Last week’s Parsha, Teruma, began with a fundraising campaign for materials with which to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle in the wilderness. “Speak to the children of Israel and let them take for me contributions, from every man who’s generous heart brings him to donate, from them take My contributions.” (Exodus 25:2) In Parshat Vayakhel this plea is reiterated: “Take from yourselves a donation to Hashem, everyone who is generous of heart will bring it – the contribution of Hashem – gold, silver and copper.” (Exodus 35:5)
The Chid”a writes that something out of the ordinary occurred here. Normally, writes the Chid”a, circumstances rouse a person and his heart is inspired to give and contribute. However, the actual gift or contribution typically does not match the original intent. If one wishes to give $100, for example, when the time comes to write the check he will likely only write it for $50. This is simple human nature. Our hearts are bigger than our fists and we normally don’t give as much as we might have been first inspired to. When it came to the contributions for the Mishkan, however, people gave as much as their hearts urged them to give. There was no discrepancy between the original intent and the actual gift. Each person gave ‘from the generosity of his heart,’ meaning that the initial inspiration was carried through to fruition and there was no cutting of figures or shaving the amounts. They gave as they had initially intended, not a penny less.
My father suggested that we can take this idea of the heart component a bit further. The hearts of the people were a critical component of the Mishkan building. The hearts of the people were more important than the materials themselves. When the verse states that each man, generous of heart, brought his contribution to the Mishkan, the meaning is that each such man brought his generous heart to Hashem. The generosity and the desire to contribute and create a ‘house of G-d’ were the building blocks that created the house of G-d. In the words of the Talmud, ‘rachmana liba ba’ey, the merciful One wishes for our hearts.
Furthermore, my father continued, the intent of the Torah, that we build a Mishkan for Hashem, is not exclusively referring to the physical building of the Mishkan, but primarily it applies to each individual person. The verse “And they shall make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst,” (Exodus 25:8) write many of the commentators, speaks to each individual. ‘Make for Me a sanctuary,’ says G-d; dedicate yourself to Me, make a home for Me in your hearts, and I will then dwell in your midst. When your heart is ‘G-d friendly,’ when we devote ourselves to become spiritually sensitive, then G-d finds a home within us.
The following verse concludes with the words “and so you shall do.” Rashi and other commentators state that ‘so you shall do’ applies to all generations. The simple intent of this is that the furnishings of the Mishkan, as described in the Torah, must be replicated in the Temple according to the descriptions and measurements instructed by the Torah. This idea, however, that each individual creates a home inside him for Hashem to reside in, also applies in all generations and in every age. Each one of us must develop ourselves spiritually so that we are appropriate vehicles for the Almighty to reside in at all times. And so you shall do.
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