June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Rebbe Meshulam Feish HaLevy Lowy of Tosh zy”a (d. 2015) was beloved for his righteousness, generosity, ahavat Yisrael and unending dedication to the Jewish people. The Rebbe asked a devoted chasid, Reb Yisrael Moshe, to write out a sizable check to someone whose home was at risk of foreclosure. When Reb Yisrael Moshe agreed to give the tzedakah, the Rebbe added a request: “Reb Yisrael Moshe, I want you to go mail the check now, while I wait on the phone. Please tell me when it’s done.”

“I can call the Rebbe back, he doesn’t have to wait on the phone,” he offered. The Rebbe thanked him and said he would wait. Reb Yisrael Moshe wrote the check, signed it, placed it in an envelope, headed down the street, and dropped the envelope in a mailbox. Several minutes later, he lifted the receiver and told the Rebbe, who had been waiting, that the check was en route to its destination.

“Wonderful, yasher koach,” said the Rebbe, “now I want you to do something else. Please go to the corner of the room and say, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, did I really do something so special? After all, I simply took some of the money You blessed me with and shared it with a brother of mine who is in need. Ribbono Shel Olam, You gave me this money and allowed me the zechus of sharing it, so thank You for letting me do my part.’”

Then the Rebbe added: “Reb Yisrael Moshe, say, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, I did nothing at all.’”

~

“Every person whose heart inspired him came and everyone whose generous spirit inspired him brought their contribution for God, for the work of the Ohel Moed and the holy garments” (35:21).

In our sedra, the emphasis is on those contributions that were offered voluntarily, while earlier, in Parshat Terumah, the focus was on bringing donations to build the Mishkan as a compulsory obligation. Over and over again our sedra emphasizes the essential element in the construction of a dwelling place for God: a “generous spirit.” Even more important than what we donated for the building of the Mishkan was that we brought the inspiration of our hearts.

The Gemara (Sotah 9a) points out that in contradistinction to the first and second Batei Mikdash that were destroyed, the Mishkan was never destroyed. It was merely nignaz, buried, thus, the whole form of the structure was maintained.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained, based on a midrash: The reason the Mishkan was never destroyed is that it was built with “heartfelt contributions” from a spirit of love and desire. “And it is ‘emotionally’ difficult for Hashem to lose anything that the people made through generosity of the heart.”

Rebbe Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, the Kedushas Yom Tov of Sighet, zy”a, pointed out that our pasuk specifically uses the term ish, “a person,” in describing the one who contributes. Only when ‘our heart inspires us to generosity’ are we truly worthy of being considered an ish, a human being.

A “human being” naturally gives without expectation of reward or a feeling that he or she has done “something so special.” He or she recognizes that Hashem is the source of all that we are and have, and that our money and possessions are really His. Hashem has merely called on us to redistribute His resources according to needs. He “waits on the line” to confirm the success of our shlichut.

May we always give with inspired hearts and a generous spirit, and merit building a permanent dwelling place for Hashem and all of Am Yisrael, together, in the rebuilt Yerushalayim—soon and in our days!


Rabbi Judah Mischel is executive director of Camp HASC, and mashpia of OU-NCSY. He is a member of Mizrachi’s Speakers Bureau ( www.mizrachi.org/speakers ).

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