Doing Your Part by Julian Taub


The Midrash HaGadol says that the Nesiim came to Moshe and said that only they should donate materials for building the Mishkan.  Instead of asking Bnai Yisrael as a whole for money, giving money should be only for rich men.  Moshe retorted that Hashem wanted all of Bnai Yisrael to give money, for it says in Parshat Terumah, “You shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him” (25:2).

The Nesiim’s question and Moshe’s answer highlight a crucial principle regarding Kedusha.  The Mishkan, the central point of קדושת מקום (holiness bound to a location), must be developed by the nation as a whole.  Every person is important and irreplaceable.  Nobody can hand over his spirituality to another.  Bnai Yisrael as a whole must participate in the building of the Mishkan, making a location for Hashem to dwell.  Even though we need people to lead us and be role models, they should only help us, and they should not do our jobs for us.

The first time one looks at the question of the Nesiim, it makes some sense.  Shouldn’t the Mishkan, the most sacred place on earth, be built only by the best people?  To this question, Moshe answers, “No, ‘From every person whose heart moves him.’”  The Torah does not only talk about one part of Bnai Yisrael.  Every member of Am Yisrael, anyone “whose heart moves him,” who wants to accept the yoke of the Torah and to make his relationship with Hashem better is included.

Shittim Wood in the Mishkan by David Zeidel

The Ark and All its Splendor by Yehuda Goldin