Among the concepts discussed in this week’s Torah reading are the mitzvos to tithe and to give charity. Interpreting one of the verses in this week’s Torah reading, our Sages comment: “Tithe in order to become wealthy.” בשביל, translated as “in order to” can also be translated as “through the path.” By tithing, a person creates a path through which Divine influence flows to him. For showing generosity to others is a proper medium to elicit Divine generosity and blessing.

The rationale behind this approach is reflected in our Rabbis’ explanation of the verse: “Give him and do not feel bad in your heart,” that one should not feel bad when giving charity, because what he is giving is merely what he himself has been given by G‑d.

We are not due anything. Everything we have is a gift, generously granted to us from Above. Taking the concept further, it can be said that included in what G‑d gives a person is a portion that is intended to be given to others. He gives us in order that we will give to those less fortunate.

When G‑d sees that a person is generous with the money entrusted to him for others and gives them without qualms, He increases the money He entrusts to the giver, providing him with the opportunity to add to the gifts he grants to the poor.

Indeed, the above verse can be interpreted “Do not give, because you feel bad for the other person.” For a person should not give solely out of an emotional response to the other person’s need. Instead, he should give out of the recognition that this is the reason he was granted the wealth and the success at the outset: so that he could share it with others and spread the goodness that G‑d has granted him.

The emphasis on the intellectual appreciation of the need to give adds another dimension to the idea that tithing leads to wealth. Our Sages teach: “Who is a wealthy man? One who is happy in his portion.” Often, there are people who have been granted success, but have not been granted the peace of mind to enjoy it. They are on a constant treadmill, always feeling the need to gain and accumulate more.

A giver steps off the treadmill. When he looks at others and makes a commitment to help them, the focus of his world shifts. Instead, of being only “I-oriented,” his outlook broadens. When that happens, he gains an entirely new perspective on what he himself has been given. He is able to step back and appreciate how great are the blessings that he has been granted. That is true wealth.

This wealth should also be shared with the poor. Perhaps the most crippling dimension of poverty is the emotional and psychological constraints it creates. To whatever degree possible, a giver should try to help the recipient in this area as well, enabling him to see beyond his need and appreciate G‑d’s kindness.

Looking to the Horizon

This week’s Torah reading also contains the commandments to build a Temple in Jerusalem. It describes the pagan practice of offering sacrifices in many places and explains that the Jews should not worship G‑d in such a manner. Instead, they should construct for Him a Temple and offer their sacrifices there.

The commentaries offer two explanations for this command:

a) that the Jews have a centralized place for worship;

b) that G‑d have a dwelling place in this world, a place where His presence would be revealed and manifest.

Both of these motifs are significant. One of the fundamental principles of Judaism is that our relationship with G‑d is expressed as a people, a nation with a shared identity, not merely a group of individuals. True, the Divine service of every individual is important, but G‑d also looks at the nation as a whole. To emphasize this point, sacrifices may be offered only in one place.

But over and beyond the service of the Jewish people, the Temple exists as — to quote this week’s Torah portion — “the place which G‑d chose to cause His name to rest.” This is the fundamental purpose of the Temple: for there to be a place where G‑d’s presence will be visibly perceptible.

The lack of such a place is the true hardship of exile and the motivation for our hope and expectation for Mashiach’s coming.