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Parshas Terumah

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



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