Parshas Teruma: The Gift of Giving

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Now that we are in the month of Adar, the Talmud comments that it is appropriate to increase our levels of joy. Personally, I try to accomplish that seemingly difficult task by taking stock of all the incredible gifts and blessings I have in my life. My thought process looks something like this: Wow, I am so fortunate, that I get to live in the most beautiful city in America. I could be somewhere on the East Coast, or in the middle of the country, and never see the light of day, but instead, I get to wake up to sunshine and a view of the glistening mountains! Wow, I am so blessed! Not only am I alive, but I have the ability to move my body, walk, talk, hear, see, smell, and taste. I live in a country and in era, where, while things are not perfect, I can live openly, and freely as a proud Jew, a luxury that many of my ancestors were decidedly not afforded.

When I reflect on all the blessings in my life, perhaps one of the most profound blessings is that I am able to give of myself to help others. And whether I am giving to my children, parents, wife, students, or colleagues, that ability to give fills me up with a sense of life and purpose that drives me every single day. I imagine there is no greater sense of sadness and despair then when a person loses his or her ability to give to others. What greater frustration is there when an employee feels like he has the capacity to contribute and to help, but for whatever reason, is not given the opportunity to do so?

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Teruma, G-d speaks to Moshe, and tells him, “Speak to the Children of Israel, and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take for My portion. The rabbis comment, that seemingly, this instruction uses the wrong verbiage. G-d is telling Moses to conduct a massive fundraising campaign, and to do so by letting the people take a portion of the construction of the Tabernacle?  Wouldn’t it have been more accurate to say, “Ask the people to give a portion towards the construction of the Tabernacle?” The rabbis point out that the Torah’s using the word v’yikchu, “let them take” is teaching us that by allowing the Jewish people the opportunity to contribute and give towards this project, really, it was as if they were taking. By assigning us some responsibility, and an opportunity to give, we ultimately, were receiving and taking one of the greatest gifts of all: the opportunity to contribute, give, and make a difference.

I recently was having a conversation with some people, and I was explaining to them my goal of creating opportunities for Young Jewish Professionals in Denver to volunteer, and to do acts of chesed. What emerged was that as wonderful and generous it would be for us to visit the sick, or visit the elderly, perhaps even more meaningful, would be for us to come to the elderly, and learn something from them. Perhaps they can teach us how to sew or knit, or they can share some of their greatest recipes with us. By coming to them, seeking their knowledge, affords them the gift of giving—a gift that is harder to come by with advanced age.

Ultimately, at His Essence, G-d is constantly giving to us. Every second of our lives are filled with His gifts. When we turn around and give to others, we are imitating G-d Himself.  And, when we find opportunities for others to give, we are enabling them to mimic G-d as well. Indeed, what greater gift can be given than the opportunity to act with G-dliness? As I enjoy these happy days in Adar, I thank the Almighty, with every fiber of my being, that He has blessed me with the opportunity to give to others.

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