Eternal Wealth

Yael Eckstein  |  March 12, 2024

IFCJ Staff giving box of matzah to elderly woman

From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. — Exodus 35:5

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. This week’s Torah portion is Vayakhel, which means “assembled,” from Exodus 35:1—38:20.

A prominent rabbi who lived in the seventeenth century was once ordered by the German-Roman Kaiser to present an accounting of everything that he owned. The rabbi submitted his financial statement, but after the Kaiser reviewed it, he accused the rabbi of lying.  The Kaiser reminded the rabbi that he had personally given him a castle that alone was more valuable than the statement handed in by the Rabbi. 

The rabbi explained that he had been asked to list everything that he owned. But since the castle was a gift from the Kaiser which could be taken away at any moment, it wasn’t actually his. The Kaiser wasn’t satisfied.

He held up the list angrily and said, “Then what is recorded on this list?” The rabbi answered, “It’s a list of the charity I have given. Only what I have given away is truly mine. Even the Kaiser cannot take that away.”

Eternal Wealth

Right at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, we read of the “offering to the LORD,” consisting of the materials used to build the Tabernacle and everything in it. The Hebrew word for “offering” here is terumah. The Hebrew root of terumah is rum, which literally means “raised high” or “lofty.” A terumah, in the literal Hebrew meaning, is something that is elevated or raised to a higher level.

And this is exactly what happens to our wealth when we make an offering for God’s purposes. Like the rabbi explained in that story, when we make an offering to God, we aren’t sacrificing or losing something. In fact, the charity that we give is more ours than anything else we have.

We all know the old adage about money, “you can’t take it with you.” But when we elevate the material gifts that God has given us, when we offer them to Him for His holy purposes, they become a terumah, wealth that is eternal. And no one can take that away from us!

Your Turn:

The Christian Bible echoes this concept when Jesus taught his followers to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). How might you invest in eternal wealth today?

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