At the beginning of Parashat Terumah, Hashem informs Moshe about the Terumah that Bnei Yisrael must donate to Him. Hashem continues to tell Moshe about the types of Terumah that will be taken. The Pasuk states,” VeZot HaTerumah Asher Tikchu MeiItam Zahav VaChesef UnNechoshet...Avnei Shoham VeAvnei Miluim LaEiphod VeLachoshen” “This is the portion that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper…Shoham stones and stones for the settings for the Ephod and the breastplate” (Shemot 25:2,8).
The Ohr HaChaim interestingly asks why stones such as Shoham and Miluim, which are far greater in value than precious metals, appear after gold and silver when listed in the Pasuk.
He proposes an explanation based on the Gemara (Yoma 75b), that the Nesi’im, the individuals who donated the Shoham and Miluim stones, received these precious stones when the Man fell down every day.
Rav Pam wondered what the significance of the Nesi’im receiving these precious stones has on the order of the Pesukim. He answers that the Shoham and Miluim stones are mentioned last because it did not take the Nesi’im much effort to obtain the precious stones. On the other hand, the gold and silver that Bnei Yisrael donated was obtained in payment for the many decades of slave labor that they suffered. Therefore, since the effort to acquire gold and silver was much greater than the effort to collect Shoham and Miluim, the Torah mentions the gold and silver first.
From the placement in the Pesukim, the Torah teaches us an extremely valuable lesson. We must understand that the effort we dedicate to our goals is more important than the achievement of the goals. The Torah believes that effort is the essence. We should learn from the fact that Shoham and Miluim, despite their greater values, are placed after gold and silver that Hashem cares more for something that was performed with notable effort and dedication, not something that we receive or achieve with little effort.