You don’t understand, by fulfilling your physical needs, I am fulfilling my spiritual needs.”

The Torah uses the expression “v’nasnu, they shall give” in discussing the mitzvah of the machtzis hashekel, the half-shekel. (Shemos 30:12). Many commentators note that the word “v’nasnu” is a palindrome, spelled the same way forwards and backwards. The Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, taught that the message we are to take away from this, is that whatever we give, ultimately comes back to us. Giving is like a boomerang.

My mother a”h, was sitting shivah for my grandmother. The shivah was in my grandmother’s home, and amongst the many who came to comfort the family, was Lisa, a young woman who attended my mother’s Torah classes.

My uncle (the Rebbetzin’s brother) was the principal of an elementary school yeshiva, and a class from the school came to be menachem ovel at the very same time. The yeshiva was founded by my grandfather, HaRav Avraham Jungreis zt”l, who never turned anyone away for a lack of funds, taking in many children from needy families.

It was wintertime. Many of the children were wearing coats that were either too small for them or in poor condition.

That season, Lisa had her eye on a coat. She loved it. But it was over her budget, and she didn’t really need it. But she wanted it, so she started saving towards it. Every now and then, she would pop into the store to see if it was still there. And then came her lucky day. The coat went on sale, just what she was waiting for. Lisa happily made the purchase.

After seeing the simplicity of my grandmother’s home and the children with their old coats, Lisa took her newly purchased, not-worn-yet coat, and returned it. The following week, Lisa attended another Hineni class. After class, she approached my mother with an envelope. In it was a check payable to the yeshiva, to be distributed to some of the children who needed new coats. It was for the precise amount that she had paid for the returned coat.

The Rebbetzin told her that being that she was single, and in the shidduch world, she needed to look good, to take care of herself. With HaShem’s help, it will be her time to give when she finds her bashert.

But Lisa persisted. And so the Rebbetzin accepted the envelope, and gave her a berachah that HaShem should repay her for the kind act of chessed.

A few weeks later, Lisa came back to Torah class – all excited. She had purchased a raffle and was a winner! The prize was a gift certificate to a clothing store for the exact amount as the cost of the coat.

The boomerang effect of giving. It always comes back. “V’yikchu li terumah, take for Me a donation.” “Terumah”. Why not the more commonly used words for donation— tzedakah or nedavah?

The root of the word “terumah” is rom – to lift up. To elevate, to attain greater heights.

When we give, our neshamah doesn’t just ascend, it soars. It is super-charged. There is an inner joy and happiness. A feel-good place that we can reach only through giving. The Torah says, “may-eis kol ish, from every man.” Everyone can give something. It doesn’t matter what you give, just be a giver.

The verse continues, “Asher yidvenu libo, whose heart motivates him.” When you give, give with a smile. Give from the heart. Give with love.

Be a giver. There is nothing to lose, only what to gain.

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
G-d, Everywhere and Everything

When I was at Bristol University as a student in England, I had a friend whose father worked for the British Petroleum company in Iran. One year, he invited me to spend the summer vacation in Tehran. And one day we went for a stroll around the market. It was about as far from Bristol as you could get.

As we moved from one small shop to another, the scent of spices wafting through the air, my eye was drawn to a beautiful banjo-like instrument called the tar. The tar is a traditional Persian instrument, and the back of the body of this tar was covered with the most beautiful Persian miniatures of hunting scenes. The owner saw my interest and he took down the tar from the shelf and put it in my hands. Close up, it was even more beautiful. I asked my friend to ask him in Farsi how much it was. He wanted a king's ransom.

Now, in the Middle East, there's no such thing as a price tag. So I countered with the closest thing to a reasonable offer that my American Express travel checks would allow. He looked at me as though the carriage just brought me in, took the tar from my hands and put it back on the shelf. I shrugged my shoulders and carried on browsing around the shop.

And then I saw it – a small ceramic plate with a Hebrew inscription on it. “Hey,” I said to my friend, “I can read this.” It says “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad.” Before I finished the sentence, the owner of the shop spun round and said to my friend in Farsi, “Are you Jewish?” “No,” he said. “But he is,” pointing to me.

The store owner walked over to me, looked at me, put out his hand and said with a big smile, “Shalom aleichem.” “Aleichem shalom,” I replied. And then we stood, our hands locked in an ancient kindred spirit, not being able to speak one single word of the language of the other. I just looked at him and he looked at me. Then he went up to the tar, took it down, put it in my hands and said to my friend, “Tell him, you can have it for the price he offered.”

