Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rav Moshe Weinberger: Easy Does It - Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei/Parah 5778

Below, please find this adaptation of Rav Weinberger's drasha from parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei / Parshas Parah 5778.  Enjoy!

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Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Vayakhel-Pikudei / Parah 5778
Easy Does It

Remarkably, between the parshios of Terumah-Titzaveh and Vayakhel-Pikudei, the Torah spends over 400 psukim describing the details of how the Mishkan should be – and actually was – built. There is no other mitzvah regarding which any comparable amount of time is spent. Neither Tefillin, Shabbos, Yom Tov, or anything else has so many psukim devoted to it. Why is that? Why must the Torah repeat all of the details of the Mishkan and vessels in Vayakhel-Pikudei when all of these specifications were already laid out in Terumah-Titzaveh? The Torah could simply state that the Jewish people built everything just as they were commanded. Why spend another 200 psukim repeating everything?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe zy’a, based on a Yerushalmi, says that the specifications regarding how the Mishkan and its vessels should be built in Terumah-Titzveh describe the Mishkan in the world above – in Heaven. And Vayakhel-Pikudei  describes the details of how the Mishkan below was actually built – here in this world. There are two separate sets of specifications for each because one cannot simply assume that the physical reality here in this world corresponds exactly with what it is supposed to be.

The architectural plan for the Mishkan is found in Terumah-Titzaveh. This is the artist’s rendering. Yet the Torah separately describes the actual construction in Vayakhel-Pikudei to teach us that the two are not necessarily the same. Why is this so? What happened in between which can explain the potential discrepancy? Perhaps it is because parshas Ki Sisa, which describes the sin of the golden calf, is interposed between the two. Our own failures and shortcomings create the difference between what we could do and what we actually accomplish.

It is like this with respect to all areas of life. The ideal one plans for does not always pan out. When a couple marries, each of them, and the bride in particular, has a specific image of what married life will look like. It sometimes involves beautiful, white Shabbos tablecloths, elegant silver candlesticks, well-behaved children listening attentively to Abba’s dvar Torah, and singing zmiros beautifully together. The groom, as well, may have images of a beautiful, spotless home in his mind. He may picture a life in which his beautiful wife and children wait adoringly for him as he comes home, thanking him for providing such a beautiful life for them. He may imagine that he davens in a shul where three months never go by without the gabbai giving him an aliyah Shabbos morning. But real life seldom looks exactly the way the bride and groom imagine.

It is the same in one’s spiritual life. At neilah, one may imagine that this year, he will be holy and pure, free from all of the filth with which he contaminated himself the previous year. And sometimes the realities of life bear a passing resemblance to one’s plans. But very often it is completely unrecognizable.

We find another anomaly in the parshas Pikudei. No less than nineteen times, the Torah repeats that the Jewish people built one or another part of the Mishkan and vessels “just as Hashem commanded Moshe.” Why is this done in this context, whereas it is not done anywhere else? Rav Yitzchak Zev HaLevi Soloveichik zt’l of Brisk explains that there is a dispute in the Gemara whether it is possible for people to make anything the Torah commands with exact precision or not. In other words, can we make the Ark the required 2.5 amos long without making it 2.50000001 amos long. Can we say that two events, in halachah, occur at exactly the same moment, and not 0.0001 seconds apart?

The Brisker Rav explains that we follow the opinion of the Chachamim that it is not possible to achieve exact precision. Accordingly, even though the way we built the Mishkan may not have been exactly as the Torah commanded to the thousandth of an inch, to make sure that we do not worry that we have not fulfilled Hashem’s will with respect to the building of the Mishkan and its vessels, the Torah repeatedly reassures us that we did the job “just as Hashem commanded Moshe.”

In fact, the Minchas Chinuch (109) says regarding all of the requirements of the Torah involving specific measurements that Hashem only wants us to do our best to act according to those measurements, and that by doing so, we are doing the job exactly as He commanded. He knows our capabilities and chose to give the Torah to us and not the angels above.

Hashem commanded us to build the Mishkan but concomitantly reassured us that our best efforts to meeting the specifications were all He wants from us. He wants us to know that “there is no righteous man in the earth who does [only] good and does not sin” (Koheles 7:20). Hashem wants us to know that He does not expect absolute perfection from us so that we will be able to move forward in our service of Him and not beat ourselves up or become discouraged because of our lack of perfection. 

The entire reason our souls descended from the upper world into the Mishkan below of our bodies is to give us opportunities to do our best to reveal Hashem’s Presence and holiness in the messy scrum of this world.

While the actual city of Chelm was filled with great Torah scholars, a number of apocryphal stories are told which portray the city is if it were filled with fools. In one of those stories, there was a debate in the town beis medresh regarding whether the sun or the moon were more powerful. After a full day of arguments, the Rav finally stood up, banged on the shtender, and announced that he was settling the issue. The moon was stronger than the sun. When asked the reason for his decision, he explained, “The moon is powerful because it has the strength to light up the night. The sun, however, must not be very powerful because it only attempts to light up the daytime when it is already light outside anyway. It must therefore be weaker.”

Our job, like the recounting of the building of the Mishkan in Vayakhel-Pikudei, is to do the best we can, without driving ourselves crazy, to bring light into the darkness of this world. Even if we are not able to accomplish everything to the thousandth of an inch. Not only is Hashem not upset with us when we do our best but fall short, this is exactly what He wants – exactly what He had in mind when setting up the world the way it is.

The Kotzker Rav zy’a and Rav Yitzchak Vorker zy’a are two tzadikim from the world of Peshischa and were the closest of friends, though they could not have been more different. The Kotzker was known as being a fiery zealot for truth with absolutely no tolerance for even the slightest trace of dishonesty or self-deception. Rav Yitzchak, however, was known as the gentlest, kindest Rebbe in the world.

Because both were students of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa zy’a, the underlying foundation of the service of G-d for both of them was truth. Because of the Kotzker’s love for truth, he was completely intolerant of even the slightest admixture of falsehood. And because of Rav Yitzchak Vorker’s love for truth, if he encountered even the slightest point of truth within a person, he was overcome with joy at encountering that truth.

The way of the Kotzker is too difficult for most of us. We must follow the opinion of the Chachaimim in our service of Hashem, recognizing that absolute precision is not asked of us. Rather, Hashem only asks that we do our very best even though we often fall short. We must continue trying and bringing more light into the darkness of this world. May Hashem help us continue growing and trying to bring His light into our lives more and more and not listen to the inner voice which tries to discourage us by telling us that whatever we do is not good enough.

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