I have often heard Rabbi Frand discuss how sports is a great unifier, in that it often gives a person common ground to something to speak to a common stranger about. But I recently heard a shiur that explains why people become so heavily invested in their teams and become, dare I say, fanatical sports fans.
In the very beginning of Parshas Terumah, the Torah instructs Moshe to tell the Jews - V'yichu Li Terumah - "take for me a donation". Many meforshim question why the Torah uses the language of "take", when what the Jews actually are being instructed is to give.
In the recorded shiur that I heard from R' Eli Mansour (available for download on www.learntorah.com), he explains that the language of take was used in order to allow the Jews to have more of an emotional investment in the mishkan process.
Many people like to do for their families, friends and communities. R' Mansour explained that giving is not only about making the other person feel good about the gift they receive. Giving to another person allows the donor to feel good about himself, because he becomes emotionally invested in the other person.
This concept manifests itself in the way that people become fans of a team. By following the team in the media and buying their apparel, the fan becomes invested in the team. Often times, you will hear a caller to a sports radio program use the term "we" or "us." The caller is a not player on the team nor officially affiliated with the management of the organization. But his emotional and often times financial investment gives that person a connection to the team.
This was the purpose of the Torah's language of "take for me" the terumah. By becoming actively involved in the collection and organizational process, the Jews felt closer to the building of the mishkan.
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