Two Jews from the ends of the Earth. I’m not sure other people from similar religious backgrounds would have had that moment of contact that I said in Tehran with that storekeeper.

It says in this week's Torah reading, “From every man whose heart motivates him, shall you take My portion of the Mishkan.” The Tabernacle was the expression of the motivation of the heart of the Jewish people. The Torah tells us elsewhere, “For God's portion is his people.” The connection that one Jew feels for another across the oceans and across cultures is the expression of being God's portion, so to speak in this world. And just as He is one, so we are one too.

But this is not just limited to two Jews across the world. It is true in another way, on an individual level. Everything in our own, personal life shares a spiritually unified, cohesive and wholesome nature to it too.

If someone stops me on the street and says, “Do you believe in G-d?”, I'll say, “Of course I do.” Probably up to that moment, the last thing I was thinking about was G-d, however. I was probably thinking about changing the strings on my guitar or where we're going to go for the summer holidays or getting the leak fixed in the roof. Many thoughts pass through our minds and few of them are about G-d.

Now I'm not talking about when I'm praying. What I'm talking about is the feeling of being close to G-d in everything that I do in the day. I believe that G-d fills the entire universe, that He sustains everything, every single second. But how much of my day is actually filled with a palpable awareness of G-d? That awareness and the way I behave as a result of it is called avodas Hashem, serving God. Now, serving anyone or anything is difficult in a world where everyone has rights and no one has duties. But a Jew in this world is here to serve God, and serving God is about turning belief into truth. Turning my abstract beliefs into the truths by which I live.

It says in Parshas Terumah, “Make for Me a make a sanctuary.” The word Mikdash comes from the word kodesh, meaning holy. God wants me to make everything I do holy and connected back to Him. Why am I changing the strings on my guitar? So that I can sing and play and make people happy. Why am I taking the family on vacation? So we can bond and be closer. Why am I fixing the roof? To keep my family warm and dry. The more I think that God and only God is giving me the power to do this particular action, the more I will think … therefore. Therefore, I must become someone who's kinder; therefore I must become more thoughtful; therefore I should be less selfish, less conceited, less angry, less lazy and less indulgent because that's what He wants me to be, and that's why He's giving me the strength to do these actions. The more I use everything in my life to create a Mikdash, a holy space, the more I will feel God's presence in my life in every facet and area.

Rabbi Eliezer Abish
Tied to the Peg

In Parshas Terumah, we learn about the building of the Mishkan, and at the end of the Parsha, the Torah tells us how to build the walls around it. The Torah tells us that all the pegs should be made out of cooper. Rashi explains that these pegs, which essentially were large nails, were for the purpose to tie the cord around the peg. This was so the wind would not lift it when it blew.

Rashi then says, “I don’t know if these pegs are stuck into the ground, or there is just a rope tied around the head of the peg and because it is so heavy, it weights it down and the wind cannot blow it. But I say that because of their name, pegs, they are riven into the ground.” The commentarieswonder that since when does Rashi mention his thoughts process towards reaching a conclusion and sound like a Gemara. Rashi never does that.

Rav Moshe Feinstein tells us a very interesting thing. We are building a Mishkan, which is how we feel Hashem’s presence in earth. Rashi was wondering how we can stay tied to Hashem. Rashi is wondering if it is enough to just take the peg and tie the cords around it, or perhaps that is not enough. You also need to drive the peg into the ground. Rashi says that you also need to drive the peg into the ground.

With this, Rav Moshe says that to be an eved Hashem, a person cannot just work on his relationship with Hashem. While that is needed, it is up to us how much of a relationship we want. But we also must be tied to a community, to a rebbe, yeshiva, shul, chesed organization, parents, fellow Jews. It is not enough to just make sure your relationship is strong. You need to make sure your relationship to Klal Yisroel is also pushed into the ground.

There was a fellow who used to play football, and he made it to his high school team, and one time the team lost by a few points. In the locker room the quarterback was very excited, because he threw a lot of completions and he did well. The coach pulled him aside and asked why he was so happy. He said, “What do you mean? Look how many completions I had!” The coach told him a very important rule. “You play for the front of your jersey; not the back.”

The lesson is that you are not for yourself, but for the rest of the people. It is not enough to just be tied to the peg; the peg has to be knocked into the ground as well. And that is the only way we can stay secure.

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