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Parshas Teruma - Give of Oneself                    30 Shevat 5778

02/21/18 17:04:55


We Should not Air Out Our Dirty Laundry in Public…….but We Already Have!

Shuls, schools, and other organizations conduct many fundraisers. Money isn’t as cheap as it once was and raising money for funding of operations has become increasingly more challenging. There are many parts to a budget upon which we focus, especially regarding growth in both physical and spiritual matters. Ideally, all the money raised should go to fund things that proactively contribute to that growth, be it manpower, advertising, food-related costs and site beautification. Unfortunately, a significant portion of resources is dedicated to portions of the organization that can well be avoided. In addition to fundraisers, there is also the concept of fund savers. There ae noteworthy areas that we, as a community organization, can work towards saving money, thereby requiring less to raise - or better yet - more to spend on quality needs.

The opening of this article reflects my being one of the first to Shul on Friday afternoon as Shabbos enters and one of the last to leave as Shabbos departs. Upon entering the premises, look around at the playground, social hall, sanctuary, beis medrash, lobby, patio, and the general cleanliness of the entire Shul. Compare that to what the Shul looks like after Shabbos. When we have guests with children of all ages over for Shabbos, many toys, games and other things are out and about the house that were not there before they arrived. But there is never a time that parents just walk out leaving a mess behind. They encourage their children who played to clean up, and they leave the house as it was before they arrived. Why should it be any different when it comes to YOUR Shul? As a result, the Shul spends money on cleaning up our mess which is left behind. Cups, forks, plates, event fliers, paper towels, food, you name it. All of this can be seen strewn all over the property at different times. All books, seforim, talleisim and even chairs should be returned to exactly where they were taken from. If someone is last to leave, make sure the lights and air conditioning is shut off, as these utilities consume a lot of energy, especially during the summer months. There is no question the Shul - and any other organizations- want to provide for its customers and constituents and encourages the usage of the facility, inside and out. But it is unnecessary to pay workers to clean up after our own mess above and beyond the basic cleaning they perform for us. If we only commit to do the obvious right thing by respecting our spiritual home, the Mikdash M’At, we can save money and use it towards positive energy, rather than waste it on negative energy.

I know at this point many readers are rolling their eyes or blowing it off, perhaps thinking out loud the Rabbi is making a big deal out of nothing; he is exaggerating, or people are thinking, “This isn’t about me!” “I’m not guilty – it’s the other person.” Even so, everyone needs to take ownership in ways to correct the problem. We can all contribute in more ways than one, in this case by helping defray some of our ongoing costs. As crazy as you may think I am, this fund saver concept is found in the Torah.

In this week’s Torah reading Parshas Terumah the Torah states in Shmos 25:2: “Dabeir El Bnei Yisrael V’Yikchu Li Terumah, Mei’Eis Kal Ish Asher Yidvenu Libo Tikchu Es Terumasi”. “Speak to the Israelites and have them bring Me an offering. Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give”. The very next two verses list some of the items that could be donated. “The offering that you shall take from them shall consist of the following: Gold, silver, copper, sky-blue wool, dark-red wool, linen, goats-wool, reddened ram’s skins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices, incense, sardonyxes and other precious stones for the ephod and breastplate”. Reb Nachman of Breslov teaches that everyone should bring from the choicest pledge of his heart. The Mishkan was built from that which was the best of the people’s possessions. The listing of items in the Torah are not just a list of items given but rather a list from which people selected the one, specific, unique thing that resonated with that individual.

I would like to share my own interpretation and read the pesukim a little differently. The simple understanding of the verses is that the donation of the heart can be fulfilled with any one of those items listed above. The list is an extensive one that would guarantee everyone the ability for everyone to contribute something. From the top level of gold down to oil for the lamp are certainly within everyone’s range and ability to give. Perhaps one might ask what did a truly poor person contribute? The answer is that the generation in the desert and the generation at the time of the building of the Beis HaMikdash were well off. Nevertheless, the lesson would be for the future building of the small sanctuaries throughout the world when money was not as plentiful. Even then a person could contribute by donating from his heart - even if that meant a non-donation but a contribution in some other fashion. The passuk says whoever wants to give should give from his heart. The period was put there to emphasize it isn’t only the ‘stuff’ that is referred to in helping the sanctuary.

If the following line had never been taught, I think it should. “Whoever cleans a sanctuary is considered as if they built it!” The grand-opening of any field, building or place will find it to be spotless on the very outset. If we bring something back to its original grandeur, it is considered to be as it was the first time. My cleaning of the grounds and tiding up after something has been used, putting it back to its original state, gets credit as if I had contributed to the original construction. Our small Mikdash needs every single one to be involved, not only by contributing cash, but by helping to keep it orderly and clean. This effort is just as valuable as contributing your financial support. Some may not be able to afford donating the gold and silver, but everyone can donate their time and effort. This is an opportunity to include our children and friends to build our Shul through sparing those wasted dollars on the clean-up for which that we are responsible.

Let us all take to heart the ability and the responsibility we each have to give from our hearts and to contribute the ultimate best - that which comes from a pure heart. In conclusion, all who show Hashem how deeply they care and respect the Mikdash M’At - the small sanctuary, our Shul - will have the merit to see Binyan Bayis Shlishi , the rebuilding of the Third Temple speedily in their day. Amen!


Ah Gut Shabbos from Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh
Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780