There are frugal people and there are spendthrifts. Irrelevant to how much money is in their bank account.
In this week’s Torah portion, Hashem asks the people “to take for him an offering”. To donate to the building that will be a home for G-d.
Why is it hard for some to part of their money? If we see money as our sweat and blood, giving away our money can feel like giving away a piece of ourselves. We see this in the Shma prayer: Love Hashem with all your might. The word “might” here, is explained to mean money. Our sages go on to explain, “There are people who value their lives more than their money…and there are people who value their money more than their lives.”
Indeed, there are people who would rather lose a limb than lose their money, including even great tzaddikim. The Talmud reports regarding Abba Chilkiya that when he would pass through thorns, he would roll up his garment because he would say, a scratch on the body heals by itself, but if his garment were to be torn, he would not have the money to buy a new one.
A different approach is to see ourselves as trustees of Hashem. He gives us His money, allowing us to use what we need on ourselves, yet the rest is for us to use as Hashem sees fit. With this perspective, it is less painful to give away the money, as it was never mine.
Why does the Torah tell us about the Mishkan fundraiser? Perhaps Hashem is telling us that if we want to make this world a “home for G-d”, we need to do it together. We need to all give a part of ourselves. We need to realize that whatever we have really isn’t our own, that we are solely trustees. Most importantly, this project isn’t a top down “c suite” driven initiative. It is a joint effort which takes each and every person to get involved, in whatever way they can, to make it a home for G-d.
When one wears the fundraising hat that means – give of your money and make a donation for Hashem.
When one wears the spiritual guide hat that means – give of your time, energy and or self to do a mitzvah for Hashem.
When one wears the relationship expert hat that means – spend quality time in Hashem’s home connecting.
None are easy, as they take a part of us, but all are important.
Have a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Kushi Schusterman, Chabad Harford County, Maryland, for sharing the above thought.