FedTalks Parshash Terumoh- Transcript

A rather curious feature accompanies the central mitzvah in this week’s parsha, which is the construction and the building of the mishkan, the Ribono shel Olam insists that there is a quality and attribute that must attach itself both to the donation and indeed the construction of the mishkan for it to be valid and that is the quality, the intention that is called lishmo, for its own sake. No ulterior motive may be present in either the donation or indeed the construction of the mishkan, and the question is why is this so necessary? All other mitzvos, as we know, the Gomorah informs us: “L’oilom ya’ase kodom baTorah uvemitzvos afilu shelo lishmo”- that we are not always able to do the right actions for the most noble of motives, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. We have to perform and do the right things and even if we don’t manage to have the most sublime of intentions, the most noble of motives, even if there may be a shelo lishmo, an ulterior motive attached to the performance of our learning of Torah and the performance of mitzvos, but that is okay. As long as in the long run we aspire, we endeavour, we hope that eventually we will get to the state of mind which is lishmo. And the key question here is why is the construction, the donation of the mishkon different?

In order to understand this very briefly, we need to think a little bit about what the entire project was about. We are told that it was there “veshochanti besoichom”, so that Hashem himself as it were, would reside amongst klal Yisroel. The mishkan would be the vehicle that would allow the presence of Hashem to be perceived and felt in their midst and in their lives. And this really begins to give us the answer, because the way that Hashem has set up the world is such that one has the ability and the capacity to go around blindly unaware of the reality, of Hashem. That is our call. That is our choice. That is what it means to be human. We have choices, choices of perception, and we are free to cultivate those perspectives or indeed to deny. That is entirely up to us and now it becomes clear because that quality, that elusive quality, called Shechinah, that the Ribono shel Olam resides with and the companies us in everything that we do will only be perceived if we wish it. Because if we don’t, if we choose to ignore, if we choose to deny, if we choose to be arrogant, if we choose to be egocentric, then it is all too easy to think that we are the masters of our own destiny and therefore, says Hashem: If you truly wish and only if you truly wish that I should be present in your lives, if there is that real desire, lishmo, to be able to perceive my presence, then and only then will the construction of the mishkon serve its purpose.

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