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Vayakhel-P’Kuday (Parah) - 5778/2018~ “meet AND match”

Jake and Elwood meet their match.

Dear Friends,

You’ve seen them everywhere. “For every dollar you give we have a matching donor. But we need to raise the $$$ in 24 hours…”. Or: “We need $1,000,000.00 by next month, but if we raise X amount, Mr. & Mrs. X will fill the gap” … “They are called “Matching Gifts”, or “Meet the Deficit” fundraising campaigns and are often very effective (Yes-we should start one/more for the Shul on the Beach. I have some major projects in development to grow Judaism in the Beach Cities. Contact me if you can help with this!).

But-Are these campaigns Kosher?

Consider Shmos/Exodus 35:27 in this week’s Parsha of Vayakhel: “And the Princes brought the Shoham stones and the Miluim stones for the Ephod and the Choshen” (The Kohen Gadol/High Priest’s breastplate). Rashi cites the Medrash: “What prompted the Nesiim [Princes] to contribute first at the inauguration of the Mizbeach [altar] [Bamidbar/Numbers 7:1-2], while they did not contribute first at the construction of the Mishkan [Tabernacle]? This is what they said: “Let the public contribute whatever they contribute,and we will complete any shortfall.” Since the public contributed everything that was needed, the Nesiim said ‘What is left for us to do?’ The only things not yet contributed were the Shoham stones and the Miluim stones for the Ephod and the Choshen and so that is what they brought. Therefore, they made sure to be the first to contribute by the dedication of the Mizbeach. [BUT] Since they were lazy in contributing to the Mishkan, the spelling of the word “Nesiim” (Princes) is defective in this Passuk (one of the two YUD letters was removed from the title “Nesiim”-“Princes”).

Now friends, imagine if one of the devoted Benefactors of our Shul, and a serious Philanthropist of causes all over, heard that I called her a “lazy” or “lackluster” supporter because instead of giving a million dollars outright she offered to match a million dolalr donation with another, or she offered to give whatever amount we need to fill in a two million dollar fundraising deficit? Do you think she’d be the first one to rush to see what other of our projects she can put her efforts behind? Or do you think she might wonder seriously if we recognize the actual tremendous benefit in a “Match”, or “Fill the Gap” program-where double the pledges can be gained, or where a fixed amount of funding is guaranteed-and perhas rethink whther her efforts really needed here. Call the “Matching” fundraising business plan what you want-but it is anything but a demonstration of laziness! How do you understand this Medrash?

Well, after I took a third look at the Passuk-verse and the Rashi, I think I do understand it, and I love my Chiddush! -which I am excited to share: