The Parsha of Teruma begins with the command for every Jew to contribute toward the construction of the Temple in the desert. In the course of this command the Torah mentions the word, “Teruma –contribution” three times.

Our Sages tell us that each mention of Teruma refers to a specific donation. The first Teruma was used for the actual construction of the Temple and it was up to the generosity of the heart of the individual how much he wished to contribute.

Then there was a fixed contribution of a half-shekel silver coin that each adult male was obligated to give that was earmarked for the silver sockets that served as the base for the beams of the walls of the Temple. These two Terumas were for this one-time Temple building campaign.

The third Teruma was a yearly tax where each adult male had to donate a half-shekel silver coin toward the temple treasury to cover the costs of the communal sacrifices and Temple functions. For this tax, the Torah tells us, whether one was rich or poor, he could only donate the half-shekel silver coin. There were other opportunities for one to contribute to the Temple’s treasury based on his generous heart.

Commentaries explain that the Torah had to detail the materials, dimensions, components, curtains and vessels of the Temple – for if not, it would be impossible for a human being to fathom how to construct an abode for G-d on this world.

Additionally, gold and silver are precious to us, whether in the form of jewelry, vessels, bullion or coins. It’s not uncommon for people to express their love towards these items. G-d commanded the Jews to take that which they love and contribute it for the Temple. By giving what they love to assist in creating G-d’s Temple they affirm their expression of love for G-d.

The same applies when one contributes to Tzadaka. Essentially, one is giving over something that is precious to them to an individual, institution or cause, which is an expression of transference of love for the Mitzva he is fulfilling.

Our Sages teach us, whether one gives a lot or a little to Tzadaka, his intent should be for the sake of the Mitzva, and G-d probes each person’s sincerity and ability.

Let’s face it, we are certainly wowed when we hear of mega donations to various causes. But it doesn’t diminish the smaller contributions of those of limited resources, for commensurate to their level of income, they may be contributing more than the mega donor.

I want to share two stories that I recently heard that convey this point.

At a Shiva visit for a person who had been mentally challenged, a family member shared that his brother would collect Tzadaka with a Pushka from the staff and visitors of the facility he resided and he would offer to shine their shoes for a token amount.

The family member told me that the Yeshiva where he sent his collections and earnings, sent him a receipt for the accumulated amount of the contributions that his brother had given over time and it amounted to over seven hundred dollars! This person indeed gave his precious heart to Tzadaka! May this be a merit for the Neshama/soul of Moshe Yisroel ben Tzvi Dov A’H.

Back in the 1920’s a Meshulach/collector, by the name of Reb Yitzchok Grulsky was sent to South America by the great and saintly Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, to raise funds for his Yeshiva/school in Radin, Poland.

On Shabbos during the service, Rabbi Grulsky made an appeal to raise funds from the congregation. On Sunday, as he was heading to the train station to leave, he bumped into an old friend of his who studied together with him in the Radin Yeshiva. The person asked why he was there, and Reb Yitzchok told him he was raising money for the Yeshiva and that he had spoken in Shul. The person told him he had been sick and unable to attend shul on Shabbos, but expressed that he really wished to contribute. However, the only money he had was a small coin which he was going to buy some bread to eat for the day. He then thought for a moment and said the following: “This Mitzvah is very precious to me, I’ll fast today, and please take my coin and give it to the Chofetz Chaim.”

When Reb Yitzchok returned to Radin and reviewed each of the contributions with the Chofetz Chaim, he related the story of the poor alumni who had forfeited his day’s meal for the sake of the Yeshiva. With great emotion, the Chofetz Chaim held the coin and said, “I am at a loss as to what I should do with this holy coin!”

It’s not only the amount of Tzadaka that one gives, it is the sincerity of one’s heart that counts!