Parshat Terumah: The more charity we give, the more we’ll want holiness
Based on the writings of Rav Natan of Breslov
Shemot 25:2: “Take my tithe from every man whose heart prompts him”
Rav Natan teaches us an amazing thing around this week’s parsha, namely that when we give charity, that in turn increases our desire for holiness and kedusha.
How does this work?
Rav Natan explains that the: “desire for money is idolatry. It brings troubles and bitterness into earning a living.”
We all have some experience of this from our own lives. As soon as our income, or source of money dries up, we get plunged into huge anxiety and worries about ‘what will be’.
What’s going to be with paying the mortgage? What’s going to be with paying the kids’ tuition? What’s going to be with whether we’ll be able to afford to go away for Pesach this year, or not?
Even people who have a lot of money just want more
How does all this worry and anxiety about money square with our belief that God is in the world, and is running the show 100%? Rav Natan tells us: it doesn’t! And that’s why desiring money is so bad. He says:
“Even those people who are wealthy still want more money.
All this stems from a denial of Divine desire and providence, which is an aspect of the destruction of idolatry – for all forms of idolatry are embedded in money.”
Worshiping money, instead of worshiping God
When the Israelites got pulled into worshiping the Golden Calf in the desert by the Erev Rav within their midst, what was really happening was that they got pulled into worshiping money, instead of God.
To put this another way, when God is out of the picture, and when we’re not really connecting our livelihood back to the Creator of the world, we start to think that money, and not Hashem, is what’s paying the bills, keeping a roof over our heads and providing us with our needs.
And that idea is one of the most ‘anti-emuna’ beliefs a person can have.
So, how can we fix this problem?
Give more charity
Rav Natan tells us we can rectify this lust for money, and rectify the sin we did by creating and worshiping the Golden Calf, by giving charity to genuinely worthy individuals, and deserving poor people.
The world considers precious metals like gold and silver to be beautiful – and when they are put to use in the service of Hashem, and in endeavors that build the world and genuinely help other others, then their true inner beauty really can shine through.
But sadly all too often we see how people run after money, and trample on so many mitzvahs in the process. Like the person who feels he has to work on Shabbat…or the parent who feels that sending their kids to Jewish school is just too expensive…or the multi-millionaire who refuses to help their poor relative out, even when the bailiffs come knocking at the door.
Rav Natan tells us: “We see that the most distancing from God happens when people are excessively involved with the precious metals of gold and silver, in the form of money, and the acquisition of goods.”
But there is a solution for this problem!
All we need to do is to connect to the true Tzaddikim of the generation, and to give charity in a ‘holy’ way that isn’t at all connected to personal gain or honor. If we do this, Rav Natan assures us:
“Then, we will be raised up from all the various spiritual forms of darkness.”