Chazal tell us that the Mishkan atones for the sin of the Golden Calf. It is logical to expect that the parshiyos of Terumah and Tetzaveh, which deal with the Mishkan, its appurtenances and the Priestly vestments, would follow after Parashas Ki Sisa, the parsha which details the sin of the Golden Calf. Instead, Parashas Terumah follows Parshiyos Yisro and Mishpatim, which deal with the Giving of the Torah. While Chazal note a number of times that “ein mukdam u’meuchar ba’Torah,” the Torah does not adhere to a chronological order, they do not mention this axiom in regard to the positioning of Parshiyos Terumah and Tetzaveh. Evidently, their place is after the Giving of the Torah. Why?
Horav Eliyahu Schlessinger, Shlita, explains that previously Klal Yisrael had exhibited acquiescence to both “taking” and “receiving”. They accepted the exodus from Egypt with its accompanying miracles. They accepted the splitting of the Red Sea, whereby they were saved from death. In their battle against Amalek, they accepted triumph. They accepted the protection of the Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire. They were happy to receive the manna daily and a double portion for Shabbos. The quail which they received was readily accepted. The water from the well of Miriam was an added gift which they were happy to accept. They wholeheartedly accepted the ultimate gift of the Torah, given to them amidst a Revelation that was unparalleled, with their response, “Naaseh v’nishma,” “We will do and will listen.” They had received so much and they were always ready to accept it. Hashem wanted to ascertain that they were also ready to give.
Klal Yisrael must be taught that in order to be a member of this unique holy nation it is essential that they also be prepared to give – to triumph over their inner characteristics that might hold them back. To triumph over one’s basic nature, to be able to perform acts of kindness, to give up one’s time and money, to exert effort on behalf of Torah and mitzvos are all part of giving. Many people are always willing to take – to be a part of Klal Yisrael, as long as they do not have to give of themselves. V’yikchu Li, “and they shall take for Me” – they should be willing to give up their silver, gold and precious stones for Me. To give up for Klal Yisrael, for Torah, for mitzvos, for Hashem is an integral component of Kabbolas haTorah, receiving the Torah. To receive the Torah means to be willing to sacrifice for the Torah.
This is why Parashas Terumah, the parsha of giving, follows the parsha that details the Giving of the Torah. Without a willingness to give, one has never truly received the Torah.