Plaques without Plaque

Parshas Terumoh

Hashem instructed Moshe to speak to the people of Israel, so they should bring an offering. Accept a donation from everyone whose heart inspires him to give. The offering may consist of the following: Gold, silver, copper, blue wool… With these items they shall construct a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.

Question One
The expected way to float a fundraiser, is much in line with beginning any project. Initially one defines what the end result should be, and subsequently the steps to reach that goal are planned, such as what materials are needed. Why does the Torah delineate first what is needed and only later disclose what will be built with it?

Question Two
There doesn’t seem any ability to donate money, bonds or shares. The only donation accepted was the necessary materials. When other collections were employed there was the ability to make a financial commitment. Why the difference?

Answer
The Mishkan was built out of love of Heaven, as King Solomon said “its interior was inlaid with love”. It therefore follows that no money could be provided to finance the building, as the devotion that went with the money would not transfer to the later purchase of materials. The love was concretized in the materials they provided.

Let us now answer the first question. Since the construction was predicated on devotion to Hashem if people were conscious of where their donation was going, personal considerations would have clouded their giving. They would be inspired, at least partially, to contributing a part of this holy edifice. If the people would factor in where their gift was being utilized to construct the Mishkan, it would be tainted with a plaque of self aggrandizement. It would no longer be about love for Hashem, but about personal prestige of building for Hashem.

Lesson

Giving charity can also feed one’s ego.

Story

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (1745 – 1815) was once visited by a man who lacked money for even the most basic necessities. After the man poured out his tale of woe, the Rebbe moved by his tale decided to give him a large sum of money. The poor man left Reb Mendel’s house in great spirits, a load lifted off his shoulders.

After the pauper had left, the Rebbe sent for the man to be summoned back to the Rebbe’s house. The man felt a debt of gratitude and was eager to return. After their second meeting everyone was astonished when Reb Mendel gave him yet some more money.

A few close followers of the Rimoanover asked ” We understand why you initially gave this needy man a lot of money, but why did you call him back and give him a second time?”

The Rebbe responded “When he told me his troubles, I was moved to help him. After he departed I realized, that was not selfless charity – it only assuaged my distress at hearing his tale. Therefore, I called him back so to fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity.”

Weekly Halachah

It is preferable, when pledging objects to Tzedakah to do so before Shabbos.

3 Comments

  1. “If the people would factor in where their gift was going, it would be tainted with a plaque of self aggrandizement.”
    I lost you here. I thought you were explaining why the people donated materials as opposed to money. Don’t they have a better idea of where their gift is going when they materials? If they give money, it could be used for anything.

    • Let me make it more clear.
      There are two issues, one, why they couldn’t donate money. Two there was no big picture, the instruction was just to donate and that’s it, the instruction was not “donate to the Mishkan”.
      The answer to the first question is the love that accompanied the gift wouldn’t transfer. The answer to the second question is there wouldn’t be sufficient love.
      I hope this clarifies it.

  2. There is a merit in performing a mitzva from a point of obedience and subjugation to our Maker. However, I once heard Rabbi Tatz say that concern, congruent care and feeling must be present in mitzvos Beyn Odom Le’chaveiro; a person is not an esrog! he further illustrated it by saying that when visiting the sick, be pleased if you travelled a long way and found the patient had gone home, not that he was TRULY very sick in need of a visit!

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