Wednesday, March 19, 2008

All Different Jews Must Do Differently to Fulfill the Torah

At the end of the third aliya in Parshas Pikudei (Shmos 39:32), the pasuk says, "וַתֵּכֶל כָּל-עֲבֹדַת מִשְׁכַּן אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וַיַּעֲשׂוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת-מֹשֶׁה כֵּן עָשׂוּ." "And the work of the building of the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and just as Hashem commanded Moshe, so the Jewish people did." On this pasuk, the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh asks, "How could the Torah say the "Jewish people" did as Hashem commanded in building the Mishkan. The whole Jewish people didn't build it. Only a few people like Betzalel and the Artisans actually did the building according to Hashem's command!

He answers by first explaining the idea that, in general, each and every Jew must keep the whole Torah, yet it is completely impossible that any Jew will actually keep all 613 mitzvos. One sign that we must all keep all 613 of the mitzvos is the fact that we each have 248 eivarim, limbs, corresponding to and nourished by the 248 positive mitzvos. And we each have 365 gidim, sinews, corresponding to and nourished by the 365 negative mitzvos. (248 - 365 = 613) Therefore, for any of us to reach our personal wholeness of stature, we must fulfill and nourish every part of our selves with the 613 mitzvos. But this is impossible, since some mitzvos can only be done by Cohanim. Others by Levi'im. Others by Yisralim. Others by women. Etc. And no Jew can do all 613 him or herself.

The Ohr Hachaim therefore answers that the Torah is meant to, and can only, be fulfilled by Bnei Yisroel b'chlalusa, by the Jewish people as a whole, and not as individuals. When one Jew does his mitzovs, he completes me and my fulfillment of the 613. Similarly, when I do the mitzvos that apply to me, I complete him in his fulfillment of the 613. All Jews gives zechus, merit, to each other and everyone fulfills all of the mitzvos through each other.

This is why Hashem said that all of Bnei Yisroel built the Mishkan. It is because of this same principal. When Betzalel and the other Artisans physically built the actual Mishkan, the Jewish people, who were doing their mitzvos and who donated money, gold, other precious minerals, and wanted the Mishkan to come out of all of this, the Jewish people are credited with doing it themselves because of this yesod, that each of us fulfill all 613 mitzvos by the whole Jewish people doing what they are supposed to do.

I was thinking that even though we do not have the Beis Hamikdash today, based on this Ohr Hachaim, we can possibly say something else. We have lots of different kinds of Jews even today. You have Syrians, Persians and Moroccans. You have Chassidim, the Litvish, the Ashkenazim and many other groups of Jews. If we each focus on our group or individual specialization in Avodas Hashem, then as a whole Klal Yisroel, as a whole Jewish people, we all fulfill all of the 613 mitzvos. Some Jews focus more on limud haTorah in Gemara. Others focus more on chesed. Still others emphasize tefillah. Yet if we all do the type of avodas Hashem that is fitting to our techunas Hanefesh, our natural gifts, then as a complete Jewish people, we can be zocheh to true fulfillment of the whole Torah.

May Hashem grant us each the fulfillment of our individual and group potential so that soon, it will no longer only be said that we completed the building of the Mishkan, but let it soon be said that we have rebuilt the Third Beis Hamikdash, which wills stand l'olam u'le'olmei olamim.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of kumah)

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