Parshiot Vayakhel & Pekudei
Ups and Downs
By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
"Every man whose heart [nesa-oh] inspired him came; and everyone whose
[nedavah roo-ho] spirit motivated him brought the portion of Hashem"
Parashat Vayakhel tells of the actual construction of the Mishkan
(Tabernacle) in the desert. The first step in the process was the
collection of the materials needed for the structure and its utensils.
Moshe Rabenu a'h requested precious metals and jewels, special hides and
wools and all the other raw materials needed to complete the task. The
verse cited above describes the enthusiastic generosity with which the
people came forward.
The Ben Ish Hai zt'l points out that the word "nesa-oh" is translated
as enthusiasm and that is the same meaning as the words "nedavah roo-ho".
This makes the verse unnecessarily redundant atypical of the Torah's
language that is always terse and economical. What should we learn from
The verse is brought to give valuable advice to everyone, in order
that one may overcome the wiles of the Yeser Hara (Evil Inclination). When
one is approached to perform a misvah [commandment] that involves cost -
like charity - if one has $100,000 dollars one should imagine that he has
$100,000,000. This little fabrication will enable the person to look at
his donation as a small sum of little value to one as rich as he and he
will thereby overcome his adversary - the Yeser Hara - who constantly
tries to prevent the performance of good deeds. Even if the Evil
Inclination is somewhat successful in arousing selfishness in the end the
amount given will still be substantial when compared to his actual net
worth. The second benefit of this "white lie" is that he will not become
haughty as he would if he considered his contribution a hefty sum.
However, continues the Ben Ish Hai, when one is considered a purchase
of one of his worldly desires he should reverse the process. If he has
$100,000 he should feel as if he has only $10,000 and that should make him
hold back and limit his purchase. In this way he will not succumb to
material temptations. In Devarim 4:8 Moshe says: "In the Heavens above and
on the Earth below." This is a hint to the fact that one should increase
one's view of one's wealth when considering an expenditure for Heaven --
i.e. go "above"; and when dealing with the temporal one should decrease
one's estimate of one's net worth --on the Earth -below!
There was once a financial crisis at the Yeshivah in Volozhin. The Rosh
Yeshivah, Rav Hayim Solovetchik, zt'l, traveled to the city of Minsk where
there were two men who regularly raised funds for the institution. He
approached one and told him of the large amount of money needed. The man
told the rabbi that he would begin to work on it immediately. Over the
next two weeks the Rabbi spent his time learning in the Bet Midrash. He
then approached his host and asked how the fundraising was progressing.
"Not bad", said the man, "I actually have raised 1/2 of the amount
needed". Rav Hayim continued his study schedule for another few weeks and
then asked about the progress again.
"We have reached our goal", smiled the fundraiser, as he handed the
check to the scholar. The Rav happily returned to Volozhin and cleared up
all accounts with the creditors.
It was long after that the two fundraisers from Minsk came to
Volozhin to adjudicate a case between them. The one who was not involved
with the successful drive claimed that he was always partners with the
other in all charitable efforts and that it was not fair that when an
opportunity as great as helping sustain the greatest Yeshivah in the world
came along that his adversary had grabbed the misvah for himself by giving
all of the money from his own personal funds. He wanted to pay ½ the sum
in order to get credit for 1/2 the misvah. The outcome of the trial is not
important but what happened when Rav Hayim became aware of the dispute is.
The Rav called his benefactor to see him. Then he asked the obvious
"If you gave all the money yourself why did you make me spend almost 5
weeks away from the yeshivah?"
The man's answer is a lesson for all of us.
"Does the Rosh Yeshivah think it is so easy to overcome one's innate
selfishness and give such a large amount of money to charity? It took me
two weeks to win the battle and give 1/2 the amount needed. It then took
about 3 more weeks to build up the strength to donate the balance."
