In its discussion of the donations to the Mishkan, Parshat Terumah mentions the various types of donation in descending order of value, starting with gold and silver. Interestingly, however, the last two materials on the list are the Avnei Shoham and Avnei Milu’im, which are both types of precious gems. This seems to be a startling misplacement; shouldn’t the Avnei Shoham and the Avnei Milu’im be listed before the gold and silver?
The answer can be found in what actually happened when items for the Mishkan were donated. The Torah says, “[Bnei Yisrael] shall take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart will motivate him...” The Nesi’im decided to wait until the end to cover the deficit, and they ended up contributing the gems. Interestingly, the Torah writes the word Nesi’im without a Yud. The Ohr HaChaim explains that this is because Hashem was angry with them for waiting lazily until the end to contribute, making their contribution deficient. Therefore, the word Nesi’im was written was written in a deficient manner. Even though the gems were invaluable, comments the Ohr HaChaim, they were given without proper enthusiasm and excitement, and therefore the contribution of the Nesi’im was lacking spiritually. The Gemara states, “All that Hashem desires from a person is his heart.” Whenever we do any type of Mitzvah, it is important not just to do it, but to do it with energy and proper Zerizut.