The Parsha in Chesed – Parshat Teruma
Like others, my organization receives donations of varying sizes from a diverse audience. One day, my secretary informed me of a larger than usual contribution from a new donor, named Gavriel. I took the man’s contact in order to call and thank him.
After the pleasantries, Gavriel asked me if he could come visit our office on the following Sunday. As he lives about an hour and a half from Bet Shemesh, we found a mutually convenient time to meet and set the appointment.
After a short tour, Gavriel and I sat down to talk. I told him that I was impressed that he wished to visit and made the 3 hour round trip, after having already donated to the cause.
Gavriel told me that he is an investment strategist and that he had received a “good tip” that we were a very sound organization. After donating, he now wanted to see first-hand how we operated, as this was his practice with all the companies in which he invested.
Before I could remind him that we were non-profit, not NASDQ, he explained that in life, just as one has a financial portfolio, so too they must build a “spiritual” one. That portfolio contains his charitable “investments”, such as acts of kindness and socially beneficial projects as well as the good deeds that occupy his time.
As he was planning a long-term “investor” relationship, he had no choice but to do his research on us as well.
The “man of the world” had just taught the rabbi a lesson in charting a full spiritual life within the material world.
After giving it much thought, I firmly believe that this idea comes from Parshat Teruma.
Teruma begins with the command to launch a major project. Moshe is tasked to enjoin the new nation to contribute a wide array of materials. These materials, including precious gems and metals, wood and cloth, were to be communal property. Some for the construction of the Mishkan, the mobile House of G-d, while the rest for other vital needs.
The Jewish people, who after years of slavery had only recently acquired these material possessions, gave with a warm heart and an open hand. Each person donated the item that “spoke to them”. For some it was the precious metals while others found fulfillment in giving the raw building materials. Each person, as the commentators relate, gave with the best intentions from the best place in their heart.
The response to the appeal resulted in the greatest fundraising campaign in the history of the world.
So much so that Moshe had to say at one point, “enough, we don’t need anymore”.
I would surmise that this was the first and last time in history that a “fundraiser” uttered such words.
This group, who suffered the affliction of slavery and then the joy of freedom, realized that there is a formula to live a wonderful life and create the perfect society.
Although their windfall came in the blink of an eye, they were prepared to share of it for the greater good. Be it building a Mishkan, the ultimate House of God or for helping those less fortunate.
Our ancestors in the desert paved the way for us to living a balanced life.
Most of us have been blessed with the basic resources to cover our expenses and feed our families. Others have been fortunate to realize amazing success in their financial endeavors.
Our existence is based on parallel tracks as the human being is made of the physical as well as the spiritual. No matter how you relate or whether you call it soul, karma, conscience, etc. both sides do exist.
Do we pay enough attention to our spiritual/conscience/karmic well-being and development as we to the material?
A seasoned investor would be thrilled to answer a call from his stockbroker after hours with a new opportunity in a foreign market. Would that same person relish a call from me offering the opportunity to help someone in crisis or to fund a new school or youth program?
Financial achievements can make a person live great. What they choose to do with that success can make them a great person.
A person’s entire life will be summed up in a newspaper obituary or short speech at their funeral.
What do we want written as our life’s summary?
Is it the number of homes, cars and boats that we might have amassed? Or would we rather wish to be extoled as a loving parent or grandparent or friend and model citizen? Those are the things that build your investment in making this world a better place.
The “Nidivei lev” (generous of heart) in Teruma understood that we are given wealth in order to enrich. We must “enrich” the lives of those around us as well as taking care of ourselves.
They say “you can’t take your money with you”. That’s true. There is no Amazon or Walmart in the hereafter. Your financial portfolio can’t help you any longer.
What you created with that money, time or talent, however, will be a “portfolio” whose value is everlasting.