Walk into any synagogue around the world and it’s always the same. No, not the odor, nor the décor. They vary depending on the cultural roots of the cholent maker and interior decorator, I’m referring to the commemorative inscriptions affixed to the wall lauding the generosity of passed patrons and contributors.

Heard the one about the bright spark in the Israeli Ministry of Defense who persuaded 1000 wealthy Diaspora Jews to donate towards the acquisition of the latest Stealth bomber, only for the plane to crash on takeoff, weighed down by all the dedications? It’s not a joke, sometimes it seems the only way you can persuade a Jew to support a worthy cause is to promise him his name up in lights. You wonder if at the entrance to the the Holy Temple in Jerusalem there was a large sign advertising the gift of “Herod and Family.”

But is it wrong?

Sometimes it seems the only way you can persuade a Jew to support a worthy cause is to promise him his name up in lightsOne wonders: were appropriate recognition not paid, would people be as willing to commit to the cause? It is a valid and time-honored fund raising technique, and if one extra person is persuaded to kick in his hard earned, whether because the publicity his friend received inspires him to join in, or he’s just straight out seeking "kovod," honor, does it not still add up to the community’s ultimate benefit?

The problem is not that we honor those who contribute money; after all, there are a number of less worthy prospects on which they could choose to dash their cash and they deserve our gratitude for their decision to spread the largess in a communal way. The problem is when the philanthropists are the only folks to receive mention in dispatches.

We read this week how the Tabernacle building project was brought to a successful conclusion. Moses had labored mightily to complete the job up to spec, on time and on budget. The Jewish people had individually and collectively contributed sufficient quantities of building materials to outfit the House of the L-rd in a manner befitting its intended Occupant. At the dedication ceremony Moses blessed the participants and expressed his wish that in recognition for their efforts, G‑d should favor them, and that the presence of G‑d should forever rest on their handiwork.

Interestingly, the classic commentators understand this blessing to be directed specifically to the team of artisans and volunteers who had worked on the project, rather than to the patrons and donors.

Not to say that the benefactors didn’t deserve a blessing; they had been thanked and praised upon first making their contribution. However, the choice at this juncture to direct attention and tribute to the workers was Moses’ way of subtly reinforcing a most important message: Giving is grand, we love you for it, G‑d loves you and it will forever rebound to your credit. But if you want to be blessed forever and a day, guarantee your efforts will bear fruit eternally by rolling up your sleeves, pitching in to the job at hand, and give of your time, your heart, your mind, skills and soul, and in the most immediate and personal of ways help build an edifice to G‑d.