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Parshat Terumah

By: Miriam Cohen (10th)

On Har Sinai, Moshe received Hashem’s tablets, was commanded to create a Mishkan — a portable Temple — and given detailed instructions on how to construct a resting place for Hashem so that it could be transported and reassembled as the Jews traveled in the desert. The Parsha goes into depth about the architecture, furniture, and design of the Mishkan.

Our Rabbis bring up an interesting question. The Torah says the Jews gave donations to the building of the Mishkan, so why does it say “they should take [a portion] ויקחו”, and not say the more natural “they should give ויתנו”?

When a Jew gives tzedakah, he is not only giving but also receiving — taking for him or herself. When a poor person accepts the tzedakah, the giver receives a zechut (a merit) for the mitzvah. For this act, the giver will receive from Hashem ten times as much as he gave, a principle quite famously alluded to in the Torah’s words “aser te’aser עשר תעשר,” interpreted by the Sages to also mean “aser (tithe) bishevil she’titasher (so that you become rich).”

From here we can metaphorically understand that by donating towards the building of the Mishkan, the Jews were “taking” more from Hashem than they gave.

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