Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Build Up!

By: Rav David Lebor

The parshiot that conclude Sefer Shmot relate to the construction of the Tabernacle (Mishkan). The Torah deals extensively with this topic; apparently repeating certain items.

This is intriguing. The forty years that the Jewish People spent in the desert included taking down the Mishkan as well. Prior to each change of location in the Sinai desert, the Mishkan had to be disassembled to facilitate its' transportation and reconstruction in the new destination. Amazingly this (formidable) activity is relegated to two words in Sefer BaMidbar (), almost as an after-thought "and the Mishkan was taken down (hurad)". Yet, the construction of the Mishkan is allotted ample space in the Torah.

The following phenomenon impresses me every year. How much time, effort and planning is required to erect a sukkah in proportion to the ease that it is disassembled. It is so much easier to destroy than to build; especially when the individual does not intend to construct an alternative. Thus, the disassembling of the Mishkan is dealt succinctly in the Torah. What applies in the construction and disassembling of the Mishkan rings true in regards to the building of our personal Mishkan, the Mishkan of our families and in the establishment of our national Mishkan.

We all are familiar with the terms "criticism" and "constructive criticism". No such thing- all criticism is by its very nature destructive. Indeed, there are situations that warrant criticism. On rare occasions there is no alternative and we are required to expose faults in order to correct them. Yet, we must realize that all this requires extreme caution. If we criticize, we must praise; if we take down an individual, we must raise him up.

A famous halacha of Shabbat states that an individual is only culpable for the prohibition of disassembling (soter) if it is in order to facilitate construction. The gemara (Masechet Shabbat, 31b) limits this to a situation where the subsequent construction can transpire in the location of the destruction. An act of destruction intended to enable construction is not considered a premeditated action (melechet machshevet). Such an act is classified as a detrimental action (kilkul).

We should not destroy with intention to build elsewhere. Criticism must be accompanied with the ability to immediately foster positive growth- it is imperative to include praise of the person and his actions. Indeed, the praise must precede the criticism.

A synagogue may not be disassembled prior to the construction of a new house of prayer. Likewise in the fostering of personal growth- without the prior construction of positive feedback, criticism is a destructive force.

"It is a great service (of Hashem) to view the world in a positive sense (be'ayna chiyura- literally a white eye)", exhorts Rav Kook. Let us pray the supplication of Rabi Elimelech from Lizhensk: "the opposite (aderaba!), let our hearts view the positive traits of our peers and not their faults".


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Vayakhel Pekudei
Uploaded: 3/21/2006 11:47:54 AM