Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Terumah

Our kindness is directly linked to the sanctity of Hashem!

What is the connection between our generosity and the name of Hashem?

Parshat Terumah commences with the mitzvah of ‘V’yikchu li Terumah’ – ‘take for yourselves a contribution that is for me,’ says Hashem. Of course, the implication here is that when we give we receive, and therefore ‘V’yikchu’, you are ‘taking’ – but why does Hashem say for himself?

Rashi says ‘Li’ means ‘Lishmi’, taking a lesson from the Tanchuma. Rashi is telling us that God is stating, ‘this must be for the sake of my name’. So what is the connection between our generosity, the contributions we were giving to the creation and upkeep of the sanctuary and the name of Hashem?

The Be’er Mayim Chaim suggests as follows. In the Gemara in Mesechet Pesachim, (Daf 50a) our rabbis teach us that the name of Hashem is never to be uttered by us – the only occasions it could be uttered were in rare circumstances in the Mishkan, the Sanctuary, and later in the Temple. Therefore Hashem is saying to us, in order for my name to be uttered you have to be generous. Without that Terumah, your contribution, my name will never be said. Give generously said Hashem, to enable my name to be heard.

I believe that there is a deeper message here for us. Hashem wants us to know that our natural kindness, our selflessness, the contribution we make to the world around us is an integral part of what He Himself stands for. We should never separate the concepts of our relationship with God from our relationship with our fellow human being. On the contrary, the greater we are in the performance of kindness the more kedusha, the greater the sanctity in our world. It is through the Terumah that we give, the contributions we make to others that we enhance the name of Hashem within our world.

Shabbat Shalom.