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Vayak'hel-Pekudei/Vayikra

Just Do It - Give

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

"Every man whose heart uplifted him came, and everyone whose spirit inspired him to generosity, brought the offering of the Lord for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments." (Exodus 35:21)

This verse divides those who were inspired to donate to the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) into two distinct categories: those "whose heart uplifted him" and those "whose spirit inspired him." Many commentators endeavor to explain the difference between these two categories of people.

The Netziv explains that these categories refer to two different motivations for giving. The first category refers to people who are motivated to give to good causes with ulterior motives. They give to avoid being embarrassed by others or for fear of divine punishment for not giving. The second category is those that give because their intellect and good spirited nature inspires them to give.

Clearly the second motivation to give is a significantly higher level than the first motivation. Nonetheless, it is the view of our Sages that we should not discard or put down completely those who give with ulterior motives. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that the very act of giving changes the person giving and in time motivates the person to give willingly with a generous spirit. Giving is also something that takes practice and repetition to perfect.

Additionally, the Netziv points out that although one’s initial motivation to give may not be the purest, once one has decided to give, one proceeds to give with a pure heart. This is why a few verses later the Torah tells us: "Every man and woman whose heart inspired them to generosity to bring for all the work that the Lord had commanded to make, through Moses, the children of Israel brought a gift for the Lord." (Exodus 35:21) Their initial intentions may have been impure but when they gave, they gave for the sake of the Lord.

In time we come to realize that we are not giving at all. We are receiving the greatest gift, the gift of giving.

Sun, October 20 2019 21 Tishrei 5780