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Parshas Terumah

But Do You Want To

A family member is coming in from out of town. You're tied up, so you call a friend to do you a favor and pick him up from the airport. But you can tell immediately from the silence at the other end of the line that your friend is not available either. The timing isn’t good.

"Hey, no problem," you say. "I'll ask someone else."

"No need, I think I can work it out," he says in a less than convincing tone. "I just need to cancel this one meeting and then ask someone to cover my carpool for me. I should be able to do my shopping later when I get back. Let me just check with my wife to see that she doesn't need any of the food until later."

"Please," you say. "I don't need you to make yourself crazy for me. I can easily ask someone else."

But your friend insists. By the time you hang up the phone you’re left with this overwhelming sense that you were a burden on his life and that you’ve inconvenienced and disturbed him. Even though he's doing you a favor, you can tell he's not interested in doing it. You wish that you just wouldn’t have asked him in the first place.

A Unique Capital Campaign

In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Moshe announces a capital campaign to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, to house Hashem’s Presence in the desert. But this campaign was not like any other. To be able to donate or contribute to it, one actually had to qualify. And it wasn’t the bottom line on a bank statement that Moshe was looking for; it was the desire of the heart. Only the Jews who really wanted to could participate.

Hashem tells Moshe to only take contributions from someone who can be described as “asher yidvenu lebo,” whose heart motivates and inspires him.

Rashi explains this to mean someone who has a “ratzon tov,” a good desire to be part of the campaign. It is as if Hashem declared: “I don’t need your gold, or your silver or your copper to build myself a home. I really can do this myself without any of your help. What I do want is the relationship with you. I want you to want to be part of building my home. If you really want it, then I welcome your gift. But if it’s a burden for you, if you’d really rather not part with your possessions, please don’t do me any favors. You can keep your money for yourself. I only want your gift if you truly want to be a part of this.”

Sure we give to our children, but how?

We spend our lives giving to our children. We make them lunches and carpool them all around town when they're young; we work on their homework and discuss their problems as they get older, and support them emotionally and financially for as long as we can.

Our children are very perceptive. They are not only aware of if we are giving to them, but how we are giving to them. They can tell if we are giving to them because we feel we have to or if we really want to. They know because we usually do not do a good job of hiding it, if while we are driving them to practice we have a sense that this really is a disruption to our day. They can easily tell while we are helping them with their homework if we’d really rather be doing something else.

There is a world of difference between a parent who gives but with a sense of burden and a parent who gives because he really loves his child and has a desire to be involved. It may be nothing more than a frustrated sigh or a roll of the eyes, but the message is clear: I'm not excited or interested in doing this.

Hashem didn't want His house to be built with the donations of those who felt they had to. He only wanted "nediv lev," those who were inspired, those who wanted to contribute. So do our children. They don't want to feel like a burden. They want to have the sense that we want to help them. You're going to do it anyway. You're spending the time already. Do it with a smile. Show your child that your heart is in it. Caring for our kids and their needs is not a distraction or just something we have to do – they are a precious part of our lives.

It's all about our heart and motivation. It's the type of home that Hashem desires to dwell in, and it's the type of home that our children desire to dwell in.

Have a great Shabbos.

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