Olam Chessed Yibaneh

The average cost of raising a child from newborn to age 18 in America is almost $200,000 — feeding, housing, clothing and healthcare. That is without adding in the extra costs we incur raising a holy Jewish neshamah ­ — the private tuitions, Yamim Tovim, tzedakah and other expenses of a religious Jew.

Now make a calculation; think about how much time one has enjoying his children (and I hope yours bring you only Yiddishe nachas!) compared to the classic tzaar giddul banim and how little time we actually get with them. So tell me: Why do people want to raise a mishpachah?!

OK, so I’ll tell you… There are two opposing forces that operate inside of us: The first is a desire to take, based on the love of ourselves. We are constantly thinking about ourselves and how other people or items will be useful for us. This force is at the root of many things that bring destruction to the world, such as war, robbery, envy and greed.

But there is also another force, a desire to give, to share and to help others. This is a G-dly force, as it says, “Man was created in the image of Hashem.” That is referring to the attributes of Hashem, the Supreme Creator and Baal Chessed. This is the force that drives a person to build and advance the world.

This is the force that drives people to have children, to give selflessly rather than to take.

These parshiyos constantly state that the Mishkan was to be constructed with the contributions of the Bnei Yisrael: Why not just tax everyone to give an equal amount? Chazal teach us that the Mishkan was a microcosm of the world. The passuk in Tehillim (89:3) says, “Olam chessed yibaneh” — the world is created through kindness. Since the Mishkan was designed to be a resonant image of the physical and spiritual universes (see the introduction of the Malbim in his Parashas Terumah) it had to be created through giving. Reb Chaim Volozhiner, zt”l, says that the words “Veshachanti besocham” mean that every Jew is a Mishkan in which Hashem Yisborach must dwell.

This explains why the Mishkan needed to be created specifically through the contributions of Bnei Yisrael; Hashem was asking for more from Bnei Yisrael than mere money, the passuk says “yidveno libo”: they were to give their hearts! It was created and they were created: by fostering and bringing out the selflessness within each Jew, getting then to give what they could and more, their holy, Divine nature was revealed even as they erected a Mishkan Hashem!

When we focus on giving, we focus on building the world, others, and ourselves. We are also directly bringing Hashem’s Presence, the Shechinah, down to this world and into ourselves.

Giving is G-dly. Giving is creating. Giving is building, not just others but also ourselves.