By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In ParashasTerumah, the Jewish people were told to give a donation for the Temple. The language used is, “Take a terumah for Me.” Rashi says that when we give terumah, it has to be for Hashem’s name, meaning it has to be with the correct intention of doing it for Hashem.
There are mitzvos that can be done properly even when they are not with the most perfect of intentions, and there are generally different levels of intention that a person can have. There are times when a person might do a mitzvah for ulterior motives, such as haughtiness, flaunting his own name, or for financial benefit. When it came to donations for the Temple, this was not allowed. All the money collected had to have been donated purely for Hashem’s sake and out of love of the mitzvah and a desire to fulfill Hashem’s command.
This particular mitzvah is different from all the others because it stems from the commandment of making a Temple for Hashem so He can dwell within it. This commandment has a unique aspect, in that Hashem needs to be able to bring His Shechinah to the Temple. For the place to be worthy of Hashem’s presence, it was necessary that no ulterior motives corrupt its creation.
The same concept of purity in performance has direct relevance to marriage. A Jewish home is referred to as a mikdashme’at (mini temple) and we are told to build a marriage where Hashem’s presence will feel welcome.
By removing ulterior motives when we build our homes and marriages, we are making more room for Hashem’s presence to dwell. We can’t merely be sweet when others are around to see us behave or be concerned about looking like the perfect couple in front of others; we must be careful to act with great kindness even when we are alone. It means putting our marriage first when it’s not convenient and when there might not be any secondary gain. It’s critical to keep the focus on creating a Torah-true home where the whole family lives in sync with the will of Hashem.
Through the efforts we invest in building our marriages with the intentions of doing it for the sake of Hashem, may we succeed in welcoming Hashem’s presence into our homes. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.