Parshas Terumah
Shemos 25:1 - 27:19

Generously Giving The Correct Gift ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study is offered in the very loving memory of Samuel and Miriam Goodman, may they rest in peace and may their memory be for good.

Some years ago several rabbium, a Jewish businessman and I founded and operated a nonprofit program. We solicited new and used gifts from the Jewish Community. The organization gave the gifts to Jewish educational institutions that needed them, sold other gifts to raise funds for Jewish education and discarded the unusables. One day we were having a yard sale. Many items were on display, including a dozen or so bikes in very rough condition. A middle-aged man seemed to be taking an interest in these bikes. A few of us noticed. We thought maybe he was a bike dealer. After a while I approached him to begin a conversation. The first words out of his mouth were, ‘It’s amazing what junk some people will give to a nonprofit organization.’

Over the years Naomi Leah and I have experienced and shared many humorous and some sad stories. I cannot count the times a business friend said to me, ‘Akiva, it’s amazing the discards people try to pawn off on nonprofits.’ We would receive calls. The giver would describe the item over the phone. Their description would sound like ice cream with chocolate syrup melting down the sides, nuts scattered generously over it with a cherry on top. We couldn’t wait to receive the contribution. Well, needless to say, it did not take us long to begin asking several questions like, How old is it? Does it have any rips, tears, holes, worn spots, stains? What color is it? Does it need cleaning? With televisions, radios, stereos, refrigerators, ranges, etc. we would ask does it work... properly...?

Even after this, on some occasions when we would arrive to receive the contribution you would think we spoke a different language. I will never forget an outstanding member of our community after refusing to accept her contribution. This professional blew big time. She said, ‘What’s the matter with you? I can’t believe this! We took this furniture out of our home. It was good enough for us! The board of your organization is going to hear about this! Leave it! I'll call the Salvation Army.’ I made the mistake of saying, ‘They won’t take it either...’

Her contribution was a particle board computer desk from Noach’s ark. It had a hole in the side the size of a football. The children had redecorated it with paints and stickers. Unfortunately I touched it and it fell over. There were other items but...

I cannot count the shoes with holes, the high heels without the heel, the pants where the seat was missing, the faded dresses, the stained shirts and blouses, pots and pans without handles, etc.

Actually we did receive many very good usable gifts but our focus today is on acceptable gifts. Many gifts were not acceptable.

Years ago I owned a very special oak desk that several friends help restore to its original condition. This took much work. It was drenched in white and blue enamel paint. We spent days of stripping, sanding, oiling, etc. This desk lived in my office at home. Years later I purchased an executive desk for the office at the printing plant. Years later the printing plant office was closed. I had two desks. My favorite was the restored oak but some friends expressed a desire for it. I gave it to them even though it was very special to me. Years later when my friends no longer required the desk they gave it back to me.

It is one thing to give away a useless piece of discarded junk and an entirely different matter to give away a priceless, warm, special treasure that happily lives in your home office.

This week’s parsha is saying only certain things belong in G-d’s house. Only certain chosen items can live in the Mishkon. Other items cannot connect or attach to what is designated as holy, as separated for the Mishkon and its purpose and its service.

Now this is a problem for some. They cannot understand the designation of ‘Holy - Separated!’ In Judaism we have many areas that our Creator has defined as Holy and commanded them to be separated. It is unfortunate when we fail to comprehend the elevated status of these items. In Judaism we take certain mundane items, things, articles, clothing, seforim, places, animals, birds, fish, people; and we separate them and bless them. These items become holy! They become sanctified to Hashem.

Our Sefer Torah is written by hand, letter by letter on parchment {animal skins, kosher animal skins} with a quill, a feather quill from a kosher bird. A sofar, a scribe, a very holy man who daily visits the mikvah for ritual cleansing, writes the Sefer Torah.

Not just anyone can write a Sefer Torah. Not just any parchment will do. Every quill is not acceptable. In the same way, every gift is not acceptable. This mentality of... ‘Because we’re giving it away it should be accepted’ is wrong! A rabbi of a struggling girls’ high school on the east coast of America refused a contribution that was in the neighborhood of one million dollars. Many would have jumped at this gift. This rabbi understood the meaning of separation. He didn’t look the other way as so many have done. He refused the gift because of the lifestyle of the contributor. He made a statement about real Judaism. Baruch Hashem! May G-d bless him and others who do the same.

We have a standard in Judaism and in Spirituality. Hashem is the architect, the general contractor, the purchasing agent, the builder and the inspector. He determines how things are done. This week’s parsha not only relates the material for the construction of the Mishkon but the exact construction details also.

At BNTI, JewishPath and our other internet sites we receive correspondence from individuals who are confused. They write their own religious beliefs! They seem to be selecting the parts of this religion that they like and parts of that religion that they like, etc. One cannot do that in Judaism or Spirituality! One cannot be a Jew and a Christian both, one cannot be a Spiritualist and a Christian.. It is NOT possible! One can only be a Jew or a Spiritualist. For some reason some individuals think they can observe Judaism as G-d the Creator intended and mix in other doctrines at the same time! WRONG! It doesn’t work like that! Some people believe they can properly observe Chanukah and Christ Mass or Pesach and Easter or Shavuos and Pentecost. WRONG! It does not work like that.

A while back a classmate signed up to take Bereishis 101. This Classmate identified himself as a Jew and as a Christian. He indicated that he was a Christian for the first forty plus years before learning of his Jewish heritage. Now he wanted to learn about Judaism. The six or seven weeks he studied with us were very difficult for him. I shared with him from Ha Torah about issues he was not ready to accept. He dropped out. He moved on. Why? He said something to the effect that he came to our institute to learn about Judaism. We were not teaching him Judaism. This was his opinion. I shared with him what Ha Torah defines as Loshon Hara {speaking evil} and Onas Devorim {causing pain with words}. He could not face the fact that Loshon Hara and Onas Devorim were sins. He could not face the facts that the New Testament writers record Jesus as speaking Loshon Hara and Onas Devorim. He could not face the fact that Jesus sinned. What is the point? This classmate was trying to omit 2 commands of Ha Torah that he did not agree with.

The point is that when the Creator states only certain materials can be used in the construction of the Holy Mishkon, that is all that can be used. When Our Creator states these are the commands of Ha Torah for the Jew and these are the commands for the Spiritualist, we cannot add to them or take away from. They are what they are!! The materials must be usable in the Mishkon. PERIOD! These materials were selected by G-d! They are the only ones that can be used! In Ha torah Things are done a certain way. Judaism and Spirituality are NOT designed or intended to be a pair of mix and match belief systems. The same G-d who said ONLY THESE ITEMS CAN BE USED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MISHKON IS THE SAME G-D WHO DEFINED JUDAISM AND SPIRITUALITY!

G-d set a standard for Jews to live by and that is what we had better do! G-d set a standard for Spiritualists to live by and that is what we had better do! If we want
G-d to live in our house then it has to have the material that G-d has prescribed. It has to be built according to G-d’s directions. G-d will not live in a house built with unsanctified materials. G-d will not live in a house constructed in a way other than He has directed. This is one of many reasons why intermarriage is SO VERY WRONG FOR THE JEW! It’s a mix and match of materials! G-d cannot sanctify the relationship! IT IS WRONG! This is why it is also wrong for homosexual relationships.

There was an individual who was employed to work on a particular project. He was the purchasing agent for this project. His responsibility was to acquire the material according to the required specifications. Years later that structure developed problems. An investigation was made. The investigator determined that the purchasing agent ordered an inferior product, a product not acceptable according to the required specifications. This man was terminated from that company and held responsible for his actions. Why is it that we can understand this, but we cannot understand G-d’s instruction?

There was another man who was a general contractor on a project. He was responsible for building a custom home. He modified a room from the original plans by just six inches without telling anyone. He saved thousands of dollars because of his modification. This modification was not discovered until the owners were moving in. Their grand piano would not properly fit in its designated area. Why? A special area, a balcony overlooking the front room lounge designed just for this very expensive and impressive piano was modified. Can you imagine the frustration? Can you imagine the problem? The custom home was perfect except for... Years went into the planning and now...

Dear reader, G-d has made a plan that He expects to be followed. Our junky, unusable discards are unacceptable. Even some of the good material we want to give may not be acceptable. G-d requires individuals with a GENEROUS HEART, who understand G-d’s intention. G-d requires individuals who will give the highest quality of the proper categories. G-d requires individuals who will not attempt any substitution or modification. Modifications by men and women will NOT WORK in G-d's plan. Giving materials G-d has not asked for will not work. Changing and disrupting plans that G-d has made will not work.

Wishing you the best,

Blessings and Peace!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written in 5760
Updated in 5764

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