The Art of Taking by Rabbi Hershel Solnica z’tl


Parshat Teruma begins with the phrase, “Viyikchu Li Teruma,” “Take for me a tithe.”  All the commentaries think that the language of the Pasuk was not “Viyitnu Li Teruma”  “Give for me a tithe.”  My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, explained that there is a deeper meaning in giving charity.  When we pay a bill or give Tzedaka, it is natural for our Yetzher Hora to make us wish that we didn’t have to write this check.  When the Mishkan was being built, Hashem wanted Moshe to teach Bnai Yisrael “Viyikchu, Shebiyatzro Hatov Vilimud Torato Umaasav Upaal Shetabao Veyihiyu Tov” “And they shall take: that their desire and philosophy should be that giving is the natural phenomenon of taking.”

The Gemara says, “When Bnai Yisrael said, ‘We shall do and we shall hear,’ immediately Hashem said, ‘Take for me Teruma.’”  The Al Hatorah explains that one must learn this lesson of devotion to Hashem by immediately realizing that we are not givers but we are takers. 

Too often, we take our health for granted, and think that our wealth as a sign of our brilliance.  This is absurd!  It takes only one second and we became important in our health, joys, and personal life.

In Kriat Shema we say “Veahavta… Bechol Levavicha” “And we must love… with all our hearts.”  Rashi comments “Bshnei Yitzrecha,” “With both our Yetzer Hara and Yetzer Hatov.”  How do we love Hashem with our Yetzher Hora?  I believe that by grappling with the tendency to attribute all good to our own efforts, we can saddle our Yetzher Hora and turn it into a Yetzher Tov.  Since we are all taking from Hashem, we should give Tzedaka or Chessed in the spirit and in the art of taking.

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