This coming Shabbos’ Torah portion talks about the beginning of the collection of objects for the construction of the Tabernacle (the Mishkan) and some of the vessels and curtain constructions within.
Hashem requests the Jews: “take for me offerings”. Weird wording. It should say Hashem asked us to give to Him – not take for Him. However, it is worded this way to teach us that charity and donating for Hashem’s sake is not giving, it is taking back the benefit of becoming a donor.
The word for offerings/gifts here is Teruma. The root of the word is Ram (l’harim) which means to make higher, to uplift. There are two things here at play – one is the actual motion we do when we give the object, we specify it for donation by lifting it up. That is why, when some people do the mitzvah of Challah, after taking off that pinch of dough, they lift the dough and say, “this is Challah”, to do the consecration of L’harim, of uplifting it. Just as we are doing the motions, so too, we have to realize is the second thing in play – -that on a deeper level, taking of some of our material blessings and donating it, we uplift it – we give the entire materialism a higher calling than just mere possessions.
I have relatives who met under very unusual circumstances. They met in the Ukraine. She really wasn’t supposed to be there. He was – as he was running a school there that he had started. But really she shouldn’t have been there at all, except that G-d wanted her there for these two young people meeting would bring them together into a marriage that is amazing. Therefore, Hashem made sure the usual channels that would bring a Megillah to that city fell short that year. And, through a series of goofs and escapades, she ended up put on a plane to Ukraine with a Megillah to deliver. At some point, between delivering the Megillah and returning home, he bought her a bottle of Pepsi to drink. The sentimental girl didn’t drink her Pepsi. She brought it home as a souvenir. And kept it and kept it…and still keeps it on display. Now, if I would have snuck in and stolen that Pepsi away, no other bottle or can of Pepsi that I would buy for her as replacement would ever do the trick of appeasing her. You see, this particular bottle of Pepsi, didn’t have any secret ingredients. It was plain, old, Russian Pepsi. But it had been “uplifted”, it had been “transformed” from mere Pepsi into the beverage of romance and promise.
Things, mere physical objects, can become transformed. Sometimes through emotions. And, more astoundingly, through spirituality. Nu, what are you waiting for – you now have the Midas Touch – touch things with spirituality and give it a glow. Transform your day, your home, your life into something uplifting.
and a p.s. — more food for thought — did you know that dance can be a way “le’harim es atzmecha” to uplift yourself…hmmm…who knew that jig could raise you that high?!