Category Archives: Parshas Terumah

Parshas Terumah: How Much Money Do You Really Have?

Parshas Terumah

How Much Money Do You Really Have?

“Speak to Bnei Yisroel and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.” (Shmos 25:2)

One of the Rothchilds was once asked how much wealth he had. He read from a ledger that had the list of his many donations to tzedakah and told the man the total of his “wealth”. His secretary thought he had taken out the wrong ledger and not the one that stated his wealth. Rothchild told him that it was true that he owned mines and property, …. However, that wealth was not guaranteed. The mines could be flooded, the properties could be confiscated, war could disrupt his business and render all his securities worthless. Only the money that he gave to tzedakah was really his and could never be taken from him. (Ethics From Sinai as quoted in Love Your Neighbor by Zelig Pliskin)

Hashem told Moshe to ask Bnei Yisroel for donations to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.

The commentators are bothered by the wording of the pasuk (Shmos 25:2). Why did Hashem say to Moshe to tell Bnei Yisroel,” וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖יְ”, that they should take for Me their donations, rather than saying that they should give Me?

The Malbim explains that Hashem wanted the donations to be voluntary, stemming from the feelings of the heart. Had Hashem told Bnei Yisroel to give donations, that would have indicated that it was a mitzvah and obligation to do so. Therefore, the pasuk says, “that they should take for Me”. Representatives should be appointed to accept all donations from whomever desired to give.

HaKsav VeHaKabalah explains that when you are giving something to a distinguished person it makes you feel so good, it is as if you are receiving that item. HaKsav VeHaKabalah proves his point. When our forefather Avraham prepared food for his guests (the 3 angels who appeared as travelers), he said, “ואקחה פת לחם”, let me take some bread for you, instead of saying let me give you. Also, when Eliezer gave Rivkah the jewelry, he said, “ויקח האיש נזם זהב ושני צמידים”, he took jewelry, instead of saying that he gave (see Talmud Kiddushin, 42, for another proof).

The Beis Halevi (quoted in Talelei Oros by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin) has a different explanation. He says that the only money that is truly ours is the money that we give to tzedakah. The money that we keep for ourselves is not really ours. We are simply holding it, for the time being. The Talmud (Bava Basra 11A) says that during the reign of King Munbaz (Rashi and Rabbeinu Gershom say that he was the son of Queen Helana, a descendant of the Chashmonim kings), there was a terrible famine. The king gave away his treasures and the treasures of his ancestors, distributing the money to the poor. His brothers and his father’s household joined together against him to protest his actions. They said to him, “Our ancestors stored up money in their treasuries and added to the treasures of their ancestors, and you are liberally distributing it all to the poor.” King Munbaz replied,” Not so. My ancestors stored up below, whereas I am storing above… My ancestors stored up treasures in a place where the human hand can reach, and so their treasures could have been robbed, whereas I am storing up treasures in a place where the human hand cannot reach, and so they are secure, … My ancestors stored up something that does not generate profit, as money sitting in a treasury does not increase, whereas I am storing up something that generates profit… My ancestors stored up treasures of money, whereas I am storing up treasures of souls… My ancestors stored up for others, for their sons and heirs, when they themselves would pass from this world, whereas I am storing up for myself… My ancestors stored up for this world, whereas I am storing up for the World-to-Come.”

There was a man who lived in the land of Israel who owned a very fertile field. Every year the field yielded 1,000 measures of wheat and every year he gave one tenth of that as ma’aser to the Leviim. Before he passed away, he exhorted his son to be heedful of giving ma’aser. He said that would guarantee the bountiful production of the field. The man passed away and his son inherited the field. At first, he gave ma’aser regularly. Then he started giving less and less ma’aser. Each following year that he gave less ma’aser, the field produced less. Eventually, the field only produced 100 shares instead of the original 1,000! (Midrash Tanchuma Parshas Re’eh, cited in Our Sages Showed the Way by Yocheved Segal).

The Sforno says (Devarim 14:22) when you give the Levi,ma’aser, a tenth of your crops of the fields and orchards as well as that of your livestock, you will actually increase their numbers This is what our chachamim, our sages, meant when they said in the Talmud (Shabbos 119) עשר בשביל שתתעשר, “Give the tithes so that you will be enriched.”

