Selfless Donations by Simcha Lev Abrahams


Do you loan out your possessions whenever someone asks? Do you give enough charity? Parashat Terumah begins with Hashem instructing Moshe, “Dabeir El Bnei Yisrael VeYikchu Li Terumah Mei’eit Kol Ish Asher Yidevenu Libo Tikchu Et Terumati,” “Speak to Bnei Yisrael and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion” (Shemot 25:2). Because of this commandment, Moshe begins a campaign to collect various items from the people in order to construct the Mishkan. The contributions were precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper and an assortment of other materials. Bnei Yisrael, much to Moshe’s surprise, gave all that was necessary in a short amount of time. In fact, the Jewish People donated so much that Moshe had to ask the Jews to stop giving money because they had already donated more than was necessary for the construction of the Mishkan (36:5-7).

This story may be surprising to a modern charity that is accustomed to people who are stingy, and unnecessarily hoard their belongings. When have you heard of someone who had to stop accepting donations because too many were given? Have you ever heard of a person lending someone something expensive and not asking for it back? This type of thing virtually never occurs in this day and age because of the ‘mine’ factor -  the thought that what is mine is mine and you can’t have, or even borrow it. This ideology was not a part of Bnei Yisrael’s mindset in the desert. They were willing to donate without so much as blinking an eye and didn’t ask for anything in return.

Nowadays, people still give to charities and loan money, but they rarely do it selflessly. Loans are given with a “you owe me one” approach. Donations come from social pressure or to feel a sense of fulfillment. Whatever the case, there are almost always strings attached, and, even though they will not admit it, donors give begrudgingly and not with a happy heart.

We can learn from this week’s Parashah to give selflessly and unconditionally. We should give for the sake of giving without anyone prompting us and without having an ulterior motive. We should give to help others who are in greater need than we are. We should all be like the Jewish People in the desert who gave so much because they loved God. The next time you see an opportunity to give, don’t be stingy, but give with your all heart and soul.

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