Everyone is created with a sense of selfishness and the trait of
greed. For some it is very strong and for others not so much so --but it
exists in everyone and it is not a simple matter to give generously. One
should keep in mind the lesson of the Ben Ish Hai zt'l,-- for Heaven -
ABOVE - build up what you have so that when you give it seems small.
Moshe Rabenu put out the word throughout the camp that skilled craftsmen
and artisans were needed for the construction of the Tabernacle and its
ornate utensils. The skills needed varied from gold and silversmiths,
embroiderers and engravers to those expert in working on woodcarving and
construction. From where did all these expert craftsmen come?
Ramban explains that the people who came had the attitude "Whatever Hashem
wants done -- I am here to do it!" There is a story told about a King who
challenged his subjects to climb a 100-story building. A great reward was
offered to the one who could successfully complete the challenge. Many
came to try their best to capture the royal reward. After climbing 30
stories the weak dropped out of the competition. Others were able to scale
to the 50th floor and a very few even completed the climb to the 5th
story. Only a select few were able to get as high as the 75th level before
giving up and returning to the bottom.
One man reached the 75th floor but refused to give up. "I think I can
still go higher," he said to himself and pushed upward. After getting to
the eightieth floor he was totally exhausted and fell flat on the landing
of the stairs. He caught his breath and said, "Even if I can't get to the
top, I think I can still climb one more flight. He gathered his strength
and struggled step by step until with his last ounce of power he reached
the 81st floor and collapsed flat on his face. At that moment --
miraculously -- an elevator door opened just a few feet from our exhausted
hero. He rolled on the floor into the elevator car and the door closed
behind him and the elevator carried him up to the 100th floor and the
Our sages say "Yagata U-Masata Ta-amen" if you struggle and you find you
may believe." When one finds something there is usually no struggle
involved -- what do the rabbis mean by struggle? The lesson is that one
who accomplishes after toiling should know that it is not his or her toil
that produced the successful result. Our job is to put in the effort and
to want to succeed. G-d produces the positive result. In fact you will be
taken higher than you imagined you could reach.
The artisans who built the Tabernacle were not artisans at all. They were
just-freed slaves who had the desire and the willingness to toil to
perform whatever G-d asked. If we were to accept our Torah
responsibilities with the same attitude we too are promised the Heavenly
assistance to reach a royal prize that we cannot imagine.
TABLE TALK -- QUESTION FOR THE SHABBAT TABLE
The verse says "Six days work shall get done and on the seventh day it
will be a Shabbat for G-d." Why does the Torah say work shall get done in
a passive tense? Wouldn't it be better to say “Six days you shall work"?
One of the tests of faith is to observe the Shabbat according to all of
its laws. Reality convinces one, that if one were to work on Shabbat one
would accomplish more and earn more than one who ceases from labor on the
Sabbath. In order to truly enjoy the Shabbat --one must turn off one's
involvement in the world of business and commerce during the Shabbat. This
task is difficult -- if not impossible -- if one actually believes that HE
produces the business and the profits during the week. Only a person who
truly believes that G-d has pre-determined what one will earn during the
year in the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can enter the
Shabbat peacefully and enjoy the holy day without concern for material
losses incurred by HIS lack of involvement in his business. The verse
hints to this by saying "Six days work shall be done"--but you really do
not produce the results. The bottom line is produced by G-d-- believe it
and then on the seventh day it will be a true Shabbat as you enjoy your
lack of involvement without concern but rather in peace of mind derived
from knowing G-d produces my sustenance both during the week and on
Shabbat. "Six days work will get done".
DID YOU KNOW THAT
It is forbidden to set up a microphone before Shabbat for use during
Shabbat -- even for a Misvah [e.g. for a speaker or reader to be heard in
a large synagogue].
It is also forbidden to set a tape recorder on a timer in order to record
on Shabbat. A person should not have a tape player ready from before
Shabbat in order to listen to songs or lectures on Shabbat. It is
forbidden to listen to a radio on Shabbat even if it was prepared before
Shabbat on a timer. [Source Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat volume 5,page 197/98]
Raymond J Beyda
Text Copyright © Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org