Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
How is love created? That is, how do we bring about involvement and commitment? This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Terumah, reveals to us the secret of teaching how to love. Only a few Torah portions ago, G-d brought ten plagues upon Egypt, split the sea, and gave us the Torah. And now all of a sudden, He asks for our donations and active participation in building a Mishkan, a portable desert sanctuary. What is the reason for all the technical details of building it? Why do the people need to volunteer to bring wooden planks and fabrics and so many other materials?
Many commentators explain that G-d does not need our silver and gold. He wants our heart, our partnership with Him. Until now the children of Israel were passive while they enjoyed G-d’s many kindnesses and miracles. But now they become active and take responsibility. They assist in writing the story itself. The more they invest in building the Mishkan, the more love they have for it and for G-d, whose directions must be followed precisely in its construction. This love based on involvement and commitment may be applied to many areas of life – to marriage (the more we invest in our spouse, the more connected we become), to parenting (the more effort we put into raising our children, the more our closeness to them grows), in education (children love what they achieve when given responsibility to achieve it), and in Torah study (the more effort we exert in learning, the more we have a sense of belonging to Torah and to G-d)
Rav Eliyahu Dessler formulated this principle in one concise sentence: “More than giving is a consequence of love, love is a consequence of giving”.