The word “terumah” (contribution) is mentioned three times in the beginning of Parshat Terumah, prompting the commentaries to explore the significance of the type of donations made to build the mishkan.
Rashi explains that there were three distinct donations: two which were required and given equally by everyone, known as the machatzit hashekel, and one which was voluntary, giving as much as their “heart inspires” them. The significant worth of each individual contribution is highlighted by the midrash which teaches that when Moshe conveyed to Hashem that the Jewish people could build the mishkan, God responded that even each individual has the potential to build it. What emerges is two kinds of giving: one, giving on a national level where everyone has the same portion in the mishkan. The second, where each individual gives uniquely. The Lubavitcher Rebbe interprets the different materials of the mishkan as signifying different kinds of Jews: tzaddikim, ba’alei teshuva and reshaim. The mishkan only works if it includes everyone. The mishkan was a great unifier, including even those whose positions were disagreeable. Israel today has become a center for the Jewish people, in which all Jews should have a portion.
As Israel goes to the polls (again!) this week, it is worth remembering that it is a zchut to vote in medinat Yisrael and to make our contributions to building this special country through unity along with diversity. Shabbat Shalom.