The very first Jewish appeal was launched this week. Our parshah deals with the first fundraising campaign in history. Moses initiated it to build the sanctuary in the desert.
The holy Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin said Jewish tradition teaches us that those who give and think they are only giving are fools. But those who give and understand that they are also receiving at the same time are truly wise.
The truth is that in giving, we actually receive more than we give. Certainly, in our relationships – whether family, business or social – our generosity is often reciprocated, and we find the other party responding in kind. But it goes beyond giving in order to get back. The very fact that we have done good, that which is right and noble, gives us a sense of satisfaction.
This explains the unusual expression in our G d’s words to Moses in our parshah, “and they shall take for me a contribution” (Exodus 25:2).
Why take? Surely, give would be the more correct term. But because in giving we are also receiving, the word take is also appropriate. For the same reason we find the Hebrew expression for “acts of loving kindness,” or “gemilut chassadim,” is always in the plural form. Because every time someone performs a single act of kindness, at least two people are benefiting – the receiver and the giver.
G d Almighty takes note of every act of kindness we perform. And He responds with infinite blessings in his own way.
The rabbinate is one of the helping professions. One is called upon to serve as well in a pastoral role – visiting, helping, counseling and comforting. While it can be very taxing and often emotionally draining, it is without doubt a source of deep satisfaction; particularly when one is able to make a real difference in people’s lives.
There are many people I have been privileged to help in one way or another. One feels a very profound sense of purpose knowing that you were able to help someone through a crisis, or lift their spirits in a hospital, or give them hope and solace in a time of loss. Sure, I was the giver. But I received so much back in return. My life was rendered so much more meaningful, more worthy, for having helped a person in need.
So, whenever you think you’re a big deal because you did something for a good cause, remember; you are receiving much more than you are giving. Let us all be givers and be blessed for it.
Rabbi Mendy Freedman co-directs the Lyndhurst Chabad Family Center with his wife, Chaya, serving the Jewish community in the Hillcrest area.