Dvar Torah for Parshat Terumah


Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson 70

"God told Moshe... Speak to the Jews that they should take for Me an offering. From any person whose heart moves him, take My offering. [It can be] gold, silver, copper, [wool], linen, angora, [animal skins, wood, olive] oil..., spices..., jewels..., They will make me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them" (Exodus 25:1-8).

If we consider the verses quoted above we're struck by two questions: If a person's heart impels him to give, why does the contribution have to be taken from him, as if by force? And, on the other hand, if someone is giving, why does the contribution have to be taken? Let him give on his own, as much as he wants.

Rebbe Nachman teaches us that there are two forces constantly at work. One draws us closer to spirituality and one pushes us away. The former the Rebbe calls gravity/magnetism, the latter anti-gravity/repulsion.

Rebbe Noson points out that neither of these forces alone is sufficient to allow us to reach our spiritual potential. It's clear why repulsion doesn't allow for spiritual fulfillment: it pushes us away from holy pursuits by drawing us on to satisfy and pamper our bodies and egos. But what about magnetism? Wouldn't it be ideal if we were drawn only to spiritual pursuits? The answer is no. For if we gave ourselves over completely to the wishes of the soul, totally neglecting the needs of the body, we would die. And a dead man does no mitzvot.

Doing mitzvot is, of course, a very important feature of Judaism, of life. When mitzvot are done God's Presence (aka the Shekhina) is drawn into our humble planet so that It is more readily discerned. This is the gift that Hashem (God) offers us when He says, "I will dwell among them." Although His Presence was most powerfully experienced in the desert Sanctuary and later the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple), It can be felt anywhere, any time. If.

If we maintain a proper harmony between soul and body. Taking another look at our verses you notice that all the materials listed require mankind's hard work. God created our world in such a way that we must intervene - farm, cook and build - in order to make the world hospitable. The purpose of all this is not the higher quality of life we thus enjoy. The purpose is to provide ourselves with the wherewithal to make the world a giant sanctuary wherein Hashem's name is blessed and praised, by our speech and by our actions.

So the answer to your questions is this: Sometimes, even though you really want to give, anti-gravity gets in the way and it has to be taken "by force" to build a sanctuary. And sometimes you want to give too much, in a way that could be detrimental to your spiritual future. So your gift has to be "taken," with a limit, rather than overdone.

Each of us knows only too well how much sway money, food, fashion and the like has over him, how much these things repulse us from the Godly. We need to be aware of the indomitable magnetic force that tugs at our soul. The very fact that this magnetic force stirs us at all in face of the material onslaught of our world is testimony to its awesome strength. The superiority of the spiritual is further evidenced by the fact that it is infinite and so will outlast and conquer the material.

"Any person whose heart moves him" can give something. Wherever you may be holding on your spiritual journey there is something you can contribute to make it happen. Your gift may be organic or inorganic. It may be used to construct the sanctuary (the metals and skins), to clothe those who minister there (the various wools and linen) or to provide some amenity (the olive oil and spices). All of the hard work that you invest into compelling the environment to bear its gifts can make our world a sanctuary in which everything brings praise to the Creator.

agutn Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom