Parshas Terumah
{Exodus 25:1 - 27:19}

Generously Giving The Correct Gift ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Samuel and Mrs. Miriam Goodman, may they rest in peace.

Stories Of Gifts
Some years ago several rabbium, my dear friend Danny Kravitz {our treasurer at JewishPath} and I founded and operated a non profit program. We solicited new and used gifts from our community. The organization gave the gifts to Jewish educational institutions that needed them, sold others 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 non profit organization."

Over the years Danny and I have experienced and shared many humorous and some sad stories. I cannot count the times Danny has said to me, "Akiva, it's amazing the discards people try to pawn off on non profits." 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 categories that Hashem has said are holy and that Hashem has 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 sofer, 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 many would have jumped at. 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. 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 JewishPath we receive much correspondence from people 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! One cannot be a Jew and a Christian both. It is NOT possible! One can only be a Jew or a Christian. For some reason people think they can observe Judaism as G-d the Creator intended and believe in Jesus at the same time! WRONG! It doesn't work like that! Some people believe they can properly observe Chanukah and Christmas or Pesach and Easter or Shavuos and Pentecost. WRONG!

The point is, ONLY CERTAIN MATERIALS are usable in the Mishkon. PERIOD! These materials were selected by G-d! They are the only ones that can be used! In Judaism things are done a certain way. Judaism is NOT one of these flexible mix and match kinds of religions! 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!

G-d set a standard for Jews 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!

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 discards are unusable and unacceptable. G-d requires men with a GENEROUS HEART, men who understand G-d's intention. Men who will give the highest quality of the proper categories. Men 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. Remember the parsha from several weeks ago, "Going With G-d's Natural Flow." G-d has G-d needs women with the exact same qualifications and moral fiber.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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