June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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R’ Mordechai Yehudah Lubrat notes that in the parshiyot that deal with the building of the Mishkan, we find repeatedly the idea of contributing with a “generous heart” towards the building of the Mishkan, which seems to indicate that this is a main component when contributing to this cause. Why?

Rav Lubrat explains that for Bnei Yisrael to simply contribute towards such a holy cause like the building of the Mishkan would be no sweat; it wouldn’t be a novelty, it wouldn’t require any effort. After all, they were the generation for whom Hashem saved their very lives through tremendous miracles; they were the ones who crossed the sea; they were the ones for whom the manna fell; they were the ones who accepted the Torah at Har Sinai. After all these experiences, it surely would be a given that they would contribute to the building of the Mishkan! Therefore, the Torah emphasizes the “generous heart” because this component of the contributions would take effort and require the development of an appreciation for the great and holy purpose of the building of the Mishkan. This appreciation would, in turn, lead them to donate with a generous heart, ultimately showing that their whole purpose in life is for Hashem to dwell amongst them.

Rav Lubrat continues that this idea explains the topic of the Machatzit HaShekel (in parshat Ki Tisa) wherein all those who were to contribute gave half a shekel, no more and no less—as it states (30:15), “The wealthy shall not increase, and the poor shall not decrease from half a shekel.” Here, Hashem was imparting to them that it makes no difference whether one is rich or poor, or whether he gives much or little. From this case of Machatzit HaShekel, Hashem was teaching them that regarding other scenarios where they can contribute however much they want, the main thing isn’t necessarily whether one gives much or little, but rather how much of a “generous heart” motivates and accompanies the giving (Milchamot Yehuda, Terumah).

Thus, the true way of measuring Bnei Yisrael’s devotion to the building of the Mishkan would not be by how much they gave but how great was their desire to give; not on the external act of giving, but on the heart—i.e., their devotion to Hashem and their longing for Hashem’s Shechina to reside in their midst.

Perhaps we could learn from here the importance of enhancing one’s appreciation for serving Hashem and developing our hearts so that we long to do Hashem’s will and have a relationship with Him. For in the good deeds we do, our good intentions might be more meaningful toHashem than the deeds themselves.. As Chazal teach: “Hashem wants the heart.”

We can see an example of this idea at the very beginning of our parsha: There were various kinds of materials that were necessary for the Mishkan. Surprisingly, the most expensive materials—the precious stones—are mentioned last in the list of what was donated. Shouldn’t they have been mentioned first if they’re the most precious?

The Ohr Hachaim explains that perhaps this is because the Nesiim (leaders of the tribes) who donated these stones donated them last, after all the necessary items were donated. Hashem was displeased about this and he subtracted one letter from them (for when the Torah records that the Nesiim brought these stones, the word Nesiim is written without the letter yud). Since they bought their contribution last, Hashem placed the precious stones last on the list, to indicate that they were considered inferior to all of the other gifts [even though they were, in a material sense, the most precious].

The question is why, in fact, did the Nesiim stall and donate last? Rashi (Shemot, 35:27) explains that the Nesiim made the following calculation: “Let the public contribute whatever they contribute, and whatever remains lacking we will complete.” Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz clarifies that indeed the Nesiim had noble intentions; their calculation was leshem shamayim. If so, then why were they taken to task? Rav Shmuelevitz explains that although they may have had noble intentions, they also—on some level—lacked the component of having a “generous heart” regarding their contributions to the building of the Mishkan. For if they truly had a completely generous heart, they would have contributed right away, and their calculations wouldn’t have prevented them from delaying (Sichot Mussar, Terumah, Maamer 49).

We could perhaps learn from here that because the Nesiim demonstrated a lack in their heart—i.e., in their longing and desire to contribute, their deed was therefore devalued to an extent, and considered less valuable than those who contributed before them, despite the fact that the Nesiim’s contributions may have been technically more (in a practical sense) than the others; while those who may have contributed an item of lesser quality and value were nevertheless given precedence and there deed was considered to be more valuable and dear in Hashem’s eyes since it was motivated and accompanied with a greater level of having a “generous heart”—of their desire to want the Mishkan and a more profound relationship with Hashem. It would seem to emerge from here that those whose hearts had a greater desire for Hashem, their deed—although of lesser quality—was rewarded more greatly and considered more precious in Hashem’s eyes.

We find another example of the emphasis on the heart, regarding the construction of the Aron Kodesh (which housed the luchot). Our parsha states: “They shall make an Aron….” The midrash (Bereishit Rabbah, 34:2) raises the question: Why in the case of all the other vessels of the Mishkan is it written “You shall make,” in the singular form, whereas in the case of the Aron it is written in plural form? The midrash explains that regarding the Aron, Hashem said to Moshe, “Let everyone come and be involved in [the making of] the Aron so that they will merit Torah.”

The Ramban (25:10) elaborates on this midrash: “The ‘involvement’ (regarding the Aron) is that each person should donate one gold article for [use in making] the Aron, or that they help Betzalel in some small way., or [that they participate by] having intent (kavana) for the matter.”

Rav Henoch Leibowitz (Chiddushei Halev, Terumah, 25:10) points out that we learn from the concluding words of the Ramban (about having kavana), that simply by having good intent regarding the building of the Aron—even without doing anything practically—it was considered as if one was involved in the actual building of the Mishkan, and through this one also merits Torah. Furthermore, the Ramban implies here that he is referring to those people who are not capable of offering any practical help or support towards the building of the Mishkan, and do not even have the intention to provide practical assistance in any manner. Yet, despite this, by “having kavana for the matter”—i.e, by desiring to participate in a practical sense—it’s as if they participated in the actual making of the Aron. We see from here that if one desires to do a mitzvah—even if one is unable to perform it at that moment—one is nevertheless considered as if one did that mitzvah (Chiddushei Halev, Terumah, 25:10).

How powerful it is to love Hashem and desire to do His will! For even if one is unable to perform a mitzvah in its practical sense, Hashem will reward you for your desire to come close to Him.


Binyamin Benji is a graduate of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan and of WSSW.

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