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By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
February 16, 2015

From the moment it begins beating until the moment it stops, the human heart works tirelessly. In an average lifetime, the heart beats more than two and a half billion times, without ever pausing to rest. Like a pumping machine, the heart provides the power needed for life.  Chazal tell us that the heart also plays an important part in our spiritual life, but how so? This weeks Parsha we read about the contributions made to the building of the Mishkan. Hashem tells Moshe to take donations for the Mishkan,, – Me’et Kol Ish Asher Yidvenu Libo…. From all those whose hearts uplift them to donate to the building. According to the Ben Ish Chai (Aderet Eliyahu) the Torah seems to go out of its way to emphasise two types of giving.  The first is a normal donation, without any life or enthusiasm, the higher state of giving is one in which the donators heart is uplifted, he/she is excited at the fact that they are performing one of G-d’s commandments and are happy to give. Rashi commenting on the words Veyikchu li, comments Li Lishmi – that whenever a person performs a mitzvah and in this instant the mitzvah of Tsedaka, they should have in mind that they are performing one of Hashem’s commandments. This helps to elevate the mitzvah, and encourage and give life to the persons actions. It is for this reason that some have the custom before performing Mitsvot of saying the Leshem Yichud prayer, which prepares a person mentally for the fact that he/she is doing a mitzvah.

The Ben Ish Chai, notes that normally when someone collects for a charity, they ask for money, the do not ask for some people to give wood, some to give gold, others to give material. So why therefore in the case of the Mishkan, did Hashem request from all the people to donate different artefacts. He asked for gold, silver, copper, material. Surely it would have been better to ask everyone for money – gold, and with this money, the people in charge could have gone out and bought the necessary articles? The Ben Ish Chai explains that Hashem knows the heart of the people. There are some that love to give gold, but others prefer to give lesser materials. For some gold is the ultimate possession, for others it may be silver. Either way, Hashem wishes that we donate full heartedly and therefore the command was given, that everyone should donate different things, but the main thing is that they should donate with a complete heart.

In Parshat Tetsaveh we are told “And you should speak to all those wise at heart”. Chochmah – wisdom – as we all know, comes from the brain and not from the heart. One wonders then why the Pasuk says – wise at heart? The heart is the place for feelings and not wisdom. The place for wisdom is the head. The Torah is implying that the work must be done with heart. Just being wise is not enough. ” Hashem requires us to do things with heart.” One can be very smart and know how to do things just right, but if it’s not done with love, then it is not acceptable. We should do the Mitzvos with feeling, because we love to, because we feel like it, and not just because we must do them. The brain is like the engine which has all the parts to make it work. The heart is like the fuel that needs to be ignited to get the engine to work. Doing Mitzvos should be done with joy and happiness. On Simhat Torah, we read Perashat Vezot Habberachah and immediately after, we start reading the beginning of the Torah. The Torah ends with the letter “lamed” (YisraeL) – and begins with the letter “Bet” (Beresheet). These two letters form the word, “Lev,” or heart in Hebrew. Indeed, the heart is the very essence of the Torah – “Hashem wants one’s heart” (Sanhedrin 106b); “For Hashem seeks all hearts” (Divrei Hayamim 1, 28). The heart is the main thing, and it is opened through the study of Torah: “He shall open our hearts – with His Torah.”

Let us commit to more Torah study, let us show Hashem our love, and through this commitment may our hearts shine through the true light of Torah and holiness bestowed on us.

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