Friday, January 31, 2014

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

The very first United Jewish Appeal was launched this week. This week's Torah reading, Terumah (Shmos [Exodus] 25:1-27:19) deals with the first fundraising campaign in history. Moses initiated it in order to build the Sanctuary in the wilderness as well as all to acquire all the materials needed for the special utensils required for the sacred services. This is, therefore, a good time to talk about the art of giving.

The holy Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin said that while some people claim that "If you give you are a fool and if you take you are clever," Jewish tradition teaches us that those who give and think they are only giving are, in fact, the fools. But those who give and understand that they are also receiving, at the same time, are truly wise.

The truth is that in giving, we actually receive more than we give. And not only a slice of heaven in far-away paradise, but even in the here and now. Certainly, in our relationships--whether family, business or social--our generosity is often reciprocated and we find the other party responding in kind. But it goes beyond giving in order to get back. The very fact that we have done something good, that which is right and noble, gives us a sense of satisfaction. "The takers of the world may eat better. But the givers of the world sleep better."

This explains the unusual expression in G-d's words to Moses in our Parshah: v'yikchu li terumah--"and they shall take for me a contribution." Why take? Surely, give would be the more correct term. But because in giving we are also receiving, the word take is also appropriate. For the same reason we find that the Hebrew expression for "acts of loving kindness" ("gemilut chassadim") is always in the plural form. Because every time someone performs a single act of kindness, at least two people are benefiting--the receiver and also the giver.

I have seen people over the years who were good people, giving people, who shared and cared for others. Then, after years of being givers, they stopped. Why? They became frustrated at the lack of appreciation for all their hard work. After all they had done for others, they never even received a simple "Thank You." So they were disappointed, disillusioned, and in some instances, even bitter. They resigned from public life and from whatever community services they were involved in.

How sad that they didn't realize that even if human beings are notoriously unappreciative, G-d Almighty takes note of every act of kindness we perform. And He responds with infinite blessings in his own way. Our sages taught that if we express regret over the good that we have done, we might well forfeit all the merits we would have otherwise deserved.

So whenever you think you're a big deal because you did something for a good cause, remember; you are receiving much more than you are giving. Let us all be givers and be blessed for it.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

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