Giving to God According to Our Heart

Yael Eckstein  |  January 31, 2022

young girl holding red heart in open hands

Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. — Exodus 25:2

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Terumah, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 25:1–27:19.

A few months ago, I was walking with my daughter in the Old City in Jerusalem. As we were coming down the stairs from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount came into view. Seeing the ancient retaining walls of the Temple, I sighed. “One day, God will rebuild His Temple here,” I said to my daughter.

After a long pause as we stood on the landing of the stairs and took in the view of the Western Wall plaza below and the mosque on top where the Temple had been, my daughter asked me, hesitating, “Why does God need a Temple?”

To be honest, my first reaction was surprise. We Jews pray multiple times every day for God to rebuild His Temple in Jerusalem. And now my own daughter is asking why we even need a Temple? But before I answered, I thought about it. She was asking a good question. After all, God is everywhere. Why does He need a Temple?

Then the answer came to me. “God doesn’t need a Temple,” I replied. “We do.”

Giving to God According to Our Heart

In this week’s Torah portion, God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel to collect all the materials necessary to build the Tabernacle. This portable Temple was used during the 40 years in the desert and for many years after they entered the land of Israel. God’s instructions were clear: “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”

The Bible then goes on to list all the materials that were to be collected — gold, silver, bronze, various kinds of wool, and many other raw materials that were necessary for the Tabernacle’s construction. But God didn’t tell Moses to simply go to the tribes and demand these materials from whoever had them. God said to receive them “from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”

In other words, even though God commanded us to build Him a Temple, He wanted each individual to choose to give. If someone chose to give more, or not at all, that was their decision. Each person gave to God according to their heart. Paul echoed this in his instructions to the church at Corinth in the Christian Bible, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

God doesn’t need a Temple. God told us to build the Temple as a way to express our love for Him — giving to Him according to our heart.

Your Turn:

Show your love for God by pledging a gift to Him today.