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Mitzvot L'Shem Shamayim

By: SFW Students & Alumna
Alexis Levy (SFW '08, '09)


             This week’s parsha begins with the well-known pasuk:

“Daber el Bnei Yisrael v’yikchu li truma me’et kol ish asher yidvenu libo tikchu et trumati”

“Speak to Bnei Yisrael and take for me a truma; from every man whose heart motivates him take my truma”


Rashi comments on the phrase, “vayikchu li truma”, “li lishmi”. This means that the truma should be given for Hashem’s sake, Lishmo. However, if that is the case then the second part of the pasuk seems redundant as it is only an elucidation of the first section.

The Beit HaLevi gives an incredible explanation of the whole pasuk which clarifies the separate meanings of each part of the pasuk. The Zohar says that “me’et kol ish” is talking about the erev rav and therefore inferring that the truma was also taken from them.

The Gemara in Bava Batra discusses how the kavana one has whilst fulfilling a mitzva affects whether the mitzva is counted as a mitzva. This outcome is dependant on the person’s belief in Hashem. If someone who does not believe in Hashem, a kofer, does chesed, then the chesed he does is a sin because he is only doing it to make himself greater in other people’s eyes. He is not doing it l’shem mitzva because he doesn’t believe in reward and punishment. However, a Jew who believes in Hashem, even if he is doing chesed because he thinks it is a nice thing to do and not l’shem mitzva, he still gets the merit for it and it is considered a mitzva gemura. Even if the kofer does the chesed because he thinks it is a good thing to do, and not to raise his public image, it is still considered as a sin.

Using this Gemara, the Beit HaLevi interprets the pasuk in the following way:

“Daber el Bnei Yisrael v’yikchu li truma”

This applies to every Jew, who, even though his intentions may not be perfect, still has his truma accepted. We accept from any believer who gives.

The pasuk continues:

“me’et kol ish asher yidvenu libo tikchu et trumati”

                This is referring to the erev rav. We only take from these people if yidvenu libo, his intentions are purely l’shem Shamayim. If he is giving for any other reason, even if he just wants to do chesed, then we do not accept the truma from him.

                There is an important lesson that we can learn from the giving of the truma. Even though the truma we give, and this is true with regards to all the mitzvot, is still accepted even though our intentions are not purely l’shem Shamayim, there is no arguing the fact that the best way of doing the mitzvot is according to Rashi, lishmo, l’shem Hashem.

                Rashi writes a similar comment on a later pasuk in the parsha:

“V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham”

                On this pasuk, Rashi says that again the word “li” emphasises the need for the mikdash to be built l’shem Shamayim.

If we can dedicate the mitzvot we do, and indeed our whole lives, truly l’shem Shamayim, then we can merit the second part of this pasuk, v’shachanti b’tocham. Hashem’s Presence will once again rest amongst us and in this way we can return to our destiny as a mamlechet kohanim v’goy kadosh, serving Hashem in His Mikdash, Bimhera B’yameinu.




Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Truma