Rebecca Masinter

Terumah - Everyone Contributes, Everyone Gains

As we begin the Parshiyos of the Mishkan, let's explore a fascinating concept. To begin with, Hashem doesn’t need a Mishkan for Himself. As the Sefer HaChinuch explains, the Mishkan is for our sakes’, not Hashem’s. Further, Hashem could have given the Jews a completed Mishkan, much as He gave us the entire Har Sinai experience without our input. He didn’t have to command us to contribute towards it and build it ourselves. It seems as if we needed to build the Mishkan more than then Hashem needed to have a Mishkan. This is demonstrated with the words of the introductory passuk, וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה "And they should take for me a donation" The donations to the Mishkan were something we took, not gave. Furthermore, everyone had to contribute. The pesukim delineate 13 items for donation and the mefarshim draw parallels to the 13 shevatim who contributed. This Mishkan was a project for everyone; no exceptions. These ideas; the need for everyone to participate in the Mishkan project for our own sake, combined with the reality that those who gave were in actuality bigger recipients of good than contributors, reminded me of some parenting truths. In our homes, we often have different people with different strengths, weaknesses, and contributions to make. Just as the mishkan needed to come from all 13 shevatim, men and women, leaders and laymen, our homes are also built when everyone has a role and can contribute and be a giver in their own way. But here’s the kicker: it’s not that the Mishkan needed to come from every person, it’s that every person needed to build the Mishkan. We were fresh from generations of slavery and poverty and needed to see ourselves as people with great resources and skills. By instructing all the Jews to contribute to the Mishkan, Hashem was showing us our abilities, our wealth, and our skills. Through being givers of such magnitude, we could now recognize our worthiness and value. There are two ways we can ask for help in our homes. One is focused on our need, “I need help. I’m overwhelmed. Can you do x, y, or z?” That is not wrong and is sometimes necessary. But think for a moment of the same help being given, but with a whole different attitude. What if it's not about me, it’s about my kids? It’s important for our children to know they have worth, resources, skills, and talents that contribute to our families. What if I ask my child for help not because I desperately need help, but because my child needs to contribute? When we need help in the moment we tend to ask the one who is most capable or easily available, but in truth, it's a good idea for us to think proactively about what each child can contribute and how we can make that happen in the best times in the best way. A bit of planning allows each child to contribute to the family, not only to help the family, but for their own sakes. Everyone needs to be a giver, and the lessons from the Mishkan are so profound: everyone has what to contribute and by doing so, we all receive far, far more than we give.