Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Parshas Terumah is all about generosity and giving. This trait translates practically into our most important relationships. Rav Elya Lopian, zt”l, introduced a fundamental lifetime concept: to strengthen one’s love for another person, one should give to that person. This act of giving fosters more feelings of love towards the individuals one is giving to. This is actually a saying of Chazal in Masechtas Derech Eretz where it states “Harotze lidaveik b’ahavas chaveiro, hevei nosei v’nosei b’tovaso – If someone wants to generate within himself a stronger love for another person, let him occupy himself in doing good things for that person.”

To the American mind, this advice sounds very peculiar. In a culture that lives and breathes “What’s in it for me,” and, “When is it my turn,” the notion that love is all about giving sounds difficult to comprehend. It actually is counter-intuitive! Rav Elya therefore explains that this absolute rule of understanding humanity is based upon the Talmudic axiom that, “Adam korov eitzel atzmo – A man is close to himself.” In other words, everyone has a love affair with themselves. We are very into the big three; Me, Myself, and I. Therefore, when we give repetitively to another person, they become an extension of ourselves, and therefore we love them as well.

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The best way to illustrate the veracity of this concept is by something amazing that I witnessed many years ago. I attended a bar mitzvah of a severely impaired special needs child. The bar mitzvah boy couldn’t say a pshetl, he was oblivious to the guests, and was even unable to smile for the camera. But the parents were beaming with such nachas and love for this child, more than I’ve witnessed before or since. At first glance, this is perplexing in the extreme. What was there to love? Pity and compassion, yes. But love? But the answer is all in the giving! These parents, over the thirteen years of caring for this child, gave to him so much that their love was truly ferocious and unique. This is the true meaning of ishto k’gufo, that one’s wife is like his own body because; if he continuously gives to her, she becomes an extension of himself, and vice versa.

This is the sad reality of why in many cases the relationship between a chosson and a kallah starts going south after they get married. During their courtship and their engagement, they were ablaze with giving. This created an atmosphere of love. After the chupah however, they sadly change tracks and shift into the taking mode – and that is when the love starts to dissipate.

I hope when reading this, we take this to heart and ask ourselves, how much effort do I dedicate to giving to my spouse, whether it is in the allocation of money or sometimes even more important, the allocation of time, attention, warmth and affection. If I truly love my children, do I give to them? Remember, the best presents you can give to your children is more of your presence. What about parents? Love for parents is not quid pro quo. Rather it is in the expression of giving. Do you love your shul? The answer is not found in, “What did your shul do for you lately?” but in the contrary, “What have you done lately for your shul?”

And here is a final thought. Sometimes one can attend a shul or a shiur for many years and then suddenly leave for something more convenient. The rabbi or the maggid shiur is brokenhearted. But the attendee is unmoved. Why is that? It is really very simple. The rabbi or the teacher invested years of giving to this person and is therefore very attached to him or her. On the other hand, the participant has had years of taking. This does not promote love and loyalty. This is a dynamic we should strongly consider in our relationships with our benefactors.

May it be the will of Hashem that we merit strengthening our trait of giving and in that zechus we should be blessed with much love, long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

 

Transcribed and edited by Shelley Zeitlin.

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Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss is now stepping-up his speaking engagement and scholar-in-residence weekends. To book him for a speaking circuit or evening in your community, please call Rabbi Daniel Green at 908.783.7321. To receive a weekly cassette tape or CD directly from Rabbi Weiss, please write to Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, P.O. Box 658 Lakewood, New Jersey 08701 or contact him at [email protected]. Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at Rabbi Rotberg’s Shul in Toms River, Wednesday nights at 9:15 or join via zoom by going to zoom.com and entering meeting code 7189163100, or more simply by going to ZoomDaf.com. Rabbi Weiss’s Daf Yomi shiurim can be heard LIVE at 2 Valley Stream, Lakewood, New Jersey Sunday thru Thursday at 8 pm and motzoi Shabbos at 9:15 pm, or by joining on the zoom using the same method as the Chumash shiur. It is also accessible on Kol Haloshon at (718) 906-6400, and on Torahanytime.com. To Sponsor a Shiur, contact Rav Weiss by texting or calling 718.916.3100 or by email [email protected]. Shelley Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.