Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “Take for Me (the Almighty) an offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give” (Ex. 25:2).
Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that “take for Me” means that all donations for the Tabernacle should be given for the sake of the Almighty. The question: What difference does it make what a person’s intentions are as long as he does a good deed?
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman clarifies the role of intentions with an illustration. Suppose there is a man who wants to ensure that every child in the community has wholesome milk for breakfast. Rain or shine he delivers milk every morning. What would you say about that man? Likely you would count him amongst the great tzadikim, righteous people, a person of great kindness.
However, what would be your opinion of the man if you knew he delivered the milk only because he was getting paid? No longer is he a great tzadik, now he is just a plain milkman.
Similarly, in everything we do. If we keep in mind that we are fulfilling the Almighty’s command to do kindness, even the mundane interactions at work can be elevated to a higher spiritual level. The bus driver is no longer just driving the bus, he is helping people get to work or to shop for their families. The deed may be a good deed with or without one’s intention, but our growth in character and spirituality depend on our intentions!