Hashem instructed the Jewish people to bring donations for the building of the Mishkan, the place for the service of Hashem in the desert.
Rashi explains, that Hashem told the Jewish people to not just give donations, but rather that these donations should be only for the sake of Hashem.
Many have noted that Hashem was exhorting the Jewish people to give donations for the building of the Mishkan for only proper intentions, for G-d’s sake, and not for any ulterior motives. Many times people do acts of kindness and are generous for selfish purposes- I want to flaunt my wealth, I want people to think highly of me in order to get a job, social connections, etc.
The problem is- wasn’t the point of giving money towards the building of the Mishkan in order for the Mishkan to be built!? If so, why does Hashem only want donations that are done for the proper intentions and NOT want donations of improper intentions?
Like I recently heard a famous radio host say- “I don’t care about someone’s intentions, I only care about people doing good.” If someone is doing a lot of good in his life, isn’t that good enough? Why is Hashem insistent on our intentions being proper?
Hashem does not need us for there to be good in the world. Hashem does not need us to give donations to build a Mishkan for G-d himself, who created the entire world! Hashem does not need us to give a needy person money. Rather, Hashem wants us to give charity, to do good deeds in order that we should become better people.
If the purpose is to become a better person, then it is understandable why intentions matter. If someone does a generous action for selfish purposes he is making himself more selfish. Not only is he not accomplishing that which Hashem intended he is actually worse off than if he had done nothing.
Where is this radio personality mistaken? He thinks that in order for there to be goodness in the world it is dependant on people and if people don’t do good then the world will be a miserable place.
In truth, Hashem runs the world and will take care of the ‘bigger picture.’ Our job is to do what we are supposed to do in order to develop ourselves into better people. People that not only do good, but ARE good.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer