A Gift of the Heart| February 21, 2023
Dovid Hamelech didn’t want to decree that one must give; he wanted others to realize it was a privilege
“And have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity….” (Shemos 25:2)
ashi says the “inspiration for generosity” is an expression of goodwill. Moshe asked Bnei Yisrael for donations for the Mishkan with goodwill — each person was allowed to give whatever he wanted, according to the generosity of his heart. Yet we know that every Jew was also required to contribute half a shekel toward the funds of the Mishkan. Why didn’t Moshe Rabbeinu just ask everyone to give a certain amount that would cover the entire cost of the Mishkan? (Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl)
His name was Itzik, but it wasn’t. He never had a bris and the prognosis for one didn’t look good. At two years old, he lay in his crib in Schneider’s hospital, attached to tubes, his still body housing a neshamah… a beautiful, untainted neshamah. His family dubbed him Itzik, hoping and praying that one day he’d be well enough to have a proper bris and receive a proper name.
Born with both lung and kidney disease, for the first year and a half of Itzik’s life, he was stable enough able to live at home. Receiving both supplementary oxygen and overnight dialysis, he slowly reached milestones, learning how to crawl, then walk. Then, at 18 months, he suffered a stroke that rendered him incapacitated.
The answer is that Hashem doesn’t need our money — He wants our hearts. Without the hearts of the people, there can be no Mishkan. The basic funding of the Mishkan included an obligatory donation from each person, but the rest of it had to be from the heart.
The Torah writes (Vayikra 26:42): “I will remember My covenant with Yaakov and also My covenant with Yitzchak, and My covenant with Avraham will I remember…”
The commentaries ask why we find the idea of remembrance with Avraham and with Yaakov, but not with Yitzchak. They explain that Yitzchak doesn’t need a special remembrance because his ashes are next to the Altar.
However, one could easily ask: How can there be ashes from Yitzchak if he was never actually brought as a korban? The answer is that Yitzchak went to the Akeidah with joy in his heart, willing to be sacrificed for Hashem’s sake. These are his ashes, the heart that Hashem desires.
Itzik’s parents were torn between being spending time with their sick child, who was mostly unresponsive, and caring for their other children. That’s where Adina, a volunteer for Tikva Umarpeh came in. Tikva Umarpeh is an incredible organization that supports families and patients dealing with child nephrology and dialysis. When they asked Adina if she would be able to spend some time with Itzik, her response was immediate. She wanted to give.
For the rest of the summer, Adina spent several days a week, for eight hours straight, sitting at Itzik’s side and caring for his needs.
There were nurses to handle the technical aspects of his care, but Adina filled that room with love that was straight from the heart. While it may have appeared that Itzik was unaware of his surroundings, there were days when one could tell he felt their presence, as he responded to stimuli, touch, and sound. And Adina wanted him to know she was there for him.
In Divrei Hayamim I (29:17) the pasuk discusses Dovid Hamelech’s donations toward the Beis Hamikdash. Dovid Hamelech felt tremendous joy at the opportunity to donate to the Beis Hamikdash and he enlisted others to give with such joy as well. He didn’t want to decree that one must give; he wanted others to realize it was a privilege to be able to donate.
Week after week, day after day, hour after hour, Adina was at Itzik’s side. But when summer neared its end, she knew that once she started seminary, she wouldn’t be able to continue caring for Itzik for so many hours continuously. On Sunday before starting school, she came to the hospital to say goodbye to her little friend.
That Shabbos, Itzik returned his pure soul to his Maker. Yet Adina will never forget him. Her love for this child in need created an enduring bond, and he’ll forever have a space in her heart.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 832)
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