Pride is the reward of effort. The magnitude of the outcome matters less than the personal expenditure of effort and involvement. The Jewish people’s effort and contribution to the construction of the Tabernacle provided them with immense pride in their successful outcome.
Effort plus success produces pride. A child’s drawing may seem modest compared to grander undertakings like curating an art exhibition, but in no way diminishes the child’s pride in his/her own effort. Gifts on the other hand are often treated carelessly, even be they of considerable worth. How many a parent feels let down when the child breaks the toy in the first five minutes (not realizing that what they paid for was not the toy for their child, but the broad smile on the child’s face upon receiving it!)
When tender care, nurture, and personal challenge are ingredients of effort, an intimate connection is made that totally endears the product to the producer. You care about all children, but incomparably more so when it is your own child. You value all paintings on your walls but especially so when it is the product of your own efforts, even though yours may be grossly inferior to others in the valuable collection.
This week’s Parsha is Teruma, meaning contribution. It refers to the construction of the Mishkan (portable Tabernacle) Moses and his expert team constructed in the desert. Yet G-d insisted that everybody participate in contributing funds and raw products – Teruma – to the effort. Everyone watched as their personal contribution began to take shape in a new form.
Although the object of the exercise was constructing a House for G-d, the Mishkan, the name of the parsha refers to the sacrifice and effort of the people. Only through its contribution could the whole nation take pride in the finished product – G-d’s home even in the wilds of a distant desert.