5. 'Take from yourselves an offering for the Lord; every generous hearted person shall bring it, [namely] the Lord's offering: gold, silver, and copper …. 20. The entire community departed from before Moses 21. Every man whose heart uplifted him came, and everyone whose spirit inspired him to generosity brought the offering of the Lord for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22. The men came with the women; every generous hearted person brought bracelets and earrings and rings and buckles, all kinds of golden objects, and every man who waved a waving of gold to the Lord. :
A fundraiser’s dream: Moshe tells the people to stop giving [39:5]
And they spoke to Moses, saying: "The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which the Lord had commanded to do … So Moses commanded, and they announced in the camp, saying: "Let no man or woman do any more work for the offering for the Holy." So the people stopped bringing.
Amidst these donations, we note a fascinating paradox: On the one hand, there is a halachic obligation to build the mishkan. Codified by Rambam and others, v’asu li mikdash constitutes one of the 613 mitzvos even as its materials were to be donated (voluntarily). Isn’t that irreconcilable? Consider that if no one gave blue-wool, gold or onyx, there would be no mishkan covering, kohen-gadol clothing, ark, menorah, or breast-plate, etc.. Without a commanded, how can there be a commandment?
A second point: Not all donations are indeed voluntary. Rashi explains [30:15]
There were three offerings: The first [represents] the offering [of silver] for the sockets [of the Mishkan], for he [Moses] counted them when they commenced with the donations for the Mishkan. Everyone gave a half-shekel, … The sockets were made from this, …(Exod. 38:27). The second [offering mentioned was also [collected] through counting, … after the Mishkan was erected (Num. 1:1). everyone gave a half-shekel, … for the purchase of communal sacrifices for every year. The rich and poor were equal in them …The third one [offering] is the offering for the Mishkan, as it is said: “Whoever set aside an offering of silver or copper” (Exod. 35:24). In this [offering] not everyone gave the same amount, but each one [gave] according to what his heart inspired him to give.
A fascinating Kli Yakar [Shemos, 25:1] discerns that in those mandatory gifts, one cannot possibly self-accentuate; no one may claim ownership of a particular socket or a specific sacrificial korban-tamid leg. By virtue of its indistinguishable nature, these donations smack of great modesty. Thus Hashem’s name is davka attached to these gifts [cf. Shemos, 25:2 for the details].
And for the really-voluntary donations? The Torah coins a unique phrase; one that appears throughout Tanach only 5 times – and exclusively in the context of gifting to the Mishkan/mikdash. Consider these selections: [35:22,29]
The men came with the women; every generous hearted person נדיב לבbrought bracelets and earrings and rings and buckles, …. Every man and woman whose heart inspired them נדב לבם to generosity to bring for all the work
The phrase is nedivus leiv, which Rashi explains to mean:
Since his heart moved him to generosity, he is called “generous-hearted” (נְדִיב לֵב).
Precisely where the potential for selfish giving manifests itself, the Torah reminds us that we must strive for the inner world. We must let pure hearts prevail!
A curious blend of mandate and will appears to be Hashem’s recipe for the construction of His home. We must wonder - why?
For a moment, let us veer to another famous and monumental - not so voluntary acceptance [Shabbos 88a].
They stood at the foot of the mountain. From this we may learn that Hashem placed the Mountain upon them like a barrel and said to them. If you accept the Torah - it will be good, and if not, Here shall be burial place... Rava stated Nevertheless, they reaffirmed their acceptance in the days odf Achashveirosh as it states "The Jews upheld and accepted" - they upheld that which they had previously accepted
Maharal (among so many others) is bothered by the glaring question: but what of our voluntary and glorious na’ashe v’nishma response that the Talmud [so movingly teaches evoked a tremendous celestial response? Maharal lays down a foundational idea:
… the primary idea here is to teach that if you do not accept the Torah, here shall be your burial place to state that the Torah is necessary to accept … and it is obvious that items which are necessary are more significant, for it is impossible and there can be no existence without it … and had He not done this they would have said that the Torah is not vital for the world – they jjust accepted willingly and had they not accepted it , then it would have been necessary
In other words, the exalted na’ashe v’nishma volunteerism that Bnei Yisrael displayed, ultimately falls short in accurately depicting the Torah’s essential nature. Torah is many things to many people. Its mitvos beautify life and give immense pleasure. Its study challenges and uplifts. Its all encompassing nature is incredibly challenging. Yet in the final analysis, all this is tangential, descriptive and non-essential.
Hashem needed to transmit to its possessor, Bnei Yisrael, that the Torah is not a life-enhancer - a vitamin supplement for the soul; Torah is life itself; without it, the Jew cannot live a meaningful existence, period. Thus, even after the Jews accepted the Torah voluntarily, Hashem had to relay that in essence, you had no choice – for were you to reject the Torah, whither life?
One more mini-digression and the convergence becomes clear: A famous midrash reminds us that as the soul is about to descend, he cries desperately to God that he does not want to go and then when his time is up, the soul once again protests – but this time, he/she does not want to leave this world! In other words, man is forced to enter the world – but longingly clings to every moment of this-worldly existence.
In the creation of Torah, Mishkan and Man, we thus find a recurring theme of the blend between desire and mandate. And perhaps this is precisely the point – that somehow the message for us simple Jews is that we must preserve them in parallel.
For in the voluntary is found gusto and heart – the nedivus leiv that can move women to give up their jewelry and men to give up their gold; the na’aseh v’nishma spirit that is essential in providing the energy necessary for the long road ahead.
And yet, it is obligation [think marriage, conversion] that makes the message real, that creates ultimate identity. As someone once coyly remarked – I will always take out the garbage, so long as you don’t ask me to. To the extent that I am bound, I am committed and living a life of ultimate purpose. And I compelled to keep on striving. Ultimate commitment obliterates complacency, for I have to make it work - better and better.
May we lead inspired mishkan/mikdash lives until we merit to see it speedily in our days.
1. Three times in our parsha, once in Terumah  and once in Divrei hayamim 2;29:31
2. It almost seems as if nedivus leiv was a formal requirement for those mishkan donations. Cf. Kli Yakar, Shemos 25:2, s.v. u’miterumah for a fascinating possibility
אבל העיקר הפירוש אשר נראה פשוט, כי *כפה* *עליהם* ההר כגיגית לומר 'אם לא תקבלו התורה, שם תהא קבורתכם' (שבת פח.) לומר כי התורה היא הכרחית לקבלה, ואם לא יקבלו התורה - שמה תהא קבורתם. וידוע, כי דברים המוכרחים להיות הם חשובים במעלה יותר, שאי אפשר מבלעדם, ואין קיום לנמצא בזולתם. לכך כפה עליהם ההר כגיגית להודיע מעלת התורה, שאי אפשר מבלעדה כלל. ואם לא היה עושה זה, היו אומרים כי התורה אין הכרחית לעולם, רק ברצון קבלו עליהם, ואם לא קבלו - לא היו צריכין. לכך היה השם יתברך מפתה ומרצה אותם קודם, וכאשר ראו שעיקר נתינתה על ידי כפיית ההר, היו מוכרחים לומר כי נתינתה מוכרחת, שאין להם קיום זולתה. ולכך הביא שם (שבת פח.) על המאמר זה "ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר יום הששי" (בראשית א, לא), ה"א יתרה למה לי, מלמד שהתנה הקב"ה עם מעשה בראשית, שאם לא יקבלו ישראל את התורה יחזור העולם לתוהו ובוהו. וזה המאמר בא לפרש למה כפה עליהם הר כגיגית, לומר כי נתינת התורה היא מוכרחת