Kenneth Cohen


Parshat Teruma is all about generosity and the obligation to give charity. The subject of the Parsha was the need to raise funds needed for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable Temple of the desert.

It is interesting to note that certain donations were obligatory. There were collectors appointed to demand of every Jew that they pay their half shekel dues, used for for Temple maintenance.

The Talmud even speaks of instances where the court would go to an individual, who was not doing his share. They knew the abilities of the various members of the community, and they knew when a particular member was being selfish and miserly.
The construction of the Mishkan may have been the most successful fund raising campaign in the history of the Jewish people. At one point, they were told to stop giving, because they had all that they needed.

The Torah asks that those of a generous heart, should contribute towards the Mishkan. One should never give charity begrudgingly. The Keli Yakar points out that the contributor should feel that he is gaining much more than the recipient.
All that we possess is a gift from Hashem. He expects of us that we happily share a portion of that gift with the less fortunate. For some, giving comes easy, and the obligation of giving charity, is an easy Mitzva for them to fulfill. But for others, their insecurities and fears, makes it difficult for them to part with their money. This presents them with a greater challenge, and a greater reward.

Parshat Teruma is the beginning of our history, when we learned how to love giving. We must always be on the giving side, and if this is done in the right way, we will never be the ones in need of support.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at