Courage for the Week — Vayakhel-Pekudei
In Parshas Vayakhel, Hashem fills Betzalel and Ohaliav with the ruach hakodesh, the holy spirit, needed to build the mishkan. As a tradition from our holy ancestors, we know that everything that happens in the Torah is eternally relevant to us down to the very details. The fact that Betzalel and Ohaliav were master craftsmen capable of building the dwelling place for God to rest His Divine Presence in this world of ours, packs a significant message for us in these times fraught with confusion and fear. The Mishkan was the dwelling place of God while the Jewish People were stranded in a desert surrounded by uncertainty. So too, each of us is a Mishkan, a dwelling place for God. Then, as now, we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. Surrounded by enemies both physical and spiritual. Each Jewish Person is a representative of God here in this world. Each of us is a Mishkan in microcosm. As such, each of us is tasked with the same tasks as were Betzalel and Ohaliav: The task of fashioning a mishkan out of ourselves. The Mishkan was spectacular in its beauty. Crafted out of the finest materials requiring the most exacting craftsmanship of which only Betzalel and Ohaliav were capable. So too, each Jewish person, regardless of religious or social background is comprised of the finest spiritual materials requiring the most exacting spiritual craftsmanship, a craftsmanship we are each capable of, by learning Torah and fulfilling the mitzvahs according to halachah.
The Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzhok Horowitz, zt”l, told of a college student who, interested in learning about Yiddishkeit, came to speak with him. The Rebbe asked her what she’s studying. She told the Rebbe that she’s studying sculpture. Speaking intuitively from the heart, the Rebbe said to her, “Now you have to sculpt yourself.” After she went on her way the Rebbe was surprised by his own words. But a short time later she returned to the Rebbe, this time seeking instruction for a life of Torah and Mitzvahs. She took the Rebbe’s words to heart and readied to build herself into the Mishkan Hashem intended for her to be, that Hashem intends for each of us to be.
A brief thought on Parshas Pekudei: The beams of the Mishkan were too heavy for the bnei Yisroel to erect. So they brought the beams and all the implements of the Mishkan to Moshe Rabbeinu, and Moshe alone erected the Mishkan. Moshe was obviously charged with an impossible task which he carried out nonetheless. How did Moshe do the seemingly impossible? He did the impossible by throwing his lot in with Hashem. And for Hashem, everything is possible and nothing is impossible. This should be a source of comfort for each of us no matter how daunting, no matter how hopeless our predicament and situation. When we throw our lot in with Hashem, there is hope and we find strength. With Hashem, problems become manageable.
Shortly after my wife and I married we hit rough times. During this period we walked into a shop in Williamsburg. The owner, a holocaust survivor, picking up on our difficulties told us, “don’t tell the Abishter how big your tzoris (problems) is, tell your problems how big the Abishter is.” No matter where we find ourselves, let’s remember to throw our lot in with Hashem and to tell our problems how big Hashem is.
Have a great Shabbos,