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  • Torah Reading: Tzav
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Trumah(Exodus 25:1-27:19)

The Right Intentions

Parshat Trumah begins with God's instruction to "take a donation" for the Tabernacle. This sounds strange. Shouldn't the Torah have instructed us to "give a donation"?

The explanation is that giving ― for the right reason and to a proper recipient ― is also a form of taking. You see, the money we own is temporary, but our good deeds are eternal. So a gift is to our credit. As a wise person once said: "All that I really own is what I've given away."

And in the truth, one of life's greatest pleasures is to give. God's most essential quality is that of a giver, so our emulating God ― by giving ― is one of the highest forms of spiritual expression.

This parsha also tells us the key to proper giving: it should be with a full heart. The Midrash says that Betzalel, the architect of the Tabernacle, was able to discern the intentions of those who donated. In this way, he determined how each donation would be used in the Tabernacle. For instance, when someone gave with pure intentions, their donation was used for the Holy Ark. Whereas someone who gave begrudgingly would have his donation used for pegs to hold up the Tabernacle walls.

Even today, when we give money to a synagogue, we don't know how the money will be used. But if we give with the right intentions, we can be sure it will be used in the best possible way.

February 25, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 7

(6) Anonymous, March 3, 2017 11:43 AM

Amen! Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(5) Anonymous, February 9, 2016 1:35 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(4) Anonymous, February 18, 2015 12:40 PM

This is great! Thank you so much for posting this!

(3) manuel, February 18, 2010 8:48 PM

True holiness is in the act

Please let me argue that other rabbies comment that "true holiness is in the act", no matter the intention. If a father gives charity so his son can heal from a terrible disease, the act of charity is valid.

Tyler, February 18, 2015 12:43 PM

I would say it's still valid and giving is ALWAYS better than not giving, but even BETTER is giving with a full heart and desire to do good.

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