Who is truly wealthy?! Our wealth does not belong to us. We are only guardians of it. The only wealth that truly belongs to us is the money that we give to tzedakah or use for mitzvos.


Parshas Terumah: Hold the Poles and Soar to the Highest Heights!

Parshas Terumah

Hold the Poles and Soar to the Highest Heights!


“The poles shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.” (Shmos 25:15)

Last year I visited Eretz Yisroel. I spoke with a rav who shared a fascinating, personal story. When he first got married, he was planning to learn in Kollel for a number of years. This was at a time when learning in Kollel was not a common practice. His father, knowing that he would need a means of support, offered to support him for five years even though it was not a common practice in those days. True to his word, the father supported the son for five years. The father died very shortly thereafter. The father had survived a heart attack right before he began supporting his son in Kollel and had a fatal heart attack right after ending his support. The son was told that it was likely that his father had been granted an extra 5 years of life in the merit of having supported his son’s Torah learning, during that time.   

The Alshich (Shmos 25:8) says that Hashem wanted the Jewish people to build a Mishkan in order that Hashem’s Holy Presence could dwell amongst them. The Mishkan was only a symbol for the true resting place of the Holy Presence, namely in the heart of every Jew. The Ba’al HaTurim (Shmos 25:2) says that we can make our heart a Mishkan for Hashem’s Holy Presence by devoting our heart to Torah and Hashem’s service. (The Midrash Says, on Shmos)

Learning Torah and doing mitzvos is our raison d’etre, our reason for living.

The Shulchan Aroch (Yorah Deah, Siman 246) states that every Jew is obligated to learn; be he rich or poor, healthy or suffering, young or old, rich or poverty stricken. All are obligated to set aside time for learning, both day and night. The Talmud (Megillah 10B) says that the Aron, the Holy Ark, miraculously took up no space in the Holy of Holies in the Bais Hamikdash. I believe that Rav Herschel Welcher said that one thing this teaches us is that when we set aside time to learn Torah, it does not take time out of our day. In the merit of our learning Torah, Hashem helps us to accomplish the other things we need to, more quickly than we would have otherwise been able to. Thus, our Torah learning doesn’t take away our time as Hashem facilitates our accomplishing more, in the same time.

Nowadays, even one who does not understand Hebrew can still learn Torah. There are many Torah classes given in English both live and on the internet (such as on There are also many Torah books translated from Hebrew.

At times, there are extenuating circumstances which make it difficult for one to learn as much Torah as he would want to. The Chofetz Chaim zt”l  (Shem Olam, perek 14) says, if that would be the case, then one should support others who are learning. That will help him acquire his share in Torah and it will be considered as if himself had learned Torah.

It says in our parsha (Shmos 25:15) that the poles that were “used to carry the Aron were to remain and never be removed”.  When the Jews were camped and not travelling, the poles were not needed to carry the Aron. Yet, it was forbidden to remove them. The Chofetz Chaim zt”l (Shem Olam, 1:17) says this teaches us that the poles which were used to transport the Aron acquired the holiness of the Aron. It merited to be together with the Aron forever, even when it was no longer needed. Similarly, says the Chofetz Chaim zt”l, when you support someone who is learning Torah, you will merit to be alongside him in a very special place, in Olam Haba, the World to Come (quoted in Be’eru Chofetz Chaim on the Torah by Rabbi Yisroel Yosef Braunstein). Not only that, but when you support someone who is learning Torah, you will also understand the depth of learning just like the Torah learner, in the yeshiva shel malah, the Heavenly yeshiva.

When the Leviim carried the Aron by its poles, it appeared that they were carrying the Aron. The Talmud (Sotah 35A) says that actually, the Aron carried its bearers. Rabbi Nosson Adler zt”l says, this is similar to two people who make a Yissachar-Zevulun pact. In that pact, the “Zevulun” works and shares his salary with the “Yissachar” who devotes his time to learning Torah. Outwardly, it seems as if the “Zevulun” is supporting the “Yissachar”. That is not so. In actuality, the Torah of the “Yissachar” supports the “Zevulun”, just as the Aron carried its bearers. (Talelei Oros by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin)

We are in this world for the sole purpose of learning Torah, doing mitzvos, and perfecting our character.

It is a tremendous merit to support those who are occupied with learning Torah.

We also personally gain great benefits, by doing so.