Parshas Terumah begins with Hashem commanding Moshe Rabbeinu to collect “Terumah” from Bnei Yisroel in order to build the Mishkan and all of its adornments. The Terumah to be collected was in the form of gold, silver, copper, special woods and oil – all of which were to be used in the daily operation of the Mishkan. Yet in giving this commandment, the Torah appears to use grammatically incorrect language in its delivery.
The actual words of the Torah are “Speak to Bnei Yisroel and ‘take’ for me Terumah”. (25:2) Since the commandment in question really involves “giving” to Hashem it would seem that the more appropriate word to use would be “give” to me Terumah. Chazal offer a variety of explanations for this particular choice of words. However, it occurs to me that this usage is a perfect fit when considered in the context of a famous Gemara in Kedushin.
The Gemarah (Kedushin, 7a) explains that one of the ways in which a woman can become betrothed to a man is through the man giving something of value to the woman for the purpose of betrothal. (this is in fact the most common method used today when a man gives a woman a ring under the Chuppah) The Gemarah is quite explicit that betrothal does not occur if the woman gives something of value to the man for this purpose, it must be man to woman. Nevertheless, the Gemarah notes one exception to this absolute rule. If a man of “great importance” were to accept something of value from a woman for the purpose of betrothal, than she would in fact become betrothed. The Gemarah goes onto explain that this “exception” is really no exception at all. The Gemarah elucidates that the woman becomes betrothed with the “enjoyment” she receives from such an important person accepting a gift from her.
With this explanation it is quite apparent why the Torah uses the wording of “taking” Terumah as opposed to “giving”. Obviously, Hashem does not need our gifts. In fact, many Mephorshim explain that the whole reason for the Mishkan was in order to give Bnei Yisroel a tangible way to partially make up for the Cheit Haegel - the Golden Calf. Hashem accepting something from us, and allowing us to feel that we are contributing something, actually makes us the recipients. Accordingly, it is very appropriate to describe our actions as “taking”. By “giving” something to Hashem, we are in reality the real “takers”.
Like so many Mitzvos in the Torah, with a little bit of introspection it is readily apparent how Hashem’s Torah is given for us. The words “Lo Bashamayim Hi” reflect the reality that the Torah is for us and for our benefit. We should always recognize the Mitzvos as Hashem’s way of showing us what is in fact good for us. How fortunate we are to have a Torah to live by and follow every moment of our lives.