Giving to God

Yael Eckstein  |  February 19, 2024

Yael Eckstein holds hand of Yuliana, an elderly Holocaust survivor from Ukraine
(Photo: Mihail Calarasan)

The LORD said to Moses, “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 25:1-2

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.

When my kids were small, they would sometimes ask if they could “help” me with cooking or cleaning. Now, of course I didn’t need their help and I knew that they would likely make these tasks harder for me, but I always accepted their offers anyway. I knew that they would get so much out of doing these things with me—they would learn new skills, get used to pitching in, and feel good about their accomplishments. I let them help me because I understood how much it would benefit them.

In this week’s Torah portion we read that God commanded Moses to, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.” At first glance, this directive seems straightforward enough. However, when literally translated from the original Hebrew, the verse reads, “Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering.” The word “take” seems oddly out of place in a verse about contributing to the construction of God’s sanctuary.

The Jewish sages explained that this anomaly teaches us that when we give to God’s purposes, we aren’t really giving at all. Rather, when we give to God, we become the benefactors of our actions.

Giving to God

The truth is that there is nothing that we can give to God because everything is already His. As the psalmist wrote, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). However, God allows us to “help” Him because He knows how much it will benefit us.

By contributing to His purposes, we become privileged to be His partner in perfecting the world. When we give sacrificially, we improve our character and demonstrate our faith in God. And when God sees our generosity and commitment to Him, He blesses us greatly with spiritual reward and often enough with material gains as well.

One of the hardest things for people to do is to give up something that they value such as their time or their money. But when we understand that we have so much more to gain then we could ever lose, we can see giving to God for what it truly is—an opportunity to receive His abundant blessings.

Your Turn:

How might you give of your time, talents, and resources to God’s purposes today? As we learn from Genesis 12:3, bless and be blessed!