Giving That Is Taking
Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19 )
One of the main misconceptions people have about Judaism is that they feel they are doing God a favor by doing mitzvot. However, since God is Infinite and complete, there isn't anything we can do for the Divine.
This week the Torah teaches us that what would seem like the most altruistic gift of all time -- the giving of our assets to build God's home -- is not really giving at all. It is an opportunity to open ourselves to a relationship with the Divine. "Build for Me a temple and I will dwell amongst you." Perhaps that is why the giving of our resources to build the temple is referred to as "taking" - "Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take for Me a portion…" (Exodus, 25:2).
Every time we do a mitzvah, we create an eternal connection between ourselves and the Divine. Doing something for God is really doing something for ourselves. We can become a little bit kinder and a little more understanding. The attitude we need to nurture is that everything in life is one big opportunity to connect with God. He is the ultimate giver in the world, and we can choose to be His conduit or partner -- the medium of connection between this world and the Divine. That's one of the reasons why the Torah is called a "tree of life:" it teaches us how to plant seeds that can blossom for eternity.