Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Terumah
To dedicate this lesson

Teruma: What is True?


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Adar 3 5780
She never showed her sadness or disappointment, though I’m sure she felt it. It had been almost 10 years since her husband has passed away, & she missed him terribly, as they had been partners in every sense of the word. But what truly upset her were the innuendos, the frequent whispering she noticed from people that once were her friends. It was the way they looked at her, with disdain, or even disgust, as if she’d committed some kind of crime or personally insulted them. That was hard to take, but she carried on, at least publicly, as if nothing was wrong.

When her husband was alive, they were the most beloved couple in town. He had made a fortune in real estate, & was legendary for his generosity. Not only did he support every worthy institution, but anyone in need knew that they could come to him & be assured of assistance. In fact, although he was officially retired from business, he kept his office so that one & all could see him throughout the day. His door was always open.

But then he died, & suddenly the contributions stopped cold in their tracks. His widow must surely have inherited a huge estate, everyone reasoned, but the door was closed & the faucet turned off. No matter how many pleas were made for help, it was to no avail. While she listened closely & nodded her head to hundreds of supplicants, in the end she did nothing.

And so, little by little, she was shunned. People could not hide their resentment & wanted nothing to do with her. Even in shul, they moved to seats far away from her. Only the little children flocked to her for the candies she gave out & wished her a Shabbat Shalom. Still, she did not react with rancor or anger; she kept her dignity.

And then, some years later, she died as well. The rabbi was required to officiate, but no one else came to the funeral. As she had no children, there was also no shiva. But when the Shamas, in an act of Chesed, came to her house to clean it, he was shocked at what he discovered. There, on a long table, were hundreds of envelopes filled with cash, with no return address, neatly arranged in boxes by months & addressed to dozens and dozens of individuals & organizations. The Shamas recognized many of the names & decided to call several of them.

"Did you ever receive anonymous donations?" he asked.

The answer was affirmative, "Yes; every month, like clockwork, they arrived, with no clue as to where they came from."

A few weeks later, the Shamas gathered the townsfolk & revealed the truth to them. They were stunned, & ashamed of their behavior towards this righteous soul. They had made assumptions, and assumed the worst. Now, they would have the almost insurmountable challenge of doing Teshuva.

The word "T’ruma" contains the words "true" & "mah" (what). Only Hashem knows what is true, & who is truly a tzadik. As for us, we can only judge l’kaf z’chut, with the benefit of the doubt, & with ayin tova, a view to the good.
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