In this week’s parsha, Parshat VaYakhel, Moshe reiterates God’s instructions for building the Mishkan and begins to collect donations for its construction. The people, regardless of their financial situation or tribal background, donated the required materials in abundance. So much so that Moshe actually had to tell them to stop giving because they had donated more than was needed. Rashi quotes a Midrash which says that the Nesiim (Princess) pledged to donate whatever would be missing once the community finished donating. They underestimated everyone’s generosity and enthusiasm for the building of this holy place, and the only donations remaining were the precious gems needed for the Kohen Gadol’s breastplate and garments. These stones were far more valuable than the other donations. However, since the Nesiim showed less enthusiasm and effort to dedicate to the Mishkan, they were criticized, and the word Nesiim is written in the Torah defectively, without a yud. It’s not the price that matters, for God doesn’t need our money. It's the effort and enthusiasm that goes with it that is what’s really important. This is why the Torah wrote “Asher Yidvenu Libo,” a person according to his generosity. Had the people been taxed a certain amount per person, the message would have been that what they gave was more important than how they gave it, which clearly isn’t so.
Additionally, this Parsha also illustrates the powerful effect of unity. No matter their differences, all the Jews came together to build something bigger than themselves--a spiritual home. We should all learn from the unity shown in the building of the Mishkan to put aside our differences and work together to create something amazing that benefits us as a whole.