Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Terumah

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Terumah starts with a pasuk which uses the expression that a person who has "generosity of heart" contributes to the mishkan - (asher yidvenu libo). R' Frand commented that this is a continuing theme in the parshios which discuss the building of the mishkan as there is a common use of the term nideev lev - generous or giving from the heart.

Why in this period of the building of the mishkan is there an emphasis on giving from the heart? Rabbi Frand answered by quoting the sefer Milchemes Yehuda who said that the term must be viewed in the context of the times. The Jews had been slaves in Egypt and were penniless. Before they left Egypt they asked the Egyptians for objects, while other valuables washed up on the shores of the Yam Suf.

The money that the Jews received was not like the common ways that a person comes into money in today's times. Today, a person comes into money instantly by inheritance or by hitting the lottery. These items are termed "found money" as they come out of the blue and help with buying things which are not bottom line items.

In contrast, the Jews of the desert had no concerns for parnasah. The manna came from the heavens. They did not need to worry about rent or utility bills. Their clothes never wore out - the clothes they wore when they left Egypt were what they wore when they entered Israel. They did not need to struggle for money at all. When the Jews were asked to donate to the mishkan they had no problems because they had nothing to spend money on. This was not hard earned money.

Since the money was not an issue, the way to see how much they desired to support the cause could not be viewed by "the amount of the check." Instead, the barometer was the amount of their nedivus ha'lev - how much they felt in their heart that they wanted to support the building of the mishkan.

This is why the avnei shoham that were contributed by the nessi'em were listed last among the donations, behind even the goat hair that was contributed by the commoners, because they gave the goat hair with mesiras nefesh. The nessi'em who were lazy in giving, although the objects were more valuable, were not held in high regard as there was not the same level of generosity of spirit.

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