Giving is Like Taking
By Rabbi Label Lam
G-d spoke to Moshe saying; "Speak to the Children of Israel and let them
take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart motivates him, shall you
take My portion. (Shemos 25:1-2)
Take for Me...: For Me, for My sake. (Rashi)
Is this a commandment, to “take for Me a portion”? Why then is it to be
taken from“every man whose heart motivates him”? Why are the Jewish People
referred to as the Children of Israel? Then there’s the famous question. Why
is the verb “take”employed instead of giving in this instance?
There’s a condition that I came to label in a parenting course called “The
Citizen Kane Syndrome”. What’s it about? Well, it’s based on the story line
of a 1941 movie. The play begins with an old time movie reel, a sort of post
mortem biography in praise of an extraordinarily successful and a wealthy
man known as Citizen Kane. After giving an overview of the magnitude of his
estate and the reach of his power, the camera zooms in on the last moments
of his life. There he lay breathing his last and as he expires he utters,
“Rosebud” and then a crystal filled with fake snowflakes falls from his limp
hand and shatters on the floor.
The next segment of the story begins with a few curious reporters who are
determined to find out who was this mysterious woman in his life named
Rosebud. The film then flashes retrospectively to a young boy and his mom
living in a little shanty of a home. The poverty of their existence and the
struggle of this single mom to provide even basics is abundantly clear.
In one critical scene the boy is out on his sled enjoying the thick snow,
when two men show up and quietly explain something to the mother. She
reluctantly grants them permission to something. Then the two men approach
the boy and in the struggle for control they take his sled and throw it
forcefully to the ground.
Apparently his rich uncle had died leaving him the sole heir and controller
of a huge industry. The mother could not resist the temptation to send him,
even against his will, to have the opportunity for a “better life”.
Narrative follows him through the vicissitudes of his business and personal
life. As time goes on his financial success and influence expand beyond
imagination, while his private life is a series of broken relationships and
failures. In the end he dies a lonely man with a snowy glass ball clutched
tightly in his hand and “Rosebud” on his lips.
In the final scene these two fatigued reporters standing there in the
mansion, after having thoroughly reviewed all his life’s papers and
artifacts presumably, express their frustration and despair at ever finding
out about Rosebud. The camera is now trained on group of workers who are
busy throwing items of little value from the estate into a large bon fire.
As the reporter had just finished stating, “Well, I guess we’ll never know
who that woman Rosebud really was!” a sled is tossed into the inferno and
there painted is bright red letters is the word “Rosebud”. As the sled burns
the letters curdle and are consumed. The credits roll!
What’s the lesson? Here’s a guy that “made it” to the top but inwardly there
was a little child that just wanted to sled. Sometimes you see an MD license
plate with a bumper sticker, “I’d rather be fishing!” or something like
that. When the Jewish People were in Egypt they were presumably not masters
of the destiny. Even after the giving of the Torah some part relapsed into
making a golden calf. They spent years doing what they did not want to do.
They even became corrupted by the gold and silver afterwards, a sort of
sudden wealth syndrome. Now, when it comes to making a sanctuary for HASHEM
Moshe is told to appeal to the essential child of Israel to reach that heart
of generosity that feels giving is like taking!
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.