Fundraising Phenomena by Rabbi Josh Kahn


One of the greatest challenges an individual in charge of raising money might face is, in fact, raising money. “100% participation!  It’s the thought that counts!”  Both of these sayings are rarely successful in getting people to contribute as much as they can. This is the reality of fundraising campaigns. Yet, when Moshe asked for donations for the Mishkan, all of Bnei Yisrael donated—even to the point that there was a surplus of funds being given. While fundraisers may feel it is the thought that counts, the reality of the situation is that the bigger the gift, the more attention and publicity it is given by the organization. Yet, with the Mishkan, it really was the thought that mattered most. What about the Mishkan made the fundraising campaign so unique?

Over the last month, we have read about two occasions when Bnei Yisrael reached a sense of complete unity.  In Parashat Yitro, Bnei Yisrael are described as one unit in preparation for Matan Torah. In Parashat VaYakheil, Moshe Rabbeinu is overwhelmed with gifts, due to the generosity of each person. The common denominator between Matan Torah and the Mishkan is that all of Bnei Yisrael unite in order to bring Kedushah to the world.  Why is this true?

Rav Baruch Simon suggests that each person must recognize that they have a role in introducing Kedushah into the world. Each individual’s role is indispensable. It is not just about accumulating the necessary funds in order to build the Mishkan; rather, each person has to contribute. The Ohr Hachaim goes a step further and suggests that even though enough money had been raised, Hashem found more uses for the extra donations to ensure that each person’s contribution would be used.

In describing the donations of Bnei Yisrael, the Torah writes, “VeChol Chacham Leiv Bachem Yavo’u VeYa’asu Eit Kol Asher Tzivah Hashem,” “And every wise-hearted man among you shall come and make all that Hashem has comm. anded” (Shemot 35:10). The word choice and grammatical structure of the word Bachem (in you) is curious.  If it is meant to mean the wise donors from among Bnei Yisrael, it should have said Mikem, not Bachem.  Bachem, from you, means from each of you.  For this reason, Chassidic thinkers suggest that each person must look inside of himself and see in what way his contribution could best help the construction of the Mishkan. It is not about how much one donates, but the intent that is driving the donation that matters. The donations would be utilized with that mentality in mind. Those donations which were given completely LeSheim Shamayim would earn the most prestigious roles. In the area of spirituality, it is certainly appropriate that intent and authenticity should play such an integral role. Desire to do right, supported by the action of donating an item is critical to creating Kedushah, and rightfully earns a prominent place in the Mishkan.

As we continue to bring Kedushah to all of our endeavors, let us consider the lessons of the Mishkan.  We must emphasize unity and each person’s unique and irreplaceable contribution, as well as the importance of intent and thoughtfulness in our actions.

Fire: Why Now? by Leiby Deutsch

Don’t Stay Stagnant by Alexander Kalb