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It's All in the Effort
By: Rav Yamin Goldsmith
This week's parsha introduces us to the mitzvah to build the Mishkan/Mikdash. We are instructed to build the “home” of the Shechina (k’ve’yachol) in order to remind ourselves regularly of Hashem’s presence in the world (according to the Sefer Hachinuch) and of His constant involvement with us in the world (according to the Abarbanel). By designing, building, and guarding the Mishkan as well as visiting it and serving in it, we are able in a very substantial way to bring Hashem into our lives. The more we involve ourselves in the Mishkan, the more Hashem is involved in our lives: veshachnati b’tochom.
To build the Mishkan, we are asked to give a plethora of items:
“And this is the offering which you shall take of them: gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and sealskins, and acacia-wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the Ephod, and for the Choshen.”
- Shmot 25:3-7
These items seem to be listed in descending order of value; gold is more valuable than silver; silver is more valuable than brass, etc. Two of these ingredients, however, the precious stones to be used for the Ephod and the Choshen are mentioned last. The Ohr HaChaim asks the obvious question: Why would these stones be mentioned last? They were the most rare and expensive ingredients of all! Why then would they be mentioned at the end of the list and not in the beginning?
Rav Avraham Pam zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas, gives a most beautiful answer. He quotes the Gemara in Yoma (75b) which says that these precious stones fell with the Man, the manna, in the desert. They didn’t require mining, polishing, even purchasing. They were quite literally direct gifts from Hashem. Rav Pam notes that perhaps this is the reason they were mentioned last. Because their acquisition demanded no work on the part of Bnei Yisrael they were, from Hashem’s perspective, worth quite little. On the other hand, items, qualities, and traits that are obtained through hard work are worth so much more.
Anything that is worth anything at all requires hard work, effort and exertion. Gifts that are handed to us on a silver platter are less valuable in our eyes and in the eyes of Hashem. With Torah learning, it is the same thing: every morning we do not say “asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lilmod divrei Torah” or “… ladaat Divrei Torah.” The bracha is, “… laasok b’divrei Torah.” The slow and steady effort is where the value is. May we all be zocheh to work hard next year and beyond!
1: Parshat Shavua