DON’T TARNISH YOUR MITZVAH
“Speak to the children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.”(Shmos 25:2)
Rashi is bothered by the apparent extra words “for Me”, in the pasuk. Why else would the Jews have donated to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) if not for the sake of Hashem? Imagine if we were given the opportunity to sponsor part of the building of the Holy Temple- wouldn’t we give wholeheartedly; for the sake of Hashem? Furthermore, building the Mishkan was an atonement for the Sin of the Golden Calf and the Jews were probably overjoyed that they had this opportunity for atonement. Of course, their intentions would be for Hashem- to wipe away their sin. Then why were the seemingly extra words of “for Me” needed?
In order to answer this, it is important to understand that the quality of a mitzvah is based upon three factors:
- The action of the mitzvah.
- The way it is performed (e.g. quickly or begrudgingly).
- The intention while performing the mitzvah.
The Evil Inclination tries to prevent us from performing mitzvos. If he isn’t successful, he tries to tarnish the quality of the mitzvah by affecting the way we do it or our intentions when doing it.
It is precisely this point that Rashi is emphasizing. The Jews needed that extra reminder to donate for the sake of Hashem, to strengthen their resolve against the Evil Inclination who would try to corrupt their pure intentions by creating ulterior motives for their actions. Perhaps the Evil Inclination could convince some Jews to donate for the sake of receiving honor or prestige or some other personal motivation that would detract from the purity and quality of the mitzvah.
We must be on guard at all times against our worst enemy, the Evil Inclination, who is always looking for ways to stop us from doing mitzvos altogether or from doing them in the best possible (and most qualitative) way.
Don’t let the Evil Inclination beat you!
Based on a dvar Torah by Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz zt”l,
Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim