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Shabbat Parashat Pekudei 5776

Parashat Hashavua: Do Your Part

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 306-307

“The Mishkan was erected” (Shemot 40:17). What do we learn from the use of passive voice? “Moshe said before Hashem: ‘How will I have the power to erect it?’ Hashem answered: ‘You only have to place your hand there, and it will turn out that it is erected by itself’” (Rashi 39:33).

A lot of work and difficulties are required to establish something of sanctity. There are many things that work against it, and it is not always clear that it will be possible to bring it to fruition. However, it is our obligation to act to accomplish such goals “as Hashem commanded Moshe,” and that it is how it worked in regard to erecting the Mishkan.

Most people are not able to perform and understand things precisely and “put borders” around the matter. Chazal are called “the men of the borders” (Sota 9:15) because they are able of handling that task. If we ask, “Who erected the Mishkan?” and one answers that it was Moshe Rabbeinu, the answer is both correct and incorrect at the same time. The same is true if one answered that it was Hashem. If not for Moshe’s action, the Mishkan would not have stood, but Moshe, with his own strength, did not have the ability to do it. In fact, Moshe’s action brought a display of special Divine Assistance. Upon this backdrop, Moshe blessed the people: “May it be His will that the Divine Presence dwell within that which your hands made” (Rashi, Shemot 39:43).

In a case like this, people can make a mistake. We observe that blessing comes according to the actions one takes. We see that those who do not act, do not receive. Thus, it is natural to conclude that everything depends on man. This is indeed the approach of those within our society who have thrown off their obligations to Hashem and belief in Him. To the other extreme, much of the camp of believers declare, “If Hashem will not build a house, its builders toiled for nothing” (Tehillim 127:1). Once it is Hashem who provides, they reason, does it make a difference if man toils a lot or a little?

At the end of days, “the men of the borders will travel from city to city and will not find mercy” (Sota ibid.). On both sides of the debate we see extremism. The Charedi camp sees us as unfit. The irreligious look at us as religious extremists. Our job is to constantly strengthen ourselves with a realization that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

We look around and see that the great majority of the Jewish inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael and especially its leadership are irreligious and are very far from our lifestyle. We may ask ourselves: “Are we capable of “building a Mishkan in this holy land of our forefathers”? The answer is that we have to do what we can do, and Hashem will make sure that “the Mishkan is erected. What is special about our actions is that they are inspired by “as Hashem commanded.” This is the border and this is the sign of our being correct. Whatever building we can do in a permitted manner is a mitzva; whatever is forbidden will anyway not help.

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