פרשת תרומה

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts

This is what is meant by the verse (Isaiah 45:18), “For thus said the Lord, the Creator of heaven who alone is God, who formed the earth and made it, who alone established it — He did not create it a waste, but formed it for habitation,

In the weekly reading of Yitro, when the Israelites heard the Ten Commandments, it appeared easy to do them all because the commandments seemed to depended only on a person’s actions. When they heard all the subsequent rules in the reading of Mishpatim and grasped that God desire His holiness and devotion be manifest in the essence of the Israelites down to the very objects they owned, to the point that they would be unable to do anything contrary to the Law [as has been explained in the section on Mishpatim “Now these are the ordinances…”], they cried out within “How is it possible for a person to purify his heart in this way??”
So God gives the people the advice “bring me gifts…gold, silver, and copper.” The Zohar (Exodus 148a) teaches that these three types correspond to the foundations of a person. It is describing one who gives over all of his strength and support to the Divine and allows God to rule over him according to His will. If so, even his possessions will be good and upright and no harm will come from them!

The Zohar (Numbers 121b) expands this idea. On the verse (Psalms 32:2), “Happy the man whom the Lord does not hold guilty, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” this is one whose spirit/life force inclines only towards the Divine will. If he were to question how it is possible to purify his heart to such an extent, the response comes from the verse in Isaiah (ibid.) He did not create [the earth] a waste. God does not desire for a person to have fear in his heart.
This is how to understand the following verse (Isaiah 45:19),

I did not say to the stock of Jacob, ‘Seek Me out in a wasteland – I the Lord, who foretell reliably, who announce what is true.’

I did not say to the stock of Jacob, ‘Seek Me out in a wasteland – To this, the previous verse responds He…formed it for habitation לשבת, meaning that a person should have a settled mind ישוב הדעת.
I the Lord, who foretell reliably, Who announce what is true – Even though God desires a person to be righteous and blemish-free in all his ways, and to uphold the entirety of the commandments and the Law, nevertheless He refers to Himself as the Lord, who foretell reliably, who announce what is true, meaning He has uprightness and a generous heart towards a person, and gives him advice on how to come to all the words of the Torah with ease.


Imagine what it must have been like for the Israelites. They just experienced the revelation at Sinai, and as magnificent as it was, it did not ask SO much of them. Just do these ten essential things and everything will be fine. A week later though they are saddled under a mountain of rules and strictures that govern every aspect of their lives: courts, loans, damages, food. They doubted they could ever do it. It was so much so fast it made them want to scream.

Here is where the Ishbitzer steps in. He says “I know it’s a lot. It’s so much that you’re crying on the inside and afraid and wondering if you should just give up.

Yes. Just give up.

Stop fighting so much. Let your will drop away and live for something more. This work is not supposed to be hard. It only becomes crushing when we are always pushing against it. Trust that God wants you to be settled and at peace, and also believes you are capable of so much. More than you realize is possible. He doesn’t put us in a world that is too much for us, where every facet of our being isn’t singing out and we can’t give all of ourselves in abundance. Maybe the more we let go, the more we say yes to the world and just give of ourselves without always asking why or how much, the easier it all gets.


Link to original Hebrew text


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