“Rabbi, I am happy to make the contribution, but I prefer if you don’t list my name”.
A few weeks ago I met a friend and supporter of Chabad. I asked him to give a matching grant for our year-end campaign. He agreed, but did not want to be publicly acknowledged.
“Why”? I inquired.
“Because I’m not doing it for anyone else but G-d” he said. “I don’t have to be thanked or recognized in public. I do it for the Mitzvah, and for me it’s enough that G-d knows about it”.
I explained to him that publicizing his name could help to involve more people in the campaign, and eventually agreed.
Still, this conversation made me think: What is the best way to do a Mitzvah?
Should we all strive to do our Mitzvot quietly and seek no recognition from anyone other than G-d? Or should we share our good deeds with others?
What are your thoughts?
On July 24, 2011, the Israeli news media reported an exciting archaeological discovery: a rare gold bell from the second temple era.
Here is a quote from the Israeli Antiquities Authority’s press release:
“It seems the bell was sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period”.
A bell worn by a high-ranking official during the temple era? This brings to mind our Parshah, where the Torah discussed the Meil, a robe worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).
G-d instructed that “on its bottom hem you shall make … golden bells in their midst all around… It shall be on Aaron when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before the L-rd and when he leaves.”
Is it possible that the bell belonged to the High Priest? When asked about the possibility, archeologist Eli Shukron, the excavation director, replied: “As an archeologist and professional, I have to be careful with my assumptions. But when I speak about a ‘high official’ from that period, you can easily guess who I have in mind.”
The Torah states that the purpose of the bell was to create sound.
In one of his talks, the Rebbe gave the following insight into the bell and its sound.
Silence is associated with inner peace; sound is associated with struggle. Given that Kohen Gadol represented the entire Jewish people, he had to represent everyone, including those who struggle to lead a moral and inspired life.
The bells were attached to the bottom of the robe, symbolizing that even those who are at the bottom of the spiritual ladder should be included and represented when entering the holy temple.
This struggle can actually lead to powerful results.
It creates the most fervent relationship with G-d. Not despite, but because their spiritual life is lacking, these people invest so much emotional energy as they strive to overcome their challenges.
The Rebbe pointed out that according to the Talmud, our era is considered “Ikveta DeMeshicha,” “the heels of Moshiach,” an era expected to “bottom out” spiritually and suffer many moral setbacks.
Indeed, because we live in a time when moral and spiritual values are more challenged than ever, our “noise” and our struggle will lead us to greater heights.
And so, just like the bells of the Kohen Gadol, we have to make sounds! We must proudly celebrate our values, share with the world our Mitzvot and our achievements.
A world inundated with messages idolizing materialism will welcome and appreciate a proud display of moral and spiritual life.
Returning to the initial question, the answer seems clear. Yes, it is of great value to do Mitzvot just for G-d’s sake; at the same time, we live in a time when we should celebrate and be proud of Mitzvot we do.
Does it ring a bell?