When Moshe arrived at the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from atop the cover that was upon the Ark of the Testimony, from between the two Cherubim, and He spoke to him. (Bamidbar 7:89)
Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to Aaron and say to him: When you kindle the lamps, towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light.” (Bamidbar 8:1)
And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Make for yourself two silver trumpets-make them (mikshah) hammered out, and they should be yours for the summoning of the assembly and to cause the camps to journey. (Bamidbar 10:1-2)
Within a short space we find the activation of three different instruments that were important features in the daily life of the Nation of Israel; the Cherubim, the Menorah, and the Trumpets. As different as they are in their form and their function, they all have something unique in common. They were to be made “miksha”-hammered from a solid piece of metal. In the case of the Cherubim and the Menorah the material to be used was gold while the Trumpets were to be hammered out of a single mass of silver.
The word “miksha” has the two implications. It literally means “hammered” but may well indicate- “with difficulty”. It certainly is much harder to formulate a complex structure from a single chunk of metal than it would have been to make smaller component parts that could be fitted together later. What great lesson can we glean from this simple fact that these three could only be constructed “with difficulty”?
In symbolic language the Cherubim represent purity and innocence residing as they do in the Holy of Holies. In that sense and even more simply they had the form of children, angelic children. The Menorah speaks of eternal wisdom, Torah learning in its highest form. The Trumpets, by its function, communicating the need to settle or be set into motion is the model of leadership. The implied message may very well be that these three areas of life come only with great difficulty. Raising children in purity, gaining in Torah learning, and Jewish communal leadership are each by definition difficult.
There has not yet been invented a magic formula for raising children that does not involve great effort. Things left to chance go to chaos. No one can expect to succeed by accident in this arena. Even if people are able to artfully mask the effort, thereby making it look easier than it really is, let us not be deceived. Endless energy and constant concern give shape and direction to children not casual and even benign neglect.
Learning Torah and excelling in learning requires boundless commitment and oceans of real energy. No dilatants ever became a sage or a saint. It is not an inherited trait. It must be built and installed word by word with purposeful concentration. Rocket ships are not accidentally launched to the moon and no person ever became great in Torah study with a single hapless lunge.
Do we need to mention the challenges of being a Jewish communal leader? What greater Rabbi can you ask for than Moshe? What greater congregation can you hope to lead better than the generation that experienced the splitting of the sea and the reception of the Torah? There was never a shortage of money or miracles and even still the patience of Moshe, the humblest man on the face of the earth, was constantly on trial and it’s not easier for anyone else either.
The point is not to be discouraged but to be realistic. When we expect things to go easily and they don’t, the result is deep disappointment. We are actually victimized often by false expectations. However, armed with this simple fact of life, when one accepts the task with the understanding that it’s hard, then, paradoxically, it becomes tolerably easier and one can hope to absorb the constant waves of difficulty, not just to minimally stay alive but in spite of all to learn to thrive.