Parshat Terumah - kavana and motivation


The first verse in this weeks parashah, Terumah, contains an idea that at first glance makes little sense: ”Hashem spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the children of Israel and they shall take for me a portion…”
Hashem asks the Jewish people to “take for me a portion”. Lets think about this for a second, is it even possible to actually give something to G_d?
The commentators (see for ex Rashi) remark that obviously you can’t give anything to an infinite G_d, the only thing you can give to Hashem is your kavana (your intent) or your ratzon (your will).
From this we learn how powerful our intent, our thoughts can be; through your kavana and motivation it is possible to turn something that is mundane into holy. This means that your kavana can change your reality. You have to appreciate the fact that you can affect change in your reality not only with your actions but also through your thoughts and feelings. On one hand, that's a very powerful, scary concept on the other hand there is a realization of how powerful a human being can be: thoughts and intent can create and change realities.
((note: maybe take it out) From here we see that even though people often say that “ohh religion is a nice idea”, “religion is tradition, it is symbolism etc”, however, Judaism teaches its quite the opposite. Symbolism is not just nice ideas; there is a reality to it.
If we take a look at today's western societies, studies show us that despite a significant improvement in our quality of life (inflation adjusted income has risen and there is so much more material wealth, better health, treatments etc), self reported happiness has not risen.  Actually the opposite is true, anxiety, depression and burn out is rising. Although lack of money can lead to unhappiness but the opposite is not true. Scientific studies reveal that if your salary in the US decreases under USD 60k your misery rises, but above 60k the graph is totally flat (your level of happiness stays the same). How come? One of the underlying reasons for this unhappiness is that people find it difficult to create meaning in their life. If your life is only motivated by materialistic goals it is difficult to sustain and find true happiness. However, if you have real motivation, real kavana or meaning behind your daily actions then it is possible to change your reality and find happiness.
The parashah’s basic message is that you are not only responsible for your actions, but also for your thoughts, and you have to train yourself to think positively, since positive thinking will lead to positive action.  
What better time then the month of Adar to begin working on positive, happy thoughts!!
Shabath shalom
Denes Ban & The entire WCS Crew

Added on: February 15, 2013

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