In Sefer Shemot before Parashat Terumah, Hashem had already successfully established Himself as God of Bnei Yisrael. He sent the Makot, split the Yam Suf, sustained Am Yisrael in the desert, and, to top it off, He revealed the Torah. Logically, it would make sense for Hashem to give Bnei Yisrael wealth, land, and power thereby finishing the job in a sense. However, Hashem does the exact opposite.
In Parashat Terumah, Bnei Yisrael remain in a hot desert filled with poisonous animals with nothing to eat or drink, even after Matan Torah (Devarim 8:15). Hashem must have a reason to seemingly unjustifiably make Bnei Yisrael uncomfortable. Maybe He wanted to warn them that being Jewish would not always be without challenges.
Early in the Parashah, Hashem commands Moshe, “Mei’eit Kol Ish Asher Yidevenu Libo Tikchu Et Terumati,” “From those whose hearts are motivated you should take a portion for me” (Shemot 25:2). What do the words “Asher Yidevenu Libo,” “whose hearts are motivated” mean?
The answer is that Hashem is limiting this commandment to those who are motivated to worship Him - people who won’t serve Him with a frown. Hashem is also preaching the message that in order to succeed in life, we must be motivated to do so.
There is no doubt that we will need to overcome struggles in our lives, but we must realize that with proper motivation and belief in Hashem, we can all achieve great success. We will face difficult times in the future.
Michael Jordan is an excellent model for this unwavering persistence. He didn’t start as a superstar in high school. He was, in fact, cut from his high school team the first year he tried out. However, his incredible motivation made him the legend he is today. He refused to accept that he wasn’t good enough to make that team. He went to the gym from sunrise to sunset every day, and refused to be denied a spot on that team the following season. This, LeHavdil, is a powerful example of the genuine motivation that Hashem wants us to exhibit. This is why Hashem firmly states to his nation, “Those whose hearts are motivated shall set a portion aside for me.” There will be moments when we will feel like giving up, but we have to understand that that Hashem gives us challenges which allow us to grow.