Parshat Trumah begins with God’s instruction to “take a donation” for the Tabernacle. This sounds strange. Shouldn’t the Torah have instructed us to “give a donation”?
The explanation is that giving ― for the right reason and to a proper recipient ― is also a form of taking. You see, the money we own is temporary, but our good deeds are eternal. So a gift is to our credit. As a wise person once said: “All that I really own is what I’ve given away.”
And in the truth, one of life’s greatest pleasures is to give. God’s most essential quality is that of a giver, so our emulating God ― by giving ― is one of the highest forms of spiritual expression.
This parsha also tells us the key to proper giving: it should be with a full heart. The Midrash says that Betzalel, the architect of the Tabernacle, was able to discern the intentions of those who donated. In this way, he determined how each donation would be used in the Tabernacle. For instance, when someone gave with pure intentions, their donation was used for the Holy Ark. Whereas someone who gave begrudgingly would have his donation used for pegs to hold up the Tabernacle walls.
Even today, when we give money to a synagogue, we don’t know how the money will be used. But if we give with the right intentions, we can be sure it will be used in the best possible way.