PARSHAT TERUMAH: How To Invest

For the eternal merit to the soul of my grandfather Yitzchak Aziz Ben Mashallah Hacohen A”H

Hashem told Moshe: “Speak to Bnei Yisrael and they shall take for Me a contribution (for the construction of the Mishkan)” (Shemot 25:2). The Rabbis note that we would expect the pasuk to say, “They shall give to Me a donation” – not take for Me.

The Bais Halevi asserts that the Torah is teaching us that when a person contributes funds for the sake of Heaven, he is really taking from Hashem because all of his monetary assets belong to Him. Hashem declares, “Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold” (Chagai 2:8). Therefore Dovid Hamelech averred, (Divrei Hayamim 1, 29:14) “Everything is from You, and from Your hand have we given to You.” If we use the money which Hashem has entrusted to us for a holy purpose, it is considered as if we gave our own money. Only through the act of giving back to Hashem do we obtain the money for ourselves. In other words, “our” money becomes truly ours retroactively only when we give it away.

Rabbi Shlomo Caplan explains that let us take a closer look at the explanation of the Bais Halevi. Why does Hashem give the money that we donate to us, instead of just taking it back when we decide to return it to Him? Perhaps the answer is that if all the silver and gold belong to Hashem, we cannot anticipate any reward for giving Tzedaka or for other spiritual expenditures. We are merely returning Hashem’s money to Him. Therefore Hashem gives us this money retroactively so that it should be considered as if we gave our own money to the worthy causes.

The Gemara in Bava Batra (11a) relates that during a famine King Munbaz gave away all the money in his family’s treasury to poor people. The family members reproached him for having spent enormous sums of money which had accumulated over a few generations. He responded, “My forefathers stored [their wealth] for others, while I have stored it for myself… My forefathers stored in this world and I stored in Olam Haba.” Rav Don Yitzchak Abarbanel was the treasurer of the Spanish monarchy during the fifteenth century. Some of the Rav’s enemies accused him of embezzling funds from the treasury. The king called in the Rav and asked him to provide a detailed account of all of his personal assets in order to ascertain the source of his wealth. He returned with a report that totaled a few thousand ducats. The king was enraged, as the sum reported by the Rav was much less than all the wages and gifts that he had been awarded by the king. However, Rav Don Yitzchak replied, “Your Majesty did not ask me how much money I had in my possession. Your Majesty asked me what was the total of my personal assets. The amount that I reported to Your Majesty was the amount that I had donated to charity and other spiritual endeavors. That money is truly mine and no one can take it away from me.” In Tehillim (49:18) it states, “Do not fear when a man becomes rich, when he increases the glory of his house. For upon his death he will not take all of it, his glory will not descend after him.” Rav Yaakov Galinsky wonders if we are to infer that he will indeed take some of his wealth with him. He cites the Malbim who states that indeed he will. He will take with him all the money that he spent on Mitzvot. That money he will keep forever. But his money that was his glory, that will remain for his heirs. Since all our worldly assets belong to Hashem and we are merely guardians, it behooves us to act very responsibly with them. If we commit to using these assets for causes, Hashem will be glad to share them with us. Invest wisely!

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