Do it with heart, is the lesson we learn from the very first words that G-d ever uttered to Moses in the Tabernacle.
The very first time that G-d summoned Moses to the Tabernacle, G-d told Moses, “Go tell the Jewish people these captivating words: I am talking to you, you are in the Tabernacle, only for their sake.”
Can you believe it? It was the very first time that Moses was called to this newly erected holy space, this newly built home for G-d. No one else was permitted in the room. It was Moses and G-d. This was perhaps Moses’ finest hour, rivaled only by his time on Mount Sinai.
Remember the context. For many months, Moses had relocated his tent far from the Jewish camp because he felt that it wasn’t appropriate for G-d to visit him amongst the Jews after they had worshipped the Golden Calf. Yes, of course Moses had beseeched G-d to save the Jews, but that didn’t change the fact that they had turned their back on G-d. Moses felt that if you turn your back on G-d, G-d has no business in your home.
So, Moses moved his tent out of the camp. Every day, as Moses walked to and from his tent, the Jews were treated to a spectacle that reminded them of their unworthiness.
Then Moses instructed the Jews to donate whatever they could to the building of the Tabernacle. The Jews responded heartily, and the Tabernacle was erected. I imagine that everyone wanted to enter, but Moses’ daily parade in and out of the camp was a daily reminder of their unworthiness. No one even dreamed that they had any business in G-d’s home.
So, here they were on the very first day when G-d summoned Moses into the Tent of Meeting. Moses is on the inside, and they, the people, are on the outside. Everyone thinks that this is how it should be.
Moses walks in and G-d’s very first words shock and probably also elate Moses. Go tell the Jews these captivating words. Tell them that I am meeting with you only for their sake. If not for them, I would not have met you. I love you Moses, you are near and dear to me, but I don’t talk to people just because they are righteous. I only talk to people because my children need them. And my children need you, Moses.
For Moses, this was the ultimate sign that the Jewish people had been forgiven. It was a time of appeasement and unity. I imagine Moses’ shining face as he marched out of the tent and made the announcement. I imagine the thrill of the Jews when they heard these words. The moment must have been electrifying. There had been earlier indications that G-d had forgiven them. The very fact that He asked them to build a home for Him was telling. But this was poignant. Not only do I forgive you, but I put you ahead of Moses. I only talk to Moses because of you.
The Hebrew word that G-d used was, bishvilam, for their sake. A shvil also means a path. When there is a sea of humanity and the king needs to pass through, the guards form a shvil, a path. A shvil connotes a pathway through an obstacle that is not easily forged.
G-d is in Heaven, and we are on earth. G-d is infinite, and we are infinitesimal. G-d is omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal, and we are mere earthlings. There is no path long enough to bridge heaven and earth. There is no path stout enough to hold the weight of G-d. Yet, in His omnipotence, G-d created this shvil. A shvil that leads from heaven to earth. And why? Bishvilam, for their sake.
Not for Moses and not for Aaron, only for the simple ordinary Jew. You think Moses can climb Mount Sinai because He is special? No, he can climb Mount Sinai because he leads and inspires the ordinary Jew. In fact, when the Jews worshipped the Golden Calf, G-d immediately told Moses to leave. Your people have turned against me, and I have no reason to keep you here. Only after the Jews repented did Moses attempt to climb Mount Sinai. And sure enough, he was permitted in.
The same is true of Abraham. The Torah tells us that G-d loved Abraham because he educated and guided his children. It is only for because he was the patriarch of the ordinary Jew that G-d loved Abraham.
We know that Moses never did anything on his own. If he moved his tent out of the camp, G-d surely told him to. This means that G-d also felt the Jews were unworthy of hosting G-d in their midst. What happened in the interim to cause G-d to forgive them?
The fact that G-d said this to Moses when he first entered the Tabernacle tells us that the cause of His forgiveness was related to the Tabernacle. G-d met Moses many times in Moses’ tent and never told him these words. It was only in the Tabernacle that G-d said this.
What role did the Jews play in erecting the tabernacle, the tent of meeting? Their only role was to donate the materials. But they donated with heart, and this spelled the entire difference. A house of wood and gold would not have prompted G-d to descend to this world even if Moses were there. A house built with heart and tears, with love and awe, with humility and gratitude, is a house in which G-d wants to dwell.
This was the difference maker. Before the Jews donated to the Temple, they were unworthy of having G-d speak to Moses in their midst. Moses was instructed to remove his tent from the Jewish camp. After they donated with a complete heart, with reverence and joy, with ecstasy and generosity, G-d forgave them. Repentance is only genuine when it comes from the sincere heart.
There are many two lessons to draw from this story, I will share two of them.
Never underestimate the power of the ordinary Jew. In fact, there is no such thing as an ordinary Jew. No Jew is little in G-d’s eyes. The greatest Jew only has access to G-d because he represents the little Jew. So never forget or dismiss any Jew. And never forget or dismiss yourself.
Whatever you do, do it with heart. Had the Jews donated generously, but without heart, G-d would not have come to the tabernacle. G-d wants our heart more than our money, time, or effort. Whatever you do, do it as G-d wants it done. With heart.