SALT - Monday, 29 Shevat 5779 - Februrary 4, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Parashat Teruma begins with God’s command to Benei Yisrael to collect donations of materials for the construction of the Mishkanme’eit kol ish asher yidevenu libo” – “from every person whose heart wishes to give.”
            Seforno comments that the Torah requires collecting specifically from people “asher yideveno libo” to emphasize that no coercion should be used, and no pressure should be applied.  The materials for the Mishkan were to be donated on a strictly voluntary basis, and not as a mandatory tax.  (The exception is the machatzit ha-shekel donation, the half-shekel tax imposed upon every member of the nation for the construction of the sockets that formed the foundation of the Mishkan.)  Along similar lines, Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch writes that the root of the word “yidevenu” – n.d.v. – denotes “the most complete freedom of will,” emphasizing that the materials for the Mishkan were to be motivated by pure idealism and volunteerism, without any coercive component.
            A different insight into this verse is offered by Rav Leibele Eiger, who finds it significant that the Torah formulates the word “yidevenu” in the future tense (“yidevenu,” as opposed to “nedavo”).  He suggests that the Torah alludes here to somebody who does not yet feel pure sincerity, who is not truly, wholeheartedly driven and inspired to donate.  God here indicates to Moshe that He wants the contributions of even those “asher yidevenu libo,” who aspire to the level of pure, genuine sincerity, even if they are not quite there yet.
            This Chassidic insight into the word “yidevenu” teaches us that we expected to make our “contributions” at our current level and stature, no matter how far we still are from our ideal standards.  We should not wait until we feel genuinely inspired to “build” our “Mishkan,” our spiritual beings and our spiritual build.  We are expected to “contribute” as much as we can to this process regardless of our current stature, and even if our motives are as yet not perfectly pure and sincere.  God wants the work and effort of each and every one of us to build his or her own “Mishkan,” to strive to be as “sacred” as we can, rather than waiting until we feel especially inspired and driven, until our intentions are pure and pristine.  In whatever condition we find ourselves in, we are able – and expected – to build our “Mishkan” and strive to bring God’s presence into our lives.